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Thomas Sopwith, 

M.A., O.E., F.R.S. 



M.D., LL.D., F.E.S. 

"Here is a dear, u true industrious friend" 

I. Henry IV. 




Printed by Hazell, Watson, & Viney, Ld., London aiid Aylesbury. 





the custodian op her beloved father's diary, 

this volume is inscribed, 

with the sincerest regards 

of her old and attached friend, 

Benjamin Ward Richardson. 



JT has long been known through the wide 
circle of his friends and acquaintances that 
the late Mr. Thomas Sopwith left at his 
death a remarkable Diary. Two years ago 
the members of his family, who had the Diary in their 
charge, requested me, as an old friend of Mr. Sopwith, 
to make a study of the work, with the view of preparing 
from it a modest treatise of some four hundred pages 
at most, to include, with a brief life of its author, 
excerpts of some of the incidents which he has recorded. 
With all the diligence I could command I have here- 
with carried out the task entrusted to me, in the hope of 
keeping alive the memory of one of the most estimable, 
able, and honest Englishmen to whom the nineteenth 
century has given birth. 

25, Manchester Square, W. 
June lth, 1891. 



I. A Personal Introduction 1 

II. A Diary of Fifty-Seven Years 9 

III. Commencement of a Long Career 13 

IV. Early Authorship 21 

V. A Severe Illness. Contributions of Social Facts 

and Antiquities 26 

VI. A Visit to Scotland. Sir Walter Scott. Professor 
Wilson ("Christopher North"). The Brothers 
Chambers. Flodden Field 32 

VII. Marriage. Burning of York Minster. Bereavement 43 

VIII. From Newcastle-on-Tyne to London . . . .50 

IX. London Sixty Years Ago, from a Northumbrian's 
First View. National Repository of Arts. 
Greenwich Hospital. London Curiosities . . 58 

X. Second Marriage. Work as a Civil Engineer. Early 
Travelling by Rail. Election as a Member of 
the Institute of Civil Engineers. The Eoman 
Wall 83 



XL Surveys in Dean Forest. Thoughts on Electoral 
Methods for Parliament. Professor John 
Phillips 95 

XII. Engineering Experiences. Newcastle as a Rail- 
way Centre 105 

XIII. A Memorable Dinner. Count St. Aldegonde. 
Eussia as a Mining Field. Choice Books. 
Artists and Scientists. The Queen at Guild- 
hall 110 

XIV. New Friends, New Thoughts, New Scenes . . 133 

XV. Ireland and the Irish 146 

XVI. A Day in Oxford. Dr. Buckland and Mr. John 

Ruskin 1G2 

XVII. Love of Travelling. Mr. Babbage and the Cal- 
culating Machine. Lessons in Astronomy . l«.7 

XVIII. Clegg's Atmospheric Railway. Mrs. Robertson. 
Sir Francis Chantrey. The " Great Western " 
Steamboat. Reminiscences 176 

XIX. A Meeting of Celebrities. Liebig, Buckland, 
Daubeny, Ruskin, Playfair, and Dalton. A 
Tour in Yorkshire. The Armstrong Hydro- 
electric Machine. Telford Medallist . .1^7 

XX. Home Incidents. A Visit to Boulogne. Rights 

in Dean Forest. A Visit to Belgium , .194 



XXI. Some Engineering Celebrities. Rowland Hill. 
Railways in Brussels. King Leopold. George 
Stephenson. West Flanders .... 207 

XXII. A Change of Career 223 

XXIII. Residence at Allenheads. Mr. Robert Chambers. 

Death op Mrs. Sopwith. Professor Faraday. 
The Armstrong Gun 234 

XXIV. Hartwell House. Meteorological Studies. Rain- 

fall. Tour to Egypt 245 

XXV. Resignation at Allenheads and Residence in 
London. A Retrospect. Deaths of Brunel 
and Robert Stephenson. Musical Pitch. A 
London Music Hall 260 

XXVI. Return to Allenheads. Mr. Disraeli. Meteoro- 
logical Organisations. Foundation of United 
Kingdom Alliance. Sir James Kay-Shuttle- 
worth and mr. henry cole. death of the 
Prince Consort 276 

XXVII. Bright and Cobden. Bishop Colenso. Cyrus 
Field. A Spanish Workman. A Spanish Bull- 
Fight. Twenty Years of Reminiscences . 289 

XXVIII. Sixty-Third Birthday. Anatomy of Strikes. 

Foreign Workmen. Further Reminiscences . 309 



XXEK. A Tour in Italy. Memorial to Edward Potter. 
Death op Mrs. Somerville. E. W. Cooke, R.A. 
Thomas Tate, C.E. The Hooper Electric 
Cable 326 

XXX. Some Events op Half a Century. The Leeds 
Conversation Club. Thoughts on Genius and 
Energy. William Chambers. Dean Stanley. 
Emperor of Brazil. The Close op the Diary 350 

XXXI. Memoranda and Literary Notes. The Glacial 
Theory. Ascent of Chamounix. Gibbon and 
Lausanne. Calvin and Humphry Davy. Roman 
Baths at Treves. Mining at Freiberg. A 
Geological Pioneer. Church of the Fool of 
the Forest. Danish Watchman's Curfew . 361 

XXXII. Personal Recollections of Mr. Sopwith. Last 

Illness and Death 375 

INDEX ~ 383 




>N the month of September 1856 it was my 
good fortune to receive an invitation from 
the late Dr. John Lee, LL.D., President of 
the Royal Astronomical Society, to form one 
of a company of scientific visitors who were to meet at 
his residence at Hartwell Park, near to Aylesbury. It 
was the fancy of the good Doctor to bring together, from 
time to time, a considerable number of men whose lives 
were devoted to the advancement of science, and to enter- 
tain them, not for a day merely, but for several clays, 
so that they might get to know each other in the most 
friendly manner, and might discuss together, without 
hurry or excitement, those matters of practical and theo- 
retical science which were at the moment engaging the 
attention of the scientific world. I remember that my 
invitation extended to fourteen days, but it was so 
arranged that any visitor who might have to leave for 
the day could do so and could return again. Carriages 
met every train in order to bring the visitors to the 
mansion, and carriages were despatched to every train 
with those who were leaving the mansion. In short, 
everything was made as free and homely as was possible. 



During the visit in September 1856, to which I refer, 
as many as from thirty to forty visitors were brought into 
communion with each other, establishing acquaintances 
and friendships of lifelong duration. We were repre- 
sentatives of so many branches of sciences that we used 
to speak of ourselves, in a jocular way, as a British 
Association, in miniature, for the amusements of science. 
However, we did in some degree resemble the real 
British Association, by meeting every morning, under 
the presidency of Dr. Lee, in the library of Hartwell 
House, and holding a formal sitting. Mr. Samuel 
Horton, Dr. Lee's private secretary, read the minutes 
of the previous meeting, which the President confirmed, 
and then some one of the company was called upon — 
often without a word of preparation — to treat on a subject 
with which he was presumed to be familiar, and so to 
express himself that what he said could be discussed 
afterwards. These conditions, difficult to sustain, led 
occasionally to a great deal of embarrassment, mixed 
always with a compensatory dose of fun and good 
humour, and sometimes followed by the communication 
of useful information, which was none the less pleasant 
because of the piquancy incident to a little merriment 
and unexpected light of knowledge. 

At one of these morning meetings I found myself by 
the side of a visitor who, up to that time, was unknown 
to me, but whose bright, genial smile soon made me 
happy in the acquirement of a new acquaintance who 
promised to be of the best sort. We began conversation, 
mutually, by discussing what was to be the subject of the 
coming debate, when the Doctor rose, and, after inform- 
ing us that nothing had been arranged, said he was snre 
some one would volunteer a paper, or a suggestion that 
would lead to one. For a time no one did offer or 


suggest anything, and at last the length of the pause 
seemed to say no subject, therefore a dissolution. In 
sheer fun I whispered to my new companion, who was 
very much my senior, " Why not pro])ose the financial 
state of the Peruvians ? " He took up the suggestion 
with delight, and, in the slyest manner, rose to say, 
" Mr. President, my young friend here suggests, as a 
capital topic, The Financial State of the Peruvians." The 
proposal led to a general laugh, in which Captain, after- 
wards Admiral, Fitzroy joined so heartily that some 
thought it had reference to one or other of his adventures 
in one of his famous voyages, then the talk of the day. 
The laugh ended in another period of silence, and the 
President began to get quite uneasy, when, as luck would 
have it, there appeared fresh on the scene a new visitor. 
The Doctor seized the fact and worked it gloriously. 
The new visitor, Mr. Thomas Dobson, if my memory is 
not at fault, was a merchant, and knew all about curren- 
cies. Called upon, therefore, by the President to ojDen a 
debate on the subject named, he accepted the duty in the 
most artless manner, and in twenty minutes told us more 
about Peru and its financial position than we had ever 
heard of in the whole course of our lives. The success 
was complete. Mr. Dobson got a hearty and well- 
deserved vote of thanks for his instructive narrative ; 
and, shame to say, according to a common accident of 
getting honours thrust upon one, my new friend carried 
a vote of thanks to me " for the happy thought which 
had led to so excellent and so practical a discourse." 

On the break-up of the meeting, my new companion 
joined me in the other events of the day, and I found in 
him one of the most delightful of associates. He was, it 
turned out, about thirty years my senior, but he was so 
young of heart that it did not seem possible for him to 


be more than a fellow-pupil or schoolfellow of a past 
day belonging to an older form than mine. There was 
a quaint humour in him, also, which at once conveyed 
amusement and information. He told excellent stories, 
grave and gay, and he varied the part of a story-teller 
with that of a wise and philosophical teacher so readily 
that he seemed to have the power of changing his whole 
nature with a facility I had, at that time, never before 
seen, and have not many times seen since. But the 
most striking feature of all was the width and depth of 
his information on every conceivable subject. He had 
travelled extensively, and he had taken such careful 
notes of all he had observed, and had fixed his ob- 
servations so thoroughly in his mind, that what he 
told rose before the listener as if it were seen as well 
as heard. Some one said of him that he was a cyclo- 
paedia of information. " Yes," said Mr. James Glaisher, 
who formed one of our party, "but he is a cyclopaedia 
alive and kicking ; " and the remark was duly recognised 
as true. 

As I did not know to what profession or calling my new 
companion belonged, I made a kind of speculative study 
in order to guess the fact from his conversation. In pass- 
ing through the mansion he spoke freely and correctly 
of its architecture, and compared the style so ' clearly by 
the side of another similar building which I accidentally 
referred to, that I took him to be an architect ; but later 
on it occurred to me that he might be a Professor of 
Mathematics, for he had all kind? of calculations of the 
most curious nature at his finger ends, — how many 
generations of men it would take to cover, with their 
feet, every point of the surface of the earth : how many 
<jci)crations to make a raised block or terrestrial accretion 
of men, to rub shoulders with the man in the moon ; 


how many centuries had passed since the whole popu- 
lation of England was represented round one family 
hearth. That he was a first-class arcluuologist was 
also quite clear ; and that he was well up in flint and 
geological specimens was equally obvious. To this he 
added° a knowledge of many details of history. Thus in 
regard to Hartwell House itself he told me it was famous 
as having been for a time the residence of Louis XVIII. 
and his household. Our good host, Dr. Lee, had told 
us at breakfast a few facts, of a preliminary kind, 
regarding this residence of the king ; but in a walk 
through the grounds my new friend told me many 
more.° He was old enough to remember the period 
when this last royal and crowned descendant of St. Louis 
was a resident here. He remembered the incidents 
told of the return of the king to France after the 
banishment of Napoleon I. to Elba ; how the king 
leaving Hartwell was accompanied by the English Prince 
Regent, afterwards George IV., to Dover, and by the 
Duke of Clarence, afterwards King William IV., to 
Paris ; and how the long-exiled king on landing upon the 
French coast pressed the Duchess of Angouleme to his 
heart, and exclaimed, " I hold again the crown of my 
ancestors : if it were of roses, I would place it on your 
head ; as it' is of thorns it is for me to wear it." 
After luncheon my new friend and I— for I may now 
venture to place him on my list of friends— took a 
walk to the Vicarage at Stone, a village near by, to see 
the Rev. J. B. Reade, F.R.S., a most able man of science, 
and a Vicar in the Church of England— a modern Hales 
in science. We found the Vicar busy at work on a new 
equatorial telescope of large size, which he had himself 
constructed. We were admitted into his laboratory, and 
were shown the new work he had accomplished in the art 


of photography, in the development of which he had 
taken a leading part. Once more I was struck by the 
knowledge of my companion. He was technically 
acquainted with the construction and use of telescopes, 
and brought out, to our pleasure, a sketch he had made 
on the previous night of the passage of the moons of the 
planet Jupiter, as seen through the fine instrument in the 
observatory at Hartwell. 

The possession of all these learned faculties in one 
individual was, naturally, a marvel to me, a young and 
inexperienced man ; and my wonder was intensified, as 
we journeyed back to Hartwell, by the knowledge which 
my companion showed of men as well as of events and 
things. I said that I understood Robert Stephenson was 
to join us at dinner, and asked my friend if he knew 
Mr. Stephenson. Know him ? Yes ; he knew not only 
Robert, but the famous father of Robert, the great George, 
the "Pater Locomotorum" who took, so to say, the 
steam-engine out of the hands of James Watt and 
turned it into the all but living locomotive. Then we 
got on to a splendid topic of conversation. Here was 
a man who with his own eyes had witnessed the develop- 
ment of the art of steam locomotion into practice ; one 
who had seen it start in the mines, who had been carried 
down the Thames in one of the first steamers, and who 
had been present when one of the first great lines of rail 
was opened for public use. The whole was told so well, 
and with such natural truth and force, that we had got 
back to our destination before I was conscious of having 
traversed the distance between Stone and Hartwell. 
We parted on the terrace to go and dress for dinner. 
On my return to the terrace I saw Captain Fitzroy, 
wandering slowly with his hands behind him, in one 
of his thoughtful moods. Catching sight of me, he 


came up and invited me to take a short stroll until 
the dinner-bell should ring. He was rather depressed, 
and asked me one or two questions of a professional kind, 
which being answered to his satisfaction our conversation 
turned on Hartwell and the present meeting. I told 
him of the remarkable man who had been with me to 
Stone, and described him to the best of my ability ; — a 
rather short and stont man, with large head, broad 
forehead, full features, bluish-grey eyes, kindly smile, 
and though obviously a northern man, yet of gentle 
speech ; a man whose practical knowledge seemed to 
be universal. 

" He is a capital meteorologist," said Captain Fitzroy ; 
" Mr. Glaisher and he are great allies ; and we three have 
been discussing barometers, with the idea of finding out 
the best methods for making a cheap barometer for popular 

" You know him, then, pretty well ? " 

" No, not much more than you do yourself. I 
happened to travel with him part of the journey here ; 
and as we found ourselves coming to the same place 
and with the same intents, we got into friendly con- 
versation, and I, like yourself, was quite surprised with 
the breadth of his knowledge. He is one of those men 
who are not only widely informed, but accurately in- 
formed also, — a rare combination." 

" Very rare, I should think. But what is his name ? " 

" Mr. Glaisher casually introduced us, but Dr. Lee 
introduced me to him formally as Mr. Thomas Sopwith, 
Fellow of the Royal Society ; for the Doctor, as you know, 
never forgets the full titles belonging to his guests." 

" What is his occupation ? " I enquired. " I have 
made many guesses about that." 

" And what is your best guess ? I am curious to 


know, because I went through the same process of 
speculation for a considerable time." 

" 1 took him first for an architect, next for a mathe- 
matical teacher or professor, but now I think he has to 
do with the manufacture of steam-engines or some other 
mechanical art on a large scale." 

" And I took him for a professor of some mechanical 
branch of study also. But we are both a little away 
from the precise fact : he is really a mining engineer, 
and is the superintendent or chief of the greatest lead 
mines in the world, the headquarters being at Allen- 
heads, in Northumberland." 

And so, at last, I knew my new companion by name 
and profession, as well as by sight. I little thought 
then how often I should have to write the name, and 
hear the pleasant voice, in succeeding long years. 
Least of all did I think that the time would come 
when it would be my task to write a memoir of him 
and his works. At the moment I had to think of 
something very different ; for we had wandered far 
away from the house, and there was the dinner-bell 
ringing sharply. Captain Fitzroy, a sailor governed by 
the strictest views of discipline, was startled. 

" We must return," he said quickly ; and he hurried 
me on with such speed that we were unable to sustain 
our conversation, even about so pleasant a subject as 
our new associate, Thomas Sopwith, F.R.S., Mining- 
Engineer ; practical scholar in men, events, things ; 
and Northumbrian to the backbone. 



iNE of the most interesting and original 
features in the career of Mr. Sopwith, 
whose life and works 1 am now beginning 
to relate, is that he kept a Diary which 
extended over the long period of nearly two generations, 
namely, from the year 1822 to 1S79, fifty-seven years. 
The diary consists of no fewer than one hundred and 
sixty-eight small neatly and strongly bound volumes 
and of three large volumes. Each entry is remarkable 
for the accuracy with which it is written, for the clear- 
ness of its style, and for the beauty of its penmanship. 
The pages read like the old manuscripts of the best 
kind, which came from the scriptorium, before the 
printer's art was known ; and so carefully is even- 
entry made, that throughout a whole volume there 
will not be found a single mistake or erasure. As to 
a blot, that were a thing impossible ; I believe there 
is not one in all the series. 

The mode in which these diaries were commenced is 
recorded by Mr. Sopwith in the first of the small 
series of volumes, written in 1828. When about twelve 
years of age, he says, he had a peculiar aptitude for 
descriptive writing, and amused himself with recording- 
various data relative to the history and antiquities of 
Newcastle. At thirteen he copied a map of the Roman 


wall for Mr. Dalton, " an itinerant but highly respectable 
and able lecturer." He also wrote out, at this early 
period of his life, a series of notes on astronomical 
subjects, derived from the best sources of information 
attainable by him, with descriptions of observations he 
had made from a plain astronomical telescope constructed 
by himself, 'aided by a few opportunities of seeing and 
using a tolerably good instrument belonging to his 
schoolmaster, Mr. Henry Atkinson. In this same period 
of adolescence, he began to take notes of and draw up 
catalogues of coins and mineral specimens, employing, in 
his observations on the mineral specimens, a small 
microscope which, like his telescope, was constructed 
with his own hands. 

From this methodical line of work he fell, naturally 
enough, into the way of keeping notes of his time, 
and of the details of his occupation ; following, in this 
respect, although probably quite unconsciously, the plan 
adopted in his early days by the famous Dr. Benjamin 
Franklin, a man, of all others I have read of, the 
most like himself in tone and character. It was not, 
however, until the year 1821 that he began a journal 
in a regular and permanent form. Then he was so 
fortunate, as he deemed it, as to obtain two or three 
account books or ledgers of considerable size, and con- 
taining a much longer space for writing than he had 
the means of getting in any new book, — manuscript books 
being at that time luxuries which we, of this day, can 
scarcely realize. Regardless of the red line for sums, 
he used these books for the purposes of his journal, 
and Volume I. of the series covered an interval extending 
from October 28th, 1821, to June 2nd, 1828. 

The father of Mr. Sopwith was a builder in Newcastle, 
carrying on a good business, and he, working in- 


dustriously, with Ms eye directed towards engineering 
as his vocation through life, commenced his labours 
at six in the morning and continued them until six at 
night, with half an hour for breakfast and an hour for 
dinner. He had, therefore, not much time to expend on 
a journal, and, as he tells us, the details he had to enter 
were "of necessity trivial." Yet he found not only 
pleasure but advantage in the task, since it tended to fix 
his attention on different objects, enabled him to assist 
his memory by reference to a correct record made at 
the time, prevented him from depending on vague 
recollections, and, by inducing regularity of habit, 
increased the facility he possessed, naturally, of express- 
ing himself precisely in descriptive writing. Two other 
good results followed the practice, namely, that the very 
occupation of writing led him to reflect on what he had 
recorded, and brought up the events of the past day, 
week, or month, to undergo, as it were, a formal review, 
which, in its turn, as an exercise of mind, induced a 
desire so to act, at all times, that he might feel a 
satisfaction from it whenever he came to the duty of 
recording what he was doing, or of reading what he 
had done. Those who knew Mr. Sopwith as I did will 
recall how notably this habit of order, learned so 
thoroughly in the commencement of his career, availed 
him all through his long life. He was the very soul of 
order and of exactitude, and came, I think, the nearest to 
the truth in all he said and did of any man I have ever 
known. I would not pretend, and I am sure he would 
have been the last to wish me to pretend, that this was 
from any particular goodness on his part. There was, 
no doubt, goodness in it and of it, but it was really a 
habit of accuracy, grafted upon a sound natural veracity. 
Many men perfectly truthful by nature are led away 


from tlie truth by a habit of loose observation on matters 
of fact. They trust entirely to memory, and, not taking 
sufficient time for fixing passing events properly in their 
minds, retain false impressions, which they are apt to 
give forth, often with much sorrow to themselves after- 
wards, in a form which does not bear the test of strict 
examination. Mr. Sopwith, truthful to the fullest 
degree by nature, cultivated truth methodically, and so 
became automatically truthful, — a high attainment. 



R. SOPWITH was born on the third day of 
January in 1803, and grew up a healthy 
boy. He was a very short time at school, 
and became, by the time he was of age, quite 
an adept in practical mechanical art. " I think," he 
once said to me, "that Sir Joseph Whitworth was not 
a better working engineer than I was ;" and I once heard 
Sir Joseph, who to the last was proud of his own skill, 
say on his part, " I was quite as good with my hands, 
when I was young, as Tom Sopwith." 

His elementary studies over, Mr. Sopwith, as a step 
onwards, began to study land-snrveying ; and gaining a 
practical knowledge of that art, he soon found oppor- 
tunities of applying the knowledge he had acquired. In 
1822 he was employed by the Corporation of Newcastle 
to make surveys, and as several private persons employed 
him in the same capacity, he carried out a considerable 
number of labours in surveying, and took an active part 
in planning the construction of a new jail in Newcastle. 
In this year, 1822, he was admitted a free Burgess of the 
Corporation of Newcastle, before the Eight Worshipful 
William Wright, Esq., Mayor, and stood charged with a 
musket for the defence of the town. 

i 4 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1803-25. 

The fact that he was admitted as a Burgess so early 
in life indicates that he had already made himself 
popular with the leading men of his native place, — a 
fact which is further borne out by the circumstance 
that a sum of ten guineas was voted to him by the 
Committee of the Town Council, with a complimentary 
message from the Mayor, and from Mr. John Clayton, 
the Town Clerk, a distinguished local man, whose death 
in his ninety-ninth year took place in July 1890, and 
was subject of comment far beyond the city and district 
in which he had flourished so long and won such golden 

He now finally determined to devote his life to the 
profession of an engineer. To this course his father 
assented, and on attaining the age of twenty-one 
he undertook to carry out a series of surveys for 
Mr. Joseph Dickinson, of Alston. At this time Mr. 
Dickinson, himself a surveyor of landed estates and 
mines, was engaged in surveying the lead-mines belong- 
ing to the Greenwich Hospital Estates. Into this work 
Mr. Sopwith entered, and a new world of wide extent lay 
before him, of scenery, geology, mining, in all of whicli 
he took delight. Once, when speaking to me of these 
early days, he told me, with a little touch of poetry, 
that his mental life rested at first on three supports : 
the mountain led him towards the skies and made him 
familiar with the stars ; the earth kept him from becoming 
too aspiring, and in return made him familiar with the 
treasures of old which lie on her surface ; and the 
mine took him under the earth, a still humbler sphere, 
to seek out knowledge in darkness, and the goods that 
are held in secret. So in some degree he became an 
astronomer ; in some degree a geologist ; and, in a 


professed degree, a mineralogist. " And this," he added, 
" embraced a great deal." 

How he entered upon his majority is best told by the 
following quotation from his diary, dated January 3rd, 

" This day completes the twenty-first year of my age, and 
terminates that period of life which all look back upon with 
regret. The amusements of childhood and the frivolity of 
youth are now to be superseded by the more serious reflections 
and pursuits of mature years. On taking retrospective views of 
this interesting period of life, what varied scenes present them- 
selves to view ! What happy days are past and gone for ever, 
— ah ! never to return, but fondly registered in that memorial 
of past affections where every day the leaf is turned to read 
them ! How many in that time have been taken from the 
troubled storms of life to the silent mansions of peace, solemn 
instances of the uncertainty of life and of the rapid approach 
of that period when the enjoyments of human life must fade 
in the shadow ! " 

With the money he had saved, and a small gift 
from his father, he remained a year at Alston with- 
out salary or any other emolument. In the second 
year he became a partner with his employer, and 
commenced an independent life of activity, which, 
as he often declared, was pursued onwards "with 
comfort and happiness to himself, and he hoped with 
some return of good to those by whom he was 

In another memorandum, made in the year 1856, I 
find him writing the following commentary on the 
subject of his life at the period under description. It 
is a commentary made in some happy moment, evidently 
after perusing his first diary. 

16 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1803-25. 

" I have, in looking over these pages, the opportunity of 
reviving as it were very distinct images in my mind of 
former days. I find recorded here the genuine thoughts 
and reflections -which passed through my mind. I find much 
which I can rest upon with thankfulness and joy ; but 
it is only too true that an exact and honest review of life 
cannot be made without seeing in bold relief the weakness, 
vanity, and imperfections of even our best efforts. Life 
indeed is a shadow, a vapour which passeth away, and the 
very ink on some of these books has already faded away. 
Yet how varied are those shadows ; how diversified those 
vapours, like changing clouds, — sometimes heavy, dull, and 
hopeless, then bright and massive ; at other times gay and 
fleecy, flashed with resplendent hues. Even so is life. We 
live that we may learn. The chiefest of all learning is to 
learn to live, and the foundation of all such learning can 
only be safely based on a humble, constant, and earnest 
faith in the never -failing goodness of God our Creator, our 
Preserver, and our Redeemer." 

I have copied these simple words in all their sim- 
plicity and in all their purity. Had their author formed 
the least conception that they would one day be sent 
out to the world to be read, criticised, approved, or 
disapproved, he might have delivered them with more 
care and more effort at refinement. But no skill with 
the pen could have imparted the sentiments expressed 
with greater sincerity, or with greater sweetness of 
character. They reveal the man just as he was in his 
native worth. 

The journal of Mr. Sopwith, extending over the 
long period already named, is something more than 
a mere diary. It contains a diary, with notices and 
occasional details of occurrences that came under his 
observation ; but there is other matter also, consisting 

1 803-25 . ] COMMENCEMENT OF A L ONG CA REER. 1 7 

of extracts from MSS., scarce books, and miscellaneous 
collections copied at leisure hours at Newcastle-on-Tyne 
and at Alston. These include collections of pedigrees ; 
copies of, and extracts from, correspondence ; a common- 
place book, and plans and MSS. relating to public 
buildings and antiquities in Newcastle. 

As to pedigree, it is necessary only to say that the 
Sop with family had been located in Tyneside for three 
hundred years, and, as bearing on the proclivities of 
our present representative of it, that in 1735 one of its 
members, in company with Mr. Ennington, another well- 
known Northumbrian name, opened up and worked a 
lead-mine in the neighbourhood of Hexham. His father 
Jacob was born at Newcastle on May 23rd, 1770, and 
married Isabella daughter of Matthew Lowes. 
I Many curious incidents are related in the early diaries, 
showing the social life of the old English towns New 
castle and Durham at the commencement of the century. 
An account of the assize held at Durham, and of the 
outside ceremonial in 1823, is quaintly told. It was 
once customary to present the Mayor of the town on 
these grand occasions with a dagger, actually for his 
defence. The custom had ceased by this time, but the 
remembrance remained in the fact of the continued pay- 
ment of a sum of money as " dagger money." At an 
assize at Newcastle this same year, Mr. Sopwith is an 
observer of Mr. Brougham, previous to attending the 
trial of Mr. Carr, the Captain of the Watch. Brougham, 
then rising towards the zenith of his fame, is described 
as " a tall, thin, dark, coarse-featured man, with nothing 
in his appearance indicative of those abilities which he 
so eminently possesses." In this same month (July 30th, 
1823), a curious ceremony is described as taking place 
at Newcastle, namely, the Festival of St. Crispin, or, as 


1 8 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1803-25. 

some called him, King Crispin. The festival had not 
been held for many years — not, indeed, in the current 
veneration of Newcastle at least — and the streets of the 
town were as much crowded as they had been at the time 
of the coronation of the King, George IV., or at the time 
of the visit of the Duke of Sussex. From the accounts 
that had been rumoured forth about the splendours of 
the pageant, something tremendous was expected. But, 
alas ! the grandeur was not realized. A number of 
persons, the representative subjects of King Crispin, met 
as the court of that monarch in the Freeman's Hospital 
at nine a.m., and from thence marched through the 
streets for three hours. At the Mansion House, the 
Mayor had the privilege of drinking wine with the traves- 
tied sovereign ; but " the respectability and dresses and 
numbers " of the actors " fell far short of the general 
anticipation," and the antics of the paltry eccentric show 
" became the laughing-stock of the public." 

In this same year Mr. Sopwith seems to have been 
unusually busied in many labours and exercises, which 
brought him largely before his fellow-townsmen. He 
made copies of "John Wesley's medal," and of his epitaph, 
to be inserted in a volume of autograph letters of that 
enthusiastic divine. He made the personal acquaintance 
of the famous McAdam, of road-construction celebrity ; 
he learned to play on the organ, and occasionally 
officiated as organist at AH Saints' Church ; and he took 
part in the carrying out of many local improvements 
in the town. 

During the year 1825, Mr. Sopwith continued to work 
at engineering with Mr. Dickinson, and was engaged 
in the then novel employment of conducting a railway 
survey. Respecting this work he has left some interest- 
ing notes, having reference to the early experience of 


engineers in railway surveys, as well as to the arguments 
pro and con regarding the introduction of railways as 
lines of transit. 

It was the birth-tiine of the railway system. Steamers 
had been put on rivers, and the idea was becoming com- 
mon, amongst advanced and intelligent minds, that the 
whole country would have to be interlaced with railways 
for land transit, with the iron horse for the motor. This, 
however, meant the doom of the old coach, and all 
the associations connected with it. Many and varied 
interests, and sentiments which virtually are also interests, 
told against the new innovation even amongst those who 
were inclined, on scientific grounds, to be its advocates. 
The time had now come when some one was wanted in 
Newcastle-on-Tyne to take the practical steps towards 
the realization of a local scheme, and " to effect a more 
desirable communication across the island by a canal 
or a railway." The merits of a canal were very ably 
set forth by Mr. William Armstrong, a merchant of 
Newcastle ; but the general opinion was for a railway. 
During this period of indecision, in order to bring- 
about the best information on the subject the services 
of Mr. Telford, an eminent local engineer, were called 
into requisition ; but as his numerous professional 
engagements prevented him from entering into the task 
for a twelvemonth, and bias in favour of a railroad 
increased, a committee that had been established to 
advance a railway scheme, and that had obtained share- 
holders very readily, called a meeting on May 21st, 
1825, and completed an organization for the railway. A 
portion of the necessary work for the design was given 
to Mr. Sample, of Anick, near Hexham, and to Mr. 
Dickinson ; they were to undertake the construction of 
the line between Corbridge and Hay don Bridge ; and 

20 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1803-25. 

for them Mr. Sopwith took part in the preliminary 
inspection of the route that was to be followed. 

Before undertaking these, his new duties, he returned 
for a few days to Newcastle, and during this time visited 
the exhibition of paintings and other works of art held 
at the gallery in the house of Mr. T. M. Richardson. It 
seems to have been a fine collection, the honours of which 
were carried off, he reports, by Mr. Good, of Berwick, for a 
picture of a fisherman with a gun. This picture was 
bought, the first day, by Mr. Berkely, for twenty guineas ; 
a sum which another would-be possessor offered to in- 
crease by four times, without success. I mention this 
note as indicating how early in life my friend began to 
take an interest in artistic works. 




>HE year 1826 was welcomed by Mr. Sop with 
with actual enthusiasm. He commenced 
his diary with a review of previous years, 
and added a list of the different persons of 
note with whom he had become acquainted, some of 
whom he had also entered on his list of friends. He 
was, at this stage, according to his own simple estimate, 
a fortunate man. He had entered a profession which 
was most congenial to his tastes and aspirations ; he 
had won the respect of many connected with his native 
town ; he had sent in his first account of fees, amounting 
to £16 16s., for surveying and plans, for the Corporation 
of Newcastle, per John Clayton, Town Clerk ; and since 
then his pecuniary prospects had continued to brighten. 
With Mr. Dickinson he remained on the best terms, 
with promise of new arrangements for continued work 
in land and mine surveying. 

He was now staying at Alston, and enjoying the quiet 
of the little place to his heart's content. He resided 
at " Mrs. Morris's." His time was chiefly occupied in 
drawing plans of mines and lands, and occasionally 
surveying both. A circle of intelligent and agreeable 
friends afforded many opportunities of profitable con- 

22 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1826. 

versation ; and the skill of some of these in music 
afforded him other opportunities of learning, practising, 
and preserving his attachment for that most delightful 
of all recreations. In brief, the information, good sense, 
and hospitality which he received in Alston were most 
grateful to him, and were indelibly engraved on " that 
page where every day the leaf is turned to read, and 
where the grateful recollection long exists." Again, 
somewhat after the manner of Benjamin Franklin, Mr. 
Sopwith at this time kept a small book, in which he 
entered with scrupulous care the minor details of each 
day, and by this reviewed and shaped, day by day, the 
course of his life. 

In the early part of this year (1826) Mr. Sopwith, 
for the first time, appeared as an author, by the pub- 
lication of a descriptive historical account of All Saints' 
Church, in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, illustrated with plans, 
views, and architectural details. From having been 
engaged in the summer of 1824 to renew the plans of 
freehold property in All Saints' Church, he determined 
on the publication of an engraving of the church, 
accompanied with some notices of the former and of 
the present structure. In the prosecution of his design 
he was favoured with the sanction of the clergy and 
churchwardens, who readily communicated to him infor- 
mation bearing upon his subject. In his description he 
added such particulars as local circumstances afforded, 
collected from various sources : from documents in the 
vestry of All Saints, from historical notices of the old 
church by Bourne and Brand, and from personal inquiry 
of those who remembered the old and nearly-forgotten 
structure, to which he added the particulars of the erec- 
tion of the present church. To many other engravings 
he added a representation of a very curious brass plate, 


formerly on the monument of Roger Thornton ; two 
plans to illustrate the architecture of the steeple ; and 
five plates of the armorial bearings in the cemetery, 
with the drawings and description of which he was 
favoured by Mr. M. A. Richardson. 

The history of the church extends to one hundred and 
thirty-one closely-printed pages, and is not only a laborious 
but really a most interesting and historical essay, full of 
quaint observations and touching local stories and inci- 
dents. In one of these incidents some details are recorded 
of the life of a local celebrity named Captain William 
Hedley, who met with his death in the old church. 
At that time, a considerable portion of the body of the 
church having been taken down, the eastern extremity 
of the chancel was suffered to remain, and was after- 
wards enclosed for purposes of utility during the erection 
of the new church. The demolition of the steeple was 
unfortunately the cause of the fatal event long remem- 
bered. Hedley, in company with several other gentlemen, 
was inspecting the ruins of the building on the evening 
of September 2nd, 1786. The firm manner in which 
several parts of the tower were cemented rendered it 
necessary to have recourse to the operation of blasting 
with gunpowder, and one of the explosions not pro- 
ducing any immediate effect, the company drew near the 
place ; Mr. Hedley incautiously stepped within the great 
west door, when some stones fell from the upper part of 
the wall upon his head, causing a severe concussion of 
the brain, which deprived him of sense and in a few 
hours of life. 

This accident was rendered the more deplorable because 
of the estimable qualities of Hedley, and an exhibition of 
bravery by him under the following circumstances, which 
made him the object even of national gratitude. The 

2 4 


infant son of a wealthy person in Bordeaux having fallen 
into the river there, no inducement could prevail on 
any of the numerous spectators to attempt a rescue 
until Mr. Hedley plunged into the water and reached 
the child. The cries of admiration at his bravery were 
succeeded by lamentations for his supposed loss on 
seeing both the infant and himself disappear. With 
considerable difficulty, however, he succeeded in getting 
to the shore, and in restoring the child to its agonised 
parents. To their grateful acknowledgments he replied, 
11 It is I who am most happy in giving consolation to a 
worthy family, and yon owe me nothing, since this event 
has procured me a pleasure I shall never forget. There 
are few men who would not do what I have done." He 
then burst from them amidst the acclamations of the 
multitude, and cautiously eluded all the inquiries which 
were made with a design to pay due tribute to so brave 
a man. The following is an extract from an eulogium 
published in France concerning him :— 

"All that could be learned was that his name was 
Hedley. Let this name then be consecrated on the 
records of humanity. May these trifles dictated by 
sentiment fall into the hands of this respectable English- 
man, and may he not regret this tribute of gratitude paid 
him through me. My countrymen will not contradict 
me. Behold, ye of all nations and countries, such an 
eulogium as the heart ought to seek to be made known 
to the world. Without doubt we ought rather to preserve 
the name of Hedley than that of a warrior followed with 
blood, or of a politician whose negotiations are but a 
string of his perfidies. Unhappy mortals, will ye never 
be dazzled but by a sort of brightness which you your- 
selves lend to infamy, in decreeing it the honour of that 
immortality which ought only to be the recompense of 


those who do well ? Bury therefore in eternal oblivion 
the oppressor, and all who are dishonourable to their 
species. Virtue alone deserves our remembrance." 

The sentiments of this ettlogium, Mr. Sopwith tells us, 
were also elegantly expressed in a piece of poetry which, 
as lu> was not aware of its having been previously 
published, he sent, many years before, to the Neivcastle 
Month® Visitor, in which magazine it was inserted in 
November 1816. 

Taking .'t altogether, the diary of my friend for the 
year 1826 mows a life of continued enjoyment in the 
midst of work often of an arduous kind. He concludes 
his notes of the year with the observation that during 
the whole of the time he has been chiefly engaged in 
land and mine surveying with Mr. Joseph Dickinson. 
In May he completed the publication of the " History 
of All Saints' Church." He enjoyed good health and 
agreeable society, was for the most part very happy 
and contented, and ended the year with sentiments and 
opinions similar to those with which he commenced it. 




k HE year 1827 presents Mr. Sopwith once more 
enjoying the monotony of a quiet country 
life. His working time was occupied with 
business through the day, and occasionally 
through the evening. His leisure time was chiefly spent 
at home, in writing and drawing, in architectural or 
geological studies. He retained his love for the prac- 
tice of music, and essayed to play on the pianoforte, but 
soon devoted himself exclusively to the organ, which 
with him was " the king of instruments." A little later 
in the year, namely, in the beginning of March, he was 
seized rather suddenly with what was then called an 
attack of acute inflammatory fever. The record of this 
illness is remarkable, as indicative of the practice of 
medicine then in vogue. He tells us that the pain in 
his knees and limbs was extremely severe, and that two 
clays afterwards, on attempting to go down stairs, he 
became faint, and was overpowered by a peculiarly 
suffocating sensation in his breath. In the evening he 
was too feeble to be able to return upstairs, and went 
therefore to bed in the " low parlour." Here he passed 
a restless night, and at five on the following day he was 

1827.] A SEVERE ILLNESS. 27 

attended by a surgeon of the name of Shaw, who bled 
him to eighteen ounces, gave him a calomel pill, a dose 
of Epsom salts, afterwards a dose of opium, and, on 
the following day, a mixture of digitalis, antimony, and 
tartar emetic every four hours to reduce the circulation. 
He says he perspired profusely, and was very restless 
until four in the morning, when Dr. Shaw, being sent for 
again, took from him eighteen ounces more blood, after 
which he was removed upstairs to his own room, where 
he went to sleep and awoke about two the following 
morning greatly relieved. This was on a Sunday. He 
remained " variable," getting little rest and taking no 
solid food, until the following Wednesday. On Thurs- 
day he got up at three p.m., and sat until bedtime. On 
Friday he arose at nine a.m., sat until night, commenced 
to take a " mixture of columba," and rapidly returned to 
his natural state of health. Curiously enough, a little 
later in the same month his own father was seized in a 
somewhat similar manner at Newcastle — " attacked with 
severe pain in his breast " — and was greatly relieved by 
being freely bled. 

On September 28th, 1827, Mr. Sopwith describes the 
visit of the Duke of Wellington to Newcastle. The Duke 
was this day presented with the freedom of the town, on 
a large platform erected on the front of the Exchange, 
in the presence of many thousands of people. The Duke 
reviewed the yeomanry troops on the Moor, dined at the 
Mansion House, and, after visiting the Assembly Rooms, 
went to Eavensworth Castle. In a letter added by a 
sister of Mr. Sopwith, the Duke is described as by no 
means realizing the anticipation of the hero of Waterloo. 
" He had very white hair, was carefully dressed in an old 
and plain surtout, ornamented with a Waterloo medal, 
and wore a round hat. He did not court the popular 

28 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1827. 

observation, and the sovereign people seemed to take it 
rather amiss that his Grace took so little notice of them 
who did so zealously disturb themselves to take notice 
of him." 

In a summary to the memoranda of this year, Mr. 
Sopwith adds some curious social facts bearing upon this 
period of his life. He observes that in 1825 the Stamp 
Duty was nominally 4cZ., but a discount of 20 per cent, 
was granted by Parliament against heavy Excise duties, 
which reduced the duty to 3Jr/. per sheet. The price of 
paper was 70s. per thousand for the large papers, or 
rather more than 4|r/. per sheet. The stamp and paper, 
therefore, cost rather more than 4d. 

The Id. London newspapers were sold to agents at 
13s. per quire (technical of 27 papers), or 5^r/., so that 
about Iff/, was all that remained for remuneration and 
expenses, the agents receiving lfd. on each paper. The 
regular salaries paid by the editors and proprietors of 
morning papers amounted to £5,000, £6,000, and even 
£7,000 per annum. The expenses of procuring reports 
of parliamentary proceedings for the daily papers was 
upwards of £3,000 per annum. Ten or fourteen reporters 
were employed, and each was engaged in the House for 
three-quarters of an hour to an hour. Formerly 250 
impressions could be struck off in one hour, but now by 
steam-power 2,000, and even 2,500, could be struck off 
in the same period of time. 

He adds to these some other statistical accounts. 
In Great Britain, the number of men from 50 to 60 
years of age, capable of rising in arms en masse, was 
2,744,847, or about 4 in every 7 males. 

There were about 90,000 marriages every year, — that is 
to say, about 246 every day,— and in 63 marriages three 
onlv were without issue. 


The number of deaths in Great Britain yearly was 
332,700 persons; monthly. 25,502 ; weekly, 6,308; daily, 
014 ; hourly, 40. The proportion of the deaths of 
women to that of men was as 50 to 54. Married women 
lived longer than unmarried women. 

In country places, the average number of children born 
of each marriage was 4. In cities and large towns 
the proportion was 7 children to two marriages, or 3£ 

to one. 

Married men formed three-fifths of the male popula- 
tion but married women formed one-third of the female 

Four out of five widows re-married. 
The number of old persons who died during cold 
weather, to those who died during the warm weather, 
was as 7 to 4. 

Half of all who were born in Great Britain died 
before the age of 17 years. 

The proportion of twins at a single birth was 1 to 63. 
The small-pox in the natural way carried off 8 in 
100, and by inoculation 1 in 300. 

The proportion of males born to females was 26 males 
to 25 females. 

In 1801 the male population of Great Britain was 
5,450,292, while the female population was 5,492,354, 
or 100 females to 99 males. The total population of the 
metropolis at that time was 1,099,104 persons, in the 
proportion of 100 males to 128 females. 

In 1812 1 male in 10 in England and Ireland was 
under arms. 

It appears from tables extending from 1772 to 1778 
that nearly 1 in 8 cases of insanity arose from religious 

Under the head of "Extracts from Brand's and Bourne's 

30 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1827. 

'Antiquities,'" Mr. Sop with makes some curious comments 
on the " Soul Bell," adding the following particulars 
on the use of the bells of the churches in the populous 
town of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. There, he says, the 
church bells have not been confined to ecclesiastical 
uses. They have also with great propriety been adapted 
to civil purposes. The tolling of the great bell at St. 
Nicholas' Church there was an ancient signal for the 
Burgesses to convene a Guild-Day, and likewise on the 
day of electing magistrates. The little carnival on 
Pancake Tuesday commences by the same signal. A bell, 
usually called " the Thief and Reever " (reever = a 
robber : to reeve, to spoil, or rob) bell, proclaimed the 
two annual fairs. A peculiar kind of alarm was given by 
a bell for accidents or fire. A bell was rung at six in 
the morning, except Sundays and holidays, with a view, 
it would seem, of calling up the artisans to their daily 
labour. There was also retained the vestige of the old 
Norman Curfew at eight in the evening. The bells 
were muffled on January 30th, for which he could find no 
precedent. Their sound on this occasion was peculiarly 
pleasant. Had my friend enquired more carefully into 
this matter he might possibly have discovered that the 
muffled bells on January 30th were the continuous 
mourning for the death of Charles I. 

Distinction of rank, he observes, was preserved in 
Newcastle in the tolling of the Soul Bell. A high 
fee excludes the common people and appropriates to 
the death of persons of consequence the tolling of the 
great bell of each church. A bell also was tolled, and 
sometimes chimes were rung, a little before the burial, 
and while the body was being carried to the church. 
They chime or ring too, sometimes, when the grave is 
being filled up. 

1827.] A GOOD RECEIP1. 31 

In another note made by Mr. Sopwith in this same 
year I find some calculations which he has collected 
relative to the importation of tea into England. In 1669 
the quantity of tea imported was 143 pounds ; in 1678 
it had risen to 4,713 pounds. In 1700 it had become 
20,000 pounds. In 1721, 1,000,000, and in 1816 it had 
reached 36,234,380 pounds. 

On the same page he writes down a very good receipt 
for a scent-pot given to him by Dr. Dyer of Newcastle, 
as follows : — 

" Calamus root \\ ounce 

Orris root 1 ounce 

Musk 15 grains 

To this add lavender flowers, damask rose leaves, and bay 
salt, as much as you please." 




*HE year 1828 was eventful for my friend. 
At the commencement of the year he was 
still residing at Alston, where he began to 
learn the art of engraving. The results of 
his labours in this direction ended in the publication of 
his work " Geological Sections of Mines." This work 
was illustrated with plates, and exhibits the subter- 
raneous workings of the mines in the Manor of Alston 
Moor by a horizontal or ground plan, and by an upright 
or vertical section. These plans were intended to assist 
mining proprietors and those interested in the study of 
geology, by supplying numerous records of established 
facts on the disposition of strata, the position of mineral 
veins and their productiveness under various changes. 
The plans he executed for this work, some of them 
beautifully coloured, were of the most practical nature, 
and connected with the undertaking he showed a warm 
enthusiasm. He expressed the opinion that similar 
plans should be made in every mining district, and 
quoted from the celebrated Werner in his theory of 
the formation of veins, that a collection of geological 
plans, with the plan and description of a district, would 


form a most instructive volume. To which he added : — 
" If our ancestors had left us such documents for two 
centuries past, or even for half a century, what advantage 
would it not have been to us ! From what doubts would 
it not relieve us ! With what anxiety do we not turn 
over the leaves of ancient chronicles in search of informa- 
tion, often very imperfect, obscure, and uncertain ! With 
what pleasure do we not receive the least sketch or plan 
of some ancient mine ? With what pains do we not rake 
up heaps of rubbish brought out of old excavations, to 
discover pieces which may afford us some idea of the 
substances which were formerly worked out? Yet be- 
tween these documents and those which we might obtain 
in the way pointed out in the preceding paragraphs, there 
is as much difference as between night and day. Would 
it not be an obligation, a duty, for us to collect and leave 
to future generations as much instruction and knowledge 
as possible on the labours carried on in our mines, 
whether it be in those that are still worked, or in those 
which have been given up ? " 

In the beginning of April he left home for the first 
time for a long journey, paying a visit to Scotland, and 
taking various places on his way, travelling by coach. 
On April 3rd he passed through a vale of beautiful 
scenery from Longtown to Langholm, and thence through 
the mountainous district of Ewesdale, where he had the 
pleasure of meeting Sir Walter Scott and his daughter. 
In the evening he arrived at Hawick, and next day went 
on a coach called the " Sir Walter Scott," by Selkirk to 

The visit to Edinburgh is related by Mr. Sopwith in 
the diary with much detail. It lasted for three weeks, 
during which time it opened up many very pleasant 
and important friendships. The distinguished actor 


34 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1828. 

Vandenhorf was at Edinburgh at the time, with his wife 
and daughter, and showed him many courtesies. Of this 
family he speaks in the highest terms, dwelling par- 
ticularly on the scholastic and accomplished character of 
the great tragedian. He was also introduced to some 
of the famous professors of that day, and attended the 
lectures of two of them, namely, Professor Wilson, who 
then held the chair of Moral Philosophy, and Professor 
Hope, who held the chair of Chemistry. The contrast 
which he draws between these two lecturers is as amusing 
as it .is interesting. Wilson was all verve, animation, 
and yet condensation ; while Hope was calm, deliberate, 
slow, with a delivery so low and a method so technical, 
it was difficult to follow him. Hope, at this time, had 
the largest classroom in Edinburgh. It would receive 
over six hundred students, and on one occasion when 
Mr. Sopwith was present there were over three hundred 

The lecture is thus briefly described : — 

" Ten minutes of the hour elapsed before he (Dr. Hope) 
entered, and his method seemed anything but that which gets 
through a great deal of business in little time. Much of the 
lecture was on the nature of soap, and its composition and 
qualities were exhibited in some experiments ; the nature of 
volatile oils was then discussed, and a very neat exhibition of 
instantaneous combustion from the mixture of cold liquids 
shown. The low tone of his voice prevented me following him 
in a discourse so much compounded of technical language. A 
few of the students, I observed, took brief notes, but in the 
more important parts of his course, a few weeks ago, a friend 
informed me that nearly all the students made notes. As 
many of them attend several classes, of which the lectures 
closely follow each other, and each occupy an hour, very strict 
punctuality is required, which in this class was developed in a 


somewhat singular manner. The bell rings at the close of the 
hour, the janitor throws open the door of the classroom, and 
if a train of artillery loaded for their annihilation was about 
to enter, it could not send them more speedily on their de- 
parture than did the mere opening of the door. Up they rose 
en masse, helter skelter over forms and benches, and left the 
worthy Professor apparently wondering at this uproarious and 
instantaneous departure in the midst of his discourse. The 
effect was to me very odd. ' Gentlemen,' said Dr. Hope, ' to 
discover the purity of this liquid, which is often adulterated, 
you pour a few drops on paper and hold it to the fire ; ' and 
suiting the action to the word, he was about to do so. ' Now, 

gentlemen, if it evaporates ' But oh the uncertainty of 

human life, which most truly does pass away as a vapour ! At 
that moment the folding doors flew open, and the class, regard- 
less of the purity of the spirits of turpentine, more speedily 
evaporated than even the volatile fluid which remained in the 
Doctor's hands. It was in vain that he attempted to stem the 
current by a few words, which the noise did not allow me to 
hear distinctly, but there were some rather expressive words 
about ' great hurry ' and ' doing it again.' But even this, 
seconded by the more eloquent countenance of the Professor, 
was in vain." 

The reports of Professor Wilson's lectures on moral 
obligations, internal piety, self-interest, obedience to the 
Divine will, involuntary affections as a part of virtue, 
influence of the affections, observance of moral rules not 
the only essentials to virtue, the affections as duties, 
prudence and courage, view of mankind, remaining 
excellences of human nature, high moral sentiments, 
general sense of moral obligations, and union of religion 
and morals, are admirably epitomised in several pages of 
the journal. Still more interesting is the account he 
gives of a visit he paid the Professor at his residence, 
No. 6, Gloucester Place, in Edinburgh, on Sunday, 

36 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1828. 

April 20th, 1*28. Lovers of" Christopher North " will be 
grateftil for this little bit of new light on the character 
and manners of this brilliant scholar. 

" On Sunday evening, April 20th, 1828, I spent part of the 
evening -with Professor Wilson, at his house, No. 6, Gloucester 
Place, Edinburgh. He was in a spacious room, without any 
fire, and had two tables covered with books and manuscripts 
before him; a paper on which he had written a few lines, 
and a small book of poetry, were apparently occupying his 
attention when I entered. He was carelessly dressed in a 
large and coarse great coat and waistcoat, no neckcloth to a 
shirt seemingly worn two or three days, and a beard neglected 
for the same period; his hair also disordered. He is a tall, 
rather stout, and good-looking man — much more so in his 
lecture-room than the study; speaks with rapidity, but very 
distinctly. He walked quickly backwards and forwards in the 
compass of a few paces, and took snuff from a paper on the 
table. The conversation, though brief and hurried, included 
the following subjects : Highland scenery, Heber, Hugh 
Moises, Hodgson's 'Northumberland,' York Minster, Sir 
Walter Scott, Brougham's treatises. Grecian and Gothic archi- 
tecture. Bewick, Neshitt, Harvey, and wood engraving. He 
also enquired after Doubleday, Losh, Turner, Adamson, and 

" He had travelled, he said, a good deal on foot, and was 
very fond of seeing strange places. . . . Had been at Alston. 
. . . April rather too early for the Highlands, but May and 
June very Favourable. Some prefer autumn and yellow-tinted 
trees, but 'for my part.' said he, ' I love to see Nature in her 
native and gayest colours, her beautiful green; and as for 
diversity, trees naturally vary in colour at all times.' 

"'Heber was one of the most amiable of men, and a line 
poet. 1 knew him when at college. I [e was of a very cheer- 
ful, lively, playful disposition ; so much so, indeed, that it was 
feared it might tend to idleness; in other respects he was 


clever, and a very amiable character. . . . Mrs. Heber is a 
very clever woman ; I had no conception how clever. ... I 
wrote an article in Blackwood's Magazine a few months ago 
on " Heber's Hymns," and received a very affecting letter from 
her, with a copy of his "Indian Journal.'" 

"We spoke of the Rev. Hugh Moises, of the late and 
present Bishop of Durham, and of Hodgson's ' History of 
Northumberland.' He seemed much interested in the account 

I gave him of the plan, and of the various details wrought up 
in it. . . . He promised to see it. . . . 

" ' I have been in most of the Cathedrals in England, but 
York Minster excels them all. ... I first saw it when going 
to college at seventeen years of age, and till then had no idea 
that so magnificent a structure existed. ... It alone is well 
worth going a long way to see.' 

" When speaking of Sir Walter Scott, I enquired whether 
he was intended for the Church, as seems intimated in one of 
bhe stanzas of ' Harold the Dauntless,' beginning, 

' Grey towers of Durham, there was once a time.' 
He said he was not aware of it, but thought it very likely that 
this might have been at one time his intention. ' He is not 

II inch attached to law, but in Scotland it is almost the only 
profession that a man can get well forward in. Sir Walter 
is not a member of the Church of England, but has a great 
liking for it. You were fortunate in the coincidence of 
meeting him on your first entrance into Scotland, and amid 
so romantic scenery. I well remember it, being once detained 
by an accident several days at Mosspaul.' 

" I mentioned the treatises of the Society for Promoting 
Usefid Knowledge. ' I have only seen eight or ten numbers. 
I think them very clever, and written by very able men.' 

"We had some conversation on the architecture of Edin- 
burgh, on the splendid Roman models of Adams, and on the 
defective Gothic in St. George's Chapel by the same. I men- 
tioned an idea that occurred to me several times, viz., that the 
same combination of Gothic designs (as is common in the 

38 THOMAS S0PWI7H, F.R.S. [1828. 

Grecian) would produce a pleasing contrast, and have the im- 
posing character of an immense cathedral pile. 

" He made many enquiries about Bewick. ' My children 
will have his books alone. They are often lying on my break- 
fast table and other places, and I always look at them with 
renewed pleasure.' This observation is made in Blackwood 
about six weeks after, in these words, ' Have we forgotten the 
genius that dwells on the banks of the Tyne 1 . . . No . . . 
his books lie on our parlour, bedroom, dining-room, drawing- 
room, study tables, and are never out of place or time. . . . 
Happy old man ! the delight of childhood, manhood, decaying 
age ; a moral in every titlepiece, a sermon in every vignette.' 
This coincideuce seems to indicate the Professor to be the 
writer of the article in which it appears, and which is a very 
favourable review of his brother James Wilson's ' Zoology.' 

"On leaving, Mr. Wilson assured me he would call if he should 
again visit Alston. ... On the whole, I was much pleased by 
his courtesy, and greatly admired his amazing penetration and 

Another very interesting interview was held by my 
friend whilst he was in Edinburgh with a man destined 
to play a leading part in the working literature of this 
country ; one also whom we had the pleasure for 
many years to call our mutual friend, and about whom 
we often conversed in later days— I mean the distin- 
guished Robert Chambers. Mr. Chambers, at the time 
when Mr. Sopwith first made his acquaintance, was in 
business in Edinburgh, and a note respecting his call is 
here given. It is a short but bright picture of the 
author of the " Vestiges of Creation " at the commence- 
ment of his hopeful and striking career. 

" I called at the house of Mr. Robert Chambers, author of 
the 'Picture Book of Scotland' and other works, and had 


some conversation with him. He is a young man, and has 
lately travelled upwards of two thousand miles in various 
parts of Scotland, chiefly on foot, notwithstanding a slight 

To this interview Mr. Sopwith, some time after- 
wards, added, in reference to the famous journal which 
William and Robert Chambers commenced : — 

" The ability and moral influence of the well-known journal 
conducted by him and his brother are beyond all praise. Not 
only is that publication one of the most attractive means of 
improvement and refinement of the age ; but the energy and 
judgment of its conductors, so strikingly displayed in every 
number, are likely to effect a reformation of many abuses 
which exist in periodical publications, and to give a new and 
decided tone, which may operate in a very powerful degree 
towards the general welfare and happiness of society, not only 
to this but to other nations." 

In our friendly gossipings on men and events, Mr. 
Sopwith and I often spoke and thought of events and 
sayings relating to Robert Chambers. I remember, as if 
it were but yesterday, telling Mr. Sopwith of my last 
meeting with our friend ; how one fearfully cold and 
stormy day in winter time, after paying a flying visit to 
St. Andrews on business connected with the University 
Court, I met Dr. Chambers (who then resided there) 
on my way from the University to the railway station ; 
how he insisted that on so bleak an afternoon I should 
not pass his house, but should rest there for the night, 
and " see his books, and talk of old friends and past 
times ; " and how vexed he was that a fixed engage- 
ment to lecture that very night in Edinburgh on my way 
back to town rendered it impossible for me to accept the 
gracious hospitality. " That was Robert Chambers all 

40 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1828. 

over," said Mr. Sopwith; who thereupon entered warmly 
on " the work that man has done. And remember what 
I say," he continued prophetically : — 

" He is certain to turn out to be the author of the ' Vestiges.' 
I have reckoned him up page by page, comparing that book 
with his other works, and if I were put in the witness-box as 
an expert in calculations, I could prove the thing to the satis- 
faction of any intelligent jury." 

Taking it altogether, the journey of Mr. Sopwith to 
Scotland was rich in interest of every kind, and an 
extremely useful lesson to him in this part of his career. 
He returned home, visiting on his way all the principal 
places on the Scottish border, and records with much 
care numerous particulars of place and history ; some- 
times correcting, sometimes expanding, what others have 
said. For example, in describing Yevering Bell, a hill 
in the neighbourhood of the Cheviots, he corrects 
Hutchinson, commonly considered an authority of good 

" Yevering Bell, in this neighbourhood, is a steep, conical 
hill, and is remarkable for the extensive vestiges of antiquity 
on its summit, and which are commoidy supposed to be of 
Druidical origin. There are two eminences, on the higher of 
which is a large cairn, or collection of stones, surrounded by a 
ditch ; and the whole is surrounded by the ruins of a wall of 
vast dimensions, which now occupy a breadth of about six 
yards, and varying in height from one to three feet. Hutchin- 
son describes this hill as being two thousand feet in perpen- 
dicular height above the level of Milford Plain ; but, from 
observations which I made, I do not think it exceeds eight 
hundred feet in height." 

A visit to Flodden Field afforded a striking though 

1 828.] FLODDEN FIELD. 41 

rather broken picture of that memorable place. He tells 
how he and his companions rode up a steep hill (which 
is now planted), and observed the remains of the entrench- 
ments where the Scottish army lay encamped for some 
time previous to the battle. The summit was covered 
with earth and mounds, and commanded an extensive 
and most beautiful prospect southward as far as Wooler, 
and on the north and east also a beautiful country, seen 
spreading out to a great distance. He expresses himself 
as very much struck in contemplating the transactions of 
that fatal conflict on the very spot where it occurred, and 
especially the fatality which overwhelmed the extra- 
ordinary advantages of the Scottish army, and rendered 
the very precautions for their safety the immediate cause 
of their defeat and ruin. He crossed a small stream, on 
each side of which was a gentle declivity, and here the 
thickest part of the conflict took place, according to 
tradition, which the position itself seems to indicate. 
He considers that no correct estimate has ever been 
given of the numbers slain ; but though the loss on the 
English side was trifling, that of the Scotch included 
their king (James IV.), the flower of their nobility — 
amongst whom were the Archbishop of St. Andrews, two 
bishops, four abbots, twelve earls, seventeen barons, four 
hundred knights, and many esquires and gentlemen. 
The entire loss on the Scottish side has been calculated 
from five to seventeen thousand, while upon the English 
side it was about fifteen hundred. He concludes his note 
with a happy allusion to the happier time in which he 
lived, when civil war and bloodshed were known only by 
tradition, and cultivation smiled over a scene which for 
a few hours was once a scene of death and desolation. 

Getting nearer home, he visited Hulme Abbey, and 
found it undergoing repairs of some interest to the 

42 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1828. 

admirers of Sir Walter Scott. The repairs were sug- 
gested to the Duke of Northumberland by Sir "Walter. 
The ivy which covered a large portion of the walls had 
been taken off, and the stonework pointed with Roman 
cement, by which process the walls presented the 
appearance of a badly-built barn rather than of venerable 
ruins. With all his admiration for Scott, Mr. Sopwith 
maintains his own love for ivy. " Ivy," he says, " though 
sometimes destructive, is a great ornament; and he was 
not surprised to hear a general expression of opinion that 
tearing it from the walls of Hulme Abbey had greatly 
impaired the appearance and beauty of the building." 




JETURNING to Alston in May, 1828, Mr. 
Sopwith resumed his engineering labours 
in his usual methodical style. His diary 
presents no point of special interest until 

September 2nd ; there then occurs this important 

entry : — 

" Married by license at Alston Church, by the Rev. Anthony 
Hedley, A.M., Thomas Sopwith to Mary, eldest daughter of 
Mr. Thomas Dickenson, of Spency Croft, near Alston, and 
principal agent to the Greenwich Hospital Estate and mines 
in this district." 

The engagement had lasted for five years, and was, 
in every sense of the word, one of sincere affection. 
The marriage was followed by a short honeymoon, and 
then a return to work. 


In February Mr. Sopwith was occupied in writing a 
brief account of the burning of York Minster by 
Jonathan Martin, which account was published in the 
Newcastle Courier on February 13th as a bit of cotem- 
porary history. The more important extracts from this 
long-forgotten article call for repetition here. 

44 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1828-29. 

" The strong suspicions which were excited of Jonathan 
Martin being the author of the destruction of the Choir of 
York Minster, have been confirmed by the apprehension of 
that remarkable individual, who, by an act of daring intrepidity 
impelled by religious frenzy, has secured an inglorious notoriety, 
equalled only perhaps by that of Erostratus, who to perpetuate 
his name fired the temple of Diana at Ephesus, over two 
thousand years ago. 

" The ruin of the finest portion of the most splendid edifice in 
the kingdom has excited universal regret and an intense feeling 
which renders every particular of its destruction interesting. 
The following particulars were given by Martin himself while 
at Newcastle, exactly a week after the event. At the conclusion 
of the evening service at the Minster, on Sunday, February 
1st, 1829, he, Martin, secreted himself in one of the recesses 
of the clustered columns which support the central tower. 
About nine at night he went to the belfry, in one of the 
western towers, where he lighted a candle by means of his 
razor, matches, and tinder-box. He drew up a bell rope, which 
he cut, and having coiled it, brought it down to the nave, when 
he put out the light and knotted the rope, which he made use 
of to enter the Choir. He spent three hours in arranging the 
folio books, cushions, and other combustibles in two heaps on 
either side of the organ ; and having prepared, by tearing the 
leaves froni the books, the most effectual means for completing 
bis scheme, he set fire to both heaps at once, and on seeing the 
conflagration fairly commenced, departed by means of a rope 
through a window, breaking it with a pair of pincers which 
he took for that purpose that he might not cut his fingers. 
He assigned as his reason for destroying so beautiful a building 
that they did not preach the true doctrine of Christ, and that 
it was for the honour and glory of God. In answer to the 
question, ' Do you not expect to be punished for this great 
offence against the Church ? ' he replied, ' That is between the 
Almig hty and me : 1 am willing to suffer any punishment for 
the glory of God.' He said that when in the Cathedral he 


felt quite comfortable, and in no way oppressed with that 
solemnity and awe which the venerable pile usually impresses 
upon spectators, and which to a mind capable of reflection 
must have been singularly awful in the darkness and silence 
of the night. 

" Poetic imagination can hardly conceive a more distressing or 
remarkable scene than this poor idiot wandering alone in the 
vast aisles of the glorious structure, the last and only spectator 
of that magnificent Choir, on which the beams of light had 
shed their parting rays, and the chords of the organ had sounded 
their rolling thunders and sweet melodies never to be again 
heard ! The holy and beautiful house where our fathers 
Avorshipped about to be burnt with fire, and the noblest 
monument of the land about to be destroyed ! " 

Twenty-five years after this event Mr. Sopwith 
described it to me at the house of a mutual friend, 
where, during our visit, we met one of the nearest 
relatives of the unhappy man who had been the cause 
of so much alarm. Mr. Sopwith knew another brother 
of the same family, William, who lived at Newcastle, 
and whose mind went wrong under the impression 
that he had discovered perpetual motion, on which 
discovery he published a new system of natural philo- 
sophy on the principle of perpetual motion (Newcastle, 
Preston, 1821). Later on (namely 1829) this brother 
published another work, entitled "William Martin's 
Challenge to All the World as a Philosopher and Critic," 
in which work he includes " The Flight through the 
Universe into Boundless Space ; or, The Philosopher's 
Travels of his Mind," with another chapter, " A Critique 
on All False Men who pretend to be Critics, and not 
being Men of Wisdom or Genius." The same man also, 
after making an attack on the distinguished astronomer 
Dr. Nichol of Glasgow, turned round upon a religious 

46 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1828-29. 

sect with "A Stumbling-block to the Unitarians, prov- 
ing Three in One in Everything." 

While pitying these two unhappy brothers, Mr. 
Sopwith had unbounded admiration of a third brother 
of the same family, the marvellous John Martin, the 
painter, whose works as an artist were, he thought, 
even surpassed by his suggestions as an engineer, by 
his plans for improved sanitation, and by his hopes of 
securing a healthy world. " Truly," my friend said, as 
he closed the history, " in this case it is literally the 
fact : — 

" ' Great genius is to madness close allied.' " 

Coming back from this short digression, I am brought 
to the record of a first domestic calamity, one which threw, 
for a time, a cloud over Mr. Sopwith's life. On July 
21st, 1829, he spent the day with the Rev. Anthony 
Hedley, of Whitfield, by whom he had been married, 
some ten months before, to Mary Dickenson. The two 
gentlemen devoted their time to the study of several 
manuscripts, which Mr. Sopwith had written at intervals, 
on mining records, and a descriptive account of Alston 
for Mr. Davidson's intended work on Border excursions. 
Three days later, namely, on July 24th, an event 
happened which he thus records : — 

" At eight o'clock this morning my dear Mary was safely 
delivered of her first-born child, a fine boy, at Loaning House, 
near Alston. The afternoon was one continued and dreadful 
storm of thunder and rain. Gilclerdale and Thornhope bridges 
were carried away by violent floods." 

Seven days later is the next mournful minute :■ — 
"July 31st. — The remains of my dear Mary have this 

1828-29.] UNDER BEREAVEMENT. 47 

evening been interred in the Chapel yard of the Independent 
Congregation of Alston." 

The particulars of this bereavement are given at great 
length in a special chapter of the diary and in one of 
the most touching of narratives I ever remember to have 
read. There is an account of the correspondence between 
himself and his wife, of the trust they put in each other, 
of their mutual fondness for particular pursuits, of all 
others the "delights" of music. Then come the 
details of the catastrophe. The child is born on 
Friday morning, and all goes well until Sunday, when 
the happy mother is so amused with some story a kind 
lady friend tells her, that she has to be checked in her 
mirth. Then she expresses a desire that her child 
shall be named after Mr. Sopwith's father, Jacob, 
but soon after is seized suddenly with excruciating 
internal pain, which continues with little intermission, 
and in the presence of her husband and parents she 
sinks into death on Tuesday afternoon, July 28th. 

With the practical common sense which marked him 
in all his life, Mr. Sopwith met his terrible bereavement 
by holding himself close to his work. He summoned 
resolution to walk a great deal, to endeavour to take his 
meals as usual, to converse with all the cheerfulness he 
could command, and to sleep as regularly as was possible. 
Happily for him, just at this juncture a new and, as it 
may also be called, a novel duty came to him, by his 
being invited, through his friend the Rev. John Hodgson, 
to undertake a commission for Sir John Swinburne 
to survey from Otterburn to Newcastle. Undertaking 
this duty, he was led by it to visit Capheaton, the 
seat of Sir John Swinburne, to receive his instruc- 
tions for the survey. Here he met with a most kind 

48 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1828-29. 

reception from all the family, and forthwith started on 
a survey, the novelty of which served as a most useful 
diversion to his mind. 

On October 16th Mr. Sop with began to be closely 
engaged in his new duties, in making parliamentary 
surveys for two lines of railway. He left Newcastle with 
much regret, owing to the circumstance of his father, 
Mr. Jacob Sop with, being extremely ill ; and on the 20th 
received a message at Newham Edge that his father had 
experienced an apoplectic seizure, with which his life had 
terminated. By this event he became the possessor of 
all the property and stock connected with his father's 
business which he at once determined to continue at 
least for a time. 

In the course of the following month, Mr. Sopwith 
was admitted to the freedom of the Joiners' Company; 
he paid for the honour £5 lis., namely — fees, £4 9s. ; 
stamp, £1 ; and warden 2s. 

In many senses, the year 1829 was eventful and painful 
to my friend. He had sustained two severe domestic 
losses in the deaths of his wife and father, each of which 
had affected him severely. On the other hand, he had 
secured many advantages, that were to him sources of 
special pleasure. He had, as we have seen, met dis- 
tinguished men in Edinburgh, and to these he had added 
other friends, such as Campbell, the African traveller; 
Ward, the writer of a work on Mexico; and Sir John 
Swinburne. He had also been engaged in labours which 
were most congenial to his tastes. He had engraved 
plans of mines in Mexico for Mr. John Taylor, had drawn 
geological plans of mines near his native place, and had 
become one of the first of the engineers connected with 
the gigantic development of railway industry. To him, 

1828-29.] DARK FOREBODINGS. 49 

at that time, this last-named industry appeared as a kind 
of dream certain to be true and yet seeming quite im- 
possible of attainment to the full result suggested. I 
heard him once express regret that he did not at this 
period take exclusively to railway engineering, inasmuch 
as the field was open to him. But towards the close of 
this eventful year his mind was at times gloomy and filled 
with forebodings, " as if a dark cloud hung over him," 
as he expresses it in a passage in his diary, and for a 
season was even " embittered." In the midst of this he 
was enchained by local sympathies ; so, although the 
opening of the Stockton and Darlington Railway a short 
time before, and the forthcoming opening of the Liver- 
pool and Manchester line, had stirred in him a warm 
enthusiasm, which was intensified somewhat by his own 
work of parliamentary surveying, he let the opportunity 
go by of being a leader in railway enterprise, and limited 
himself largely to mining, as a branch of his profession 
that was to occupy him chiefly through the remaining 
portion of his active life. 



•HE earl)- part of 1830 found Mv. Sop with re- 
douiesticated in Newcastle, with his hands 
very full of business indeed. He began by 
inventing a new cabinet for business papers, 
which afterwards, with various improvements, became one 
of the most ingenious and useful office cabinets that was 
ever produced. He arranged his cash books in three 
volumes ; one for his every-day business, another for 
surveying, and a third for miscellanies. He commenced 
also the systematic study of geology under the Rev. 
Robert Turner, and undertook much surveying in in- 
clement weather and under difficult circumstances. At 
this time he continued, in more methodical form, his 
diary so as to give it permanency of character. 

On February 2nd he left Newcastle at six o'clock in 
the morning in the " Chevy Chase " coach for Edinburgh, 
and in the midst of snow reached the last-named place 
after a journey of fifteen hours and a half. On the 
following morning, with a four-horse coach, he drove to 
Kerswell House, Lanarkshire, to obtain Mr. Lisle's assent 
to the Otterburn line. He returned to Edinburgh the 


same night, dined with Professor Pillans, and the next 
day got back to Newcastle. 

in March Mr. Sopwith paid his first visit to London, 
to give evidence in reference to a Bill at this time 
before Parliament ; and as a memento of travelling sixty 
years ago I give the story entire from his diary. 

"I left Newcastle in the Wellington coach on Sunday 
morning, March 7th, at 5 o'clock. Darkness and a well-known 
country afforded little to occupy attention, and having no com- 
panions I had abundant scope for reflection. 

"I was really surprised to find myself at Durham so soon, 
for the awe of a comparatively long journey seemed to have 
taken away all idea of length of time, or distance from lesser 
portions of it. A hazy morning obscured the distant view, but 
on crossing Framwellgate Bridge and observing the rugged 
battlements of the Castle, the smooth surface of the Wear, the 
Prebend's Bridge, the woody banks, and splendid towers of the 
Cathedral, I felt convinced that a more admirable combination 
of interesting and picturesque objects would rarely be equalled* 
and probably in no part of England excelled. 

" The road in the county of Durham is at present in no 
commendable state of repair. 

"On entering Yorkshire, the roads are much better and 
the country flat. Northallerton Church is a venerable Gothic 
edifice ; from thence to Thirsk, the view on the right is confined, 
but on the other side is extensive and beautiful. The village 
of Lawton is delightfully seated on a luxuriant hill-side, and an 
extensive and cultivated view is terminated by the range of 
moorlands, on which much snow was yet remaining. 

" The milestones hereabouts are extremely neat, made of 
wood or cast iron, and having raised letters of metal upon 

" As we approached Thirsk, the beauty of the country was 
enhanced by the increasing fineness of the clay, and at one 
o'clock a most interesting prospect of rugged and snow-clad 

52 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1830. 

hills, limestone cliffs, and a luxuriant valley of well-cultivated 
land was brightened by the smiles of an unclouded sun and 
clear azure sky. The neighbourhood of Thirsk in summer must 
be extremely beautiful, the land is of good quality, and the 
whole face of the country thickly studded with hedgerow trees ; 
the church is a very beautiful Gothic structure. 

"On arriving at York I spent the half -hour allowed for 
dinner in viewing the exterior of the Minster. The sun shone 
brightly on the west front, and thus presented in the most 
favourable light a scene of architectural magnificence far sur- 
passing anything of the kind I had ever before seen. 

" The very excellent delineations, however, not only of the 
main features, but also of the most minute details in halfpenny 
and other books had so familiarised me to them that I can 
hardly say that it either surpassed or fell short of my anticipa- 
tions ; the latter would indeed be an almost impossible case, for 
what but very accurate representations could incite anything 
like a just conception of so truly noble a fabric 1 The watchman 
of the Minster (at whose door I chanced to ask whether admit- 
tance could be gained) went with a key to two doors, but they 
were bolted within by the vergers, who were not to be found. 
A young man came up to me, and very civilly explained several 
particulars of the building before parting, and on my naming 
that I came from Newcastle, he said he had a brother in that 
town, a Mr. Wilkinson of the Asylum. He kindly offered to 
show me the localities of York if I should again visit it. 

" The old bridge over the Ouse and the picturesque houses 
which adjoined it are now removed, and a very stately bridge 
of elegant and massive architecture, and modern erections, 
supply their place. 

" The country near York is mostly very flat, well wooded, and 
in summer must indeed be beautiful. Its attractions were not 
however (at this season) powerful enough to recompense the 
severe cold of an outside seat, so after passing Tadcaster I 
resumed my inside place for the night, wrote these few notes, 
and read the ' Pictures of London ' until dusk. 


" That anticipation and remembrance of pleasing events or 
interesting scenes form a very large portion of human happiness 
is universally admitted, and have generally been considered to 
afford both a more intense and longer-continued pleasure than 
the immediate enjoyment of them. Indeed the latter is fre- 
quently unaccompanied with much gratification, and seems as 
if merely furnishing the means of the enjoyment itself. 

" The sight of York Minster was a treat I had always 
anticipated with much pleasure. I had beheld it with great 
pleasure, and the limited period of twenty minutes for viewing 
it seemed to have elapsed in the compass of as many seconds. 
The light colour of the stone, the boldness and clearness of the 
details, and the brilliant lights and shadows of the setting sun 
on the west front, left a vivid impression on my mind, which, 
after night had closed external objects from attention, afforded 
the most agreeable remembrance; its beauties seemed heightened 
by imagination, and at intervals through the night the image 
of this holy and beautiful house seemed like a golden dream to 
occupy my thoughts, and required some" exercise of thought 
to remember that the object of these waking visions actually 
existed, was the work of men's hands, and that its light and 
airy form, instead of being a bright delusion, really and common- 
place-like 'stood upon the ground.' 

"The exterior exhibits few indications of the lamentable ruin 
which in 1828 befel its beautiful Choir. Several new pinnacles 
and cornices have replaced those which were destroyed ; their 
lightness and beauty, the crispness of ornament, and the bright 
sunshine on them, gave them an effect as if springing up from 
fairy rather than human hands, and most incontestably prove 
that architecture requires the means but wants not the power 
to equal the most splendid works of former times. My young 
friend informed me that parties frequently visit the interior 
by moonlight, especially at midnight, when the lunar beams 
flow directly through the marigold window, — spectacle beside 
which even the ' Fair Melrose ' must hide its diminished 

54 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1830. 

"Near Tadcaster two hats, with a lady appended to each, 
succeeded in gaining admission to my hitherto solitary berth. 
A few commonplace remarks, the addition of a gentleman 
grievously ill of lumbago, and eventually a profound silence, 
afforded so little interest that I willingly resigned myself into 
the more attractive arms of Morpheas, and slept soundly all 
the way to Doncaster. 

" After a most comfortable tea and supper, I resumed my 
journey under very favourable auspices. 

" The hats and lumbago were gone, and in then" room a most 
tremendous white great coat formed an excellent pillow, on 
which, with few exceptions, I slept almost as comfortably and 
soundly as if in bed, till morning. Now and then the rattling 
on a pavement, the coachman's horn, and the houses 'whizzing' 
past the coach windows, betokened a town, and but for excessive 
cold the sight of these and of the country by the unclouded 
light of the full moon woidd have rendered an outside seat 
very pleasant. 

" Doncaster seems to contain many excellent houses. At 
Bawtry I looked out for the division of the counties, and 
entered Nottinghamshire at eleven o'clock. After this I was 
little wiser of my journey until six o'clock, when another hat 
and its inhabitant entered with the grateful intelligence that 
we were only ten miles from breakfast. Not finding her dis- 
posed to be communicative, I took another doze, and awoke 
on entering Stamford. This is a large well-built town, with a 
handsome Gothic church, and two or three others, of which 
I only saw the spires. 

" After washing and making a hearty breakfast, I entered 
the coach again, quite as little fatigued as at the commence- 
ment of my journey twenty-seven hours before. 

" At the south end of Stamford is a beautiful entrance gate 
to the park and pleasure grounds of Burghley Park, the seat 
of the Marquis of Exeter, which extend over a vast space of 
ground, and are filled with numerous herds of deer. The 
general character of all the country hereabouts is flat; the 


fields large ; hedges good ; the land mostly of superior quality, 
diversified with plantations and scattered trees ; windmills 
very abundant, and churches every here and there. 

" At Wansford Inn is a sign of the bridge, and under it 
'What? Wansford in England ! ' 

" On approaching Huntingdon the road is more hilly, the 
surface is formed of gravel, is in good repair, and of great 
width. A large tract of country appears to the west, which 
on a clear summer's day must be very beautiful. Stokesly is 
a pleasant little village with a most picturesque ivy-covered 
tower to a Gothic church. 

" Huntingdonshire County Gaol stands a short distance north 
of the town of Huntingdon, in some fields east of the road ; it 
is of modern erection, has a neat front to the south, and an 
apparently limited area; is inclosed on the other three sides 
by a lofty stone wall, strengthened with numerous narrow 
buttresses ; which seems exceedingly injudicious, as I believe 
there are few sailors who would find much difficulty in climb- 
ing either up or down them. 

" Huntingdon seems a very clean and neat town, at least 
that portion of it which we passed was remarkably so ; many 
of the houses are stuccoed, the pavement good, and numerous 
trees and gardens gave a very beautiful effect to the whole, 
even at this season ; in summer it must be very beautiful. 

" The first symptoms of ' London ' now appeared in the 
shape of a gentleman driver, son of one of the proprietors, 
who, in a black dress-coat and top-boots, took the reins from 
thence to London, a distance of about sixty miles. The country 
continues extremely beautiful until we approach the northern 
border of Hertfordshire, when, being incumbent on chalk beds, 
the soil is cold and poor, the surface bare and treeless, and a 
naked ridge of hills presents an uncomfortable aspect. The 
road here is nearly straight for many miles, and is on the site 
of the Roman military way ; on passing Royston it climbs 
a steep hill, and from the summit the prospect south, though 
somewhat improved, is still very bare and uninteresting. 

56 THOMAS SOPTVIIH, F.R.S. [1830. 

Nothing could now exceed the extreme clearness of the 
air and the enlivening effect of a bright sunshine, which 
presented the country in a most enchanting manner, but (for 
in this there is always a but or an if) the cold was very 
piercing, and confined me to the inside until the attractions 
of the immediate vicinity of London, and the desire to see as 
much as possible of that magnificent city, induced me to prefer 
the outside. 

" From sixteen miles from London the road seems one 
continued country village, with only a few intervening spaces 
of road for two or three hundred yards. It was dark as we 
entered the stone-paved streets of London, where the brilliant 
effect of the gas and the bustle of the people very much 
corresponded with the idea I had formed of London. At seven 
o'clock we reached the Bull and Mouth Inn, after a journey 
of 273 miles, performed in 33 hours." 

The following memoranda of the expenses of this and 
of one or two subsequent journeys are curious as con- 
trasted with the charges of railway travelling in our 

The inside fare of the Wellington Coach from New- 
castle to London was £4 10s. ; breakfast at Ruthyford 
was 2s. ; dinner at different stages 7s. ; tea at Doncaster 
and breakfast at Stamford 2s. 3d. and 2s. Qd. ; the fees 
to guards and drivers were 17s. Total expense £6 0s. 9d. 
for travelling 273 miles in 33 hours. 

On the 17th of the same month (March, 1830) the 
expenses from London to Newcastle were : inside fare, 
£5 15s. ; breakfast and dinner, 6s. 6d. ; and guards and 
drivers, 17s. 6d. ; being in all £6 19s. The distance 273 
miles ; time 30 hours. 

On the 22nd of the same month, on a journey in the 
mail from Newcastle to London, the sums were : inside 
fare, £6 6s. ; breakfast, dinner, and tea, 9s,j guards and 


drivers, 17s.; in all £7 12s. Distance 273 miles ; time 
32^ hours. 

The mean of these is £6 17s. 6r/., or at the rate of 
6d. per mile; and the mean time, including stoppages, 
8*15 miles an hour. 

In conversation in later years Mr. Sopwith was very 
fond of comparing the facilities and economics of travel 
in these days with what existed in the earlier periods of 
his life. He told me once that under these influences 
he had no doubt he had lived to see the amount of 
travelling by the community more than quadrupled, and 
the safety and convenience proportionately increased. At 
the same time he had a kind of lingering love for the 
coach and four horses ; and he believed that, as time 
afforded greater pleasure of life, the old turnpikes might 
still have a new career, either with horses as of yore, or 
more likely with steam or electric engines as the motor 
powers. Richard Trevithick's steam-carriage ride from 
Bath to London at twelve miles an hour in the beginning 
of the century was, he thought, good ground for his 




iT the close of the last chapter we followed 
Mr. Sopwith into the metropolis, in the year 
1830. He alighted, as we have seen, at the 
famous Bull and Mouth Inn, which, with 
characteristic voraciousness, swallowed him readily. It 
did not, however, retain him long, for after taking a cup 
of tea, feeling no fatigue from the journey, he set out on 
his peregrinations through London. 

The particulars of this visit to the rnetrorjolis he has 
written down in his journal with great precision, and 
as the narrative of London, sixty years ago, is extremely 
interesting I submit it as it came from his pen. 

" After consulting my map, I took a walk round St. Paul's 
Cathedral, which (and the same occurred to me at York 
Minster) seemed scarcely so large as I expected. It is, how- 
ever, a truly magnificent fabric, and those who would ' view 
St. Paul's aright ' should ' visit it by the bright sunlight.' 
I was, however, glad of an opportunity of seeing it by moon- 
light, and, great as were my expectations, they certainly were 
in no respect disappointed. 


" As to its apparent dimensions, that I had often heard 
commented on, and the deceptive effect of huge masses, whether 
mountains or buildings, had often before excited my surprise. 
That the Campanile towers of St. Paul's are twenty feet higher 
than the steeples of St. Nicholas' and All Saints' in Newcastle, 
and the dome a hundred and fifty feet higher than the great 
tower of York Minster, is what well-authenticated statements 
may inform us, but what the most attentive examination and 
comparison of the objects themselves seems to be incapable of 

" I continued my walk along Ludgate Hill, down New Bridge 
Street, and along Blackfriars Bridge to Southwark. From 
Blackfriars Boad I went westward by Stamford Street, 
returned to London by Waterloo Bridge, went to Drury Lane 
Theatre, and, finally, returned to the inn, without ever once 
asking my way or missing my road. 

" What a difference a penny makes ! Blackfriars Bridge 
was crowded, Waterloo Bridge seemed, and indeed was at this 
time, a most delightful and almost unfrequented walk. A 
peal of eight bells in Southwark sounded very like those of 
All Saints' in Newcastle. 

" The broad surface of the Thames, the magnificent front of 
Somerset House, and the heavy gloom that seemed thrown 
like a mantle over this vast metropolis, excited a train of 
interesting thoughts, all concentrated in the one vast and 
comprehensive and inexpressible idea of ' London.' 

" I had the happiness to enter Drury Lane in the very 
plenitude of a most uproarious tumult. Kean had that night 
appeared for the first time as King Henry V., and four acts of 
that play had been represented ; eighteen minutes had, however, 
elapsed, and no symptoms of the remaining act. The clamour 
was deafening, and at length the curtain rose. In vain was the 
attempt to perform ; a whole scene acted with resolute per- 
severance passed in dumb show, and at length Kean was 
compelled to come forward. After much clamour he said, 
that for twenty years he had had the honour of appearing 

60 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1830. 

before them, and been honoured with their approbation, and 
now (I understood him to say), for the first time, stood before 
them in disgrace. On this the yells were repeated, and much 
noise and confusion interrupted his apology. When I again 
heard him, it seemed to me a rhodomontade about being an 
Englishman, and, striking his breast, appealed to them ' as 
Englishmen ' ! ! This did the business ; the incensed and justly 
irritated ' John Bull ' first melted into pity, and, with genuine 
consistency, honoured the offender with loud and repeated 

" The fifth act, however, was completed very speedily, and a 
great deal omitted, owing, I strongly suspect, to some altera- 
tion of the chief performer. This contraction of the play was 
too obvious not to excite dissatisfaction, but, happily, the rising 
storm was quelled by the able execution of the magnificent 
overture to Der Freischutz, which the audience had the good 
taste very loudly to applaud. I was much pleased with the 
music of this piece, especially the laughing and hunting chorus. 
But the scenery, and very singular stage effects produced, were 
beyond anything that my imagination could have previously 

" The scene of the Incantation was gradually wrought up 
to a most horrible, hideous, and truly appalling spectacle. A 
large owl flapping his wings, green dragons, and ill-omened 
birds hovering in the air, with fiery serpents, green lights, etc., 
moving in all directions ; fiends with burning faces ; skeletons, 
and a livid picture of Pandemonium, with a falling shower of 
fire and demoniacal screams, completed the horrid climax. 

" Drury Lane presents a semicircle of four galleries ; the 
lowest has panels richly painted and gilt, the upper three 
have gold ornaments in bold relief, on a salmon-coloured 
ground. The ceiling is a flat ellipse, divided by gilt ribs into 
seventeen compartments, with golden ornaments in relief. A 
very handsome glass chandelier is suspended from the centre. 
The galleries (part of which are the boxes) are supported by 
metal columns, extremely light and elegant, and richly gilt. 


On each side of the stage are two very splendid Corinthian 
columns, so made as to have all the richness of real columns, 
while, at the same time, they do not greatly intercept the 
sight. The frontispiece is very deep, and has a splendid effect ; 
it represents a crimson velvet curtain, with the Royal Arms 
and medallions of George and the Dragon in gold. The drop 
scene is a fine Ionic colonnade, and classic landscape. 

"The theatre was very well filled. I made the following 
hasty computation of the number of people that may with ease 
and comfort be contained in it. 


The Pit 600 

Boxes and Galleries .... 1,800 
Stage Boxes and Gallery above . . 120 


" The orchestra consisted of thirty-six musicians. 

" The staircase and lobby of this theatre are very beautiful ; 
in the latter is a fine statue of Shakespeare. 

" The saloon is a magnificent apartment ; a considerable 
portion of the sides is covered with plate looking-glass, and 
thus ' many reflections ' are cast among the ' gay and licentious 
crowds ' who resort to this seat of luxury, forgetful how little 
conducive is the pursuit of mere pleasure to the real welfare 
of man. 

"On Tuesday morning (March 9th), I rose at six, and 
wrote till nine, breakfasted .with Mr. Percival Fen wick at 15, 
Featherstone Buildings, Holborn, and went with him to 
Mr. Bramwell's office. We afterwards looked into the Court, 
where the Master of the Rolls was presiding, and into Lincoln's 
Inn Hall, where we saw the Lord Chancellor. His lordship 
is a healthy, vigorous, good-looking man, far from being 
' stricken in years,' and seemed, by frequently changing his 
position and looking very indifferent and unconcerned, as if 
he would -willingly hear the end of a long and seemingly very 
uninteresting story which a learned gentleman was relating 
to him. 

62 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1830. 

" Above the judges' seat is a large painting of Paul before 
Felix, either a copy or the original by Hogarth, most probably 
the latter. 

" After engaging lodgings at 42, Wilmington Square, Spa 
Fields, and removing my luggage from the inn, I went, after 
calling at Mr. Ord's, to meet Fenner, agent for the Bill, in 
the lobby of the House of Commons. On leaving him I 
walked through the interior of Westminster Abbey, an edifice 
which, in many respects, falls very short of my expectations. 
I speak with humility in anything that has been directed by 
superior taste and judgment, but I cannot help thinking that 
the interior of the Abbey and King Henry VII. 's Chapel might, 
at no great expense, be rendered far more beautiful and im- 
posing than it now is. The organ is a plain, commonplace 
looking instrument, no way suitable to so august a pile ; and 
the waxworks seem to me in miserable taste. In extent, 
solemnity, and slenderness of the columns, the whole interior 
disappointed me. Not so the monuments ; they are truly 
magnificent and deeply interesting. Deep, and powerful, and 
holy are the impressions they are calculated to make ; the 
greatest, the wealthiest, the worthiest, the most learned and 
able men that adorn the annals of our country here repose in 
one sleep of oblivion. 

" The splendid memorials erected to perpetuate their memory 
speak many a lesson to the contemplative mind, and who can 
stand on the slab that covers the mouldering temple of so 
much wit and genius, and read the simple inscription, 


without feeling, with acuteness, the destiny of all the human 
race 1 

" Many of the monuments excited great admiration, but 
none more so than that of Lady Nightingale. It is a truly 
inimitable design, and great as were my expectations of it, 
they were most abundantly fulfilled. 

"There is no longer reason for complaint on the score of 


exorbitant charges for seeing this structure and its interesting 
contents. For the moderate sum of fifteen pence the visitor has 
not only the privilege of seeing every part of the building, but 
is also attended by one of the vergers, who points out the most 
remarkable and interesting features, and relates some particulars 
of their history. It is obvious that a gratuitous admission 
would render the place a thoroughfare for the rabble, and as 
the attendants are strictly prohibited by a public notice from 
demanding further fees, those who for so high a gratification 
as should be derived, object to so moderate a fee, may have 
at least this consolation, that they lose an enjoyment which a 
narrow and parsimonious mind could derive a small share 
indeed of gratification from. 

" After calling at Mr. Topham's, in Bermonclsey, I returned 
by London Bridge, saw the magnificent structure intended to 
supersede the present bridge, and on passing had a ' keek at ' 
the ' pearl o' the City.' I spent the whole evening at my 
lodgings, and in the ease and comfort of a cheerful fireside, 
with plenty of maps, books, and papers to occupy me, I find 
as much, nay more, real peace and true enjoyment than in the 
gayest and most splendid fascinations which have yet attracted 
my notice. 

" March 10th. — Bose at seven, wrote and breakfasted till nine, 
hired a hackney for an hour, made several calls, and attended 
Divine service at St. Paul's Cathedral at ten. 

" The vast and splendid interior of this magnificent Cathedral 
excited great admiration, and the impression was much 
heightened by the rattling echoes of the organ pealing from 
vault to vault, and filling the august pile with deep and 
solemn chords. The Choir, though certainly beautiful, is both 
less appropriate and picturesque than that at Durham, and 
to me afforded a convincing proof that Grecian and Boman 
architecture is incapable of the solemn and venerable character 
so peculiar to the Gothic style. 

" The organ of St. Paul's is suitable in design to the character 
of the building, but to me seemed far less attractive than the 

64 THOMAS S0PWI1H, F.R.S. [1830. 

old and venerable-looking one at Durham. As to their com- 
parative merits in a musical point of view I am in no way 
adequate to judge. St. Paul's seemed very powerful, and is 
allowed to be a very fine instrument, but it did not impress 
me with those ideas of richness and sweetness of melody which 
I have so often been delighted with at Durham. 

"As to the chanting in St. Paul's I was miserably disappointed. 
I did not expect that it would excel, and scarcely expected that 
it would equal, that at Durham ; but so wide a difference, so 
very decided and indisputable an inferiority, I was in no way 
prepared to expect. On many, certainly on nearly all things, 
I would give an opinion with much diffidence in powers so 
incompetent as mine are to form a judgment on such subjects, 
but, in this particular instance, diffidence or hesitation in 
advancing the opinion I express would only be hypocrisy. 
The harsh, I had almost said unmusical, chanting which I 
this day heard in St. Paul's can never be put in comparison 
with the heavenly cadence and exquisite harmony of Durham. 
To hear the one I have often gone many miles, to hear the 
other I would not go as many yards. 

" After leaving the Cathedral and making some calls, I went 
to Southwark Bridge, and spent an hour with Miss Scott at 
her father's in Thames Street. I afterwards heard the 
Appollonicon, and was much pleased with the performance. I 
then walked by Pall Mall east to Regent Street, and by it to 
Regent's Park, where I saw the Diorama and Colosseum, 
walked round Regent's Park, and returned home, where I 
drank tea, and spent the evening writing, etc. 

" When it is considered that the paintings in the Diorama are 
drawn with critical accuracy, and the effect so striking as to 
seem a perfect reality, it was to me very interesting to see such 
a representation of the interior of St. Peter's at Rome on the 
same day as that of visiting St. Paul's. 

" The Appollonicon is a musical instrument invented by 
Flight and Robson, organ-builders to his Majesty, and is 
exhibited at then- manufactory in St. Martin's Lane. It is, in 


fact, a very large organ, with a great variety of pipes and 
other musical accompaniments which imitate different instru- 
ments. It is capable of great nicety of modulation, and its 
full powers are tremendously effective. It performed, by 
machinery, the overtures to Figaro and to Der Frieschutz with 
astonishing brilliancy, and to all who have any love for music 
the Appollonicon can scarcely fail to afford a most agreeable 
entertainment. In front of it are several sets of piano keys, 
by which five or six performers can play at the same time. 

'■' Waterloo Place and Regent Street present an imposing 
exterior (the design of which cannot but excite much admiration), 
and if they were constructed of real stone would, as streets, be 
unparalleled for grandeur and magnificence. The want of stone 
which has rendered it necessary to have recourse to stucco, is a 
-rent disparagement to London, and in this respect the Scotch 
have just reason to boast of a mighty superiority in their 
northern capital. 

" It seems to me, that the stamp of true greatness cannot be 
affixed to any work where ' Imitation ' is a prevailing feature, 
and this idea has been very much confirmed by observing the 
stuccoed buildings of London. In colouring those houses also, 
a very marvellous bad taste and want of management occurs, 
in making the middle of ornamental columns the line of 
division, so that where a pillar of one dingy hue might seem 
to be of stone, a partial colouring of it tells to every passing 
stranger, ' I am not what I would be thought to be.' It must, 
however, be admitted that stucco is a vast improvement to a 
brick building when architectural embellishment is introduced ; 
when this is not the case I would prefer the humble but 
' honest ' face of brick before the more specious and deceptive 
covering of stucco. 

" The Diorama of the interior of St. Peter's gave a very 
excellent, and I doubt not a very accurate, idea of that noble 
structure. The imposing effect and reality of these works of 
art can only be appreciated by eye-witnesses, and show to what 
an amazing extent human industry and perseverance can go. 


66 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1830. 

An organ playing some of the beautiful symphonies of the 
Italian service would have added much to the interest of the 
scene, and by partly attracting the imagination would in some 
measure heighten the pictorial illusion by diverting the eye 
from the sole employment of scrutinizing it. 

" But beautiful and interesting as was this and the other 
view of the Diorama, they were far exceeded by the representa- 
tion of London in the Colosseum. 

" The accounts which I had frequently read of this exhibition, 
had raised very high expectations, but no description, however 
minute and accurate, and no anticipations, however sanguine, 
can afford a correct idea of this surprising work. The dimensions 
of the building are such as to create astonishment; it is polygonal, 
having sixteen faces, each 25 feet in length, and the external 
diameter is 126 feet. The interior of the wall of the Colosseum 
is covered with a panoramic representation of London as seen 
from the top of St. Paul's. It is painted on 40,000 square 
feet of canvas, nearly an acre in extent. In the centre is an 
ascending room which would contain from ten to twenty persons, 
and is raised by machinery to the first gallery. 

" This gallery has balustrades resembling those round the 
upper gallery of St. Paul's cupola ; beneath this gallery is a 
projecting frame of wood, so formed and painted as to resemble 
the great dome of St. Paid's, while a projecting canopy above 
conceals the roof of the building. The range of vision is thus 
confined to that portion of the wall which is entirely covered 
with the painting. No language can describe the extraordinary 
effect produced on this amazing surface of canvas, and nothing 
but a perfect conviction that it really is painted on a flat surface 
coidd counteract the impressions of distance it is calculated to 
give. If the effect is wonderful, still more wonderful is the 
surprising accuracy with which every minute object in this 
extensive view is delineated, and almost incredible is the 
industry and perseverance by which alone such a painting could 
be executed. The first sight of it is calculated to create, and 
does almost invariably create, much astonishment. An L'ish 


gentleman who came in when I was there inquired several 
times if the dome below us was that which he had seen from 
the outside; when assured that it was not, and that it was in 
the interior of the building, nothing could exceed his amazement. 
Gazing with convinced but wondering eyes, he involuntarily 
exclaimed, ' Lord God Almighty ! is it possible 1 ' — a testimony 
of his wonder which, though very objectionable, seemed a 
most unfeigned expression of the very highest surprise and 

''Thursday, March Wth. — Made several calls and saw a great 
portion of the western part of London. 

" Went in the afternoon to the House of Commons ; got four 
franks * from Mr. Orel, and spent the evening at home writing 
letters, and with one or two friends who called. 

" One of these friends was Mr. R. S. Richardson, with whom 
in former years I had spent many pleasant hours, and for whom 
I ever entertained much respect. His intention to leave England 
had led to cessation of correspondence, and to find him again, in 
good health and comfortably situated, afforded me more genuine 
pleasure than I had experienced since my arrival in London. 

" Friday, March \Wi. — Waited on Mr. Percival Fenwick, and 
after preparing some estimates and other papers required by 
Parliament, walked with Mr. Clennell to Mr. Bramwell's office 
in the Temple. Called upon Mr. Bell at his house in Wimpole 
Street and attended a Committee of the House in the smoking 
room. Sir M. W. Ridley, Mr. Ellison, Mr. Lidclell, Mr. Bell, 
Mr. Ord, and Mr. R. F. Wilson were present. The Committee 
adjourned till Tuesday following, in consequence of a Petition 
from the Free Burgesses of Newcastle respecting the Town Moor. 

"By Mr. Ord's recommendation I was admitted into the 
gallery of the House of Commons, and from the front seat of 
the Strangers' Gallery had an excellent opportunity of observing 
the proceedings. But for previous information, the interior 
of St. Stephen's would certainly strike a stranger as being 

* The frank or free postage granted by members of Parliament before 
the days of the postage stamp. 

68 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1830. 

both small and mean as compared with the importance of the 
matters transacted in it, and but for the same preventive of 
surprise, the method of transacting those matters, guiding, as 
they do, the political destinies of the world, would excite still 
greater surprise. 

" The House of Commons is a plain, ordinary-looking place. 
The Speaker's chair stands on the floor, and has a high back 
and cover, surmounted with the Royal Arms ; in front of it is 
a large table, at which three clerks of the House are seated. It 
is covered with red cloth, has a number of books and papers 
lying promiscuously upon it, and at certain times the mace is 
laid on it. 

" On each side of the Speaker's chair are ranges of seats, rising 
from the floor to the wall, five on each side. Those on the 
right of the chair are usually occupied by Ministerial members, 
and those on the opposite side by the Opposition. There are 
also cross benches behind the chair, common to both parties, 
and galleries, which are rarely occupied. 

" Opposite the chair is a gallery for the public, to which 
admission can be had at any time for 2s. Qd., or by an order 
or verbal 'pass' from a member to the door-keeper. The 
back seat of this gallery is appropriated for the reporters, a 
situation which would almost seem to prevent them either 
seeing or hearing anything of what is going on below. Behind 
it is a gallery communicating with two staircases, one of which 
is for the ingress, the other for the egress of the public ; so 
that when the gallery is cleared for a division, those who, 
having a back seat, get first out, stand the best chance of being 
first in again when re-admission is permitted. The reporters, 
however, have a retiring room allowed them. The extreme 
sang-froid of Mr. Speaker in the execution of his duties is 
very amusing. A venerable old gentleman with an immense 
parchment roll pointed to the Speaker, was most impressively 
mumbling a relation of the ' why and wherefore,' while Mr. 
Speaker, the party formally addressed, was directing his 
attention to quite another subject. 


"On the Gloster and Avon Railway Bill a very animated 
discussion arose, in which several members took a part. A verbal 
understanding had, it appeared, been entered into, two years 
ago, which ' solemn compact ' it was contended was sought to 
be violated by one of the parties now applying for the Bill 
before the House. Mr. Bright of Bristol spoke very vehemently 
on the question, and most warmly contended for the sacredness 
of the engagement formerly made. He called on Mr. Speaker, 
and lie called on the Honourable House, to show ' Honourable 
Gentlemen ' that such engagements could not thus be set aside ; 
and all the while Mr. Speaker, insensible to the flow of oratory 
thus poured upon him, was most coolly and pleasantly discours- 
ing to a gentleman beside him, and with his face quite in a 
different direction to that in which the stream of eloquent ex- 
ordium was flowing. All of a sudden, a bustling noise, and several 
members walking out, with 'Walk out, gentlemen — quick, 
walk out, walk out,' were the outward and visible tokens of a 
division of the House, and consequent clearing of the gallery. 
The routine of receiving petitions and reading Bflls is, to a 
stranger, I think I might almost say farcical, if such an expres- 
sion be allowable for what, on the stage, would certainly not 
fail to create much amusement. 

" Every now and then Mr. Speaker rose and quickly repeated 
a brief form of words, to which not one of the members seemed 
to be paying the least attention. The form, as well as I could 
make it out, was this (a strong emphasis and protracted tone 
distinguishing the words written larger) : ' You that are of 
opinion that this Petition be received say Aye • you that are of 
a contrary opinion say ISTo ; the Ayes have it.' And this as 
fast as the sentence can be uttered, without any real ayeing 
or noing on the part of the members; so that of a number 
of Petitions and Bills read, probably eighteen or twenty in 
number, the Ayes always had it. 

" I had an opportunity of hearing and admiring some observa- 
tions made by Lord Lowther ; they related merely to a private 
petition and afforded no scope for eloquence, but I was much 

7 o THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1830. 

pleased with the ease and gracefulness of his manner. By- 
gracefulness I mean that courteous and dignified address which 
so well becomes a British senator, and one who may in time 
be one of the chief est nobles of the land. 

" If I had returned into the gallery I would have heard a 
number of very interesting debates and many excellent speeches 
by the principal members. Mr. Liddell introduced the North- 
umberland petition, and many highly interesting subjects were 
to come under discussion. Of this I was aware, and yet I 
preferred returning home and spending the evening there. 

" Home (even a temporary one) has attractions powerful at 
all times, but when vivid impressions of sorrow remain, when 
the mind, even in the midst of the most splendid and powerful 
attractions, will revert to scenes that fly on memory's wings 
like shadows of departed joys, — at such times, — and who has 
ever been entirely free from such impressions ? — home, sweet 
home, that calm, and tranquil, and holy temple of the wounded 
mind, is the only place congenial to such feelings, the only 
place where, at such times, real peace and happiness can be 

" On the following day I called and spent part of the fore- 
noon at Mr. John Scott's. Being in the immediate vicinity of 
the Monument, I took this opportunity of ascending it, and the 
prospect amply repays the labour of ascending so great a height. 
Accompanied by Miss Scott I then spent some time in see- 
ing the monuments and other treasures of the great lion of 
London lions, St. Paul's. Every visit to this stupendous and 
magnificent structure increases my admiration of it. There is 
only one, word that can convey a true idea of its grandeur, and 
that ivord, if attentively read and diligently attended to, can- 
not fail to afford a vivid, a correct, and an indelible impression 
of the glories of this august temple. That word is inscribed 
on the monument of Sir Christopher Wren at the entrance of 
the choir, and must there be read. It is — 

'■ ' < '1RCUMSPICE ! ' 

"The notes of the ' deep-labouring organ ' rolled from vault 


to vault, and its magnificent tones were heard to great 
advantage from the Whispering Gallery. My companion had 
previously visited the upper galleries of the great dome, and 
declined again undertaking the laborious ascent to them. 
Having provided her a comfortable seat by a warm fire in the 
library, she remained until I had made the ' grand tour ' of 
this mountain of architecture. I went up alone, and carefully 
examined the curious construction of the inner cupola, cone, 
and timber framing. The climbing into the ball reminded me 
very much of the rises in the lead mines ; and the civilities 
(eighteen pennywort] 1) of my conductor as forcibly called to 
my remembrance the friendly admonition of the miners, ' Take 
care, maister, and dinna fall down the rise.' 

" After returning to the library we visited the models, clock, 
bell, and finally the crypts or vaults, the pocket sweating 
pretty freely all the while ; though, after all, when the great 
convenience of constant attendance on visitors is considered, I 
do not think the charges exorbitant. 

"The vaults I consider well worthy of the stranger's 
attention ; a deep and heavy gloom fills their long aisles, and 
well does this solemn effect accord with the sepulchral reminis- 
cences that crowd upon the mind. Mere ' sight-seeing ' is an 
occupation of which both eyes and mind soon grow weary, and 
one bright and magnificent and attractive object succeeding 
another, and then, again and again, superseded by similar 
scenes, soon creates a sort of vacancy in the mind, or want of 
aptitude for that species of enjoyment. The dark chambers 
beneath the cathedral afford that transition which the mind 
seems to long for, and fill it with mournfully pleasing and 
interesting associations. The magnificent marble sarcophagus 
of Nelson, the tomb of Collingwood, the little spot wherein is 
laid the rearer of this mighty fabric, these and many other 
objects offer much to occupy the contemplative mind, and to 
impress the deepest convictions of the destiny of man, and of 
the shadowy nature of all earthly pomp and glory; for in the 
splendid tomb of Nelson we see what was erected by and 

J 2 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1830. 

intended for the remains of him who might well exclaim, as 
has by Shakespeare been attributed to him, ' Vain pomp and 
glory of the world, I hate ye ! ' 

" Surely the pomp and glory of so august a Temple above, 
and Wolsey's ' self -intended monument' below ; the triumphant 
flags of victory hung proudly round the stupendous dome, and 
the mouldering ashes that silently rest in the vaults beneath 
them ; the gay and stirring crowds that throng around and 
in this great temple, and the darkness, and silence, and loneli- 
ness of these chambers of the dead, eloquently and fervently 
proclaim the truths which, above all others, the living should 
lay to heart. 

" On the following morning I attended St. Paul's during the 
musical part of the service, which, from the grandeur of the 
organ, re-echoed from the stupendous vaults above, was very 
imposing, but much less attractive than the Durham service. 
I was much surprised that no anthem was sung after the 
third Collect, according to the usual custom of cathedral 
service, and still more surprised that the whole should seem so 
devoid of that grace and beauty of expression which elsewhere 
prevails, and which ought certainly to be found in the metro- 
politan church of the kingdom. 

" I then went to Bishopsgate Church in expectation of 
hearing the Hon. and Rev. Edward Grey preach, but was 
informed by a gentleman that Mr. Grey was to preach at St. 
Sepulchre, in Snow Hill. Thither I hied with all speed, and 
arrived just as the service commenced. I got an excellent seat, 
and seldom have I experienced more gratification than was 
afforded me by the excellent discourse of Mr. Grey and the 
admirable music of a very excellent organ. 

" The sermon was for the benefit of a Girls' Charity School, 
the scholars of which sat in the organ gallery, and in their 
simple attire, and with sweet and modest looks, seemed like 
cherubs sent to awaken compassion in the hearts of men. 

" A printed copy of a hymn, composed for the occasion, was 
handed to me, and never will I forget the inimitable, the soul- 


stirring sweetness with which these lovely babes sung their 
humble praise. It was a simple but very devotional piece, and 
every note impressed the most lively sensation of delight and 
sympathy with the helpless choir. T even shed tears which 
I coidd not control, and my heart earnestly responded that 
benediction of our Saviour, ' Of such is the Kingdom of 

" Mr. Grey is, beyond all comparison, the most admirable 
and impressive preacher I ever heard. His discourse was 
truly excellent, and was delivered with that solemnity and 
power which surely well becomes a Messenger of God, — a 
Legate of the skies. Chaste, and simple, and dignified, and 
expressive, the sermons of Mr. Grey seem to me as almost 
perfect models of pulpit oratory ; at least I can truly say that 
his sermons, more than any others I ever heard, have had a 
lasting influence on my mind, and some of his eloquent passages 
seem indelibly impressed on my memory. The doxologies were 
all chanted, that too in a very superior manner. I think it 
greatly relieves the monotony of our long liturgy, and as they 
happened to sing two very favourite chants, the pleasure of 
hearing them, added to the other and much higher grati- 
fications of the sermon and hymn, made me truly thankful for 
the incivility of a St. Paul's verger, but for whom I should have 
been immured in the gallery of that Cathedral the whole of 
the service, and only have seen the delivery of an inaudible 

" I dined with Mi-. Topham at his house in South wark. My 
father had stood sponsor for his eldest child, and I was 
requested now to undertake that office for his youngest one ; 
with which, as it was particularly urged, I complied. Mr. 
Topham had a numerous and intelligent party of friends on 
the occasion. Immediately after tea I begged to be allowed 
to leave, and returned home to my lodgings, where I spent the 
evening very pleasantly among my books and papers. 

"On Monday, March 15th, I went to the British Museum, 
with a letter to Mr. Barber, one of the principal librarians, 



who procured me a ticket for the Reading Rooms. It was 
fully my intention to devote a portion of my time to copying 
some extracts for the Rev. Mr. Hodgson, but unforeseen and 
unexpected occurrences prevented me then, and numerous 
engagements will, I fear, render it almost impossible for me to 
devote any considerable portion of time to the seclusion of this 
most author-like tabernacle, where books may be said to be 
cut and dovetailed together with persevering and unfailing 

" The room in which the King's Library is placed is truly 
magnificent. After viewing it I went through the Museum, and 
found, as every one must find, a great deal to excite astonish- 
ment and admiration. The Gallery of Sculptures was a most 
delightful treat, and I longed for a week, and an intelligent 
friend, to view its matchless contents. 

"After leaving the Museum I dined at the Cafe Colosseum, 
and proceeded to the House of Commons, where I attended a 
Committee of the Lowgate Road Bill. I heard on this and 
some other afternoons when at the .House, the afternoon ser- 
vice in the Abbey. The chanting is sweeter than at St. Paul's, 
and they sing an anthem. The interior of this venerable 
structure gains upon me every visit ; my first visit greatly dis- 
appointed me, and I candidly set down my ideas ; but ideas 
change. It somehow or other falls short of my expectation, 
and though it would be folly to dispute its claims to venerable 
grandeur and solemnity, yet I think its general effect might 
be improved by a uniform colouring like York Minster. 
Artists may decry colouring as they like, and those who greatly 
admire naked stone have much to confirm their views, but I 
think that in an ornamented interior the architectural enrich- 
ments and composition are seen to greater advantage when 
of a uniform colour. Westminster Abbey, and Henry VII. 's 
Chapel, with coloured and clean walls, and clean and dark- 
coloured, brightly-varnished oak, would, I imagine, be much 
more imposing in its effect than it now is ; but yet the pic- 
turesque and gloomy grandeur of its long aisles and fretted 


vaults cannot fail to excite much deep and solemn feeling, 
and this feeling in me has certainly been increased by every 
successive visit. 

"At Mr. Martin's establishment, 104, Holborn, I saw by far 
the finest specimens of lithography I ever met with or heard of. 
They equal copper-plate etching in the fineness of the lines, 
and can scarcely be distinguished from it. He gave me some 
specimens, and showed me how very many impressions had 
been taken from some of them without injury to the tenderness 
and clearness of the ' hatching.' Professional men who have 
seen the specimens are equally surprised and pleased. 

" On this afternoon (and also on some others when attending 
at the House), I returned to my lodgings by a very circuitous 
route, by Vauxhall Bridge, Belgrave Square, and Hyde Park, 
the principal places I fixed on before leaving home in the 
morning, and took a small list of streets to guide me from 
one to the other. In the town itself, after a few days, I felt 
little or no difficulty in steering my course to any part of it, 
and very seldom enquired my way. These long rambles soon 
made me familiar with all the leading thoroughfares of the 
western portion of London, and as I marked each day's route 
out upon a map I could easily observe by it in what direction 
and by what lines of streets I would be able to see the most 
interesting squares or other principal streets. They had the 
effect also of rendering home and tea very comfortable, and as 
I had several estimates and other papers to examine, as well 
as books and pamphlets to read, I never thought of leaving 
them, but enjoyed with them the occasional company of my 
friends Richardson, Newton, Davison, and others, — as much 
real enjoyment as at this time could have been afforded me by 
the most gay and attractive amusements. 

" On Tuesday morning I went to Greenwich in a small boat. 
The morning was very fine, though cold, and the face of Old 
Father Thames in parts was ruffled with the wind. 

" I had an excellent view of the bridges, especially of New 
and Old London Bridges. The former is truly a magnificent 

76 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1830. 

erection, and worthy of the first city in the world. The rapids 
at the old hridge have a somewhat alarming appearance, and 
are considered dangerous ; the boat shot through like an arrow, 
and I understood from my guide that it was then less dangerous 
than at some other periods of the tide. Flatness is the general 
feature of the shore of the Thames, which, fringed with miles 
of active commerce, and its auxiliary ships, wharves, docks, 
warehouses, and manufactories, fill the mind with almost 
overpowering ideas of the greatness of the British Empire. 

" I took with me the mathematical writings in MS. of my 
respected master, the late Henry Atkinson, to his brother-in- 
law Mr. Biddell, master of the Naval Asylum, with whom I 
dined, and returned to a Committee of the Lower House at 3 
o'clock. After another long ramble I returned to my lodgings, 
and had the pleasure of Mr. Davison's company in the evening. 

" I was on this day informed by the Parliamentary Agent 
that my continuance in town was no longer essential, for 
though it might be as well to comply strictly with the Standing 
Orders of the House, yet if anything required my presence in 
Newcastle I could on signing certain documents be dispensed 
with without any material inconvenience." 

During his residence in the metropolis, Mr. Sopwith 
lodged at 42, Wilmington Square, apart of London which, 
although, as he said, not even then very fashionable, 
was exceedingly convenient, quiet, and comfortable. The 
work on which he was engaged was congenial to his 
tastes; and from the circumstance that it brought him 
into communion with persons of great intelligence and 
influence, he looked upon the visit almost in the light 
of a holiday. Moreover, it was the first taste of the 
great city; and as a centre of enchantment the great city 
In witched him. He was fond of Newcastle from its 
local associations and the many friendships -which were 
connected with it ; but had the opportunity offered itself, 


had it seemed to his prudent mind a good arrangement 
to settle down in London, the temptation would have 
been very great, and would perhaps have been followed 
by a more brilliant if not more useful career. 

The news of the death of his uncle, Mr. James Sop- 
with, caused him to return to Newcastle. The details of 
the return journey by mail coach contain little of in- 
terest. He had not been long at home before he re- 
ceived a message from London requiring his attendance 
on a Committee at the House of Lords. He therefore 
left Newcastle again by mail coach on Monday evening, 
March 22nd, 1830, and read and slept all the way until 
he was safely set down at the new Post Office on 
Wednesday morning at 6 o'clock. He was so little 
fatigued and felt so little inconvenience that he went 
direct to his lodgings and from them to Spa Fields 
Bath, took a bath, breakfasted, and proceeded to the 
House of Lords, passing some time very pleasantly on 
his way at the National Repository of Arts. Here he 
found for the first time introduced some patent globes 
which would go into the pocket when collapsed, but 
inflated with air would form fine globes, four feet in 
diameter. He also found ftolff's patent self-acting pianos, 
which played with brilliancy and force. Here, also, was 
Chevalier Aldini's defensive dress against fire, a strong- 
woollen dress, saturated with saline material and covered 
with armour and shield of wire gauze. This dress Mr. 
Sopwith spoke of with commendation quite late in his 
life. It was, he said, so cheap, light, and portable, he 
wondered all firemen were not clothed in it. It enabled 
a man to go literally through fire without being burned. 
Aldini, I take it, was the famous nephew of the still 
more famous Galvani, from whom we obtained the word 
galvanism. In this same repository there was being 

78 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1830. 

exhibited at this time the piece of sculpture from 
Thorwaldsen, entitled the Triumph of Alexander. 

In the afternoon he attended the Committee of the 
Lords in the Robing Room, after having been previously 
sworn at the bar of the House. Lord Shaftesbury was in 
the chair, and that meeting terminated the professional 
engagements of Mr. Fenwick, another engineer, and 
himself. Everything ended in the most satisfactory and 
pleasant manner, after which he and his colleague went 
to the Cafe Colosseum, where, according to custom, they 
finished up the day by an excellent dinner. The Cafe 
Colosseum, which was situated at Regent's Park, was, he 
tells us, a place worthy of remembrance. It was easily 
reached by the " Paddington Stage " running between 
Paddington and the City. Its cuisine was admirable, 
and was memorable in that it seems to have first turned 
out the famous soup called mock turtle. 

A neat little picture is given, in this stage of the 
journey, of the magnificent entrance to the House of 
Lords called the King's Entrance. During his survey 
of this entrance the Duke of Wellington passed them, 
plainly dressed in a blue surtout and making his way 
towards the Lords. Another picture, very interesting, 
is a description of a visit to Greenwich Hospital. 

" On Saturday (March 27th, 1830) I went on the ' Stage ' 
to the City, and went solus into a number of offices, large and 
small, in the Bank of England. I then went on a coach to 
Greenwich, where I spent the remainder of the day. 

" Everybody knows that Greenwich Hospital is one of 
the finest, most magnificent, most uniform and extensive 
structures of the kind in Europe. It is, in fact, a little city 
of palaces, and has a little nation resident in its walls. The 
painted hall is exceedingly and delightfully beautiful, and the 


chapel is one of the most elaborate, magnificent, and costly- 
structures I ever beheld. A fine organ is supported by 
six columns fifteen feet high, formed of one solid block of 
white marble ; they cost <£600 each, — the guides lay on another 
=£400 each by way of making the thing sound better, — and 
Mr. Locker, who gave me this item, also assured me that the 
interior of the chapel cost upwards of =£60,000, which is more 
than twee the cost of All Saints' Church by £6,000 or £ 7,000. 
I was truly surprised that my friend Mr. Collison, who at 
Alston exclaimed, ' What, live within forty miles of Keswick 
and never seen the Lakes ! ' had never yet seen the interior 
either of Greenwich Chapel or Westminster Abbey. I visited 
the Chapel twice, and was allowed to remain in it as long as I 
chose. I spent upwards of an hour alone viewing the matchless 
yet chaste and beautiful enrichments of this splendid chapel. 

" I went into the dining-rooms which are below the painted 
hall and chapel, and saw several hundred pensioners at dinner. 
Such a feeding as this of His Majesty's ' Old game cocks,' as 
they style themselves, I never yet beheld. I went into the 
kitchens and saw the cooking apparatus; in the eastern one, 
which is the largest, there are three immense cauldrons and a 
large open fire grate. 

" An old tar gave me the following particulars of this august 
mess. In one great copper 5 cwt. of potatoes are boiled three- 
quarters of an hour by steam every day. In another 7 cwt. 
of meat is boiled every week day and 8 cwt. on Sundays — four 
days mutton, three days beef; boils about an hour and a 
quarter. At the grate only some 20 or 30 lbs. of meat are 
roasted for such petty officers as choose roast, and in a cauldron 
45 lbs. of cocoa and 42 lbs. of sugar in the morning, and in the 
evening 8 lbs. of tea and 36 lbs. of sugar, are the materials for 
about 180 gallons of these respective beverages. 

" I wandered through a great many of the hospital wards, 
and entered into conversation with some of the old veterans ; 
to one I said, ' Well, these are all very good things, and you 
should be very comfortable ; ' with true British modesty he 

8o THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1830. 

replied, ' Aye, true, sir, they're all well enough, but then we 
deserve it, ye see, or else we wouldn't have been here.' 

" In the dining-room I copied a printed board, which I 
supposed at first was some of Mr. Locker's doings, if not in 
composing, at least in placing it there. But to Mr. Locker, 
who in the evening copied it from my notes, it was as new as to 
me; he had neither seen nor heard of it, and joined with me in 
admiring its point and brevity : it was headed, — 


Hear \ ' To be silent. 

Be silent I and \ To understand. 

Understand l learn j To remember. 

Remember / \ To practise. 

/ see, judge \ 

All tbat \ bear, believe f .^ 

{ . ' > it not ! 

you 1 know, tell I 

\ can do, do J 

Before you speak — tbink, 

and regard well 

wbat you speak, where you speak, of whom you speak, and to 

whom you speak. 

r Religion \ / lose \ 

i Generosity / \ impoverish ( 

1 Injustice I j enrich ^ 

\ Wickedness / \ profit 

/ Property, some , 

If yon ( Health, much | . g ^^ 

lose l Reason, more I 

\ your Soul, all / 

" I then spent nearly two hours in ranging through the 
Park, amidst the venerable and richly-fretted trunks of many 
large and aged trees. The day was serene, and fair, and 
sunny, and nature shone in a bright and beautiful garb. After 
greatly enjoying a long and circuitous walk through the 
various lawns and avenues, I traversed several of the streets 
of Greenwich, and then took a sail on the Thames for half an 
hour, and saw the royal fabric in all its different bearings ; 


being high water, it seemed very singular to behold so amazing 
a pile so very near the surface of the river. Having sailed about 
half a mile lower down, I returned, and at five o'clock dined 
with Mr. Locker, with whom I spent the evening until ten 

Some other points of sight-seeing in London in 1830 
lead to a conclusion. 

" On Wednesday (March 31st) Mr. Davison breakfasted 
with me. I afterwards called at Mr. Pratt's, thence on to 
Mr. Barber at the British Museum, thence at Boosey's music 
shop in Holies Street, then on to Thomas Phillips, Esq., 
Professor of Painting, about Sir John Swmbourne's portrait, 
and then at the Papier Mache Manufactory in Edgware 

" I next called on Mr. Orel of Whitfield, then went through 
the museum of the Zoological Gardens in Bruton Street, and 
a very admirable museum it is. I next spent an hour at the 
Western Bazaar, and saw Haydon's pictures of Evades and 
Punch, with which I was much pleased, and also with the 
sculptured figures of Tarn o' Shanter and Souter Johnnie, 
which Mrs. Locker had particularly recommended to my 
notice. I then visited the beautiful and extensive exhibition 
of paintings, models, and sculpture at the galleries of the 
Society of British Artists ; and after much too hasty an inspec- 
tion of these, which well deserve a whole clay's examination, 
I went to the Royal Menagerie at Charing Cross (removed from 
Exeter Change), — I saw the lions and other principal animals 
fed. The collection is very interesting, and the ravenous 
disposition excited by hunger, in most of the animals, is truly 
terrible. I returned by Fleet Street, where I purchased a 
very good pantographer, and then returned straightway to 
my lodgings. 

" In the evening I went with Mr. Davison to Covent 
Garden Theatre, and heard the sacred oratorio of ' Messiah.' 
This, and Drury Lane on the first night I spent in London, 

82 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1830. 

were the only theatres I visited. I was much gratified with 
the music, but the choruses have not full and overpowering 

" I visited the Excise Office in Broad Street, and spent some 
time at the East India House, the museum of which was 
certainly among the most curious and interesting sights I saw 
in London. The Eastern manuscripts in particular are highly 
deserving the attention of the stranger. 

" I went to see the animals in the Tower, and as a 
menagerie the thing was much more confined and insignificant 
than I expected. I deferred seeing the armouries and jewels 
to another visit ; and having completed all my parliamentary 
business, and had many opportunities of seeing the varieties of 
London, I left in one of the stage-coaches at four on Saturday 
afternoon, and went outside as far as Huntingdon, where we 
arrived about eleven. There I got inside for the remainder of 
the journey, having suffered very much from the intense cold. 
The ground was covered with snow, and the following day was 
very cold and cheerless. Travelling along the London and 
Edinburgh road for the fourth time is a rather tiresome 
operation. Once is more than sufficient to see all that is 
worth seeing, with the exception of two or three places." 




iHE year 1831 becomes again eventful in a 
personal point of view. On January 31st 
Mr. Sopwith started for Ross in order to be 
married to Miss Jane Scott of Ross, whom 
he had had the good fortune to woo and win. He 
travelled in a storm of excessive violence, accompanied 
with a heavy fall of snow. The marriage ceremony was 
performed in Belford Church, after which the married 
couple started in a chaise and four for Berwick, but the 
weather was so tempestuous that both were made ill by 
it, and "a more deplorable wedding jaunt has seldom 
perhaps occurred." They reached Berwick at last, but 
could get no further for some days. They carried with 
them a letter of introduction to Sir Walter Scott at 
Abbotsford, but the storm prevented them getting so 
far. They returned to Ross on the 12th, and thence 
to Newcastle on the 17th. 

On April 12th Mr. Sopwith took an active part in the 
opening of the Scotswood chain bridge. On April 20th 
he attended a large meeting of professional and amateur 

84 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1831-33- 

artists to form the Artists' Conversazione at Newcastle- 
npon-Tyne, of which institution he was made President. 
In August of this year he was seized with illness, and 
suffered from congestion and inflammation of the lungs, 
which proved extremely serious. During this year he 
remarks on the public uneasiness existing in Newcastle 
in regard to the Reform Bill, and records that after the 
Bill had been thrown out by the House of Lords he met a 
countryman who was reading an account of the rejection 
from a paper edged with deep black. He also refers 
to an outbreak of Asiatic cholera which took place in 
Newcastle, the deaths from which were very appalling. 
One death occurred next door to him, but neither 
Mrs. Sopwith nor himself felt any apprehension; which 
circumstance, he thinks, contributed greatly to their 
escape, a view respecting contagious disease he main- 
tained consistently all through his life. 

On November 8th of this year he spent an evening 
with Captain James Glencairn Burns, son of Robert 
Burns, at the house of Mr. Dunbar. He seems to have 
been much struck with Captain Bums, and greatly 
pleased with his acquaintance. 

At the close of his journal for this year 1831 he adds 
that the year will ever hold place in his memory. He 
observes : — 

" The year 1831 will ever hold an honoured place in my 
memory, as having added greatly to my happiness by my 
union with a most esteemed and amiable girl, who has proved 
a most affectionate companion, a prudent manager of house- 
hold affairs, and a most tender and diligent guardian of my 
dear boy. . . . The event of next moment was my illness 
which for three months kept me from business and brought 
me to the verge of the grave. And here let me record with 
much affectionate regard the inestimable value of the constant 

1 83 1 -33-] WORK AS A CIVIL ENGINEER. 85 

and judicious attention of my dear wife, that if any of my 
posterity should hereafter read these pages they may, if she be 
living, honour and esteem her, and, if departed, may seek for 
grace to follow the good example she has shown." 


In January 1832 Mr. Gray, the Governor of Newcastle 
gaol, and Mr. Forsyth, the Town Marshal, called on 
Mr. Sopwith, to view the model of the gaol for which 
he had received a premium from the Commissioners in 
1822. The visit evidently gave him great happiness, 
and he continued actively employed, restored completely 
to his ordinary healthy state of mind and body. On 
March 17th a daughter, Ursula, was added to his family. 

In the spring of this year he commenced a systematic 
study of isometrical perspective, and on May 21st read a 
paper on this subject to the Natural History Society. This 
afterwards gave origin to a well-known and valuable 
treatise by him on isometrical drawing. 

He was next busied in surveying a new line of road 
up the Derwent, on which subject he published a short 
and very practical essay, entitled " Observations to 
Accompany a Map of the Vale of Derwent in the County 
of Durham." The map itself is admirably drawn, and 
the description is carried out with all the precision and 
attention to details for which its author was so much 
respected. He also wrote a review in the Newcastle 
Journal of Hodgson's " History of Northumberland," 
and was engaged by the publishers of a series of views of 
Fountain's Abbey to write an architectural and historical 
description of that venerable ruin. For the local journals 
and for " Dunbar's Catalogue" he wrote a brief biography 
of one called Blind Willie, a well-known local minstrel, 
who died in All Saints' poorhouse on July 20th, 1832, aged 

86 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1831-33. 

eighty-four or eighty-five years. Mr. Dunbar, the sculptor, 
made a statue of this celebrity, and Mr. Robert Gilchrist 
commemorated him in the songs of the bards of the 
time. Amongst local events witnessed during the year 
Mr. Sopwith dwells on the first lighting of Newcastle by 
gas and a further outbreak of cholera. 

In the autumn, at the request of Mr. John Clayton, 
the Town Clerk of Newcastle, Mr. Sopwith undertook 
the survey of a railway from Durham to Shields, being 
associated in the labour with Mr. John Buddie, the 
eminent engineer. They commenced the survey on 
October 9th, and rapidly completed their work. 

Mr. Clayton was a man after my friend's own heart. 
He won the highest social reputation in business and in 
local affairs generally, taking a very active part in the 
development of railway enterprise; but his life was most 
devoted to Newcastle, and the growth of it from a com- 
paratively small to an enormous centre of iodustry was, 
Mr. Sopwith thought, due to his, more than to any other 
person's, individual efforts. He had also antiquarian 
tastes, and was proud of his possession of the remains 
of five Roman camps along the great Northumbrian wall 
raised by the Roman forces. The friendship remained to 
the end, but Clayton, as we have seen in a previous 
chapter, long outlived his companion. 

Mr. Sopwith's resume of 1832 is quite joyous in its 
tone. He rejoices in excellent health, considers his 
domestic happiness perfect, and lays special stress on the 
advantage he has obtained in making the friendship of 
his colleague, Mr. John Buddie. 


In the new year of 1833 he made the acquaintance of 
an accomplished and excellent man, Mr. Surtees, and on 


January 3rd, that being his thirtieth birthday, Mr. Buddie 
called upon him with an official letter from Mr. Milne, 
of the Woods and Forests, relating to a proposed survey 
of the mines in Dean Forest, a duty which he accepted. 
He left Newcastle on the evening of February 10th, 
arrived at Boroughbridge at six the next morning, took 
postchaise to York, proceeded next day to Leeds, thence 
to Sheffield, Birmingham, Worcester, and Gloucester, 
and so to the Forest of Dean, which was reached on the 
13th. On the 18th, in his pit dress, he went with his 
assistants to the Hopewell Colliery in Dart Hill to make 
his inspection ; but some opposition being offered to the 
survey by a local magnate, his assistants had to return 
home, and he, writing to Mr. Buddie for further in- 
structions, took the opportunity of staying a day or two 
at Bristol and Bath on his way to town, where he arrived 
on the 22nd, and on the 26th had an interview with Lord 
Duncannon at the Office of Woods respecting the Forest 
affairs. On the 27th he looked in at Chancery Lane to 
see Lord Brougham. On March 4th he viewed the 
Thames Tunnel, then the great engineering feat of the 
day, and on the 7th commenced his journey home by 
way of Manchester, Liverpool, and back by way of Leeds 
to Newcastle. This journey was purposely a deviation 
from the direct route in order to visit the Manchester 
and Liverpool Railway. On Friday the 8th, he visited 
the magnificent scenery of Matlock in Derbyshire, 
and arrived at Manchester in the evening. Next day 
at seven he went on the Railway to Liverpool. He 
minuted the quarter-mile posts and found them as fol- 
lows : 56", 50", 38", 41", 54", 65", the whole journey 
of thirty miles scarcely occupying tivo hours. He 
returned to Manchester in the evening and went to 
the theatre. The following morning he left for Leeds, 

88 THOMAS SOPTVITH, F.R.S. [1831-33. 

dined there, and proceeding by night coach homewards 
reached Newcastle on the 12th. 

He was occupied in Newcastle until May 4th, on the 
evening of which day his workshops were burned down, 
with a loss of about seven hundred pounds. Fortunately 
for himself he was insured, and fortunately for his 
employes a subscription was raised for them through 
the benevolent and active exertions of the Rev. Robert 
Green. A day or two later he was called to London, 
as a witness before the Committee of the House of 
Commons on the Derwent Road Bill. 

The diary of May 7th contains the following entry : — 

" On this evening I was elected a member of the Institution 
of Civil Engineers, an honour which I chiefly owe to the 
voluntary offer and subsequent proposition of the celebrated 
Mr. Telford, the President of the Institution." 

On May 11th he visited the Royal Academy, and on 
the 12th went to hear the Bishop of Hereford, Dr. Grey, 
preach in Bow Church. On the 14th he attended the 
Institution of Civil Engineers for the first time; on the 
15th went to Richmond by steamboat; and on the 19th 
spent the day at Windsor and visited the Castle— the 
ballroom of which he considered the noblest apartment 
he had ever seen. The tapestry he thought " inimitably 
beautiful." At eleven he went to the Chapel Royal with 
his friend Mr. Collinson, where they were seated nearly 
opposite to their Majesties, whom he thus quaintly 
describes : — 

" We saw them as they walked out of chapel arm in arm. 
The King (then William IV.) is stout and fresh-looking, but 
walks rather lamely ; he was dressed as a plain country gentle- 
man, and his coat was somewhat shabby in appearance, its 

1831-33-] THE ROMAN WALL. 89 

newness having long departed. The Queen (Adelaide) was 
plainly dressed in a green hat and white feather, blue sleeves 
and white gown, without any jewels. The choir performed 
' Lift up your heads,' from Handel's ' Messiah.' 

> » 

On the 20th he was sworn at the Bar of the House of 
Lords as a witness, and on the 22nd he left Blackwall 
at ten in the City of Edinburgh steam packet, in which, 
after a pleasant voyage in calm weather, he arrived safely 
at Newcastle. 

In July he visited Edinburgh, renewing the acquaint- 
ance of Dr. Boswell Reid and Professor Pillans. Of his 
journey there and back he made many notes, antiquarian, 
professional, and social, one of which, relating to the 
Roman Station at Housesteads and the Roman Wall, 
must be introduced. 

" I left the coach at Bardon Mill at twelve, and had a 
pleasant walk to the beautiful and sequestered cottage of my 
respected friend the Rev. Anthony Hedley, where I dined, and 
at two o'clock rode to the Roman Station at Housesteads ; here 
I found the Rev. John Hodgson, the Rev. A. Hedley, Mr. 
Turner, Jim., of Blagdon, and Mr. John Hodgson superintend- 
ing an antiquarian research in the foundations of the eastern 
gate of the Station, from which six or seven labourers were 
employed in removing the soil and loose stones. 

" Two worn paths were laid bare, but no remarkable remains 
of the former occupants had been discovered. 

" The Rev. Mr. Hodgson then accompanied me on a view of 
the Wall from Housesteads westward to Craglough, and as 
this was the first time I had ever made an exploratory visit to 
this most singular relic of Roman warfare, it was truly gratify- 
ing to have so able and intelligent a guide as the author of the 
' History of Northumberland,' whose intimate acquaintance with 
the localities and extensive knowledge of antiquarian subjects 
added the greatest interest to the feelings of surprise and 

go THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1831-33. 

admiration excited by a view of the Wall and adjacent 

" We first viewed the station, which Mr. H. minutely de- 
scribed, and then ascended to the summit of Housestead Crags. 
The Roman Wall here stretches along almost on the very edge 
of precipitous cliffs formed of fine basaltic columns, and winds a 
tortuous and often very steep course up and down the steep 
sides of a succession of prominences called the ' Devil's Teeth.' 
It is impossible not to be impressed with the strongest admira- 
tion at the fine grey columns which form so stupendous a 
foundation for the Roman barrier, which, however magnificent 
as a work of art, sinks into insignificance beside the proud 
basaltic wall which forms the north side of the ridge. I made 
a sketch of a fine square column of basalt, which, like a stately 
tower of a vast castle, rises on the face of the cliff a little west 
of Housesteads, showing a distant view of the winding course 
of the Wall over Sewingshields Crags. The prospect from the 
summit of Housesteads and neighbouring crags is very ex- 
tensive ; to the east and south the lands contiguous to the Vale 
of Tyne have a rich and diversified aspect. 

" The southern horizon presents the commencement of the 
high lands bordering on the Pennine Chain. The stately Castle 
of Langley, the romantic banks at Staward, and numerous 
other interesting places may be distinctly seen, the view 
extending over Whitfield and Allendale to Alston Moor, and 
bounded on the south-west by Cross Fell mountain. The west 
view chiefly comprises a succession of lofty basaltic ridges, on 
which the course of the Wall may be distinctly traced ; and 
on the north the eye rests on one vast and broad unbroken 
extent of desolate moors, the waving lines of which grow 
more and more dreary as they recede, until lost in the horizon 
formed by the Cheviot Ridge; a few loughs, or lakes, and a 
solitary cottage or two being almost the only objects which 
appear scattered over this wide and solitary domain. This 
district, I was informed by Mr. Hodgson, was the Forest of 
Lough, or Lowes, whence the latter family name had its origin. 

1831-33O THE ROMAN WALL. 91 

" We next slid down the steep escarpment of the cliff to 
the plain below, where I made a drawing of the face of the 
basaltic scars, on finishing which we pursued our ramble 
along the Wall on the top of the Cliffs. 

" This interesting relic of antiquity is here in surprising 
preservation, being in height from four to five feet above the 
surface, and showing the entire breadth, which is about seven 
feet. It is built of a white and close-grained freestone (brought 
from quarries about half a mile down the hill on the south side), 
in regular courses on the outside, but filled with whin and 
grouting within; the cement contains many small pieces of 
limestone, and is extremely hard. The military way of the 
Romans is very observable lower down on the south side, and 
still further down, adjoining the turnpike, are the Agger and 
ditch of Hadrian ; I made a sketch showing a long unbroken 
line of the Wall, with singular offsets in it of about nine 
inches. On proceeding further west I was suddenly struck 
with admiration on beholding the romantic appearance of 
Crag Lough, and the bold perpendicular face of basalt whence 
the name is derived, and which rises from its southern 

"At Holbank farmhouse (the property of John Clayton, 
Esq.) I had a drink of Gilsland Spa water, and on arriving at 
the summit of the Crags I selected one of the most prominent 
points of view, and sketched one of the magnificent series of 
columnar blocks of basalt which form the northern side of the 

" No description can convey an adequate idea of the grand 
and imposing effect of the view from the edge of these cliffs. 
The rippled surface of Lough Craglough was studded with 
broad leaves of the yellow water lily, and a gabled mansion, 
lately built for a shooting box by Sir Edward Blackett, is here 
added to the few objects which appear on the broad moors of 
the Forest of Lough. 

" Nearly opposite Holbank farmhouse are the very observ- 
able remains of one of the Castra, or forts, which were built 

92 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1831-33. 

at intervals between the stations, and another of these forts 
occurs in a hollow immediately west of Craglough. They vary 
in size, hut the two which are here alluded to are about eighty 
feet in extent and nearly of a square form. 

" The upper surface of the Wall is covered with a fine soft 
bed of grass, in which lady's-bedstraw, sheep's-scabious, and 
wild thyme plentifully abound. I made a sketch of Craglough 
and adjacent scenery while sitting on this comfortable place of 
rest, on the Wall immediately behind Bradley. After walking 
down the lough, we examined a portion of the Wall which is 
built in horizontal courses, and not, like many steep parts of 
the Wall, inclining with the surface of the ground. In a section 
of the w T all where the courses are level, the manner of building 
exhibits more care, the inner work being arranged in layers 
corresponding with the outer course. 

" From Craglough a fine range of basaltic cliffs extends 

The description of the Roman Station is followed by 
that of a modern cottage belonging to his friend Mr. 
Hedley, and affords not only a contrast of an historical 
kind, but a good illustration of Mr. Sopwith's powers as 
a natural and picturesque writer. 

" Chester holme is the name given by Mr. Hedley to a 
spot of ground about an acre in extent, a flat or ' holme ' 
immediately beneath the Roman station of Little Chester 
(Vindolana), around which the ground rises steeply on every 
side, excepting the narrow outlet of a small and most romantic 
rivulet which runs down a steep channel of limestone rock. The 
hill side on the south of the holme is steeper than the rest ; 
the lower part was planted twelve or fourteen years ago, and 
the higher portion of it is a broad and lofty fell of considerable 
height, from the summit of which is an extremely beautiful 
and interesting prospect. 

" The cottage which adorns this romantic and sequestered 

1 83 1 -33-] SOME NEW SURVEYS. 93 

little valley was erected about three years ago by Mr. Hedley, 
from a design given by Mr. Green, sen., architect. It is 
built with steep gables, with large boards and ornamented 
chimneys. Some parts of the walls are built with stones 
brought from the station whicb crowns the rising ground 
opposite. The grounds are laid out with exquisite taste, and 
the whole scene is more like tbe beautiful creation of a poetical 
mind in visions of Fairyland than ;i rustic dwelling in a northern 
clime, and in a wild and moorland country. A profusion of 
loses, sheddiDg their fragrant odours around the walls they so 
richly adorn, add the last and highest finish of romantic love- 
liness and beauty, which, to be fully appreciated, must be seen. 
Still more attractive is the character of its amiable inmate, 
whose widely-known and acknowledged worth have procured 
him the admiration of all who know him ; and it reflects but 
little honour on the zeal and integrity of the political party he 
has so long and ably supported, that in the day of prosperity 
promises, unasked and unlooked-for, have been his only 

"The interior of the cottage is fitted up with butternut, 
a Canadian wood, which resembles oak, but is much cheaper. 
The library is both extensive and select, and the views from it 
are romantic and beautiful. In front is a rustic porch, under 
which are several Roman altars and other antiquities found in 
the adjoining station." 

Towards the close of July Mr. Sopwith commenced 
a survey of the Durham Junction Railway at Pensher 
and of a bridge over the river Wear ; and, in August, he 
went to work in earnest with his treatise on isometrical 
drawing. In September he records with much regret the 
death of his friend Mr. Surtees. In the latter part of 
the same month he began the survey of the Blaydon and 
Hebburn Railway. 

Towards the end of October of this year he received 

94 THOMAS SOPTVITH, F.R.S. [1831-33. 

a letter from the Office of Woods referring to Dean 
Forest and inquiring when he could resume his survey. 
The latter part of the year was fixed upon, and he 
left Newcastle on December 12th, taking with him, as 
assistants, George Johnson, William Smith, and N. Sey- 
mour. They arrived at their destination on December 1 5th, 
and the following day proceeded with the mineral survey 
of the Forest of Dean, commencing with Hopewell Colliery 
in Dart Hill, in which they surveyed all night on the 
Wednesday and Thursday preceding Christmas Day. 
Christmas Day was spent with Mr. Davis at Lydney. 
Then work went on again until, — 

"after continuing the subterraneous survey, and making 
various plans and sections on Monday and Tuesday, another 
year at the close of the latter day was completed, and gave 
x-ise to many reflections connected with the progress of time, 
with the events of past years, and anticipations of years 
to come." 




GREAT accumulation of business came to Mr. 
Sopwitli in the beginning of the year 1834. 
Of one hundred and fifty-one hours occupied 
in January in passing from Newcastle to 
Coleford in the Forest of Dean, — where his three assistants 
were still engaged, — and to other places, sixty-four were 
passed in travelling, eighty-two in resting or detention, 
and five only on the special business of his expeditions. 
In six consecutive days he was in Newcastle; for three 
hours he was at Harrogate ; nineteen at Leeds ; seventeen 
at Burnley; two at Manchester; five at Liverpool; seven 
at Coleford; twelve at Gloucester ; one at Bristol ; three 
at Bath; eight at Salisbury; two at Poole; and three at 
Swanage. Considering that this was a man who never 
loitered in business, the record tells us strikingly what 
time was lost in travelling before the railway system 
came fully into operation. 

In February he made a special visit to the Forest of 
Dean, for the purpose of continuing his labours there, 
proceeding on February 12th from Newcastle to Harro- 
gate, in order to meet the Bishop of Durham, to gain his 
ssent to some concessions concerning the Blaydon aud 

9 6 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1834. 

Hebburn line. The interview was fixed for nine in the 
morning, but such an interview "as he shall never forget." 
The Bishop assented to the railway passing through his 
lands between Blaydon and Hebburn, but throughout 
was irritable up to actual rudeness and unkindness. 
Never in any similar application had Mr. Sopwith ex- 
perienced anything at all approaching to the harshness 
and " uncourteousness " which 011 this occasion caused 
him surprise, but not uneasiness. The manner in which 
my friend bore this infliction is best told in his own 
words, recorded in his journal almost immediately after 
the interview. His words breathe a spirit of inde- 
pendence combined with a gentleness it would be difficult 
to find surpassed. 

" He had not heard of the death of Mr. Surtees, and there 
was a melancholy interest in being the first to communicate 
the loss of the historian of Durham to the Bishop of the 
diocese. His lordship had no ground of objection to the 
railway, nor any fault to find, otherwise than a most unreason- 
able and unbusinesslike displeasure at my bothering him with 
railways and such like, of which ' he knew no more than a 
child.' He pushed the plan away from him, but I informed 
him that the law of the land required me to state upon oath 
the fact of his having seen it, and he then cast a hasty glance 
or two over it. It fortunately happened that my duty was 
plain and simple, and I steadily adhered to a respectful and 
courteous behaviour, undisturbed by a treatment which I was 
conscious of not having merited ; and I left with feelings of 
perfect astonishment and regret that a shepherd could set so 
poor an example to one of the hum blest of his flock. 

" The Bishop of Durham has the general reputation of being 
a man of great literary and scholastic attainments, and many 
describe him as a good and charitable man. The deportment 
alluded to above, doubtless, must have in a great measure, if 


not altogether, arisen from nervous irritability caused by illness, 
but its marked and peculiar character was such as will ever 
associate very strange ideas with the name of bishop in my 

From Harrogate he passed to Leeds, where he found 
electioneering in full swing, and where he was compelled 
to stay all night. 

" The town was perfectly mad electioneering, and I saw an 
immense procession of the Blue party (Sir John Beckett's). 
This is the second time the boon of Reform has given the in- 
habitants of Leeds the fancied advantages and practical evils 
of a popular election. No one can be more anxious than 
myself that electioneering and every other privilege of English- 
men should be placed upon such a foundation as may best 
promote the welfare of the state ; and the measure of Reform 
conceded by the present administration to the wishes of the 
people of England was doubtless intended to effect a better 
mode of election and a better transaction of public business in 
Parliament. The great simplicity of the Reform poll is justly 
admired and approved by all parties, but the general purity of 
election and the proceedings of the House do not yet present 
the decided improvement which was hoped for by the friends 

of Reform. 

"The gross waste of time, the breach of regular industry, 
the cessation of business, the notorious existence of the most 
depraved and dependent party spirit, the noise, confusion, and 
drunkenness which prevailed in Leeds on this occasion, is a most 
deplorable contrast to what an election would be if ever the 
people of England shall by the blessing of God become wise 
and enlightened. 

" In occupying a leisure hour before bed-time ' in mine inn ' 
with the writing of these brief memoranda, let it not be 
supposed by any one whose eye may glance over them that I 
either profess to study or care about politics. I have known 


9 8 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1834. 

many excellent men of all parties, and in confiding any interest 
or property of my own to the care of any one, I would look out 
for an honest and respectable man, on whose general good 
feeling and integrity I could confide, and select him as a 
proper person to be the guardian either of my private or 
public interests. 

" To the ranks of either Whig or Tory I have no desire to 
attach myself, and in my humble station my only desire is to 
be at all times a sincere and hearty lover of my country. If 
I were to venture at imitating the example of the great mass 
of His Majesty's lieges by commencing business as a statesman, 
I would so far meet the popular cry as to adopt for my motto 
Annual Parliaments, Universal Suffrage, and Election by 
Ballot, but then it would be by a very different mode of opera- 
tion to what is now practised. My plan would simply be to 
have good, strong, capacious chests placed in the Town Hall of 
every county town or borough, or other place of election, and 
on a given day in each year every individual in the kingdom 
man, woman, and child, should have full liberty to vote as 
often as they chose, by putting money in the box appropriated 
to their respective candidates. 

" This genuine test of their favour, however unreasonable it 
may at first appear, would be as rational a mode of expressing 
public opinion as any other. The extensive contribution of 
the great mass of the middle and lower classes would insure 
a proper influence from the populace, and the large sums of 
noblemen and capitalists would give to property its just in- 
fluence in what so greatly concerns the welfare of the country. 
The money thus collected I would apply to the payment of 
public rates, taxes, etc., in the respective districts, and thus 
the disagreeable task of tax-paying would become a means of 
expressing political sentiments, and an annual contribution of 
this sort would doubtless raise no trifling sum throughout the 
kingdom. Bribery and tax-gathering would thus be almost or 
entirely abolished. A candidate might vote for himself with a 
thousand pounds, and give his friends as many ten or fifty 


pound notes as he thought proper ; all would go to a good 
cause, would relieve the public burdens, and in this as in all 
other matters it would doubtless be found that the best 
member would fetch the highest price. 

" It is clearly inconsistent that the vote of a man who employs 
fifty thousand pounds in business should weigh no more than 
the vote of one who has little or no interest in the permanent 
welfare of the country. The mere number of votes is manifestly 
no criterion of fitness. Moral worth and integrity ought to 
stamp a weight on votes far exceeding the vote of a thought- 
less or profligate person, but this in society is impracticable ; 
neither is the Member of Parliament so much the representative 
of mind as of property, of private worth as of public interests. 

" By the plan I propose the successful candidate would either 
represent a very extensive and strong feeling of the many, or 
the vast and important interests of moneyed men and great 
landowners, but most probably the heaviest box would often 
be formed by the united contributions of these two classes of 
society. By way of a finish to my scheme it would be no 
bad plan to bestow on the successful candidate a moderate 
percentage of the contents of his own box ; this would induce 
candidates to be more free in the honest bribery of their 
friends, woidd relieve them of much expense, and would 
encourage men of plain good sense and moderate fortune to 
aspire to that station which they are most eminently qualified 
to fill. Every voter would enjoy all the secrecy of balloting, 
for his contributions should be known to himself only, and 
the poor but honest tradesman might safely promise every 
candidate a vote." 

A day or two later on I find my friend offering some 
new reflections on railway travelling in 1834. 

" I left Burnley next morning in the mail, and slept nearly all 
the way to Manchester, which town we found enveloped in the 
brown and greeny darkness of a London fog. I breakfasted 

ioo THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1834. 

at the Palace Inn, and went to Liverpool on the railway. In 
this journey nothing particular occurred different to what I 
had seen before, but three things forced themselves much on 
my attention : — 

" (1) A worse engine than last year. 

" (2) More jolting on rails than ditto. 

" (3) The vast local improvements along the line. 

" Each of these ' unfold a tale,' but I have not time to 
detail further than by remarking that the enormous expense of 
good engines and keeping the railway in perfect repair seems 
indicated by their being both suffered to deteriorate, and if 
such be the case with this railway very few places in the 
kingdom can afford speed on railways. Horse or engine 
travelling of ten or twelve miles an hour is probably the most 
economical speed, and is sufficiently quick for most purposes ; 
but the march of intellect will never rest satisfied with this, 
and they are now scheming a velocity of forty miles an hour. 
The immense traffic between Liverpool and Manchester fur- 
nishes funds for all manner of experiment and improvement, 
but other poorer concerns must beware ere they attempt to 
follow the example." 

From Liverpool Mr. Sopwith proceeded across the 
Mersey in the mail steam packet, and then went by mail 
through Chester (where he was much amused with the 
singular style of building) to Shrewsbury, Hereford, and 
Monmouth. From the latter town, which he reached at 
nine on Sunday morning, February 16th, 1834, he went, 
after breakfast, in a phaeton to Coleford, and greatly 
admired the romantic scenery of the banks of the Wye. 

At Coleford he found his three assistants ready for 
church, and after dressing he accompanied them. In the 
afternoon he looked over the plans done during his absence 
in the north, and found them, as well as the progress 
of the survey, highly satisfactory. 


At five on Sunday evening- he drove in a phaeton to 
Gloucester, and next morning rose at six and had a 
delightful walk to see the Cathedral. The beauties of 
the exterior of this fine structure were almost new to him. 
The morning sun gilded the fine crisp edges of the minute 
architectural enrichments of the tower, and presented 
them in a very favourable aspect. 

At nine he went in a coach to Bristol, and from there 
to Bath, where he saw Sir Thomas Clavering, and had a 
walk in the Pump Room and in Great Pulteney Street, 
and then dined at York House. At seven he left in the 
mail, and after a very comfortable journey arrived at 
Salisbury or New Sarum at midnight. 

On Tuesday morning, February 18th, having had a 
look at the Cathedral, he went in a coach to Poole, and 
after dinner sailed in a packet for Swanage. Poole he 
describes as an active, bustling little port, having one 
of the finest quays in England. The harbour is very 
spacious, and if its entrance were as safe as its interior is 
capacious it would be one of the finest in England. A 
sail of two hours in a packet brought him to Swanage. 

The hotel at Swanage is a very spacious and hand- 
some structure, the property of Mr. Pitt. He stayed 
here until the following morning, and left at eleven in 
a gig for Wareham to meet the coach for Dorchester. 

From Wareham he had a pleasant ride on a coach to 
Dorchester, whereas, finding that no coach proceeded to 
Bristol until Friday morning, and that from Weymouth, 
he resolved to spend Thursday in seeing Weymouth and 
the neighbouring Isle of Portland. 

At Dorchester he found very comfortable quarters at 
the King's Arms Inn, and at ten next morning went on 
a coach to Weymouth, passing the extensive Roman 
station called Maidon Castle. The bay and adjoining 

102 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1834. 

walk or " esplanade " at Weymouth were extremely 
beautiful, and the long range of well-built houses had 
a noble appearance, but he was disappointed by their 
being built of brick instead of stone, as he expected they 
would be, from the vicinity of Portland Island. 

The day being delightfully pleasant, he walked to 
Sandsfoot Castle, and thence to a ferry which took him 
across to Chesil Bank, a beach of eighteen miles in 
length, composed entirely of small rounded pebbles ; it 
was formerly from eleven to thirteen feet higher, and 
narrower, but was spread wider by a tremendous gale in 
November 1825, when several houses were destroyed in 
Chesil and many lives lost. 

He walked to Chesil, and made an exploratory journey 
round the island, visiting the quarries and Rufus Castle. 
Near the south point or " Bill " of Portland he found 
a modern castellated mansion, once the residence of 
William Penn, son of the celebrated William Penn ; 
and in front of it, on the steep and rugged declivities 
facing the British Channel, the remains of a church 
with several monumental stones. 

From this date onwards up to the end of May Mr. 
Sopwith remained engaged on the Dean Forest survey, 
but making meanwhile several visits to London, and 
thoroughly enjoying all that passed before him. In 
London he listens to Paganini at the Adelphi Theatre, 
is delighted with the elder Mathews and his monologue, 
makes the acquaintance of Dr. Birkbeck, and in the early 
part of June returns home to Newcastle, after an absence 
of four months, to find another daughter added to his 
family. He now continued to work on the treatise on 
isometrical drawing, and on September loth brought 
it before the world. The object of the work was to 
offer a general view of the nature and advantages of 


mineral plans and surveys, the construction of geological 
maps, and regular series of working plans and sections 
of mines. It also gave familiar explanations con- 
cerning plans of mines, roads, and estates, and at the 
same time supplied the libraries of gentlemen with a 
book of reference and information on several details 
of plans and sections of which no popular description 
had yet been supplied. The mode of drawing suggested 
enabled the reader to apply the method to representa- 
tions of gardens and pleasure grounds, so that not only 
a correct plan of the various flower beds and walks could 
be shown, but also the height and pictorial appearance 
of trees, shrubs, greenhouses, and the like. The use of 
isometrical rulers would, he thought, be found an agree- 
able occupation to amateurs as well as artists, and 
especially to ladies, who would combine the beauties of 
landscape, architecture, and flower-painting with correct 
and useful delineations of pleasure grounds, houses, and 

The book met with marked success, and it is somewhat 
a matter of surprise that it has not to this day retained 
its place as an educational work. 

The remaining portion of the year 1834 was spent 
by Mr. Sop with chiefly in railway surveys, in some of 
which he was associated with ' other engineers. On 
November 14th he made the acquaintance of Professor 
John Phillips, an acquaintanceship which ripened into a 
friendship lasting through a long series of years, and in 
which it was my own good fortune, in some measure, 
to take part. Professor Phillips and Mr. Sopwith were 
admirably fitted for friendship. Their tastes were 
congenial and their pursuits similar. Sopwith's love 
for geology lighted up in him immense admiration 
for Phillips' special and classical knowledge on that 

io 4 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1834. 

subject ; and Phillips' appreciation of Sopwith's breadth 
of knowledge on all subjects was often warmly expressed. 
They were both fond also of quiet humour, and were 
not afraid to indulge in a little fun on their own 

Throughout all his career Mr. Sopwith's love for 
geological science was unabated. The study seemed to 
come to him naturally, although, according to his own 
view, it resulted from his practical work in the mines. 
" But all miners are not geologists," I remember hearing- 
said to him by one of our clerical friends, the Rev. J. B. 
Reade ; "and you, I believe, are the only one I ever 
met." " That may be," responded Sop with ; " but miners 
are by occupation in the bowels of the earth, and the 
bowels of the earth are the galleries of the geologist. 
Perhaps they are too much occupied with their own 
pursuits to observe the natural history around them." 
" Yes," continued our jocular cleric, " and see what such 
men lose. Just think, Doctor, what Jonah might have 
told us about digestion if he had only looked out when 
he was in the belly of the whale." " You are too hard 
on Jonah," said the medicus addressed, " for he had no 
light, not even a safety-lamp." " That's one for Jonah," 
added Sopwith, with his merry laugh ; " and the doctor 
has beaten the parson on his own ground." 




jN 1835 we may consider Mr. Sopwith a 
thoroughly established man in Newcastle- 
npon-Tyne. He was engaged in many lines 
of occupation. He carried on still the business 
of his father ; he was actively employed in surveying ; 
lie took a lively interest in local affairs, and continued to 
educate himself more and more in subjects scientific and 

On March 25th he was called to London, and travelled 
by the Wellington coach. In his notes on this journey 
he records the curious fact that he was in the company 
of fifteen convicts, and that, notwithstanding the singular 
companionship, he had a perfectly comfortable journey. 
It was a new chapter to him in the history of human life, 
and opened up many curious reflections. 

His business to London in this visit was to give further 
railway evidence before the House of Commons, but he 
found time to go to the museum of Sir John Soane in 
Lincoln's Inn Fields, and to make the acquaintance of the 
eccentric founder of that institution, through the introduc- 
tion of Mr. Britton, the architect and well-known writer 
on architecture. Returning to Newcastle at the close of 

106 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1835-36. 

March, he became very unwell from rheumatism, and 
continued ill all through April and May. On May 30th 
he was compelled to go to London, although he had to 
be lifted into the coach, but managed the journey pretty 
well, being accompanied by his " dear Jane." On June 4th 
he was examined before the House of Lords Committee, 
but had to be seated while giving evidence. On June 14th 
lie got back to Newcastle, and soon afterwards went to 
Berwick, where under the influence of baths and pure 
country air he recovered, and in July and August visited 
the Trossachs and many places of historical interest in 

On September 13th he came again to London, this 
time in the Highflyer coach. He started at half-past 
nine a.m., and reached London at eight p.m. on the 
following day. From London he went to Dean Forest, 
and from there to Gloucester. On September 21st he 
commenced levelling the Forest of Dean, that is to say, 
taking levels for sections, for which purpose he planned 
a new levelling instrument, which saved much time and 
ensured great accuracy as compared with instruments then 
in use. The survey lasted till the early part of October. 

Towards the close of this year Mr. Sopwith was 
proposed and nominated as a Councillor for the west 
ward of Newcastle. He was not elected ; many of his 
friends declining to vote, from a conviction that either 
the duties of the Council would interfere with his pro- 
fessional work, or that the continued attention to his 
professional duties would interfere with those of an 
official kind. In returning thanks to the gentlemen 
who supported him he acknowledged the justice of the 
defeat. He had abstained, he said, from asking even 
a single vote, and would always follow the same plan, 
though he would be ready to serve if elected. 



In the early part of 1836 Mr. Sopwith was engaged 
largely in travel, or, as he calls it, " in excnrsions to 
obtain assents," that is to say, to submit railway plans 
to owners and occupiers of lands and houses near to which 
intended lines of railway had to pass. At this particular 
period in our national history the railway interest was 
the all-absorbing topic, and opinions respecting every new 
line proposed to be laid down were divided in the sharpest 
manner. The old fashions, and what may be called the 
Conservative instincts of the people, were against the 
innovation, and a host of objections having relation to 
ownerships of properties, privileges, and businesses stood 
in the way of any such radical change as that of a 
railway. In some instances the majority of a large 
town would rise, and without foreseeing the future, blind 
in fact to its own future interest, would protest against 
the innovation in the most determined manner, and some- 
times with success. Mr. Sopwith's excursions, therefore, 
to obtain " assents " proved, he tells us, " an interesting 
occupation, leading to introduction to a great number of 
persons of every rank, from the peer with his wide 
domains to the humblest cottager or occupier." In this 
way his time was spent in the north of England until 
February 7th, when a longer excursion was requisite on 
the same business. He left Newcastle on the evening 
of the 7th in the mail coach, and visited York, Tadcaster, 
Leeds, and Manchester. From Manchester he went to 
Northampton, from there to Cambridge, and from (Jam- 
bridge to London, where he remained until February 21st, 
when he left in the Highflyer coach, and reached New- 
castle in thirty-five hours. The coach fare was £4 4.9. ; 
the guard's and driver's dinners, £1 85. 6r/.; the entire 

108 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1836. 

cost of the journey £5 12s. 6d. In March we find him 
at Harrogate examining the geological conditions relating 
to the sulphur wells, and in the same month he con- 
tributes a paper to the Mining Review on "Civil and 
Mining Engineering." 

Work connected with the Great Northern line of railway 
now occupied a great portion of his time, and he was 
soon summoned to London again to appear before the 
Parliamentary Committee. On May the 2nd he gave 
very strong evidence on the manifest intention of the 
" erroneous section " to deceive the Committee. For this 
he received much but ineffectual abuse from opposing 
counsel, whose case, however, broke down, to the great 
chagrin of the opponents of the line. From London he 
travelled to Bristol, thence to Chepstow, Catford, and 
Dean Forest, then to Gloucester and Cheltenham, return- 
ing (on May 10th) to London, where he dined with Mr. 
Fisher, the well-known publisher, and afterwards went 
to the Institution of Civil Engineers to hear Mr. John 
Martin, the great painter, explain his plans for improving 
the river Thames. With the suggestions made by Martin 
he was very greatly impressed, and I have heard him say 
that the whole plan indicated an advance of the most 
remarkable order, — an anticipation, indeed, of the improve- 
ment that has been made in what is now called the 
Thames Embankment, and including other projects not 
less important, and still unfulfilled. After returning for 
a short time to Newcastle, he was called back to London 
in the early part of June, and was detained until the 20th, 
when he proceeded on business for the Great North of 
England Railway, leaving by the Halifax mail and going 
to Leicester, Manchester, and Wigan. 

On July 13th, at seven in the evening, having hired a 
commodious travelling carriage, Mr. Sopwith, accompanied 


by Mr. Buddie, Mr. George Johnson, and Mr. Nicholas 
Wood, proceeded to Sedburgh, Lancaster, and Wigan. 
They posted all night, travelled all day on the 14th, dined 
at Preston, and reached Wigan at nine at night. The 
occasion of this journey was to view the locus hi quo 
of an important reference case, Clayton v. Gregson, in 
which about £32,000 depended on the construction to be 
put on the single word " level," in a lease of the coal 
under the property. On the 16th they went to Liverpool, 
where on the 19th the matter was arranged by the 
payment of £8,500. 

On August 10th he attended a meeting of the Great 
North of England directors at Darlington, and in Sep- 
tember he was surveying the boundaries of Sir Edward 
Blackett's manorial properties near Haydon Bridge. 

In addition to other work carried on this year he pre- 
pared a plan of a proposed arrangement by Mr. Grainger 
for concentrating the terminal lines of the Newcastle and 
Carlisle, the Great North of England, and the projected 
Edinburgh railways. Newcastle was to be the centre for 
this combination. He concluded this year at his offices 
in the Arcade, Newcastle, where he had been chiefly 
occupied during the year, except when taking one of the 
journeys to which reference has been made. The year, 
he tells us, "was one of great activity, and, at times, of 
extreme exertion, both bodily and mentally ; " but his 
health was good, his spirits lively, and he rejoiced greatly 
in the comforts of home and the plenitude of many 
blessings from the Giver of all good. 




>N January 1837 Mr. Sop with, accompanied 
by Mr. Buddie, proceeded to Edinburgh on 
railway business, and in February he was 
called southward on engineering work con- 
nected with the proposed line from London to Brighton, 
where he arrived on the 22nd, returning on the 23rd, 
by Epsom, to London, and so again by the Highflyer 
back to Newcastle. In March he attended a trial at York 
on the " Harrogate Well Case." The case was heard on 
March 14th. Amongst the witnesses were the famous 
Dr. John Dalton, the " father of chemistry," as he has 
been called, and the discoverer of the atomic theory; 
Dr. William Smith, the well-known and admitted "father 
of English geology ; " Professor Daniell, the inventor of 
the Daniell battery; Professor John Phillips; Mr. John 
Buddie ; Professor Johnstone, the chemist ; Mr. John 
Johnstone of Edinburgh, connected under Government 
patronage with Elkington's system of drainage; Dr. Clanny 
of Sunderland ; and Mr. West, a chemist at Leeds, with 
others. West is noticed as being a Quaker who prided 
himself on having no name or title of any scientific 
distinction. When asked for his designation to be written 


down on an affidavit, he replied, "William West, Chemist, 
Leeds ; lives in an alley and is nobody." But some years 
afterwards, when he became a Fellow of the Royal Society, 
he changed his tone and was always F.R.S. On March 
13th, in a consultation with Mr. Creswell, — afterwards 
the well-known judge,— Mr. Sopwith described the geo- 
logical details by means of a model, and induced Mr. 
Creswell to recommend an arrangement on the following 
morning, when the trial came on at York before Judge 

On the following day, March 14th, the scientific wit- 
nesses dined together, — a memorable dinner, which Mr. 
Sopwith reports as follows : — 

" The addresses made after dinner by Dalton and Smith were 
in the highest degree interesting. It was indeed an event of 
no ordinary occurrence that two men so highly distinguished 
as original observers should be induced to favour the company 
as they did with very curious details relating to them respective 
connection with the advancement of chemistry and geology. 
Their healths were proposed separately. The company was 
sufficiently numerous and of a scientific character enough to 
justify a little formality in this ceremony, and in the addresses of 
thanks which followed the respective speakers both seemed to 
consider the parties present as friends to whom they could speak 
with freedom as well as with a degree of formality. Hence, the 
recital which they each gave of their discoveries was listened to 
with great attention and respect. I was particularly pleased 
with the hearty, open, and very friendly communications of 
Dr. Smith, and gladly took such opportunities as occurred from 
time to time to enjoy his society, and to derive benefit from his 
useful and instructive observations, which, with a liberality often 
found in the greatest minds, he was always most ready to 
communicate to others." 

A curious and interesting conversation is reported by 

ii2 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1837. 

Mr. Sopwith at this period of his life between himself 
and the Russian Count St. Aldegonde. The narrative 
is best told in his own words. 

" I received instructions from the solicitors of the South 
Eastern Brighton Railway to be in attendance on the Com- 
mittee on April 6th, and made arrangements accordingly. Pre- 
vious to my departure I received fresh instructions which 
admitted of my remaining at home until the 8th ; of this I 
would gladly have availed myself, but my brief visit to home 
was again shortened by a message from the Great North 
of England Railway Company, which required me to be in 
London on April 8th. I therefore secured an inside seat 
in the Wellington coach for Friday morning, April 7th. 

" While I was engaged in my office on Thursday, the day 
previous to my departure, Mr. Morton, of Lambton, the agent 
of the Earl of Durham, called and wished me to accompany 
him to the George Inn, to be introduced to the Count St. 
Aldegonde, a Russian nobleman, who had brought letters from 
Lords Londonderry and Durham. I could ill spare time in 
tins the eleventh hour of a hurried visit at home, but Mr. 
Morton was so anxious for me to go, that I was induced to 
do so, and was forthwith introduced to the ' Count de St. 

" On our way to the inn Mr. Morton informed me that 
his visitor was a General in the Russian service, intimately 
acquainted and on terms of personal friendship with the 
Emperor, and much interested in scientific researches. I de- 
voted three hours to visiting several places with him, and 
found much pleasure in doing so, inasmuch as his manners 
were in the highest degree pleasing, and his numerous and 
intellectual observations were instructive and entertaining. 

" He expressed a wish to see some iron and glass works, 
the manufacture of locomotive steam engines, and the re- 
fining of lead, and especiaUy Mr. Pattinson's recent discovery. 
I sent a note to Mr. Pattinson, who called at my office while 

1837] C0UN1 ALDEGONDE. 113 

we were out ; he left a specification of his patent, which I 
gave to the Count, and made an arrangement to wait upon him 
the following Saturday. After showing this Russian General 
various plans and sections at my office, and among others the 
isometrical plan in Mr. Buddie's office, with which he was 
particularly pleased, we walked to Mr. Grainger's new market. 
This he greatly admired, and pronounced it far superior to 
anything of the kind he had ever seen, either on the Continent 
or in England. I took him to the office, where Mr. Wardle 
showed him several plans, elevations, and models of the new 
streets, and gave him copies of some of them, which the Count 
said he would show to the Russian Emperor, who would, he 
was sure, be delighted with them.* 

" I next took the Count to the Literary and Philosophical 
Institution, and showed him the Law and Medical Libraries, 
the Lecture and Apparatus Rooms, the General Library, 
Reading and Committee Rooms, the Natural History Museum, 
Geological and Antiquarian Rooms, and the Gallery of Roman 
Altars, with which he was much pleased. I introduced him to 
Mr. Hutton and Mr. Fryer, and in the course of conversation 
an arrangement for the interchange of minerals, etc., was 
suggested, as a probable means of obtaining for the museum 
a valuable accession of Russian and Siberian geological 

" From some incidental remarks it appears that the Count 
has a private collection of minerals of considerable value. 
He was particularly interested in viewing the sections of 
coal strata presented to the Institution by Mr. Buddie, and 

* It may here be observed that the Emperor of Russia inspected 
Newcastle in December 1816, and several of the principal manu- 
factories. He also visited Wallsend, where Mr. Buddie explained to 
him the nature and extent of the colliery operations. The intention of 
the party was to descend a pit, and an aide-de-camp was sent down the 
day before to make the necessary arrangements as to dresses, etc. Some 
matters of etiquette, however, and a sight of the pit, proved obstacles 
to this subterranean expedition. 


ii 4 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1837. 

also with the model of coal workings, by means of which I 
explained to him the mode of ventilation introduced by Mr. 
Buddie. He expressed a great wish to meet this eminent 
miner, of whom he had heard so much, both in England and 

" I then walked with him to Hawthorn's Steam Engine Manu- 
factory, and left him with Mr. Wm, Hawthorn to view these 
extensive works. On returning to the office, I sent George 
Shadforth, who accompanied the General to Cookson's Glass 
Works, and conducted him back to the George Inn, where I 
called upon him and bade him adieu. 

" We had a long conversation on mineral surveys, and I gave 
him copies of some mining sections. It is contemplated to 
make some extensive surveys of this description in the south 
of Russia, with the view of establishing coal works." 

This suggestion about a mineral survey in Russia was 
but a hopeful one for that great country. We once 
had a casual conversation on this subject d propos to 
a short essay of mine on the food resources of Russia, 
published in the Journal of Public Health for December 
1855. This essay dealt with the food resources of the 
Empire, exclusive of Poland and Finland, in 1849 — that 
is to say, shortly before the great war between France 
and England against Russia. At that time the surface 
of the Empire embraced 1,675,492,948 acres of land, 
rather more than one-fifth part of which was under 
cultivation. About 24,000,000 acres were private do- 
mains ; 218,387,516 were devoted exclusively to arable 
purposes ; 107,971,138 were pasture land ; 393,277,413 
were covered with forest wood ; and 932,052,138 were 
waste. Deducting the waste and forest lands from the 
whole, there were left 350,163,397 acres of cultivated 
soil ; which on a uniform rate of distribution to popula- 
tion would have given a proportion of more than six 

i837-] CHOICE BOOKS. 115 

acres and a half to each one of the 53,000,000 of the 
then existing inhabitants. From these resources it was 
inferred that the produce of the Empire was sufficient 
to supply all the people with those elements of food 
which are really essential to life ; bnt there the produce 
finished, for beyond the production of food very little 
indeed was done with the soil. Mr. Sopwith's view was 
that in snch vast tracts of country the most precious 
mineral wealth must needs abound, especially in the 
southern districts, and he thought that the whole question 
of advancement of the peasants lay in making them 
miners on their own soil rather than in Siberia. He 
would have rejoiced to have been the first British 
mining engineer in Southern Russia. 

A reference to his library and to a list of books to be 
sent to the binder leads to some notes in the diary of 
April 1837 bearing upon the books which most attracted 
the attention and the taste of my friend. He is warm in 
his admiration of the works of Bishop Berkeley, whom 
he names among his " chiefest favourites." " The clear 
and chaste composition, the admirable metaphysical tact, 
the philanthropic sentiment, the genuine piety and the 
abundance of deep and interesting philosophical and 
literary research, which prevailed in the writings of this 
highly gifted, prelate, entitle his volumes to an honour- 
able place in every library. His singular ideas and 
acute reasoning upon materialism are as entertaining as 
they are instructive, and if the force of his arguments 
fails to convince, it at least affords a clear insight into 
many of the most beautiful phenomena of nature, and 
eloquently teaches how narrow a range is permitted to 
the human understanding when it attempts to fathom 
the deepest mysteries of the universe." 

Another favourite writer was Sterne. Putting aside 

n6 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1837. 

the quaint absurdities of this writer, which are neverthe- 
less often attractive, Mr. Sopwith found much in him 
that was also useful. He speaks sensibly of the sermons 
of Sterne, sermons eloquent and forcible, which he 
expects in this day are well-nigh forgotten altogether. 
Gilpin's " Forest Scenery " is spoken of as an admirable 
exposition, with graphic descriptions and well-executed 
engravings of forest trees. He does not estimate 
Gilpin one jot too highly, for his work in its way 
has never been surpassed, and is as readable as it was 
in the day it was published. Gregory's " Mathematics " 
seems to have afforded him much instruction, and Zimmer- 
mann's " sweetly written " book on Solitude runs side by 
side with the " Vicar of Wakefield." 

A work called the " Curious Book " comes in for warm 
praise. It is " well named ; " it contains a rare and well- 
collected assemblage of anecdotes in various departments 
of history, biography, and science. Washington Irving's 
tales afford him great delight, they are so accurate in re- 
gard to minuteness of detail, and his pictures of English 
manners present graphically every circumstance of sound 
and sight to the very ears and eyes of the reader. 
Phillips' " Geology of Yorkshire " he regards as the best 
work on social geology that had appeared at the time 
named, and McDiarmid's "Sketcher" is a book he valued, 
not only for its intrinsic worth, but also from the fact that 
he had spent an evening with its author in Dumfries, had 
heard that author speak of his intimate friend Robert 
Burns, and had drunk out of a goblet which had been 
for many years the property of the Scottish bard. 

I may state in this place that the taste which Mr. 
Sopwith displayed in these early days for literature 
continued until the end of his life. He was always 
an industrious reader, slow in reading, but grasping 


thoroughly every detail of matter and point of style. 
He continued always to gain delight from the works of 
Washington Irving, and when Dickens, Thackeray, Lytton, 
Kingsley, Macaulay, Dixon, Froude, and other writers 
whose works engrossed the mind of the nation came 
on the field, he followed them with equal avidity, com- 
mitting their best parts almost to memory. He had a 
keen sense of the humorous, and sometimes succeeded, 
if I may so say, in making new humour out of old, that 
is to say, of giving humour to the imaginary persons of 
the author beyond what the author himself conceived. 

In the diary for April 7th of this year (1837), there 
is an account of another journey to London, by the old 
passenger coach, which account, as it gives the modern 
reader a perfect picture of what travelling was in the imme- 
diate pre-Victorian era, had better be given in its entirety. 

" On Friday morning April 7th, 1837, I left Newcastle in 
the Wellington coach to visit London for the fourth time this 
year. The morning was cold, and snow showers fell on this 
and the following day. I had the good fortune to have for 
a fellow-passenger Thomas Fenwick, Esq., of Dipton, an able 
and experienced coal-miner, agent for the Bishop of Durham 
and the Dean and Chapter's Collieries, and author of a very 
ingenious treatise on Subterranean Surveying. His great 
vivacity and extensive range of information and anecdote 
tended much to beguile what might otherwise have seemed a 
long and tedious day. As regards travelling, however, custom 
has made it in me a property of easiness, and I now think 
nothing of the journey between Newcastle and London, which 
once appeared a very serious undertaking. I have learnt to 
read, to write, and to sleep well in a coach, and in addition 
to these have usually the good fortune to find some intelligent 
and conversable fellow-passenger. In this respect I have been 
more than usually fortunate this year, having in stage-coach 




journeys become acquainted with Cipriani Potter, the President 
of the Royal Academy of Music, and with the Rev. William 
Vernon Harcourt, a son of the Archbishop of York, as well 
as other agreeable and interesting persons, ladies as well as 
gentlemen ; and the acquaintance, though brief, was in every 
instance highly agreeable, and seasonable as a relief from the 
fatigues of a long journey. My companions on this journey 
were Mr. Fenwick, Mr. Richardson, solicitor of York, and 
my clerk. The Wellington coach is well conducted, and 
travels nine miles an hour, including all stoppages except for 
meals ; it leaves Newcastle at half -past nine. The passengers 
have half an hour for dinner at Northallerton about two 
o'clock, and the same time for tea at York at seven, break- 
fast at Grantham a little after six, and dinner at Harrington 
about two ; it reaches the Bull and Mouth at half -past 
seven, being in all thirty-four hours. The Mail (the rival 
coach) is thirty-three hours going up, and twenty-nine hours 
coming down. The fare in the Mail is £5 up and five guineas 
down. In the Wellington the fare is £i 10s. The other ex- 
penses by the Wellington are as follows, but subject of course 
to very considerable variation according to the liberality, 
economy, or it may be parsimony, of passengers : — 




Dinner at Northallerton . 



Driver at ,, . . 







Tea at „ ... 




Brandy at Tadcaster 
Driver at Ferry Bridge . 
Driver at Newark . 





Breakfast at Grantham . 




Driver at Huntingdon . 

Dinner and brandy at Harrington 

Guard at London . 














This journey to London was again on railway business, 
and examination before the parliamentary Committee, 
with evidence in favour of the London and Brighton 
Railway. The evidence is remarkable as showing what 
difficulties were thrown in the way of a line from 
London to London-super-Mare. Mr. Wood, who after- 
wards became Sir William Page Wood and finally Lord 
Hatherley, was the cross-examining counsel, and treated 
the witness with unusual severity; but the witness was 
a tough one, who never made a statement he was not 
prepared to substantiate, and who came off in triumph as 
the result. He stated his opinion of the line from an 
engineering point of view, and as affording peculiar 
facilities of intercourse, not only between London and 
Brighton, but also between London, Newhaven, and 
Lewes; also between these several towns and Brighton, 
Dover, and the central districts of the county of Kent, 
During this visit to London there is an account of an 
evening spent at Mr. Newton's in company with the 
"father of geology," Dr. William Smith. Blue cloth 
cloaks were now all the fashion, and as the weather was 
cold, Mr. Sopwith wrapped up the " father " in his own 
blue cloak, " taking good care, however, to get it again 
before we parted." At Mr. Newton's the geological 
father became very entertaining. He wrote his name in 
an album with some curious specimens of inverted writing. 
He was proud of this caligraphy, and observed that a 
person has no more right to alter the form of letters in 
writing than he has to alter the current coin of the 

To carry out all the instructions he had received, Mr. 
Sopwith again went to Brighton, and took up his residence 
there for a short time, making surveys of the different 
points where the line would have to pass, and where 

t2o THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1837. 

stations would have to be erected, as at Lewes, East- 
bourne, Newhaven, and Hastings. In the survey con- 
ducted by himself and his friends and his coadjutors, 
they found several fossil branches in the green sand 
under the chalk. At Lewes they came upon extensive 
chalk quarries, and learnt some very curious particulars 
from a workman there who had sustained a terrible 
bereavement. In the previous winter there had been a 
great fall of snow, which, accumulating above the chalk 
cliff, had come down like an avalanche, killing the wife 
of this man, the mother of eleven children, and doing an 
immense deal of mischief. The scene of this avalanche 
is still pointed out to visitors. 

A note dated April 18th, 1837, gives a graphic account 
of an express post journey from Brighton to London. It 
runs as follows : — 

" We pursued our inquiries and observations, and at twenty 
minutes before 4 p.m. we passed St. Peter's Church on our 
way to London, and reached Westminster Bridge at 10 past 
8, being just 4| hours for 52 miles, including stoppages. Mr. 
Anderson reached town in time for a consultation, and I sat 
up till two writing my reports, and making drawings, etc., to 
illustrate the case. 

" As our journey was altogether one of minute observation, 
and as the time of travelling forms an element, we were desirous, 
both on this account and also in order to prepare notes for 
counsel, to expedite our return as much as possible. The 
details were as follows : — 

" We passed St. Peter's Church at Brighton at 3.40 p.m. 
and reached Hickstead at 4.34, being 12 miles in 54 minutes 
(change occupied 5 minutes). From Hickstead at 4.39 to 
Crawley 5.28, being 10 miles in 49 minutes (change 4 minutes). 
From Crawley at 5.32 to Bed Hill at 6.14, being 9 miles in 
42 minutes (change 5 minutes). Left Bed Hill at 6.19 to 


Croydon at 7.17, being 11 miles in 58 minutes (change 5 
minutes). From Croydon at 7.22 to Westminster Bridge at 8.10, 
being 10 miles in 48 minutes. The following is a Sum muni. 

12 miles 5-1 minutes = 13 j an hour 

10 „ 49 „ = 12i „ 
9 „ 42 „ = 12| „ 

11 „ 58 ., = 11| „ 
10 „ 48 „ = 12i n 

" The expense was £5 17s. 6d. 

" The above may be considered as the maximum speed which 
can be obtained on post roads without previous and special 

The return to Newcastle was on April 24th, soon after 
which Mr. Sopwith was busily occupied in planning a 
Town Hall for the town of Thirsk. In May he was in 
London once more on parliamentary business, enjoying, 
as a bit of his recreative break from Committee work, 
a concert by Ole Bull. 

"Friday, May \§th, 1837. — Joseph Scott breakfasted with 
me at Wood's Hotel. I called at Manchester Buildings, and 
was sworn at the Bar of the House of Lords on the Great 
North of England Standing Orders Committee. In the even- 
ing I went to Ole Bull's concert at the great concert-room, 
King's Theatre. This proved a very great musical treat, and 
I was delighted to have an opportunity of hearing a violinist 
of whose extraordinary powers I had heard so often. The 
vocal performers were Madame Pasta and Mdlles. Blasis and 
Ostergarcle, Misses Cooper and Bruce, and Signors Rubini, 
Tamburini, Giubelei, and Lablache. Among the instrumental 
performers were M. Franchomne, first violoncellist to the King 
of the French ; Master Taylor, a young harpist aged nine years ; 
Signor Liverani ; and M. Rosenhaim, who performed on the 
pianoforte with Ole Bull ; and a numerous orchestra led by 
Sir George Smart. 

122 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1837. 

"The concert began with the magnificent overture to Der 
Freischiitz, which had a very fine effect. A variety of pieces 
followed, all of which afforded me great pleasure, and especially 
the playing of Ole Bull, which, to my imperfect judgment of 
music, seemed more wonderful than Paganini's performances, 
and I was glad on a subsequent occasion to find this opinion 
confirmed by the experienced judgment of Mr. Buddie. The 
song of songs of the evening was by Miss Cooper, ' She never 
told her Love.' It was exquisitely sweet and appropriate ; 
sung in a subdued and solemn tone, it partook of that 
' refreshing melancholy ' which Anthony A. Wood speaks of. 
It was true to nature, and both composer and singer seemed 
in my humble estimation to do justice to the immortal bard 
who penned the brief but most expressive and inimitable 
words of the song. As the song proceeded it seemed to con- 
jure up to the view the striking and highly poetical incidents 
of a secret love, — a pining in thought, a fading of the damask 
cheek, and of a fair saint of heavenly patience 'smiling at 
grief,' a fair flower withering in the shadow of death. 

" This song was followed by another favourite piece of music 
played by Master Taylor on the harp ; this was ' Kathleen 
O'More,' and it was played with great sweetness and simplicity. 
I was truly delighted with its wild and plaintive melody ; 
although unaccompanied by the voice, its notes seemed to tell 
a plain and sad tale so true to nature as in my estimation to 
rank among the most expressive pieces of national melody. 

" Mr. Bull was prevented by illness (that was the plea), or 
by a thin attendance, from playing his Polacco Guerriera : but 
I soon after heard him play it at Cipriani Potter's concert." 

In another entry we have accounts of two other per- 
formances in which celebrated characters of the past 
played their parts. 

" Friday, June 2nd, 1837. — Went to Manchester Buildings, 
and took a walk with my cousin, Thomas Sop with, to see the 
House of Commons, Westminster Hall, etc. I caUed and saw 

1837.] THE SCHOOL OF MIXES. 123 

Mr. Provis, and, after taking an early and very plain dinner 
at Gregory's Hotel, I went to Cipriani Potter's concert at 
Hanover Square rooms at two o'clock. 

" This concert was very numerously attended by a fashion- 
able audience. Madame Pasta sang twice. Mr. Kr6ff sang 
' Der Wanderer ' with great feeling and expression. Miss 
Clara Novello sang ' From Mighty Kings,' a piece which re- 
quires great skill in modulation, and I admired her performance 
of it very much. Mr. Ole Bull played his Polacco Guerriera, 
a most extraordinary performance, which Mr. Buddie, who is 
a good judge of violin-playing, thought superior in execution 
and in 'honest fiddle-playing ' to the much-talked-of performance 
of the celebrated Paganini. Dragonetti Lindley and various 
other eminent instrumental performers were present, and Mr. 
Potter played some concerns with great clearness and skilful 
execution. An original overture composed by him was also 
performed and very favourably received. 

" In the evening Mr. Donkin gave Mr. Buddie, myself, and 
Charles a treat to Covent Garden, where we heard Pasta and 
De Begnis, and saw Macready perform Wolseyin Henry VIII. 
"\\ ith this I was altogether disappointed, inasmuch as 1 think 
he entirely failed in exhibiting either the pictorial or moral 
portrait of that celebrated priest and statesman. Liston played 
in the farce. He has taken leave of the stage at his usual 
place of acting (the Olympic), and it is said that he will only 
once more appear on the London boards. To the provincial 
stage he long ago bade adieu." 

Nothing of special moment occurs in the diary until 
June 8th, when two events of importance come before us: 
one a visit to the famous Dr. Buckland— father of the late 
Frank Buckland— at Oxford; and a second, the projection 
of a School oi Mines, arising, as it seems, out of that 
visit. Mr. Sopwith and Mr. Buddie were at Oxford, on 
railway business, when both received invitations to break- 
fast from Dr. Buckland. As they were short of time 

i2 4 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1837. 

the} 7 were unable to accept the invitation, but they called 
before the breakfast as related below. 

" Dr. Buckland's house is one of those venerable fabrics which 
form the principal quadrangle of Christ's College. As soon as the 
old-fashioned door is opened abundant evidence is presented that 
the residence is that of a zealous disciple of geology. A wide 
and spacious staircase has its floors, and even part of steps, 
covered with ammonites, fossil trees, and bones, and various 
other geological fragments, and in the several apartments piles 
upon piles of books and papers are spread upon tables, chairs, 
sofas, bookstands, and no small portion on the floor itself. In 
the drawing-room I found a young lady of ruddy, cheerful 
aspect, and of unassuming and agreeable manners. Dr. Locke, 
Professor of Chemistry in Cincinnati, was present, and explained 
a very ingenious apparatus named in the doctor's note, on 
which the action of heat is so moderate that the approach 
of the hand or the touch of a finger induces a magnetic move- 
ment of a 12-inch needle. Dr. Locke also described a mode of 
measuring vertical angles by ascertaining the degrees covered 
by his hand, or by one or more fingers when held at arm's 

" I saw the large painting from which the engraving of Dr. 
Buckland has been taken. In the breakfast-room Dr. Buckland 
introduced me to Mrs. Buckland and to Dr. Davies Gilbert, 
and shortly after to Mr. Edward Bigge, who joined the party. 
Dr. Buckland said that he had been applied to to recommend 
some one as a proper person to undertake the office of Mining 
Commissioner on the part of the Free Miners. ' I told them,' 
said the Doctor, ' that they must have nothing short of New- 
castle, and I named Mr. Buddie and yourself.' I sat next to 
Dr. Gilbert, and had with him and Dr. Buckland a conversation 
on the subject of a School of Mines. Dr. Gilbert said that great 
advantages had been derived from the Institution of a Poly- 
technic School in Cornwall, of which he has been an active 
promoter. I assured Dr. Buckland that Mr. Buddie and 



myself felt highly gratified and obliged by his present of the 
« Bridgewater Treatise on Geology;' to which he replied that 
he felt more indebted for information he had received from 
us. Before leaving, he made me write a minute to the effect 
that Mr. Buddie and I should dine with him at the Geological 
Club in London on the following Wednesday. 

"At ten I left Oxford on the Blenheim coach, which was filled 
with young Oxonians. The road by Wycombe and Uxbridge and 
its beautiful scenery was new tojne, and I enjoyed it very much." 

Friday, June 9th, 1837, records rather an amusing 

" This morning our usual breakfast party of Mr. Donkin, 
Mr. Buddie, and myself was enriched with the addition of Mr. 
Beinagle, an eminent artist and Royal Academician, who had 
come the preceding evening to Mr. Buddie, bearing a letter 
from Lord Ravensworth. Mr. Reinagle astonished us not a 
little by declaring that he had found a simple and infallible mode 
of at once doubling the profits of the northern coal owners, but 
our faith in this consummation was somewhat lessened as the 
worthy artist, with great clearness and simplicity, disclosed the 
data on which his scheme was based. The first and principal 
assumption was, that the coal owners sell two tons for one, (an 
idea formed, I suppose, from the different values of 25 and 53 cwt. 
in the London and Newcastle chaldron). When Mr. Reinagle 
was made to understand that a ton at Newcastle was 20 cwt. as 
well as at London, it seemed in some degree to shake his scheme, 
but, like a genuine romancer, he found in other wild and 
visionary imaginations a refuge from this trifling misconception. 
The conversation at length merged into an extravagant satire 
on various projected improvements, and Mr. Buddie with his 
usual facility and caustic humour devised some Munchhausendike 
plans which bore very hardly on the extravagant conceptions of 
our well-meaning but visionary artist, who took all in perfect 
good humour, and subsequently forwarded to Mr. Buddie bis 
plans for the Company." 

126 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1837. 

A visit to the Royal Academy at the National Gallery 
on June 13th, 1837, forms a pleasant episode in the diary. 
In this exhibition Chantrey's statue of Dr. Dalton and 
Ramsay's portrait of Earl Grey are much commended, 
but the rooms are stamped as very unsatisfactory. They 
were too much like common dwelling-rooms, whereas, by 
means of large doors and archways, a continued gallery 
might have been formed. The sculpture room was 
most objectionable, the busts and statues being jumbled 
together as if intended to be packed for wholesale exporta- 
tion, instead of tastefully arranged in separate groups on 
appropriate pedestals. 

On June 14th the geological dinner with Dr. Buckland 
came off at the Geological Club; Whewell, the President, 
being in the chair. After dinner Mr. Sopwith and 
Buckland walked together arm-in-arm to the Society's 
rooms in Somerset House, Buckland, as was his wont, 
carrying his umbrella and a blue bag. Thereupon comes 
a story about this bag. Sopwith wishes to relieve the 
Professor of it, which, after a time, is permitted, and then 
the story. 

" The greatest honour," said the Doctor, " which my 
bag ever had was when Lord Grenville insisted on carry- 
ing it ; and the greatest disgrace it ever had was when 
I called on Sir Humphry Davy three or four times one 
day and always found him out. At last Sir H. D. asked 
his servant, ' Has Dr. Buckland not called to-day ? ' ' No, 
sir; there has been nobody here to-day but a man with a 
bag, who has been here three or four times, and I always 
told him you were out.' " 

In the retrospect of the year 1837 Mr. Sopwith recalls 
many other pleasing passages beyond those referred to 
in the last two chapters. He was in London during some 
parts of eight months in the year, and found his frecment 


journeyings opening up many new scenes and personal 
introductions. He sat for his portrait to Mr. James 
J lam say, went to the bottom of the river Thames in 
a diving bell, and was much gratified in making the 
personal acquaintance of Cipriani Potter. He devised 
various plans for the improvement of Newcastle-upon- 
Tyne, and spent a few hours a day, now and then, in the 
contrivance of a writing table with a flat top which would 
contain fifteen drawers, two closets, and three spaces for 
books and papers, all of which could be opened by one 
key. This effort ultimately led to the construction of 
one of the most ingenious literary cabinets ever invented. 
He many times showed me this remarkable piece of 
furniture, which seemed almost automatically to put 
before you everything you wanted at a moment's notice ; 
and the more he experienced the great saving of time 
effected by this contrivance the more he became con- 
vinced of its value for professional and official purposes. 

A very interesting geological survey about Newcastle 
carried out by himself and Dr. William Smith in con- 
nection with the new lines of railway then springing up 
occupies a good space in the journal, and introduces us 
to Sir William Jackson Hooker, the eminent Professor of 
Botany in the University of Glasgow. 

But the most interesting event of a personal kind was 
his accidental introduction to the famous Mrs. Somer- 
ville. He had come to London after a long excursion 
in Dean Forest, and on his way back to the north met 
this distinguished lady. 

"I left town in the Edinburgh mail at 8 o'clock. An 
elderly, stout gentleman, a lady, and a young gentleman, were 
my companions. 

" Thursday, Sept. 14th, 1837. — After leaving Grantham I 
discovered that the elder gentleman was well acquainted with 

128 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1837. 

the leading scientific men of the day. From having seen the 
name ' Dr. Somerville' on the luggage the preceding night, 
from the occasional use of the word ' Mary,' and finally from 
a striking resemblance to the bust I had so often admired 
at Chantrey's, I conjectured that the lady was no other 
than the far-famed Mary Somerville, the authoress of ' The 
Mechanism of the Heavens,' ' Connection of the Physical 
Sciences,' etc. I took an opportunity of making the inquiry, 
and my conjecture proved to be correct ; he said the bust was 
considered one of Chantrey's best efforts, an opinion in which I 
quite agreed with him. Dr. S. said that when Mrs. Somerville 
was very young she overheard her brother's tutor teaching 
him Euclid's Elements • she was so pleased with it that she 
pursued it unknown to the family, and soon mastered the 
' Elements ' and imbibed a taste for mathematical knowledge. 
While she thus outstripped both her brother and his tutor, she 
paid a due regard to domestic duties, and through life she has 
never been led to deviate from that plain and unpretending 
line of conduct which best beseems the feminine character. 

" Mrs. Somerville received a handsome present from the 
Emperor of Russia, and while the bearer of it was waiting 
for a receipt, another gentleman called to ask permission to 
name after her a large vessel then being built at Liverpool 
intended for the China trade, offering to be at any expense 
for a portrait or bust to ornament the head of the vessel 
with a correct likeness. Permission was readily granted by t 
Mrs. Somerville, who prized far more highly being thus 
identified with the commerce of the country than the gift 
of the Russian autocrat. Some time after, a chest of tea 
arrived as a present to Mrs. S. from the owner of the ship, 
and directed to her per the Mary Somerville. 

" Nothing can be more plain and unassuming than the 
manner and conversation of this highly-gifted lady ; the 
bust by Chantrey is a striking resemblance of the general 
expression of her features, but the smoothness of a marble 
surface, and its having probably been done a few years ago, 


causes it to have the appearance of a younger and more 
beautiful countenance than that of Mrs. Somerville, the 
interest of which chiefly consists in an agreeable, complacent, 
and highly-intellectual expression. 

"Friday, Sept. 15th, 1837.— Dr. and Mrs. Somerville 
arrived at Newcastle at six this evening, and accepted my 
invitation to partake of such hospitality as I could offer. I 
was truly glad to entertain as a guest so distinguished an 
ornament of English literature as Mary Somerville, a name 
which is destined to occupy a high and honoured place in the 
annals of science. Mrs. Somerville expressed herself very 
highly pleased with my writing cabinet; she also expressed 
great admiration at the application of isometrical drawing to 
geology and mining, and was much pleased with the isograph 
and projecting ruler." 

Another entry is also very interesting. It is dated 
from London on Thursday, November 9th, 1837. 

" This was a very momentous day in the metropolis of the 
world, the young Sovereign having accepted the invitation of 
the citizens to dine in Guildhall on Lord Mayor's Day. Public 
expectation was roused to a pitch of enthusiasm which can 
scarcely be conceived without having witnessed its extraordinary 
results. The greater part of the business of London might be 
considered as being suspended. About a quarter of a million is 
said to have been expended on the banquet and illuminations 
in the City, and there is little doubt that at least another fifty 
or sixty thousand pounds was expended in illuminations in 

"A great part of the money was spent in extra wages on the 
urgency of the demand for workmen, and this may be considered 
as being therefore very improvidently spent, leading, it is to be 
feared, to intemperance and excess. 

"A still larger part of these large sums went to enrich the oil 
merchants and gas companies, and nearly the whole may be 
considered as expended in such a manner as to leave no sub- 


i 3 o THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1837. 

stantial tokens behind ; no memorial of the vast labour and 
exertion which had been bestowed on the brief pageant of a 
procession, and a splendid dinner enjoyed by comparatively few 
persons. The gratification of seeing and welcoming a Sovereign 
might be enjoyed without this enormous machinery and waste 
of time and money; the pleasure of seeing a fine procession and 
beholding the blazing refulgence of illuminations is surely not 
worth so large a price. 

" I am far from denying that the procession was interesting. I 
admit that both the appearance and the sentiment conveyed by 
the illuminations were highly pleasing, but this pleasure, I con- 
sider, was more than counterbalanced by the concomitant circum- 
stances. Among these maybe briefly mentioned that danger and 
even death were known to be almost inevitable ; that the peace 
and security of the metropolis was more or less hazarded by such 
extraordinary occasions of public excitement; that the person of 
the Sovereign was exposed to the possibility of danger, and that 
the presence of an armed force was deemed necessary as a means 
of protection. Now what pleasures or what advantages are 
derived from a royal visit that can be put in comparison with 
these great public dangers, this temporary destruction of social 
order, this enormous, unmeaning waste of money? If the 
Sovereign of the kingdom condescends to be entertained by the 
citizens of London, would it not be infinitely better in taste, in 
propriety, and in moral influence that the entertainment should 
rather be based on the substantial comforts of citizenship, than 
on a rival display of the splendours of a Court ? Suppose that 
every person who desired to honour his Sovereign subscribed in 
money one-half or one-third of what was spent in lamps, in loss 
of business, in idleness, in exposure for hours to the raw and 
miserable air of a foggy November day, to the risk of health 
and life : a very large amount would have been available for the 
erection of some great public work, the endowment of a school 
or hospital, and the construction of an architectural building 
for the purpose which in letters of gold should record the event 
of Her Majesty's welcome to the City of London. The list of 


these subscribers I would have printed in legible characters, 
describing their several professions and trades, and this list I 
would have preserved in the palace of the Sovereign, in the 
public courts and assembly rooms, etc., throughout the king- 
dom, and widely and gratuitously distributed. These would be 
trophies worthy of an enlightened Sovereign, and productive of 
benefits to the various parties who might thus exhibit their 
loyalty. Another demonstration of joy, and a delightful 
subject for public observation, would be to give dinners to the 
poor in large numbers. 

" These views are not Utopian speculations on what might be 
done ; they are merely applications of what has already been 
done in my native town. In 1809 the inhabitants of Newcastle, 
instead of wasting their money and creating idleness, danger, 
and confusion in the streets by an illumination, gave public 
dinners to the poor ; and never will I forget the delightful scene. 
They subscribed also sufficient funds to erect a handsome school 
on the Doric Portico. Their sentiments, and the fruit of that 
good work, yet flourish by imparting sound and valuable 
blessings to the poor children of the district. 

" I walked to Temple Bar, and along the Strand to the Office 
of Woods ; this was closed, and Cockney-land was all ' agog.' 
However, I found Mr. Gardiner in his office; but for every kind 
of business I found it a ' dies non.' 

" I procured a seat in a first-floor window in Cockspur Street, 
where I saw the procession pass ; I had a good view of the 
several personages in their respective carriages, and especially of 
the Duchess of Kent, the Duke of Sussex, and the Queen. I 
afterwards walked from Temple Bar eastwards to the Bank 
through the illuminations. In the evening I went with Mr. 
Davison in a van to see the West End illuminations. The 
crowd was truly astonishing, and as to carriages, cabs, 
omnibuses, carts, drays, and vans, the streets were actually 
one solid and often immovable mass." 

Two more entries in this year deserve notice. 

i 3 2 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [i8; 

" Sunday, November 19th, 1837. — Attended service at the 
Chapel Royal, St. James's, and afterwards called and sat an hour 
with Dr. Somerville and his daughters. I had an opportunity 
of seeing Mrs. Somerville's paintings by daylight, and I admired 
them very much. I spent the evening with Mr. Milne, at his 
house in Whitehall Place. 

" Monday, Nov. 20th, 1837. — In the morning I prepared a 
preamble for the Dean Forest Bill. At eleven a Mr. Coram 
called ; he has taken out a patent for converting small coal into 
aggregated masses. At twelve I went to Mr. Ker's, where I 
met Mr. Gardiner, and after an hour's consultation I went to 
Whitehall and saw Mr. Milne. In Parliament Street I saw 
Queen Victoria go in state to open her first Parliament ; I saw 
the procession to great advantage both in going and returning. 
I had an excellent view of Her Majesty, who appeared to be 
in splendid spirits. On returning I saw crowds of people 
running towards and loudly cheering a gentleman on horse- 
back. This I immediately supposed must be the Duke of 
Wellington; my conjecture proved right, and he soon after 
rode close past. I joined in a most hearty cheer for the hero 
of Waterloo." 



>OME time in 1837 Mr. Sopwith made the 
acquaintance of that remarkable man Robert 
Owen, whose attempts to establish a theo- 
retical and practical system of social reform 
are particularly important in this day, when socialistic 
tendencies are becoming so popular. Owen had had a kind 
of chapel in Burton Street, and Mr. Sopwith passing it 
had been rather astonished to find that the chapel had 
changed both its name and its character. On inquiry he 
found that Mr. Owen had moved the establishment to 
Great Queen Street, and on asking what was the present 
occupation of the place, was told politely that it was now 
a chapel of the Swedenborgians or New Jerusalemites, so 
that Mr. Owen's enthusiastic plans seemed to be march- 
ing backwards, and his millennium of truth, reason, and 
equality as far distant as ever. 

The first entry of moment in the diary of 1838 has 
reference to Mr. Owen, who was at Newcastle. 

"April 25th, 1838.— Spent the evening at Mr. H. L. 
Pattinson's. Mr. Owen, Mr. George Burnett, Mr. Lee, and 
Mr. Carrick were present, and we had a long and interesting 

i 3 4 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1838. 

conversation on Mr. Owen's benevolent and sanguine but 
theoretical prospects of the improvement of society. 

" April 26th. — Mr. Owen and I walked to Mr. Donkin's, 
where we breakfasted. Mr. D. expressed himself highly 
delighted with the schools and discipline of New Lanark when 
he visited them some years ago, and Mr. Owen detailed several 
very interesting particulars of his interviews with Prince 
Metternich and other European diplomatists. 

" Mr. Owen is very communicative, and is willing to answer 
any questions, which he always does with a distinct reference 
to his particular views. His notions of classifications of society, 
although based in some measure on the results of his own 
practical experience at New Lanark, and comprising many 
very enlightened and benevolent arrangements, are yet so very 
Utopian that it is difficult to attribute his sanguine anticipa- 
tions to any other cause than monomania or a delusion on that 
particular subject. Eveu those parts of his plans which may 
be considered practicable as improvements in the general habits 
and constitution of society, will, in my humble opinion, require 
the lapse of ages to be accomplished, — I would say two thousand 
years at least ; and this opinion I have always urged on Mr. 
Oweu. In contemplating a change so great as he imagines 
will take place, I cannot but think that it affords as strong 
an evidence of delusion as can possibly exist in a cultivated 
and intelligent mind, which, in an eminent degree, Mr. Owen 
possesses. His opinions on religion are such as the generality 
of persons would consider it a duty not oidy to disapprove, but 
to condemn in the strongest and most unqualified terms. My 
intercourse with a varied circle of society has, however, taught 
me to be very cautious in forming extreme opinions on specu- 
lative subjects. Claiming, as a Protestant, the right of free 
opinion, I consider it a duty to tolerate the same in others ; 
religion is a matter between God and man, and all history and 
observation point out the unhappy results which have flowed 
from the interference of men with the religious opinions of 
their fellow-creatures. Mr. Owen is very open and unreserved 


in expressing his opinions on religious topics, but I cannot say 
that they present a pleasing prospect." 

A considerable number of minor events carry us on 
until June 18th, when one of considerable, and we may 
almost say national, importance was presented, namely, 
the opening of the Newcastle and Carlisle Railway from 
Blaydon to Carlisle, a distance of sixty miles. The whole 
of the engines belonging to the company were put into 
requisition, and a vast number of trucks fitted up with 
temporary seats were provided for the public accommoda- 
tion. The procession of trains was intended to start from 
Redheugh at 11 in the morning, but after various delays, 
and a considerable stoppage at Blaydon, a final start was 
made at 1.50 in the afternoon. Carlisle was reached at 
5.30, sixty miles being accomplished in three hours and 
twenty minutes. 

The description of the arrival in Carlisle and of the 
departure back again is recorded in the next entry, dated 
June 18th, 1838. 

"Immediately on being liberated from the carriage I hastened 
with all convenient speed through the gay and crowded streets 
of < Merry Carlisle,' past the venerable Cathedral to the coffee- 
house where ' luncheon ' was provided by the Directors. The 
entrance was by a narrow passage, and notwithstanding the 
exertions of the police, the crowd and consequent pressure 
were very annoying. 

" In the large Assembly Room three tables extended length- 
ways down the room from a cross table, in the middle of which 
the Mayor of Carlisle presided over this hungry and disorderly 
assemblage. The Queen's health was drunk with great en- 
thusiasm, and followed by three cheers of that hearty and 
cordial gratulation which prevails at feasts in general, but 
especially at gratuitous entertainments. ' Success to the Rail- 
way ' was received with a similar demonstration of goodwill. 

136 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1838. 

" In the meantime I hastily helped myself to some cold beef 
and bread, and after drinking the preceding toasts I went to 
the railway station at the London Road ; this was at half-past 
six o'clock, and it was generally understood that the trains 
were to start at seven. I took the first opportunity of getting 
into one of the same description of carriages that I came up 
in, and had Miss Frances Burnup, Mr. Thomas Dunn, Mr. 
, Anthony Nichol, and Mr. Cuthbert Burnup for companions. 
It was not, however, until ten o'clock that we got fairly started, 
and during this long period by far the greater portion of the 
vast multitude were exposed on the outside conveyances to a 
very heavy and long-continuous rain. After various stoppages 
we reached Bedheugh at three o'clock, but some of the trains 
did not arrive until six or seven o'clock. Much alarm was 
therefore created in many families by this detention, and for 
several days the discomforts and apparent want of method of 
the whole expedition were the general theme of conversation, 
and of very strong reprehension by many who had suffered 
the inclement exposure and fatigue of a midnight and stormy 
ride in the light dress of an expected summer-day excursion." 

Coronation Day, June 28th, is referred to briefly. The 
day was observed as a general holiday at Newcastle, as 
elsewhere. In Newcastle there was a Radical meeting 
on the town moor. The Council accompanied the Mayor 
to church, where the Vicar preached a political sermon 
against the progress of Reform. The military were 
reviewed on the town moor, and the yeomanry fired a 
feu de joie ou the sandhill. About 170 persons dined 
with the Mayor, and a few places were illuminated. 

On July 2nd the Diary records the birth, at Newcastle, 
of a son,* Thomas Sop with. 

In the summer of this year Mr. Sopwith published a 
short treatise on the proposed line of road from Shotley 

* The present Mr. Thomas Sopwith, of 6, Great George Street, West- 


Bridge to Midclletou in Teesdale, to form, with existing 
roads, a direct and easy line of turnpike roads from New- 
castle-upon-Tyne to Lancaster, Preston, and Liverpool. 
A good map illustrated the route. 

Several other publications came through his hand 
about this time, including a series of topographical 
questions on quarry work, a descriptive essay of the 
Monocleid or writing cabinet, " The Stranger's Pocket 
Guide to Newcastle-upon-Tyne and its Environs," and a 
second edition of his " Treatise on Isometrical Drawing." 

The essay on the Monocleid writers' cabinet describes 
a series of improvements on the writing table referred to 
in a previous chapter. The Monocleid was a very hand- 
some piece of furniture, and I know nothing with which 
my friend was more pleased than with this invention. 
Very shortly before his death he devoted an hour in 
explaining to me the "ins and outs" of the ingenious 
piece of mechanism, by which the whole of the drawers, 
closets, and partitions could be opened by means of a 
single lock, yet were so arranged as to be easily accessible 
to any one seated in front. The cabinet was in no way 
liable to get out of order, and was less costly than one 
in which the locks used are on each drawer. 

The pocket guide-book to Newcastle-upon-Tyne con- 
sisted of one hundred and two pages. In it nothing of 
moment in regard to the town is omitted. It formed an 
excellent reference book for the members of the British 
Association for the Advancement of Science, which held 
its eighth meeting at Newcastle, commencing on August 
20th of this year, 1838. 

Some useful details are given in the diary respecting this 
meeting of the British Association, and special reference 
is made to Mr. Garnett's paper, read in the Mechanical 
Section, on the Telegraph. The advanced men of science 

138 THOMAS bQPWITH, F.R.S. [1838. 

at this time were just dreaming of the practical application 
of electricity to telegraphic purposes; but when some 
thought, Mr. Sopwith told me, of sending a word a 
hundred miles in a minute, "then we had to pick our 
company;" by which he meant that such a seeming 
miracle could only be told to a select few. At the meet- 
ing he made the acquaintance of many distinguished 
persons, and at his breakfasts entertained Dr. and Mrs. 
Buckland, Mr. Charles Babbage, Mr. (afterwards Sir 
Charles) Barry, Dr. Reicl, and other eminent persons. 
He took also a great part in the geological work, having 
by this time been elected Fellow of the Geological Society. 
The following entry bears date August 25th : — 

" I drove with Mr. Barry, the architect, to Falfield, and had 
a very interesting conversation with this highly-gifted archi- 
tect. We went to the Durham Junction or Victoria Bridge, 
which was opened this day. As we approached this splendid 
bridge, Mr. Barry greatly admired its general aspect and noble 
proportions, but he condemned the small arches at each 
end, which impair the general solidity so essential to the 
character of the design. While we were viewing the bridge, 
we heard one of the railway trains approaching with a great 
number of persons present at the ceremony of opening the 
railway. This train stopped at the south end of the bridge, and 
a few minutes after another train approached at so quick a 
rate as to threaten a violent collision. This in a few seconds 
took place, but the result was much less seriously felt by the 
passengers than might have been anticipated. Some accidents 
occurred, but no lives were lost ; and in about half an hour the 
party were enabled to proceed to Shields, followed by a train 
of no less than a hundred and twenty coal-waggons. 

" After walking along the bridge, we found Mr. George 
Stephenson, the eminent engineer, Mr. William Brandling, 
Mr. James Walker, the President of the Institution of Civil 
Engineers, Mr. Nicholas Wood, and others, to whom I 


introduced Mr. Barry. After some conversation, in which 
Mr. Walker deplored the innovation made on his design by 
the substitution of three small arches instead of one large 
arch at each end of the bridge, we proceeded to Pensher Quarry, 
and after viewing it we returned to Mr. Buddie's house. Here 
we found Dr. Buckland, Sir Charles Lemon, and Mr. Edward 
Bigge. We returned through Lambton Park and arrived at 
Newcastle, and Mr. Barry dined with me. 

" Dr. Buckland and Sir Charles Lemon came in the even- 
ing, and we spent some time in considering the best mode 
of bringing the subject of an application to Government, on 
Mining Records, before the Association." 

In the autumn of this same year Mr. Sop with, was 
appointed a Commissioner for the Crown under the 
Forest of Dean Mining Act. On the part of the free 
miners Mr. Probyn was appointed Commissioner, and 
Mr. Buddie was nominated as umpire. Mr. Sopwith 
often expressed the great satisfaction he felt at this 
appointment. It was a post of great honour and respon- 
sibility, and it came to him altogether unsolicited, which 
rendered it the more satisfactory. On September 5th 
the first meeting of the Commissioners was held at the 
King's Head Inn, Coleford, at twelve o'clock ; but the 
room not being large enough, there was an adjournment 
to the Angel Inn, where he took the chair, and explained 
the object of the meeting. On September 10th the 
Commission sat at what is called the Speech House, dis- 
tant three miles from Coleford, and situated in the midst 
of the royal Forest of Dean. Here a very numerous 
assembly of gentlemen, solicitors, and free miners was 
collected. Mr. Sopwith opened the business. The sit- 
tings continued for some time, with various disputes and 
arguments in regard to possession of what is called " a 
gale." The whole history is very curious, but is matter 

1 4 o THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1838. 

long gone by. Suffice it to say, that lie acquitted himself 
in the delicate negotiations which took place with what 
Mr. Buddie described as perfect diplomatic skill, and 
that he left the Forest divided in opinion as to whether 
its scenery or its people were most to be admired. 

A curious little entry of September 22nd, 1838, has 
reference to the Zoological Gardens in London. He 
walked with Mr. Probyn to the Gardens, and found the 
selection so meagre that it could scarcely be considered 
as having commenced. But the walk to it was pleasant. 

September 29th yields us a pretty bit of philosophy, 
the first paragraph being a copy of a letter addressed 
to Mrs. Sopwith, his "dear Jane " : — 

" I always endeavour to be happy and comfortable, and 
as much as possible at home ; and in this I am very often 
successful in whatever part of the kingdom or amongst what- 
ever class of persons I happen to be placed for the time being. 
This appears to me to be a part of the philosophy of human 
life. Every day, nay, every hour, is a beneficent gift bestowed 
upon us, and requires and richly merits all the improvement 
we can bestow upon it. These and similar reflections are often 
suggested to my mind when I think of my family and home, — 
of a cup filled to overflowing with every comfort I desire, and 
above all a disposition to enjoy the present time whether at 
home or abroad. These enjoyments are often closely combined 
with my professional pursuits, and I often consider them in 
reference to that clear, and elegant, and most useful rule of 
life contained in the Church Catechism : ' To learn and labour 
truly to get mine own living, and to do my duty in that state 
of life to which it shall please God to call me.' 

" This train of reflection is one which I often find both a 
pleasing and a profitable occupation of my mind. The miseries 
of human life are a fruitful source of dissatisfaction and of 
complaint with a large portion of mankind; but it has ever 


appeared to me that the misfortunes of men are in a great 
measure chargeable upon themselves, and that if right objects 
are pursued with a proper disposition of the heart towards God 
and man, the general tenor of human life is that of cheerful- 
ness and contentment. The condition of our nature, it is true, 
is necessarily mixed with a portion of suffering and privation ; 
but even these, nay, even the most severe afflictions, are found 
to promote some lasting cause of happiness. As regards the 
experience of human life, however, our own mind is the only 
source which we can exercise any reasoning upon, for the 
thoughts, and consequently the happiness or misery, of others 
are hidden by an impenetrable veil ; but in our own minds we can 
trace the operations of moral causes, and discover many of the 
secret springs of good and evil. Rest in the conviction that a 
God-given soul, as Wilson expresses it, has been bestowed upon 
us to admire and adore the bountiful Creator of all things, and 
above all to rely on the designs of an inscrutable Providence 
which ' shapes our ends, rough hew them as we will.' 

" The two points on which happiness mainly depends are 
the regulation of the mind and the proper employment of time ; 
the former of these is the source and the latter the result of 
that inward satisfaction which is the only solid basis of a happy 
life. Once secured, this happy frame of mind serves as a rock, 
over which the stream of existence flows with an equal current, 
which even the storms of adversity cannot disturb. 

" There is not in the whole range of nature any type of 
human life so striking as that of a river traced from its 
fountain head, pursuing a devious and obscure path until it 
widens into a noble stream, passing by mountains, plains, and 
cities, and finally losing an individual existence in the vast 
abyss of ocean, — the emblem of eternity. The placid surface 
of such a stream reflecting the light of heaven, and the verdant 
aspect of nature, are beautiful emblems of a mind delighting 
l n the love of nature ; and in like manner an ill-regulated mind 
is not unfitly represented by such a stream when 

' Fouled with stains, 
And swoln with torrents and descending rains.' 

j 42 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1838. 

" The regulation of the mind is greatly promoted by such 
reflections as are here alluded to, inasmuch as by tracing the 
past we are enabled in some measure to anticipate the future. 
It is in this respect that I have often thought my journals of 
some use, by recalling to my memory the scenes and adventures 
of former years, and recording the impressions which were 
then made upon my mind. The most important use of this 
has been to show what circumstances were productive of present 
comfort and future happiness, and hence the futility of many 
pursuits which occupy mankind has been made apparent. 
My convictions on some of these matters have occasionally gone 
beyond what many persons consider as prudence ; but which 
term, as often understood, has but a slight relation either to 
piety or wisdom. To depend on others instead of ourselves 
is often a source of great unhappiness, and I count it a peculiar 
blessing that the lesson of self-dependence was enforced by 
my father from his own knowledge of its inestimable value. 
In marrying I carried this feeling so much into effect, that I 
was then, and am still, impressed with the idea that a fortune 
would have been a positive disadvantage. There is no reason 
why it should be so ; but when the motives are known to be 
purely disinterested, there is a solid ground for much happiness, 
and that my own experience has largely proved. 

" The pursuit of riches is another wide mistake and fruitful 
source of evil ; for when once the love of gain has taken 
possession of the soul, a long and sad farewell may be given to 
all those charms which 

1 . . . work the soul's eternal health, 
And love and peace and gentleness impart.' 

There seems, indeed, in the general disposition of events, a 
continual disappointment which accompanies the pursuit of 
improper objects, and that disappointment is often greatest 
when that pursuit is apparently crowned with success. 

" To the pursuit of riches, and of every object of hope winch 
is selfish, this lamentable complaint very strongly applies. If 
disappointment, in the ordinary sense of the word, ensues, there 


i,s little solace for the loss; and success too often brings with 
it the total destruction of every fancied charm. This holds 
good throughout the whole framework of social order, and it 
exhibits in the moral dispensations of Providence that same 
aptitude of design and harmony of purpose which is so 
admirably displayed in the arrangement of physical nature. 
These considerations lead to deeper sentiments, which are better 
fitted for the recesses of our own minds than for being recorded 
in a journal of this kind. 

" Next to the due regulation of the mind, the employment of 
time is the grand element of human life. The hours spent in 
my professional pursuits have always been agreeable to me, 
inasmuch as they blend many interesting pursuits in one 
harmonious whole. For the pen and pencil abundant occupa- 
tion is afforded. A frequent change of scene gives variety of 
company as well as of picturesque beauty, which has ever been 
a great source of delight to me ; and hence the useful and the 
sweet go hand in hand. In this manner business has proved 
not only a source of profit but of pleasure, and occasional re- 
laxation from it is enjoyed with a zest unknown to those who 
are accustomed to vigorous and active business exertions." 

In another note, dated September 27th, there is a 
record of an evening party at Mr. Probyn's, at which the 
music seems to have been extremely good. To his great 
delight, Mrs. Probyn played on the violin, which led Mr. 
Buddie, who was present, to state that he had always 
held that the violin was both an elegant and appropriate 
instrument for a lady. In this opinion Mr. Sopwith 
joins, and comes to the immediate conclusion that it 
shall be no want of exertion on his part to make his 
eldest daughter, Ursula, a good fiddler. 

It strikes me, in reading through these pleasant 
memoirs, that my good friend, in doing so much for the 

i 4 4 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [ii 

railway system, did a great deal to destroy the pleasure 
connected with ordinary travelling ; for anything more 
delightful than his description of his many thousand 
miles a year of coaching and posting it were indeed 
difficult to conceive. 

Two more entries must bring this chapter to a close. 

" Called on my friend Hervey, the eminent designer and 
engraver on wood. Half an hour passed away very delightfully 
in his den, as he called it— a small sitting-room in which he 
pursues his avocations. The group consisted of Mr. and Mrs. 
Hervey, Mr. Smith, a very able engraver on wood, Mr. Robert 
Allison, myself, and, though last certainly not least curious, 
a Bedouin lady, arrayed in true Oriental costume. She was 
tall, handsomely formed, and with a tolerably pretty face. She 
stood in one corner of the room in a very commanding but 
somewhat theatrical posture. Strange to say, that though she 
frequently changed her attitude, she never spoke, nor even 
when I took hold of her beautiful hand and finely-pointed and 
flexible fingers did she offer any resistance. She has been for 
some time an inmate of Mr. Hervey's house, and assists him 
greatly in his professional pursuits. Nor has she ever made any 
mischief in the family. Mr. Hervey bought her in Paris for 
£40. She has very pretty feet and fine ankles, which Mr. H. 
especially directed my attention to ; and as to her head, its 
contents may truly be said to be very solid, and not like that 
of some ladies — fidl of emptiness. Her history is a very curious 
one, but too long and marvellous to be inserted in these pages. 

" I called upon Mr. (afterwards Sir Charles) Barry at his 
office in the Speaker's house. He showed me some of his beautiful 
plans, and his still more beautiful model of the new Parliament 
House. This was indeed a treat, and I obtained Mr. Barry's 
permission to bring any friends to see it on my future visits to 
London. I spoke to him about Costello, and detailed at great 


length all that I know of his capabilities and high character. 
Mr. Barry said his establishment was tolerably complete, and 
that he had innumerable applications; nevertheless, this should 
really have his best attention, and I felt persuaded from his 
candid and kind expressions that his promise will not be for- 
gotten. Mr. Barry regretted that I could not visit him at 
his house this time, and made me undertake to do so on my 
next visit to town — an invitation I shall certainly not forget, 
as I very highly enjoy the agreeable and unaffected manners 
and intelligence of this most highly gifted architect." 

Few great architectural works in this country have 
been subjected to more severe criticism than the present 
Houses of Parliament, and few probably will live longer 
to attest the genius of the architect who designed them 
and superintended them to their completion, if not to 
their perfected beauty. In this view Sir Charles Barry 
had always a powerful advocate in Mr. Sopwith. 





BOUT the middle of October 1838 Mr. 
Sopwith received a letter from Liverpool 
asking liim to undertake a mineral survey 
of the west of Ireland. He acceded to this 
on the condition that he should have a full week for 
preparation; and on October 30th he set sail in the 
Queen Victoria steam-packet for Dublin, accompanied by 
Mr. Mackay. On board there were about four hundred 
Irish labourers returning from the harvest in England, 
who paid three shillings each for their passage on deck 
to Dublin. They were nearly all men, but a few women, 
children, and infants were amongst them. They each 
returned home with an amount of savings averaging about 
£2. They seemed for the most part to be exceedingly 
cpiiiet, and to exhibit a quiescent cheerfulness, which now 
and then became more mirthful in spite of the comfortless 
condition they were placed in. One or two manifesta- 
tions of a contrary feeling seemed likely to create an 
uproar; but this was exceptional. They landed at North 
Quay, Dublin, at eight o'clock a.m., the voyage lasting 
eleven hours. The fare in the best cabin was 12s. 6d., 
with an additional steward's fee ; and provisions not 
included in the fare were very moderate. 


One of the first persons called upon by Mr. Sopwith 
in Dublin was Sir Richard John Griffiths, F.R.S., the 
distinguished geologist, whose name has been rendered 
so familiar to us, even to the present time, through his 
land-valuation scheme. He turned out to be a very 
agreeable man, and described with great care the general 
structure of the district near Ennis about to be inspected, 
the nature of the mineral deposit, and the progress made 
in the mines there by Mr. Taylor, of Loudon. He said 
he had been staying a month with Mr. Spring Rice, the 
Chancellor of the Exchequer, at Mr. Trenchard's ; that 
the model of Dean Forest had been a subject of conversa- 
tion, and had given great satisfaction. 

A great many sheets of the diary are here extended in 
details connected with the special business of the visit. 
These details I must omit, in order to give in full a 
summary of conclusions of a very clear and unbiassed 
observer of Irish life and character half a century ago. 
They cannot fail to be instructive at a crisis like the 

" General Notes on my First Visit to Ireland. 

" 1. Travelling.— My journey from Newcastle was merely a 
repetition of former ones in the stage-coach called the ' Lord 
Exmouth.' From Liverpool to Dublin I enjoyed the com- 
forts afforded by the very excellent steamship Queen Victoria, 
belonging to the City of Dublin Steam Navigation Company. 
In point of dimensions and every substantial comfort, it would 
be difficult to imagine a more convenient or elegant means of 
accomplishing this voyage of a single night ; but yet the mail- 
packet Urgent, on which I returned, was certainly superior. In 
both, however, I enjoyed an excellent night's rest. The sea 
was smooth on both occasions, particularly on our return, when 
not the slightest heaving of the ship was perceptible. 

"On landing at Dublin, the Irish car had the claim of novelty, 

148 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1838. 

and I found it a most convenient mode of calling at different 
places, inasmuch as you step at once from the seat to the 
ground. The Irish mail-coaches I found to be very much like 
those in England, both in size, in comfort, and in speed. 
During my stay in the county of Clare, I had very excellent 
travelling accommodation afforded by Mr. Scott's britzska and 
phaeton, Mrs. Scott's phaeton, Mr. Macbeth's car and gig, etc., 
all of which were gOod in their way, and particularly the 
britzska, which was built at Bristol, and was a remarkably 
elegant, comfortable, and noiseless carriage. The public car 
from Ennis to Williamstown was quite a treat in the way of 
public travelling; a leather strap, and afterwards a branch 
of a tree, sufficed for a whip, until an innocent country lad 
was coaxed into an exchange pro temj^ore—thsd, is to say, 
he very good-naturedly lent our driver his whip on a simple 
promise to return it, and took the branch instead. Although 
half an hour too late at starting, our loquacious conductor 
assured us that we would arrive in due time at Williamstown 
to meet the packet, ' barring accidents,' — which was well put 
in, for the wheels were once or twice so hot and the horses so 
lazy that a stoppage at one time seemed inevitable. 

" A voyage in a large steamboat of one hundred horse power 
was quite a novelty to be enjoyed in an inland piece of water, 
and I greatly enjoyed both this and the voyage up the Shannon, 
in a less steamboat of twenty-four horse power. I had never 
in my life travelled in a canal passage-boat, and the voyage 
therein from Shannon Harbour to Dublin was described by 
a Limerick attorney as a nuisance, horrible beyond endurance. 
I have never, however, been disposed to rely so much on the 
opinion of others as on my own experience, and therefore I 
resolved to try the voyage. Never was I more agreeably 
surprised than to find, after sailing in it eighteen hours, I 
arrived at Dublin too soon, so far as the pleasantness of the 
journey was concerned. I heard the best Irish songs and 
recitations, and had a most interesting account of Irish scenery 
and superstitions from Mr. Dennis Leonard, of Kilrush ; besides 


this, I had a very comfortable night's rest, and was altogether 
much interested and pleased with my first journey on a canal. 

" On my return to England I travelled on the Dublin and 
Kingston Eailway, the Liverpool and Manchester, and the 
Newton, Wigan, and Preston Railways, and from the latter 
town by coach to Newcastle ; so that in the course of my tour 
I travelled by land, by sea, and on rivers, lakes, and canal, 
by no less than fourteen different modes of conveyance, viz., 
two stage-coaches, company's steamship, Dublin car, two 
Irish mail-coaches, private car and gig, britzska, two phaetons, 
public car, large and small steamboats on the Shannon, canal 
passage-boats, three railway carriages, and several hackney 
coaches. So far therefore as a brief visit afforded an oppor- 
tunity of comparing different modes of travelling both in 
England and Ireland, I had ample materials so far as vehicles 
were concerned. 

" Travelling in the mail in Ireland differs from the same 
mode of travelling in England only in respect of the fees, 
which are more moderate in Ireland than in England. There 
is fully as much importunity from porters, etc., at the coach ; 
but they are satisfied with a smaller sum, are good-natured, 
and not so thoroughly dogged and impudent as English porters 
when repulsed. Of course I can only speak from a very 
limited experience, but my object was to observe, however 
brief the opportunity; and this impression was produced during 
the only coach journey I had in Ireland, viz., from Dublin to 
Limerick, and from thence to Ennis. Steamboat and railway 
travelling are on the same footing as in England and Scotland. 
Posting on the great lines is said to be very good ; and as I 
travelled from a hundred to a hundred and twenty miles by 
post, I can add my encomium of the goodness of the horses 
furnished at Ennis. The post-boy presented an odd contrast 
to the generality of English postilions, by the exceeding 
shabbiness of an old and ragged brown coat, which hung so 
loosely upon him tlrat he seemed more like a pauper than a 
post-boy. An Irish post-chaise is said to comport in some 

150 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1838. 

degree with the coat I have mentioned, but I had not an 
opportunity of travelling in one. 

"The travelling equipments in Ireland, so far as public 
vehicles are concerned, are, with the exceptions I have named, 
very far inferior to most of the public conveyances in England, 
and many of the car-drivers in Dublin are arrayed in a series 
of ragged vestments which even the shabbiest of London cab- 
men cannot compete with. 

" It only remains for me to observe on this head, that 
travelling is cheaper than in England, the usual car fare being 
eightpence a mile, and a fee of twopence per mile to the 
driver, and for this four persons may travel very comfortably 
in dry weather from one end of Ireland to the other. This 
applies to the Irish mile, eleven of which are equal to fourteen 
English miles, which for a party of four is about twopence per 
English mile each; so at this rate a journey of one hundred miles, 
exclusive of gates, would only cost about sixteen shillings and 
eightpence. The roads in Ireland, so far as I saw, are generally 
good ; those in the county of Clare particularly so. 

" 2. Scenery. — To attempt to describe the varied scenery I 
viewed in the course of my tour would be to write a volume 
on the sublime and beautiful ; to descant on the rich and 
varied attractions which abound in the ' Green Isle ' requires 
an abler pen than mine, which is unblest with either powers or 
leisure to do justice to so interesting a theme. In this brief 
retrospect my only object is to record a memorandum of the 
leading points without entering upon minute details, and hence 
any allusion to the various beautiful and interesting scenes I 
beheld will appear rather as a catalogue than a description of 

" The dreary wilds of Stainmore and the lofty mountains 
near Sedbergh have become familiar to me. Not so the broad 
bosom of the Mersey, and the still wider surface of the silvery 
sea which reflected the light of the full moon. The ocean is 
always grand, always beautiful, and I enjoyed its beauties by 
moonlight at night and a splendid sunrise in the morning. 

1838.] IRISH SCENERY. 151 

" My first view of Ireland was an interesting sight. The 
Bay of Dublin and the approach to the city were also ex- 
ceedingly interesting. 

" The Phoenix Park is a magnificent piece of ground, and 
the scenery of the Zoological Gardens is a paradise on earth. 

" I greatly enjoyed my moonlight ride through the interior ; 
and in passing through Tipperary, which is at present in a 
disturbed state, as if to give character to the lonely landscape, 
a man lay in the middle of the road, and a delay of some 
minutes occurred before we could ascertain whether he was 
living or dead. He was quite insensible ; but his stupor was 
at length ascertained to be the result of intoxication, a vice 
too prevalent in this and indeed in every other country. The 
country on approaching Limerick appears to be extremely 
interesting ; but a very dull and rainy morning prevented 
me from forming a correct estimate of it or of the town of 
Limerick, through which we passed, and I saw no more of it 
than in walking a short distance from one coach-oifice to 
another. The scenery near Ennis is varied, some parts being 
well wooded, and others quite bare. Cahircalla is a lovely spot. 
Quin Abbey, a most inimitable subject for the antiquary and 
the artist. The bare limestone rocks were quite a novel feature 
to me, especially when developed on the ample slopes of the 
mountains in the Burrin district. These are truly sublime, 
and are of the highest interest in a geological point of view, 
inasmuch as they in all probability are the depositories of 
mineral wealth which, if diligently pursued and successfully 
worked, would greatly contribute to the prosperity of the 
district in which they are situated. The views at Burrin, the 
shores of Galway Bay, the mountains of Connemara, the bold, 
bleak, and rocky promontory of Blackhead (' O'ill luck to it,' 
says Paddy, our post-boy ; ' may it be a long day before I see 
its ugly face again'), and the coast of the Atlantic were all 
fraught with deep interest. 

" Different in character, more pleasing, but not less interest- 
ing, were the views of the Shannon from the heights near 

i S 2 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1838. 

Cahircon, the beautiful woodlands and lawns near that 
mansion, the splendid view of the Fergus and its islands from 
Mr. Arthur's fine seat at Paradise, and again the beautiful 
lake and hills at Scarriff. The inland ocean of Lough Dearg 
and the lofty mountains in its vicinity present a rich treat to 
all who delight in the attractions of natural scenery. I might 
enumerate many other highly interesting points regarding the 
landscape beauties of the interior of Ireland, but will only 
observe that my whole tour was a succession of interesting, 
sublime, or beautiful scenes, which in summer must be still 
more delightful. 

" 3. Buildings. — I had heard and read and in pictures seen 
much of the architectural grandeur of the public buildings 
in Dublin. They are on a magnificent scale, and there is 
much lightness and grace in the style of many of them, 
particularly the Bank of Ireland and the Post Office. The 
interior of the chapel at the Castle is truly splendid, and the 
stranger finds easy access both to it and the interior of the 
Castle when the Viceroy's family are not occupying it. Nelson's 
Pillar affords a noble view of Sackville Street and of the city 
generally. I viewed with much interest the venerable aisles 
of St. Patrick, and the stately Doric interior of the Marlborough 
Street Roman Catholic Church. 

" The abbeys at Quin and Corcumroe, and the hall and lodge 
at Cahircon, were the principal buildings that attracted my 
attention in the county of Clare. A vast number of ruins of 
castles are scattered over the country in every direction ; but 
the most melancholy sights connected with the subject of Irish 
buildings are the huts of the peasantry. It is truly deplorable 
to find human beings lodged in such wretched abodes, and it 
seems next to a miracle that life can be preserved throughout 
a severe winter in so defenceless and exposed a situation as 
these poor cottagers are placed. I was prepared to witness 
much misery; but imagination, however fertile, will never 
picture the sad and horrible and gloomy aspect of these 
dwellings of the Irish poor. The Roman Catholic chapels 


which abound in Ireland form striking features in many land- 
scapes. Those which I visited were large, plain, and unadorned, 
the interior barnlike, and the whole presenting a cold and 
poor and cheerless aspect. 

" 4. Institutions. — My journey being one of business, and 
not of general observation, I had little time to attend to public 
institutions. The principal ones that I visited were the Dublin 
Asylum for the Blind, where much good is clone, but which at 
one time was nearly suspended by discord on religious topics. 
I was much gratified by attending the first meeting of this 
winter's session of the Eoyal Irish Academy, especially as my 
friend Sir William Betham was the principal party in the 
evening's discussion. Tea and coffee are provided in an ante- 
room as at the London Geological, and Civil Engineers' 

"The Zoological Gardens are quite perfect as regards 
situation and arrangement. Few vicinities of towns afford so 
beautiful a site as has, in this instance, been selected ; and the 
highest credit is clue to the contriver and designer of the several 
cages, cottages, stables, etc. It is quite a model institution in 
this respect, and far superior to the Liverpool Gardens and 
the beginnings at Cheltenham ; and many of the arrangements 
are more picturesque, appropriate, and convenient than even 
the splendid establishment in Regent's Park, London. 

" Of schools I had no opportunity to observe, except two 
in the county of Clare. Both of these were in very remote 
districts which are seldom visited. In both instances the school- 
masters were remarkably courteous, and acquiesced most readily 
in my request to hear the scholars read, etc. I must say that, 
considering the scanty recompense, the solitary and unrewarded 
nature of their toils, and the apparent success of their labours, 
I felt much interested in them, and left them with very sincere 
feelings of respect. It is true that the system of education, 
under such wretched circumstances as that at Glanamana and 
Finare, is by no means perfect ; but I was prepared to make a 
large allowance, and I found it better than I expected. My 

i 5 4 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1838. 

brief inspection of Irish schools and schoolmasters left on me 
a most favourable impression ; and if I ever visit Ireland again, 
a visit to the country schools will certainly be one chief object 
of my attention. 

" As nearly allied to the nature of a public institution, I 
may mention the Imperial Hotel at Dublin, which I understand 
belongs to a lax-ge company. The management is excellent; and 
any stranger visiting Dublin will find every reasonable gratifica- 
tion afforded by the ample premises, the elegant and convenient 
coffee and dining-rooms, comfortable bedrooms, prompt attention, 
Irish civility, and, though last not least, moderate charges. 

"5. Religious Services and Ceremonies. — My first Sunday 
in Ireland was chiefly spent in the Temple of Nature during 
a journey of thirty miles, in which the lofty mountains, the 
beautiful little lakes or tarns, the Bay of Galway, and a lovely 
moonlight night could scarcely be viewed without many senti- 
ments of reverential awe and admiration which the worship 
of Nature never fails to inspire. Sunday travelling is objected 
to by many on the score of religion. So far as my own feelings 
are concerned I have not this objection ; for some of my Sunday 
journeys have been productive of many feelings and sentiments 
more closely allied to devotion than the eloquence of the 
preacher can produce. I was glad to find the cottagers neatly 
attired, and this alone reconciled me to my journey on this 
occasion. I was very anxious to go to a Roman Catholic 
chapel at Ennis, but was dissuaded on account of the crowd, 
and the possibility of coming in contact with the fever which 
at present is prevalent in the district. 

" I have noticed in my journal the prayers offered up before 
the pictures or stations in the chapel of Glanamana. Sincerity 
in any garb is to be viewed with respect, and it is very possible 
that these services may not be wholly unproductive of some 
wholesome influence on the heart. 

" I was much amused by the naivete of the answer given 
by a Roman Catholic gentleman when I inquired if these 
prayers were to expiate part of his sins. ' It is,' said he, ' upon 


that speculation.' Viewed in a philosophical point of view, 
the apparently earnest and sincere prayers of these people are 
in their own view a meritorious work. Such is the opinion 
formed in their minds in the situation in which Providence has 
placed them ; and if the heart in any degree accompanies the 
aspirations of the lips and the humility of the bended knee, 
doubtless they depart not unimproved. 

" An Irish funeral, and the remarkable custom of holding 
or making a loud and frenzied lamentation for the dead, came 
under my own observation, and the ceremony was too singular 
ever to be forgotten. Those who delight in wild and horrible 
romance need not on earth expect to find anything more truly 
romantic and harrowing than the advancing wailing of an Irish 
howl in a dark and lonely place. Mrs. Mahon, of Cahircalla, 
who appears to have an admirable taste in the sublime and 
beautiful of Irish scenery and manners, states that she once 
heard an Irish howl set up on the borders of a lake along which 
the funeral advanced, and the scene was one of the most pain- 
fully interesting she ever heard. If ever witchcraft and infernal 
agency returned to earth, an Irish funeral howl would be a 
truly appropriate herald of its approach. 

" At Dublin I attended the Roman Catholic chapel in Marl- 
borough Street, where mass only was performed. The music 
was very good, but no anthem was sung. The ceremony to 
me was altogether unmeaning, for I heard not one word of 
it. The congregation seemed very devout while the ceremonial 
lasted, and very talkative and lively the moment it was ended. 
" A moderate fee of a few pence secures the stranger admis- 
sion, and I got a most excellent seat near the altar. 

" The service at St. Patrick's, as a performance of fine music, 
merits a visit, but, the ordinary service is not superior to 
some of the daily cathedral services at Durham, York, Glou- 
cester, or Westminster. Even as a musical service some very 
considerable improvements might be made. 

" G. Hospitality. — A pen capable of doing justice to Irish 
hospitality must indeed be an able one. Mine, however, would 

156 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1838. 

certainly be negligent indeed if it were not to attempt, however 
feebly, to record a brief memento of the kind civilities and 
attentions I met with. First on the list I must place my friend 
Sir William Betham, who on my first calling upon him gave 
me an admirable specimen of true hospitality. He left his 
engagements and walked with me to the Museum of the Eoyal 
Dublin Society, which on that day was not open to the public. 
He introduced me to Dr. Scauler, the eminent geologist and 
mineralogist, to Sir William Hamilton, and various scientific 
persons. He begged me to arrange so as to be in Dublin at the 
first meeting of the Eoyal Irish Academy Club, and I became 
his guest on that occasion ; and there, if time had permitted, I 
might have laid the foundation of many other hospitalities, — 
the only one which I could accept was the invitation of Charles 
Wm. Hamilton, Esq., to breakfast. 

" At Ennis I was truly at home in the hospitable mansion of 
Mr. Macbeth, and was delighted with his children, especially 
the eldest, James, who is a remarkably thoughtful and engaging 

" At Cartron and at Cahiracon we had a plenteous abun- 
dance of every comfort and luxury, accompanied by a welcome 
too cordial and unaffected to be misunderstood. I must not 
omit to add that the companionship of Mr. Mackay and his 
hospitality at Liverpool, with that of Mr. Hasleton, and the 
songs of Mr. Samuel Lover sung by their author and composer, 
made a valuable addition to the hospitalities of Ireland, and 
that a most grateful recollection and sympathy will always in 
my own In-east be a memorial of the kind attentions and 
civilities which met me at every step. 

" I had several introductions which I could not avail myself 
of for want of time. Among these were Mr. Owen, of the Board 
of Works ; Mr. Owen, of Limerick ; Mr. Spaight, of Limerick ; 
Sir Lucius O'Brien and two of his brothers ; and the Chancellor 
of the Exchequer. So that for so short a visit I was well 
provided with opportunities of observing and enjoying society 
of various ranks in Ireland. 


" 7. National Character. — Time ami experience can alone 
enable a stranger to understand the peculiarities of character 
in a new country, — I mean in a country new to his observation. 
The hospitality which I experienced could not fail to make an 
agreeable impression as regards the upper classes; and I must 
say, so far as my limited means of observation extend, I 
entertain a very favourable opinion of the Irish character 
generally. The peasantry are placed in such a desperate state 
of wretchedness and indigence, that one might well expect to 
see a dark and frowning gloom hang on them countenance, 
and giving ferocity to their general expression. It is not 
so, however. You enter Paddy's miserable hovel ; your heart 
sinks at the appalling want of even the commonest comforts 
of life. A wife and a numerous progeny seem to render the 
burden still more hopeless, for a life in such circumstances is 
surely a burden, and one so heavy as few Englishmen and 
probably no West Indian negro slaves have ever yet conceived. 
But Paddy brightens up ; his face seems free from every care, 
and he welcomes ' your honour ' with right good-will. If you 
inquire your way, ' Och, I'll go with your honour ; ' and after 
trudging a mile you have no solicitation for money, nor 
apparently does he even think of such a thing. I saw many 
instances of this, and the contrast with Englishmen is by no 
means in favour of the latter. There is a general cheerfulness 
prevalent among the lower orders of the Irish which seems 
ever ready to break forth even under the most untoward 

" Doubtless, however, there are some large deductions to be 
made from the brighter page of Irish chai'acter. Revenge is 
said to be cherished with fatal perseverance, and the cruelties 
which have been inflicted in the disturbed districts are dreadful 
to think of. A vast allowance, however, must be made when 
we consider the imperfect education and the wretched condition 
of the peasantry. Under favourable auspices I can have no 
doubt that the leading points of the character of the peasantry 
are highly calculated to promote general comfort and happiness. 

i 5 8 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [i! 

" Improvidence and love of gaiety in the rich, and impro- 
vidence and love of whisky in the poor, are bnt too prevalent. 

" 8. Religion and Present Condition and Prospects of Ireland. 
— The title of a volume, but a volume which could only be 
written by one who has studied Ireland for years and visited 
its different provinces. Viewing the subject with a mind dis- 
posed to be impartial, I am not of opinion that the Roman 
Catholic religion is adapted to promote the spread of those 
liberal and enlightened views which are the brightest feature 
of genuine Christianity. Cn the contrary, I think that the 
freedom of inquiry and independence of mind which is the 
very basis of Protestantism are admirably calculated to pro- 
mote political freedom, and to break down the barriers which 
unhappily exist between different persuasions. I have avoided 
all topics connected with the theological part of the question, 
and have looked at the religion of Ireland in that spirit of 
Christianity which commands us to do to others as we would 
they should do unto us. Looking at the subject in this broad 
and unexceptionable point of view, and speaking only of the 
districts which I have myself seen, candour compels me to 
say that I view with regret a system which compels a population 
of nearly three thousand persons to pay three or four hundred 
pounds a year to the clergyman of ten or twenty persons. 
Even these ten or twenty have no clergyman, have no church 
save the ruins of one, and no service on Sundays, and no 
resident minister. Will any one who has any claim to fair 
and impartial judgment say that this system partakes in any 
degree of the spirit of common honesty, much less of religion ? 
It is, in fact, a treble premium given to Roman Catholicism ; 
it is a premium given by the indirect influence of a bad 
example which even the poorest peasant can understand and 
condemn ; it is a desertion of the cause which the Protestant 
clergyman is paid for advocating ; it leaves the Roman Catholic 
chapel as the only place where any Christian can attend public 
worship; and it is the greatest of all premiums, viz., persecu- 
tion and injustice, under the influence of which Satan himself 

1838.] THE IRISH CHURCH. 159 

and bis ministers of darkness would flourish and maintain a 
place from whence liberality and justice would sweep them 
with one fell swoop. The property of the Established Church 
applied in this manner can never fail to be a fruitful source 
of discord ; and in a case to which I allude — the parish of 
.Abbey, in the Barony of Burrin — there is an injustice so 
manifest, that it appears to me to be quite apart from all 
considerations either of religion or policy, and to be indis- 
pensable on the broad and plain foundations of common 
fairness and honesty. Let any Englishman ask himself the 
question if, in a parish of two or three thousand Protestants, 
he would see the tithes to the amount of three or four 
hundred pounds a year sent to a Roman Catholic clergyman 
living at a distance, and having only some ten or twenty 
disciples, and they without any ministrations of religion 1 Can 
there be any doubt as to his feeling indignation at so pre- 
posterous an abuse 1 ? At present there appears to be a de- 
cided barrier between the Protestant and Roman Catholic 
religions in Ireland. The one is supported by the aristocracy, 
and possesses the property which the others formerly owned. 
Whatever may be the opinion of Protestants as to the errors 
and superstition which they attribute to the Catholics, can 
they wonder at their continuance, when the field is wholly 
abandoned to them, and an example shown of a clergyman 
deserting his post and receiving his hire without performing 
the labour required of him 1 

" The long continuance of this state of things has engendered 
so much ill-feeling that amendment can only be a gradual pro- 
cess, to be effected by the influence from which alone any 
permanent benefits can flow, viz., that of pure and active and 
earnest benevolence. In such a case as I have mentioned, 
nothing but a name and an abuse of an establishment exists. 
The Roman Catholics are in possession, and likely to keep 
possession, of the entire population of the parish above 
named. They are, in fact, deterred from becoming Protestants 
by the exhibition of what is manifestly unjust and clis- 

160 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1838. 

reputable, and hence an attachment to their own religion 
grows with their growth and strengthens with their strength. 
It is not by abuse and neglect and contempt that any good 
is to be effected ; and these, it is to be feared, are but too 
largely exercised towards the Roman Catholics of Ireland. 

" Depending almost entirely on the lower classes, the Catholic 
priesthood are described as becoming a less educated and con- 
sequently less liberal class than they formerly were ; and their 
remuneration, scanty as it is, is a heavy tax on the Irish 
peasantry, who in a portion of their exorbitant rent pay the 
minister of the Protestants, and again in their earnings con- 
tribute to the support of their own Church. It is indeed a 
fruitful theme for contemplation to consider this and other 
features of the present condition of Ireland. Its resources are 
undoubtedly great, but capital is wanting to bring them into 
successful operation. Its inhabitants possess many agreeable 
and excellent traits, but it is to be feared that improvidence 
has greatly impaired its prosperity, and cast a dark cloud over 
its future prospects. 

" A general system of education, with especial reference to 
sound morals, and commercial habits of calculation and eco- 
nomy, with a liberal and benevolent and candid endeavour to 
conciliate all parties by equal justice as regards the revenues 
of the Church, together with the introduction of English 
capital, and the cultivation of a liberal and friendly feeling 
between these two countries, are the chief points which occurred 
to me as likely to promote the welfare of Ireland. So far as 
the introduction of capital is concerned, I have some reason to 
believe that my visit to the county of Clare has not been un- 
productive of some beneficial result, and my report on the 
minerals of that county will probably lead to the expenditure 
of at least fifteen hundred or two thousand pounds in mining- 
adventures. Of the prudence of such an undertaking my 
opinion is best expressed by the circumstance of my having 
joined the parties along with Mr. Scott, of Cahiracon, making 
in all twelve in number, and which I have proposed to denomi- 


nate ' The County of Clare Mining Company.' Of this, how- 
ever, there can be no doubt, that the expenditure of such a sum, 
if it fails to be productive of profit as a mining adventure, cannot 
fail to be highly beneficial to the district in which it is spent. 
And so far as my share is concerned, I look at the speculation 
as shrouded in that uncertainty which hangs over all mining 
adventures ; but I shall not regret its loss if I have afterwards 
to remember it only as a willing contribution — a humble but a 
hearty one — towards the prosperity of a district which T shall 
always recollect with feelings of deep interest." 

It will be seen from this chapter how thoroughly 
Mr. Sopwith anticipated the disestablishment of the 
Irish Church, as well as the best of the arguments on 
which that great political change was finally brought 
about. Could his sensible ideas, formed in 1838, have 
then been carried out, the troubles of to-day and of many 
days still in the future had long since, possibly, been 
forgotten troubles of the past. 





^N the early part of February 1839, Mr. Sop- 
with, after paying a very pleasurable visit to 
Dean Forest, arrived on the 5th of the month 
at Oxford, and became the guest of Dr. 
Buckland. A description of this distinguished Doctor's 
lecture-room is admirably pourtrayed, — a room in which 
dear Frank Buckland, whom we knew so well, then a lad 
of twelve or thirteen years of age, assisted his father by 
bringing him " the respective specimens as they were 
wanted," a sort of holiday amusement to Frank, who was 
to return to school on the following Thursday. 

Amongst other specimens Dr. Buckland at this time 
was specially pleased to exhibit to his visitor was a large 
slab showing casts from the impressions of the feet of 
the Chierotherium. When wetted the indications of rain 
having fallen upon it were quite perceptible on the 
stone. Another specimen indicated the direction of the 
wind at the time the surface was formed. 

In the evening, after a walk in Christ Church meadows 
with his host, they returned to dinner, where they met 
Dr. Wilson, Professor of Sanscrit, the Rev. Edward 
Bigge, and Mr. John Ruskin. The history of this meeting 

1 839.] A DAY IN OXFORD. 163 

with Mr. Ruskin in the earliest part of his career must 
be told by Mr. Sopwith himself. 

" Mr. Ruskin was invited because Dr. Buckland thought 
I would be pleased to make his acquaintance, as a very- 
intelligent person and admirable artist. Some descriptions 
convey too high an idea, and Dr. Buckland spoke so highly 
of Mr. Ruskin's drawings that nothing but a sight of them 
coidd have given me a better idea of them. 

" After a very pleasant conversation, during winch Dr. Wilson 
related several very interesting particulars concerning India 
and its natives, we had a new stranger introduced on the 
dinner-table. This was a live salamander which Dr. Buckland 
found at Liege, and which crawled about very peaceably on 
the tablecloth. I described the East India Company's maps 
to Dr. Buckland, and while we were talking the loud tones 
of the Great Tom of Oxford fell on my ears. This bell, the 
largest in England, hangs in the tower of the gateway of 
Christ Church, near to that part of the quadrangle in which 
Dr. Buckland resides. I went to the door, and stood for some 
time listening to its tremendous tones as they rolled through 
and reverberated from the gloomy walls of the spacious quad- 
rangle of venerable buildings of which Dr. Buckland's residence 
forms a part. In the drawing-room I had some conversation 
with Mr. Ruskin. He asked my opinion about the principles of 
perspective drawing recommended in Mr. Parsey's book, and 
I told him veiy freely my opinion of it. I said I had bought 
his book for twelve shillings, that I thought myself very foolish 
for throwing away so much money on so useless a production, 
and had never supposed that it would occupy any share of the 
attention of any intelligent person. The subject, I said, had 
been discussed at Loudon's table, where I laughed heartily at 
the manner m which Candidus rode rough shod over Parsey 
and his whimsical perspective. I explained my views at full 
length, both as to the theory and practice of this method of 
perspective, and was glad to find that Mr. Ruskin was the 

164 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1839. 

author of the able papers which have appeared in Loudon's 
Magazine under the title, or rather signature, of Kata Phusin 
(according to Nature). It was truly delightful for me to 
become acquainted with the ingenious author of these very 
able papers, and still more so to find that we exactly coin- 
cided in opinion. His essays on the ' Poetry of Architecture ' 
range exactly towards the same feelings and objects as those 
which influenced me in the composition of the papers on the 
' Principles of Design ' in the same magazine. 

" Dr. Buckland's house is truly characteristic as the residence 
of a geologist and a scholar. The exterior is a plain, low, 
rustic, time-worn Gothic wall, being part of the large quad- 
rangle of Christ Church College. A low and very plain- 
looking door opens, and you behold a very wide and short 
staircase, almost covered with fragments of rock, specimens of 
fossil remains, an immense tortoise, and a stuffed wolf. 

" In the breakfast-room are a series of piles of books, boxes, 
papers ; in short, such a combination of book -stands, chairs, 
sideboards, boxes, all blended together in one mass of confusion, 
which, I was informed, had not been invaded by the dust-cloth 
for the last five years. The drawing-room at Dr. Buckland's 
has its share of variety, of great interest, and of a tolerable 
deal of confusion, through which a person might range a whole 
day, and find some new index every moment pointing to weeks 
and months and years of occupation. One of the round tables 
is formed entirely of coprolites ; another presents on its highly 
polished surface all the varieties of lava, etc., found at Mount 

" But the most interesting part of this interesting mansion 
is the domestic comfort which so eminently prevails. The 
children are five in number. Francis, the eldest, is about 
thirteen, a fine, good-looking, active lad, full of movement and 
vivacity. Edward, Marian, Elizabeth ; and the youngest a 
fine thriving lad, who rejoices in the truly geological name of 
Adam Sedgwick Conybeare Buckland. I must not omit to 
mention my humble eulogium on the kind hospitality, the 

1839.] MR - JOHN RUSKIN. 165 

amiable character, and the literary and scientific talents of 
Mrs. Buckland, who, it has been often observed, has been 
expressly intended for the Doctor. 

" Having finished nay sketch of the house and family, I have 
only further to say that I closed the day at midnight, and 
enjoyed a most comfortable night's sleep. I shall always 
remember it as a red letter day, and noted in the calendar 
of my memory as A Day in Oxford. 

u February 6th. — Dr. Buckland invited Mr. Buskin to 
breakfast, and requested him to send his drawings for me 
to look at. He also formed a most admirable programme 
for the day, which he detailed to me, and I was delighted 
to find that I was to have the honour as well as the great 
gratification of his devoting the whole day to my amusement. 

" As soon as we had breakfasted we commenced an inspection 
of Mr. Buskin's drawings. These are contained in four large 
folio volumes. They consist entirely of original sketches in 
England, Scotland, and various parts of the Continent. Most 
of them are in pencil, on tinted paper, and touched with a few 
slight effects of light or colour. 

" Architectural subjects prevail, and comprise very clear, 
minute, and exceedingly beautiful details of some of the most 
celebrated cathedrals, churches, ruins, etc. There is great 
spirit, richness, and freedom of touch in his style of drawing, 
which are peculiarly adapted for elaborate architectural drawing ; 
and some of his views, as Boslin Chapel, for instance, are one 
mass of sumptuous decoration arranged in just perspective and 
in good keeping. They appeared too extravagantly rich by 
daylight, but in the evening they showed to more advantage 
by candlelight. The colouring was after the fairy-like and 
aerial tints of Turner and Martin, and some of the mountain 
views had great depth and sublimity ; one of them in particular 
seemed like a vast and glorious prospect of immense mountains 
1 austing on the sight through a hazy atmosphere, an effect in 
which the judgment is at a loss to determine whether the 
vision is of the eye or of the imagination. Those who delight 

1 66 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1839. 

in seeing correct and vivid portraits of distant scenery, in 
beholding splendid architectural combinations, and in admiring 
the highest efforts of art, -wall readily appreciate my enjoyment 
in looking over these beautiful volumes. The Apprentices' 
Pillar at Roslin ; an old oak hall, with a forest seen through 
the window; interior views of chapels, etc., with red sunsets 
and rich purple tints; the magnificent tower and spire of 
St. Mary's, or University Church, and of Merton Tower in 
Oxford, — these and many other similar drawings are inimitable 
examples of that accordance with nature which Mr. Buskin 
has so ably and so eloquently advocated in Loudon s Archi- 
tectural Magazine under the signature of Kata Phusin. Many 
of the landscape views were commented upon by Dr. Buckland 
with reference to the geological features. 

" I had a long and agreeable conversation with this excellent 
amateur artist, who is now residing at Oxford as a gentleman 
commoner ; and it was no ordinary gratification to lay the 
foundation of a further acquaintance with him under such 
favourable auspices as an introduction in the house of 
Dr. Buckland." 

Amongst his many admirers the distinguished author 
of " Fors Clavigera " had not one more earnestly sincere 
than Mr. Sopwith. One night, at the Society of Arts, Lord 
Shaftesbury in the chair, we had a discussion in which 
Mr. Ruskin ran a-tilt at steam engines, arguing that 
they did the work which should alone be done by the 
human engine. I reported this to my friend with some 
glee, knowing his admiration of the steam engine as 
well as of Ruskin. He thought a little while, and then 
observed, with his characteristic sly humour, " Well, the 
human is the best engine, and if Ruskin could get the 
same amount of work out of it he would be right." 




IN February 7th Mr. Sopwith left Oxford in a 
stage coach for Tring, a distance of thirty- 
four miles, and then by railway train to 
Wolverton, a distance of twenty-one miles 
accomplished in fifty minutes. Here the train stopped 
ten minutes for refreshment, from whence it proceeded 
to Coventry, passing through a tunnel of considerable 
length. He did not experience any disagreeable effects 
as regards the air of the tunnel, but the darkness and 
sudden glimpses of light while passing the shafts pro- 
duced a peculiar dazzling effect. Proceeding onwards he 
reached Birmingham at five in the afternoon, where, 
finding he could not get on to Preston, he stayed 
all night, putting up at the Railway Hotel. 

In his way to Preston the following day by mail tram 
he met Mr. Taylor and the Rev. George Kennard, the 
last-named warm in his description of a patent railway 
invented by Mr. Kolman, an organist and an excellent 
musician. Mr. Kennard related a good story of Dr. 
Buckland, to the effect that Buckland and a friend 
riding towards London on a very dark night lost their 
way. Buckland thereupon dismounted and, taking up 

1 68 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1839. 

a handful of earth, smelt it. " Uxbridge," he called out 
to his friend, "his geological nose telling him the 
precise locality." Mr. Sopwith reached Carlisle at nine 
o'clock, slept there all night, and on the folio wing 
morning returned home, pleasantly, by rail. 

Sopwith was a born traveller ; everything about 
travelling brought to him happiness and health. At the 
close of his journal for 1839 he writes on this topic : — 

" I enjoy travelling on many accounts ; it agrees well with 
my health ; every year seems to improve both my strength 
and spirits. Headaches, toothaches, and a tedious train of 
minor grievances seem totally banished by the refreshing 
influences of change of ah- and scene. This must ever be 
subject of gratitude, while at the same time it is incumbent 
ever to remember that in the midst of life we may be on the 
verge of death. Happy is it for us that the day of our de- 
parture from this world is unknown to us, and that a full reliance 
on the wisdom and goodness of the Supreme Disposer of events 
reconciles the mind to a contingency which experience shows to 
be very remote. In practice, however, I prefer acting rigidly 
on the possibility of sudden death by arranging matters from 
time to time, and at this time of the year by seeing my life 
insurance paid on the very day it becomes due. It is im- 
possible to travel so much as I do without recollections of this 
kind often presenting themselves to my mind. 

" Travelling is, to my mind, one of the most interesting 
occupations that can be pursued during the middle period of 
life. It affords many opportunities of intellectual as well as 
physical enjoyment, and combined as it is in my case with 
duty as regards my professional employment, it is at once a 
source of pleasure and profit. The past year has, as compared 
with the preceding year, been a good deal spent at home, but 
in the two years I have travelled upwards of three thousand 
miles, entirely in Great Britain." 

1839.] MR. B ABB AGE. 169 

In March my friend visits Ebbw Vale to make a 
valuation of mines, of which he leaves in his diary some 
curious and important details. A little later in the 
month he is in London dining at the Geological Club 
(March 13th), where he meets, in addition to Dr. 
Buckland the President, Mr. Justice Haliburton, author 
of " Sam Slick's Sayings and Doings," the Marquis of 
Northampton, President of the Royal Society, with 
many others. After the dinner there is an attendance 
at the Geological Society, when Sedgwick, De la Beche, 
Roderick Murchison, and Phillips are present. After 
the meeting they adjourn to Lord Cole's to supper, 
where they stay till two o'clock in the morning, and 
where some of them, including Mr. Sopwitk, meet again 
at breakfast, in order to be introduced to Mr. George 
Rennie. On the following day he is at the College of 
Surgeons, inspecting the Hunterian Museum and making 
the aquaintance of the illustrious man at the head of it, 
Professor Owen. 

March 15th contains an entry in which the views of the 
famous Mr. Babbage on literary property are described. 

" 1 dined at Mr. Greenough's in the Eegent's Park. It would 
require a long description to convey even a slight idea of the 
extent and sumptuous elegance of this mansion, which may 
indeed be described as a palace rather than a private villa. 
It was built by Decimus Burton, the younger, and is figured 
in several architectural works, both in England and on the 
Continent. We had a small, but very agreeable dinner party, 
consisting of Professor Babbage, Robert Hutton, Esq., M.P. 
for Dublin, and Mr. Jukes, who is going out to Newfoundland 
on a geological survey. We had a conversation on various 
subjects, but chiefly on copyright and photogenic drawing. 
Mr. Babbage considers that a literary work is the production 
of labour equally with the acquirement of land by trading, and 

1 7 o THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1839. 

that so long as land is transmitted from generation to generation, 
so ought the copyright of every original literary production. As 
to identity, a word altered in each and every sentence would 
satisfy him as the criterion of a work being different, and with 
this as a limit the work might be altered, enlarged, improved, 
condensed, or whatever else was thought necessary by any other 
writer. Inventions, he thought, were different, for it was pro- 
bable that an invention would at some time occur to another 
person, but the same literary ideas would never be expressed 
in the same language." 

An entry immediately follows, rich in social interest; 
a very faithful description of one of the famous evenings 
of fifty years ago, given by Mr. Babbage at his residence 
at the foot of Manchester Street, Manchester Square. 

"March \§th. — At nine I went to Mr. Babbage's soiree. 
There was a great assemblage of nobility and of scientific persons, 
amongst whom I had the pleasure to converse with the follow- 
ing : the Marquis of Northampton, President of the Royal 
Society, — his manners are extremely pleasing, and expressive 
of kind and amiable feelings ; Mr. Talbot, the inventor of a 
kind of photogenic drawing in which the object appears white 
and the rest- of the surface of the paper is very dark,— some 
very admirable examples of which were lying on a chiffonier 
and attracted great attention : the finest films of vegetable 
form, and the minutest threads of the finest lacewoi'k, are 
shown with surprising delicacy and clearness ; Sir Francis 
and Lady Chantrey, G. W. Wood, M.P., Robert Hutton, 
M.P., Professor Phillips, Professor Wheatstone, Bellender Ker, 
George Rennie. 

" Of those whom I only knew by being pointed out were : 
Admiral Ooclrington, M. Van de Weyer the Belgian Ambas- 
sador, Professor Faraday, Mr. and Mrs. Collidge, Mrs. Marcet, 
Lady Charleville, Wentworth Buller, Lady Chatterton, who 
wrote " My Aunt Dorothy," Charles Darwin, Charles Lyell, 


Sir William Gossett, Mrs. Rothschild (widow of the famous 
stockbroker) Mr. Hawes, M.P., Dr. Holland, Lady Monroe, 
M "Idy the tragedian, Lady Nugent, Admiral Sir Char e S 
and Lady Ogle, Sir John and Lady Shelley, Sydney Smith 
Lady Mary Shepherd, Lady Vincent, Wilkie the celebrated 
painter, and many others of whom it may be truly said 
I newspaper fashion, their names are 'too numerous to 
mention.' " 

A further entry is a curiosity in reference to the Babbage 
calculating machine. 

-March llth.-l went at eleven to Mr. Babbage's and re- 
mained till after four. A large portion of this time was occupied 
in an inspection of the drawings and plans of the calculating 
engine, which are very elaborate and present an extraordinary 
combination of machinery. Mr. B. detailed at great length the 
history and prospects of this invention. Alter thirteen or 
fifteen years' labour, and an expenditure of twenty thousand 
pounds, the engine was suspended for lack of further fund 
five years ago, and it is yet uncertain whether it will be 
completed. I saw a portion of it which was placed in the 
drawing-room, and performed the operation of cubing eighteen 
in thirteen seconds by merely grinding, or rather by moving a 
handle backwards and forwards twice. The result was of course 
correct ; the following are the figures, viz., 5832. Mr Babbage 
is now employed in constructing plans and very voluminous 
details of another and very superior engine, which will he 
says, perform the most complicated problems m the highest 
departments of arithmetic and algebra. A multiplication of 
thirty figures by thirty figures is done in three minutes. He 
showed me his writing table, reading chair, work room mode 
of keeping his letters, warming his rooms, the classification 
of his library, and many other very interesting matters with 
which I was much gratified. Many of these arrangements are 
similar to those which I have pursued at home. 

172 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1839. 

" I dined and spent a very pleasant evening at Mr. 
Murchison's, the talented geologist of the Silurian region." 

The record in the diary for the rest of the year 1839, 
rich in local matter, and rendering- an account of various 
journeys to London, Cheltenham, Ebbw Yale, Forest of 
Dean, Gloucester, Denbigh, St. Asaphs, Birmingham, Holy 
Island, Durham, Stratford-on-Avon, Warwick, Berkeley 
Castle, and the Severn, affords but few points that would 
be of interest to readers of this day. A brief notice is 
given of the Chartist Riots in Birmingham in July, and 
mention is made of similar riots in Newcastle. An 
excellent account is written of Stratford-on-Avon, and 
a very graphic description of Warwick Castle, but there 
is no attempt at anything that is specially new. There 
is, however, a note about Robert Owen which deserves 
notice. On November 19th Mr. Owen called upon him 
to unfold the plans of his proposed community buildings. 
Mr. John Hancock joined them, and remarked on the 
bump of benevolence in Mr. Owen's head, while Mr. 
Sopwith expressed his opinion that the plans were en- 
tirely visionary, but that he wishes all theorists would 
advocate their views with Mr. Owen's good nature and 
perfect candour. The conversation then turned on Mr., 
now Lord, Armstrong's application of water power. 

At times in the year he was busy with invention, and 
was greatly taken with Mr. Jordan's experiments on 
photogenic registration, the first starting-point of what 
is now likely to become one of the most beautiful and 
wonderful of the works of science. He suggested the 
application of a lens to lessen the size of the record 
and to increase its clearness by additional intensity of 
light. This method of Jordan, with his own suggestions 
upon it, he expounded to Dr. Nichols, of the Glasgow 


University, and author of " The Architecture of the 
Heavens," who was much struck by both these advances. 
In this year he took part also as a lecturer and essayist 
as well as reporter on the mineral districts of the County 
of Clare, Ireland, and he wrote a paper for the Polytechnic 
Society on his method of recording- states of weather by 
descriptive symbols. On November 6th I find him at 
Durham University delivering a lecture to the students 
on certain points connected with plans, sections, geological 
drawings, and models. It must have been a strikingly 
practical and useful lecture. 

He first remarked on the frequent use, the great 
importance, and the extreme accuracy required in 
levelling as applied to the selection of lines of road, 
the formation of railways, the drainage of fens and 
other districts, to geology, and to mining. In all these 
pursuits facility is highly important, first, in taking the 
observations, and, second, in recording them in the field 
and on drawings. He then described the different forms 
for such records, and gave a specimen confined simply 
to the two differences and the lengths in levelling. He 
next explained the method of constructing geological 
sections, and the mode of observing and delineating the 
rocks, etc., by plans, sections, and isometrical drawings. 
He exhibited models in detail to illustrate the construc- 
tion of geological models, so as to afford a clear idea of 
complicated geological structure ; and he commented on 
the method and advantages of preserving mining records. 
On November 23rd we discover him delivering a 
lecture for the Popular Lecture and Musical Society of 
Newcastle, before an audience consisting of from seven 
to eight hundred persons ; the subject, " Some Outlines 
of Astronomy." A good portion of the lecture was 
of the usual historical character, with some refined 




and yet serious touches bearing on the grandeur of the 
science as a study. He afterwards entered into details 
known to astronomers respecting the sun, the moon, 
and the planets ; and then, in his own homely and 
original manner, described the distances of the planets 
from the sun by a comparative scale, in which one inch 
should represent the diameter of the earth. The sun 
would then be 110 inches or 9 feet 2 inches in diameter ; 
Mercury, f inch ; Venus, nearly 1 inch ; the Earth, 1 inch ; 
Moon, \ inch; Mars, \ inch; Jupiter, \\\ inches ; Saturn, 
10 inches ; Herschell, 4^ inches. 

The proportion of distances would be by a scale of 
feet: — 

30 millions of miles 



Mercury . 




Jupiter . 

Saturn . 




360 feet 







125 inches = 1 million, but in the above 120 inches was 
assumed, or 10 feet as an approximation. 

As a further illustration of the immense distance of 
the planets, he explained the time it would take to count 
a million, thus : 60 per minute, 3,600 per hour, for nine 
hours a day, would require upwards of a month, but say 
one month; then to count at this rate the distance 
of the planets from the sun would require as follows : — 

For Mercury . 

3 years 


3 weeks. 

„ Venus 

5 „ 


8 months. 

„ Earth 

• 7 „ 


11 „ 

„ Mars 

■ 12 „ 


3 weeks. 

„ Jupiter . 

. 41 „ 


2 months. 

,, Saturn 

• 75 „ 


6 „ 

„ Herschell 

. 151 ,, 


1 month. 

From the earth to the moon 7 days 3^ hours. 


Another illustration was afforded by taking a velocity 
with which the public were familiar ; and as every one 
was not conversant with locomotive speed, he supposed 
a body moving from the sun to the planets with the 
velocity of the mail coach,— ten miles an hour. The 
time such body would arrive at the several planets 
after it left the sun would be as follows :— 

At Mercury 
„ Venus 
„ Earth. 
„ Mars . 
„ Jupiter 
„ Saturn 
„ Herschell 

360 years. 

680 „ 






He defined, by a diagram, the relative velocity of the 
planets, in minutes, in their course round the sun, as 
follows : — 



The Earth 

Mars . 




1,824 miles in a minute 

1,335 „ 

1,135 ,, >5 

920 ,, , 

498 „ 

368 „ 

258 ,, 

or80,110 miles per hour, 
or 68,130 „ 

or 28,895 ,, 

He closes the year 1839 in his library, reading-room, 
and writing-room. His dearest Jane is reading beside 
him. His family of three girls and two boys are well, 
but Ursula has not long recovered from a severe illness. 
He has been busy with his accounts, which show a good 
return, and his hope is that succeeding years may be as 
happy, as comfortable, and as prosperous as the one just 




^HE year 1840 was a busy one, and almost 
all devoted to professional work. In the 
course of the year Mr. Sopwith travelled six 
thousand miles. His duties as a Com- 
missioner on the part of the Crown for the Dean Forest 
mines required him to make several visits to Dean Forest, 
in nearly all of which he had the agreeable and in- 
structive society of his esteemed friend and brother- 
Commissioner, Mr. Buddie, of whom he always speaks 
in the warmest terms of respect and affection. His 
engagements led him to Pontypool, Swansea, and the 
valley of the Neath, where he viewed some valuable 
property belonging to the Duke of Beaufort, and made 
a model of the mountain Alt-y-grey. He also went to 
Midsomer Norton to survey the mine belonging to the 
Dean and Chapter of Christ Church. Similar professional 
business took him to Denbigh, Flintshire, and Shropshire, 
to Holy Island for a survey for the Government, and to 
Alston Moor in company with Dr. Buckland. 

Of men of note whom he met at this time he mentions 
first Mr. Robert Stephenson, a man very agreeable in 


his manners and a master 011 a variety of topics. 
Stephenson had just been on a tour through Italy and 
Switzerland. Another gentleman to whom he makes 
special reference is Mr. John Taylor, whom he de- 
servedly ranks as one of the most enterprising and 
enlightened miners that this country has ever produced ; 
a man of great abilities, and at the same time of 
the most amiable and pleasing manners ; who has for 
many years been extensively concerned in mining in 
Cornwall, Wales, Ireland, and Mexico. Dr. Kay (after- 
wards Sir J. Kay-Shuttle worth), Secretary to the 
Committee of the Council on Education, was another 
friend of whom he speaks in very warm terms; and on 
the Earl of Enniskillen, a nobleman as unassuming as 
he is learned and scientific, he grows quite enthusiastic. 
Sir Charles Lemon comes, in like manner, into the list of 
those whom he holds in the highest estimation, especially 
in reference to his (Sir Charles's) proposition to endow a 
school of mines in Wales. 

An entry of September 5th gives us the first glimpse 
of the idea of an atmospheric railway. The inventor 
and patentee of this original design was Mr. Clegg, who 
took Mr. Sopwith to Wormwood Scrubs to see half a 
mile" of the railway in operation there. The plan met 
with Mr. Sopwith's approval. The practicability of the 
plan seemed to him to be satisfactorily established. It 
possessed peculiar advantages tending to the speed, 
safety, and pleasantness of railway travelling, and pro- 
bably also to economy. It is somewhat remarkable that 
after such recommendation from so cautious and able 
an observer as Mr. Sopwith, Clegg's plan should have 
been allowed to have passed into oblivion. 

Under date of September 24th there is a record of 
the expenses of a journey of two hundred and seventy 


178 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1840-41, 

miles — one hundred and twenty by coach, and one 
hundred and fifty by rail ; the summary of this showed 
that inside coach travelling cost fivepence and railway 
travelling threepence per mile. 

A note on October 8th gives us an account of an 
American-built engine which had found its place on 
the Gloucester and Cheltenham line. This engine was 
shown to him and to Mr. Buddie by Captain Moorsom, 
the engineer of the line, who took them on the engine 
while it ran seven miles one furlong in fourteen minutes, 
and explained to them its construction. The particulars 
run as follow : — 

"October 8th. — This engine (the Victoria, No. 84) is eight 
and one-third tons weight; and the ratio of the cost, including 
duty, as compared with English engines, is as seventeen to 
fifteen. The cylinders are outside, and are eleven inches 
diameter with a twenty-inch stroke. The wheels are four in 
number, and four feet diameter ; they are not coupled. The 
whole rise from Cheltenham to Cofton is about five hundred 
feet. The inclined plane is above two miles in length, rising 
one in thirty-seven. Two engines draw ordinary trains up at 
twelve miles an hour; a single engine six miles an hour. 
Sand is used on the rails in wet or frosty weather. There 
are ten or eleven American engines and four or five English 
engines on the line. The iron plate of the fire-box Captain 
Moorsom thinks is not so good as in the English engine, and 
the tubes should be brass instead of copper." 

On October 21st there is a note indicating that he 
went with Mr. W. G. Armstrong and Mr. W. G. Anderson 
to try a number of experiments on the newly discovered 
electricity of steam. " The experiments," he says, 
•' were very curious and satisfactory," and greatly in- 
terested him. He quotes also a few lines from a 
letter by Dr. Buckland to intimate that the Doctor has 

1 840-41.] MRS. ROBERTSON. 179 

shown some articles of painting and sculpture, sent him 
by Mr. Sopwitk, to Sir Robert Peel, Lady Peel, Sir 
Francis Chantrey, and the elder Stephenson, " to their 
no small edification and amusement," and to which " the 
new post-office arrangements have afforded such facilities." 


The amount of business which Mr. Sopwith had to 
conduct in London at this time necessitated the occu- 
pation of offices in Berners Street, in which he took 
temporary residence in the early part of 1841. On 
January 5th, 1841, he read, before the Geological 
Society, his well-known paper on geological models. 
On this occasion he made the acquaintance of Mr. (after- 
wards Sir Charles) Lyell. On the 8th of the same 
month he notices Dr. Reid's first attempt to ventilate 
the House of Commons. On the 17th of the month he 
drew a little picture of an artist whose name, now well- 
nigh forgotten, was then one of the well known. 

" Dined at Mr. Robertson's, where I was delighted with the 
splendid specimens of art by Mrs. Robertson ; this inimitable 
portrait-painter is better known on the Continent than in her 
native country. Her paintings are remarkable for the sold 
of poetry which seems to pervade them, and the rich harmony 
of colour corresponds with the music of Haydn or Mozart. 
During the last eighteen years she has painted no less than 
seven hundred portraits, some of them being oil-paintings of 
various sizes, the rest large miniatures. The largest size of 
her oil-paintings is the size which artists call 'Bishop's full- 
length' — viz., 9 feet high, and 5| feet wide; for these her 
price is from three to four hundred guineas ; and amongst her 
sitters for oil-paintings of various sizes have been Lord and 
Lady Milton, Lady Rolle (300 guineas), Lady Majoribanks 
and children (400 guineas), Lord Rivers (200 guineas), Mr. 

180 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1840-41. 

and Mrs. Heneage (200 guineas each), Mrs. Leigh (200 guineas). 
As miniatures she has painted the Duke and Duchess of 
Northumberland, Duke and Duchess of Buccleugh, Mar- 
chioness of Lothian, etc. ; these cost 100 guineas each. She is 
at present in Russia, where she has painted a Bishop's full- 
length of the Emperor (300 guineas), and two paintings of the 
same size of the Empress." 

On January 21st Dr. Buckland suggested " Monocleid" 
as an appropriate name for the writing cabinet, and Mr. 
Sopwith accordingly adopted it in the printed description 
of it which he drew up, with wood-cuts by Miss Loudon, 
sister of the celebrated J. Claudius, Loudon. 

" On January 25th Mr. Lyell called and spent nearly three 
hours examining the hand models, and in conversation on 
general matters. He expressed a wish to introduce engravings 
of the models in his forthcoming edition of ' The Elements,' 
and I assured him that I felt a sincere pleasure in offering any 
contribution to one who had communicated so much informa- 
tion, in so pleasing a form, as he had done. Professor Sedgwick 
also called and examined the large section of the strata from 
Howne's Gill to the summit of Crossfell, which he honoured 
with the appellation of this ' gorgeous section.' I dined and 
spent the evening at Mr. Loudon's, where Miss Loudon 
instructed me in the first rudiments of wood-cutting, and 
under her able tuition I made a small and very imperfect 

The Minutes of the Institution of Civil Engineers, 
bearing date of February 2nd, 1841, records that Mr. 
Sopwith called the attention of the meeting to the 
valuable geological sections presented by the railway 
cuttings and other engineering works now in progress. 

On March 13th he is once more at Oxford, where 
Dr. Buckland assists him in the arrangement for the 
further description of his models. He suggested that 

1840-41.] SIR FRANCIS CHAN TREY. 181 

six might form one series, and be useful in conveying 
a general notion of strata and denudation, while the 
remaining six would be more appropriate as illustrating 
more complex conditions. He read to Mr. Sopwith the 
MS. notice of these models contained in his address to 
the Geological Society in February last, and in which he 
comments on the usefulness of such dissected models, 
and the value of their adaptation to geological and 
mining purposes. 

In Dr. Bucldand's society, Mr. Sopwith felt he was 
with a man perfectly sincere, prompt, and generous in all 
he said and did; he was in every sense practical, plain, 
straightforward, and persevering ; he had an intimate 
knowledge of the world, and his acute observation was 
in constant operation. To a fund of deep and original 
thought he added an extraordinary degree of mental 
activity and acquirement ; and all these were blended 
with a cheerfulness of disposition and heartiness of 
manner which rendered his company and conversation as 
delightful as they were instructive and improving. 

March 18th gives us an interview with Sir Francis 

" I showed him Ronketti's thermo-barometer, which he had 
not seen nor heard of. ' I always,' said he, ' carry a ther- 
mometer when I go fishing, and the first thing I do is to 
plunge it into the water. If the water is colder than the 
air the fish will rise, and a good day's sport may be expected ; 
but if the air is colder than the water, they know better than 
to put their noses out.' 

"Sir Francis expressed his approval of the monocleid cabinet, 
the isograph, etc., and I felt much gratification in spending 
two or three hours with this intelligent and truly eminent 
man. He said he was anxious to avail himself of the aid of 
the daguerreotype, in order to obtain exact representations of 

182 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1840-41. 

his sculptured works, which, as he justly observed, ' would be 
good sitters.' " 

Then follows, on same day, an account of a dinner. 

" I dined this evening at Mr. Ord's, in Berkeley Sqviare ; 
Mr. Orel introduced me to one of the guests, but I did not 
catch his name. Mr. Ord said I had just come from Oxford, 
and this led to a conversation on the subject of Puseyism, of 
Mr. Newman and his style of preaching, and various other 
matters. I was not aware until dinner was half over that 
this guest was no other than the President of the Council, 
the Marquis of Lansdowne ; I sat opposite to him at the table, 
and had some further conversation respecting Dean Forest, etc. 
Nothing could be more plain, unassuming, and agreeable than 
the whole bearing and conversation of this much-respected and 
highly-talented nobleman. Among the other gentlemen present 
were Colonel Clive, of the Guards, and Mr. Westmacott, the 

The grand event of this year, the building of the Great 
Western steamboat, is the subject of a note in the early 
part of May. 

"May 3rd. — I attended a meeting at Messrs. Harford, Da vies, 
& Co.'s office, in Small Street, and dined with Mr. Davies, of 
Cotebank, in the evening. 

" I went this afternoon with one of the directors of the 
Western Steamship Company to see the large iron steamer 
now in progress at their establishment. The buildings and 
machinery belonging to this concern have been erected at a 
cost of £40,000, one moiety of which is to be charged to the 
leviathan of a vessel now in progress. The works are situated 
on the south side of the River Avon, midway between the 
Quay and the Clifton New Bridge. The building is of vast 
extent, and the machinery, by Fairburn of Manchester, is 
of first-rate excellence. The vessel, which the public, pro 
tempore, denominate the Mammoth, is now built up to the 

i8 4 o-4i-] THE "GREAT WESTERN." 183 

height of her deck, with the exception of part of her stern ; 
so that by standing at the stern, or a little outside, a complete 
view of the hull of the vessel is obtained. Her length is 319 
feet 6 inches ; the breadth of course is various, but about 50 feet 
is an approximation to the width of deck midway in the vessel. 
The thickness in the plates of iron varies from § inch to 1 inch, 
the latter being the keel plates. The ribs are about 2 feet 
apart. The keel is flat-bottomed, and her bows remarkably 
thin and sharp. 

"The outlay on the vessel alone up to this time is £30,000 ; 
the cost is estimated at £80,000, which, with £20,000 share of 
the building, makes £100,000; but this, like many other 
estimates, will probably be exceeded. The engines are not yet 
made. It is stated that her weight will be only four-fifths of 
the weight of a wooden vessel of like calibre." 

On June 22nd, after dining with Mr. William Cnbitt 

at 6, Great George Street, Westminster, Mr. Sopwith went 

to the meeting of the Society of Civil Engineers, and read 

a paper on the construction and use of geological models 

in connection with civil engineering. The paper was 

divided into six parts: (a) application of modelling to 

geological and mining purposes ; (6) material to be 

employed ; (c) mode of construction ; (d) scales to be 

employed ; (e) objects to be represented ; (/) use of 

model's and connection with civil engineering. At the 

close the author observed that the avocations of the 

civil engineer peculiarly qualify him for an observant 

geologist ; and that, being called upon to visit so many 

different districts, the observations he could make ought 

to be replete with instruction. In speaking on this paper 

Dr. Buckland, in instancing the utility of a knowledge 

of geology to the engineer, mentioned that after the 

Thames Tunnel had been commenced by Sir Isambard 

Brunei, upon an assurance of those who made the 

184 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1840-41. 

borings that they had reached the London clay, it was 
found that they were actually traversing the sand of the 
plastic clay ; hence arose nearly all the difficulties which 
the engineer had to encounter, and in overcoming which 
he displayed so much skill and perseverance. 

On July 24th, the Dean Forest work being near its 
conclusion, Mr. Buddie gave a dinner to the Forest 
friends, to which thirty-eight sat down; and on the 26th 
the Mining Cornniission was brought to a conclusion. 

On August 29th Mr. Sopwitk describes as a novel inci- 
dent that he had his likeness taken by the daguerreotype 
process at the Polytechnic Gallery. 

" The operation only occupies one minute, and the charge is 
a guinea for the miniature and a few shillings for the frame, 
according to the taste of the person, who chooses it from a 
large assortment kept on hand." 

In the evening he went to a concert at Drury Lane, 
where a novelty was introduced of exhibiting tableaux 
vivants, or living figures clothed in white dresses closely 
fitting the body. 

On September 2nd he is at the Royal Gardens at Kew, 
where he finds Sir W. Hooker, as usual, in great force, 
full of activity and vivacity, and apparently thinking and 
speaking and walking about four times faster than any- 
body else. 

In September he attended the meeting of the British 
Association at York, and read a paper on the importance 
of preserving railway sections. He also produced some 
new and beautiful specimens of electrotype by his friend 
Mr. Jordan. After the meeting he spent a few days 
with Mr.kTh.omas Wilson at Banks, during which visit 
he writes: — 

" I walked with Mr. Skelton to some of the manufactories 

1840-41.] REMINISCENCES. 185 

of steel conducted by himself and partners. Iron is converted 
into steel by the absorption of carbon, from eight to ten or 
twelve tons being converted at a charge ; and the process 
occupies several days, varying according to the degree of 
hardness required ; and for some purposes the process is re- 
peated two or three times. The introduction of carbon blisters 
the steel, which is submitted to the heavy and exceedingly 
rapid blows of the tilting-hammer. The activity and precision 
of the workman who presents the heated bar of steel to be 
formed and fashioned by this incessant and noisy monster is 
such as can only be acquired by long practice, and hence such 
men receive a high rate of wages, amounting, I was told, to four 
or five pounds a week in some cases. The blows of the tilting- 
hammer are sometimes as many as four hundred in a minute, 
and are, as well as the rolling mills, worked by water-power 
from reservoirs in the River Don." 

A tour in North Wales with Dr. Buckland in October 
of this year opens up some very pleasing passages, 
including accounts of visits to Snowdon, the Menai Straits 
with a view of the bridge, some glacial researches down 
the Neath Valley, Bangor, Carnarvon, and Holyhead. 
The journey afforded much information for both travellers. 
In the same month, namely, on the 25th, he, in company 
with Mr. Buddie and Mr. Robert Stephenson, went to 
Bristol to inspect " the stupendous iron steamship " then 
being built there, containing, without the engines, eight 
hundred tons of iron. They started from Paddiugton 
Station, and travelled at the rapid rate of fifty-three 
miles an hour. In his reminiscences at the close of 
1841 Mr. Sopwith dwells with much sympathy on the 
death of his friend Sir Francis Chantrey, sculptor, who 
left an impression on him never to be recalled without a 
feeling of sincere attachment for the extreme sincerity 
and amusing remembrances of his bright anecdotes on 

186 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1840-41 

fishing, on the sliding scale, and other subjects. He 
speaks warmly also of Alexander Milne, Esq., one of Her 
Majesty's Commissioners of Woods and Forests. Robert 
Stephenson and John Buddie are again associated in his 
recollections, together with Mr. Isaac Cooke of Clifton, 
Mr. Benjamin Haywood Bright of Bristol, the Rev. 
Henry Douglas of Durham, William Ord, and the artist 
Sir William Harvey. Amongst men of science with 
whom he came much in contact during the year he enrols 
Sir Roderick Murchison, Mr. de la Beche, Professors 
Owen, Phillips, Whewell, Bowerbank, and Basil Hall ; 
with, as engineers, Mr. James Walker, President of the 
Institute, and Messrs. William Cubitt, J. Rendel, Robert 
Davison, J. Murray, and J. Macneil. He also places in 
the list of his present friends Lords Lansdowne, Dun- 
cannon, Fitzwilliam, and Sudeley. 

In his professional work in 1841 he travelled over 
seven thousand miles, all pleasant travelling, with many 
agreeable and profitable hours spent in connection with 
geological and mining pursuits. 




[HE year 1842 presents few subjects of moment 
until we arrive at September, when there 
appears in the diary a peculiarly interesting- 
account of a meeting at Wakefield of the 
West Riding of Yorkshire Geological and Polytechnic 
Society, at which some of the most distinguished living- 
men were present. The description of this meeting is 
rendered in the following entry :— 

" Seirtember 1th.— In the course of the forenoon I had the 
pleasure of meeting Mr. WiUiam West, an eminent chemist of 
Leeds, and several other friends who are connected with the 
Polytechnic Society, the Quarterly Meeting of which I at- 
tended at noon, and had the gratification to meet the noble 
President Earl Fitzwilliam, Dr. Buckland, and Professors 
Liebig, Playfair, and Daubeny, all of whom took an active part 
in the proceedings. I was called upon to explain the model of 
Ebbw Vale and Sirhowey, and also my set of twelve geological 
models, which were set on the table in front of the President. 
I did this verbally, and wished to be very brief, knowing that 
the time of the meeting was limited, and that an interesting 
paper on architecture remained to be read. At each effort to 

188 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1842. 

abridge, however, Lord Fitzwilliam urged me to go on, and 
apjDeared much interested. Afterwards Dr. Buckland rose, 
and describing some peculiarities of structure, pronounced an 
eloquent eulogium on the great importance of preserving 
mining records in a modelled form. 

" At 3 o'clock I dined with the Society, Earl Fitzwilliam in 
the chair, and at 6 o'clock I went with Mr. West and another 
friend in a chaise to Leeds to a meeting which I had been 
invited to attend. It was in the music-hall, a large and 
elegant room, which was filled by a respectable company of 
ladies and gentlemen of what is commonly termed the middle 
classes. Earl Fitzwilliam presided, and Drs. Buckland, Liebig, 
Playfair, and Daubeny were present, as was also Mr. George 
Stephenson, the celebrated railway engineer. 

" Several very interesting addresses were made, and espe- 
cially one by Dr. Buckland, which was afterwards reported 
fully in the Leeds paper, and transferred to the columns of 
the Mining Journal under the heading of an ' Important 
Geological Address ; ' and such it certainly was, for it included 
a graphic desci'iption of the local phenomena of the structure 
of the carboniferous rocks, their adaptation to supply a great 
manufacturing district with coal and iron below, and with 
abundant fruits of the earth on its rich surface, and ascribed 
in very eloquent language these and similar arrangements to 
benevolent design. 

" His observations were received with rapturous applause, 
and still more so was a long and very characteristic address 
by Mr. George Stephenson, who alluded to his defective educa- 
tion, and bis still speaking what he calls the ' bad language 
of Northumberland,' meaning its dialect. He also referred 
to the difficulties of cross-examination before Parliamentary 
Committees, and said he would almost as soon face the gallows. 
He urged the importance of education, and alluded to many 
interesting topics, all of which afforded great delight, and gave 
rise to long-continued acclamation. 

"I said a few words, as few as possible, in acknowledgment of 

1842.] A TOUR IN YORKSHIRE. 189 

the good wishes expressed by the meeting towards the Natural 
History Society of Northumberland, Durham, and Newcastle." 

Another entry on the following day is curious. 

"September 8th. — I left Leeds in a first-class carriage of 
the railway train which starts at six in the morning, and 
after a safe and pleasant journey to Sheffield, I hired a ' fly ' 
and went directly to Middlewood Hall, distant about three 
miles from Sheffield. 

" I then went by hilly roads over a very hilly country to 
Ecclesfield, and to Milton and Elsecar Iron Works. It rained 
in torrents, but this had not deterred the scientific party from 
their investigation of these places. I found Dr. Daubeny, 
who had taken shelter in one of the workshops, and afterwards 
we joined Buckland, Liebig, and Playfair. I was invited by 
Lord Fitzwilliam to dine and sleep at Wentworth House, but 
had previously promised to join my kind friends at Middle- 
wood, and to this arrangement I adhered, although it would 
have been a great treat to have dined in company with three 
Presidents of the British Association, Harcourt, Fitzwilliam, 
and Buckland, and other eminent scientific guests assembled 
at the hospitable mansion of the noble Earl." 

After the close of the Wakefield meeting Mr. Sopwith 
and Dr. Buckland made a tour in Yorkshire. Amongst 
the incidents of this tour I notice specially a description, 
very unique, of Clapham Cave, near Settle. 

" Sept ember 11th. — Dr. Buckland sent a note to Mr. Jackson, 
inviting him to accompany us on our expedition to Clapham 
Cave, to which he returned an assent on a neatly embossed 
card. After an early breakfast we started at seven o'clock, 
accompanied by Mr. Howson and Mr. Jackson, and examined 
several rocks by the way. Limestone scars impend over the 
east side of the vale, and the Millstone grit thrown down by 
the great Craven fault passes along the line of the road or 
very near it. 

i 9 o THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1842. 

" We had a pleasant drive to Clapham, a village at the 
base of Ingleborongh, and walked up a beautiful valley called 
Clapdale. The great lion of the place is the cave, which Dr. 
Buckland pronounces to be probably the finest of its kind in 
the world that has hitherto been explored. About fifty yards 
from the entrance has long been accessible, but it was only 
about four years ago that attention was called to further 
exploration by a great quantity of sand and gravel being 
washed out after a heavy flood. 

" The proprietor, James Wilson Farrer, Esq., of Ingle- 
borough House, was absent, but his son and nephew, and a 
guide named J. Harrison, accompanied us on a survey of the 
subterraneous wonders of this magnificent and extensive cavern. 
" It would require a large volume, and a vast number of 
drawings, to convey any tolerable idea of the beauty of this 
place. Every step presents some marvellous combinations, 
which excited the highest admiration and astonishment ; here 
a stately column, there a noble dome, a clear lake reflecting 
beautiful groups of pendent stalactites, the water flowing in 
curious pulsations over round masses of rock, some places 
reminding one of the modelled ruins of an ancient city, and 
others presenting a fac-simile of Alpine glaciers. One strange 
projection of rock resembled the open jaw of an infuriated 
dragon ; some of the pendent stalactites emit musical tones, 
which at a short distance have the melody of a fine peal of 
bells. Dr. Buckland suggested the name of Lady Chapel for 
a beautiful chamber in which festoons of stalactites descend 
like gracefully flowing robes. 

"It is a marvellous, a transcendently beautiful, a deeply 
interesting and instructive lesson of Nature's silent but effective 
labours even in the bosom of the mighty hills, where unseen, 
unknown, unthought of, this cavern has from age to age been 
forming, and is now for the first time presented to the wonder- 
ing eye of man. 

" On our return we examined some scratched and polished 
rocks by the side of the lake, one of which Dr. Buckland 


suggested should be preserved by having a cover over it. We 
had luncheon at the hospitable mansion of J. W. Farrer, Esq., 
with his brother, his son, and nephew." 

On September 27th there is a note on the Newcastle 
Musical Festival, and on October 22nd another note on an 
examination of students in engineering at Durham, with a 
brief reference to Professor Chevallier, who was present; 
and on October 29th there is an account of a visit to see 
the working of the " Centrifugal Railway." The experi- 
ment did not seem to be very satisfactory. One of the 
attendants went round safely enough, but a Mr. Rively, 
who tried the experiment, was thrown off. He was not 
hurt, but his escape was marvellous. I pass from these 
particulars to the description of the Armstrong hydro- 
electrical machine. 

" November 15th. — Mr. William Armstrong has constructed an 
apparatus the electrical powers of which are most astonishing. 
A boiler 3 feet 6 inches long and 18 inches diameter, with fire- 
box below, is insulated by being supported on four glass feet 
on a carriage. The strength is very great, being capable of 
a pressure of 300 lbs. per inch, but in the experiments alluded 
to about 70 lbs. pressure is found to be as effective as a higher 
power. The result is attested by a discharging electrometer, — 
the capacity of the jar being | a gallon — the balls i inch 
apart. The number of discharges from a 3-feet plate machine 
being 26 per minute, that of Mr. Armstrong's steam, under 
exactly similar conditions, is 280 per minute, or more than 10 
times as powerful. 

" There are 14 jets, viz., 7 on each side, each jet discharging 
as much steam as would at 70 lbs. pressure pass through a 
circular aperture of T \- inch ; 7 jets gave 70 discharges in half 
a minute, hence 14 jets give 280 in a minute. The length of 
spark from the boiler is from 12 to 14 inches, without any 
proper apparatus for elongating the sparks. 

i 9 2 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1842. 

" The hair or fingers held in the jet of steam are brightly 
illumed with electrical light, and the effects are not less 
beautiful than curious, new, and important." 

On November 24th Mr. Sopwith delivered a lecture 
before the Geological Society of Manchester; and on the 
26th he was taken by Mr. Kennedy, one of the leading 
men in Manchester, to call on the illustrious Dr. Dalton, 
the founder of the Atomic Theory. They discovered the 
philosopher reading a newspaper by the fireside. He 
was now infirm, and spoke with difficulty, but was most 
kind and cheerful in manner. On November 28th my 
friend went to Leeds, where he delivered a lecture, 
before the Mechanics 1 Institution and Literary Society, 
on Geology as evidencing benevolent design. 

In the reminiscences of this year the loss of his child 
Mary Jane holds a prominent place, although her long 
and painful illness, and the sad prospect that she would 
never enjoy vigorous health in mature life, somewhat 
alleviated the suffering. The remarkable talents of 
Mr. William G. Armstrong,* a solicitor in partnership 
with Mr. Donkin in Newcastle, are referred to, with the 
observation that Mr. Armstrong ought to have been an 
engineer, and with the expression of the high opinion 
he entertained both of the head and heart of his 
ingenious and valued friend. 

Again there is a reference to Mr. John Ruskin, whom 
he has met in London, and " on whom his feeble enco- 
miums cannot convey the faintest idea of the consummate 
skill of an artist of truly amiable and pleasing cha- 
racter." " My visits " to his library, says Mr. Sopwith, 
" had the good effect of teaching me a lesson in humility 
which I shall never forget, for whatever I have done in 

* Now Lord Armstrong. 


sketching shrinks into insignificance when compared with 
his elaborate and magnificent works." The thousands of 
enthusiastic admirers of the John Ruskin of to-day will, 
without doubt, join with unanimous voice in crediting 
Thomas Sopwith with the prescience with which he 
estimated the talents of their master. 

This early recognition of supreme talent is, however, 
not really remarkable, since it came from one who was 
himself by nature a gifted though not cultivated artist. 
Some of Mr. Sopwith's sketches are worthy of warm 
commendation. They are extremely faithful to nature; 
the perspective, when that comes into play, is good, and 
the colouring is always grateful. Here and there through- 
out the diary sketches and drawings of local scenery 
abound, each one conveying the usual touches of industry 
and fidelity. 

Two final reminiscences afford him this year great 
pleasure — one, that in the first month of the year he 
received from the Institution of Civil Engineers a Telford 
medal, awarded for his communication on Geological 
Models ; and two, that in the last month of the year he 
found himself in the enjoyment of the best health and 
spirits, with from eight to nine hours' sleep, and great 
benefit from taking his breakfast directly after he has 
risen from bed. 





[HE year 1843 produced from Mr. Sop with 
a report of an engineering expedition to 
Belgium for the purpose of a survey for 
the first Belgian railways. Previous to 
this, however, there are some records of interest on 
matters at home. In March he was led to comment 
on a movement then commencing in Newcastle, and 
having relation to the development of High Church 
principles and practice. A Broad Churchman himself, 
and fond of everything that is artistic, and especially of 
music, Mr. Sopwith held, it would seem, an independent 
and strong place in the controversy. He was most 
favourable to the introduction of music of a high class 
into the Church services, believing that the services 
would thereby be made much more attractive and 
beneficial. At the same time, he was opposed to all 
ceremonials that would bring the Catholic ritual into 
the Church of England. He was not opposed from any 
sense of bigotry to the services of the Church of Rome; 
on the contrary, he thought that the ceremony of the 
Romish Church was of itself magnificent. His objections 
related to the introduction of portions of it or imitations 
of it into the simpler English form of worship. I d© 


not think he ever changed from this view, a view which 
has been and is largely held by many thousands of his 

In this month he speaks with great pleasure of a visit 
which he received from an excellent as well as an 
eminent man, Dr. Duncan of Ruth well, Dumfriesshire. 
Duncan was the originator of Savings Banks, and author 
of " The Philosophy of the Seasons ; " in every sense an 
amiable, original, and accomplished man. 

On March 31st I find him reading a paper at the 
Literary Institution at Newcastle on County Clare, in 
Ireland, and a thoroughly good practical paper it is, 
dealing not only with descriptive topics, but briefly with 
the condition of Ireland and the urgent necessity for 
better government for that unhappy country. 

On April 8th he dined with Mr. John Claudius 
Loudon, a very remarkable man of letters, who died at 
Bays water on December 14th this same year. Of him 
Mr. Sop with reports, in speaking of his death : — 

" It has very often been my good fortune to enjoy 
the society and friendship of this accomplished and truly 
amiable man. He was in a great measure self-educated, 
having gradually made himself a position, and surmounted all 
the obstacles which lay in his way from being a humble 
assistant to an enterprising cabinet-maker and publisher, to 
his being rightly viewed as one of the most industrious and 
able writers on Botany and other subjects. He was the 
editor of various works, such as the Gardener's Magazine, 
the Architectural Magazine, etc. But the most elaborate of 
his compilations was the ' Arboretum Britannica,' a work of 
enormous labour. By some wrong treatment when being 
shampooed, he suffered an injury which required the am- 
putation of an arm, and the fingers of his remaining hand 
were contorted in such a way that he held a pen or pencil 

i 9 6 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1843. 

with difficulty. It may be safely said that, as regards the 
quantity of letterpress composition, and of pictorial illustra- 
tion, which appeared with the express sanction of his name 
as author, editor, or publisher, few, if any, have exceeded 
Loudon in productiveness. Take, for example, his ' Cottage, 
Farm, and Villa,' — what a vast mass of reading, what a great 
deal of minute reference to very accurate plans, sections, and 
other illustrations. I had for many years the privilege of 
dining with him at his plain family dinner any time I chose 
to go, and I not unfrequently had this very great pleasure. No 
ceremony as to dress. Conversation in a free and unmeasured 
and most friendly manner was the true charm of the feast." 

Mr. London was a keen observer of nature, and 
possessed a considerable skill and taste in design. 
Ornamental gardening was part of his profession. On 
the day when Mr. Sojwith visited him on his sixtieth 
birthday, April 8th, 1843, he was overworking himself 
in order to recoup the losses he had sustained in pub- 
lishing his " Arboretum Britannica." 

In April and May Mr. Sopwith is in London again on 
parliamentary work. On April 13th he dines with the 
New Madrigal Society at Freemasons' Tavern, and after 
dinner, when the cloth is cleared, the Madrigals begin, 
and continue to the end of the meeting. A choir of boys 
from St. Paul's had great effect. On April 23rd he 
breakfasts with Mr. Ruskin, at Denmark Hill, in order 
to see water-colour drawings, which are much admired. 
We have become accustomed of late years to look on 
Mr. Buskin purely as the art critic, but those who 
knew him in these early days were strangely impressed 
with his skill as an artist. Amongst these admirers 
Mr. Sopwith must be ranked, and I may add that he 
retained his opinion on this matter to the end of his life. 
The last time we ever spoke together about Mr. Ruskin 


he remarked, " A great art critic without a shadow of a 
doubt, but would have shone with equal light if he had 
kept to his natural gift — art itself." 

On April 28th there is a note that Mr. Edwin Chad wick 
called at Berners Street to discuss with him some points 
on the health of towns. Chad wick, then in his prime, 
is attracted by the idea of getting a series of maps and 
models for sanitary purposes similar to the geological, — 
an excellent idea, which afterwards bore good fruit. 

On May 15th he is at dinner with Mr. Robert Stephen- 
son, at Hampstead ; and on May 22nd a proposal comes 
to him from Mr. Fearon, with explanations from Mr. 
Cubitt, that he should undertake a series of surveys in 
Belgium for railway engineering purposes. 

Returning to Newcastle in June, he received a visit 
from Mr. Moses Richardson, to look over sketches for the 
commencement of a work to be called the " Table Book ; " 
and on June 25th (Sunday) he is at St. Thomas's Church 
listening to a sermon by the Rev. Richard Clayton, 
directed against the evils of the racecourse. The sermon, 
he says, was excellent, and free of all narrow prejudices 
and intolerance, but denouncing the misconduct which 
abounds, to a lamentable extent, not only at races, 
but at many other of the popular entertainments of 
the English people. Commenting on this matter in 
the note below, he gives us a good example of the 
advanced views he held on the important topic of 
recreation at the time specified, views which are only 
just now coming into practical application. 

" It is, however, my belief that the mere denunciation of 
excesses will do little to repress the natural desire which is 
felt for recreation, and until more harmless amusements are 
provided we must not expect any material change in long- 
established customs, especially when supported, as racing is, 

i g8 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1843. 

by royalty, by the nobility and gentry, and by municipal 

" The school of evangelic reform, to which this excellent and 
zealous clergyman belongs, repudiates all attempts to substitute 
a harmless field of amusement in the way of museums, botanical 
gardens, etc., and deems them unsuitable occupations for 
Sundays ; hence all rational hope of amendment is nipped in 
the bud, and the bulk of the public cling to whatever law and 
custom have left them of their favourite pastimes. 

" A Race Sunday assuredly presents many demoralising 
scenes, but the opportunity for getting ah- and exercise tempts 
many to the tents on the town moor who would more willingly 
have gone to the quiet and fascinating enjoyments of a 
botanical garden, if such a means of innocent recreation had 
been afforded them." 

On July 10th John Bright visits Newcastle to deliver 
one of Ms famous addresses on the Corn Laws. My 
friend is of the audience, and makes a critical note on 
the speech he has listened to. Mr. Bright is described 
as an excellent speaker, adapting his subject very ably 
to the comprehension of his hearers. 

On August 19th Mr. Sopwith started for Boulogne, 
steaming across the Channel in the Water Witch. It was 
a steamer with two thirty-five-korse power engines, with 
a tolerably spacious deck, and a gloomy cabin. This 
was the first time he had ever left the British Islands, 
and it afforded him a kind of new view of life. He 
was uncommonly pleased, surprised, and instructed by 
his first visit to a French hotel, the Hotel du Nord, of 
which he gives a vivacious description, as he does also 
of the then existing theatre at Boulogne. To these he 
adds notes on the fair and the Haute Ville. 

"The Fair. — This present Sunday, August 20th, is the last 
day of a fair which begins on the 5th and lasts fifteen days. 

1843.] BOULOGNE. 199 

The fair is held on the esplanade ; the wooden stalls are 
covered with lead, and are made so as to close at night ; 
they were filled very much in the manner of an English 
fair, with toys, jewellery, etc. There were a few shows of 
the diorama kind, with drummers, etc., but no crowd, no 
mountebanks, not much noise ; and several rouge et noir 

" Haute Ville. — I examined the principal streets of the high 
town, saw the Palais Imperial, once the residence of Napoleon, 
but now shorn of all its grandeur. I walked entirely round 
the ramparts, which are partially planted, and command very 
extensive views of the low town and harbour, the adjacent 
country, the sea, and the English coast. The walls are of 
great height, and form a rectangle of about three hundred 
metres by two hundred metres, at the base of which are 
gar-dens and very pleasant promenades, planted with rows 
of trees." 

The return from Boulogne was on the 23rd, and the 
next labour undertaken was an essay of very considerable 
historical value on the Free Miners of Dean Forest. 

The essay sets out with the statement that if we look 
at a map of Gloucestershire, we see an angular portion 
northward of the spot where the river Wye joins the 
Severn, and abutting upon the Counties of Monmouth 
and Hereford. In this angular portion is situated the 
Forest of Dean, which has been the property of the 
Crown from time immemorial. At intervals the laws 
and customs by which this Forest is regulated have come 
under the notice of Parliament, chiefly in relation to the 
respective rights of the Crown on the one hand and the 
inhabitants on the other. In the year 1838 an Act was 
passed by which three Commissioners, Mr. Sopwith, 
Mr. Buddie, and Mr. Probyn, were appointed to settle 
various disputes, and to place the government of the 

200 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1843. 

Forest on a better footing. The Commissioners published 
an elaborate description of their labours in November 
1841. They found that the Forest comprised an irregular 
area of about thirty miles in circuit, covered for the most 
part with timber, and containing extensive seams of coal 
and iron. From earliest times all male persons born in the 
hundred of St. Briavel's, in which the Forest is situated, 
have enjoyed the right of working these mines, subject to 
the leave or licence of the gaveller or the deputy-gaveller, 
and to the payment of an annual gallage rent or duty to 
the Crown. The share of the Crown has been reckoned 
as one-fifth of the produce. The Commissioners could not 
trace the origin of the custom, owing to its antiquity. 
There seems to be evidence that the Britons, and after 
them the Romans, worked the iron-mines of the Forest ; 
but there is no evidence to show whether or not they worked 
the coal. At the time of the Norman Conquest the soil 
was in the possession of the Crown, and all the rights of 
a Royal Forest were in force. The persons by whom the 
mines were then worked were probably in a state of 
servitude, and therefore the " Free Miners," a term 
which had been in use for centuries, must have derived 
their right from some subsequent privilege. It has been 
supposed that the privilege originated in some such way 
as this : — That after a man had worked for a year and a 
day, or some other defined period, in the mines be was 
awarded the privilege of digging on his own account, 
provided he gave a portion of the produce to the 
Sovereign. The royal power was sometimes delegated. 
The manner in which a Free Miner exercised his right 
was exceedingly remarkable. He claimed the right to 
demand of the king's gaveller a " gale," that is, a spot 
of ground chosen by himself for sinking a mine ; and 
this, provided it did not interfere with the works of any 


other mine, the gaveller considered himself obliged to 
give on receiving a fee of five shillings and on inserting 
the name of the Free Miner in the gale book. The right 
to the gale was considered by the Free Miners to carry with 
it that of the timber for their works, but this extended 
no further than to the use of the offal and soft wood, on 
application to the keeper of a walk in which a mine is 

When the Commissioners came to their inquiry they 
found "foreigners" as well as Free Miners in possession, 
the evidence about these being very conflicting. Some 
witnesses alleged that none but Free Miners could hold 
a mine either by transfer, consent, or partnership ; whilst 
others maintained that a mine being originally galed to a 
Free Miner might be sold, leased, devised, or passed by de- 
scent to an outsider. The outsiders, nevertheless, entered 
into these mining speculations in a very extensive degree, 
having up to 1835 invested £700,000, of which £200,000 
were invested by one individual alone. To reconcile these 
conflicting interests was the object of the appointment 
of the Commission of 1838, and the general system 
adopted has been a gradual transition from the antiquated 
practice of past centuries to the more efficient modes of 
working adopted everywhere else, with such protection 
to existing rights both to the Free Miners and the 
" foreigners " as could best be awarded. 

In addition to the above labours Mr. Sopwith published 
a careful little treatise on the Museum of Economic 
Geology established in 1837. This treatise was con- 
sidered of great practical service in advancing the forma- 
tion of geological museums, and may be said to have 
given a good start to those who have since been engaged 
in the work of geological classification and arrangement. 
It was often suggested that Mr. Sopwith's treatise should 

202 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1843. 

be enlarged and republished in a more extended and 
authoritative form, with new and original chapters on a 
subject of which he was so good a teacher — mining 
in relation to geology. His many other engagements 
prevented the realization of this useful and practical 

In the middle of August Mr. Sopwith went to London, 
and received from Mr. Fearon his instructions for the 
visit to Belgium, whence he proceeded to examine the 
districts lying between the Sarnbre and the Meuse, with 
reference to their mineral capabilities, and especially on 
the bearing of such capabilities on the prosperity of a 
new railway, or rather series of railways, in that part of 
Belgium. He left London the last day of August for 
Antwerp, and was occupied about two months in Belgium, 
returning home on the 21st of October. The results of 
his work, in which he was associated with Mr. Cubitt, 
were embodied in a voluminous " Rapport sur le projet 
du Chemin de Fer a etablir dans l'entre Sambre-et- 
Meuse, ainsi que sur la statistique minerale et commerciale 
des contrees qu'il doit traverser." In this report every 
detail required seems to have been given. He was most 
cordially received on all sides, and had several private 
audiences of King Leopold, whose skill and forethought 
as a politician in regal command have always been acknow- 
ledged on all sides, but whose interest in scientific research 
as applied to e very-day life has not been generally 
recognised. Speaking of one of his interviews with the 
king, Mr. Sopwith says : — 

" The pensive and serious expression of countenance which 
is well pourtrayed in many published likenesses of King 
Leopold strongly resembles the grave aspect for which Sir 

1 843.] A VISIT TO BELGIUM. 203 

Walter Scott was remarkable when silent; but, like that 
justly celebrated writer, no sooner does he enter into conversa- 
tion than his face is brightened by great animation and an 
expression strongly indicative of cheerfulness and benevolence." 

Writing on September 10th he says : — 

" I have now had a survey of the entire length and breadth 
of the district of the Sambre and the Meuse intersected by 
the proposed railway. Captain Pernez's (one of the officials) 
time being limited, we have worked very hard, and on Friday 
I was much fatigued, but I feel no ill effects from the journey 
and was never in better health or spirits. 

" I coidd have wished for more time on the line, but as 
I shall probably have to go over part of it again with Mr. 
Cubitt, or visit portions of it, it is well that I am enabled at 
once to sit down to my Report over the documents, plans, and 
sections. This I shall do at Charleroi. 

" There seems every prospect of my accomplishing my survey 
to the satisfaction of all parties, and so far as scenery, society, 
fine weather, and good eating and drinking are concerned, 
I never spent a pleasanter week in my life. Indeed each day 
has unfolded new beauties, and every object has the charm of 

" The idea that comfort is known only in England is a 
delusion, and hence I have been more prolific in illustration 
of the reverse as regards what I have myself observed. 

" The roast beef of ' Old England ' is another fallacy, for 
they cook beef and all other meats in so savoury and palat- 
able a manner, that if roast beef had been waiting I do not 
think I would have preferred it to the dishes provided. 80 
far everything has been most satisfactory to me. I like the 
general character of the people very much." 

As a matter of course Waterloo was visited, and was 
described in a letter dated September 17th, 1843. 

204 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1843. 

Visit to Waterloo. 

" I write this at the base of the Belgic Mound, on the 
plains of Waterloo. A most lovely clay. I have just descended 
from the very summit of the mound, which is 200 feet high, 
and 509 paces round. It commands a most perfect view of the 
field of battle. I had an excellent large map showing the 
disposition of the forces, — but I must continue my letter when 
more at leisure. 

"Resumed on September 18th, 1843. 

"September 11th. — I rose at half -past four, and left 
Charleroi at half -past five, in a cabriolet. At this early hour 
the shops were open. I was accompanied by Master Gustav 
le Bon, who speaks a little English. We travelled along on 
the paved road at a rate of about five miles an hour, and at 
Lodiuilsart passed a coal waggon with eleven horses, i.e., eight 
pairs and three leaders. 

" The morning tints were exquisitely beautiful, and they 
lighted a district remarkable for its agricultural beauty, as 
well as for the vast number of mines and manufacturing 
establishments. The suburbs of Charleroi and adjacent 
villages extend for some three or four miles like a continuous 
street ; the houses are well built, and the people generally well 
and always comfortably dressed. Reached Pont-a-Mellet, six 
miles, in an hour and twenty minutes, but part of the way 
was up hill ; Frame, nine miles, in two hours, i.e., four and a 
half miles an hour. 

" My friend is nephew of Baron le Bon. One of his uncles 
was killed at Waterloo ; and his father also served both 
there and at Salamanca. We had breakfast at Gemappe, the 
town where Bonaparte's carriage was taken. The charge for 
coffee, eggs, etc., was sevenpence halfpenny each. We went 
to see the interior of a handsome but unfinished church . 
Gustav asked me if I was a ' fervent Protestant.' I said not so 
strict as many in England, and especially in Scotland ; and 
great was his surprise to learn in how strict a manner the 
Sunday is observed, — shops closed, no music, no travelling, etc. 

i8 4 3-] THE FIELD OF WATERLOO. 205 

' Oh la, la, la, la,' he exclaimed, ' so, so, so, so, — it is un- 

" At eight o'clock we reached Quatre Bras, and I made a 
drawing of the farmhouse. After resting a short time, we 
proceeded very pleasantly on our journey. 

" I can scarcely describe my emotions of delight and of deep 
feeling when I viewed for the first time the Field of Waterloo. 
I sat down and made a coloured sketch to keep as a memento. 
I had excellent maps, and traced every spot, every line; the 
place where Bonaparte slept, and stood, and pitched his 
observatory. Here was General Cooke's division, there General 
Clinton's ; here fell Sir William Ponsonby, and there the brave 
Sir Thomas Picton met his death. 

" We pass La Belle Alliance and reach La Haye Sainte, 
thus immortalised : — 

" ' La Haye ! bear witness,— sacred is its height, 
And sacred truly is it from that day, 
For never braver blood was spent in fight 
Than Britain here has mingled with the clay. 
Set where thou wilt thy foot, thou scarce can tread 
Here on a spot unhallowed by the dead. 
Here was it that the Highlanders withstood 
The tide of hostile power, received its weight 
With resolute strength, and turned and stemmed the flood. 

" We passed the very spot where Wellington stood at the 
commencement of the action, and on reaching the base of the 
mound I found four friends, Mr. and Mrs. Piddington, with 
Elizabeth and Pose, who had just arrived, although no par- 
ticular arrangement had been made. We ascended the mount. 
This artificial hill, surmounted by a lion on a pedestal, is said 
to have cost £ 160,000 ; it stands on nearly level ground, and is, 
including the lion, two hundred feet high. From it I viewed 
the field, having before me a good map, and a description of 
the battle. 

" It was a view of views, and a day of days gloriously 
bright and clear. We had a dejeuner at Mount St. Jean, and 

206 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1843. 

then drove to the village and church of Waterloo, nearly two 
miles from the field." 

The remainder of this visit to Belgium was devoted 
to inspections for the report on Belgian railways then in 
preparation, and affords no incidents calling for particular 
notice. After completing his preliminary surveys, Mr. 
Sopwith returned to Newcastle for the rest of the year. 

One sad event is recorded in the journal of this year, 
namely, that on August 10th at Lancaster, where he was 
giving evidence at a trial in company with Mr. John 
Buddie, he saw that gentleman for the last time. Mr. 
Buddie died somewhat unexpectedly, and the news of his 
death was a cause of deep regret. Amongst all his list 
of friends I think there is not one towards whom Mr. 
Sopwith has expressed a more sincere admiration and 
regard than towards this distinguished and original 
engineer, companion, and tried friend. 




|N January 11th, 1844, a meeting of the Health 
of Towns Commission was held in Newcastle, 
over which Commission Mr. Sopwith was 
appointed Chairman of the first or A Com- 
mittee. In this capacity he drew up the Report apper- 
taining to the construction of dwellings, and assisted in 
some of the other departments. At this point of his 
diary I find mention made of several names which have, 
to some little extent, passed out of memory, but which 
deserve the brief note he has made respecting them. I 
refer to Messrs. Donkin, Cubitt, Walker, Fearon, Cheney, 
Milne, Baxendale, and Sir Henry de la Beche. Of them 
he writes under date of February 20th :— 

" Mr. Donkin was a man of unusual activity and energy in 
his profession as a solicitor, and occupied a very influential 
position in Newcastle, where for several years I had the 
happiness to have his friendship and frequent society. This 
warm and generous friendship ended only with his death. 

"Mr. Cubitt (afterwards Sir William Cubitt) was, at the time 
now referred to (1844), taking a high rank in his profession as 
an engineer. He removed from the small house in Parliament 
Street to a much more commodious and elegant mansion in 

208 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1844-45. 

Great George Street, London ; and the drawing-room in which I 
spent many happy hours was an engineering office. My friendly 
intercourse with him was connected with important railway 
and other business, and was continued as long as he was able 
to exercise his professional talent. As age advanced his 
memory failed him, yet in a quiet and elegant retirement at 
Clapham he passed the evening of his life, and to the last 
retained his great friendliness and hospitality. 

" Of Sir Henry de la Beche I took occasion to make honour- 
able mention in an address given to the Naturalists' Field Club 
at Newcastle, when I was President of that society. He stood 
in the front rank of geologists, and effected practical objects 
which will be the means of perpetuating his name. He was 
the sole originator of the Museum of Geology in its economic 

" James Walker, many years President of the Institution of 
Civil Engineers, was by virtue of that position considered as 
the nominal head of the profession, and his influence both 
with Government and with the profession was considerable. I 
always felt honoured by his friendship and hospitality, both of 
which it was my good fortune to enjoy, — the former during a 
friendship of several years, and the latter on many occasions 
when I visited his house. 

" Of John Peter Fearon I may truly say that he was at 
once one of the most able, amiable, and accomplished men I 
have ever known. He was actively engaged on several of the 
early railways, and I was much thrown into connection with 
him on the business of English and foreign railways. At a 
later period he became solicitor to the Attorney-General, and I 
fear that it was intense and incessant work that at length 
overcame him, and caused indisposition which closed his latter 
days. In society he was most elegant in manners, most refined 
in convei\sation, most effective in argument, and of unwearying 
perseverance in whatever he undertook. His words were few, 
but they were words of wisdom, and the excellence of his 
character was reflected and continued in his amiable family. 


There was a charm of sweetness about his home, and about his 
memory is a halo of pure and holy light. 

" With Mr. Robert Cheney I had the pleasure and honour 
of a very friendly acquaintance, and much correspondence on 
matters which resulted in a considerable augmentation of the 
income of estates belonging to his family, and placed in a great 
measure under his care. My last interview with him was at 
Alnwick Castle, under the hospitable auspices of Algernon, the 
Sailor Duke, as he was sometimes called, of Northumberland. 
Cheney was a man of high accomplishments, and a skilful 
painter, both in oil and water-colours, — a most agreeable and 
steady friend. 

" Alexander Milne was a Commissioner of Woods and 
Forests, a Board with which I had much connection for nearly 
twenty years. During all this time I was on terms of great 
intimacy with Mr. Milne and other officers of the Department 
of Woods and Forests; and to the kind confidence of his colleagues 
and himself I owed the honour of being appointed Commissioner 
for the Crown, under the Dean Forest Mining Act. Very fre- 
quent were the occasions of my having official intercourse and 
correspondence with him on Government business, and very 
frequent also were the occasions when his hospitable table and 
social hospitalities were available to me. 

" It was at this time (February 20th, 1844) that I met Mr. 
Baxendale for the first time. He was then Chairman of the 
South-Eastern Railway (of which Mr. Cubitt was the Chief 
Engineer), and thus a special train was readily obtainable for 
our journey from London to Folkestone. We met at the 
railway station, and after Mr. Cubitt had introduced me, we 
all three got into the carriage appropriated for our sole use. I 
may add that Mr. Baxendale was at this time also the head of 
the vast mercantile carrying concern ' Pickford & Company,' 
and was not unfrequently called ' Pickford ' by his friends when 
in familiar conversation. He had a great deal of humour, and 
rejoiced in jokes and anecdotes. 

" ' Now then,' he said, ' I suppose I may say here are three 


210 THOMAS SOPWITH, RR.S. L1844-45. 

of the cleverest fellows in England ! ' ' You come from New- 
castle 1 ' he said, addressing me. ' Now I am under great 
obligation to a Newcastle man whose name is unknown to me 
(or, 'not in my recollection '), 'but whose 'advice enabled me to 
receive =£500 a-year from a small estate in Lancashire, instead 
of .£80 a-year which I had previously received.' 'Was it 
the Crowshaw Estate ? ' I asked. ' Yes.' ' Then I am the 
man,' I replied. I had given my opinion of the value of the 
property, and my valuation of £10,000 had been received by 

On April 25th there is a curious entry, connecting for 
the last time iu his mind the old and the new mode of 
travel : — 

" I left the railway station at Gateshead precisely at noon. 
Reached Durham in one hour and five minutes by the railway, 
and went from thence at the rate of about ten miles an hour 
to Southchurch near Bishop Auckland, and after this and an 
omnibus ride of eleven miles, went by the Stockton and 
Darlington Railway to Darlington, where a detention of about 
an hour takes place, viz. from three to four. I took a place 
to London, reached York in two hours, and stopped about 
forty minutes. At Derby another stoppage of about an hour 
occurred ; and ten minutes were allowed for refreshment at 
Wolverton. As this is nearly the last stage in the transition 
which has been for some years in progress, from coach to 
railway travelling, it may be interesting, and perhaps useful 
also, to note down a few of the particulars as regards the 
important elements of time and expense. 

" First, as to time. From Newcastle to London by the 
above route now occupies exactly 17 hours, including all 
stoppages. These are as follows : at Darlington 1 hour ; at 
York 40 minutes ; at Derby 40 minutes usually, though on 
this occasion it was an hour ; at Wolverton 10 minutes ; in 
all 2^ hours ; so that 14^ hours only are occupied in actual 
travelling, being very little more than 20 miles an hour. 

i8 4 4-45-] ROWLAND HILL. 


" Cost. The present cost of travelling from Newcastle to 
London is as follows : — 

First-class Railway and Omnibuses to Darlington 8 
First-class Railway Darlington to London . . 3 15 
Total, Newcastle to London . . . £1 3 0~ 

Another entry on May 1st of this year refers again to 
the atmospheric railway, and may be useful to some 
future historian. 

"Breakfasted with Mr. Clegg, the inventor of the atmospheric 
railway, and had a long conversation with him on the subject. 
The atmospheric system is decidedly making progress, and I 
have little doubt will eventually fulfil the expectations I formed 
when I visited the first experiments at Shepherd's Bush. It 
may at some future period be interesting to know that Mr. 
Clegg recognises, and recommends as the best recent description 
of the atmospheric railway, an article in the sixteenth volume 
of the British and Foreign Review; or, European Quarterly 
Journal, page 304 (published April 1844)." 

On May 3rd we are introduced to Rowland Hill of 
postal fame. 

"I went this evening to dine with my valued friend Mr. 
Rowland Hill, the celebrated originator of the Penny Postage 
System. There was a small but very agreeable party, and 
among them were Mr. Shuttleworth, of the Stamp Office, 
Manchester, and Mr. Chadwick, Secretary to the Poor Law 
Commission. Mr. Hill is very quiet and unobtrusive in his 
manners generally, but, as may be imagined from what he has 
done, is extremely shrewd and intelligent." 

One or two other personal entries deserve insertion. 

" May Qth.—I had luncheon and a long conversation with 
Mr. Robert Stephenson this morning. He is as agreeable 
and communicative as he is clever, and his society is always 

212 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1844-45. 

a great treat to me. He gave me the outline of his views 
on the atmospheric railway, his report on which is now in 
the press, and he promised to send me a copy of it as soon as 
it is completed. 

"At Mr. Fearon's I was introduced to Mr. Anderson, who, 
it had been proposed, should proceed to Belgium to conduct the 
final negotiations with the Government respecting the Sambre 
and Meuse Railway." 

" May 7th. — Called at Mr. R. Stephenson's office, and had 
some conversation with Mr. George Stephenson, who wishes 
Dr. Buckland to join me in a visit to him at his house near 
Chesterfield. He is looking remarkably well, is very animated, 
and displays great kindness of manner in those directions 
where he has formed a favourable opinion. On the other 
hand he is said to be equally unbending under opposite circum- 
stances. Be this as it may, he is unquestionably a man of 
extraordinary powers of mind, and to his vigorous exertions 
it is that we owe in a great measure the introduction of 
railway travelling on a large scale. However idly the world 
may dream of conquerors and heroes, few men at any period 
of known history have conferred greater benefits on their 
fellow-creatures than the originators of locomotive travelling 
and cheap postage, — the one almost annihilating time and 
space in bringing together persons from distant parts on 
business, or for friendly intercourse, and the other enabling 
every class of society to rejoice in that next of social blessings, 
frequent correspondence." 

On May 26th Mr. Sopwith is again in Belgium, when 
he had an audience with King Leopold, which he thus 
records : — 

" Mr. Anderson and I were shown into a large room, with 
some good paintings. Presently two aides-de-camp in full 
dress, with stars, etc., came, and very politely explained that 
the King had not yet returned from church, but was expected 

1 844-45.] KING LEOPOLD. 213 

very soon. In a few minutes His Majesty and suite arrived ; 
he bowed as he passed, arid we were shown into an adjoining 
apartment ; the aides-de-camp retiring, we were left alone 
with the King, who wore a dark-blue military dress, gold 
epaulettes, a profusion of orders, and a handsome sword. 

" After the usual complimentary bowing, the King observed 
that he understood we intended to be interested in some 
occupation in this country. I replied that the information 
which Mr. Cubitt and I had obtained in our former surveys 
had inspired with confidence parties who were disposed to 
execute extensive works, and that Mr. Anderson and I, repre- 
senting these parties, were pursuing the requisite negotiations. 
Mr. Anderson said that great assistance and facility had been 
given by the Minister of Public Works, whose consideration 
and talents were of great value. In this commendation the 
King very heartily joined, and said : ' Although the Sambre 
and Meuse Railway is not so great as many of your vast 
English works, yet in my opinion it is a very solid and useful 
one, and the calculation of its trade has been derived from 
the actual experience of many years.' 

" I replied, ' That, your Majesty, is precisely the opinion 
that has been formed — viz., that if it hold out less brilliant 
prospects than many new undertakings, yet it is more surely 
based, and is certain to be of great public utility.' 

" Mr. Anderson said it would be highly satisfactory to the 
parties in London to know that His Majesty entertained this 
opinion. The King entered at considerable length into details 
connected with the subject, as the extension to Sedan, the 
difficult navigation of the Meuse, etc., observing that though 
its scenery was very magnificent, yet, what with floods in 
winter, and shallow water in summer, it was very bad to 

" I observed that the district of the Sambre and Meuse was 
the very heart of Belgium, containing in vast abundance 
those minerals which constitute the foundations of national 
wealth ; that in a small compass there were coal, iron, marble, 

2i4 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1844-45. 

slate, and yet a great part of this district was unopened, nay, 
almost inaccessible. 

"Referring to the exports of coal to the Ardennes, His 
Majesty observed that this railway was the only mode by 
which they could obtain an increased supply. He also re- 
ferred to the marbles of Dinant, and was pleased to hear that 
I had visited the manufactory there, and at Eame. I said 
that I had placed specimens of these marbles in the Museum 
of Economic Geology in London, and I presented to His 
Majesty my account of that Institution (having previously 
requested permission to do so in writing). He accepted it 
with great complaisance, saying, ' I am greatly obliged, I 
am grateful ; it is a very interesting subject, and one that I 
am very fond of.' Looking at the section on the back, he 
added, ' There are very interesting sections like this as you 
travel on the railway towards Charleroi.' I informed His 
Majesty that I had seen them, and that the section on the 
book represented coal mines belonging to the Prince of Wales, 
and which I had surveyed on behalf of the Duchy of Cornwall. 
He turned over the leaves, and when he came to the litho- 
graphed plate of models, I said that they represented models 
which I had made of wood to represent the principal geological 
features that relate to mining, and that I had given a series 
of them to the Museum in Brussels. ' It is very kind of you,' 
said the King. I added that I would feel greatly honoured 
if His Majesty would allow me also to present a series to him. 
To this a very kind assent was at once given. I said 
that the undertaking of foreign enterprise, and consequent 
investment of capital, the interchange of scientific research, 
and the development of the natural sources of wealth, afforded 
a solid prospect with reference to the peace of nations, and 
the increase of their prosperity. His Majesty assented very 
fully to these remarks, and expressed similar sentiments. 

" These are some of the subjects, which I have made mention 
of as likely to recall distinct impressions of a very agreeable 
interview. Mr. Anderson joined from time to time in the 

I 844-45.] 



conversation. Nothing could be more affable and winning than 
the courtesy and kindness of His Majesty, and we took our leave 
with the most agreeable sentiments of respect and regard." 

On June 19th a new railway triumph is entered. 

" On this day, for the first time, the whole railway journey 
from London to Newcastle was opened to the public. 

" I left Euston Square Station with Elizabeth Piddington 
by the 9 o'clock train, and reached Gateshead, Newcastle, at 
9.30 p.m., this being the first journey performed by a train 
for the conveyance of the public from London to Newcastle 
in 12| hours. 

" As it may be interesting at some future time to refer to 
the details of this step in the rapid march of locomotive 
travelling, I annex them from memoranda made during the 

" The day was remarkably favourable for the journey." 











Left London 

Arrived Tring 





Departed Do. 



Arrived Wolverton . 



Departed Do. 



Arrived Rugby . 





Departed Do. . 




Arrived Leicester 

42 1 


lu 2 

Departed Do. 

48 2 


Stoppage, 34 miles 


Arrived Derby . 




X T 

Departed Do. 





Arrived Chesterfield . 



Departed Do. 



Arrived Masbro' 




Departed Do. . 



Arrived Barnsley . 



f i 

Do. Normanton 

16 \ 


Departed Do. 



Arrived Castleford . 



v 2 

Departed Do. 




THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1844-45. 









Arrived Bolton and Tadcaster . 

53 a 




Departed Do. 

Arrived York ..... 







Departed Do. 
Arrived Alne 








Departed Do. 
Arrived Sessay 
Departed Do. 
Arrived Thirsk 









Departed Do. 
Arrived Northa 









Departed Do. 



— — 



Arrived Cowton 



— 13| 



Departed Do. 
Arrived Darlington 







Departed Do. 







Arrived Rudd's Hill 







Departed Do. 
Arrived Belmont 







Departed Do. 
Arrived Brockley 
Departed Do. 
Arrived Gateshead 










Total . . 



83 miles in 2 








London to Rugby 

Midland Counties . . .49 

North Midland .... 64 

York, and N. Midland . . 24 „ „ 

To Darlington . . . . 45 „ „ 1 

To Newcastle (G. Station) . 38* „ „ 1 

In August he had a visit from Mr. and Mrs. William 
Chambers of Edinburgh ; and in September he was 
engaged in surveys with Brunei, in Northumberland. 
On September 7th lie and Brunei went into the coffee- 
room of the Queen's Head Inn, Newcastle, and en- 
countered Mr. George Sterjhenson, who good-naturedly 
shook Mr. Brunei by the collar, asking him what business 
he had " north of the Tyne." Mr. Stephenson had been 

1 844-45.] GEORGE STEPHENSON. 217 

for some time engaged in projecting a railway through 
Northumberland, to which the railway of Mr. Brunei 
was in direct opposition. Brunei, like Mr. Sopwith, was 
sanguine as to the final success of the atmospheric 
railway at some future day. 


The year 1845 brought with it a great amount of 
work to my friend, who was in Newcastle, London, and 
Edinburgh , as if they were all his natural home. There is , 
however, but little matter of moment until March 8th, on 
the evening of which day he went to a meeting at Lord 
Northampton's, by whom he was introduced to Prince 
Albert, "a fine-looking man, with handsome face and 
good figure." The Prince, who was very pleased to make 
his acquaintance, spoke to him warmly of the geological 
models, the surveys of the Duchy of Cornwall which 
Mr. Sopwith had made for the Crown, and the interest 
which the King of the Belgians was taking in the 
mineral wealth of his kingdom. 

On March 19th, in company with Mr. George Stephenson, 
Mr. Fearon, Mr. Piddington, and Mr. Benjamin Scott, 
Mr. Sopwith again left for Brussels on another railway 
survey. The journey all through was rendered very 
pleasant, especially by George Stephenson, about whom, 
on March 30th and April 4th and 5th, there are special 

" March 30th. — I may here observe that during our journey, 
and especially when resting in the evening at the hotels, I 
derived a large share of instruction and enjoyment from the 
society of my fellow-travellers. One of these, known in all 
countries, and to be known in all time as foremost in that 
march of improvement which has so eminently marked the 
present century, has long been known to me by occasional 

2i8 THOMAS SOPJVITH, F.R.S. [1844-45. 

but brief opportunities of intercourse. The present journey 
has afforded an opportunity of becoming more intimately 
known to him, and of participating in that store of practical 
information, quick observation, and mental energy, by which 
Mr. Stephenson has climbed from a humble origin to the 
elevated position he now occupies. 

" It is most interesting to hear him relate the anecdotes of 
his youth. They are chapters pregnant with instruction and 
encouragement. Commencing at so early an age as three years, 
his memory reverts back to a bird-nesting scene. He was 
carried to see a nest, and the impression caused by the little 
helpless inmates fluttering about induced an affection for birds 
which ripened with age, and has ever since remained. At one 
time he ploughed for twopence a day and breakfast ; at another 
was toiling for twelve hours in an engine-house ; then occupying 
his evenings with repairing clocks and watches, and so gaining 
money which he applied to the education of his son, the present 
distinguished engineer. 

" Thirty -three years ago he constructed the first efficient loco- 
motive engine that had been made, and afterwards followed 
step by step in the construction of the first great railways in 
the kingdom. His graphic descriptions of many of these and 
similar incidents are so full of character, so plain, honest, and 
unassuming, and at the same time so marked by all the 
energy of true genius, that I rejoice here to record some faint 
memorial of them that may recall to mind the pleasant hours 
passed with this truly great man in the present expedition. 

" It is most amusing to hear of his labouring to convince 
his fellow-workmen in early years that the world turned 
round, they arguing that at the bottom they would fall off ! 
' Ah ! ' said their more inquiring companion, ' you don't 
understand it.' 

" Guided by a practical knowledge of geological structure, 
Mr. Stephenson purchased an estate containing valuable beds 
of coal, and in short his whole life has been so great an 
example of the value of practical application of science, that 

1 844.45.] GEORGE STEPHENSON. 219 

it is to be hoped he may some time employ his leisure in 
drawing up an autobiography, which would be of most surpass- 
ing interest, and would form the best memorial of his progress. 
" Mr. Starbuck, who accompanies Mr. Stephenson, is largely 
concerned in the management of business relating to locomotive 
engines, etc. He has travelled much in various parts of the 
world, speaks French with great facility, and his society added 
much to the pleasure of a journey where our enjoyment, 
though heightened by external conditions of weather, scenery, 
etc., was chiefly derived from interchange of thought and 
cheerful conversation." 

Dinner to George Stephenson. 

" April ith. — We returned to Brussels, and at four in the 
afternoon accompanied Mr. Stephenson to a magnificent dinner 
which was given to him by the engineers of Belgium, at one 
of the principal restaurants in Brussels. 

" The room was magnificently decorated ; at one end of it 
were a number of flags surmounted by the Union Jack (six 
Belgian flags and five English). These surrounded a handsome 
marble pedestal with the bust of Mr. Stephenson crowned with 

" The table was covered with luxuriant viands, and in the 
centre was an archway with a locomotive engine (The Rochet). 
Mr. Masni, the chief director of the Belgian railways, presided. 
Mr. Stephenson sat on his right hand, and I was placed on his 
left. About forty gentlemen were present, all of whom were 
connected with railway management. Nothing could exceed 
the enthusiasm with which they all joined in giving a welcome 
to the distinguished father of English engineering." 

" April 5th. — Mr. Stephenson and I went to the Palace of 
Lacken, where we had the honour of a private audience with 
His Majesty the King of the Belgians. As on two former 
occasions when I have been in the presence of His Majesty, he 
stood during the whole of the interview, and conversed very 
freely on several topics. He thanked me for the models I had 

THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1844-45. 

sent him, and said I must have devoted much time to these 
subjects. When we took our leave his Majesty shook hands 
with both, and said to me, 'I wish you success in all your 

"Throughout the interview he displayed a complete know- 
ledge of the general structure of the Belgian coal-fields, and 
spoke of the great importance of economy in a fuel which 
had become indispensable, and which formed the basis of all 
our manufactures, locomotion, and domestic comfort. 

"In the evening we went to Ghent, accompanied by Mr. 
Masni, and had a carriage appropriated to us. 

" We examined the works at the new station at Brussels." 
" April QtJi. — We left Ghent in the private railway carriage 
of Mons. Masni, the head director of State railways in Belgium. 
Breakfasted at Ostend, and left at ten in the Widgeon steam 
packet, and reached Dover at six, just in time to catch a train 
to London, where we arrived at eleven, thus completing the 
journey from Ghent to London in seventeen hours, nearly half 
of which were spent on the sea." 

A fortnight later he is once more in Belgium. 

" April ISth. — Interview with the Minister of Public Works, 
Mons. Deschamps, on the subject of negotiations for the 
West Flanders railways. I was occupied the whole day in an 
attentive study of this project ; and not approving of the lines 
suggested in the several plans I have examined, I drew up 
a new arrangement which appears to me to possess several 
very important advantages, namely, by occupying nearly the 
whole of the province of West Flanders with lines accommodating 
the important towns of Bruges, Roulers, Courtrai, Menin, 
Ypres, and Poperinghe in one line, and Furnes, Dixmude, and 
Thielt in another. 

" These lines I have studied with reference to future 
extension, as well as local convenience, and in the evening I 
had the satisfaction to find that the Minister referred to this 
map only during an interview which lasted three hours, and 


during part of which time he explained and advocated it to 
the deputation from Bruges, headed by the Governor of West 
Flanders \ and upon this map the convention is founded, all 
the terms of which were fully discussed on the following 

" April 21st. — Accompanied Mr. Chantrell to the office of 
the Minister of Public Works, where the convention for the 
West Flanders Railway was formally completed, and signed by 
the Minister, myself, and Mr. Chantrell, my signature being 
on behalf of William Parry Richards and John Peter Fearon, 
from whom I held a power of attorney to conduct and close 
this important step towards the establishment of railway 
communication throughout the province of West Flanders. 

" Immediately after receiving from the hands of the Minister 
the official duplicate of the convention, I left Brussels, and 
reached Ghent at two in the afternoon, accompanied by young 

"Left in the railway diligence and went to Bruges. A 
carriage-and-pair was in waiting at the station, and I at once 
started in it for Thourout and Roulers." 

" April 22nd. — Left Roulers at five in the morning, and 
reached Courtrai at half -past seven. After breakfast started 
with a fresh pair of horses to visit Menin and Ypres. 

" We returned to Courtrai to dinner, and afterwards pro- 
ceeded to Ingelmunster and Bruges, where we arrived at 
half-past nine." 

" April 23rd. — Left Bruges at eight o'clock, and went by 
railway to Ostend, and had a delightful sail across to Dover." 

In the early part of May Mr. Sopwith revisited Loudon 
on business connected with the Newcastle, Berwick, and 
Northumberland Railway Bills, together with other busi- 
ness relating to the Woods and Forests Committee. These 
occupations left him but little leisure, concerning which, 
however, he makes no complaint, but rather rejoices that 
his time should be so well occupied. During this visit, 

222 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1844-45. 

moreover, he was gratified by attaining a distinction which, 
he had all his active life most wished for. On June 5th 
he was elected, and on the 18th was received, as a Fellow 
of the Royal Society. The reception of this distinction is 
recorded in a brief paragraph of the diary. 

"June \§th. — Went to the Royal Society at Somerset House, 
Professor Owen in the chair (in the absence of the Presi- 
dent, the Marquis of Northampton) ; and went through the 
formality of being admitted a Fellow of the Royal Society. If 
this, under any circumstances, be deemed an honour, I think 
it is still more so when brought about — as my admission has 
been — by direct invitation and persuasion of the President, 
and by the unasked-for suffrages of so many eminent Fellows. 
That kind influence was used by friends I have no doubt, but I 
entirely abstained from asking any one to vote for me." 

Whilst Mr. Sopwith's numerous friends were con- 
gratulating him on having so honourably won what 
has been called the " blue ribbon " in science, an event 
leading to a new phase in the history of his active life 
was near at hand, as will be told in the succeeding 



&N July 1845 we enter into a new phase in the 
life of Mr. Sopwith. Up to this time he 
had been acting entirely on his own account 
in business, chiefly as an engineer and rail- 
way surveyor; but some little time before the date 
named a communication had been made to him by Mr. 
Hodgson, for whom he had the greatest respect, that 
he should become chief agent of Mr. T. W. Beaumont's 
lead-mines in Northumberland and Durham. The change 
meant his removal from Newcastle to Allenheads, dis- 
connection from his large circle of miscellaneous clients 
in engineering and mining, and occupation for three- 
fourths of his time. 

It was a serious question amongst his friends whether 
this new arrangement was or was not a prudent one, and 
much difference of opinion was expressed on the matter. 
In a retrospect which he made thirty-one years later in 
his life, he himself reviews the matter, adding a few 
reminiscences which are worth repeating as a good in- 
dication of the simple and genuine nature of the writer. 

" First, and very far indeed beyond all other considerations, 
were thole which related to the comfort of my family and my 

224 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1845-46. 

enjoyment at home. This indeed so far exceeded all other 
views as to leave me no option, and on this I shall add a few 
words of comment, — the result of actual experience and of 
frequent and long-continued reflection. 

" It was quite true that at the time the proposition was made 
to me to take the agency of the Beaumont mines I had gained 
what I may fairly call a good position in my profession. I 
had conducted very extensive surveys, both on the surface and 
under ground, at Alston in Cumberland ; and over a large 
portion of land in the centre of Northumberland. I had in 
1829 successfully competed with McAdam, then in the zenith 
of his fame as a road engineer; and my line, after being 
approved by a majority of forty to one by the local trustees, 
received the assent of Parliament in 1830. Fifteen years of 
active employment followed, and my engagements assumed 
more and more of a public character, and of what may be 
called professional eminence. 

"In 1832 I made the greatly valued acquisition of the 
friendship of Surtees, in addition to that of Hodgson and 
Hedley — names ever to be treasured amongst my richest 
memories. The generous friendship of William Ord, Esq., of 
Whitfield, and the equally warm and kind friendship of Sir 
John Swinburne, added much to my happiness. 

" In 1832 I was elected a member of the Institution of Civil 
Engineers, on the special volunteer offer of proposal of Telford ; 
and in that year I was much employed and consulted by the 
Commissioners of Woods and Forests. At this time my 
' Account of Mining Districts ' and ' Isometrical Treatise ' 
were favourably received ; and the latter work, though very 
technical, passed into a second edition. 

" In 1833 I laid out and surveyed a line of colliery railway 
from Jesmond, near Newcastle, to St. Laurence on the river 
Tyne ; and in 1835 I had made surveys of part of the Newcastle 
and Carlisle Railway from near Corbridge to near Hexham 
and Haydon Bridge. I had in 1845 been much employed in 
surveying and setting out lines of railway in England and 

1845-46.] ^- CHANGE OF CAREER. 225 

on the Continent, and had a fair prospect of success in that 
very lucrative department of civil engineering. I had entirely 
accomplished a most important mineral survey of the Forest 
of Dean ; and my large models of that, and other districts, had 
not only heen much admired at the British Association meeting 
at Newcastle, hut had won the honour of a Telford Medal at 
the Institution of Civil Engineers. 

" Most unexpectedly, and entirely unsought for by me, I was 
asked by the Commissioners of Woods and Forests to take the 
high position of Commissioner on behalf of the Crown in the 
Dean Forest Mining Act, and in three years the duties of that 
Commission were brought to a satisfactory close. 

" In 1844 the Coal Trade Committee of the North of England 
appointed a special committee of the most eminent members 
of their body to settle all disputes relating to the coal trade ; 
and they further appointed a « tribunal of appeal,' with the 
absolute power of final decision, viz. Messrs. John Grey, John 
Clayton, and myself. 

" These appointments and employments were in the highest 
range of services connected with coal-mine engineering. 

" In railway engineering I was among the very first who 
were largely employed in extensive and profitable surveys; 
and in lead mining, the position of Chief Agent of all the 
three districts of mines in Coalcleugh, Allendale, and Weardale 
was undoubtedly the first position open to a professional man. 
The offer of it to me was at all events a great honour, and 
my acceptance of it was based on considerations such as the 

following : — 

" My professional avocations took me very frequently from 
home, sometimes for weeks, and even months. This separated 
me from my family, and it seemed likely that continued 
success in general practice would ere long render it necessary 
for me to remove my offices to London. 

" To constant residence in the Metropolis my dear Jane had 
a great objection, on the score of health and domestic enjoy- 
ment. Upon this I made my determination. I was assiu-ed 


226 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1845-46. 

that a new house should be built for me, with gardens, and 
open space of pleasure grounds for my children to play in. 

" The prospect of comfort in the exercise of my duties at 
home, the reasonable prospect of quietude in the evening of 
life, was pressed on my attention. All this I now look upon 
as past. Twenty-six years have since been spent in active 
service, and for other five years I have had the quietude of 

The duties of the chief agent of the Allenhead mines 
commenced on July 1st, 1845, but before settling down 
to them certain other matters of business had to be 
cleared up. One of these was the giving of evidence at 
Cardiff on the trial of Lord Dunraven versus Mr. Malins, 
for breach of covenant in working his mines. Cockburn, 
afterwards Chief Justice of England, was the opposing 
counsel, and with Mr. Frank Forster, a colleague of 
Mr. Sopwith's, was "exceedingly sharp." Mr. Sopwith's 
own examination followed, and he got off lightly. 

" ' You are paid for coming here, are you not % ' said Counsel 
Cockburn. I said I had not yet been paid, but hoped to be so. 
— 'Ah ! ' said C, ' what I mean is, you would not have come 
here without being paid ! ' I answered that I had done more 
romantic things than that in my lifetime. My examination 
now set in with the same aspect as in Forster's case, and to an 
early question I was pertly told to answer ' Yes ' or ' No.' I 
answered ' Yes ; ' but I added, ' Unless I explain exactly what 
I mean by that answer, it may lead the jury to form an 
erroneous conclusion.' My keen interrogator would have 
gladly dispensed with any explanation, but the judge ruled 
that I might explain my answer, a decision gladly acquiesced in 
by the jury. I explained the matter in my own way, and 
when I finished, I was told I might go down ! " 

After some further delays in surveying Plymouth Iron 

I845-46-] T0 ALLENHEADS. 227 

Works, and in visiting Edinburgh on matters connected 
with the Lead Hills arbitration, during which he was the 
visitor of Mr. Robert Chambers, he entered formally on 
his duties at the W. B. Lead-mines, so called from the 
initials of a former owner, William Blackett, the produce 
of whose mines was specially well known in the markets 
of England, the Continent, and elsewhere as W. B., or 
sometimes as Blackett Lead. The commencement of 
this new career is recorded in the subjoined entries. 

" To Allenheads. 

" August 25th.— I left Newcastle at five o'clock in the after- 
noon, and, accompanied by Mr. Delemaine, went to Bywell 
Hall, and dined with Mr. J. G. Atkinson." 

"August 26*A.-Went with Mr. Atkinson to Allenheads, 
calling at Allen Smelt Mills by the way. I had a meeting 
with Mr W. Crawhall in the house he has so long occupied m 
his capacity as resident agent of Allenhead Mines; and a walk 
over the premises was a kind of formality approaching to the 
givin* up of possession, but not quite so, as I most readily 
assented to his remaining a few days longer, on his expressing 

a wish to do so. 

« The books of account and plans were handed over to me 
in the office, when I was made acquainted with the assistants 
and clerks, and may thus be considered as having been formally 
installed into so much of my appointment as relates to East 
and West Allendale, formerly, and up to even recently, m two 
separate agencies, but now combined in one." 

" SeptemberMth.— Accompanied the inspectors of the mines on 
their quarterly examination of the several workings preparatory 
to arranging the prices for new contracts. This underground 
survey is of great interest, as exhibiting the state of the veins 
of lead, or the condition of rocks where levels are being driven 
in non-productive ground, and I made notes and drawings of 
the more prominent indications." 

228 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1845-46. 

" September 27th.- — Among the new occupations to which my 
agency at Allenheads introduces me is that of being considered 
as ' the master of the hounds,' the inhabitants of Upper 
Allendale having been from time immemorial, as it is said, 
fond of hare-hunting as an amusement, and, owing to the 
nature of the country, this amusement is more followed by 
persons on foot than by horsemen ; the latter, indeed, being 
few in number, and the pedestrians being quite a multitude. 

" This was the first ' meet ' since I came to Allenheads, and, 
mounted on an excellent pony, I followed the hounds, and, for 
this day at all events, took an active share in the hunt, and 
in some of the subsequent festivities, as ' master of the hounds.' 
This position was willingly accorded to me, but the efficiency 
and general regulation of the ' hunt ' practically devolved on 
Mr. Steel, with whom it remained until it gradually succumbed 
to a prevailing indifference among the community. Mr. Steel 
was a pedestrian hunter, and a surprisingly active one. It 
was amusing to observe his activity in ' louping ' a dyke, and 
the glee with which he received the annual subscriptions." 

" October ith. — At Allenheads, where I 'let the bargains,' 
as it is termed, for the East Allendale Mines. This was 
followed by a dinner at the inn, at which all the inspectors, 
chief clerks, etc., were usually present, and at which I was 
expected to preside." 

" November 6th. — In London. ' Meeting at Mr. Beaumont's, 
when the new house was determined upon and the scale arranged. 
I dined with Mr. Beaumont.' This is the brief memorandum 
as written at the time in my pocket diary. I had made the 
building of a new house, with spacious garden and ornamental 
ground, the sole condition on which I would accept the agency 
of the W. B. Mines. All other matters, such as amount of 
salary, arrangements as to time of residence, and, in short, all 
other details, I was willing to leave either in the sole disposition 
of Mr. Beaumont, or, at all events, as matters to be considered 
and discussed, but the new house was of the very essence of 
the agreement." 

1845-46.] ST. PAUL'S, KNIGHTSBRIDGE. 229 

In December Mr. Sopwith visited Paris for the first 
time; but seems to have been less interested in that 
remarkable city than one would have expected. He 
returned to Allenheads to close the year, a year which he 
always re-snrveyed with great satisfaction. 


In January 1846, during a visit to London, he makes a 
note on certain reflections which occurred to him after a 
conversation with his friend Mr. Hodgson, at The Elms, 
Hampstead. He is satisfied, from the experience of his 
past life, that a plain and honest and straightforward 
path is the only one that can lead to permanent comfort 
and prosperity. To overcome all influence of prejudice 
and passion, to rise superior to the mere consideration of 
selfish interests, to look with charity and forbearance on 
whatever calls for indulgence, and to promote kindly 
feelings and generous sentiments, — these are objects 
worthy of daily perseverance, and productive of peace 
and happiness in the midst of all the career of business 
and the various and often deceptive fascinations of society. 
It has been truly gratifying, he adds, to find in Mr. Beau- 
mont, and in those who immediately represent him in 
his absence, an entire accordance with those sentiments, 
and a desire to base every proceeding on a firm and 
honourable foundation. 

An entry follows anent a visit to St. Paul's, Knights- 

"February Int.— Sunday. I went to St. Paul's, Wilton 
Place, where Puseyisni reigns in all its glory, and a ringer-post 
' To Rome ' might be appropriately placed in its chancel. This 
is the church of the noble and the great, of Lady Marys and 
Lord Johns, with here and there the crimson waistcoat of a 

2 3 o THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1845-46- 

favoured footman. I never yet in any church found a silver 
key to fail ; and as there appeared in Sunday notices on the 
door something like an unusual attention to details of the 
service, I was resolved to try an experiment here. 

" Several pews close to where I stood had abundant room 
for myself and for one other person standing in the aisle, but 
neither the courtesy of the inmates nor the exertions of the 
vergers were so far extended as to offer the accommodation 
of a seat. 

"Tired with standing, I left this goodly congregation of 
fine raiment and gold rings, enjoyed a most delightful walk 
in the park, had luncheon with the Dean of Westminster 
(Dr. Buckland), and met Mr. Calverly Trevelyan." 

In February of this year (1846) Mr. Sopwith published 
a pamphlet of seventeen pages, entitled " Observations 
addressed to the Miners and Other Workmen employed 
in Mr. Beaumont's Lead-mines in East and West Allen- 
dale and Weardale." The pamphlet opens with the 
announcement of an increase of wages to the miners, 
followed by a suggestion for the formation of a fund for 
the relief of arrears, and by an urgent appeal in favour 
of paying ready money for everything. " Let me," he 
says, " most strongly and affectionately urge this on your 
attention ; consider it well individually, canvass it with 
your friends, weigh it in the balance. If it be found 
wanting in reason, in prudence, in common sense, neglect 
it ; if it appears to you to be reasonable and prudent, act 
upon it ; advise your partners and your friends to act 
upon it ; consider well the differences between the price 
of credit and of ready-money payments. You will 
assuredly find, in many cases, eightpence or ninepence 
ready cash buying as much as a shilling on credit ; that 
for a shilling, paid after a year or half a year's credit, you 
only have got eight or nine pennyworth of goods; whereas 


if yon spend a shilling in ready money, yon get as mnch as 
yon would have to pay one-and-fourpence for on credit. Do 
not consider anyone's interest in this bnt yonr own." Then, 
towards the close, touching on the subject of temperance, 
he adds, " To everyone who has a family, I would venture 
to say, Avoid the alehouse, and study the happiness of 
yourself and family at your own fireside." 

" February 2lst. — In the evening I attended the first soiree 
of the Marquis of Northampton, at his house (adjoining Mr. 
Beaumont's) in Piccadilly Terrace. This assemblage was con- 
sidered to be as numerous and brilliant as any that has been 
held during the Presidency of the noble Marquis. I met a 
great number of highly valued friends, and by going soon after 
nine I had an opportunity of examining the various drawings 
and works of art and science which were exhibited. His Royal 
Highness Prince Albert came soon after ten, and spent some 
time in examining the various attractive objects which the 
tables presented. He especially devoted some fifteen or twenty 
minutes to the inspection of Parsey's air-machine, during 
which time I was at the side of the table opposite to the 
Prince, and had thus the opportunity of seeing and hearing all 
that passed. His inquiries were all of a sensible and intelli- 
gent character, expressed with great suavity and a becoming- 
cheerfulness. The Premier, Sir Robert Peel, arrived about 
eleven, dressed in a Windsor uniform, and appeared in good 
health and spirits. The Dean of Westminster (Dr. Buckland) 
introduced the Dean of Llandaff (Conybeare) to Sir Robert 
Peel ; but Mr. Conybeare thought he said Sir Robert Dean, 
and so the interview passed off as a mere matter-of-course 
introduction to some Oxford baronet, as the Dean of Llandaff 
assumed 'Sir Robert Dean' to be. These two geological 
deans and the scarlet riband and glittering star of Sir 
Roderick Murchison bid fair for the prospects of geology." 

A note on March 6th and 7th introduces us to Faraday. 

232 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1845-46. 

" All the world and his wife went to hear Faraday 
lecture on his new discoveries in electro-magnetism. I went an 
hour too soon, and so called upon him, and spent the interval 
very agreeably with the learned lecturer. The crush to hear 
Faraday outdoes the opera crowd, and the noble President of 
the Royal Society sits to hear the errand-boy of a few years ago 
bring forth the hitherto hidden secrets of Nature. 

" On my return home, I found my friend W. G. Arm- 
strong, of Newcastle. On the following morning, Faraday 
headed a recommendation of Mr. Armstrong to the Royal 
Society, and I accoinjmnied him to Mr. John Taylor, Professor 
Owen, Sir Henry de la Beche, Mr. Phillips, and the Dean of 
Westminster, who all added their names to his recommendation 
paper. It was well said by Faraday, ' What is the Royal 
Society for if not for such men as Armstrong ? ' ' 

On July 14th Mr. Joseph Paxton comes on the scene. 

" Dr. Buckland (now Dean of Westminster) came to my 
house at St. Mary's Terrace, Newcastle, on a visit, and very 
greatly did I enjoy his agreeable society. 

" Much activity prevailed in Newcastle, owing to a flower- 
show and a cattle-show being held this week. Returning 
with some friends from the Cattle Show on Thursday evening, 
they accepted my invitation to take tea at my house. The 
party was a somewhat notable one, comprising the Dean of 
Westminster, Sir James Duke, Mr. George Stephenson, and 
Mr. Paxton (of Chatsworth). A most lively conversation 
occurred ; and I was not a little proud to entertain so many 
men of mark. Mr. Stephenson's humour was to call Mr. 
Paxton ' the Duke,' and Sir James was now and then spoken 
to by his surname of Duke. The servant hearing this, told 
Mrs. S. on her arrival at home that she did not know who all 
the gentlemen were, but that ' two of them were dukes,' an 
array of aristocracy which was alarming in so quiet an 
establishment. But no four dukes in the kingdom could have 

i8 4 5-4 6 -] COMMENCEMENT OF NEW WORK. 233 

equalled the noble aristocracy of talent then assembled in my 
drawing-room. These four persons represent in an eminent 
degree Geology, Engineering, Commerce, and Agriculture. 

" Dr. Buckland left on Friday morning from the station at 
Gateshead, where he introduced me to the Duke of Cambridge, 
with whom I had a short conversation." 

The change of career into which Mr. Sopwith had 
now fully entered led to the necessity for him to have 
a fixed place of business in the metropolis, and in 
November he was in possession of chambers at No. 1, 
Chapel Place. In this month he brought to a close, 
I think with some regret, all his business transactions 
with the Office of Woods and Forests, and therewith we 
may consider that his professional life as an engineer 
in general practice came to an end. 

On his own part he seemed soon to become reconciled 
to his new career ; and as he had stipulated that a house 
should be built for him at Allenheads with gardens 
around it, the whole designed by himself, his constructive 
genius relieved his mind from all regretful reminiscences. 




jETTLED down in his new home at Allenheads, 
but retaining for a time the house at St. 
Mary's Terrace, Newcastle, and moving his 
chambers in London to Chapel Place, the 
life of Mr. Sopwith became, in his new sphere of 
work, very regular, and free of much of the previous 
rapid movement and excitement to which he had been 
accustomed. We find him, however, often coming up 
to London; and in 1847 there are records of a very 
interesting visit in town, with Mr. Robert Chambers 
and other friends as agreeable companions. So the 
year 1847 smoothly glided away. 

In 1848 one or two little episodes are related : one of 
an adventure on February 16th with Mr. W. G. Arm- 
strong and himself in a mine at Allenheads, where the two 
narrowly escaped being pounded into nothing by passing 
through a water-wheel, I had almost said, from one pass- 
age to another. Imagine a dark subterranean cave just 
large enough to hold the machinery of the engine. One 

1847-56.] ROBERT CHAMBERS. 235 

of the attachments is a ponderous beam, which, worked 
by the regular action of a water-wheel, keeps slowly 
moving up and down, both movements completed in 
about ten seconds. The only mode of passing is to creep 
as flatly as possible from one side to the other in the 
short interval of about four seconds when it admits of 
passage. The two gentlemen did it at the impulse of 
the moment, one after another, and thought little of it 
at the time, but a great deal of it afterwards. A more 
pleasant episode is at Melrose Abbey, on May 13th, in 
company of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Chambers and Professor 
Pillans. The " old custodian " gives the party a full 
account of the abbey, got, he tells them, from " Ckammer's 
Jamal." This is in the afternoon. Near midnight 
and in the bright moonlight they returned with Mr. 
Mainzer, a musician, and some of his musical friends. 
Mr. Sopwith was standing close to Robert Chambers 
in the very centre of the abbey, when the deep tones of 
a Gregorian chant broke upon the silence. The effect 
was one of startling novelty and grandeur. Mainzer, a 
proficient in this style of music, had gone to the place of 
the high altar, under the eastern window, and from thence 
his deep and expressive tones floated through the still- 
ness. Chambers listened in astonishment to the end, 
and then exclaimed, " I feel just bathed in poetry. Few 
such moments occur in the journey of life." 

On November 30th Mr. Sopwith and Mr. Uonkin dined 
with the writers of Punch. There was much humour 
and anecdote ; but, none, he thought, excelled his friend 
Donkin, " in wit's worth " at Mr. Punch's table. 

On December 20th of this year Thomas Wentworth 
Beaumont, Esq., the owner of the W. B. Lead-mines, died 
at Bournemouth. " He was," says Mr. Sopwith, " a 
kind employer and generous friend." 

236 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1847-56. 


From January to May 1849 there was a strike of miners. 
According- to quarterly contract, each miner undertook to 
work during the week for forty hours, in five eight-hour 
shifts. It was detected that the men did not work their 
full time, and when remonstrated with they struck work. 
Mr. Sopwith had interviews with them many times, but 
would not make any concession, although he remained on 
friendly terms with them all. They at last voluntarily 
came back to their occupation. One incident he records 
with much pleasure. In settling some wages whilst 
the men were on strike, £5* were paid them in excess 
of what was due, by an accident. The honest fellows 
brought it all back, — a touch of nobility which he never 
failed to honour when on any occasion the subject of 
strikes was under discussion. 

A note on October 17th records the commencement of 
the Elswick Works of the famous Armstrong Company. 
The company consisted of five persons — namely, William 
George Armstrong, his father, Alderman William Arm- 
strong, Alderman Donkin, Richard Lambert, and William 
Crnddace. With a moderate investment from each it 
was determined to commence the works which have since 
grown to such magnificent dimensions. Mr. Sopwith 
could, if he had pleased, have become a partner in 
this wonderful work ; but he had made up his mind 
already that the superintendence of the Allenhead Mines 
should be his future care, and he was not the man to 
change his mind even for this most tempting offer. 

The property had now passed into the possession of 
Mr. Beaumont's son, at the time a minor ; so much the 
more the reason why his own experience should be 
devoted to the important work he had in hand. 



He has a note, dated March 22nd, 1850, relative to 
the great forthcoming Exhibition of the Industries of the 
World; but, curiously enough, the course of the journal 
is broken or lost for several months at this point. A refer- 
ence to the Theatrical Fund dinner, with Mr. Benjamin 
Webster in the chair, is the principal incident named 
in 1850. 


A brief note on April 10th, 1852, conveys an excellent 
notion of Mr. Sopwith's views on the course of life. 

"If it were possible to foresee what will happen, what will 
be important, and what will be insignificant, then of course 
I would concentrate my whole time and attention on that 
which is to happen, and leave all the rest to the oblivion and 
insignificance which fate, or Providence, or the order of events, 
by whatever name it is called, has destined ; but so long as we 
know not the course of future events, it is well that every matter 
in its turn be duly considered, be regularly recorded, and placed 
on such a footing as can be understood and acted upon by 
others if need be. This may be plodding and ' slow ; ' but if 
there is stability placed within our reach, it is only by order 
and method, not by lucky hits, that we can obtain stability." 

In a subsequent entry another line of reflection is 
offered, bearing on the work of juinciples from details. 

" It will, I believe, always be found that the harmonious 
and effective working of any great concern depends on a close 
and constant study of details ; but then such details taken 
separately are of no significance ; it is only when collected into 
groups of general facts and conclusions, and these groups, 
again, compared one with another, so as to present a clear view 
of the whole in its true proportions, that a collected and useful 
comprehension of the whole scheme can be formed. It is, in 

238 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1847-56. 

fact, only that habit of mind which can patiently consider the 
minute operations, and grasp them in large and general views, 
that can rightly understand the whole. No one who has not 
diligently worked in all the three kingdoms of nature with 
the microscope, and grasped the myriads of suns which the 
telescope unfolds, can form a just conception of the wonders of 
the universe ; and so in like manner constant daily and hourly 
observation has the same relation to any succession of events 
that the microscope has to the development of minute structure 
in physical substances. 

"The comprehensive retrospect of many years so occupied 
affords to the mind a certain capacity for forming conclusions ; 
it brings into a focus, as it were, long series of events, of 
which the minuter details are lost, just as we lose all trace of 
minute objects in the view of an extensive landscape from a 
mountain-top. Hence it is that education and intellectual labour 
are indispensable to arrive at any tolerable degree of perfection 
in any department of art and science. It is this and this 
only which can give aptitude for any particular pursuit ; 
and hence the serious errors which arise from what is called 
amateur legislation. Authority to do, without the power fully 
to comprehend the results, may well be said to make angels 
weep ; and yet it is upon this system, in a great measure, that 
the legislative power is conferred on a class peculiarly ill-fitted 
for the acquirement of minute detail and for habits of patient 
investigation. I have had abundant opportunities through 
life of observing how much this holds good both in the 
transactions of public business and the management of large 
properties, and this train of thought is often present to me 
when following the routine of my daily duties." 

At the close of 1852 Mr. Sopwith was a member of 
the Athemeum Club and of the Society of Arts. 

In 1853, a pleasing event of Mr. Sopwith's life was 
a visit, in October, at Inveraray, to the Duke of Argyle, 

1847-56.] DEATH OF MRS. SOP WITH. 239 

for whom lie went to inspect a nickel-mine. The story 
of the visit is delightfully told. 

The year 1854 is of interest from the circumstance 
that it deals with a journey which Mr. Sopwith made 
to Denmark and Norway, in company with Mr. Robert 
Stephenson, Mr. Illingworth, and Mr. Bidder. The 
account of his visit to Copenhagen, and to various other 
places in this tour, is racily told ; but the strain of the 
narrative is most lively in relating all the honours 
heaped on Robert Stephenson, on whom was conferred, 
with great distinction, the Norwegian order of knight- 
hood. Unhappily the pleasure of the visit was marred 
by a message received by Mr. Sopwith at Kiel, on 
September 7th, telling him of the illness of his beloved 
wife, to whom he immediately returned, to find her much 
prostrated, but recovering slowly from a serious illness 
from which she had suffered. 

Mrs. Sopwith recovered considerably from this illness, 
and during the early part of 1855 the usual business 
of my friend progressed with very little change. In 
September, in company with Mr. Robert Stephenson, 
he paid a visit to Paris, in order to see the Great 
Exhibition there, where they both received a very 
hearty welcome. Returning home in the middle of 
September, he resumed the consideration of some pro- 
posed works of considerable magnitude connected with 
the mines; and on Thursday, October 4th, at Holmes Linn, 
he broke ground for a new shaft ; Mrs. Sopwith also 
broke ground for a second, and his daughter Ursula for a 
third shaft, at Sipton Shield, — quite an eventful day in 
mining at Allenheads. 

A few days later, while on a visit at Scarborough, he 
was recalled, owing to a relapse of Mrs. Sopwith. He 
arrived home on October 12th to find her in a very 

2 4 o THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1847-56. 

prostrate condition. Her illness continued to grow more 
serious, and on November the 1st she passed away. The 
narrative of this bereavement, as told in the diary, is 
most affecting. It shows a combination of the tenderest 
sympathy with the most perfect resignation. The loss 
was irreparable ; but with his usual strength of will he 
continued at his labour, and trusted to time as the only 
means of cure. 

In May 1856 he is in London on a visit to Mr. Robert 
Stephenson, and is greatly pleased with a day they spent 
together, on May 29th, at Mr. Henry Stephens', of 
Finchley. Mr. Stephens was himself a very remarkable 
man. He was a fellow-student and friend of John 
Keats, the poet, and, as I have elsewhere related, was 
present when Keats wrote the famous line, " A thing 
of beauty is a joy for ever." On another day he rode on 
horseback with R. S. to Albemarle Villa, Wimbledon, 
the residence of Mr. G-eorge Stephenson, and breakfasted 
with him. On June 7th they went with a distinguished 
company to Greenwich Observatory. 

During this visit to London he had the great pleasure 
of supping with Faraday and his very agreeable circle of 
friends and relations. 

On July (14th) he records as a memorable event a visit 
which he received from Michael Faraday at Allenheads, 
which, as throwing a pencil of light over one of the most dis- 
tinguished Englishmen of any time, must be given in full. 

" Mr. Faraday came about one o'clock, and I was indeed glad 
to receive so distinguished and so truly welcome a visitor. He 
remained until the forenoon of the following day, little more 
than twenty hours in all, and scarcely exceeding twelve hours 
of his company and conversation at Allenheads, with other 
two hours on our way to Haydon Bridge ; but these hours, few 

1847-56.] PROFESSOR FARADAY. 241 

in number, were rich in interest, and I derived from them an 
amount of enjoyment which it would be difficult to describe 
without some appearance of undue partiality or enthusiasm. 

"Those, however, who have been enabled to appreciate the 
world-wide fame of Faraday as a philosopher, or who have 
witnessed the charming simplicity and attractiveness of his 
domestic habits, will readily understand how much I was 
gratified to have the solitudes of a mountain home enlivened 
by so cheerful a friend, and my own imperfect stores of 
knowledge greatly augmented by the conversation of so eminent 
a philosopher. 

" Whenever he finds occasion to enter into communication with 
others, it is done in a manner perfectly free and easy, — a cheerful 
familiarity blended with all-sufficient and graceful reserve. 

" A small black leather bag, carried easily in the hand, would, 
as regards size or weight, have offered to him no impediment 
even to a long pedestrian excursion. ' I will stay and dine,' said 
his note, ' if Miss Sopwith will allow me to do so in a frock-coat.' 
He understands to perfection the art of being perfectly at 
home, and succeeds in placing every other person at ease as 
regards any attention due to himself. His views on this and 
similar matters accord with my own, and I trace with unerring 
certainty the admirable instance of perfect sincerity and a 
clear definition of view, — one of the highest and truest tokens 
of his supremacy as the ' prince of lecturers,' an appellation 
which he well deserves. 

"Nest I may advert to the extreme interest which he takes in 
matters of actual fact connected with the locality. The limits 
of these notes admit only of brief references ; whereas the field, 
and road, and everywhere, as well as ' table ' talk of Faraday is 
suggestive to an extent which might form materials for many 

" The school dra wings and exercises and the general principles 
of education as followed out at Allenheads met his warm 
approval. He was pleased with the office arrangements and with 
the practical results of good education which he there observed. 


242 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1847-56. 

" In the evening we walked and talked — a long walk and a 
long talk — to Byerhope Reservoir, and in the garden. Seated 
at the end of Byerhope Reservoir, the conversation turned on 
subjects which I had at that very place once discussed with 
Robert Stephenson, and it is a pleasing memory ever to 
associate with that spot that it has been the scene of philo- 
sophical disquisitions, in which the minds of Faraday and 
Stephenson were freely opened on some of the most curious and 
wonderful problems which philosophy has ever disclosed. If I 
mention that at this place and on this occasion Faraday un- 
folded in a clear, perspicuous manner his views respecting centres 
of force, the undulations of light, the difficulties surrounding 
the received theory of atoms, and other similar matters, it 
will be readily understood how full of deep and engrossing 
interest such a conversation must have been. In clearness, 
in earnestness, in identity of view, how very closely did this 
conversation remind me of a like interview at this place and 
of a like discussion with Robert Stephenson ; and in companion- 
ship with these, and as connected not with one but with very 
many opportunities of conversation on the like subjects here 
and elsewhere in the Allenheads district, I cannot but place 
the name of my valued friend William George Armstrong, 
who, in addition to general science, has in this district placed 
abiding records of his engineering skill, and is now occupied in 
adding to the number of hydraulic machines which are already 
in operation. Nor do I ever forget that one of the highest 
compliments ever paid by one son of science to another was 
in the instance of Faraday, when I mentioned to him the 
delicacy felt by Armstrong as to his reception into the 
Royal Society. 

" A long and most agreeable conversation in the garden 
was followed by some lively anecdotes and friendly talk over 
the fireside, which even in July has its attractions during 
the long-continued rains and dull weather which marked 
the present (so-called) summer. In this we were joined by 
part of my family circle, and much did we regret that 

1847-56-] FIRST ARMSTRONG GUN 243 

Ursula and Isabella were unable to be present owing to 

" When they returned, Mr. Faraday sat with me in my 
library and looked over some passages in my journals, the 
keeping of which he greatly commended." 

"Juty 15th, 1856.— Pleasant walk with Mr. Faraday in 
Cleugh Plantation, where he admired the romantic combina- 
tions of woods, rocks, and rivulets. 

" We drove to Allendale Smelt Mills, and on our way had 
a long conversation on the construction of the nine miles 
of flues which convey the smoke of the mills to the summit of 
the adjacent mountains. 

" Mr. Faraday (which appellation he said he preferred to 
either Doctor or Professor) was much pleased by his visit to 
the smelt mills, and by a rapid survey of some of the processes 
He greatly admired the straightforward and candid manners 
and willing information of Mr. Steel, whose long-continued 
and very large experience of smelting gives much value to his 
practical opinions. 

" At eleven we proceeded to Haydon Bridge and Hexham, 
where I parted with my much- valued friend. 

" In the course of our conversation he remarked that he had 
seldom known method combined with imagination, and that he 
thought it a remarkably happy constitution of mind to have 
acquired so much method as he had seen evidenced, and at the 
same time to possess a playful fancy and lively imagination. 
But if he is correct in applying this observation to myself, it is 
one which I think is still more applicable to himself, his habits 
of reasoning, his careful and elaborate deductions from long 
and well-conducted experiments, being blended with a peculiarly 
light and happy expression in his general demeanour, whilst 
his general conversation is enriched by variety of anecdotes 
and amusing comments, which are alike diverting to young 
and old." 

On July 25th there is an entry describing the first 
trial of the now famous Armstrong gun. 

244 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1847-56. 

" I returned to Allenheads, and found the gun experiments 
in full activity under the immediate and most energetic direction 
of William George Armstrong. Five out of seven of the shells 
passed through the target at a thousand yards, and three 
successive balls passed through very nearly in a vertical line 
and not many inches apart. The arrangements by which 
the shell is exploded are entirely new contrivances of Mr. 
Armstrong's, and appear to me to be most ingenious and 
effective, — of the latter result we had abundant demonstration." 

The description of the gun is followed by a short history 
of its distinguished inventor. 

" Armstrong's boyhood was a continual study of electricity, 
chemistry, and mechanics. He was articled to be a solicitor. 
His devotion to practical science did not militate against his 
completing his clerkship and becoming a principal in one of 
the first houses in the north of England, — a partner in the 
firm of Donkin, Stable, & Armstrong, — nearly the utmost limit 
to be gained in a provincial town. In my own case the 
carpentry and other business concerns in which a few years of 
my youth were occupied were advanced to as great an extent 
as the case permitted, and I yet retain a principal position in 
what is now one of the largest establishments of the kind in 
the north of England. 

" But the steps by which Armstrong has acquired an 
European reputation and an enduring name, and those by 
which I have attained a position of some significance in 
connection with mining, have been more arduous than most 
young persons are disposed to imagine. We both had to make 
our own way — to fight our own battle in a field where the 
conquerors are few and the vanquished are many. One feeling, 
I think, we have in common, — a strong faith in the power of 
real merit of whatever kind to make its way, and a hearty 
desire to lend a helping hand to any who evince an aptitude 
for the struggle, for such indeed it is." 




)N the year 1856 we find Mr. Sopwitli in what 
may be called the ripeness, not only of his 
years, but of his reputation. He was a 
Fellow of the Royal Society; a member of the 
Athenaeum Club; a Fellow of the Geological Societies of 
England and France ; a member of the Geological Club ; 
a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, and a 
Telford Gold Medallist of that Institution ; a member 
of the Royal Institution, proposed by Faraday ; a member 
of the Royal Geographical Society, of the Pala3ontological 
Society, of the British Association for the Advancement 
of Science, of the Society of Arts, of the Meteorological 
Society of England and Scotland, of the Statistical 
Society of London, and of the Archaeological Institute 
and Archfeological Association. By these bonds of 
fellowship he was connected with general science and 
literature ; geological, mining, engineering, and useful 
arts ; geography, meteorology, and natural history ; and 
statistics, antiquities, and the fine arts. In addition, he 
belonged to many local societies ; and in total was con- 
nected with no less than twenty-six learned institutions. 

In the opening chapters of this work, I referred to the 
first interview I had with Mr. Sopwith at Hartwell House, 

246 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1856. 

in Buckinghamshire, the residence of the learned and 
eccentric Dr. John Lee. As this house is historical, and 
as the scientific visits which annually took place there 
for many years were in their way unique, it may be of 
interest to give from the diary a description of the house 
and of the one visit recorded. 

"September 16th, 1856. — I left Leeds this morning, and 
went by rail vid Tring to Aylesbury, where I found Dr. Lee's 
servant and conveyance waiting to take Captain Fitzroy and 
myself to Hartwell House, where we received a hearty welcome 
from Dr. Lee, and I had the great pleasure of meeting my 
excellent friend Mr. James Glaisher, who introduced me to 
the companion of the latter part of my journey, Captain 
Fitzroy, and to Mr. Perigal, Treasurer of the Meteorological 

" After dinner and music by Mrs. Lee and Mrs. Reade, 
another attraction was presented by the observatory, and by a 
clear atmosphere affording good views of the moon, of Jupiter, 
and of some other celestial objects. 

" The Rev. Mr. Reade furnished a gratifying enjoyment by 
exhibiting several objects in his very excellent microscope, and 
especially some exceedingly small writing : inscriptions cut on 
glass with a diamond, and of a degree of minuteness almost 
surpassing credibility even when seen ; the Lord's Prayer, for 
example, occupying only the two-thousandth part of an area 
of one square inch, which is equivalent to 112,000 words or 
436,000 letters in a square inch. 

"The bedroom which I occupy possesses, in some degree, 
the associations of historical interest for which Hartwell is 
well known in connection with the exile of the royal family of 
France, and their sojourn in this place for seven years. Not 
the least interesting is a blank space in one of the walls 
in shape resembling the pheasants which form a prominent 
feature in the paper. The absent pheasant is said to have 
been cut out by one of the maids of honour as a memento of 

1856.] HARTWELL HOUSE. 247 

' dear Hartwell.' The room next to mine was the Queen's state 
apartment, and a small apartment separated from it by a 
temporary partition has the melancholy interest of being the 
scene of her last moments. 

" The earnest affection and deep lamentation of the King 
for her loss are certainly among the most touching of the 
memorials connected with Hartwell, and they occupy a yet 
higher place as lessons teaching in most expressive eloquence 
the supremacy of Nature and the hollowness of all earthly 

'■'■September 17th. — After meeting a very agreeable party 
at breakfast, we adjourned to the front of the house, and 
were for some time employed in witnessing the photographic 
operations of the Rev. Mr. Lowndes and the Rev. Mr. Reade, 
who arranged our party in a groixp and took a photographic 
picture of the same, with the fine architectural door of Hartwell 
House in the background. 

"Dr. Lee had arranged a programme of occupation in 
Aylesbury, which was exactly carried out ; it included a visit 
to the County Infirmary, the Church, and a miniature observa- 
tory in the premises of Mr. Dell. 

" After luncheon we called at St. John's Lodge, a handsome 
house now occupied by Admiral Smyth and his family." 

"September 18th. — A meeting of the Coxincil of the Meteoro- 
logical Society was held in the library this forenoon. 

" After this meeting Dr. Lee very kindly offered to conduct 
any of the party who were desirous to see the house and its 
rich and varied scientific and literary stores, or to hear some 
details of the historical events connected with the residence of 
Louis XVIII. and his Court. We gladly availed ourselves 
of so good an opportunity ; but the number, variety, and 
extreme interest of objects in almost every apartment is such 
that it was somewhat difficult to concentrate attention upon 
any specific point. 

"To attempt any description of Hartwell would be to 
write a volume, and need not be attempted. The following 

248 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1856. 

memoranda are little more than a copy of rough notes made 
during our inspection, and they may serve as an index to 
connect my own reminiscences with the important and elaborate 
details given in ' yEdes Hartwelliana,' by Admiral Smyth. 

" The mounting of the telescope in the observatory is very 
complete, and the clock by Vulliamy is one of two which he 
made with great care — the other is at Windsor Castle. The 
Equatorial Room possesses many points of interest. The 
telescope formerly belonged to Admiral Smyth at Bedford, 
and was used for the ' Catalogue of Stars and Celestial Cycle ' 
of that accomplished astronomer. The object-glass cost two 
hundred guineas. 

"A large and handsome room is called the Library, but 
indeed the entire house merits the same appellation, as almost 
every room contains a selection of valuable books. This, how- 
ever, is the principal library, and it contains a rich store 
of mathematical and other philosophical works of great value 
for reference. The walls and tables abound with diagrams and 
objects of interest, and I especially admired the busts of two 
most valued friends, distinguished for high intellectual attain- 
ments and moral worth, — Mrs. Somerville and Mrs. Smyth. 

" Dr. Lee pointed out in the chapel a curious Egyptian 
sarcophagus in the form of a richly ornamented square case. 
Here also are a great variety of fossils found in the locality, 
the contiguity of the parish church having led to the disuse 
of the chapel for its original purpose. 

" In a small library lived the Archbishop of Rheims during 
the sojourn of the French exiled Court, and here on Dr. Lee's 
table lay a great many prisms, lenses, and other specimens of 
glass made from Hartwell sand. 

" In another library Louis XVIII. spent the chief portion 
of his time, a small room adjoining it with a passage and 
doorway leading to the garden. In this library he received 
the deputation which came to announce his restoration to the 
throne. He was attended by a single servant, and a sentinel 
or watchman kept a look-out at night. 

1856.] HARTWELL HOUSE. 249 

" Dr. Lee conducted us to the top of the house, from the 
leads of which the views are extremely beautiful. Many traces 
remain of the alteration made during the residence of the 
French King. His retinue and Court together numbered 
about one hundred and forty persons ; they amused themselves 
by forming gardens, and making pigeon-houses on the roof. 

"On the upper floor are several libraries; one contains a 
rich collection of books, a good telescope, formerly belonging 
to Captain Smyth when at Bedford. A small and very plain 
barometer hangs on the wall, indicating the atmospheric 
changes now, as it did in the time of the French King, to 
whom it belonged. The books here are English history, 
Roman histor)', catalogues, works on agriculture, architec- 
ture, etc. 

" In the second library on this floor the books are chiefly 
historical, many of them of great interest and value. 

" The third library is chiefly filled with law books, of which 
Dr. Lee's ancestors, judges and others, had collected a great 
number, and he has made some additions. Dr. Lee kindly 
presented me with two volumes. 

"The fourth with theological works, a curious Swedish 
Bible, and a great variety of sermons and tracts. The fifth 
contains works on geography, biography, and Chinese works. 

" Dr. Lee mentioned a curious anecdote of a French lady, 
who visited Hartwell not long ago, and who had lived with the 
royal party. She had occupied this room, and was accompanied 
by a daughter about twenty years of age, to whom she pointed 
out a corner of this room as the place of her birth. ' Vous y 
futes naquit.' 

" A sixth library on this floor contains, amongst many 
other works, a nearly perfect set of the great French 

" A seventh room contains a complete series of the Times 
newspaper from its commencement in 1809 to the present 
time. The paper was first called The Day, a title which it 
retained from 1809 to 1817. It was then called the New 

2 5 o THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1856. 

Times for two years, and afterwards Morning Journal until 
1830, since which period it has retained its present name of 
The Times. 

" An eighth room contains law and other books, some com- 
piled by former members of the family. In all these rooms 
the books are neatly arranged and in excellent preservation ; 
many of them are of a very valuable description, and it would 
not be difficult to find in each of these separate libraries a 
choice store of reading on any of the respective subjects to 
which the general contents relate, there being a division of 
subjects into theological, legal, and other subjects ; nor is a 
hasty inspection sufficient to do more than give a very vague 
notion of the extent and value of this great collection of books, 
some rooms containing from one to two thousand volumes. 

" The state-room of the Queen is still retained, and ad- 
joining it is the small chamber in which she died. Several 
pictures remain, one of them a good portrait of Louis XVIII. 

" The room which I occupy was the abiding -place of the 
ladies of honour in waiting upon the Queen. 

" Dr. Lee related an anecdote of the Duke de Berri being 
reminded, when in a magnificent suite of apartments in a 
French palace, of his sojourn at Hartwell. ' Ah ! ' said he, 
' I had only one room, but I was very happy in it.' 

" A room originally built as a ball-room was formed into 
no less than thirteen separate apartments for the retinue 
of the French Court, and is now used as a museum. The 
collection is extensive, and well arranged into botanical, 
geological, and other divisions, a rich collection of local 
fossils, and a vast variety of miscellaneous curiosities. The 
Egyptian collection is exceedingly curious and select. 

" In a museum library Dr. Lee showed us several ancient 
charters and admirably preserved MSS. in volumes. Amongst 
these are the original MS. of Dr. Pearson's great work on 
astronomy, and many MS. compositions of the indefatigable 
Admiral Smyth, certainly one of the most arduous veterans of 
scientific research and literature of modern times. 


" A muniment-room is remarkable for its ancient oak 
carving; a picture-gallery; a picture-room, the contents of 
which are varied and extensive, — here is a closet with a 
medical library, which is considered a valuable collection. 

"It would, however, be difficult to follow each particular 
room, and I have not yet noticed the principal apartments on 
the ground floor. My rough notes contain more than I have 
time to enter in these brief memoranda, and in continuation of 
Dr. Lee's explanations I may refer to Room 23 — as we took it 
in order of our visit — as containing a very curious oil-painting 
of a hunt at Colworth, in which the grandfather and grand- 
mother of Dr. Lee appear in the centre of a numerous equestrian 
group. A bookcase is here fitted with Oriental treasures, and 
we saw a fine copy of the Koran. In a closet is a collection 
of books relating to the army and navy. An adjoining room 
contains Egyptian books and Dr. Lee's ' firman ' when travel- 
ling in the East. Another room contains many paintings and 
a medical library. 

"Aylesbury Mechanics' Institution. 
" Dr. Lee takes a very active interest in many of those 
institutions and societies which aim at general ameliorations 
or amendments. Those who have largely studied mankind, or 
who possess acute powers of observation, or who have been 
thrown into opportunities of knowing the inner machinery 
and guiding motives of some of those societies, directed as they 
often are by a few influential minds, must have painfully seen 
and felt that they are by no means free from imperfection in 
design and failure in result ; while on the other side of the 
question there can be no doubt that the great majority of 
members and promoters are really actuated by good inten- 
tions and direct their views to solid and substantial benefits, 
which, however, are more easily aspired after than obtained. 
Mechanics' institutions are especially an illustration of this, 
as- are also a yet higher class of literary and scientific institu- 
tions and public societies. This being the case, it is evident 

252 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1856. 

that such benevolent institutions, however slow in progress or 
attended with imperfection, have in the main a right tendency ; 
and though some of them aim at results which appear difficult if 
not absolutely impossible of attainment, yet they promote some 
approaches thereto which are on the side of temperance and 
mutual improvement. There are two circumstances which 
appear obvious as regards the true use of these societies : one 
is, that to place solid information within their reach is the 
most likely means to displace the influence of mere pretension ; 
and the other, that the patronage and encouragement of persons 
of wealth and local influence as well as of intelligence, when 
bestowed in the form of generous hospitality to the members 
of a mechanics' institution or any similar society (many of 
whom are of the middle or what is sometimes deemed an inferior 
station of life), are calculated to give a right tone and energy 
to then- exertions. 

" The party now at Hart well comprises several who, like 
myself, have fought their way from a position of very moderate 
influence to some approach to usefulness in the world, — some 
who have carried with them a fair share of comfort as regards 
wealth and position, others who are yet striving by well- 
directed efforts to gain the true dignity of self-advancement. 

" The members of a mechanics' institution in a small country 
town like Aylesbury are necessarily of a humble condition as 
compared with aristocratic society, and consist of schoolmasters, 
clerks, and shop-keepers, rather than of working mechanics. 

" It may therefore be readily imagined that to the members 
of such a society an invitation to take tea and spend an 
evening at Hartwell House must afford an agreeable variety 
from the routine of their usual duties, and at the same time 
promote a kind feeling between different classes of society. 
There are some who object to this intermixture of classes in a 
private mansion ; but it accords very closely with my own views 
and sympathies, and is, I believe, calculated to give a healthy 
and vigorous tone to social intercourse. 

" The present occasion was considered by Dr. Lee as fitting 


for such an invitation, and a series of addresses were arranged 
to be given by some of the visitors now residing at the Ball. 
This was very admirably carried out. Mr. Thomas Dobson 
explained a beautiful series of diagrams of atmospheric changes 
during three or four successive years, and their close con- 
nection and correspondence with coal-mine explosions. Dr. 
Richardson exhibited the heart of a young calf, which he 
dissected as he illustrated and explained the machinery of the 
circulation, and detailed at great length the successive steps 
by which he was led to the discovery of ammonia in the blood. 
Dr. Barker spoke on ozone. Mr. Glaisher described a new 
system of self-registering thermometer, and I said a few words 
on improvement societies. 

" Dr. Lee had made a careful programme, and the evening 
was spent most agreeably until about eleven o'clock, when the 
Aylesbury visitors returned home." 

" September 20tk. — On this day Dr. Lee had very kindly 
made arrangements for a party comprising his visitors and 
some of his neighbours to visit the place of the Hampdens 
and of Cromwell, as also to see some of the finest scenery and 
most extensive prospects in this part of the kingdom. About 
six carriages were put in requisition, and I had the pleasure 
of being grouped with Dr. Lee, the Rev. Mr. Reade, and 
Mr. Glaisher. 

" We drove on to Hampden, admiring what Mrs. S. C. Hall 
so well describes as ' tinted woods and uprisings of the 
Chiltern Hills.' We first visited the church, containing some 
monumental memorials of the Hampden family, but no separate 
one dedicated to ' the Hampden ' whose fame gives a sacred 
character to all around. On the feelings of reverence and 
respect created by a visit to this place I might say much, but 
my own views and those of all who can rightly regard the 
value of historical associations are admirably expressed by Mrs. 
S. 0. Hall in her account of 'The Burial-place of John Hampden,' 
in her beautiful book of ' Pilgrimages to English Shrines.' 

" We then visited the mansion, and were received with great 

254 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1856. 

courtesy by Lady Vere Cameron. A photographic view was 
taken of the house by the Rev. Mr. Lowndes, and a group was 
formed as part of the picture,, in which Mrs. Lee, two of the 
daughters of Lady Cameron, Mr. Glaisher, and myself Avere 
included. Her ladyship provided refreshments in the dining- 
room, and we were much gratified by all we saw. We then 
proceeded a distance of two miles to the ' Chequers,' formerly 
the mansion of Cromwell. 

" We returned to Hartwell at six, and I immediately left for 
London, where I arrived at 8.30 p.m." 

It seems to rue but a very brief period indeed since I 
had the pleasure of accompanying my friend in these 
excursions. At this time the 'great moon controversy 
was the topic of the day, the question being whether 
the moon turned on its own axis once each month, or 
whether she did not turn on an axis at all, but simply 
moved liked a rigid body with one face always towards 
us. Mr. Perigal, friend and ally of Jelinger Symons, took 
the rigid side of the question. The Rev. J. B. Reade, 
one of the brightest men of science the Church of England 
ever produced, and Mr. James Glaisher took the opposite 
and orthodox side. The controversies often got wild and 
furious; two or three, including Mr. Dobson, Captain 
Fitzroy, and myself, losing no opportunity of setting the 
combatants on whenever we could, to Dr. Lee's great 
delight. He appointed Sop with umpire, and the sly 
humour which the umpire introduced into the summings 
up was most amusing ; for although he went with 
Glaisher and Reade, he would sometimes, for the amuse- 
ment of the tiling, throw an argument to the other side, 
interposing calculations of his own of the most fanciful 
kind, such as how many moons would be required to 
keep up a perpetual eclipse of the sun ; how a universal 
deluge could be produced in three days by a change in the 


movements of the moon ; what would be the size of the 
inhabitants of the moon if there were any there, and 
what height they could jump ; whether the moon was not 
Liliput, and so on, — topics which gave us amusing subjects 
for discussion from day to day. I was greatly surprised 
at the rapidity with which he learned new mechanical 
things. After my lecture on the heart of the calf, to 
which he has referred above, he asked me to give him a 
private lesson, and got up the whole subject with such 
precision that he could name every valve and part 
straight off ; and when I showed him how the large 
valves rose when water was poured into the cavities his 
delight was great, for he knew of some piece of artificial 
mechanism to which the principle would apply. " You 
see we are both engineers," he added, " I an iron and lead 
engineer, you an animal engineer." 

Photography was just then coming into use, and one 
of our party, the Rev. J. B. Reade, was amongst the 
first, if not the first, to lead the way to that great im- 
provement. The Rev. Charles Lowndes, who held the 
chaplaincy at Hartwell, was great in the new art, and in 
the mornings we photographed everybody and everything. 
I have a capital photo still of Messrs. Glaisher and 
Sopwith sitting together examining a watch. Sometimes 
our fun was a little more lively. One day Mr. Glaisher 
and I had a wrestling match on the top of a hill, greatly 
to the amusement of Captain Fitzroy and Mr. Sopwith ; 
they, so to say, being our seconds, Mr. Sopwith backing 
Glaisher and the Captain me. After a stiff tussle we both 
fell together, and rolled from the top of the hill to the 
bottom, much to the general amusement. Glaisher has 
been up in balloons since then, and I hope he never got 
a worse shaking. He is always a delightful memory. 

At night in the drawing-room, as a variation to Mrs. 

256 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1856. 

Lee's excellent music, Dr. Lee would call upon somebody 
to give a short lecture or tell a story. On one of these 
occasions Mr. Sopwith described the hypothesis of the 
development of living things from a primordial centre. 
That, said Reade, is rank Darwinism. It was the first 
time I had heard that word used. It had no reference to 
Charles Darwin, whose name at that period was not con- 
nected with the subject ; but it had reference to Erasmus 
Darwin, and to his original and fruitful observations. I 
name this incident as indicating that Darwinism, like 
everything else, is itself an evolution. 

I have already described the morning discussion at 
Hartwell in the first chapter, to which these later 
memoranda, suggested by perusal of the Sopwith diary, 
are an appendix. 

On returning home from this visit, Mr. Sopwith sent 
eighty pamphlets and books to Dr. Lee, either for him- 
self or for the Mechanics' Institution at Aylesbury. The 
visit also set him on a new occupation. At Hartwell 
Dr. Lee had a meteorological observatory, the records 
of which were kept with great precision by his able 
secretary, Mr. Samuel Horton. Mr. Sopwith "took 
lessons," and at Allenheads soon commenced to practise 
similar observations, with special reference to rainfall. 
This leads to a note in his diary on the amount of rain 
on Tuesday, September 30th, after a series of continuous 
showers from the previous Saturday. The entry is 
rendered as follows : — 

" September 30f/t. — The rain-gauge on this Tuesday morning 
shows that upwards of five inches of rain have fallen in three 
days, — Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, from 9 a.m. on Saturday 
to the same hour on Tuesday (this day). Conversing with Mr. 
T. J. Bewick on the large quantity of rain, I was led to enter 

1856.] RAINFALL. 257 

on the following calculations, which present a curious view of 
the vast amount of water-power in the quantity which has 

"The exact depth is 5-070 inches, which I call in round 
numbers five inches. 

" There are 27,878,400 square feet in one square mile. 

" Five-twelfths of this will be the number of cubic feet of 
water in one square mile, and this is found to be 11,616,000 
cubic feet. One cubic foot of water weighs 62 \ lb., but 
say 60 lb. Then 11,616,000 x 60 = 696,960,000 lb., which 
amounts to 312,482 tons, or in 100 square miles 31,248,200 
tons of water. 

" For an area of ten miles square in this locality : 100 
square miles, the rain falls on lands which are elevated from 
800 to 2,200 feet in height (this distance not including 
Cross Fell, which is 2,901 feet), and the average descent of 
water from these districts to the outlet by principal contiguous 
rivers, as the Tyne, the Wear, and the Tees, may be taken at 
1,000 feet. 

" Now if 33,000 lb. falling one foot in a minute be taken as 
the estimate of a horse-power, and assuming the above quantity 
to fall 1,000 feet in seventy-two hours, we have an aggregate 
fall of water equal to 4,888 horse-power per minute for one 
square mile, or in the area of 100 square miles 488,800 
horse-power. Taking the mining districts, with Cross Fell 
and the adjacent hills, as including 400 square miles (the area 
assigned in my account of these districts), and calling the 
descent 1,000 feet instead of about 1,500 or 1,600 (which is 
equivalent to allowing only | of the rain), we have an escape 
or running away of a quantity of water equal to 1,955,200, 
or in round numbers 2,000,000, of horse-power exerted 
continuously over the whole seventy-two hours. This is 
equivalent to the united power of 10,000,000 men employed 
at the limit of their extreme strength for nine days at eight 
hours a day. 

" Another mode of bringing this extraordinary quantity 


258 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1856. 

of water under consideration is to suppose it piled up or 
contained in a square pipe of twelve inches clear dimensions 
inside. Such a column twelve inches square would be 220 
miles high to contain the rainfall of five inches over one mile ; 
and in the mining districts of 400 square miles, the quantity 
of water would require a twelve-inch pipe of no less than 
88,000 miles, which is more than one-third of the distance 
from the earth to the moon. 

"As about ten times the above quantity of rain, or fifty inches, 
is a moderate estimate of the annual rainfall in these districts, 
it follows that a twelve-inch square pipe to contain the whole 
rainfall in one year over the 400 square miles would be 
880,000 miles in length ; and in some years— 1852, for example, 
when nearly one-half more rain fell (72 inches)— the length of 
the twelve-inch pipe would be upwards of 1,200,000 (one million 
two hundred thousand) miles. 

" It is only by calculations of this kind that any exact 
notion can be formed of the magnificent scale of the operations 
of nature. Or, if we suppose the last named quantity of water 
to be placed in a canal 100 feet wide and 10 feet deep, the 
length of such canal would be 1,200 miles." 

In the closing part of this year Mr. Armstrong renewed 
his gun experiments at Allenheads, when Mr. Robert 
Stephenson paid a visit there, and Mr. Sopwith, after hav- 
ing retired from the business with which he had been so 
long connected in Newcastle, started on a tour to Egypt, 
then a much more formidable undertaking than at this 
date. He had for his companions Mr. Robert Stephenson 
and Mr. Lee, R.A. On their way through Paris they met 
M. Paletot, the distinguished engineer ; M. Dideon, a 
director of the line of railway between Paris and Bordeaux, 
an accomplished scholar and Shakesperian ; Mr. Locke, 
M.P., Mr. Brassey, and many other eminent friends. 
From Paris they went to Lyons and Nisnies, with 
which they were greatly delighted. From Nismes they 

1856.] TOUR TO EGYPT 259 

travelled to Marseilles, and from Marseilles to Toulon, 
where they went on board the Titania yacht in the 
harbour there. 

On Tuesday, December 2nd, they set sail for Alexandria, 
where they arrived after a delightful voyage on Saturday, 
December 13th. After staying in Alexandria three or 
four days they went by the first " Mussulman Railway " 
to Cairo. 

To Mr. Sopwith this bit of railway journey was one 
of the events of his life ; and his description of the men 
who were engaged on the railway, and the manner in 
which, as in ancient Egypt, they were forced to leave 
their crops and all other works at the call of their task- 
masters is very striking. The mode of work of these 
men, their " cat-like facility and surety," and their 
wonderful powers of endurance were, he thought, sur- 
prizing, for they could compete for a whole day with 
a horse going over thirty or forty miles at a moderate 
speed. The ferry-boat which Robert Stephenson planned 
for crossing the Nile where it is 1,200 feet in width 
is described with great care and admiration. This 
was the first opportunity Mr. Stephenson had enjoyed 
of seeing his work in operation, — a fact which added 
naturally to the freshness of the visit. 




|N landing in England from his Egyptian tour 
on January 22nd, 1857, Mr. Sopwith pro- 
ceeded direct to Allenheads. On February 
26th he revisited London, and dined with 
Sir Roderick Murchison to meet Dr. Livingstone, who 
was then in the metropolis. On the following day, 
with his daughters Anna and Emily, he went to the 
Royal Institution to listen to one of the remarkable 
lectures of Faraday on the Conservation of Force. Prince 
Albert was in the chair, and the lecture was received by 
all with the profoundest attention. 

During this visit to town (on March 2nd) some differ- 
ences of opinion between Mr. Sopwith and Mr. Beaumont 
led Mr. Sopwith to tender his resignation of the agency of 
Allenheads. It was a painful decision for him, tempered, 
however, by the complimentary offer of the Council of 
the British Meteorological Society that he should be 
President of the Society, an offer he was obliged, re- 
luctantly, to decline on account of the distance at which 
he resided from London. 

1 85 7-59-] A RETROSPECT OF 1857. 261 

The difficulties between Mr. Beaumont and himself 
were temporarily made up by his acceptance of the 
office of non-resident agent of the W. B. Mines. On 
August 1st, 1857, he left Allenheads, as he believed, for 
good, and removed to London. Here he took up his resi- 
dence at 43, Cleveland Square, a house furnished, almost 
exclusively, under the immediate management of his 
"dear Ursula." In October he paid a visit to St. 
Leonards, in company with Mr. Decimus Burton, and in 
November of this year had conferred upon him, Honoris 
causa, the degree of M.A. by the University of 

On December 8th, at the Institution of Civil Engineers, 
he read a paper on the Ferry at Kaffre Azzayat, on the 
river Nile. The paper was rather novel at the Society, as 
it infused a little landscape and picturesqueness; but it 
went off well, Sir John Rennie and the beloved Robert 
Stephenson exjn'essing their approval. The isometrical 
drawings with which the paper was illustrated were 
much approved. 

His retrospect of this year, 1857, ends as follows : — 

" On December 29th I spent the forenoon at Millwall at 
the Great Eastern or Leviathan ship, and the afternoon at 
Faraday's lecture, where the Prince of Wales was present. On 
the 30th I had a conversation with Mr. E. J. Smith on matters 
of great concern as regards the Weardale mining districts, and 
on the 31st the evening was spent and the year ended at a most 
agreeable party at Mrs. S. C. Hall's, my return from which 
brought me home about midnight ; and thus I commenced the 
early hours of the New Year in the much-loved company of my 
dear children, all of whom are now sojourning at No. 43 in 
Cleveland Square as residents, with the exception of my son 
Tom, who is on a three weeks' visit for the enjoyment of his 
Christmas holidays. 

262 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1857-59. 

" It is with much interest that I thus draw up a brief 
epitome of some of the more prominent features which have 
marked the events of the past year. 

" The retrospect is one which furnishes abundant food for 
deep reflection, and let me say, for deep and lasting gratitude. 
Of my own weakness and infirmity I am too conscious not to 
know and feel that in the ordering of events by the unseen and 
mysterious Providence which guides and governs the world I 
have been permitted during the past year to possess privileges 
and to enjoy benefits to which, as of my own merit, I could lay 
no claim, and which therefore I ascribe entirely with devout 
gratitude to the undeserved bounty of the Giver of all good. 
I care not how others may choose to express the sentiments 
they feel in connection with what may be deemed a religious 
view of life ; I purposely abstain from all save general expres- 
sions, and I honour and respect every variety of form in which 
sincere feeling is clothed. That clothing depends much on the 
conditions of early ti'aining, on long-continued habits and asso- 
ciations, and I therefore deem it important not to interfere or 
comment with reference to special views on sectarian differences. 

" That ' the goodness of God endureth yet daily ' is one of the 
chief articles of my belief, as it also is the strongest pillar of an 
unfaltering trust in God, and a confidence in the wisdom and 
goodness of the government of the world, however deep and 
mysterious the apparent contradictions may be. A year of 
perfect health, of reasonable prosperity, of great variety of 
scenery and occupation, and blessed with overflowing abundance 
of the rich treasures of valued friendship ; what broad outlines 
are these of as much felicity as can be reasonably desired ! My 
change of residence from Allenheads to London has been one of 
the marked conditions of the year, and this change has led me 
into a new range of duty and a wider sphere of enjoyment. 
The circumstances which gave rise to it led to some anxiety, but 
on the whole I am inclined to believe that friendship and con- 
fidence, as between Mr. Beaumont and myself, have been placed 
on a firmer basis than before. 

1 857-59.] MARRIAGE TO MISS POTTER. 263 

" The magnitude, the number, and the great variety of my 
duties connected with his service occupy my whole time and 
attention, and I have declined all other business. 

" I have received in very many quarters the most earnest 
and friendly sympathy and regard, and in concluding the notes 
of this year I desire to express, as I have often before done, a 
sense of deep and fervent gratitude, mixed with a conscious- 
ness of my own inability, yet with a humble and hearty trust 
in the unfailing goodness of God." 

The year 1858 seems to have gone on very smoothly. 
On June 9th Mr. Sopwith gave a lecture to the students 
of King's College on geological plans, sections, and 
models, and on the following day he was gratified by a 
visit from George Coombe, the author of " The Con- 
stitution of Man." On the 19th he was at luncheon at 
Mr. Robert Stephenson's to meet Professor Wheatstone 
and Frank and Miss Buckland, both of whom were now 
lamenting the death of their distinguished father, the 
Dean of Westminster. On this occasion Frank Buckland 
gave him a Memoir he had written of the Dean for 
perusal. On July 24th he was at dinner at Sir James 
Duke's to meet Mr. Alderman Mechi, " well known in 
connection with his agricultural improvements in ex- 
perimental farming at Tiptree." On August 25th he 
was busy at a meeting of mechanical engineers at New- 
castle. On September 22nd to the 27th he was equally 
busy at Leeds at the British Association for the Ad- 
vancement of Science, and on September 29th Mr. W. 
G. Armstrong, of Newcastle, took him in his brougham 
to St. Nicholas' Church, where he was married to Miss 
Anne Potter, of Heaton, by the Vicar of Newcastle ; 
after which the bride and bridegroom started for Lincoln 
on their wedding tour. 

264 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1857-59. 

In the diary of 1859 a valuable entry gives us an idea 
of the quick, keen and sound appreciation of natural 
facts by Mr. W. Gr. Armstrong. 

'•'■January 30th. — I spent the evening with Mr. W. G. 
Armstrong at Jesmond. I was truly glad to learn that the 
Government, in due appreciation of Mr. Armstrong's services, 
have given him an appointment to be ' Engineer of Rifled 
Ordnance ' with a handsome salary, together with a large 
order for guns, and offers of personal honours which are 
well deserved, and which mark the favour of the Sovereign 
as well as the approval of her Government. In all this 
I sincerely rejoice. I have had many opportunities of 
witnessing his devotion to Science, and his marvellous apti- 
tude in adapting the power of natural forces to any 
required mechanical purpose. I accompanied him on his 
first visit to and examination of the boder at Seghill, where 
the curious phenomenon of electricity developed by steam was 
discovered by one of the workmen, and made by Armstrong the 
foundation of his rapid and brilliant researches, ending in the 
construction of the well-known electrical steam-engine. 

"At Gateshead, in 1840, I witnessed some of the earliest 
experiments with a hydraulic engine, and both in London, at 
Allenheads, and Newcastle have again and again been delighted 
by his extraordinary powers, as may be seen in many former 
pages of this journal. Speaking this evening of 'tails,' i.e., 
distinctive letters after a name, he jokingly said that he valued 
none more highly than M.D., which he thought he might 
assume as an abbreviation of the title bestowed on him by an 
Allendale miner of ' Maister o' th' Drallikers,' by which was 
implied his mastership of the men employed in putting up the 
hydraulic engines which are not among the least of his 
eminently practical and scientific works." 

The honours soon followed, knighthood being conferred 


on Mr. Armstrong about the 20th of the succeeding 
month; and on May 11th there is a brief record of a 
dinner to Sir William in memory of the event. The 
dinner was given at the Assembly Rooms, Newcastle. 
Sir George Grey occupied the chair, and Mr. Robert 
Stephenson, many other notabilities, and about two 
hundred local gentlemen took part in the ceremony. 

On May 12th there is a curious entry of an interview 
which Mr. Sopwith and Robert Stephenson held as 
railway travellers from York to Doncaster with George 
Hudson, the famous railway king. Hudson at this 
time had lost both wealth and power, and had just been 
dispossessed of his seat for Sunderland. Towards him 
Mr. Sopwith was affected in a twofold sense. He could 
not withhold sympathy with the man in his misfortunes, 
and he could not doubt that those misfortunes were the 
natural results of his own lines of procedure. 

A visit to the Isle of Wight, visits to the Birkbeck 
Schools, a lecture at King's College, and continual active 
business between London and Allenheads, made the days 
go very pleasantly in the early part of 1859. In this year 
an arrangement was made by which Mr. Thomas Sopwith, 
Mr. Sopwith's son, commenced to undertake duties at 
Allenheads under Mr. Bewick, who was now practically 
acting as agent. The arrangement was very satisfactory. 

In the diary of August 21st, 1859, there is an abstract of 
his views on the subject of taxation as the basis of voting. 

"August 21st.— In the evening I dined with Mr. and Lady 
Margaret Beaumont, the Duke de Richelieu, the Countess of 
Cork, and Sir John Shelley. In the drawing-room the conversa- 
tion turned on the ballot, which I contend would be rejected if its 
essential principle of secrecy admitted of being made compulsory. 
This public duty I consider should be performed in a public 

266 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1857-59. 

manner by those most competent to understand its obligations. 
I also named my opinion that taxation is the proper basis in 
proportional value according to the number of pounds sterling- 
paid for taxes, rates, or other similar contributions. Every man, 
and even every woman and child, might thus contribute and be 
enabled to assist, to the proportional value of their payments, 
any candidate for the representation. Due influence would 
thus be given to intelligence and solid interests as represented 
by the more opulent members of the community, who would be 
utterly swamped in any system of equal voting and universal 
suffrage. This theory finds small favour with Sir John Shelley, 
who has not yet joined the ranks of what are called ' retarded ' 
Liberals, men who, in practice, are not far apart from the 
' advanced ' Conservatives. It is, however — I am persuaded, 
that it is — only on some such basis that a large extension of 
voting power can be combined with stability." 

Another entry on September 6tli refers to an important 
improvement in the construction of submarine cables. 

"I dined with Mr. Sillick at Claremont Place to meet 
Mr. William Hooper of London, with whom I have had 
occasional interviews and some correspondence on a recent 
improvement he considers himself to have effected in the 
insulation by india-rubber of electric wire for submarine 
cables, and which, so far as I can judge, appears to possess 
undoubted claims to great consideration. It is worthy of 
notice, as an index to the large character of some of the modern 
works of ingenuity, that the average quantity of cable used per 
week by one firm (Messrs. Newall & Co.) is about one hundred 
miles, the cost of which at a minimum may be about £8,000, or 
more than £400,000 yearly." 

A note on September 18th, 1859, relates to the death 
of the distinguished I. K. Brunei. 

"September 18th. — On Wednesday last I heard mentioned the 
serious illness of Mr. I. K. Brunei, who died on the following 

1857-59- ] DEATH OF I. K. BRUNEL. 267 

evening, Thursday, September 14th. He was brought home 
from the Great Eastern steamship at midday on the 5th in a 
very alarming condition, having been seized with paralysis, 
induced, it was believed, by over mental anxiety, froni which 
his health had materially suffered for some years past. Brunei 
occupied day and night alike in continual and earnest mental 
exertion, and thus his death took place at the comparatively 
early age of fifty-four. He has for many years occupied a very 
prominent and influential position as an engineer, placed by 
some at the head of the profession, but not so recognised either 
by the public, or by the profession ; but all who for the past 
thirty years have known intimately the progress of civil en- 
gineering in this country, will remember Telford as the chief 
head and representative of an old school which expired with 
him and the two Stephensons, father and son ; and Brunei 
as the leader of a new and vastly extended school of which 
railways and locomotive engines have been the great features, 
with their concomitants of tunnels, bridges, telegraphs, and 
steam navigation. At the present time hydraulic machinery 
and gunnery have assumed a prominent place, and no name 
in 1859 is more extensively recognised than that of Armstrong. 
The associations of the present moment are seldom much thought 
of, and still seldomer deemed worthy of being recorded, but 
in after years it may be curious to remember that the illness of 
Brunei was the subject of conversation at Armstrong's dinner 
table, and his death took place at the very hour when my friends 
and myself were separating after spending the evening at 
Jesmond. Constant occupation and anxiety seem at present to 
be telling upon Armstrong's health, which I fear is far less 
robust than was Brunei's a few years ago ; and on every side I 
see examples of premature decay and death, induced by undue 
pressure of mental exertion." 

On October 12th is a still more sad entry made at 

^October 12th. — At ten minutes past twelve the world lost 

268 THOMAS SOP WITH, P.R.S. [1857-59. 

Robert Stephenson. Of this sad, but not unexpected, event I 
did not receive intelligence until the arrival of my letters the 
following morning. I went to Bretton Hall, and was engaged 
some time with Mr. Beaumont on business matters. There 
was a large party to dinner, amongst whom were the Earl of 
Sefton, Lady Mary Fox, and others. 

" October VMh. — This morning's post brought me a letter from 
my dear Lallah. It conveyed the sad news already mentioned, 
that Mr. Robert Stephenson was no more. When the intelli- 
gence reached Newcastle universal sorrow prevailed. The bell 
of St. Nicholas' Church tolled for a long time during the after- 
noon, and the colours of vessels of all nations in the Tyne were 
hoisted half-mast high. Mr. Beaumont, with generous sym- 
pathy, left me for a short time, and I deeply felt how great 
a loss I had sustained in the death of so revered a friend. 
Controlling those feelings, I went into the consideration of 
such urgent matters as admitted not of delay, and was thus 
enabled to leave Bretton at noon, and to arrive at home at six 
in the evening. 

"October 14th. — I called at 34, Gloucester Square, where I saw 
Mr. George Vaughan, and learnt from him some interesting 
and affecting details of the illness and death of our mutual and 
greatly beloved friend. It is within a clay or two of one month 
since Brunei died, and since Stephenson returned, seriously ill, 
from Norway. The latter had suffered much from illness and 
sea-sickness on his outward voyage to Christiania, where also he 
was much indisposed, but was nevertheless able to attend to 
the decision of some weighty matters of business left in his 
sole arbitration. Some apprehensions were entertained on his 
return as to whether he would survive the voyage, and on 
reaching Lowestoft he had to be lifted into his carriage. He 
suffered little pain, was visited only by his medical attendants 
and nurses, and was, for the most part, and especially during 
the two days preceding his death, calm, composed, perfectly 
conscious of, and fully resigned to, his approaching dissolution. 

" He was much interested in passages of Scripture read to 


him by Mrs. Bidder, who attended him with affectionate and 
unremitting care, and his own prayers were described to me as 
having been most impressive and appropriate, as well as con- 
sistent with those deep sentiments to which, in the vigour of 
health and strength, he had so often given expression. At the 
moment of his death he was resting in the arms of his house- 
keeper, in whose arms his wife had breathed her last. Such, at 
least, are some of the circumstances, as I understand them to 
be, described by Mr. Vaughan, who is now placed in charge 
of the house by Mr. George Robert Stephenson. I need 
scarcely say how deeply interesting is every incident connected 
with the last moments of so truly great a man. 

" Every letter I receive is full of corresponding eulogium, and 
I this evening received one of which this may be truly said. It 
is a letter from one whose opinions are as sound as his feelings 
are deep and earnest— the biographer of George Stephenson. 
In this communication he so well portrays the more prominent 
features of the case that I transcribe it at length as follows :— 
"It is dated this day, October 17th, 1859, from 6, Granville 
Park Terrace, Blackheath, S.E., and thus proceeds :— 

" ' My dear Sik, — 

" < I was much grieved to hear of Mr. Robert Stephenson's 
dangerous illness, and soon after of his death. I was informed 
at his office that his medical advisers required him to be kept 
perfectly quiet, otherwise I should have endeavoured to see 
him once more before he died. But perhaps it is better not, as 
I shall continue to see him before me, and to think of him with 
his fine, cheerful, frank, and open countenance as he used to 
appear among his friends, and not wasted by disease nor dis- 
torted by dropsy. Although he has died young, comparatively 
speaking, he had lived much ; and the works he has left behind 
him, massive and majestic beyond precedent, are grandly 
stamped with power, the Britannia and High Level Bridges 
especially so. There may not have been the same interesting 
originality about him as there was about his father, for he 

270 THOMAS SOP WITH, P.P.S. [1857-59 

represented the highest educated and polished intellect of his 
day ; but there was quite as much force of character and 
energy of purpose. And then, what a noble, gentlemanly 
nature he was ; so modest, so kind, so considerate, so generous. 
I have heard of many beautiful traits of character in Robert 
Stephenson which make me rank him even higher as a man 
than as an engineer, though there he was the first, the acknow- 
ledged chief. 

" ' I shall be exceedingly glad to have an opportunity of 
renewing the intercourse with you which began so pleasantly 
at Mr. Stephenson's table ; and I shall esteem you all the more 
that I know he entertained so high an opinion of your qualities 
as a man and your accomplishments as a pursuer of science. 
" ' Believe me, my dear sir, 

" ' Yours truly and sincerely, 

"'S. Smiles.' 

" < T. Sopwith, Esq.' " 

A further entry describes the funeral of the great 

" Arrangements for Mr. E. Stephenson's Funeral. 

" The arrangements of the funeral are of a most extensive 
and delicate character. The Duke of Cambridge has given 
permission for the procession to pass through Hyde Park on its 
way to the Abbey ; more than two hundred and fifty applica- 
tions from the nobility and others to send carriages have been 
declined, and the cards of admission exceed two thousand, in 
addition to the parties forming the funeral procession. The 
latter are confined to the immediate relations, some friends, and 
several noblemen and persons of official rank and station, and 
a deputation from Newcastle to represent the Corporation. 

"October 21st. — Sir William Armstrong came to breakfast, and 
we had a very long and careful conversation on the Slitt Mine 
requirements. We walked soon after ten past the residence of 


the late Robert Stephenson. As we were passing, the hearse 
was moving from the door, a large crowd was assembled, and 
about a dozen mourning coaches and forty carriages were in 
attendance. I drove with Sir William to Great George Street, 
when he went to join the Council of Civil Engineers, and I 
reached the Abbey a few minutes before eleven. A large 
number of persons were already assembled, and I took a place 
beside Mr. Decimus Burton, close to the entrance to the Choir. 
From this time until twelve the numbers were greatly aug- 
mented. Men of every profession, many of them of the most 
distinguished rank in their respective walks, were to be seen. 
Every art and science was thus represented ; and it would 
be difficult to imagine a crowd composed of more intelligent 
and well-known characters. On every face sincere grief and 
marked respect, nay, reverence, seemed to be impressed ; and at 
length, a few minutes after twelve o'clock, the solemn pealing 
of the organ, the chanting of the choristers, and the deep-toned 
funeral bell, indicated the arrival of the funeral procession. 
What a moment of intense interest was it when first the 
stream of music flowed through the vast aisles, and the majestic 
tones of the organ were reverberated from the lofty roof. 
Slowly onward came this most impressive and awe-inspiring- 
melody. It seemed the very essence of the beauty of holiness, 
and well accorded with the import of the words to which so 
powerful and impressive an expression was given. The 
choristers, preceded by some of the officials of the Abbey, 
walked slowly past, then came the mayor and sheriff and two 
aldermen from Newcastle, who, in official costume, walked in 
front of the coffin. Mourners, many and sincere, followed, and 
the Burial Service was continued in the Choir. The chanting of 
the thirty-ninth Psalm was most solemn, and so indeed was 
all the musical service, the sublime anthems and the Bead 
March exceedingly so. The words as well as the music were 
most impressive. Of Robert Stephenson it was truly to be 
said that he delivered the poor that cried, the needy, and 
he that had no helper. Equally true and solemn were the 

272 THOMAS SOPJVITH, F.R.S. [1857-59. 

words of the concluding anthem, ' His body is buried in peace, 
but his name liveth evermore.' 

" At the same time that these sad ceremonials were taking 
place in Westminster Abbey, similar respect to the memory of 
Robert Stephenson was paid in many other places, and especially 
at Newcastle and Shields, Sunderland and Whitby. In the for- 
mer of these towns divine service was celebrated in St. Nicholas' 
Church, and attended by about 1,600 men from the factory, all 
in deep mourning. This deep manifestation of public honours 
was made before any intelligence arrived of the munificent 
benefactions given to the Infirmary and Literary and Philo- 
sophical Society, the one of £10,000, the other of £7,000, which, 
with a recently given gift of £3,000, makes £10,000 also to the 
last-named institution. 

On December 23rd Mr. Sopwith attended at the 
Society of Arts in London a meeting of the Committee 
on the subject of a Normal Diapason. 

The great need of uniformity on this subject having 
been affirmed by the general meeting held in August 
last, a sub-committee was then appointed, and this was 
its first meeting. The duty assigned to it was the defini- 
tion of such diapason. Several eminent musical men were 
present, as Sterndale Bennett, Blagrove, Goss, Goldsmidt, 
Davison, and Hullah who presided. 

The present prevailing pitch was defined, and in 
moving a second resolution Mr. Sopwith affirmed that 
in selecting any uniform pitch regard should be especially 
had to the capability of the voice, and this after some 
discussion was carried. That any compulsory uniformity 
could be effected was out of the question ; much differ- 
ence of opinion prevailed, and eminent instrumental 
manufacturers and performers viewed the matter with 
regard to the brilliancy of concert effects from the 
high pitch at present in use, rather than in regard to 

1 857-59.] A LONDON MUSIC HALL. 273 

the strain on the voice which is thereby caused, and of 
which Madame Goldsmidt (the far-famed Jenny Lind) 
had given strong testimony at a previous meeting. 

On December 28th there is an entry on a new London 
music hall. 

" This evening I walked with my son Tom to Canterbury 
Hall. It is very rarely indeed that I visit any place of public 
amusement as such, and my object this evening was rather to 
study a problem of social economics than to seek any enjoyment. 
When in Paris, Marseilles, and other towns in France, I had 
been much interested by seeing the entertainments provided in 
what may be called the singing coffee-house (cafe chantant), and 
Canterbury Hall being of this character, I was anxious to see 
how it was managed. This place is truly one of the signs of 
the times, and merits more than a brief mention. There are 
many similar establishments in London, but this, the earliest, 
is also, so far as I know, the best. 

" We enter the door of Canterbury Hall, — so called, I pre- 
sume, from its close proximity to Lambeth Palace, — we pay 
sixpence for admission each, and at once enter a sort of spacious 
vestibule ornamented with some large oil-paintings, pier-glasses, 
and with a rich array of refreshments of various kinds on a 
stall or table of considerable length. Open archways in one of 
the walls enable us to see that the ground floor of the ' hall ' 
is crowded; the balcony above is well filled, and by payino- 
an extra sixpence we gain admission to this narrow gallery, 
running round three sides of the room. Here we can see the 
proportions of a stately room painted a light stone colour, and 
of very chaste and ornamental design. The general effect is 
exceedingly good, and for purity of style and elegance of 
architectural character the Hall might be a portion of a palace. 
It is brilliantly lighted by glass chandeliers of uncommon 
magnificence and beauty. Refreshments are supplied of good 
quality, and at moderate prices, according to a printed tariff. 


274 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1857-59. 

Thus artisans, soldiers, small tradesmen, and others in a similar 
walk of life can spend the whole evening for a moderate 
admission fee of sixpence, taking more or less of refreshments, 
or if so disposed, none at all. A constant succession of per- 
formances takes place on the stage, chiefly songs with accom- 
paniments, recitations, dancing, etc. A book of words is sold for 
a penny; it contains fifty-five selections from operas. All is in 
good order and in good taste. The whole might pass for an 
aristocratical concert, but for the pipes on the ground floor 
and cigars above, which sorely test the admirable ventilating 
qualities of the room. 

" Leaving the crowded hall, we pass into a splendid picture 
gallery, well lighted, and containing two hundred and forty 
pictures. Among them is the original Horse Fair of Rosa 

Turning to another and very different topic, there is a 
short commentary on Faraday. 

Everything relating to Faraday had a special charm 
for Mr. Sopwith, but nothing in relation to the philosopher 
pleased him so much as the truly childish simplicity and 
purity of that charming and philosophic life. " I do not 
know which I admired most in Faraday," he said to me, 
" his simplicity or his profundity. There will never be 
another Faraday in our time." We all know the truth 
of this prediction, and that the mantle of Faraday was 
buried with the man. But perhaps my friend was right 
in saying that his simplicity was as conspicuous as his 
profundity. He goes on to speak of something illustrative 
of this in a note at the close of the year 1859, bearing 
upon one of the juvenile lectures which the brilliant 
Professor was accustomed to deliver annually at the 
Royal Institution. On the last day of the year the first 
of one of these courses of six lectures was delivered. The 
subject of the lecture was " The Forces of Matter." Mr. 

1857-59-] SUMMARY OF 1859. 275 

Sopwitli arrived about fifteen minutes before three p.m., 
and found the room so crowded he had to sit down on 
one of the steps. As the clock struck the hour the 
lecturer appeared, welcomed by general and sincere 
applause. A few graceful sentences of explanation and 
apology for having been obliged by indisposition to 
postpone the lecture from the 27th were followed for 
an hour by a plain and purposely elementary series of 
illustrations bearing on those phenomena of gravitation 
which are wonderful when made subjects of contemplation, 
but which, like all the vast and magnificent arrangements 
common to constant observation, we are but too apt to 
pass unheeded by. 


In the summary of this year, 1859, Mr. Sop with enters 
into a general epitome of the chief occupations and events 
which came across his path and occupied his time. It 
is a cheery little record. He rejoices in buoyancy of 
health, in the enjoyment of as much of domestic com- 
fort as can reasonably be expected, in the affection and 
solicitude for his happiness which his " dear Anne " has 
evinced in every possible way, and in the love of all his 
children. He has been a great deal from home with 
work divided between London and the North, and has 
found his chief enjoyment in close attention to duties, 
with consciousness of many imperfections from inevitable 
want of power, and with some anxieties and distress — 
shades of doubt and difficulty — which, like clouds, seem 
to have passed away. 




N the year 1860 events ran on in the usual 
course, unbroken by anything special until 
February 22nd, when Mr. Sopwith com- 
menced to take an active part in the 
organisation of the great Exhibition to be held in 
London in the year of 1862. 

In company with a deputation, although he was un- 
well, he waited on the Prince Consort at Buckingham 
Palace, to explain the views of the Society of Arts in 
regard to the Exhibition. Sir Thomas Phillips acted 
as spokesman, and many points of organisation were 
agreeably discussed. 

In the early part of June Mr. Sopwith resumed his 
residence at Allenheads, by a new arrangement made 
with Mr. Beaumont. He does not seem to have relished 
much the change from London life, for London to him 
was ever a centre of attraction. On May 21st he was 
again in London, and on the 22nd was in attendance at 
the funeral of Sir Charles Barry, who was buried in 
Westminster Abbey, close by Telford and Stephenson. 

1860-61.] MR. DISRAELI. 2;? 

On the 27th he paid a visit to Mr. Babbage, at the 
well-known house in Manchester Street, and found that 
learned man occupied in some analytical amusements, 
one of them being the solution of an anagram. « I tore 
ten Persian MSS." into "Misrepresentations." 

This was a favourite amusement with Babbage. He 
once gave an anagram to me after I had benumbed, 
by local anesthesia, one of his teeth, that Mr. Matthews, 
the dentist, might extract it painlessly. I think it was 
the very same anagram. 

On June 22nd 1 find a note relating to a dinner at 
which Mr. Sopwith met Mr. Disraeli. He adds a note 
relating to the oratory of the distinguished statesman. 

^ "June 22nd, I860.— I dined with the Society of Arts at 
St. James's Hall, Benjamin Disraeli, Esq., in the chair. He 
spoke at great length on the origin of the Society above a 
century ago, of the then state of the world, of subsequent 
decline and decay until fourteen or fifteen years ago, of the 
revival caused by attention to manufactures and commerce of 
the Exhibition of 1862, and of examinations in country institu- 
tions. On all these and similar topics he spoke well and in 
great clearness of detail ; but I was particularly struck by the 
repetition not only of subjects but words, so much so that it 
appeared to others as well as myself to have been a tale thrice 

In the course of this year Mr. Sopwith occupied his 
leisure in encouraging the Allenheads Rifle Volunteers, 
of which corps he had been one of the founders. He 
also projected a series of Meteorological Coast Stations, 
an organisation which has proved of the greatest possible 
value. On September 22nd and 26th the following notes 
occur on this last-named subject: — 

" September 22nd.— Occupied all day chiefly at the office, and 

278 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1860-61. 

occasionally with Mr. Glaisher, in the consideration of various 
meteorological details, and conversation. Mr. Glaisher has been 
unwell for the past two days. I obtained from him an account 
of all his operations, and prepared in a tabular form a statement 
of the various stations, of the instruments placed at them, and 
of the names of the several observers. The following is an 
epitome of the same : — 

1. North Shields, barometer, thermometer, and rain-gauge. 

2. Tynemouth, ditto, ditto. 

3. Cullercoats, ditto, ditto. 

4. Newbiggin, ditto, ditto. 

5. Hauxley, ditto, ditto. 

6. Amble, ditto, ditto. 

7. Alnmouth, ditto, ditto. 

8. Alnwick, thermometer and rain-gauge. 

9. Boulmer, ditto, ditto. 

10. Craster, barometer, thermometer, and rain-gauge. 

11. Newton, ditto, ditto. 

12. Beardnell, ditto, ditto. 

13. North Sunderland, ditto, ditto. 

14. Holy Island, ditto, ditto. 

15. Spittal, barometer. 

16. Berwick-on-Tweed, barometer, thermometer, and rain-gauge. 

" September 26th. — I wrote a draft report on the North- 
umberland coast stations, embodying the general results of 
Mr. Glaisher's recent operations in that (meteorological) 

" The following are extracts from this report, which I reduced 
to the form of a letter to Frederick Holland, Esq., for the infor- 
mation of the Duke of Northumberland. In copying some 
portions of this letter, I do so under distinct headings, which 
are not inserted in the original, in order more readily to refer 
to them, as well as to direct attention to the subject of each. 

" I. Mr. Glaisher's Valuable Aid. 

" This successful progress is almost entirely owing to the 
services of Mr. Glaisher having been most promptly and 


willingly rendered, not only in studying the best modes of 
construction for the instruments and the requisite forms for 
registration, but also by having at several interviews with me 
in London, and for upwards of a fortnight in Northumberland, 
devoted his time and his whole energies to the carrying out of 
this useful work. 

" Mr. Glaisher's great skill and untiring zeal have, I am con- 
vinced, conferred very great benefits on science in general, as 
well as upon the local interests more immediately concerned. 

" II. Instruments. 

" The barometers have been purposely planned by Mr. 
Glaisher, so as to be plain, strong, easily read, not easily 
injured, and as moderate in price as is consistent with the care 
and skill required ; the makers, Negretti and Zambra, are well 
known for the accuracy and excellence of their work. 

" The Duke of Northumberland has been very desirous that 
the instruments used should be strong, very plain, not easily 
damaged in moving, and without any but the most plain and 
practical indications, as also that they should in every instance 
have been examined by Mr. Glaisher. 

" III. Co-operation op Others. 

" At Berwick we received every kindness from the Rev. G. 
W. Hamilton, the vicar of that town, as also from the Rev. 
Messrs. Irwin and Durham, and from Mr. Alex. Lowrey. 
To Captain Popplewill also our thanks are especially due for 
the very kind interest he has taken in the subject, and which 
has conduced most materially to its success. The Mayor of 
Tynemouth has, from the first mention of the subject, taken 
a most lively interest in it. The Tyneside Naturalists' Field 
Club, and the active secretary of that society, Mr. Mennell, 
have most cordially united in giving their friendly aid, and 
also subscriptions from some of their members. 

" The present operations as commenced in Northumberland 
appear likely to result in an extensive adoption of them in 

280 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [i 860-61. 

various parts of England, as examples of which I send copies 
of a letter from Suffolk, and of my letter to the winter of it, 
who dates on the 20th and 21st inst. A similar application 
reached Mr. Glaisher from Torquay, for the express purpose 
of aiding the fishermen there. 

"IV. The Fishermen. 

" But most of all is it gratifying to be able to state that 
the fishermen generally along the coast have shown not only 
a friendly reception of the instruments, but an intelligent 
appreciation of their use, and I am glad to say that these 
were evinced by expressions of gratitude and respect which I 
believe to have been truly honest and sincere. 

" V. Printed Forms. 

" The requisite printed forms are in progress ; they are of so 
plain and simple arrangement as to admit of being much more 
easily attended to than the usual registry of observations pre- 
pared for the Meteorological Society, which are adapted for 
more minute details than it would be either useful or reason- 
able to expect from gratuitous observers on the coast. 

" VI. Indicators. 

" Mr. Buddie, the joiner, is making other two forms of 
indicators in conformity with the wish of Captain Washington. 
The cost of these, and also of the indicator removed from High 
House, will be met by the Admiralty. 

" VII. Future Progress. 

" Although I am unwilling to mention any suggestion that 
may seem like an appeal to any further generosity on the part 
of His Grace, I yet feel it consistent with the eventual success 
of the plan to remark that another survey of the stations by 
Mr. Glaisher in the course of a few weeks would be of great 
service, and that some small annual expenses to meet breakage, 
or in occasional visits to the stations, may be found indispens- 


able in addition to the general supervision which the Meteoro- 
logical Society willingly undertakes. 

"VIII. Eesults. 

" In conclusion, I may beg to add in the most respectful 
terms my best thanks for the kind attention which my com- 
munications have received from the Duke, who, by encouraging 
the present efforts, has, I am convinced, done great service to 
a science as yet in comparative infancy, but which in its more 
mature growth has in it the capability of unfolding many 
important physical facts, bearing on the local conditions of 
climate, on the cultivation of crops, on the planning of farm 
labour, as well as on the foretelling of storms and on the 
improvement of agriculture, not less than the safety of life 
and preservation of property." 

On October 25th we discover Mr. Sopwith taking 
the lead in what has since become one of the greatest 
social movements of the century, namely, the establish- 
ment of the United Kingdom Alliance, and the incep- 
tion of the Permissive Bill, for permissive legislation in 
the sale of intoxicating drinks. 

" October 25th. — I presided at a meeting this evening, the 
object of which was to promote the objects of an association 
called the United Kingdom Alliance, for the total legislative 
suppression of the liquor traffic. Mr. Wilson, who attended as 
agent of the society, gave a very clear explanation of the evils 
resulting from the indiscriminate sale of intoxicating liquors. 

"No doubt it seems on a first view a very unlikely plan to 
bring into operation ; but the true point of view is to suppose 
that it was carried into effect, and weigh the disadvantages 
with the benefits. The latter, I feel assured, would very 
greatly predominate. Indeed, the poverty and crime and 
utter wretchedness caused by drink are beyond all calculation, 
and justify any attempt to provide a remedy. 

282 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1860-61. 

" Within my own recollection a very great amelioration has 
taken place in the drinking usages of society. Some further 
improvements may reasonably be hoped for as education and 
sound social reforms are promoted; but so long as it is the 
custom to offer intoxicating drinks as an indispensable hospi- 
tality, and so long as ale-houses are places of easy access and 
of popular resort, it is hopeless to expect any important 
diminution of the awful and alarming evils which now exist. 

" As chairman I introduced the subject by a few general 
observations of this nature, but without identifying myself 
with specific details. If ever the question is really entertained 
where I am interested as a resident, I should decidedly vote in 
favour of it as a boon of inestimable value to the community 
at large, and most especially so to the great bulk of the 
labouring classes." 

In the early part of 1861 Mr. Sop with read an im- 
portant paper at the Meteorological Society on barometer 
indicators. This was on January 16th; and on Sunday, 
the 20th, he visited Exeter Hall to hear Mr. C. H. 
Spurgeon, then rising towards the zenith of his repu- 
tation. Mr. Sopwith's comments run favourably for the 
the great preacher. 

" Sunday, January 20th. — I went with Mrs. S., Mrs. Chris- 
tiansen, and two of my daughters to Exeter Hall, and heard 
the Rev. Mr. Spurgeon preach. I was much interested by 
hearing for the first time so celebrated an orator. 

" The first impression, after he commenced speaking, was 
that of admiration of the clearness of his voice and the dis- 
tinctness of his utterance. He maintained a seriousness of 
manner, a high respectability of demeanour, an argumentative 
and emphatic eloquence which is very attractive, and to many 
minds must be very impressive. I had heard many accounts 
from former hearers, most of them tending to the opinion 
I am here expressing, and I was gratified to find that the 


extraordinary popularity of Mr. Spurgeon rests on a basis of 
great talent and great earnestness." 

The diary of February 11th records a little adventure 
at Allenheads. 

" February Uth. — The weather very stormy, and very heavy 
showers of snow fall at intervals. 

" To-day about noon Mr. Ralph Murray (one of the agents 
in this office) and a mason lost their way on the moors. For 
about six hours they wandered on the western slopes of the 
mountains under the conviction that they were descending 
the eastern side to Allenheads. Fortunately they arrived at 
the vicinity of Carshield, and followed a road which took them 
to Coalcleugh, where they remained, it being then past mid- 
night, heavy showers of snow falling on the ground, already 
about two feet deep, and many drifts of eight or ten feet in 
height on the fells. At eleven o'clock at night my son Tom, 
accompanied by twelve stout fellows, went in search of 
Murray ; they followed the tracks over the various windings 
from the top of the mountains to Carshield. As no tidings 
could be learnt there, my son and six of the party (six having 
gone in another direction) went to Coalcleugh, and arrived 
there at five in the morning, and were glad to find the objects 
of their search. 

" In the meantime Mr. Bewick, who had sat up all night in 
anxious suspense, gathered other twenty men, who, with him, 
set off in search of the others, and met them soon after day- 
break on their return." 

Touching the origin and development of electric 
telegraphy there is an interesting entry on March 21st, 

"March 21st. — In the evening I dined with my excellent 
friend Mr. Decimus Burton and a few friends. The conversa- 
tion embraced many of the most advanced matters of science, 

284 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1860-61. 

and I had a very pleasant talk with Wheatstone on his new- 
telegraph. By the new telegraph I mean the operations of 
the ' London District Telegraph Company,' the wires of which 
are rapidly increasing over the house-tops and across the 
streets of this great city. A message of ten words is sent for 
a, charge of fourpence (including delivery). Message and 
reply of ten words, each sixpence. Message of twenty words, 

" It would be a most curious catalogue, as I suggested to 
Mr. Wheatstone, if he would draw up a list of his various 
inventions. To him, in conjunction with Mr. Cooke, the world 
is indebted for that greatest of all inventions, the electric 
telegraph ; and the respective interests of each of these parties 
were defined by a memorandum in 1841, drawn up by Brunei 
(the elder) and Professor Daniell, with both of whom, as well 
as with Cooke and Wheatstone, I had the pleasure of occasion- 
ally meeting, as also with many others of the leading ' men of 
the time,' with whom about that time the idea of a great 
National Exhibition originated, the chief concentration of 
that design being at the Society of Arts, where a committee 
(of which I was a member) was appointed in 1844." 

In the same month there is notice of an original 
design for meteorological charts which deserves record. 

" March 26^/t, 1861 . — This evening at seven I went by appoint- 
ment to the Morning Chronicle office, where I met Mr. Glaisher, 
Dr. Tripe, Mr. Beardmore, and Mr. Perigal, at a consultation 
on some meteorological details connected with the establish- 
ment of a new paper devoted to meteorology, as bearing upon 
great commercial as well as scientific interests. One important 
feature of this daily publication is to be a map, whereon, by 
pictorial remarks, the state of the weather and direction of 
the wind, etc., are to be shown. Much care is requisite in the 
selection of characteristic signs, both with a view to convenient 
and rapid manipulation, and also for the sake of the public, 
who would be perplexed by any attempt at too much nicety of 

1860-61.] LONDON SOCIETY. 285 

detail. It is far more important to show the more prominent 
indications plainly than to exhibit a great variety of states of 
weather. The principal matters that concern the merchant, 
the mariner, the farmer, or even the public generally, are 
whether the weather is fine, dull, wet, or stormy. Nothing 
shows bright or fine weather better than marks in a certain 
sense pictorial, as showing a sun with rays, a disc of the sun 
without rays, shade or clouds by oblique lines, rain or de- 
scending clouds by vertical lines of greater or lesser strength, 
and snow by its somewhat crystalline form of hexagonal radii, 
rudely indicated by a cross, and arranged in lines. Each kind 
of weather may thus have, say, sixteen varieties of direction 
of wind, and the wind in each may be very slight or calm, 
brisk, violent, or a hurricane, and these might be represented 
by arrowhead-like forms, moved in any of sixteen directions. 
There may thus be six varieties of weather, viz., (1) bright, 
(2) fair, (3) dull, (4) showery, (5) rainy, (6) snowy ; and six 
varieties of wind, (1) calm, (2) gentle breeze, (3) brisk, (4) a 
gale, (5) violent, (6) hurricane. These make thirty-six varia- 
tions ; and if each type were movable in sixteen directions, 
we then have, with thirty-six types, as many as five hundred 
and seventy-six variations, by placing them according to any 
of the sixteen directions of the wind. This rough outline is 
founded on the consideration of some of these details many 
years ago. I mentioned them briefly, and proposed to ex- 
plain them more fully next Saturday." 

A propos of London society, he says, on the date of 
April 25th,— 

" April 25th. — The vicar of Newcastle and Mr. Woodall, 
junior, of Scarborough, dined with me at six, — the vicar, frank, 
hearty, and open, in general conversation, and Mr. Woodall 
remarkably intelligent, and possessed of much information of 
a very practical character. The company of one or two 
agreeable friends is, in my opinion, quite as enjoyable, and 
often more instructive, than a larger party, where conversation 

286 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [i 860-61. 

is cut up into shreds and patches, and cannot be long concen- 
trated on any one subject. Both have their attractions ; but 
in London the tendency is generally towards a large party — 
by which I do not so much mean a great number, as ex- 
ceeding the quiet limits of two or three. The boundary -line 
between what I call large and small dinner companies is the 
number eight, which is accomplished in a family by an addition 
of two, three, or four to the usual circle ; and this I think is 
the maximum of small parties in so quiet an establishment as 
my own. To evening parties my objection is very great when 
they are so numerous as to cause crowding and want of 
ventilation. Such inconvenient and unhealthy assemblies are 
unfortunately too fashionable to be wholly avoided ; but I 
endeavour always to avoid them, to keep clear of what I 
consider ' vulgar errors ' on so large a scale ; and my family, 
knowing this aversion, assist in keeping me aloof from them. 
At my own house I always desire ample space for dancing, 
comfortable seats for all, and the endeavour to bring together 
those who are likely to enjoy each other's society. I make no 
allusion here to either dinner parties or evening assemblies of 
the higher ranks. I confine my remarks to my own walk 
of life, and I always rejoice when cheerful and kind feelings 
appear to prevail among such friends as favour me with their 

Amongst the acquaintances whom Mr. Sopwith delighted 
to recognise for Ms sterling qualities and great learning, 
the late Sir James Kay-Shuttleworth holds a first place. 
On May 3rd of this year he met Sir James and Mr. 
John Simpson, together with his own son Arthur. Sir 
James is here called upon to explain some mining con- 
ditions, which he does with much skill. It afforded " a 
good example to the youths, as showing how clear a 
knowledge of technical subjects can be attained by an 
intelligent gentleman who had not been professionally 
educated on the subject. It also showed the conciseness, 


yet abundant illustration, which marked the verbal ex- 
planation of Sir James." The commendation is not a 
word too strong. Sir James Kay-Shuttle worth, originally 
Dr. Kay, was a man great in all things he undertook to 
master. His experimental essay on asphyxia, written 
while he was a young medical inquirer, showed an 
originality and a resource of research which makes one 
almost regret that even good-fortune took him out of 
the ranks of practical medicine, and led him from 
pursuits towards which, to the very close of his life, 
his highest intellectual powers leaned ; as I discovered 
with great delight, when I once had the pleasure of 
dining in his company at the hospitable table of the 
late Sir Thomas Watson. 

The autumn of 1861 was diversified by a visit at 
Alnwick Castle to the Duke of Northumberland, followed 
by a tour in Italy, Switzerland, and France in company 
with Mrs. Sopwith, and including an inspection of the 
works in progress in the famous Mont Cenis tunnel. 

They travelled two thousand five hundred miles in 
twenty-five days, at the rate of one hundred miles a day, 
and yet were able to see so much that the travelling was 
felt to be the least part of the whole journey. 

A good deal of the diary at this stage is taken up with 
reports on the Nova Scotia Gold-mining Company, and 
on the second Great Exhibition (1862), then in progress. 
On the first of these topics public interest has faded ; 
on the last it still remains. 

The leading spirit in the Exhibition movement was 
Mr. (afterwards Sir Henry) Cole, to whom Mr. Sopwith 
pays a graceful tribute. 

" December 7th, 1861.— Walked to the Exhibition buildings, 
and reached the entrance just as Mr. Cole and a party of his 

288 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1860-61. 

friends were entering, and with them I walked through several 
portions of the edifice, and had some conversation with Mr. Cole 
on the present state and probable completion of the works. 
' It will be done in time,' said Mr. Cole, and I have confidence 
in his prediction, for he is one of those who accomplish much 
in a quiet and steady way. Now a hint — now a few words — 
now a resolution or a newspaper paragraph. These are the 
first indications ; weeks pass on ; progress is being made, — 
persevering, untiring progress ; and a footing is gained ; the 
opinion of influential men is attracted ; that influence is brought 
to bear. The germ of some great design appears in a humble 
form ; it steadily increases ; and in a few years the dimensions 
are vast, the utility (for in that lies the secret of the whole) 
is made manifest, and in after-time Sir Henry de la Beche 
and Mr. Cole will be assuredly recognised as founders of two 
great institutions, or rather two designs merging into one. 
The Museum of Practical Geology, and the South Kensington 
Museum and its extensions (mark the words, for they are of 
significance), will be lasting monuments of their skill and 
untiring zeal in administrating to the great cause of improve- 
ment in knowledge and taste." 

The diary of the year concludes with several references 
to the exceedingly painful event of that time, — the death 
of the Prince Consort. The loss of this illustrious man 
was felt by everyone, but by none, I think, so much as 
by those who were engaged in scientific and artistic 
labours, — labours which he had made specifically his own. 
Mr. Sopwith, who had met the Prince personally, and 
had conversed with him on subjects of equal interest 
to both, was naturally much affected, and to the end of 
his life never ceased to speak of the Prince without 
expressing his earnest regret at his early death, ''just 
at the time," he once observed to me, " when his great 
knowledge was maturing into excellent wisdom." 




iN article written by Mr. Sop with for St. James's 
Magazine, at the request of Mrs. S. C. Hall, 
forms the first subject of notice in the year 
1862. The article brought under review the 
depressing incidents of a lamentable calamity, under the 
title of " A Place of Darkness and in the Deep ; " but 
it also dwelt on prevention of similar accidents, and on 
the conservation of coal in reference to economy and 
durability from a national point of view. 

In March (the 10th) there is an account of an interesting 
visit to John Bright, M.P., in which that distinguished 
orator made an unexpected prediction. " If I had to 
begin life again," said Mr. Bright, " I would certainly 
choose the profession of an engineer. It is the engineers 
who are doing the great work of the time ; they are 
the true statesmen, and are guiding the destinies of 
nations and of mankind by the influence of their works." 
With this view Mr. Sopwith generally concurred. 

A little later — namely, March 25th— he records the 
particulars of an evening spent with Mr. Cobden, in 
the course of which nearly all the subjects he — Mr. 


290 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. L1862-65. 

Sopwith — was most familiar with were touched upon, 
but the most interesting topic was the Suez Canal. 

" The Canal of Lesseps. 

" March 25th. — Mr. Cobden was desirous to know if I 
possessed any information as to this work. I described what 
I had seen of the places and surroundings of it on board the 
surveying-ship Tartarus when at Alexandria. Mr. Cobden 
said Lord Palmerston's opposition on political grounds had 
been the making of Lesseps. We had much conversation on 
Robert Stephenson's opinion of it. 

" ' He did not,' I said, ' consider it as absolutely impossible, 
but as utterly beyond the pale of prudent commercial enter- 
prise.' Mr. Cobden said he agreed in that, and alluded to 
the difficult navigation of the Red Sea, the inevitable exor- 
bitancy of tolls, etc. 

" Mr. Cobclen's recollections of Egypt, the ascent of the 
Pyramids, the character of the prospect from the Pyramids, 
and his vivid recollection of the Nile like a narrow ribbon in 
the midst of green plains, bordered on each side by the brown 
desert, he described with much force. 

" The Roman Wall was for some time a subject of lively 
conversation. The name of Wallsend as associated with coal 
and the Romans was new to Mr. Cobden." 

As a juror of the National Exhibition of 1862, Mr. 
Sopwith was present at the opening ceremony on May 
1st. In the working of the Exhibition he took, all 
through, a prominent part, suggesting many important 
details for the consideration of the jurors. 

A number of current details are touched upon in the 
opening of the year 1863, including a scheme, unfinished, 
for the formation of model workmen's homes ; an inter- 
view with Mr. Brassey, whose society is always enjoyable, 

1862-65.] BISHOP COLENSO. 291 

— so open, genial, courteous, frank, and, withal, cordial and 
hearty; a long conversation with Sir Charles Bright on 
telegraphic communications ; the opening of the metro- 
politan railways to the public on January 10th ; a visit 
to Mr. Decimus Burton at St. Leonards, and a visit to the 
Royal Institution to hear ( 'ardinal Wiseman lecture on 
Science and Art. On February 10th, 1863, there is an 
entry, of much interest to all his family circle, as well as 
to many relations and friends, namely, the marriage of his 
daughter Isabella to Mr. James Hall, of Newcastle, and 
of his daughter Anna to Mr. W. Shelford, at Christ 
Church, Bayswater. 

March 4th gives us a little picture of Bishop Colenso 
at an "At Home" given by Mrs. Hey wood. He considered 
Colenso eminent as a mathematician, and from many 
sides heard, even from those who were opposed to his 
theological train of inquiry, the most favourable account 
of his amiability. He describes the Bishop as tall, very 
young-looking for a bishop, with an intelligent and firm 
expression of countenance, and apparently a mild and 
reserved disposition. In another entry the Bishop is 
further described. 

" April 1st. — In the evening I attended a meeting of the 
Geological Society. After the meeting we had tea downstairs, 
as in former times, and I had some conversation with Bishop 
Colenso, Mr. R. Chambers and Mr. Ramsay also joining in 
the same, which had relation to the works in winch the Bishop 
is now engaged. Whatever differences of opinion may exist 
thereon, I am satisfied that the Bishop is actuated by a stern 
love of truth, and he expressed very feelingly how much the 
conversion of the heathen nations is impeded by too rigid an 
adherence to strict literal interpretation." 

In April of this year Mr. and Mrs. Sopwith, with some 
other members of the family visited the Continent, to see 

292 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1862-65. 

Mr. Thomas Sopwith at Aix-la-Chapelle, where he was 
residing for his health. On his return he proceeded in 
June to Mr. Hooper's works, to see the manufacture of 
the Hooper electric cable. Towards the latter part of June 
he was again on the Continent, visiting the Rhine and 
passing into Switzerland. The journey was brief, and 
early in July he was back to business, public and private, 
including a more complete examination of Mr. Hooper's 
Cable Works at Mitcham, and an attendance, in company 
with Lord Brougham, at the Annual Meeting of the 
Working Men's Club and Institute Union, over which 
Lord Brougham presided, "and spoke very sensibly, 
giving great clearness to his views by simplicity of 
language and force of expression." 

On July 18th we get a glance at another very interest- 
ing man of science, Mr. Cyrus Field. 

" July \%th, 1863. — I went to Regent's Park, and called on 
Professor Wheatstone. Here I met Mr. Cyrus Field, and had 
the great pleasure of hearing Mr. Wheatstone explain some of 
his recent improvements in telegraphic communication, and 
especially a method of transmitting from six to seven hundred 
letters per minute. Mr. Wheatstone's obliging and clear de- 
scription of all the various manipulations was a very great 
intellectual treat. 

" During this interview I took an opportunity of mentioning 
the cable of my friend Mr. Hooper, and I read the results of 
Bright and Clarke's experimental tests. Mr. Cyrus Field 
expressed an earnest wish to see Mr. Hooper, and I wrote 
to make an arrangement for their meeting on Mr. H.'s return 
to town." 

On August 26th, 1863, the British Association opened 
for the second time at Newcastle, Sir William Armstrong 
being president. This time a visit to Allenheads formed 
one of the excursions. It was a wet day, and the Times 

1862-65.] ATA SPANISH BULL-FIGHT. 293 

called the excursionists "the dripping savans," but the 
meeting passed off satisfactorily nevertheless. 


In April and May 1864 Mr. Sop with made a journey 
to the mines of Linares, and to various other places in 
France and Spain. The journey extended through May, 
and was full of incident, including a sketch of a bull- 

"Seville, May 2nd, 1864. — I was unwilling to lose an oppor- 
tunity of seeing that most renowned of all Spanish amusements, 
a bull-fight — the more so as the bull-ring of Seville is the 
largest in Spain, and the bulls of this district are said to be 
peculiarly wild. Moreover, the performance was to be for a 
charity. The Duke and Duchess of Montpensier were to lie 
present, and the most eminent bull-fighter in Spain had 
volunteered his services. So, having in the morning obtained 
a ticket for the shady side of the balcony, in the first row, I 
went at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, May 3rd, and was at once shown 
to my seat. Two gentlemen alongside spoke sufficient English, 
and were good-natured enough to explain to me the principal 
incidents of one of the most remarkable scenes I ever beheld. 

" I shall not here enter the details of a bull-fight, for I 
should never read them but with horror and with deep sorrow. 
Suffice it to say that, although I left long before the close of 
the performance, I saw four bulls and five horses killed amidst 
the plaudits of the admiring crowd of spectators. I shall not 
presume on one single visit to be able to analyse what may be 
merits or demerits. There may be some advantages which I 
do not understand, and if there be none it seems difficult 
to understand why the so-called amusement is so nationally 
popular. I shall only record my own impressions : the sight 
of the vast and eager company ; the introductory pageantry of 
asking for and receiving the key of the ring ; the brilliant 
dresses and brave demeanour of the chief artists, — all disposed 
me to look on the performance so as to form a fair conclusion 

294 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1862-65. 

apart from all previous prejudice. I looked on with painful 
interest — then with horror — then with shame, and I left with 
very acute feelings of sorrow blended with astonishment, and 
with a firm determination never again to be a willing spectator 
of a Spanish bull-fight." 

Much more pleasant is another entry of the same date 
bearing on Spanish workmen, and of a visit to some large 
works under the superintendence of Mr. Pickman. 

" I was much interested by the several commendations which 
Mr. Pickman made to me relating to Spain and the Spaniards 
generally, and of this conversation I said to him that I would 
enter a few memoranda in my journal, and this I do now : 

" 1. Mr. Pickman strongly confirms the opinions I have 
heard expressed by many, that the working classes of the 
Spaniards make excellent workmen, that they learn readily 
and willingly obey, that they are industrious, but have a 
rough-and-ready sort of independence wbich has to be met by 
patience, tact, and sometimes indulgence. In short, they are 
easy to lead, but hard to drive ; and Mr. P. speaks of them as 
workmen with much commendation. 

"2. In twenty years, during which the whole of this concern 
has been under Mr. Pickman's superintendence, he has never 
had occasion to discharge a single workman for intemperance. 

" 3. Mr. Pickman speaks most favourably of the honest 
and honourable dealing shown by the great number of persons 
to whom credit is given — often with slight means of correct 
information as regards wealth or position or character. ' In 
sixty thousand pounds of credit,' said he, ' we have not three 
hundred pounds of bad debts.' These commendations of in- 
dustry, temperance, and correct dealing in trade are valuable 
testimony as coming from one like Mr. Pickman, who speaks 
from a large experience as well as from a sound judgment." 

By an entry in the diary dated July 14th, 1864, I find 
that Mr. Sopwith was observing some experiments by 

1862-65.] SPIRIT-RAPPING. 295 

Mr. Redy in blowing up rocks at Allenhead with gun 
cotton fired by electricity. The results appear to have 
been satisfactory, and were a matter of great surprise to 
the miners, who had hitherto blasted with gunpowder. 
The experiments were repeated on July 19th, and with 
still more success. 

At this period what was called spirit-rapping was in 
fashion, and the battle royal was being fought on the 
subject between the men of science headed by Faraday 
on the one side and the spiritualists on the other. Mr. 
Sopwith was disinclined to accept the many claims that 
were made by the spiritualists, but on September 7th he 
was induced to see Mrs. Marshall, a " medium " living 
at 10, King Street, Bloomsbury Square. " A spirit there 
rapped out his own name and the maiden name of his 
mother, the Christian name of his father, and the place 
where he was born." Beyond stating what occurred, he 
has nothing to say, no hypotheses to offer, only that he 
could not believe there was any possibility of collusion. 
He recorded no more than what he distinctly saw and 
observed, and added that the seeing of this table move- 
ment and receiving this seemingly mysterious communi- 
cation did not produce any feeling different from that 
with which one is accustomed to view any curious 
experimental result. 

On October 6th he was at the Mining Institute, Mr. 
Nicholas Wood in the chair, when a paper which he sub- 
mitted on the lead mines was brought under discussion. 
After this he returned to Allenheads to receive the mem- 
bers of the Gun-cotton Committee, who arrived there on 
the 17th. This Committee, of which General Sir Edward 
Sabine, F.R.S., was President, was well represented on 
the occasion of the visit. Mr. Sopwith also was a member 
of the Committee. In the latter part of this year he took 

296 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1862-65. 

up a London residence in Victoria Street, Westminster, 
which residence he held until the time of his death. 


In April 1865 he revisited Spain, spending some time 
at the lead mines of Linares, where Mr. Thomas Sopwith, 
jun., was residing. There is a note on May 1st of a ball 
at Mr. Thomas Sopwith's, and several other entries re- 
cording pleasant visits to Madrid, Barcelona, and other 
famous places in Spain. 

Under the head of reminiscences, bearing date of this 
year, 1865, Mr. Sopwith gives the following epitome of 
twenty years' experience of mining life at Allenheads. 

The epitome forms a kind of simply-expressed auto- 

" Reminiscences. — Twenty Years at W. B. Lead-mines. 

" July 1st, 1865. — I was occupied until twelve o'clock last 
night with papers relating to the inclosure of Allendale 
Common, and thus ended the twentieth year of my connection 
as Chief Manager of the W. B. Lead-mines. This morning at 
nine I resume the study and carrying out of the usual routine 
of my duties, and take an hour or two during the day to enter 
a brief review of some of the more prominent circumstances of 
the last twenty years. 

"When, in 1845, I entered on the management I received a 
friendly letter from the late Mr. John Taylor, in which he 
spoke of the generally-received opinion that these mines were 
nearly exhausted. 

"An examination of details showed that expenditure in raising 
ore was rapidly increasing, whilst no outlay was made on repairs 
or improvements beyond such as were absolutely inevitable. 
I was informed that my predecessor contemplated that actual 
loss would arise during the first year of my agency, and these 
were not only the discouragements of mining, they were 
indicative of other and serious obstacles which were laid in my 


path, but to which I will not now advert in any detail. Many 
of the parties who then moved within the sphere of action in 
which my new duties lay have gone to their rest. I have 
endeavoured wholly to forget whatever was unpleasant, and 
more willingly dwell with satisfaction that feelings of friendship 
largely predominated even where differences of opinion prevailed, 
and I can find employment enough in tracing my own errors, 
without finding it necessary to remember what I may have 
deemed the errors of others. 

" So far from being exhausted, the value of the produce of the 
W. B. Lead-mines in lead and silver has approximated during 
the twenty years to more than ,£500 per diem, and a fair 
amount of steadiness of produce has been maintained, ranging 
from eight to ten thousand tons of lead per annum. This is 
the first and most prominent feature in this short retrospect, 
and I shall now recapitulate some of the leading circumstances 
to which my attention has been given, with a brief remark or 
two in passing them under so hurried a review. 

" By far the most important features of my early labours were 
various works of exploration and improvement, for which I 
obtained from the late T. W. Beaumont a special grant of 
upwards of <£6,000 per annum. 

" This liberality in beginning and continuing new works was 
continued and largely exceeded by the present owner of the 
mines, Wentworth Blackett Beaumont, Esq., and it would 
occupy a volume to describe the various works in detail. The 
very face of the country at and near Allenheads has been abso- 
lutely changed. Old and ruinous and imperfect works have 
been replaced by new and substantial buildings, machinery, 
roads, etc., of the most improved construction. The deep 
drainage of the mines at Allenheads was closely investigated by 
me, with the valuable aid of Mr., now Sir William, Armstrong, 
and the hydraulic engines placed in the mines by him met 
with unqualified approval and high commendation from Robert 
Stephenson and other competent authorities. 

" A still higher testimony to |their value has been the 

298 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1862-65. 

uninterrupted efficiency of the work performed by them, and 
the exceedingly small cost by which they have been kept in 
repair, a merit which appertains to all the extensive works 
of machinery which have been put up by the eminent firm 
of which my greatly valued friend Armstrong was the sole 
originator, and is yet and I trust long will be the greatly 
honoured head and chief conductor. In the erection of the 
various engines and machinery, and in the construction of all 
the engineering works generally, the greatest and my warmest 
thanks are due to Mr. Thomas John Bewick, who came to 
me as a pupil, and has ever since either been directly in my 
service or acting under me in the service of W. B. Beaumont, 
Esq., as resident engineer of these important mines. 

" New workshops on a very complete scale have been built. 
A new crushing mill and improvements of the dressing floors 
have resulted in a rich economy of labour, and an increase 
of produce so remarkable that the percentage of lead now 
obtained is the greatest in the kingdom, whereas when I came 
in 1845 it was the least. In this alone has been an element 
of value to the extent of several thousands of pounds yearly. 
Great improvements were made in the reservoirs, and the 
extension and renovation of Byerhope reservoir, estimated by 
several experienced engineers as a work of =£2,000, cost less 
than one-third of that sum, and this I mention as an index to 
the comparative economy of many other works. 

"In 1855 the Blackett Level was planned and commenced, 
having during the previous ten years been more or less a subject 
of consideration. The idea was not original, it was only an 
extension, and in that degree an improvement on designs con- 
templated long ago by my predecessor Mr. William Crawhall, 
who in like manner was preceded (ninety years ago) by Smeaton 
in his Nent Force Level. This great work has been continued in 
accordance with the views entertained and the rate of expenditure 
sanctioned by Mr. Beaumont, who has taken a most able and 
lively interest in this undertaking, of which it is yet difficult 
to form any accurate conjecture as to eventual success. The 


hydraulic engines on this work have heen much, and as I 
think very deservedly, admired. In 1856, on my suggestion, 
and indeed, as Mr. Beaumont kindly put it, at my request, 
the opinion of Mr. W. Warrington Smyth * was taken on the 
general character and prospects of the Blackett Level, and the 
experience of ten years has not shown anything at variance 
with the views expressed in a clear and, as far as it goes, a 
very accurate report. In 1856 I had a correspondence with 
Captain Collinson on the subject of boring rocks by machinery, 
on which also Mr. Edward Beaumont when at Allenheads 
expressed a strong opinion of its applicability ; but from time 
to time the conviction has been forced upon me that in a large 
concern like the W. B. mines it is better to adopt completed 
and successful inventions than to institute those experimental 
researches which, being in themselves very costly, are also for 
the time being not unfrequently a positive hindrance rather 
than an advancement of practical mining operations. 

" Some interesting trials of boring machines have been made 
in the last two years by the express desire of Mr. Beaumont, 
and the results are not at this time sufficiently established to 
enable me to say whether either of them will be especially 
applicable to lead mining works. 

"In West Allendale and in Weardale many works of 
exploration and improvement both on the surface and in the 
mines have been carried out. All the details of these works 
were very accurately recorded in a series of reports, without 
which I could not have retained any clear and long-continued 
views relating to so great a number of operations conducted 
in various parts of a mining district embracing more than two 
hundred square miles of superficial area. It is in this method 
of written instructions, memoranda, and reports that I have 
been thought (although in a very friendly and considerate 
manner) to have exceeded rather than fallen short of what my 
duties might seem to require, and in deference to the opinion 
of one who has the undoubted right to offer any such suggestions 

* Afterwards Sir W. Warrington Smyth. 

300 THOMAS SOPTVITH, F.R.S. [1862-65. 

I have of late years relaxed, and to some extent entirely 
abandoned, the attempt to preserve rigid and exact data of the 
principal details. In so doing I have been more convinced of 
the ntter inability of myself, or of any one person, to preserve 
such written details, rather than of the inutility or impolicy 
of the system, which appears to be almost indispensable in 
multifarious concerns of great magnitude. 

" The subject of education has had especial notice bestowed 
upon it, both by the late and present owner of these mines. The 
liberality of W. B. Beaumont in the building and supporting 
good schools is beyond all praise, and I firmly believe as well 
as hope that he and his family will reap a rich reward in 
the virtue and intelligence which have been so ably diffused 
amongst the people of this district. In referring to this 
subject I must mention with special praise the efforts of Mr. 
and Mrs. Fisher at Allenheads, from the commencement of 
the school (1848) to the end of 1864, and much credit is due 
to many others who have had charge of the schools so liberally 
encouraged by Mr. Beaumont. The new and handsome schools 
built at Allenheads, Carshields, Brideshill, and Newhouse will 
remain a lasting monument of the zeal as well as good taste 
with which Mr. W. B. Beaumont has promoted education in 
these mining districts. 

" When I came to Allenheads one small room sufficed for 
an office. New and spacious and exceedingly convenient offices 
have been built, and further additions, made to them a few 
years ago, render them, as I think, absolutely perfect. In them 
I have spent a large portion of my time, and the facility with 
which I can at once refer to the several sub-agents and clerks, 
and to their respective books, plans, etc., is very great. 

" The well-being of the large body of miners and other 
workpeople, men and boys (for no women are employed on the 
mines or works of any kind), has had my constant and earnest 
care. It is true some differences with the miners at Allenheads 
led to a separation or ' strike ' of four months' duration (in 
1849), but I gained the point at issue, viz., the observance of 


the terms of the bargains in respect of time, and a temporary 
ill-feeling, and some acts of violence and of malignant censures 
in newspapers, handbills, and songs, were soon replaced by a 
friendly confidence which has ever since continued, and I trust 
is not now likely to be disturbed. Important ameliorations in 
the matter of wages, etc., were made, the comfort of the men 
in many respects attended to, and above all a fair effort has 
always been made to deal with them justly and equitably. 
Neither in West Allendale nor Weardale has any interruption 
of good feeling taken place, and as regards all of them I have 
ever met them as friends, and have on many occasions received 
from them the kindest testimony of approval. The establish- 
ment of Improvement Societies in Weardale was for a time a 
great benefit, and I can in many cases trace very distinctly 
the highly favourable results. 

"The roads in the district have been in many respects improved 
during the last twenty years. In 1850 1 had a plan and section 
of a railway made up East Allendale and Swinhope, and pre- 
vailed on the directors of the Newcastle and Carlisle Railway 
to visit the district. It was too late — the Alston line had been 
decided on, and the matter remained until 1864, when, on the 
subject being named by Mr. Beaumont at a public dinner, the 
public feeling was roused, considerable support was promised, 
and soon after liberally subscribed. Surveys have been made 
by Mr. Bewick, and the royal assent has been given to an 
Act for making the railway. 

" Much attention was given in the earlier years of my 
agency to applications for ' tack bargains,' or workings out of 
the ordinary routine, conducted by parties holding a grant or 
lease for a term of years. The most important of these were 
the working of lead ore in conjunction with iron stone, by 
Messrs. Attwood & Company, and the driving an exploration 
level at Fallowfield by Mr. Jacob Walton, and now, since his 
decease, by his son and partner. The system, however, is 
not found to be a convenient one for general adoption ; the 
damage to private lands, the time and cost of preliminary 

302 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1862-65. 

meetings and of subsequent inspections and surveys, in most 
cases far outweigh the probable advantages, and in cases of 
entire failure these difficulties are often increased by unreason- 
able delays or objections to a fair settlement. 

" I have from time to time collected many printed and 
written books and papers relating to mines. These are found 
to be useful for reference, and the method might perhaps be 
extended. I have also arranged a very capacious cabinet for 
the collection and preservation of mineral specimens, to be used 
as a place of study for the agents, and as a means of preserving 
data relating to the discovery of mineral veins. 

"The supply of materials for the mines has been gradually 
brought into a form of great regularity. Printed order-books 
have been introduced, and all orders now go from this (Allen- 
heads) office, and are examined and signed by myself as well 
as by the resident engineer. The drawing of work from the 
mines, and the carriage of ores, lead, and of all timber and 
other materials, has been also placed on a proper basis. 

" There is perhaps no subject affording more gratification 
than the great rarity of serious accidents in the mines during 
the last twenty years. They average less than half a life per 
annum, and that in a body of more than two thousand workmen. 

" In a remote district like Allenheads the selection of proper 
clergymen to attend to parochial duties devolves on the owner 
of the mines, who is patron of the parish, and in some of these 
matters I have been consulted. 

" The engineering duties have been attended to by Mr. 
Bewick, as already named, and for some years past (seven) 
Mr. J. C. Cain has acted as general surveyor of the mines. 
Among the numerous body of inspectors I must especially 
record my regret for the recent loss of Mr. William Curry, 
whose earnest attention to his duties and friendly regard for 
all my advice and instructions I sball always remember with 
respect. He is worthily succeeded by his brother, Mr. John 
Curry, assisted by Mr. John Ashman. 

" The taxes, highway and poor rates, are of some considerable 


amount, and a supervision of the several details is at all times 
necessary. In cases where any difference of view has arisen, 
I have had the good success to have my own propositions 
approved and confirmed by the Commissioners of Stamps and 
Taxes in London, and by the chief surveyors at Darlington and 
Hexham, from one of whom I received a most complimentary 
letter on the promptness and exactness of the W. B. mines' 
arrangements in this department. 

" The ' subsistence,' or money paid monthly on account to 
the miners, was advanced from 7s. Qd. to 10s. per week, and 
all the accounts and details of payment have been greatly 
improved. The ' pays ' or settlement of the balances are now 
made half-yearly instead of yearly, and all tradesmen are 
regularly paid once a quarter instead of once a year. The 
mode of letting bargains has also been gradually amended, and 
the arrangements with the men are as far as possible based on 
a desire to deal fairly with them, and to give them fair wage 
for due work. 

" The establishment of libraries has been a great benefit, 
and there are now four of them, viz., at Allenheads, Coalcleugh, 
Weardale, and Allen Mill. I take to myself any merit that 
may belong to what I have called children's libraries, ac- 
companying the ordinary collection of books, the object being 
to afford young children a good selection and frequent change 
of amusing books. 

" Benefit societies have had a large share of my attention, 
and by the very able assistance and kind co-operation of 
Mr. Bewick both these and a benefit building society have 
proved of great advantage. The liberality of Mr. Beaumont 
has been most effectually bestowed in a proportional encourage- 
ment of the Allendale Benefit Societies, by giving them dona- 
tions yearly of 5 per cent, on the amount of money subscribed 
in each year, and 2 per cent, on the amounts invested, thus 
giving the members the advantage of full 5 per cent, interest 
annually, as they receive 3 per cent, from savings banks or 
Commissioners for Reduction of the National Debt. 

304 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1862-65. 

" At Allenheads there have been during the last ten years, 
1856-1865, both inclusive, an average of 395 - 4 members, and 
the increase has been from 314 in the first of the ten years 
to 491 in the last. The average number receiving sick pay 
has been 48*3, and the average time of sickness of each sick 
member has been 12-2 days. The cash paid in the ten years to 
sick members has been =£2,486 5s., and the average to each 
sick member has been £5 2s. lid. Payments at death have 
amounted to £220, making the entire payments £2,706 12s. Qd., 
or an annual sum of =£270 12s. 6d. The total amount ex- 
pended in fifteen years since the commencement has been 
£3,466 7s. 0±d. 

" There is a difference in the amounts paid by the W. B. 
workmen and by persons not employed in the mines and 
works. I find this difference, taking five cases of different 
ages, and ordinary rates, to amount to about lis. k\d. each 
member (yearly), or £5 13s. 2d. in ten years. 

" The value of Mr. Beaumont's contributions has averaged 
in the same period nearly £20 a year in respect of the annual 
contributions, and rather more than £40 a year in respect 
of moneys invested, the total average being above £62 a year, 
or in the ten years £622 7s. Sd. The value of this contribu- 
tion to each member has been about 3s. yearly, or £1 10s. 10fc7. 
in ten years. 

"The inclosure of Allendale Common has been mooted at 
various times, and some agitation has been promoted by 
parties desirous to effect a division. 

" In the cash transactions, which have been large, and 
amounting in the aggregate to upwards of three millions 
sterling, I have, during the whole period of twenty years, had 
the great satisfaction of corresponding with the highly-eminent 
house of Findlay, Hodgson, & Co., of London, and of enjoying 
the friendship as well as confidence of the late John Hodgson, 
long the senior of the firm, and a warm friend and zealous 
promoter of the interests of the Beaumont family ; as also 
of his sons Kirkman Daniel Hodgson, M.P. (recently 


Governor of the Bank of England) and J. E. Hodgson, Esqrs. 
The extreme punctuality and exactness of all those transac- 
tions has been a source of constant satisfaction, for it need 
scarcely be observed how much financial exactness lies at the 
very root of so extensive a mining and smelting concern. 

" The landed property belonging to Mr. Beaumont, in the 
mining districts of East and West Allendale, has been vastly 
improved, many cottages have been built, lands drained, and 
plantations reared. The area of the land estate in Allendale 
has also been considerably augmented by purchases made froni 
the profits of the mines. 

"In the general financial business of these mines I have had 
frequent occasion to spend much time at the W. B. Lead Office 
at Newcastle, where, for many years, I had the valuable and 
skilful aid of my much lamented friend, John George Anderson, 
and, in later years, I have found Mr. Fothergill most kind and 
attentive, as well as most assiduous in the discharge of his 

" In legal matters I have had the advantage of consulting 
several solicitors who were my personal friends as well as 
professional advisers of the Beaumont family; and, I may 
mention the names of Donkin, Stable, Armstrong, Bell, Dees, 
and I. and R. Gibson. All my recollections of them are 
associated with much respect for their courtesy and candour as 
well as for their legal ability. 

" The ordnance survey of this district has been made within 
the period I am now adverting to, and a very great number 
of surface and mining plans have been constructed in this 
office under the immediate care of Messrs. Bewick, Coates, 
Ridley, and others, acting under my general directions. 

" I venture to say of these plans generally that they are 
models of excellence, and they accurately delineate what has 
been most carefully surveyed. These plans have been of great- 
use in many respects, both in mining and in many surface 

" The retrospect of the last twenty years is not wholly 


306 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1862-65. 

destitute of incidents more allied to military than to mining 
matters. Amongst these are to be classed the numerous 
experiments in gun practice by Mr. (now Sir William) Arm- 
strong; the experiments on gun-cotton by the Government 
Commission (of which I am a member), and the establishment 
by Mr. Beaumont of a regiment of Rifle Volunteers, commanded, 
in the first instance, by my son Thomas Sopwith, junior, and 
since he left Allendale by Mr. Bewick. 

" There are many other incidents I might mention, such as 
the effectual repairs of Allenheads Chapel (to which I willingly 
contributed one-third of the cost), the regular keeping of 
meteorological observations, the Exhibitions of lead and silver 
in London in 1851 and 1862, and in Paris in 1855, at all of 
which medals were awarded in recognition of the interest of 
the objects exhibited; and, though in 1862 I could not (as a 
juror) receive the awarded medal, yet it was specially named, 
and I received a medal as a juror in Class I. of that great 

" In concluding this little epitome I may observe that 
during ten years I resided in the house built by the late 
T. W. Beaumont in conformity with arrangements made 
before I undertook to give up my profession and undertake 
the agency. The scale of dimensions and expenditure were at 
first meant to be included in an amount of =£4,000, which 
entirely met my views; but, by the special instructions of Mr. 
T. W. Beaumont, the matter was not placed within my control, 
and the cost, I believe, exceeded double the above-named sum. 
During two years previous to its completion I occupied the 
house in the village, so that my period of residence has been 
twelve years, and of partial residence eight years. Of the 
latter period my family abode has been for seven years in 
Cleveland Square, and one year in Victoria Street, London. 

" There is nothing in all my remembrances of this twenty 
years' period that I record with greater pleasure and gratitude 
than the great amount of domestic happiness I have enjoyed 
at Allenheads, and in my London home, as also amongst 


many most valued friends at Newcastle and elsewhere. True 
it is that dark shadows fell upon my path in the middle period 
of that time. Time, which softens the pangs of affliction, has 
only given strength to all my memories of devoted affection 
and of worth, which were duly and very highly estimated by 
all who knew the truly good and loving mother of all my 
surviving children. 

" The death of my eldest son in India, not long after I came 
to Allenheads, was a very sudden, but a very heavy, blow, 
alleviated by some considerations arising from the fact that 
in his mind, a highly accomplished one, there were tendencies 
which had caused his friends and himself much sorrow, and 
no one could say whether in a longer life the good or evil 
tendencies would most have prevailed. Of all my other 
children I have only to speak in unmeasured terms of affection 
and approval ; and in like terms I have to commend her who 
has become the partner of my life, the sharer in my joys and 
sorrows, the active, intelligent, and agreeable companion of 
my travels, and the affectionate friend and adviser of my 
family. In a wide circle of friends it would be most difficult 
to make any selections, but I may mention the names of 
Robert Stephenson, Robert Chambers, Michael Faraday, and 
James Pillans, as honoured visitors during my abode at 
Allenheads. The warm and steady friendship of William Ord, 
of Whitfield, was for many years a great source of enjoyment, 
and his beautiful house at Whitfield was one in which I spent 
many days with much, and always increasing, regard for its 
worthy inmates. Amongst those in whose society I have found 
a congenial feeling and candid reciprocation of views I may 
mention James Sillick, T. M. Mackay, and Robert Simpson j 
and to these I might add a large number of my friends whose 
opinions and character I most highly esteem. 

" Last and not least, but, on the contrary, held by me in 
constant remembrance and regard, are the many, I may say 
the almost daily, proofs of confidence and friendly feeling ex- 
hibited towards me by the late and present owners of these 

308 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1862-65. 

mines, the late Thomas Wentworth Beaumont, and his son 
Wentworth Blackett Beaumont. Some few differences of 
opinion arose eight years ago ; and in these, perhaps, my own 
impatience was at fault, even though I deemed myself safe in 
the judgment of so able and impartial a person as Robert 
Stephenson ; yet these little passing clouds have been of small 
import as compared with the steady and solid friendship shown 
to my son as well as myself, and in return for which a steady 
devotion of my best efforts is due. I had almost forgot to 
mention, as one of those proofs of confidence, the important 
arrangements whereby my son was enabled to make a mining 
tour through Europe, and to be placed in charge of valuable lead 
mines in Spain ; but this is because my present observations have 
reference chiefly to Allenheads and to circumstances connected 
with it. In these few pages I have inserted such memoranda 
as recall to my mind many leading incidents, many important 
improvements, and many sources of enjoyment, during the 
period of twenty years which have been chiefly spent at 
Allenheads, at which place, on this the 1st of July, I have 
entered these memoranda. 

" {Signed) Thomas Sopwith." 

Towards the close of the year 1865, November 22nd, Mr. 
Sopwith presided at a meeting held to establish colliery 

The diary of the year 1865 ends with entries referring 
to a very pleasant task, that of arranging the library in 
the new house, 103, Victoria Street, Westminster. 




SPECIAL entry in the diary on January 3rd, 
1866, is headed, "My Birthday, and Friends 
at Dinner." It supplies a little commentary 
on the sensation of entering the sixty-third 
year, the close of the third section of three maturities. 
It then passes to describe the dinner, at which were 
present Mr. Robert Chambers, Dr. and Mrs. Priestley, — 
the last-named, the beautiful and accomplished daughter 
of Mr. Chambers,— Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Cubitt, Mr. W. 
Warrington and Mrs. Smyth, Mr. T. M. Smith and Mrs. 
Smith, Mr. Julian Hill and Mrs. Hill, and the Sopwith 
family circle. Speaking of some of these, he says : — 

"January 3rd. — Mr. T. M. Smith was associated with me in 
professional matters about twenty years ago, and I had known 
his excellent and kind-hearted mother some time previously. 

" Mr. Julian Hill is one of the well-known family which has 
gained world-wide renown by the Penny Postage Reform 
effected by Mr. (now Sir Rowland) Hill, whom it has been 
ray good fortune to know very intimately, as also Mr. Arthur 
Hill. With Mr. Julian Hill I have been long and very inti- 
mately acquamted, and have often experienced the hearty 
hospitality of his amiable lady and himself. 

310 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1866 69. 

" Such, therefore, was my birthday party — realizing much 
of that true wealth of friendship and regard which I have 
treasured through life with an anxiety which has never been 
bestowed upon mere worldly wealth, although not insensible 
to the duty as well as the advantage of a reasonable attention 

" The term of sixty -three years is an interesting one. It 
completes three periods of twenty-one years, and each of these 
periods has been singularly marked by material differences as 
regards my home, my occupations, and my connections. The 
first period, from 1803 to 1824, was entirely spent at home. 
It was in 1824, when twenty-one years of age, that I left the 
home of my birth, my infancy, my childhood, my boyhood, and 
my ripened youth. In that year also I became engaged, but 
could not then with prudence contemplate marriage in less 
than four years. Then, in 1828, I married, and in 1829 lost, 
in a few short months, both my father and a beloved wife. 
In 1831 I again married her who became the mother of all 
my now surviving children. For other fourteen years I was 
most actively engaged in my profession at Newcastle, London, 
Gloucestershire, South Wales, and in other parts of England 
and Scotland. I acted as Commissioner for the Crown for 
Dean Forest from 1838 to 1841, and undertook some extensive 
professional services in Belgium, where I had as colleagues the 
well-known George Stephenson and William Cubitt. 

" I had offices in London and in Newcastle, and my time 
was a good deal directed between these places. I enjoyed over 
the greater part of this period the intimate friendship of John 
Buddie, of Dr. Buckland, and of many eminent men in various 
departments of Art and Practical Science. 

"In the third period, from 1845 to 1866, I have had 
the chief agency of the W. B. Lead-mines belonging to 
the Beaumont family, and during twelve years resided at 
Allenheads. The last nine years have been nearly equally 
divided between Allenheads and London, living for seven 
years in Cleveland Square and two in Victoria Street, West- 

1866-69.] ANATOMY OF STRIKES. 311 

minster, where I am celebrating the day on which all these 
three periods culminate in what is called The Great Climacteric 
of Life. 

Under the date of January 4th, 1866, the diary contains 
a long entry on a discussion at a dinner at Mr. Peter 
Graham's ; Mr. Owen Jones and Mr. Rontledge being 
present as well as Mr. Sopwith. In the morning of the 
same day Mr. Sopwith had had a very agreeable tSte-d- 
tete with Mr. Delane, editor of the Times, to whom 
he jocularly communicated that he also had become a 
newspaper proprietor, namely, of the Hexham Courier; and 
at the dinner in the evening various subjects of current 
social and political interest came up. The subject of 
Reform was now on the tapis, and the great speech of 
Mr. Bright at Rochdale came in for review, with a 
glance at the ballot. Mr. Sopwith urged for universal 
voting " on the proportional basis, say in pounds sterling 
of actual taxation." To this Mr. Graham objected that 
would never do, because " wealth does not represent in- 
telligence." " Then does poverty ? " asked Mr. Sopwith; 
" is it not almost entirely by industry and intelligence 
combined that wealth is accumulated ? " 

The anatomy of a strike was another of the subjects 
discussed, in which Mr. Sopwith detailed his own 
practical experience of a strike, assigning as an almost 
invariable cause the persuasive arguments of one or 
two individuals who influence the mass. Thence the 
debaters passed to modes of providing good and healthy 
homes for all working men. To secure cleanliness of 
person and improved dwellings were the two great 
reforms required. For this organization alone was 
wanting. The work would be one of pure self-support 
as regards money; and the appropriation of all profit 

312 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1866-69. 

above 5 per cent, to the increased comfort and accom- 
modation of the inmates would, Mr. S. was persuaded, 
soon make dwellings won by wages investments as solid 
as the public funds. 

On March 6th of this year, at the instance of Mr. 
Walter, Mr. Sopwith gave evidence before the Com- 
mittee on Education, over which Sir John Pakington 
presided. The inquiries made of him were chiefly 
directed to the difference between certified and uncer- 
tified teachers, as to more extended means of education, 
and as to the teaching of religion in schools. On this 
latter point he suggested the inculcation of plain and 
jwactical matters of duty, without entering into the 
details of doctrinal points. He further suggested that 
educational commissioners representing the Government 
ought to be a moving body, and not to be stationary in 
London. They should be persons who would give the 
greater 2iart of thtir time and attention to education in 
different parts of the kingdom, and acting under them 
there should be local commissioners. Local rates ought 
also to be established, the funds from which should be 
supplemented by grants from the Central Department. 
Referring to the Allenheads School, he said it was so 
good his own son went to it with advantage. 

On April 27th there is a touching reference to the 
decline of the illustrious Faraday, who, after his lecture, 
was obliged to leave leaning on Professor TyndalPs 
arm : " If anything could strongly impress the transitory 
glories of an earthly state it is surely such a scene 
and such an association." 

In the middle of June of this year Mr. Sopwith began 
to experience what he called " some symptoms of central 
failure," for which he consulted the late Dr. Bence Jones, 


who Wrote to him on June 20th, telling him that his 
heart wonld not bear the strain he was putting upon it. 
He thereupon, with his usual common sense, determined 
to measure his work as well as his time, and take things 
more easily. In July he paid a visit to the Isle of 
Wight ; in August he went to Harrogate ; and afterwards 
to the British Association at Leamington. Between 
October 4th and 19th he made a tour with Mrs. Sopwith 
on the Continent of Europe. In his notes he dwells 
with much satisfaction on two or three particular events: 
the marriage of his son Thoinas, on March 1st, to Lydia 
Gertrude Messiter ; his completion of twenty-one years' 
supervision of the works at Allenheads, and, most agree- 
able recognition, a letter from Mr. W. B. Beaumont, 
congratulating him on attaining his majority at Allen- 
heads, and asking his acceptance of a picture of Wark- 
worth Castle, by Richardson, a picture he had once much 
admired. On July 5th he notes that he made his Will, 
the provisions few, simple, easily understood, and easy 
to be carried out. 

The diary for 1867 contains some matters of interest, 
although less crowded with details than that of any 
preceding year. A touching reference to the death of 
the Dean of Hereford, and a delightful recognition of 
the early literary efforts of Frank Buckland, son of the 
distinguished Dean of Westminster, stand well out. 
Several pages are devoted to the description of an 
arbitration on electric affairs, between Messrs. Hooper 
and Elliott, in which Mr. T. Brassey and Mr. Sopwith 
were the official arbitrators. In May the scene changes, 
and a description is given of a visit to Paris and the 
volcanic district of Auvergne. On August 25th there 
is an entry dated Saltburn, in which reference is made to 

314 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1866-69. 

a letter " from my son Tom," respecting the skill of 
foreign workmen at Moresnet. " Everything about the 
mines there is really a long way ahead of England, and 
it is a great pity it should be so ; but the next generation 
will find it out if we do not." On this Mr. Sopwith 
makes the following comment : — 

" All this is in accordance with the opinions which, in the 
last few years, have been forced upon me (rather than adopted) 
from observation of Continental as compared with English 
progress. At the root of all is education, — not only education 
of the head, but of the hands. I am much afraid that in this 
most important particular England is not only not keeping 
pace with the Continent, but is receding, whdst other lands are 

" When, about twenty years ago, I had occasion to consider 
the red-tape system of the National School, as carried out at 
Allenheads, I met the generous support of the late Thomas 
Went worth Beaumont, Esq., in replacing it by a school based 
on a generous desire to extend and promote useful education 
(which support was much increased and extended by his son, 
W. B. Beaumont, Esq.). I thought the system of administra- 
tion of schools by Government in many respects defective, and 
subsequent and larger experience of it has strongly confirmed 
this view. The present Government system appears to me 
to be needlessly complicated, to entail a vast amount of useless 
correspondence on trivial points ; and in all this correspondence 
there is a transparent fallacy which deprives it of the great and 
essential feature of truth. Each letter professes to be written 
as by authority of the Lords in Council forming the Committee 
on Education ; and that it should assume this character of 
Government authority is proper. But in matters of trifling 
detail relating to a floor, a fireplace, or other petty altera- 
tions or repairs, or to the defective reading or writing of a 
few scholars in a small country school, it seems to be uselessly 
magnificent to say that ' My Lords ' disapprove, or ' My Lords ' 

1866-69.] THE NATIONAL SCHOOL. 315 

expect so and so. The opinion which professes to be that of 
then- Lordships is often based, as I have had some opportunities 
of observing, on a very cursory examination, and without much 
inquiry. At certain schools, where fire-brick floors have been in 
use for periods of from ten to eighteen years with comfort and 
satisfaction, ' My Lords ' consider them cold in winter, and ask 
that they be replaced by wooden floors. In like manner the 
examination of teachers for country schools appears to be most 
unsatisfactory in operation. Of three excellent teachers two 
were rejected, and as I have had for many years a good 
opportunity of knowing their proficiency in study, their 
diligence in teaching, their great respectability of character, 
this rejection, based on paper returns apart from personal 
observation, has appeared to me a gross injustice and a serious 
impediment in the way of Mr. Beaumont's generous efforts to 
promote good schools. In all this I believe England is really 
far behind some other nations. I cannot but think that, how- 
ever useful centralization may be, and I believe is, in such a 
matter, yet it ought to be accompanied and supplemented by 
much more of local observation and local influence than are 
generally brought to bear on the subject. Local rates, local 
supervision, and compulsory education, may, I believe, be 
accomplished if a due regard is had to the requirements of the 
case. Gardens, fields, workshops, may become accompaniments 
of properly conducted public schools. In these at certain hours 
instruction in gardening, in farming, in mechanical pursuits, 
might be blended with instruction at other hours in reading, 
writing, and other studies. For such work food might be 
given, food cooked by pupils, and the relief of poverty might 
thus go along with the removal of that fearful amount of 
ignorance which, by continued accumulation, must end in 
national disaster. Under existing systems, both of schools 
and colleges, of workshops, farms, mines, and manufactories, 
it is only in exceptional cases (and these brought about by 
legislative measures) that training in industrial occupation and 
mental instruction go together. 

316 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1866-69. 

" There seems no reason why heads and hands should not be 
alike trained from an early age — the fatigue of bodily exertion 
relieved by mental study ; the confinement and bodily inaction 
of study relieved by active and useful exercise. 

" This is the direction which education must take if it is to 
enlist the sympathies and secure the cordial support and co- 
operation of the great mass of the people." 

In August (28th) there is a comment on the able 
memoir and leading article in the Telegraph, on the 
" late Professor Faraday." Of this illustrious philosopher 
Mr. Sopwith never could say too much, although all that 
he said was in such good taste and feeling that Faraday 
himself might have heard it without a blush. Faraday, 
on his part, was equally pleased with his generous friend, 
whom he would, after lecture, invite to the simple family 
supper, in which bread and cheese formed the staple 
of the refreshment. In September (the 30th) Mr. and 
Mrs. Sopwith visit Sir "William and Lady Armstrong 
at Oagside. They drive to Rothbury and Thropton, 
where some new schools have been opened, and where, 
in accordance with arrangements previously made, Mr. 
Sopwith gives a lecture on Education, and Sir William 
exhibits some beautiful electrical experiments. The 
visit gave great delight, notwithstanding the " awful 
punctuality " which prevailed in everything. 

On November 26th, 1867, Mr. Arthur Sopwith took 
his departure for India. 


The opening passages of the diary of 1868 give rise to 
some reflections which show in an expressive way the 
gentle tone and quality of their author. 

"January \%th, 1868. — In writing these few remarks, on a 
quiet Sunday evening, I cannot but reflect on the soothing and 


agreeable influence which is exerted by the objects around me. 
They seem to provoke, as it were, a sentiment of gratitude and 
contentment; to separate the mind of anxious cares; and, look- 
ing back on the past, I find some sources of comfort which I 
fain store for the future. That, however, is hid in darkness. 
Time only will slowly draw the veil and disclose events whether 
for good or seeming evil ; whether of continued health and 
comfort, or of infirmity and anxiety. All that is hidden, and 
wisely hidden, and it only remains to humbly hope that my 
enjoyment of the future may correspond with my content and 
thankfulness for the past. 

" I pursued, for some time, this train of thought. It was 
in harmony with all around me. In arranging the contents 
of the drawers of my writing-table I came upon the first 
railway section I had made (part of Newcastle and Carlisle 
Railway surveyed by me in 1825), and many plans, lectures, 
and reminiscences of the most active period of my life. They 
recall much to my memory, and suggest longings for the same 
ardent and active life I then led. But this cannot be, and I 
feel that continued health can only be preserved by giving up 
some of the long hours, close writing, and active energy of 
younger years." 

Under a later date some similar reminiscences convey 
a similar portrayal of the man. 

"February 12nd, 1868. — I resumed my usual occupations 
in my office at 103, Victoria Street. The various matters 
which require attention at the W. B. Mines fully occupy the 
time usually devoted to business ; and not only so, they intrude 
on other hours, early and late, and when I review the number 
and extent of such business affairs I feel how important it is 
that such attention should be given. This prominence, which 
it is alike my duty and my interest to give to business affairs, 
has not entirely excluded the love of science and art, but it 
has prevented my giving either to them or to literature that 
devoted care which can alone secure eminence, and my coming 

318 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1866-69. 

to Allenheads nearly twenty -three years ago rendered it 
absolutely necessary that I should forego the chances of dis- 
tinction which the pursuit of science, art, or literature may 
lead to. My position in society has, from my birth and early 
progress, been essentially that of business. My acceptance of 
the W. B. Mines agency caused my retirement from the Council 
of the Institution of Civil Engineers ; and attention to its duties 
was also the cause of my leaving the Councils of the Geological 
Society and the Society of Arts. To none of these could I 
possibly give the attention due to them. I willingly give up 
all ideas of the honours due to those who can give more time, 
and who also bring to such duties a higher amount of intel- 
lectual energy and accomplishment than I can lay claim to. 
If, therefore, I see many who, some thirty or forty years ago, 
were my juniors raised to an elevated rank in their respective 
professions, I can heartily join in approving and admiring the 
industry and talent whereby they have achieved success. Work, 
hard work, has been the only road by which they have won 
their way ; and work, hard and unremitting work, has been 
my only means of discharging duties connected with extensive 
mines and numerous people under my direction. Indeed, when 
I consider how much the task of actual labour was, in my 
early years, an absolute necessity, I rather see some reason for 
surprise that I also found leisure for what may be deemed 
intellectual pursuits apart from business occupations. 

" My love of drawing was a means whereby I could be 
useful to two of the most eminently gifted men in the north 
of England — Hodgson and Surtees, the historians of Northum- 
berland and Diu-ham. And this not only procured me their 
acquaintance, but their friendly offices ; and it was not a little 
gratifying to me to be occupied in illustrating works which 
were adorned by the highly artistic productions of Edward 
Swinburne and of Edward Blore. I had also the friend- 
ship of many artists, and when thirty years of age I was 
urged to become President of a society of all the principal 
artists of my native town. Music was also a great enjoyment ; 


and, although I never learnt it as an art, yet I indulged in 
amateur performances, which had their culminating point in 
the performance of an entire service in the Church of St. 
Nicholas, in Newcastle. In architecture, which I had studied 
ouly as an amateur, my first attempt in composition gained 
a prize and much commendation. In engineering, civil and 
mining, I won my way with great satisfaction through many 
undertakings, which brought me into competition or contact 
with many leading men of the time. My surveys in Alston 
Moor made me well acquainted with lead mining, and introduced 
me to John Taylor, certainly at that time the head of mineral 
mining. A road which I projected from Newcastle to the 
Scottish Border, on the way to Edinburgh, was preferred to 
one which McAdam had proposed ; and in railways I had many 
years of successful practice, and an acquaintance with nearly 
all the eminent men who carried out the vast systems of rail- 
ways in the last forty years. 

" My connection with public societies has been a source of 
great enjoyment, and in several cases has originated in a 
manner which I remember with pleasure. It was my good 
fortune to be proposed at the Institution of Civil Engineers 
by Telford, the founder and first President, who volunteered to 
do so. My introduction to the Royal Society was first suggested 
by the then President, Lord Northampton. I have been a 
Member of the Council of the Geological Society, in the Society 
of Arts, etc., and President of the Meteorological Society, as 
also of many local societies in the north of England. 

" My business occupations have been throughout life of a 
nature congenial to my tastes, and it is now approaching to 
a quarter of a century that I have had extensive charge of 
mining concerns in the very districts where I first commenced 
my professional duties — a boundary line only separating Allen- 
dale and Weardale from Alston — where I went forty years 

" My occupations have been varied by travels in various 
countries, in Norway, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, Prussia, 

3 2o THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1866-69. 

France, Spain, and Egypt ; and, above all, in addition to the 
comforts of home I have enjoyed the friendship of many 
eminent and greatly esteemed men. 

"All these (and I might add many more agreeable re- 
membrances) form an aggregate which I suppose to be much 
above, rather than at all below, the average enjoyment of life 
amongst the members of what may be called the middle classes, 
and, at all events, I look back to the retrospect of them with 
fervent gratitude to the Giver of all good. 

" I look back on many sad shortcomings, on wasted opportuni- 
ties, on infirmities of purpose, and on neglect of duties. Every- 
one who honestly looks into the past must, I fear, see much to 
regret, and much that would bear amendment. Of each other 
we cannot judge, for all the data on which a true decision can 
be formed are hidden from us ; but of ourselves we are bound 
to analyse our secret motives as well as outward actions. 

" In the multitude of blessings I have enjoyed I am desirous 
to acknowledge the great and unfailing goodness of God, and 
humbly desire that, amidst all the cares and anxieties which 
may occur in this ever-changing scene, I may repose an un- 
failing trust in the continuance of that goodness." 

In the spring of the year, May 5th, Mr. Sopwith 
took Lantern House in the Isle of Thanet for four months, 
where, with some members of his family, he passed an 
agreeable vacation. During this time his son Arthur, 
who had returned from India, set out for Brazil. 

The visit to Thanet was continued until the early part 
of September, when Mr. Sopwith started for another tour 
through Central Europe, in company with Mrs. Sopwith. 
Of this tour he has published a concise little volume, 
beautifully illustrated throughout : a summary of it, 
therefore, is alone required. 

In the course of this journey visits were paid to Brussels, 
Prague, Aschaffenburg, Nuremberg, Franconian Switzer- 


land, Baurberg, Leipsic, Dresden, Saxon Switzerland, 
Freiburg, Berlin, and Potsdam. The return was made 
on September 30th, when work was resumed in the usual 
form. On October 12th there is a note relating to a 
subject on which Mr. Sopwith often spoke, and almost 
with enthusiasm, the goldfields of Nova Scotia. He was 
of opinion that a great field for enterprise was open in 
this direction, and in the entry to which reference is 
made he says : — 

" October 12th. — I completed some notes on the Nova Scotia 
gold regions, to which the attention of Messrs. Shelford & 
Robinson has been drawn, with a view to Mr. Robinson going 
out early in November to inspect a property at Lawrence 
Town, known as ' Werners,' and comprising upwards of two 
hundred acres which have been partly explored, but which 
would require larger capital to develop the deeper portions of 
the veins or lodes. Gold mining has made a steady progress 
in Nova Scotia, and the evidence adduced with reference to 
this property appears to be worthy of attentive investigation. 
In Memorandum 117 I have noted such points as seem to 
require attention." 

On November 25th he adds an interesting reflection 
on party politics. 

" November 25th. — I learnt from the newspapers that Mr. 
George Elliot headed the poll yesterday, Sir H. Williamson 
being second, and Mr. J. L. Bell not elected. 

" It is really absurd to hear the exaggerated terms in which 
extreme party men speak of each other, as if difference of 
political view necessarily indicated more or less of moral 
depravity. In my own path I avoid as much as possible all 
connection with extreme party views. Well has ' party ' been 
defined, ' the madness of many for the gain of the few.' It 
really amounts almost to a species of temporary insanity in 


322 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1866-69. 

many persons of humble position, whose zeal would be equally 
great on one side or the other according as accidental circum- 
stances have thrown them more in the way of one candidate 
than another. Nor is it at all an uncommon incident for me 
to meet with patriotic and liberal candidates denouncing the 
absolute robbery and jobbery enforced on them in a ' liberal ' 
candidature. Some of the most consistent and advanced 
members of the Whig parties gradually became far more 
conservative, restrictive, and reserved, than the most extreme 
Conservative of the present time ; and among the much-abused 
Tories I have known men of the most exalted and refined 
liberality and usefulness. Indeed, I scarcely see any line of 
demarcation between a Conservative Liberal and a Liberal 
Conservative, and that both parties shoidd have their political 
creed tempered and moderated there is no doubt." 


A note on February 14th, 1869, describes a visit 
to a home which everyone remembers for life who had 
the pleasure of entering its doors, namely, Maryland 
Point, Stratford, the residence of the late accomplished 
and earnest Sir Antonio Brady. " In few houses," says 
Mr. Sopwith, " is there a greater number and variety of 
curious and instructive objects than at Maryland Point. 
A good collection of plants, a remarkable set of gigantic 
fossil bones, a fine collection of minerals, with paintings, 
drawings, books, and microscopes." 

On March 8th a tour commenced to Paris, Cannes, 
Mentone, Geneva, Genoa, the marble quarries of Carrara, 
Pisa, Leghorn, Lucca, Florence and Bologna, Modena, 
Parma, Nice, Montpelier, Barcelona, Tarragona, Valencia, 
Linares, Madrid, and Biarritz. The journey altogether 
was one of extreme pleasure, and afforded ample instruc- 
tion of a scientific as well as of a social character. He 
returned to England on April 27th. 


An entry on June 30th, made at Durham, is interest ing 
in regard to a presentation to Professor Chevallier. 

" June 30th. — At ten I attended service in the Cathedral. 
I called on the Rev. Professor Chevallier, who resides in one 
of the stately and comfortable residences immediately under 
the shadow of the western part of the Cathedral, and command- 
ing a most charming view of the river and of the woody banks. 
Here I found several friends of the Professor, who had come — 
as I also had done — to congratulate him on the well-won honour 
about to be conferred on him by the public presentation of his 
portrait, and among them was my much esteemed friend the 
Venerable Archdeacon of Lindisfarne, and his young and very 
beautiful bride. We accompanied the Professor from his house 
to the Castle, and in the ancient dining-room, amidst a very 
large concourse of clergymen, ladies, and gentlemen, the portrait 
was formally presented." 

On July 15th he was gratified by a kindly letter 
from Mrs. Soinerville, in which that scientific lady 
expressed her opinion in favour of gun-cotton for blasting- 
purposes over its rival nitro-glycerine. She considered 
gun-cotton the safer explosive. 

In August there was a Congress of the Mechanical 
Engineers at Newcastle, before which body Sir William 
Armstrong delivered a characteristic address. The 
members of the Congress visited Allenheads and received 
a cordial reception. 

In November (28th) one or two anecdotes relating to 
Mrs. Somerville and Dr. Bnckland are neatly told. 

" When Mrs. Somerville was introduced to Laplace he 
complimented her as the authoress of the ' Connexion of the 
Physical Sciences,' and as the second most learned lady in the 
world. ' I give ' (so I understood him to have said) ' the first 

324 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1866-69. 

place to Mrs. Grieg.' It was under this — the name of her 
first marriage — that Mrs. Sonierville had performed her great 
work, the translation of the very abstruse and elaborate 
' Mechanism of the Heavens,' by Laplace. 

"Of Dr. Buckland one or two anecdotes are listened to 
with attention and amusement, such as his comment on Mrs. 
Probyn's picture of the Queen, ' Deplorably like.' Another is 
as follows : ' Soon after the Great Western Railway opened 
some attention was called to the inclination of the Box Tunnel 
being nearly in the same direction as the bedding of the strata, 
by which very thin wedge-shaped edges would, by exfoliation 
and the action of the air, become liable to be separated and 
fall down, which separation might probably take place during 
the vibration which accompanies the passing of a train through 
a tunnel. On this subject Dr. Buckland made some observa- 
tions at a meeting of the Institution of Civil Engineers, and 
this was followed by comments in the Times and other papers, 
by which the matter obtained some degree of public attention. 
About this time an elderly gentleman was travelling in a 
first-class carriage between Bristol and the Box Tunnel, which 
latter place the train was approaching. Several persons were 
in the carriage, and the conversation turned on the alleged 
danger of the roof of the tunnel. A smart young gentleman, 
who sat opposite to the gentleman already mentioned, said 
there was no danger, and freely ridiculed the nonsense which 
Dr. Buckland had uttered and written upon it. " So ignorant 
is the Doctor on the matter that he does not even know the 
shape of the tunnel, for he wrongly describes it." " You appear 
to be well acquainted with the subject," said the elderly gentle- 
man to his youthful informant. " Yes," was the reply, " I am, 
and ought to be, for I am one of the engineers employed on 
the line." " Is this, then," said the elderly gentleman, " the 
shape of the tunnel 1 " at the same time exhibiting a drawing 
of it on one of the pages of a memorandum-book. " Oh dear 
no ! " said the youth, " nothing like it — that's the shape Dr. 
Buckland has described, and he is all wrong, he knows nothing 

1866-69.] NEW YEAR DAYS. 325 

about it." " Well," said the elderly gentleman to the passengers 
who were listening, " I suppose we must pay great deference to 
this young gentleman, as he is an engineer on the line, and 
perfectly well acquainted with the tunnel. At the same time, 
let me say I am Dr. Buckland, that this sketch was made 
expressly for me this morning at my request, and that the 
engineer who kindly drew it for me in my memorandum-book 
was Mr. Brunei." ' " 

At the close of this year and on the first day of the 
next year, Mr. Sopwith makes a curious series of memo- 
randa of forty-seven New Year Days, namely, from 
January 1st, 1824, to January 1st, 1870, each day com- 
mencing- a New Year, and reminding him of nine different 
homes, viz., (1) Pilgrim Street, Newcastle, 1824-32; (2) 
Loaming House, Alstou, 1825-29 ; at different places at 
home and abroad from 1830-34 ; (3) Carliol Street, 
Newcastle, 1835-37 ; (4) St. Mary's Terrace, Newcastle, 
1838-47 ; (5) Allenheads, 1848-49 ; (6) 17, Northumber- 
land Street, Newcastle, 1850-52 ; (7) 1, Ridley Place, 
Newcastle, 1854-56 ; (8) 43, Cleveland Square, London, 
1858-64; (9) 103, Victoria Street, London, 1865-70. 




5N the spring of 1870, Mr. and Mrs. Sopwith 
visited Italy, spending some time in Naples, 
Rome, Florence, Bologna, Milan, Verona, and 
Perugia, and visiting the ruins of Hercu- 
laneum and Pompeii. 

Under date of March 14th we have a final picture of 
Mrs. Somerville. 

"March \ith. — We went to Sorrento and visited the house 
in which Tasso was born — viewed the ancient walls, etc. 

" We spent the evening with Mrs. Somerville, with whom 
I had a long and agreeable conversation. At length came 
the hour of parting, perhaps for ever in this world, but we 
live in hope ; and if spared in health and comfort it may 
be that another spring may find us again at Naples. We 
have seen much, but much remains to be seen, and all we have 
seen would well bear revisiting. We bade adieu with all the 
affection of old and sincere friends, and that this sentiment 
is mutual and reciprocal is to me a source of the highest 

" Mrs. Somerville is now in her ninetieth year, and not only 
retains her memory and a fan* share of good health and mental 
vigour, but is able to devote attention to the re-editing of some 

1870-73.] A TOUR IN ITALY. 327 

of her former works, and takes a lively interest in all that is 
passing. Fnll of kindness and amiability, of intelligence, of 
cheerfulness, of hospitality, and as much of goodness, simplicity, 
and truth as I have ever known combined in one character, 
she enters freely into conversation upon any topic that 
happens to be named. Many of her anecdotes are of personal 
reminiscences, such as her intimate acquaintance with Sir 
Walter Scott and others known only by their memories to 
many of the present generation. 

" Our chief object in visiting Naples was to visit Mrs. 
Somerville, and most amply has this been carried out, for 
during a stay of less than a fortnight we twice called and saw 
her on afternoons, we spent three evenings from eight until 
near eleven, and dined with her and her family circle twice ; 
dinner at six being followed by a few hours of most agreeable 
conversation. Very imperfect is the homage which any words 
of mine can express, compared with the inward homage of the 
deep respect and esteem which I entertain for her in my 
heart of hearts." 

On Lady Day, being in Rome, he gets a view of the 

"Friday, March 25th. — This being Lady Day is a great 
festival in Rome ; every shop is closed, and evidences of universal 
holiday meet one in every street. It is an annual custom on 
this day for the Pope to go in state to the ' Church of the 
Minerva,' as it is commonly called, and thither we went 
immediately after breakfast. After waiting an hour in the 
midst of a dense crowd in the centre aisle of the nave, we saw 
the procession, and had an excellent view of the Sovereign- 
Pontiff, as he slowly passed immediately in front of where we 
stood. He wore the golden triple crown and robes of white 
and gold. The throne or chair of state was carried by men, 
and thus elevated, the whole of the Pope's person could be 
seen. He is a portly, benignant-looking, and well-conditioned 
looking personage, and appears remarkably stout and well for 

328 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1870-73. 

his advanced age. It added much to the interest of the 
occasion that the King of Naples, the Corps Diplomatique 
(in state costume), and many archbishops and bishops, were 

The return from Rome to England was made in the 
middle of April, and entries of every-day life continue, 
of little moment until August 23rd, when the marriage 
of Miss Emily Sopwith to Mr. William Hollis Luce 
is reported. The ceremony took place in St. Margaret's, 

On October 30th a picture of Mr. Holman Hunt's, 
called " Isabella, or the Pot of Basil," for which his 
son-in-law, Mr. James Hall, had given two thousand 
pounds, is commented on. He says of it : — 

" It is admirably painted, yet it would be the merest 
affectation in me to attempt to pronounce any opinion of its 
merits. In the first place the subject generally does not enlist 
my favourable sympathies ; there is nothing great or noble or 
even virtuous in a woman giving way to excessive and useless 
grief. As a representation of the female figure, and of the 
female face especially, I do not seem to discern either beauty 
or intelligence. Hunt is a great painter, popular and fashion- 
able, and that the picture is really very valuable I have no 
doubt. Unable at present to see in it such attractions as 
would have induced me to give even one-tenth of the price, I 
reserve all expression of opinion of its merits until I shall have 
seen it a number of times. Repeated inspection is the true 
test by which inexperienced observers can judge. The con- 
noisseur can at once decide, but to less critical eyes a really 
good picture seems on each repeated visit to present some new 
point of merit, some hitherto unnoticed charm, and to this test I 
trust I may be able to submit this curious and costly work 
of art." 


An entry a few weeks after this date records the death 
of his old friend, Mr. Thomas Brassey. 

"Saturday, December 10A, 1870,-1 read with much concern 
in the Times a notice of the death of my greatly honoured and 
respected friend, Mr. Thomas Brassey, at the comparatively 
early age of sixty-five years. Of him most truly may it he 
said, ' A good man has gone to his rest.' 

«It cannot but be a matter of deep regret that one so 
eminently useful, so remarkably successful, so truly benevoent, 
and so charmingly agreeable in his manners and conversion 
should be so soon and so suddenly removed from the sphere 
of his extensive and prosperous labours. I shall ever re- 
member with satisfaction many opportunities I have had ot 
enioying the society of Mr. Brassey since my first meeting with 
Mm at the house of Mons. Paulin Talebot in 1856 I have 
often enjoyed his cordial hospitality, have had the pleasure of 
receiving him as a guest at my house, and have also been 
associated with him in some professional matters. Every 
interview and every transaction inspired one with increased 
esteem and regard for his frank, hearty, straight forward, and 
sensible conduct. His memory will be honoured by all who 
knew him." 

In the early part of 1871 a return of indisposition led 
Mr Sopwith to feel the necessity of retiring from active 
life, and resigning the important agency he had held so 
Ion-. He had now been engaged fifty years in profes- 
sional work, and felt that it was time to cease. The 
death of his friend, Robert Chambers, on March 17th, 
at the age of sixty-nine years, affected him very much 
and led him to think that if the writer of the < Book of 
Days," and of other important works, succumbed, with his 
rich powers, at so comparatively early an age, it would 
be wise for himself to be more careful of such strength 

330 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1870-73. 

as remained to him. To the note referring to Robert 
Chambers he appended a few words relating to the 
brothers William and Robert Chambers, to the effect that 
in his long acquaintance with them he had arrived at a 
firm opinion that they will, in the estimation of posterity, 
occnpy a larger space in the history of their times than 
they have attained amongst their contemporaries. So 
far they have been prominently before the public in 
their business capacity in the publishing department, 
which condition had kept out of view, in no small 
degree, the remarkable — one might almost say astound- 
ing — breadth and vigour of mind displayed by both the 
brothers in their various original works. 

The retirement is recorded by Mr. Sop with as follows : — 

"June 30th, 1871. — At length the day has arrived when, 
according to the arrangements mutually agreed upon as be- 
tween W. B. Beaumont, Esq., and myself, my term of agency 
expires — this day, Friday, June 30th, completing twenty-six 
years of service as chief agent of the W. B. Lead-mines in 
Northumberland and Durham. 

" I examined bargain sheets, and signed receipts for sub- 
sistence, ,£5,156 18s. 2d., and at half -past nine this evening 
I make the entry at the close of my chief agency of the 
W. B. Mines." 

On July 19th, 1871, a presentation was made to him, 
originated by the body of miners and other workmen of 
the W. B. Mines. It included an address and a magni- 
ficent silver tankard, two elegant stands for flowers or 
fruits, three Grecian figures, and an elaborate writing- 
desk. The day of presentation was spent as a general 
holiday. The account of this hearty recognition ends 
with a description of the way in which he parted from 
a place he had occupied so long. 

1870-73.] THE PASSION PLAY. 331 

"At 3 p.m. I left Allenkeacls in my own phaeton, and 
had the company of Mr. Thompson and Mr. Cain as far as 
St. John's Chapel. The band of the 7th Northumberland 
Volunteers played a tune or two ending with the ' "White 
Cockade' in front of the carriage a short distance along the 
road, and thus I made my farewell parting from a district 
which for more tban a quarter of a century has been very 
much a home in the way of residence, and which has had almost 
the sole occupancy of my thoughts, so far as professional matters 
are concerned, in relation to its important mining interests. I 
leave it with many deep emotions — esteem for my many friends 
prevailing over all other feelings." 

As was common with Mr. Sopwitli after any important 
event of his life, he paid a visit to the Continent. This 
time, accompanied by Mrs. Sopwitli, he made his way to 
Bavaria, in order to witness the Passion Play as it was 
then performed, and which he thus describes : — 

"August 26^/j, 1871. — I commenced this Journal (No. 131) 
in the upper room of a small but comfortable and picturesque 
cottage in the village of Ober-Ammergau, in Bavaria, to which 
place my dear Annie and I have come this day, as have 
vast numbers of people, with the intention of witnessing the 
now celebrated performance called the Passion Play, which is 
appointed to be performed in this village to-morrow. 

11 August 27 th. — At half -past seven we went to witness 
the performance of the now far-famed Passion Play at Ober- 
Ammergau, which commenced exactly at eight in the morning 
and continued until near five in the afternoon. The exact 
duration of the play was eight hours and a half. That an 
audience of not less than six thousand persons should sit in 
profound silence and attention during so long a period is 
perhaps as striking a proof as any that can be adduced of the 
interest it excited; and I am satisfied that this attention was, 
if not universally, yet in a very large degree, clue to feelings of 

332 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1870-73. 

sympathy and reverence for the subject of the representation. 
If there were in this or any former occasions of the performance 
any exceptions to this remark I have not heard nor read of 
them ; whilst on the other hand I have met with many written 
and verbal opinions strongly concurring in the respect and 
reverence as well as admiration which the performance is 
calculated to excite. I do not here attempt to base this on 
the peculiar history of the Passion Play, further than to 
observe that it originated in fervent piety, and is continued 
under the powerful influence of a strong religious feeling. 
Viewed in this light it appears to me to present one of the 
most extraordinary examples of dramatic representation that 
the world has ever seen, and certainly no public performance 
that I have either seen or heard of in modern times has excited 
so much attention. The Derby Day in London, the races at 
celebrated places in English provinces, and public pageants and 
ceremonies, no doubt attract thousands and tens of thousands 
of admiring spectators ; and in large cities many occasions arise 
where a much greater number of people are assembled : but it 
is not so much in the number of spectators as in the character 
of the performance and of the performers, as well as in the 
nature of the locality, that we find reason to be astonished ; and 
the more these elements are duly considered the more profound 
must be the impression of surprise and admiration. 

" The performance aims at a representation of some of the 
most profoundly awful and important events recorded in the 
annals, whether sacred or profane, of the civilized world. The 
death of Christ on the Cross, and the attendant circumstances 
immediately preceding it and following it, have exercised an 
influence on the destiny of nations, and of individuals of every 
class, far beyond that of any other event ; for, whatever may be 
the differences in dogmatic beliefs or in the adapted creeds, or 
mental inferences as to details of doctrine and the observance 
of ceremonial worship — the one great fact stands out pro- 
minently before all others, that in the sufferings and death of 
Christ all that is precious in the enlightenment and improve- 

1870-73.] THE PASSION PLAY. 333 

ment of mankind has its origin. Such is the character of the 
performance, such the events which form the subject of the 
Passion Play as performed at Ober-Ammergau. 

" Such being the lofty aim of the performance — an aim, it 
might be supposed, far beyond the powers of the most able 
dramatic performers — let vis now consider who and what are 
the persons by whom the attempt is made. Truly by none 
other than the very class of persons who, as humble peasantry 
or the followers of some industrial occupation in the humble 
walks of ordinary village life, are so clearly delineated in the 
Scriptures as the founders of Christianity. The inhabitants of 
a small village in the midst of mountainous recesses aspire to 
represent the personal aspect and demeanour, as well as the 
historical conduct, of Christ and His Apostles ; and so far there 
is a seeming fitness that characters and events relating to 
humble life should be represented by persons of corresponding 
meekness and lowliness. But in the Passion Play the peasant 
villagers of Ammergau represent some of the great ones of the 
earth — men of pomp and power in the exercise of high authority, 
and in this they succeed in a degree which can only be duly 
appreciated by witnessing the performance." 


On March 10th of this year a very interesting letter 
reached Mr. Sopwitli from Mrs. Soruerville, still at 
Naples. It is a characteristic document. Mrs. Somerville 
accuses herself of being a lazy correspondent, but she 
never forgets her early and valued friends. She is sure 
that Mr. Sopwitli is as active as ever, and that Iris 
Journal has been continued with all the originality and 
profound thought which characterised the parts of it 
she had the pleasure of reading. She expresses herself 
warmly on the universal and enthusiastic loyalty mani- 
fested on the recovery of the Prince of Wales, which 
shows that we are in no danger of revolution. She is 

334 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1870-73. 

very deaf and weak, but still reads without spectacles, 
and keeps herself up to what is going on in the scientific 
world, esr^ecially the mathematical; and, as she drives 
out every good day, her time passes very pleasantly. Mr. 
Sop with' s reply to this letter, equally characteristic, 
appears in copy in the diary. 

" March 23rd, 1872. — In writing to Mrs. Somerville yester- 
day I replied in some detail to her kind inquiries as to the 
health of my family and myself, and I here insert one or two 
passages of my letter. 

" 'Although I am only a youth of sixty -nine, I begin to think 
that hills are steeper than they were forty years ago ; that 
books are in smaller print ; that people don't talk so clear and 
loud as they used to do, and that miles of walking are a little 
but not much increased in length, for I manage seven or eight 
miles without fatigue, and last autumn walked down the Rigi 
from the very summit to the base at Weggio. 

" ' I continue my Journals, and vol. cxxxv. is lying before me. 
1 find much amusement and perhaps even some instruction 
both in writing them and in reading clear records of occurrences 
since I was eighteen. I thus again seem to travel to Alston 
in 1824; to meet there with Trevelyan, Pillans, and others; 
to climb mountains, and plunge into mines. In 1829 I was 
superseding McAdam, and my line of road (Newcastle to 
Edinburgh by Carter Fell) is adopted in preference to his ; and 
thus from year to year I can follow every movement, and rejoice 
in the rich luxury of many valued friendships, yours among 
them, but I cannot condense them in the compass of a letter. 

" ' I delivered your message to General Sir Edward Sabine 
and his good lady ; the former hearty, well, and vigorous ; the 
latter very cheerful, but has recently suffered from cold and 
cough. Both of them delighted to hear of you. ... I some- 
times amuse myself in considering the problem we had some 
talk upon, i.e. of perspective intelligence capable of following 
with instantaneous rapidity the remote regions of space, and 


perceiving, as by parallel rays, isometric images of objects 
irrespective of distance and viewed in any selected ratio as to 
past and present. Passing in one moment from earth to a 
star (a position), to traverse the distance of which light requires 
a thousand years, such an intelligence may now view the 
defeat of the Danes at Ashdown (871); Stonehenge would 
wear the modest antiquity of three hundred years ; after twelve 
years Alfred would be seen in 884 improving London ; and, 
after thirty years Charlemagne crowned Emperor of the West. 
Taking a stretch backward of seven or eight hundred years of 
light's travelling, Pompeii and Herculaneum would be seen 
in all then- magnificence. A flight equalling three thousand 
years of light, and we see Cheops building his pyramid. But 
six thousand nine hundred years of light would be required to 
see a newly-discovered Egyptian monument which Sir William 
Armstrong saw, bold and clear in colour and inscriptions, and 
a clear chronology of six thousand eight hundred years. Then, 
at any time a retracing of the path back to the earth, with 
continuous observation of rays of light met on the way, would 
represent six thousand years in six hours, in six days, in six or 
sixty years, according as our intelligent and perceiving atom 
willed its flight. I named this to our good friend Owen, who 
rejoices in the hope of seeing all his stud of big beasts in full 
vigour.' " 

Under date of April 16th he records : — 

"The marriage of my dear son Arthur to Catherine Susan 
Shelford at the Church of St. Matthew, Upper Clapton, on 
Tuesday, April 16th, 1872." 

In a later entry there is a most pleasurable account of 
a visit to the late Mr. E. W. Cooke, R.A., a report which 
all of us who knew that illustrious artist will willingly 
endorse as photographic of the man. 

" May 10iA, 1872.— Whitsuntide was spent at Glen-Andred, 
the residence of the well-known artist and Eoyal Academician, 

336 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1870-73. 

Mr. E. W. Cooke, and of his mother and sisters. The pleasure 
with which I had looked forward to this visit was more than 
realized, nor will it be forgotten as long as any powers of 
memory remain in a mind which is so disposed to treasure up 
all recollections of worthy and greatly esteemed friends, and 
of beautiful and romantic scenery. The general conduct and 
disposition of our host are such as to have gained him the 
esteem of all who know him, but it is in the happy sphere of 
home life that his worth and amiability are most fully developed. 
For his artistic talents T have the highest admiration, and 
much as these are known and appreciated by the public and 
throughout Europe, yet it is only in his home that anyone 
can become fully acquainted with the merit, the variety, 
and astounding number of his productions. It is not alone as 
an artist that Mr. Cooke's attainments are remarkable. He 
is possessed of much scientific knowledge, together with a 
large share of general information ; and of natural history his 
acquaintance is very extensive, more especially as regards trees 
and plants and flowers. He is a most devout and cheerful wor- 
shipper in the temple of Nature. In his character of host 
he greatly excels. Every possible comfort is provided by the 
unweaiying assiduity of his worthy mother, his sisters and 
himself. Every wish seems to have been anticipated, and 
hence our stay of three days was one continuous round of 

" At noon on Monday our party — consisting of Professor 
Owen, Mr. Cole, Q.C., and his lady, my dear Annie and myself 
— was increased by the arrival of Sir Antonio Brady, whom I 
had the pleasure of introducing to Mr. Cooke a few months 
ago. In the evening, Lord De la Warr was one of the party 
at dinner. 

" It would be difficult, I think, to imagine in three days a 
more pleasant combination of circumstances than those by 
which we were surrounded. All the charms of friendly 
hospitality, of accomplished skill in art and science, romantic 
scenery, and all the delights of a happy English home. 

1870-73.] DEATH OF MR. TATE. 337 

"We returned to London on Wednesday, May 22nd, 1872." 

The death of Mr. Tate, with whom he had been on 
terms of close intimacy for many years, on July 3rd, 
leads to a special series of notes in the diary. 

" July &th, 1872. — I received a card informing me of the death 
of my dear and good old friend, and formerly a much loved 
and instructive companion, namely, Thomas Tate, O.E., of 
Warrington. He died on July 3rd, 1873, aged eighty-one 
years. It is now half a century since I was on terms of inti- 
mate acquaintance with Mr. Tate. He entertained very liberal 
views, so broad indeed as to offend my early impressions, the 
more so as I thought his mode of speaking somewhat satirical ; 
but this failing is one into which I have often fallen, and I 
think it quite possible, and even probable, that my own errors 
in this respect have been far graater than his. 

" On looking into my Journals written nearly fifty years ago 
I find some entries relating to this excellent, clever, and large- 
hearted man. 

"On January 7th, 1824, in mentioning Mr. Tate as one of 
the speakers at a debating society in Newcastle, I find the 
remark of his being ' very ingenious, uncommonly mild and 
even accomplished in his manners, agreeable in person, and 
intelligent and logical in argument.' Again, in April of the 
same year, I speak of him as being ' the ablest speaker and in 
every respect the brightest ornament of the society ; ' and 
again, about the same period, I wrote as follows : 'To a 
very candid and amiable disposition are added very extensive 
attainments, possessing considerable mechanical and scientific 
knowledge, which he communicates with great plainness and 
sweetness of manner, an agreeable smile relieving the dryness of 
philosophical disquisitions.' 

" When employed all day he sometimes, at his rooms in the 
Low Bridge, Newcastle, had classes, to whom he gave lessons 


338 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1870-73. 

in geometrical and architectural drawing. His proficiency 
in such drawing, and especially as applicable to oblique 
bridges, opened a way for him in the more important and 
profitable department of civil engineering, in which, during 
his long and active and most useful and prosperous life, he 
has not only been extensively employed, but also gained the 
warm friendship and entire confidence of several of those chiefs, 
George Stephenson among them, who were then commencing 
the great railway works which now abound in all England, as 
in every other civilized nation. 

" In the last few years I sought an opportunity of renewing 
our former friendship. I paid two or three visits to his 
hospitable abode, and had the pleasure of . seeing him at my 
house in London. 

" He retained in old age all that pleasing expression which 
I have mentioned as being so conspicuous when he was about 
thirty yeai-s of age. I have seldom if ever seen a happier old 
age, and now at a year over fourscore he sleeps the sleep of 
death. Of so inevitable an event at so ripe an age the general 
sentiment of his friends must be that of rejoicing over his well- 
spent life rather than of lamenting its close." 

On July 26th, d propos to a proposed memorial to 
Mr. Edward Potter, Mr. Sopwith wrote to Mr. W. A. 
Potter (Cramlington), giving his views concerning the 
proposed memorials of the late Edward Potter. He 
thought that a clock and peal of bells would be ex- 
tremely suitable for such a memorial. They are for 
all time, and day by day and night by night their 
sound is going forth with impressive eloquence, deeply 
suggestive to thoughtful minds. 

The small hours of morning indicate the time when, 
with watchful vigilance, the mines are examined to ensure 
the safety of workmen (not always grateful for heroic care); 
and this duty in early life devolved on Edward Potter. 


Early hours of rising and the breakfast-hour precede 
the midday chimes, reminding one of many a livelong 
day of arduous duty. At noontide and at midnight, 
hours of brightness, hours of gloom, will the bells 
remind one of chance and change in the life of a brave 
and good man. When wedding bells peal forth a joyous 
feeling they will tell of one who, in his family circle, 
often was present at such festivities ; and when sadder 
tones tell of more mournful missions, they will, to many, 
recall the remembrance of Edward Potter having been 
buried in the presence of many thousands. Some of 
these in life had opposed him during the period of 
unreasoning and tyrannous strikes, but in his death all 
truly mourned the loss of a true friend. Larger crowds 
may have gathered to view the pomp of royal obsequies, 
or the funerals of a Nelson or a Wellington; but few 
persons in the class of peaceful citizens have been 
buried in the midst of so large and so truly sorrowful 
a multitude. And thus the clock and its homely chimes, 
and the bells in more prolonged melody, may from day 
to day, from year to year, and even from century to 
century, be an ever-speaking monument, and a worthy 
memorial, more especially on Sundays, when "the sweet 
chimes proclaim the hallowed day." 

Mr. Sopwith also suggested that each bell should 
have upon it Mr. Potter's name and some appropriate 
inscription. These will be as permanent as the bells 
themselves, yet in a lofty tower not often read. He pro- 
posed, also, that on the face of the clock there should be 
placed the initials E. P., with the years of his birth and 
death, and on the inner walls of the church a marble slab, 
whereon should be inscribed, " On the bells of the tower 
of the church are the following inscriptions," etc., etc. 

In September and October Mr. and Mrs. Sopwith 

34o THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1870-73. 

revisited the Continent, taking in their route Cologne, 
Heidelberg, Vienna, Prague, Carlsbad, Ratisbon, Wurz- 
burg, and Brussels. He returned on October 13th to the 
usual routine of home life in retirement. 

He rose soon after eight o'clock, and breakfast at nine, 
preceded by a short service of prayers, at which the 
servants and family attended, spent an hour in reading 
the newspapers, and remained until one o'clock in the 
office — as he, from long use, called his library — engaged 
in writing and correspondence. The afternoon was 
variously occupied, sometimes at the desk, at other 
times in exercise and recreation, or in visits to 
Kensington Museum or the Athenaeum Club. Dinner took 
place at seven, and the evening, for the most part, was 
devoted to rest, conversation, and sometimes a game of 
whist or dominoes. He found abundance of occupation 
in correspondence, in reading, and in referring to journals 
and other data of former days. His duties as Director 
and Secretary of the Spanish Mines Company, and 
various other matters, furnished him with as much business 
occupation as he could undertake with due regard to 
the injunctions of his medical advisers against anxiety 
and over-exertion. 

On November 13th (1872) he received from General 
Sabine intelligence of the death of Mrs. Somerville, on 
which event he has the following entry : — 

"November 30th, 1872. — No words can fully express the 
deep feeling of regard which I entertain and will ever cherish 
for the great talents and still greater virtues of this most 
amiable and honoured and much lamented lady. During 
somewhat more than half of my past life I have had the 
privilege of her most valued friendship, and at times, only too 
few and far between, have corresponded with her on various 


" In one of my latest conversations with her she expressed 
her admiration of a sentiment which I quoted from an Italian 
tombstone, to the effect that death to the wise is the evening of 
a pleasant day. In a long conversation which followed, the 
subject of a future state was considered, with reference to 
the probable extension of already known physical conditions, 
and some of these which I mentioned having the advantage 
of novelty, were accepted by my amiable friend as opening 
views which she considered well worthy of contemplation. I 
do not attempt, however, now to enter upon disquisitions 
which can be only understood after some study of and candid 
acquiescence in certain conditions of physical laws already 
known to us, and of changes of condition and extensions of 
powers quite capable of being brought within the limits of 



On February 5th, 1873, he records receipt of two 
letters, one from Miss Frances Cobbe, the other from 
Miss Somerville, relative to the death of Mrs. Somerville. 

" February 5th. — I have received from Miss Cobbe the loan 
for perusal of a letter received by her from the late Mrs. Somer- 
ville, from which the following extracts are made. It bears 
date October 11th, 1872. 

" « God bless you, my dearest friend, for your irresistible proof 
of our immortality— not that I have doubted it, but as I shall 
soon enter my ninety-third year, your proof is an inexpressible 
comfort, for my belief has been intuitive. 1 cannot tell why I 
have believed.' ' The sacred thirst of the whole human race 
for justice would be wanting if there be no world beyond,' is 
the noblest proof of our immortality that ever was written. 
' The " Life after Death " is by far the most important, and 
perhaps the best of your works. At all events it is very great. 
Besides, it comes at a time when Atheism is so prevalent in the 
scientific world. It is deplorable and inconceivable how men 
can believe that the glor y of the heavens, and the beauty of 

342 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1870-73. 

the earth, with all its inhabitants, is not the work of a 

" This was written at Sorrento (forty clays before her death), 
' where,' she observes, ' we have been three months, and shall 
remain till November,' and then continues as follows : ' I wish 
Mary and you had been with us, for we have a terrace with a 
roof, but otherwise open to the air, from which we have an 
extensive view of the sea, the whole coast of Naples, Vesuvius, 
and a range of mountains that end in cliffs on the shore. On 
this terrace we have spent our summer both during the day 
and in the evening, reading and conversing till bed time, for 
the ah- has been so mild and calm that the lamp burned was 
not flickering.' . . . 

" ' "With regard to myself, I am really in good health for 
my age, but painfully weak. I cannot rise from my chair 
without help, and rarely venture to walk alone ; but I some- 
times drive out in the evening, being lifted into the carriage. 
I am quite deaf, but I see well, and my memory is only good 
in mathematics, so I amuse myself solving problems by the 
method of Quaterninons in the morning, and Martha beats me 
unmercifully at bezique in the evening.' 

" What a pleasing picture of blessed old age — the lamp of 
life burning indeed with clear and steady light, and without 
flickering, too soon, alas ! to be quenched in night. Truly of 
these terrace scenes, thus simply yet gracefully described, the 
human race may be proud, for in them we contemplate the 
closing hours of a good and useful life. True indeed is 
the maxim on an Italian tomb, which I quoted to Mrs. 
Somerville in 1870, ' Death to the wise is the evening of a 
pleasant day.' 

" I received also a letter, dated February 2nd, 1873, from 
Miss Somerville, ' expressing gratitude to Mrs. Sopwith and 
myself for our sympathy in their irreparable loss — a loss 
which they feel daily and hourly, so that life seems very flat 
and sad without that gentle, intellectual spirit, so full of love 
and sympathy. ' You are a very old friend. I say are, and 

1870-73-] REMINISCENCES. 343 

not were, because I believe (and in time the belief will, I trust, 
prove a consolation) that communion with those we love is 
only suspended for a time, and that love and friendship will 
be continued in the other world. I repeat, then, you are a 
very old friend, and the love and honour you have for her is 
very pleasing to us.' ' Miss Cobbe is a person of immense 
genius and talent, and of the warmest heart. My mother 
loved her dearly.' 'To the last her mind was clear and 
bright. She died very nearly suddenly, yet not so much so as 
to prevent her from taking leave of us two, and of her old 
servants, who were so devoted to her, and, thank God, without 
suffering or illness. In fact, not two hours before she was in 
her usual place — you know it well — in the corner.' 

A note on reminiscences is curious, under date of 
May 13th. 

" May \Wi. — In replying to a letter received from the Rev. 
James Wayland Joyce, thanking me for having sent him an 
introduction to Sir James Anderson, I said it was ' exactly in 
accordance with the sentiments of sincere respect and esteem 
which had made it quite a pleasure to attempt being of any 
service to him,' and I added, ' I remember seeing in 1814 the 
first steamboat that appeared on the rivers Tyne and Thames, 
and it is seven years more than half a century since I travelled 
in and wrote a description of the first steamboat built on the 
River Tyne. When a second boat was suggested, the wise ones 
of the earth shook their heads, ' One may do, but Two — will 
never answer.' There are now about two hundred ! So much 
for surmise. It is on printed record (but whether based on 
fact or otherwise I know not) that a former President of the 
Royal Society absolutely pooh-poohed the very notion of a steam- 
ship being possible. It is pretty well understood that Davy 
doubted the lighting of streets by gas, and we know that 
Lardner derided a crossing of the Atlantic by steamers. In view 
of these and many other instances of erroneous judgment by 
eminent authorities, I set a modest value on my own notions 

344 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1870-73. 

as a guide for others ; albeit I suppose it is out of the nature 
of things not to put my own trust in what I call an instinctive 
conviction, rather than an elaborate induction." 

Under date of June Mr. Sopwith has some comments 
on the Hooper electric cable, a summary of which may 
be of value. 

The Hooper Telegraphic Cable. 

Iu former pages of his journals are entries (commencing 
April 19th, 1859), in relation to Mr. Hooper's cable, the 
merits of which appeared so prominent, on a first in- 
spection, he did not hesitate at once to bring the cable 
under the notice of the distinguished engineer, Robert 
Stephenson, who made several suggestions and inquiries, 
and who formed such a favourable estimate of its value, 
that if his life had been spared a few years longer it is 
probable Mr. Hooper would have found in him a very 
valuable friend, and a powerful promoter and protector 
of his interests. Many obstacles presented themselves, 
and for years Mr. Hooper had to contend with great 
difficulties. At one time Mr. Sopwith took up the 
matter as a professional service, and brought it under 
the notice of Mr. Cyrus Field, Sir C. Bright, and 
Mr. Latimer Clarke, and under the able guidance of 
the last-named the cable was in a fair way to success. 
In the cost of pursuing experiments Mr. Sopwith under- 
took to find £700 out of £2,000, but no sooner were the 
merits of the cable made apparent than friends and 
capital were forthcoming. 

"June 9th. — But, alas ! calm seas were not yet reached 
by Mr. Hooper, who for months, and even years, had to 
contend against head winds and stormy weather, and I was 
led once more into some intimate connection with the cable 
along with the late Mr. Brassey. Of all these troublous times 
there is only one recollection that I wish to preserve, namely, 


that if, under very perplexing and most complicated conditions, 
Mr. Hooper found it difficult to meet every expectation, and 
even caused me some annoyance, yet one long-continued and 
unbending attention was bestowed with great practical skill, 
with untiring industry, and an honest and earnest zeal on the 
improvement of the cable. These efforts, which reflect the 
highest honour on Mr. Hooper, have eventually been crowned 
with success. Of this success the present time seems a cul- 
minating point. A powerful company has been formed ; a ship 
has been designed and built purposely to lay one of Hooper's 
cables in South America ; and in this ship much of the cable 
is already placed. I do not attempt to enter upon details of 
construction, but some of them are marvellous, none more so 
than the completion of an enormous and admirably adapted 
ship in the short period of seven months. The credit of this is 
due to Messrs. Mitchell and Swan, of Newcastle, one of whose 
firm was present at a lunch given on board the Hooper (for so 
the ship is named) this day, June 9th, 1873. Invited by a 
card from the directors, and by a special note from Mr. Hooper, 
I accompanied that gentleman and some of his friends to 
Millwall by steamboat. A numerous company filled the 
spacious cabin, and a very handsome cold collation enabled 
every one to enjoy themselves. When the healths of Sir 
William Thomson and Dr. Gladstone had been proposed and 
responded to, Mr. Hooper mentioned my name to the company, 
along with that of Mr. Latimer Clarke ; a conjunction of which 
I am proud. He referred to my efforts during the infancy and 
subsequent struggles of the cable, and in a few words I expressed 
the high opinion which I really entertain of the wonderful and 
successful perseverance of Mr. Hooper. In this most hospitable 
and festive gathering I contemplated the realisation of Mr. 
Hooper's views. I consider him to be most worthy of his well- 
won lam-els. He has achieved the usual reward of patience and 
perseverance ; a painful past is followed by a bright present, 
and it may be fairly permitted us to hope that so good a 
commencement will be followed by a long and prosperous career, 

346 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1870-73. 

and favoured with blessings from on high from the Giver of 
all good. 

" If my luncheon on board the ship Hooper was a great 
enjoyment to me this day, still more so was it enjoyable to sit 
with my old and most honoured and most estimable friend 
Decimus Burton. In my youthful days I was an earnest 
admirer of his works, as exhibited in engraved views of places 
which I had not seen ; but I formed in my mind a sort of 
instinctive admiration of his pure style and severe taste. An 
early acquaintance with Greek architecture had taught me 
even then to know something of the elements of classical 

" In this I thought Decimus Burton supreme, and what I 
then fancied has been solidly confirmed by all subsequent 
observations and experience. 

" After three hours spent under the genial auspices of Mr. 
Burton's hospitality, I went to join my dear Annie and Ursula 
at a reception given by Mrs. T. Brassey at 24, Park Place ; and 
here I ended a day fraught with much interest and enjoyment. 

" The science of electric telegraphy, the art of modern archi- 
tecture, based on the purest examples of antiquity, and worth 
and wealth are well represented by Hooper, Burton, and 

Amongst other friends of Mr. Sopwith should be named 
Mr. Prestwich, the geologist. Their friendship extended 
over a long period, and the feeling for Mr. Prestwich by 
Mr. Sopwith was always of the warmest kind. On a 
visit which he paid to this friend he makes the following 
entry : — 

" July 5th.— This afternoon Annie and I went on a visit 
to Mr. and Mrs. Prestwich, at their pleasant residence near 
Shoreham in Kent, named Darenthulme. It would indeed be 
a difficult task to record in any adequate terms the pleasure 
I derived from this visit, or the number and variety of the 

I 870-73.] TOUR THROUGH NORWAY. 347 

objects which claimed attention. The mansion is in short 
the home of a geologist, who by his long-continued and most 
able labours has gathered a rich store of scientific treasures, 
and attained the highest position of geological science, he 
having immediately preceded the Duke of Argyll as President 
of the Geological Society of London. His wide fame has been 
truly won, and much as I honour and admire his skill, I 
admire and esteem still more highly the worth of his genei'al 
character — the gentleness of his disposition, and I may add his 
abundant and generous hospitality. 

" We were delighted alike with the place and with the 
agreeable and intelligent friends we met there." 

On July 10th Mr. and Mrs. Sopwith, accompanied by 
Misses Ursula and Alice, started on a long tour through 
Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. The diary is full of 
picturesque details, which at that time were really 
original, although they have now been superseded by 
other and more elaborately published descriptions. Some 
of the observations on the country people, however, have 
still a touch of novelty. The chief feature in Norway, 
for instance, lies, in his opinion, in the virtue of its 
inhabitants. In them the simplicity of childhood is a 
dignity approaching the kingdom of heaven ; and he 
desires to pay his respects for the civility and upright- 
ness he has always found exemplified in every transac- 
tion he has had with the Norwegian people. 

In arts and manufactures, in important matters of 
learning, in commercial and manufacturing pursuits, in 
political and scientific studies, Norway had not, he 
thought, attained to the celebrity nor dignity of some 
other European countries ; but she is on the march 
forward, and her exhibitions of works of native industry 
indicate how surely she is advancing to a solid and 
honourable maturity. 

348 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1870-73. 

The journey lasted over a month, the return to England 
being made on August 30th. 

On September 4th there is an interesting note, from 
which it appears that Miss Cobbe and other friends 
proposed to bring the remains of the late Mrs. Somerville 
to a final resting-place in Westminster Abbey. " Dean 
Stanley was not only willing but wishful that this honour 
should be given to one so worthy of it, and Sir William 
Fairfax, a family connection, oifered to defray all the 
costs.' 1 The suggestion, however, that an application 
should be made from eminent scientific men was not 
taken up. " The Astronomer Royal declined, and the 
cold shade was thrown over this honourable intention 
towards the highly gifted and most estimable lady, to 
whose worth La Place, Herschel, and Sabine had 

The next entry, containing a criticism of a much-praised 
and much-blamed work of English art, calls for intro- 
duction as coming from one who knew practically many 
of the details beyond the knowledge belonging even to 
professed critics. It is the view of an actual workman 
on the work presented to his sight by the artist. 

" Saturday, December 20th. — I went to see the new picture 
by Holman Hunt, called (but why so I do not understand) 
' The Shadow of the Cross.' This led me to expect something 
solemn and gloomy — some deeply touching and impressive 
lesson relating to that dark shadow of death through which 
all must pass. With only the painting before me I should 
have seen in it a somewhat garish but minutely painted 
picture of a carpenter's work-room, with a swarthy Syrian 
athletic youth who seems to have just ceased from sawing a 
deal board to utter some expression of anguish, to which a 
female figure (whose back only is seen) is seemingly paying no 
attention. These figures are meant to represent Christ and 

1870.-73] " THE SHADOW OF THE CROSS." 349 

His Mother. Many points of detail appear to me to be 
doubtful as regards accuracy. The shadow from an eastern 
sun would, I think, be darker. The crown and costly draperies 
seem out of place. The picture is without repose, and it is to 
me more like a map or even model of comparatively trivial 
objects rather than an impressive combination of well-adjusted 
light and shade. The shadow of a crimson wreath or ' Aghal ' 
seems out of perspective, and looks as if caused by slanting 
rather than horizontal rays. The meagre costume of the 
principal figure appears much more elegant and costly than 
beseems any workman I have ever seen in the East, where the 
raiment, of coarse material, is often thrown round the figure 
with a gracefid disposition of folds, which great masters have 
gladly and ably imitated. 

" I looked in vain for the saw-dust which would bestrewn on 
the floor under the recently-made incision, but of this it is 
futile to complain in presence of so extraordinary abundance 
of shavings. Before, behind, and at each side the floor is 
covered with shavings, from which it is to be presumed that 
much planing has been in progress in some part of the shop 
not represented in the picture. As to minute fidelity in the 
details, it is wonderful. 

" I have briefly but honestly expressed what occurred to me 
on a first view of this work,— not a transient view, for I sat 
more than an hour in most attentive examination of it, both 
as regards the general aspect, the expression, and the 
amazing delicacy and model-like accuracy of the details of 
drapery, jewellery, and carpenter's tools. But no one, I think, 
can trust their judgment to come to any absolute decision on 
a great work at first view, the more so when the immense 
value assigned to the picture seems almost to provoke a desire 
to find whether imperfection can be detected in a work which 
ought in its way to be as nearly perfect as human art can 
achieve. Certainly my fh»!; view of it was disappointing." 




IN the beginning of 1874 Mr. Sopwith was in 
Paris, with Sir Antonio Brady. The season, 
January 1st, led him to some reflections on 
the course of events for the past fifty years, 
on which he observes : — 

"The period from 1824 to 1874 has been one of greater 
progress than the world has seen in any preceding half century. 
Even a bare enumeration of the leading incidents of such 
progress would require many ample volumes ; how brief, how 
imperfect then must be any attempt of mine to marshal them 
forth in the brief pages — as I may say, mere shadowy outlines — 
of a journal like this. 

" Sixty -five years ago I witnessed the celebration of the 
jubilee of George III., and of some of the incidents of that 
day I have as clear a memory as though they had happened 
only yesterday. 

" Five years passed on ; and gas, first invented or brought 
into use in 1803, was adapted as a means of lighting the 
streets, and expelling for ever the ' darkness visible of the oil- 
fed lamps.' And, at this period I witnessed the advent of 


steam navigation. I saw the first steamboat that was seen 
on the Tyne. In 1816 I was instrumental in providing suit- 
able arrangements for the exhibition of a locomotive engine 
in Newcastle ; and five years before that my friend, Sir Charles 
Menteith, had heralded in print the engineering forethought 
of Mr. Buchanan of Edinburgh, that steam locomotion would 
become the means of conveying passengers more rapidly than 
by coach and horses. Not until 1824 was this expectation 
realized, and from that year is to be dated the commencement 
of the railway system. This I apprehend will be found to be 
the most effective promoter of human progress that has been 
known up to the period at which I write. 

" Of the advances made in engineering, in astronomy, in 
geology, in chemistry, in arts, in literature, and in every 
department of human knowledge it is impossible to write 
without a feeling of wonder and admiration. 

" Of this great march, as I may call it, of the human 
intellect I have in some few respects been a humble partici- 
pator, but my note-books may hereafter possess some interest, 
inasmuch as they contain many allusions to men whom I have 
known intimately, and whose names must ever be enrolled 
among the great benefactors of mankind. 

" Of engineers I have personally known Telford, Chapman, 
Walker, Cubitt, Brunei, and many others, but more especially 
the two Stephensons, father and son. 

" I knew Dalton, the father (worthily so called) of chemistry ; 
William Smith, in like manner the father of geology ; and so I 
might continue to record a long list of honoured names. 

" At the close then of half a century (dating from the 
beginning of railways in 1824) I feel it to be a privilege and 
blessing of the highest order to be able to record, as I now do, 
my humble but earnest and most sincere gratitude for 
having been permitted to be an eyewitness of the wonderful 
progress of the last fifty years." 

The election of Mr. Burt to Parliament as a working- 

352 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1874-79. 

man candidate leads to one or two characteristic notes on 
working men in the House of Commons. 

"Sunday, February 22nd, 1874. — The introduction of work- 
ing men into Parliament is a circumstance that cannot fail to 
attract much attention. Take, for example, Mr. Burt, who is a 
direct representative of the pitmen in the vicinity of Morpeth, 
in Northumberland, succeeding Sir George Grey, who retired 
from the representation of that borough. I have no doubt but 
that the House of Commons, with instinctive right feeling, will 
show much indulgence to a speaker who directly represents 
' the masses,' as it is usual to call them ; but I think it probable 
that indulgence will not be required, and that Mr. Burt will 
make himself heard and understood. If this should prove to be 
the case, it would probably lead, if not to a new party, at least 
to an extension of liberal views, with which the hitherto liberal 
parties have not been made acquainted. There is another and 
important influence which working-class members may exert, 
and that is an influence on the working classes generally, 
tending to convince them that improvement and advancement 
can only arise from sound education and prudent conduct. A 
sense of justice and love of fair dealing are lessons which 
pitmen have been taught by one of the people, who not long 
ago expressed such correct views that the employers themselves 
gave currency to them. The railway and telegraph afford 
means of communication very much more effective for progress 
than any which has hitherto existed, and I feel persuaded that 
in a few years the results will be much in favour of the 
so-called masses, if they as a body can be brought to imitate 
the example of many individuals of their class who have 
ascended the social scale." 

On July 11th, 1874, there is an entry of a visit paid 
on the occasion of the golden wedding of Mr. and Mrs. 
S. Carter Hall; followed by a description of another visit 
to the Continent, and of excursions through Switzerland, 


with a long account of all the places visited, together with 
an excellent map of the journey. Of this journey to 
Switzerland Mr. Sopwith published a very useful little 
work, illustrated with a design, showing the approximate 
heights of English and Swiss mountains. 

In October of tin's year Mr. Sopwith revisited Leeds, 
and his diary at this point contains an entry describing 
a local institution called the Conversation Club. At this 
club, which has existed many years, some special subject 
is brought up for conversation rather than debate. I 
remember attending one of these meetings with my old 
friend, Mr. John Morley, — then little dreaming of being 
a Minister of State, — when, under the presidency of 
the late Mr. Kitson, capital punishment was the subject 
for conversation. At Mr. Sopwith's visit on October 
25th, 1874, the club met at Mr. — afterwards Sir Edward 
— Baines's at St. Anne's Hill. The subject of conversa- 
tion was " The most useful form of memorial of eminent 
men" Several propositions were made, Mr. Sopwith's, 
which met with most approval, being a Memorial Hall, 
containing a statue or bust of the person to be honoured, 
adorned with frescoes, paintings, or engravings repre- 
senting his achievements, with a library and reading- 
room, and, when convenient, a lecture hall. 

Under date of September 19th are some remarks sent 
by Mr. Sopwith to G. Harris, Esq., furnished in reply 
to an enquiry he made respecting the combined effects of 
genius and energy : — 

"September \<dth. — Intellectual characters may be unfairly 
estimated if the results which they accomplish are attributed 
to energy and perseverance, and not to genius or skill. 

" This leads to a consideration of these several qualities, both 
as regards their own nature and the relations in which they 
stand to each other. 


354 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1874-79. 

" Genius is a gift interwoven with the natural mental 
character. Skill is as much of the nature of genius as can 
be acquired, and both genius and skill may be considered as 
included in the word talent. 

" Energy is an impulse to work with power in efforts not 
necessarily continuous or lasting. Perseverance is akin to 
energy, but differing in this respect, that it is in its nature 
steady and enduring, and the objects to which it is applied are 
not necessarily of so great and powerful a character as those 
which are overcome by energy. 

" Neither energy of mind, in its powerful efforts, nor per- 
severance, in its own more patient labours, are in themselves a 
proof of great talents being combined with them, nor do they 
necessarily result from the possession of great gifts of mental 
endowment. On the contrary, they are found in minds 
destitute of high endowments, and are sometimes wanting in 
minds of great and varied talents. 

" Of this I will endeavour to give some illustration. 
" In many cases of ordinary trading operations much energy 
and perseverance are absolutely indispensable for acquiring a 
requisite proficiency in pursuits in which 110 high endowments 
of genius are required. 

" This is especially so in the case of acrobats, who are trained 
year after year in daily exercises of persevering energy — they 
excel in what Channing calls ' the greatness of action.' Yet, 
however successful in the energy and perseverance of muscular 
activity, they do not necessarily possess any rare endowments 
of mind ; of the absence of which their constant occupation 
seems in itself sufficient proofs. 

" On the other hand, instances are not wanting where 
genius and skill, or, in other words, great and varied talents, 
have existed without the accompaniment of energy or per- 

" In such characters occasional efforts prove how great is the 
talent, and the distance of such efforts from each other proves 
the want of energy and perseverance. 


"Byron, who was a deep student both of his own highly 
gifted mind and of the character of others, ascribes to genius 
and energy a common origin when he writes of — 

" ' Every fault that daring genius owes 

Half to the ardour which its birth bestows.' 

" Assuredly in many, probably in by far the greater number 
of cases, genius does ' give birth ' to ardour, which, as here 
used, is only another name for energy or greater mental 

" Most commonly they are thus united, and separately they 
are of little use in promoting any really high or important 
result. Talent without energy is little known, and energy 
without talent is only suited for ordinary or it may be even 
for trifling occupations. 

" In any estimate of intellectual character of a high order, 
it is proper to value energy and perseverance as usual and 
most important accompaniments of genius, though not in- 
variably combined therewith. They are the sword and the 
shield with which genius goes forth to battle, and without 
which but little conquest can be looked for. If the champion, 
however valiant, is without these arms he is almost powerless. 

" Genius is not proved to exist by the exertion of vigour, 
but when energy is present then it is guided and concentrated 
by that pure light of genius which in its essence is of a higher 
and more spiritual character than any qualities which are 
common alike to genius and to efforts of a much more noble 


The diary through 1875 is that of a man of leisure, 
living in London, and filling ivp his time by watching 
all current events, and taking part in some. There is a 
brief description of the death and funeral of Sir Charles 
Lyell ; a short defence of Dean Stanley from the attacks 
of the Saturday Review; an account of a dinner-party 

356 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1874-79. 

where George Cruikskank was present, " in which that 
remarkable artist expressed himself without reserve in 
favour of Temperance ; " an account of a visit, for the 
first time, to Ascot ; a list of pleasant occupations, with 
the outline of a day of refined pleasures. In August 
of this year he made another visit to Holland, and on 
September 27th he attended at the fiftieth anniversary of 
the opening of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, the 
jubilee of railway locomotion. At the Social Science 
Meeting at Brighton he was one of the adjudicators of 
the Sanitary Exhibition, and in his notes on the progress 
of sanitation he describes Mr. Edwin (Jhadwick, " whose 
name," he says, " will be remembered as one of the most 
active, useful, and benevolent men of the time." 

The year 1876 was marked by a very instructive tour, 
in company with Mrs. Sopwith, through Normandy and 
Brittany. Of this tour Mr. Sopwith has published a 
short essay, giving a most careful description not only of 
the various places visited, but of the manners and customs 
of the people. History and superstition are, he thinks, 
blended here more than in most places, where the mar- 
vellous legends which abound are implicitly believed 
by many. The history of the church of Folgoet is cited 
as a wonderful example of this fact. Later in the year 
he made a tour in Scotland, and paid a visit to Mr. 
William Chambers at Glenormiston. A short picture of 
this visit is given under date of September 23rd. 

"September 23rd, 1876. — We left Edinburgh this morning, 
and had a pleasant railway journey to Innerleithen, where 
Mr. William Chambers was waiting ready to receive us, and 
we accompanied him in his carriage to his beautiful mansion 
of Glenormiston. 


" It is twenty years or more since I was here, and many 
and great are the improvements which have been made since 
then. We had a leisurely saunter through the grounds, which 
are laid out with great taste, and saw many of the operations 
of the active and enlightened proprietor, resulting in very 
satisfactory and beautiful works. 

" It was with great interest that we heard our good friend 
(who is nearly three years my senior) describe these improve- 
ments. They reflect the highest credit on his taste, his 
engineering and architectural skill, and benevolence. They 
are works of a truly great and good man, whose name, 
along with that of his brother Robert, will rank among the 
most solid and persevering benefactors of mankind in a period 
of more than half a century. 

"At three we had dinner, and both before, and at, and 
after that meal we had a great deal of conversation on a 
variety of subjects, interspersed with anecdotes, and with my 
imperfect rendering of the local song of ' Canny Newcastle,' 
the dialect of which is intelligible in Scotland, though not so 
in England generally, except in the north. 

" The visit to Glenormiston has afforded us very great 

Visits of this nature gave Mr. Sopwith the liveliest 
gratification, and led him in another note to reflections 
bearing upon his experience of the happiness which is to 
be found in different classes of society. 

" October Wih. — In my voyage through life it has often been 
my habit not only to reflect seriously on passing occurrences, 
but also to record such reflections with the hope that they may 
be interesting and perhaps instructive at future periods. At 
the present time the transition I have made from one house to 
another is suggestive of many considerations. 

" I have never been able to discover that happiness (which 
has been justly called our being's end and aim) is in any 
material degree dependent on external conditions as regards 

358 THOMAS SOPWTTH, F.R.S. [1874-79. 

wealth or poverty, splendour or a humble state. Of the 
extremes of these, in the exaltation of regal pomp or in the 
sad abodes of the miserably poor, I do not here desire to 
speak, inasmuch as my experience of either of these opposite 
conditions has been very limited ; but in that wide range of 
English and continental society which has come within a 
nearer range of observation and experience, I have witnessed 
the diffusion of happiness in many forms and under a great 
variety of circumstances. 

" It has been my good fortune through life to be thrown 
by professional and other circumstances into opportunities of 
visiting the homes of both wealthy and poor persons, and of 
enjoying the society of many highly accomplished persons of 
eminence in science, art, and literature, some in prosperous 
estate and others in moderate circumstances. Under all 
these varieties of human existence, I have found that the 
qualities which constitute friendship and mutual esteem are 
essential to true enjoyment. These qualities give to life its 
most exquisite and enduring enjoyments, its ' glowing charm,' 
as the learned historian of Northumberland has well expressed 
it. Fifty years have passed since I gave a strong expression 
of these views, and every year of that half -century has con- 
vinced me of their truth and value." 


On February 23rd, 1877, he was much gratified by a 
visit from the Deau of Westminster (Dean Stanley), who 
called with Dr. Stoughton to look at some letters by the 
Rev. John Wesley. The interview seems to have been 
extremely pleasant on both sides, for the Dean was one 
of those Broad Churchmen towards whom Mr. Sopwith 
felt the warmest regard. The following day he started 
for Spain, through which country he made quite an 
extensive series of excursions, during a period lasting 
nearly three months. 

On June 6th he makes a note of his having accompanied 

1 874-79.] THE EMPEROR OF BRAZIL. 359 

me, in my capacity of President of the Council of the 
Royal Historical Society, to an audience granted by the 
Emperor of Brazil. 

" We were shown into a drawing-room at Olaridge's Hotel, 
where several ladies were in attendance on the Empress, and 
several gentlemen were assembled for interviews on various 
objects. The Emperor entered the room at the corner where 
we had been placed, and Dr. Richardson, in an appropriate 
address, presented the Diploma of the Society and five volumes of 
Transactions to the Emperor, who appeared to be gratified by 
the compliment, and after a short conversation he shook hands 
with the several members of the deputation, eight in number. 

" Both he and the Empress signed their names in a book, 
and the latter exchanged parting compliments with the 
members of the deputation. 

" Nothing can exceed the industry of the Imperial pair, in 
seeing every person and every place and every process of 
manufacture of a distinguished or remarkable character." 


A series of leisurely and yet useful days leads us up to 
June 11th, 1878, when the diary records the marriage of 
Mr. Sopwith's beloved daughter, Ursula, to Mr. David 
Chadwick, M.P. The marriage was celebrated at the 
church of St. Andrew's, at Ashley Place, the ceremony 
being performed by Dean Stanley. The note appended 
to this event expresses the happiest hopes in truly 
felicitous terms, to which he adds, — 

" These notes must ever possess a deep interest as long as 
I am spared in sufficient health and memory to read them, 
and to realize some of the pleasing associations which, in a 
great degree, reconcile me to the separation of my daughter 
from my home." 

The rest of the journal during this year (1878) is 

360 THOMAS SOP WITH, F.R.S. [1874-79. 

somewhat irregularly kept, and is interspersed with notes 
dwelling largely on the depressed condition of trade and 
the unfortunate state of the times. It was my duty during 
this year to visit Mr. Sopwith professionally, and I was 
obliged to observe that, although he made every effort 
to maintain his cheerfulness and serenity, an effort was 
required. He took an interest still in public affairs, 
but only for brief periods, and he began to tell me that 
the labour of carrying on the diary told upon him so 
much that he thought he should not continue it beyond 
the current year. I was obliged also to notice that the 
failure of his heart, which had at intervals been a cause 
of anxiety, was now almost a permanent failure. Towards 
the close of 1878 I recommended him to go to Bourne- 
mouth for a change, from which place he wrote to me, 
two or three times, quite cheerfully. He spent Christ- 
mas at Bournemouth, in a manner, he reported to me, 
not wanting in social enjoyment, in company of valued 
friends, to whom his song of " Canny Newcastle " was 
cheerfully rendered. On New Year's Day, 1879, a little 
before midnight, a sleepless state was followed by a 
paroxysm of difficult breathing. The next day he re- 
turned to London, and on January 3rd, his birthday, he 
completed his diary, and marked it, " The End." 



>N addition to his diary Mr. Sopwith was fond 
of jotting down memoranda and literary 
notes, some of which he printed for private 
circulation. They are as varied as the in- 
formation which he had stored np in his capacious mind, 
and they afford admirable touches, here and there, of the 
judicial wisdom with which he could comment on different 
subjects, as well as of the acuteness with which he was 
able to record passing observations. The picture of him 
would not be complete without a chapter containing a 
few selections from these incidental notes. 

The Glacial Theoey. 

In a chapter on Chamounis, published in a small treatise 
entitled " A Month in Switzerland," he gives us the 
following passages on the Glacial Theory : — 

" For some time the glacial theory made slow progress, 
but Dr. Buckland took up the subject with great energy, 
and proceeded to investigate the evidences which Agassiz 
had contended would be found in various parts of Great 


Britain and on the Continent, in situations where no one 
had even suspected the existence of any snch features. 
I accompanied Dr. Buckland to various places in 
Northumberland, Durham, and North Wales, and the 
search for rounded and furrowed rocks — the work of 
glaciers — was very successful. 

" In later years glacial action has been recognised by 
geologists as an important agent in many phenomena 
relating to the transport of large boulder stones, the 
formation of moraines, and the rounding and polishing 
and furrowing of rocks. The physical conditions under 
which these enormous masses of ice descend the Alpine 
valleys have been learnedly investigated by Saussure, 
Forbes, Tyndall, and others, and various communications 
to the Geological Society and numerous works on the 
subject have now made it one of popular interest. Here, 
at Chamounix, the tourist is within easy reach of glaciers 
which yet remain, and finds it difficult to realize that 
such masses of ice formerly existed in Great Britain. A 
comparison of the effects produced by the movement of 
ice with the features clearly shown by rocks in many 
places in Great Britain leaves no room for doubt as to 
the identity of the cause and effect in both cases, and 
glaciers which a century ago were thought to belong 
exclusively to high mountain ranges are now found to 
possess a much wider and more home-like interest. 

" ' At what period, then, of the earth's history were 
English valleys filled with ice ? ' This inquiry, which 
is naturally suggested, may perhaps be best answered in 
words used by De la Beche with reference to some 
geological features. ' If,' said he, 'I am to be hard 
pressed on the subject of time, I should say that I 
consider these remains to be of very great antiquity as 
regards historical periods, and very little antiquity as 


3 6 3 

regards geological periods.' For lessons of geological 
time no pages are more instructive than those presented 
by the vast masses of mountains in the district of which 
Chamounix is the most accessible centre, and whoever 
from England reads them with attention will learn 
lessons which, on returning to his home, he may improve 
by the study of English glacial phenomena." 

The Ascent of Chamounix. 

" It is curious to reflect that, of all the centuries of 
known history, in one only has this mountain been an 
object of attraction to tourists. In the middle of last 
century the vale of Chamounix, although it had been 
inhabited some five or six centuries, was dreaded as a 
dangerous place, and its grand scenery known as ' The 
evil mountains.' One hundred and ten years ago (1764) 
Saussure, that truly eminent philosopher and ardent 
explorer, first commenced his well-known researches on 
the glaciers. The ascent of Mont Blanc was accomplished 
for the first time on record in 1786, since which time up 
to the end of the year [1874] the total number of ascents 
has been 726 (exclusive of guides and porters). Of these 
only five were made in the last century. During the 
first forty-five years of the present century few ascents 
were made, and these chiefly by Englishmen. In ten 
years between 1847 and 1857 all the excursionists were 
English, and in later years the register at Chamounix 
records the following number of ascents :— 

1861 . 

. 42 


1868 . 

33 ascents. 

1862 . 

. 24 


1869 . 

54 „ 


. 55 


1870 . 

14 „ 

1864 . 

. 63 


1871 . 

22 „ 

1865 . 

. 66 


1872 . 

57 „ 

1866 . 

. 25 


1873 . 

59 „ 

1867 . 

. 42 




" The following is a statement of the nationality of 
those who made the ascents : — 

British . 

. 449 



French . 

. 105 




. 75 



German . 

. 34 




. 30 

Belgian . 


Italian . 




Russian . 
Dutch . 




It appears, therefore, that in the first sixty years of this 
century the number of ascensions was 165, or an average 
of rather less than three persons per annum. These 
records are satisfactory, as indicating the spirit of enter- 
prise and hardihood of onr fellow-countrymen." 


Amongst the favourite authors of Mr. Sopwith, Gibbon 
held a first place, in which sense of literature he and I 
had the same taste. We often compared notes, as he 
called it, on this author ; and I remember once how I 
envied him that I could only gather from his vivid 
description an idea of the home at Lausanne. I wish I 
could remember that description as he gave it. I cannot, 
but here is a fragment from the little work already 
quoted : — 

" We did not attempt to realize the exact spot where 
he is said to have finished his great work, for the locality 
is so much altered that clear definition of such details is 
no longer possible. Enough it is to know that here and 
hereabouts was the place where day by day and hour by 
hour the great historian penned his work, in full view of 


the beautiful lake and mighty mountains which, from 
any part of this immediate locality, still present the same 
aspect as that on which his eye must so often have 
rested. These great and sublime and beautiful features 
we saw to great advantage on a lovely morning and in 
an atmosphere — how still and lovely." 

Resting-Place of John Calvin and Humphky 

In the cemetery of Geneva Mr. Sopwith made two notes: — 

" The resting-place of Calvin is near the south corner 
of the cemetery, and (in conformity, it is said, with 
his own desire) no stately monument is reared to his 
memory. The place where he was interred is marked 
only by a stone rather less then a cubic foot in its dimen- 
sions, and bearing on it only the initials J. C. 

" Here also is a monument erected to the memory of 
Sir Humphry Davy, who was buried here." 

Eoman Baths and Masonry at Tkeves. 

In another treatise, entitled " Three Weeks in Central 
Europe," we get a graphic and original account of Roman 
baths and Roman masonry at Treves : — 

" The ' Roman Baths ' are situated at the south corner 
of the city, which in shape is nearly square, one of the 
diagonals nearly corresponding with a meridian line. 
These ruins are of great extent, both above and under- 
ground, and the adjacent surface is well wooded. It is 
impossible to repress feelings of astonishment as suc- 
cessive portions of this extraordinary mass of buildings 
are gradually disclosed to view. The walls have been 


built of amazing strength, and many of the arches con- 
sist of five or six ranges of stone. Some of the walls 
are very high, as well as enormously massive, and with 
the surrounding trees and ivy the general effect is very 
picturesque. We threaded our way through numerous 
vaults and subterranean galleries, which forcibly re- 
minded me of similar excavations at Richborough, in 
Kent, and, like them, the full extent of these passages 
has not yet been ascertained. It is only during the last 
fifty years that the earth and rubbish which concealed 
the Roman Baths of Treves have been removed ; even 
the upper walls of the castle or palace were much hidden 
by the earth-works of the fortifications surrounding the 
city. Curious as these ruins are they are far inferior to 
the Baths of Diana, at Nismes, where graceful arches 
and ornamental columns attest a more advanced stage of 

" It was curious to observe that in four works of the 
Romans in this city no less than four different modes of 
building have been adopted. In the Basilica brick and 
cement only are used. The Palace and Baths are built 
of stones of medium size, with layers of brick-work. In 
the Amphitheatre are small stones with cement, and in 
the Black Gate large stones without cement. This strange 
variety seems to indicate fertility of resource as well 
as mechanical skill, for examples of every one of these 
essentially different modes of construction have endured 
to the present time in a nearly perfect state, over a 
period not far short of two thousand years, and bidding 
fair, if carefully attended to, to remain intact for many 
centuries to come. I made sketches of the brickwork 
of the Basilica, the stone and layers of brick at the 
Baths, the stone and cement of the Amphitheatre, and 
the massice masonry without cement of the Black Gate." 


Mining at Freiberg. 

In the same little volume, " Three Weeks in Central 
Europe," there is au account of a visit to the district of 
Freiberg, situated about twenty-five miles in a south- 
westerly direction from Dresden. 

The city of Freiberg is well known as the capital or 
chief place of a territory which for its mining capabilities 
and operations is famous throughout Europe. In such 
a spot Mr. Sopwith would naturally be at home. He 
gives us the following pictures : — 

" Mining in this territory is of venerable antiquity, 
extending backward for many centuries, yet having had 
its fuller developments in the last two or three hundred 
years, and more especially in the present century. I 
looked with interest at a plan said to be one of the 
earliest known ; it is dated 1608, and its execution, rude 
and inartistic as it is, sufficiently indicates the great 
depth and extent of the workings then existing. What 
they are now can only be fully comprehended by means 
of detailed plans and sections, several of which were 
shown to me. They indicate works of vast extent and 
intricacy, such as can scarcely be appreciated by any 
general description. 

" The surface operations are conducted under cover, that 
is in roofed buildings, to a greater extent than in corre- 
sponding works in England. This is due to two causes, 
namely, the greater intrinsic value of silver ores and the 
severity of the climate in winter. The value of the ores 
and the close intermixture of several valuable mineral 
substances render corresponding care necessary in the 
dressing processes, some of which are of great ingenuity. 
The English, justly priding themselves on many im- 


portant works of engineering skill in recent times, are 
apt to forget how much the metallurgical and mining- 
processes now followed in England were originally 
derived from Germany and other mining districts of 
Central Europe. It was, therefore, with extreme interest 
that I viewed a place so celebrated as Freiberg has long 
been, not only for the number and value of its mines, 
but for the scientific instruction combined with the prac- 
tical operations. Over all these the names of some of 
the most distinguished men of science shed a lustre, the 
brightness of which will be more and more appreciated 
as advances continue to be made in mining industry, and in 
the numerous sciences allied with it. Of these it may be 
sufficient to mention James Watt, Werner, and Humboldt. 
"The Mining College of Freiberg has been in full 
activity rather more than a century, having been founded 
in 1766. At that time little more than three thousand 
men were employed at the mines, and the annual value of 
the produce is stated to have been £ J 33,000. Recently 
(1865) the number of miners was about eight thousand, 
and the value of the produce not far short of a quarter 
of a million sterling." 

A Geological Pioneer — A. G. Werner. 

In the cathedral at Freiberg, said to be the oldest in 
Europe, our friend found the " Golden Door " one of the 
most prominent attractions to visitors, but he chiefly 
mentions it because immediately in front of it and only 
a few paces from it is the grave of one whose name is 
for ever associated, not only with Freiberg and its mining 
district, but with the history of science, more especially of 
the sciences of mineralogy and geology : — 

"Under a plain, flat gravestone, scarcely to be distin- 


guished from the pathway leading to the church, lie the 
remains of Wernek, indicated by the following in- 
scription : — 


Near to it is a neat mural monument erected by his 
sister, and inscribed as follows : — 

Hier ruhit Abraham Gottlob Werner ; Dieses Denkmal 
erricht ihm schwesterrliche llebe. eln 


An affectionate memorial of one who truly erected a 
more lasting monument for himself in the usefulness and 
celebrity of his scientific labours. 

" Accurate geological induction does not date back to a 
period much anterior to the present century, and public 
attention was chiefly called to it by the views of Werner 
and Hutton in theories which became popularly known 
as Wernerian and Huttonian. The difference between 
these consisted in the prominence given by the former to 
water, and by the latter to fire, as prime causes in the 
distribution of the strata which compose the crust of the 
earth. The one looked to the deposition of vast masses 
of strata by watery agencies ; the other attached more 
importance to what were called plutonic or fiery in- 
fluences ; and, while the world was giving attention to 
this contest, the really useful labours of the founder of 
English geology were in a great measure neglected. 
This was William Smith, who, so early as 1801, con- 
structed an admirable geological map of England, and by 
his long-continued services laid the foundation of geo- 
logical science in this country on a basis the soundness 
of which, having been abundantly established, has well 
entitled him to the generally accorded name of the 



Father of English Geology. The cotemporaneous labours 
of Werner and Smith may be regarded as having chiefly 
paved the way to the important advances since made 
in this department of science. Having been intimately 
acquainted with the founder of English geology, whose 
friendship I greatly valued, it was with much interest 
that I paid the silent homage of respectful remembrance 
as I viewed the tombstone of his great cotemporary." 

The Chukch of the Fool of the Forest. 

When travelling in Brittany, Mr. Sopwith stayed at 
Landernau, where he visited Folgoet, the site of a church 
around which hangs one of the mysteries which even to 
his staid and thoughtful mind had the charm of legend. 
He thus describes the place in his notes on Brittany: — 

" At Landernau we took up our abode at the Hotel de 
l'Uniyers, and after an excellent breakfast we went to 
visit the curious old church at Folgoet, distant about 
ten miles. The roads in all this part of France, so far 
as we have seen them, are excellent. The first view of 
the church is very striking, and the spire is so much in 
the same style as those at Quimper, that it seems to be 
the model from which the latter have been taken. 

" The interior is remarkably striking from the bold 
and picturesque style of architecture, and especially so 
as regards a rood-loft and large east window. Both of 
these are of a highly ornamental character. It is in vain 
to attempt by any description to convey an accurate idea 
of the peculiarities which meet the view in the doorways, 
columns, windows, altars, and other parts of the church 
of the ' Fool of the Forest,' for such is the meaning 
of its name. In the minuteness and beautiful workman- 
ship of the carving in stone I doubt whether a parallel 


is to be found in Europe. In Murray's hand-book 
there is a good enumeration of the objects best deserving 
attention, and to an architect gifted with skill in delinea- 
tion, and with leisure to exercise it, this edifice is a mine 
of wealth. The tendrils of leaves, a dewdrop and insects, 
are among the sculptured objects which abound in the 
decorations of this church. 

" History and superstition are much blended in many 
places, but in few, if any, more closely than in Brittany, 
where the marvellous legends which abound are implicitly 
believed by many. Seldom has this union been exhibited 
in a more definite form than in the legendary history 
of the church of Folgoet. A boy of weak intellect, 
it is recorded, used to beg in this neighbourhood, and 
his supplications to passers-by were always accompanied 
by expressions of devotion to the Virgin Mary. He 
lived to the age of forty years, and before his death 
(says the legend) the Virgin appeared to him and pointed 
out the place where a well, endowed with miraculous 
powers of healing, would be found. After his burial 
close to this well, a lily tree grew from his grave, and 
on the leaves of the lilies the name of Mary was im- 
pressed. These wonders came to the notice of John de 
Montford, who was then at war with Charles of Blois, 
contending for the Dukedom of Brittany. He, it is 
said, sent commissioners to examine into these reputed 
miracles, and they, after investigation, reported that the 
roots of the lily tree sprung from the mouth of the 
buried Fool of the Forest. In consequence of this the 
church was partly built by John de Montford, and 
finished by his successor. The high altar is said to be 
directly over the grave where the imbecile was buried, and 
closely adjoining the outside of the east end of the church 
is the well, which, we were told, is still resorted to on 


account of its supposed miraculous powers of healing. 
Such is the curious concurrence of events which caused 
this remarkable building to be erected. Great indeed 
must have been its beauty when perfect. It is wonderful 
even in decay." 

Sir Walter Scott. 

It will be remembered that in a previous chapter (page 
33) Mr. Sopwith described an accidental meeting of Sir 
Walter Scott in one of his tonrs in Scotland, between 
Longtown and Langholm. That the great novelist had 
an ardent admirer in our friend must be admitted, and 
some allowance made, therefore, for a touch of enthusiasm. 
Nevertheless, as the note about to be given was written 
at a time when the living man was well known as a man 
as well as a writer, it is certainly deserving of record 
how he was then viewed by a young but good observer. 
While relating the beauty of his journey, Mr. Sopwith 
digresses, for a moment, to refer to the prince of fiction : — 

" The favourable state of the atmosphere contributed 
much to the beauty of this delightful ride ; — as we 
advanced, the sun shone brightly on the green and brown 
slopes of the hills, and, as they receded from our view, 
their massive and picturesque outline was formed by a 
misty, aerial tint, approaching to a deep blue, which 
produced a most sublime effect. But what added most 
interest to the scene was the circumstance of meeting 
in this romantic solitude the most eminent man of his 
country, Sir Walter Scott, whose writings have so much 
increased the interest and added to the associations of 
the localities noticed in them, and whom even to have 
seen is well worthy of remembrance, especially as on 
this occasion it had the coincidence of its being my first 


day in Scotland, and in a situation where the poet was 
surrounded by so much of the poetry and sublimity of 

" It is pretty generally known that this admirable 
and fascinating writer is not remarkable for any external 
indications of genius. A dull and rather heavy expres- 
sion of countenance is, indeed, wonderfully brightened 
up by the vivacity of his social spirit in conversation ; 
but his is not in its general aspect the " poet's eye," which 
Shakespeare has so loftily conceived, and so beautifully 
described. His manners are universally described as 
being extremely engaging, and his disposition open, 
candid, and generous. His courteous behaviour and 
great hospitality are well known; but, it is said, that these 
amiable characteristics have latterly had some restriction 
forced upon them by their tendency to induce his ad- 
mirers to seek the charm of his society ; and, when the 
rank and unlimited number of these are considered, 
extending from the throne to the cottage, and from 
individual to national admiration, such a regard to 
privacy seems quite indispensable. Whatever exceptions 
may be found in some minutiae of his character and 
writings, Sir Walter Scott undoubtedly holds a most 
exalted station as a poet, historian, antiquary, and 
novelist. His disposition and conduct, too, have been 
such as to gain him a very high, and almost unprece- 
dented, degree of private esteem and public admiration. 
By incorporating accurate and beautiful delineations of 
national scenery and manners into the productions of his 
fertile and luxuriant mind, he has conveyed a great mass 
of useful information amongst a numerous and respect- 
able portion of society, to whom the more laboured and 
less enchanting details of the historian and topographical 
writer would have remained almost entirely unknown. 


And where can more vivid or exact delineations be 
found of many eminent characters and interesting places 
and events, than those which abound in the beautiful 
romances of the author of ' Waverley ' ? By the great 
interest, also, which these works have created, as regards 
the national character and scenery of Scotland, they have 
contributed much to the union of national feeling, and 
have conferred most important benefits on Scotland by 
the numerous and opulent tourists who throng in crowds 
to visit the scenery consecrated by his muse." 

The Danish Watchman's Curfew. 

As told in the diary, Mr. Sopwith, in company with Mr. 
Robert Stephenson, visited Denmark and Norway in the 
autumn of 1854. In Copenhagen he seems to have been 
entertained with everything, from the early morning 
until the hour for the song of the watchman at ten ; 
a song he translates in the following strain : — 

" I am the watchman ; the clock has struck ten ; 
If the hour you would ask for, listen again — 

The clock has struck ten. 
Master, children, and servants know 
Now it is time to bed to go ; 
Do not forget to God to pray, 
Be careful of fire, put candles away — 

The clock has struck ten." 




Y recollections of Mr. Sopwith extend over 
nearly twenty-three years, namely, from 1856 
when we first met at Hartwell, to thejast day 
but one of his life, January 15th, 1879. 
The opinion I formed of him on our first acquaintance, 
recorded in the opening chapter of this book, never varied . 
Our acquaintance ripened into friendship quickly, a 
friendship which remained unbroken and unruffled. A 
more reliable man I never met, or one of calmer, more 
forbearing, or gentler nature, combined with firmness 
of character, decision, and expression almost abrupt 
in its decisiveness. His voice was gentle, and, when 
his sympathies were aroused, slightly tremulous. In 
stature he stood about five feet six, and he was of strong, 
foil build. His temperament was a mixture of sanguine 
and bilious. His features, well pourtrayed m the portrait 
at the commencement of this work, were full, firm, ana 
expressive. His head was a little above the usual size ; 
the forehead well developed; and the who le head 
finely balanced. The phrenologists might well claim 
him as one whose cranial development corresponded 

376 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1879. 

splendidly to the richly endowed and, at the same time, 
admirably balanced mind. Professor Laycock's theory of 
a large ear lobe as a sign of an active brain was also 
well illustrated. In action he was deliberate, but at the 
same time quickly observant ; his small, piercing bluish- 
grey eyes seeming to seize every object brought before them 
with remarkable rapidity. When I first knew him his 
acuteness of hearing was equal to that of sight, and this 
especially for musical sounds, the merest discord being 
instantly detected by him. I told him once that at the 
theatre nothing pleased me more than the tuning of the 
instruments of the orchestra, — it was so like chaos passing 
into order; " Yes," he added, "that is true, and order is 
harmony." He himself was the soul of order ; every- 
thing had its place with him, and the cabinet called the 
Monocleid, in his study, was his pride. It contained 
every paper he was working at, so arranged that he could 
put his hand upon the book or document he wanted as if 
it came at a call. I used to compare his papers to the 
Roman centurion soldiers who always came when they 
were called, but sometimes came when they were not 
called. " Nay," he said, " my papers even beat the 
soldiers ; they never come when they are not wanted, 
but always come when they are." 

Sopwith loved work ; with him work was play and play 
was work, so that he was never for a moment idle ; 
but his method was so quiet and unostentatious that 
it troubled no one about him. When he travelled he 
carried with him his wonderful desk, fitted up like a 
small monocleid, arranged to carry all books and papers 
he wanted, and " ready for work the moment a table, 
chair, and proper place could be found for it." This 
constant occupation of mind conveyed to him, as it does 
to others of the same type, that happiness which the 


world can neither give nor take away ; so that his years, 
though they went swiftly as the shuttle of a weaver's 
beam, were borne on the wings of happiness and perfect 
peace. His religion was that of the heart, without outward 
profession of any kind. He belonged, I believe, nominally 
to the old Church of England ; and all his predilections- 
historical, antiquarian, and social — were in sympathy with 
a Church he considered quite broad enough to hold in 
her pale men of all classes, even men of the most exalted 
science. He kept the commandments, and although he 
was not the most rigid of Sabbatarians, he liked the day 
of rest as a good social and healthful institution. 

Of his friends and contemporaries Mr. Sop with enter- 
tained at all times the most charitable views. With 
him life without charity was indeed sounding brass and 
tinkling cymbal, but he avoided bad men with instinctive 
aversion. To friends with whom he was most intimate, 
and whose abilities he admired, he was much attached, 
and of such friends he never could say too much. Indeed, 
if he had a failing in this direction it was that he some- 
times let friendship over-estimate ability. He was all 
through, in fact, of a generous nature, and was ready at 
any time to give his best assistance to every good cause 
and case that was brought before him. These qualities 
endeared him to his large circle of friends, friends of the 
most varied casts of mind, thought, and learning. Dr. 
Lee said very correctly of him, " that he made friends 
of every one he met, and he could not conceive of 
Mr. Sopwith having an enemy." This was an opinion 
very generally entertained. 

He was fond of society, was essentially a social man, 
both at home and from home. At home he was a most 
genial host, full of anecdote and humour, and ready at the 
proper seasons to indulge in all innocent merriment and 

378 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1879. 

fun. He had several stock stories, one or two in rhyme, 
and when he sat down to the pianoforte, though I believe 
he could not play from notes, he discoursed, from memory, 
excellent music. In society from home he was always 
respected and always popular. In the learned Societies 
he was an attentive and appreciative listener, and as 
the range of his knowledge was wide, his eye good for 
telescope and microscope, and his hand good for 
mechanics, his opinion was much esteemed; but he was 
rather a poor debater. He had not in speech the gift of 
perspicuity ; he could not think on his legs with facility 
was given, therefore, to wander away from his subject, and 
then, detecting what he had done, would sit down abruptly. 
When, however, he had prepared a paper, all was as clear 
and sharp as crystal, and sometimes in repartee there 
was a sparkle of humour in what he said which made its 
mark. But always in the learned Society he was in- 
quisitive to the last degree in regard to every new idea 
and invention that came under his notice. He held a 
theory similar to that held by the famous Dr. Anderson, 
the founder of Anderson's College, in Glasgow — that 
whatever appeals strongly to the eye is irresistible, 
that it must attract observation and force its way into 
the mind. He said he had scarcely ever met a man, 
however poor and simple, or great and intelligent, who 
would not stop to look at the working of a piece of 
mechanism that presented some novelty. This observa- 
tion came out of a conversation on ballooning, in which 
Glaisher and Coxwell's perilous and brilliant researches 
were the subject of discourse. " A balloon is a piece of 
mechanism, a rude mode of flight, still a novelty because 
incomplete for practical purposes; therefore everybody 
runs to see a balloon, and some in their excitement 
would tear the thing up if they could get at it, as if they 


wanted to see what was inside it." " Is it the motion or 
the mechanism that is the wonder?" I enquired of hi in. 
" Would a man, for instance, who had never seen a watch 
show the least interest in it if it did not go ? " " Ah ! 
that," he replied, " is a nice bit of metaphysics, or mental 
physics rather, which you doctors must find out. All I 
know is that whatever goes interests, and that I myself 
am not easily tired at looking at whatever is going, in 
which I am like the rest of the world." 

Up to the sixty-fifth year of his age Mr. Sopwith en- 
joyed a healthy life — a life broken by very few interrup- 
tions of sickness ; a blessing due to several favouring 
causes. In the first place, he was always most temperate 
in his mode of life. He was not abstemious in diet, but 
regular and moderate. He took but little wine or other 
alcoholic drink, and that, as he said, secundum artem. 
Secondly, he was an early riser and a good sleeper. 
Lastly, born of a happy disposition and simple in his 
desires, he brought upon himself few unnecessary cares, 
and met such anxieties as necessarily came to him with 
such serenity that disease from friction of mind on body 
was ever wisely tempered. He told me on one occasion 
that he did not remember being a day in a position in 
which he could not cover every debt he owed at an 
hour's notice, a position the most favourable of all both 
for health and for happiness. 

About 1867 his robust health began somewhat to fail. 
He felt, as he described it, some central failure. His 
mind was usually as active as ever, but not " always." 
He consulted the late Dr. Bence Jones, who detected 
the " central failure " as being truly central, that is to 
say, in the heart, and who prescribed very judiciously 
on that finding. Some time afterwards, on the death of 
Dr. Bence Jones, Mr. Sopwith placed himself under my 

380 THOMAS SOPWITH, F.R.S. [1879. 

professional care. By this time the heart affection had 
become very distinct and decided. He had what we 
physicians call " mitral disease," under which the balance 
between the pulmonary and general circulations was easily 
disturbed by slight external causes, and especially by 
atmospheric changes. Under careful management, change 
of scene, and regulated diet, the dangerous symptoms 
that were foreseen were deferred for many years ; and 
under the unremitting vigilance of Mrs. Sopwith his life 
remained comparatively healthy and comfortable until 
the beginning of the year 1879. Then his mental 
energies commenced rather rapidly to decline, and after 
a slight cold, bronchial troubles supervened, under which 
combinations of depression he gradually sank, resigned 
and gentle to the last. 

Mr. Sopwith's death — I should rather say his euthanasia 
— took place on January 16th, 1879, at 103, Victoria 
Street, Westminster. He was buried at Norwood 
Cemetery, where a granite slab, inscribed, — 


Born at Newcastle, January 3rd, 1803 ; 

Died in Westminster, January 16th, 1879, 

declares his final resting-place. 

The End. 




Abbey, Westminster, the ar- 
chitecture of, 74, 272. 

Hulme, the, 41, 42. 

Albert, Prince, 217, 231, 260. 
Alderson, Baron, 111. 
Allenheads, lead mines of, 


chief agency of, 223. 

address to workmen at, 


residence at, 234. 

departure from, 261. 

return to, 276. 

adventure at, 283. 

mining life at, 296- 


Allison, Mr. Robert, 144. 

Anagram, solution of an, 277. 

Anderson, Dr., founder of An- 
derson's College, Glasgow, 

Anderson, Mr. W. G., 120' 
178, 212, 213. 

Angouleme, Duchess of, 5. 

Antiquities of Newcastle-on- 
Tyne, 30. 

Argyle, Duke of, visit to, 

Armstrong, Mi*. William, 19, 

Mr. William George — 

Sir William — Lord Arm- 
strong, -172, 178, 191,192, 
232, 236, 242, 244, 258, 264, 

guns, first of the, 243-4. 

Arthur, Mr., 152. 

Arts, National Repository of, 

Ashman, Mr. John, 302. 

Astronomical calculations, the, 
174, 175. 

Astronomy, lecture on, 173. 

Atkinson, Mr. Henry, 10. 



Atkinson, Mr. J. G., 227. 

Bedouin lady, a, 144. 

Authorship, early, the, 21- 

Belgians, King of the, 212- 


214, 217. 

Aylesbury, Mechanics' Insti- 

Bell, Mr., 67, 305, 321. 

tution, the, 251. 

Soul, the, at Newcastle- 

on-Tyne, 30. 

Thief and Reever, the, at 

Newcastle-on-Tyne, 30. 


"Great Tom "of Oxford, 

the largest in England, 163. 

Babbage, Mr., 138, 169, 170 

Bells, muffled peal of, at New- 

171, 277. 

castle, on January 30th, in 

Baines, Mr. E.— Sir Edward, 

memory of King Charles I., 



Ballot, the, 265. 

Berkeley, Bishop, works of, the, 

Barker, Dr., 253. 


Barometers, 279. 

Berkely, Mr., 20. 

Baron le Bon, 204. 

Betham, Sir William, 153, 

Barry, Mr. 0.— Sir Charles— 


138, 139, 144, 145. 

Bewick, Mr. J. T., 256, 265, 

funeral of, 276. 

283, 298, 301, 305. 

Baths, Roman, 365. 

Bidder, Mr., 239. 

Baxendale, Mr., 207, 209. 

Mrs., 269. 

Beardmore, Mr., 284. 

Bigge, Rev. Edward, 124, 139, 

Beaufort, Duke of, 176. 


Beaumont, Mr. T. W., 223, 

Birkbeck, Dr., 102. 

228, 229, 230. 

Blackett, Sir Edward, 91, 

death of, 235. 


Mr. WentworthBlackett, 

William, once owner of 


the W. B. lead mines, 227. 

builder and supporter of 

Blind Willie, biography of, 

good schools, 300. 


Lady Margaret, 265. 

Blore, Edward, 318. 

Beche, Sir Henry de la, 207. 

Bonaparte, Napoleon, at 

Beckett, Sir John 97 

Waterloo, 205. 



Books, choice, the, 115. 

Buckland, Mrs., 165. 

Boulogne, 199. 

Frank, 162, 263. 

Bowerbank, Dr. 186. 

Miss, 263. 

Brady, Sir Antonio, 322, 336. 
Brandling, Mr. William, 138. 

Buddie, Mr. John, 86, 87, 
109, 110, 113, 114, 122, 

Brassey, Mr. Thomas, 258, 

123, 124, 125, 139, 140, 

death of, 329. 

143, 176, 178, 184, 185, 
186, 199, 206, 310. 

Brazil, Emperor of, 359. 

Empress of, 359. 

Bridge, Scotswood, chain, the 

opening of, 83. 
O'Bxien, Sir Lucius, 156. 

Bull, Ole, concert at King's 

Theatre, London, 121. 
Bull-fight, Spanish, a, 193. 
Buller, Wentworth, 170. 
Burnett, Mr. George, 133. 

Bright, Mr. Benjamin Hay- 
wood, 69, 186. 

Burns, Captain James Glen- 
cairn, 84. 

Mr. John, M.P., 198, 
289, 311. 

Robert, the Scottish poet, 


Sir Charles, 291, 344. 
British Association, 137, 292. 

Burnup, Mr. Cuthbert, 136. 
Miss Frances, 136. 

Britton, Mr., 105. 

Burt, Mr. T., M.P., 351, 352. 

Brougham, Mr. — Lord Broug- 

Burton, Decimus, 169, 261, 

ham, 17, 87, 292. 

283, 291, 346. 

Brunei, Sir Isambard, 183. 

Mr. I. K., 216, 217. 

death of, the, 266, 267. 


Buccleugh, Duke and Duchess 
of, 180. 

Cain, Mr. J. C, 302. 

Buchanan, Mr., 351. 

Calvin, John, tomb of, 365. 

Buckland, Rev. Dr. — Dean of 
Westminster, 123, 124, 126, 

Cambridge, Duke of, 233, 270. 
Cameron, Lady Vere, 254. 

138, 139, 162, 163, 164, 

Canal, Suez, 290. 

165, 166, 167, 169, 176, 

Canning, George, grave of, 62. 

178, 180, 181, 183, 185, 

Canterbury Music Hall, the, 

187, 188, 189, 190, 212, 


230, 231, 232, 233. 

Career, change of 223, 228. 




Career, long, a, 13-20. 

Carrick, Mr., 133. 

Cathedrals in England and 
York Minster, 37. 

St. Paul's, 63, 64. 

Chadwick, Mr. David, mar- 
riage of, 359. 

Mr. E.— Sir Edwin— 

197, 211, 356. 

Chain bridge at Scotswood, 
opening of the, 83. 

Chambers, Mr. Robert, 38, 
39, 227, 234, 235, 291. 

Mr. and Mrs. William, 


Mr. W., 356-367. 


Chancellor, the Lord, 61. 

Chantrell, Mr., 221. 

Chantrey, Sir Francis, 170, 
179, 181, 185. 

Lady, 170. 

Chapel Royal, St. James's, 

Charles I., King, muffled peal 
for, at Newcastle-on-Tyne, 
on anniversary of death of, 

Charleville, Lady, 170. 

Chartist, riots of, 172. 

Chatterton, Lady, 170. 

Cheney, Mr. Robert, 207, 

Chesil Bank, visit to and de- 
scription of, 102. 

Chesterholme, cottage of Mr. 

Hedley, the, 92, 93. 
Chevallier, Professor, 191, 

Church, All Saints', Newcastle- 

on-Tyne, 18, 22. 
Nicholas', Newcastle-on- 

Tyne, 30. 
Clanny, Dr., of Sunderland, 

Clapham Cave, near Settle, 

the, 189. 
Clarke, Mr. Latimer, 344. 
Clavering, Sir Thomas, 101. 
Clayton, Mr. John, 14, 86, 91, 


v. Gregson, 109. 

Rev. Richard, 197. 

Clegg, Mr. , and the atmosph eric 

railway, 177, 211. 
Clennell, Mr., 67. 
Clinton, General, 205. 
Clive, Colonel, 182. 
Club, the Conversation, Leeds, 

Coach, the Chevy Chase, 


Wellington, 51. 

Highflyer, 106. 

Lord Exmouth, 147. 

Coaches and coaching in the 

old days, 51. 

costs of, 56, 57. 

Coates, Mr., 305. 

Cobbe, Miss Frances, 341, 343. 



Cobden, Mr., 289. 
Cockburn, Sir Alexander, 226. 
Codrington, Admiral, 170. 
Cole, Lord, the, 169. 

Mr. Henry— Sir Henry, 

287, 288. 
Colenso, Bishop, 291. 
Collidge, Mr. and Mrs., 170. 
Collinson, Mr., 88. 

Captain, 299. 

Commissioners for the Crown 
under Forest of Dean Mining 
Act, 139. 
Concert, Cipriani Potter's, the, 
at Hanover Square rooms, 
London, 123. 
Concert, Ole Bull's, the, at 
King's Theatre, London, 
Consort, Prince, the, 276. 

death of the, 288. 

Cooke, Mr. Isaac, 186. 

Mr., the electrician, 284. 

General, 205. 

Mr. E. W., R.A., 335. 

Cookson, glass works of, 114. 
Coombe, George, 263. 
Coram, Mr., 132. 
Costello, Mr., 144. 
Counsel and advice, printed 
board of, in Greenwich Hos- 
pital, 80. 
Coxwell, Mr., aeronaut, the, 

Crawhall, Mr. William, 227. 

Creswell, Mr. Justice, 111. 

Crispin, St., festival of, 

Cruddace, William, 236. 

Cruikshank, George, 356. 

Cubitt, Mr. William, 183. 

Curfew at Newcastle - on - 
Tyne, 30. 

of the Danish watch- 
man, 374. 

Curiosities of London, 81. 

Curry, Mr. William, 302. 

Mr. John, 302. 


Dalton, Mr., 10. 
Dr. John, founder of 

atomic theory, 110,111,126, 

Daniell, Professor, 110. 
Darwin, Charles, 170, 256. 

Erasmus, 256. 

Daubeny, Professor, 187, 188, 

Davidson, Mr., 46. 
Davis, Mr., 94. 
Davison, Mr., 81, 131, 186. 
Davy, Sir Humphry, 126. 

burial-place of, 365. 

Dean, Forest of, the, 95. 
commissioner f 01*, for the 

Crown, 139. 

3 88 


Dean Forest, rights of, 201. 

Dees, Mr., 305. 

Delane, Mr., editor of the 

Times, 311. 
Delemaine, Mr., 227. 
Dell, Mr., 247. 
Deschanips, Mons., 220. 
Diary of fifty-seven years, 9- 

12, 360. 
Dickens, Mr. Charles, works of, 

Dickenson, Miss Mary, Mr. 

Sopwith's marriage to, 43. 

death of, 46. 

Dickinson, Mr. Joseph, 14, 21, 

Dideon, M., 258. 
Dinner, a memorable, 111. 
Disraeli, Mr. B., 277. 
Dixon, Mr. W. Hepworth, 

works of, 117. 
Dobson, Mr. Thomas, 3, 253. 
Donkin, Mr., 125, 134, 192, 

207, 235, 236, 305. 
Douglas, Rev. Henry, 186. 
Drawings of Mr. Ruskin, 

isometrical and perspec- 
tive, 85, 102-3. 
Drury Lane Theatre, 60, 61. 
Duke, Sir James, 232, 263. 
Dunbar, Mr., 84. 
Duncan, Dr., of Ruthwell, 195. 
Duncannon, Lord, 87, 186. 
Dunn, Mr. Thomas, 136. 

Dunraven, Lord, v. Mr. 

Malins, 226. 
Durham, assizes at, 17. 

Bishop of, 95, 96. 

Earl of, 112. 

Rev. Mr., 279. 

Dyer, Dr., of Newcastle, 31. 


Ear lobe, the, Prof. Lay cock 

on, 376. 
Egypt, tour to, 259. 
Electoral methods, a new plan 

for elections, 99. 
Elkington, Mr., 110. 
Elliot, Mr. G. — Sir George— 

Ellison, Mr., 67. 
Emperor of Russia, the, 112, 

113, 180. 
Empress of Russia, the, 180. 
Energy and genius, thoughts 

on, 353, 355. 
Engineer, civil, work as a, 85. 
Engineers, Institute of Civil, 

the, election to, as member 

of, 88. 
Enniskillen, Earl of, 177. 
Exeter Hall, Mr. Spurgeon at, 

Exhibition of 1862, the Na- 
tional, 290. 




Facts, social, 29. 
Faiiburn, Mr.— Sir W. Fair- 
burn — 182. 
Fairfax, Sir William, 348. 
Faraday, Professor, 170, 232, 

240, 242, 243, 274, 295, 

Farrer, Mr. James Wilson, 

190, 191. 
Fearon, Mr., 197, 202, 207, 

208, 212, 217, 221. 
Fenwick, Mr. Percival, 67, 


Mr. Thomas, 117. 

Field, Mr. Cyrus, 292, 344. 
Fisher, Mr. and Mrs., 300. 
Fishermen, the, 280. 
Fitzroy, Captain — Admiral — 

3, 6, 7, 246. 
Fitzwilliam, Lord, 186, 187, 

188, 189. 
Flanders, railways in, 221. 
Flodclen Field, a visit to, 40, 

Folgoet, church of Fool of the 

Forest at, 370. 
Forbes, Professor E., 362. 
Forebodings, 49. 
Forster, Mr. Frank, 226. 
Forsyth, Mr., 85. 
Fothergill, Mr., 305. 
Fox, Lady Mary, 268. 
Freiberg, mining at, 367. 

Froude, Mr. A., works of, 

Fryer, Mr., 113. 

Funeral of Mr. R. Stephen- 
son, 270, 271. 


Gardiner, Mr., 131, 132. 

Genius and energy, thoughts 

on, 353-355. 
Geology, father of, the, Dr. 

William Smith, 119. 
Geological models, paper on, 

George III., jubilee of, 350. 
Gibbon and Lausanne, 364. 
Gibson, Messrs. T. and P., 

Gilbert, Dr. Davies, 124. 
Gilchrist, Mr. Robert, 85. 
Gilpin, Mr., on forest scenery, 

Glacial theory, the, 361-363. 
Gladstone, Dr., 345. 
Glaisher, Mr. James, 4, 246, 

253, 254, 278, 284, 378. 
Goldsmidt, Madame — Jenny 

Lind— 273. 
Gossett, Sir William, 171. 
Graham, Mr. Peter, 311. 
Grainger, Mr., 109, 113. 
Gray, Mr., governor of the 

gaol, Newcastle, 85. 



Great Western Steamboat' 

Hancock, Mr. John, 172. 

building of the, 182, 183. 

Happiness, how to obtain it, 

Green, Rev. Robert, 88. 

141, 142. 

Greenough, Mr., 169. 

Harcourt, Rev. William Ver- 

Greenwich Hospital, 79. 

non, 118. 

Gregory's "Mathematics," 116. 

Harford, Davies, k Co., 182. 

Grenville, Lord, 126. 

Harris, Dr. G., F.S.A., 353. 

Grey, Hon. and Rev. Edward, 

Harrison, Mr. J., 190. 

72, 73. 

" Harrogate Well Case," the, 

Mr. John, 225. 


Sir George, 352. 

Hartwell House, 1, 2, 246, 

Grieg, Mrs., 324. 


Griffiths, Sir Richard John, 

meteorological observa- 

author of land- valuation of 

tory at, 256. 

Ireland, 147. 

Harvey, Sir Wilham, 186. 

Guild day at Newcastle- on- 

Hasleton, Mr., 156. 

Tyne, 30. 

Hatherley, Lord, 119. 

Hawes, Mr., M.P., 171. 

Hawick, 33. 

Hawthorn, Mr. William, 114. 


Hedley, Captain Wilham, 23, 

Rev. Anthony, 46, 89. 

Haliburton, Mr. Justice, 169. 

Hall, Professor Rasil, 186. 

Heneage, Mr. and Mrs., 

Mr. and Mrs. S. 0., 253, 



Hereford, the Dean of, death 

golden wedding of, the, 

of, 313. 


Hervey, Mr. and Mrs., 144. 

Mr. James, marriage of, 

Hey wood, Mrs., 291. 


Hill, Mr. Rowland — Sir Row- 

Hamilton, Sir William, 156. 

land Hill, 211. 

Charles William, Esq., 

Mr. Julian, 309. 


Mr. Arthur, 309. 

Rev. G. W., of Rerwick, 

Hodgson, Rev. John, 47, 89. 


Hodgson, Mr., 223, 224, 229. 



Holland, Dr., 171. 

Frederick, Esq., 278. 

Hooker, Sir William Jackson, 
127, 184. 

Hooper, Mr. William, 266, 
292, 344. 

electric cable of, 345. 

Hope, Professor, 34, 35. 

Horton, Mr. Samuel, 2. 

Hospital, Greenwich, 78. 

House, East India, 82. 

of Commons, Strangers' 

Gallery, 67. 

Howson, Mr., 189. 

Hudson, Mr. George, "rail- 
way king," the, 265. 

Hulme Abbey, the, 41. 

Humboldt, Baron, 368. 

Hunt, Mr. Holman, 328, 

Hunterian Museum, 169. 

Hutton, Mr., 113. 

Mr. Robert, M.P., 169, 


Hydro-electrical machine, 191. 

Illingworth, Mr., 239. 
Illness of Mr. Sopwith, 26, 27. 
Institution of Civil Engineers, 
election as member of, 224. 
Introduction, personal, a, 1-3. 

Italy, a tour in, 326-328. 
Ireland and the Irish, account 

of, 146-161. 
Irish scenery, 151. 

institutions, 153. 

hospitality, 155. 

national character, 157. 

Church, 159. 

Church, disestablishment 

of the, 161. 
Irving, Washington, works of, 

Irwin, Rev. Mr., 279. 
Isometrical drawings, 85, 

Ivy, as an ornament to walls, 


Jackson, Mr., 189. 

Johnson, Mr. George, 94, 109. 

Johnstone, Professor, chemist, 

Mr. John, of Edinburgh, 

Jones, Mr. Owen, 311. 

Dr. Pence, 312, 379. 

Jordon, Mr., experiments of, 

172, 184. 
Joyce, Rev. James Wayland, 

Jukes, Mr., geologist, 169.- 




Kay, Dr. — Sir Kay-Shuttle- 

worth, Bart.— 177. 
Kean, Edmund, at Drury 

Lane, 59. 
Keats, John, 240. 
Kennard, Rev. George, 167. 
Kennedy, Mr., Manchester, 

Kent, Duchess of, the, 131. 
Ker, Mr., 132, 170. 
King of the French, the — 

Louis XYIIL, 249. 
Kingsley, Rev. C, works of, 

117. ' 
Kitson, Mr., 353. 
Kolman, Mr., 167. 

Ladies as violinists, 143. 
Lambert, Mr. Richard, 236. 
Lansdowne, Marquis of, 182. 
Laplace and Mrs. Somerville, 

Lay cock, Professor, 376. 
Lee, Dr. John, 1, 2, 5, 7, 246, 

256, 377. 

Mrs., 246. 

Mr., 133. 

Leeds, electioneering at, in 

1834, description of, 97. 
Conservative Club of, 


Leigh, Mrs., 180. 

Lemon, Sir Charles, 139, 177. 

Leonard, Mr. Dennis, of Kil- 

rush, 148. 
Leopold, King of the Belgians, 

the, 202, 212, 213. 
Leviathan, ship, 261. 
Liddell, Mr., 67, 70. 
Liebig, Professor, 187, 188, 

Lindisfarne, Ven. Archdeacon 

of, 323. 
Lithography, specimens of, 75. 
Livingstone, Dr., 260. 
Llandaff, Dean of — Dean 

Conybeare, 231. 
Locke, Dr. — Chemist — 124. 

Mr., M.P., 258. 

Locker, Mr., 80, 81. 
Locomotion, rapid, 215. 
London, first visit to, a, 51-57. 

sixty years ago, 58. 

Northumbrian's, a, first 

view of, 58. 

theatre (Drury Lane), 6 1 . 

Londonderry, Lord, 112. 
Lothian, Marchioness of, 180. 
Loudon, Miss, 180. 
Mr. John Claudius, 195, 

Louis XVIII., 5, 247, 248. 
Lover, Mr. Samuel, 156. 
Lowndes, Rev. Mr., 247, 

Lowrey, Mr. Alexander, 279. 



Lowther, Lord, 69. 

Lyell, Mr. Charles — Sir 

Charles— 179, 180, 355. 
Lytton, Sir Bulwer — Lord 

Lytton — works of, 117. 
Luce, Mr. William Hollis, 

marriage of, 328. 


McAdam, Mr., 18, 224, 319. 
Macaulay, Lord, works of, 117. 
Macbeth, Mr., of Innes, 156. 
Machine, calculating, the, 171. 
Mackay, Mr., 146, 156, 307. 
Macneil, Mr. J., 186. 
Macready, Mr., tragedian, 171. 
Makon, Mrs., 155. 
Mainzer, Mr., 235. 
Majoribanks, Lady, 179. 
Marcet, Mrs., 170. 
Marshall, Mrs., a mechum,295. 
Martin, Jonathan, 43, 44. 

William, 45. 

John, artist, 46, 108. 

Masni, Mr., 219, 220. 
Mechi, Mr. Alderman, 263. 
Medal, Telford, reception of 

the, 193. 
Mennell, Mr., 279. 
Menteith, Sir Charles, 351. 
Messiter, Miss Lydia Gertrude, 

Meteorological observations, 


Metternich, Prince, 134. 

Milne, Mr. A., 86, 132, 186, 

Milton, Lord and Lady, 179. 

Mines, School of, commence- 
ment of the, in London, 123. 

Models, geological, paper on, 

Monocleid, the — a writer's 
cabinet — 137. 

Monroe, Lady, 171. 

Montford, John de, 371. 

Montpensier, Duke and 
Duchess of, 293. 

Moorsom, Captain, 178. 

Morley, Mr. John, 353. 

Morton, Mr., 112. 

Murchison, Sir Roderick, 169. 

Murray, Mr. J., 186. 

Mr. Ralph, 283. 

Museum, British, the, 73. 


Naples, King of, 328. 

Napoleon I., 5. 

National Repository of Arts, 


School, the, 315. 

Nelson, Admiral, sarcophagus 

of, 71. 
Newcastle, Corporation of, 13, 

14, 21. 





Newcastle, assize at, 17. 

church bells at, 30. 

Duke of Wellington at, 

A I . 

festival of St. Crispin at, 

to London, 50. 

first lighting by gas of, 

vicar of, 285. 

as a railway centre, 109. 

pocket guide-book to, 

Newman, Mr., 182. 
Newton, Mr., 119. 
Nichol, Professor, 45, 172. 

Mr. Anthony, 136. 

Nightingale, Lady, 62. 
North, Christopher (Professor 

Wilson), 35, 37. 
Northampton, Marquis of, 

169, 170, 231, 319. 
Northumberland, Duke of, 42, 

180, 279, 287. 

Duchess of, 180. 

Norway, tour through, 239. 
Nova Scotia, Gold Fields of, 

the, 321. 
Nugent, Lady, 171. 


Ogle, Admiral Sir Charles and 
Lady, 171. 

Ord, Mr., 67, 81, 182, 186, 

224, 307. 
Owen, Professor, 169, 186, 


Robert, 133, 134, 172. 

Mr., of the Board of 

Works, 156. 
Mr., of Limerick, 156. 

Oxford, a day at, 165. 

Christ's College, resi- 
dence of Dr. Bucklancl, 

Pakington, Sir John, 312. 
Paletot, M., engineer, 258. 
Palmerston, Lord, 290. 
Paper, price of, 28. 
Parliament, New Houses of, 

Parsey, Mr., 163. 
Party politics, reflections on, 

Passion Play, the, 333. 
Pattinson, Mr., 112, 133. 
Paxton, Mr. Joseph, 232. 
Pearson, Dr., 250. 
Peel, Sir Robert, 179, 231. 

Lady, 179. 

Penn, William — son of famous 

William Pemr — mansion of 

at Portland Bill, 102. 



Penny postage, 309. 
Perigal, Mr., 246, 284. 
Pernez, Captain, 203. 
Phillips, Professor John, 103, 

104, 110, 116, 169, 186, 


Sir Thomas, 276. 

Photography, early, the, 

Pickman, Mr., 294. 
Picton, Sir Thomas, 205. 
Piddington, Mr., 205, 217. 

Mrs., 205. 

Pillans, Professor, 51, 89, 

Playfair, Professor Lyon — Sir 

Lyon Playfair— 187, 188, 

Ponsonby, Sir William, 205. 
Pope, the, 327. 
Popple-will, Captain, 279. 
Portland Bill, visit to, 

Potter, Cipriani, 118, 123, 

Miss Anne, Mr. Sop- 

with's marriage with, 

Mr. Edward, memorial 

to, 338, 339. 
Pratt, Mr., 81. 
Prest-wich, Mr. and Mrs., 

Probyn, Mr., 140, 143, 199. 
Probyn, Mrs., 143. 

Provis, Mr., 123. 
Public Health, Journal of, 


Queen Victoria at Guildhall 
on Lord Mayor's Day, 1837, 

royal procession of, 131. 

opening of her first par- 

liament, 132. 


Railw r ay, Newcastle and Car- 
lisle, opening of the, 135. 

atmospheric, the, 211. 

early travelling by, 87. 

Rainfall, calculations on, 257. 

Ramsay, Mr. James, 126, 127, 

Ravensworth Castle, 27. 

Lord, 125. 

Reade, Rev. J. B., F.R.S., 5, 
104, 246, 253, 254, 255. 

Mrs., 246. 

Recreation, views on, 197. 

Redy, Mr., 295. 

Reid, Dr. Boswell, 89, 138, 



Reminiscences, 185, 296, 




Reinagle, Mr., 125. 

Sabine, General Sir Edward, 

Rendel, Mr. J., 186. 

295, 340. 

Rennie, Mr. George, 169 

Sample, Mr., 20. 

Sir John, 261. 

Saussure, Professor, 362. 

Retrospect, a, 261. 

Scauler, Dr., 156. 

Rkeims, Archbishop of, 248. 

Scent pot, receipt for, 31. 

Rice, Mr. Spring, 147. 

School of mines, commence- 

Richards, Mr. William P 


ment of, in London, 123. 


Scotland, visit to, 32. 

Richardson, Mr. T. M., house 

Scott, Sir Walter, 33, 37, 42, 

of, 20. 

83, 203, 372-374. 

Mr. M. A., 23. 

Mr. Joseph, 121. 

Mr. R. S., 67. 

Mr. Benjamin, 217. 

Mr. Moses, 197. 

Mr. John, 70. 

Dr. B. W., F.R.S., 


Miss, 70. 


Ridley, Sir M. W., 67. 

Mr., 305. 

Rifle volunteers at Allen- 
heads, 277. 

Rively, Mr., 191. 

Rivers, Lord, 179. 

Robertson, Mr. and Mrs., 179. 

Robinson, Mr., 321. 

Rolle, Lady, 179. 

Roman Wall, the, 89. 

Rothschild, Mrs., 171. 

Routledge, Mr., 311. 

Ruskin, Mr. John, 162, 163, 
165, 166, 192, 196. 

Russia, food resources of, the, 

mineral wealth of, 115. 

Miss Jane, Mr. Sopwith's 

marriage with, 83. 

Sedgwick, Rev. Prof., 169. 

Sefton, Earl of, 268. 

Seymour, N., 94. 

Shadforth, George, 114. 

Shaftesbury, Lord, 78. 

Shaw, Dr., 27. 

Shelford, Mr. William, mar- 
riage of, 291. 

Miss Catherine Susan, 


Shelley, Sir John, 171, 266. 

Lady, 171. 

Shepherd, Lady Mary, 171. 

Shuttle worth, Mr., 211. 

Sillick, Mr., 266, 307. 

Simpson, Robert, 307. 



Skelton, Mr., 184. 
Smart, Sir George, 121. 
Smiles, Dr. S., 270. 
Smith, Mr. William, 94, 369. 
Dr. William (father of 

English geology), 110, 111, 

119, 127. 
Eev. Sydney, 171. 

Smyth, Captain, 249. 

Admiral, 247, 248. 

Mrs., 248. 

Mr. W. Warrington, 

(Sir W. Warrington Smyth), 

Soane, Sir John, 105. 
Social facts, 29. 
Societies, benefit, 303. 
Somerville, Mrs., 127, 128, 

129, 248, 333. 
Letter to, 335. 

- Death of, 341. 
Miss, 341. 

Sopwith, Mr. Arthur, marriage 
of, 335. 

Mr, Jacob, 17 ; illness and 

death of, 48. 

■ Jacob, junr., 47, 307. 

James, 77. 

Mr. Thomas, at Hart- 
well Park, 2-8, 246-56. 

diary of, from 1822 to 

1879, 9. 

birth and early life of, 13. 

admitted burgess of 

Newcastle, 13. 

Sopwith, Mr. Thomas, first 

appearance as an author, 22. 

severe illness of, 26. 

visit to Scotland of, 33. 

marriage of, 43. 

death of wife of, 46. 

first visit to London of, 

51 to 56. 
travelling expenses to 

London of, 56, 57. 

second marriage of, 83. 

illness of, 84. 

elected member of Insti- 
tute of Civil Engineers, 88. 
another journey to 

London of, 117. 
first visit to Ireland of, 

146, 147. 
death of Mary Jane, 

daughter of, 192. 
Telford medal received 

by, 193. 
visit to Belgium of, 

visit to Field of Waterloo, 

Royal Society, admitted 

Fellow of, 222. 
visit to the Duke of 

Argyle of, 238. 

— illness and death of 
second wife of, 240. 

— tour to Egypt of, 258. 

— resignation of agency at 
Allenheads by, 260. 



Sopwith, Mr. Thomas, degree 

Sopwith, Mr. Thomas, mar- 

of M.A. by Durham Uni- 

riage of Ursula, daughter 

versity conferred upon, 261. 

of, 359. 

change of residence, 261. 

failing health of, 360. 

third marriage of, 263. 

end of the diary of, 361. 

residence at Allenheads 

last illness and death of, 

resumed by, 276. 

375, 380. 

United Kingdom Alli- 

Thomas, junr., birth of, 

ance Meeting, chair taken 

265, 296 ; marriage of, 313. 

by, 281. 

Soul Bell, the, at Newcastle- 

marriage of Isabella and 

on-Tyne, 30. 

Anna, daughters of, 291. 

Spaight, Mr., of Limerick, 156. 

visits to France and 

Spanish bull fight, 293. 

Spain of, 293. 

Spirit rapping, 295. 

return to residence in 

Spurgeon, the Eev. C. H., 282. 

London of, 296. 

Stable, Mr., 305. 

twenty years' reminis- 

St. Aldegonde, Count, 112, 

cences of mining life by, 



Stamp duty, 28. 

sixty-third birthday of, 

Stanley, Dean, 348, 355, 358. 


St. Paul's Cathedral, 63, 64. 

visit to Isle of Thanet, 

St. Paul's, Knightsbridge, and 


Puseyism, 229. 

memoranda of forty- 

Statistical accounts, 28, 29. 

seven New Years' days by, 

Statistics of tea, 31. 


Steel, Mr., 228, 243. 

marriage of Emily, 

Stephens, Mr. Henry, 240. 

daughter of, 328. 

Stephenson, Robert, 6, 176, 

presentation made to, 

185, 186, 211, 212, 239, 


240, 259. 

marriage of Arthur, son 

George, 6, 138, 188, 

of, 335. 

212, 217, 219, 232, 240. 

tour through Norway, 

Sterne, estimation of works 

Sweden, and Denmark of, 

and sermons of, 116. 


Stone, vicarage of, 5. 



Stoughton, Dr., 358. 

Thornton, Mr. Roger, 23. 

Strikes, Anatomy of, 311. 

Topham, Mr., 73. 

Sudeley, Lord, 186. 

Tower of London, the, 82. 

Surtees, Mr., 86, 93, 96, 

Travelling, love of, 167. 


Tienchard, Mr., 147. 

Sussex, Duke of, 131. 

Trevelyan, Mr. Calverly, 

Swanage, visit to, 101. 


Swinbourne, Sir John, 47, 81, 

Treves, Roman baths and 


masonry at, 365. 

Edward, 318. 

Trevithick, Richard, and steam 

Symons, Jelinger, 254. 

carriage to London in early 

part of nineteenth century, 


Tripe, Dr., 284. 


Tunnel, Box, the, 324. 

Turner, Rev. Robert, 50. 

Talbot, Mr., 170. 

Tyndall, Professor, 312, 362. 

Talebot, Mons. Paulin, 329. 

Tynemouth, Mayor of, 279. 

Tate, Mr., death of, 337. 

Taylor, Mr. John, 48, 167, 

177, 232, 296, 319. 

Tea, statistics of, in 1669, 


1678, 1700, 1721, 1816, 

showing increase of con- 

United Kingdom Alliance, 

sumption of, 31. 

foundation of, 218. 

Telegraph, electric, the, 283, 


Telford, Mr., 19, 88, 267, 319. 

Thackeray, Mr., works of, 



Theatre, Drury Lane, the, 60. 

Vanderhorf, Mr., tragedian, 

Thermo-barometer, Ronketti's, 



Vaughan, Mr. George, 268. 

Thompson, Mr., 331. 

Vincent, Lady, 171. 

Sir William, 345. 

Violinists, ladies as, 143. 




Wilson, Professor, 34, 35, 36, 

Mr. James, 38. 

Wales, Prince of, 214, 333. 

Walker, Mr. James, 139, 186, 

Mr. R. P., 67. 

207, 208. 

Mr. Thomas, 184. 

Wall, Roman, the, 89, 290. 

Windsor Castle, 88. 

Walton, Mr. Jacob, 301. 

Wiseman, Cardinal, 291, 

Wardle, Mr., 113. 

Wolsey, tomb of, 72. 

Warr, Lord cle la, 336. 

Wood, Mr. Nicholas, 109, 138, 

Watson, Sir Thomas, 287. 


Watt, James, 6, 368. 

G. W., M.P., 170. 

Webster, Mr. Benjamin, 237. 

Woodall, Mr., Junr., of Scar- 

Wellington, Duke of, 78, 132, 

borough, 285. 


Work as a civil engineer, 85. 

Werner, the grave of, 368, 

Working men in Parliament, 



Wesley, Rev. John, the, 18. 

Wren, Sir Christopher, 70. 

West, Mr., of Leeds, 110, 111, 

Wright, Mr. William, 14. 


Westmacott, Mr., 182. 


Weymouth, visit to, 102. 

Yevering Bell, 40. 

Wheatstone, Professor, 1 70, 

York Minster, burning of, 43. 

263, 284. 

Yorkshire, tour in, with Dr. 

Whewell, Rev. Prof., 126, 186. 

Buckland, 189. 

Whitworth, Sir Joseph, 13. 

Wilkie, Sir David, 171. 


Williamson, Sir H., 321. 

Zimmeimann on solitude, 116. 

Printed by Hazell, Watson, & Viney, Ld., London and Aylesbury. 


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