Jane Smeal Henderson Thompson.

Silvanus Phillips Thompson, D.SC., LL.D., F.R.S.; his life and letters online

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adjourned meeting, it was decided not to expel members


of enemy origin who had been naturalised, and were
approved by the Council.

Although led by his convictions into opposition to many
of his oldest friends, Thompson's views were always sym-
pathetically received, being, as many of them felt, and said,
in harmony with his actions and conduct throughout life.

During the summer of that year Dorothea, who had
become very seriously affected by the asthma trouble from
which she suffered, was ordered to take a long voyage, as
the only hope of checking the disease. Early in August she
started with her sister Helen for New Zealand via the Cape.

It was just at the time that the submarines were beginning
to attack steamers, and Thompson had an anxious time
until a cable from Cape Town announced their safety, and
much improved health for the invalid.

Not long after, the sudden death of Professor Raphael
Meldola, his colleague of thirty years, gave him a great shock.
His other colleague Professor Margetson, who had not long
succeeded Professor E. G. Coker, was not sufficiently ex-
perienced in the work of the Technical College to be able
to help and counsel him as Professor Meldola had done.

This loss, supervening on his hard work, made him
seriously ill. He consulted a physician, who warned him
that he must take great care, and rest more, a counsel
which it was impossible for him to follow. The work at
College, however, through the circumstances of the war,
was to some extent lightened in that the Evening Classes
Department had to be closed in consequence of the air

Christmas was spent quietly at home, and his eldest
daughter brought her two little children, Gulielma and
Silvanus Hanbury Aggs, to cheer up the contracted circle.

One of Thompson's favourite poems had long been
Victor Hugo's " L'Art d'etre grandpere." He delighted
in its descriptions of the little " Georges et Jeanne," and
he now greatly enjoyed practising that art himself.

Writing at the close of the year to his old friend Conrad
Cooke, he says : " I have my two grandchildren staying with
me ; the girl aged three and a half, the boy nine months.



From a photograph taken by T. Edmonds Hull in 1914.



They are a perfect delight, and most entertaining com-
panions." In the same letter he says :

" In spite of all the war wearinesses, and overwork that
it entails, I am finding every now and then odd moments
to rewrite my book on the Electro-magnet.

" I have now been eight years over it ; and it may take
a year or two more."

After the safe return of Helen from New Zealand, where
she had left her sister in much improved health, Thompson
accompanied Sylvia and the grandchildren on their return to
Amersham, where he spent a quiet week.

During the next three months, while still actively going
about his duties, his friends noticed, with growing anxiety,
how tired and exhausted he often looked.

The appointment to the Chair of Chemistry of Dr. G. T.
Morgan, who had been trained in the Finsbury tradition,
was a help to him, but many details had of course to be
readjusted and arranged.

In March, however, he found time to prepare and deliver
a Friday evening discourse at the Royal Institution, on
the phenomena of the Electric Corona, which was given
with his usual ease and richly illustrated by interesting

Owing to the darkening of London streets, the Friday
gatherings of members now took place before seven o'clock,
and were in consequence shorn of many of their attractions,
and often very small.

For several months another of Thompson's old friends,
Sir William Ramsay, had been gradually going down into
the valley of the shadow of death, suffering from a painful
illness, from which there was no hope of recovery. Thomp-
son visited him several times out at High Wycombe, and
after the last occasion Lady Ramsay wrote :

" I have two of the very kindest letters I ever had to
thank you for. Your visit was a real treat to my husband,
and later on it would be really kind to repeat it. You
brought an atmosphere of peace and brightness, and it
remained. Perhaps you might telephone in case it was one


of my husband's bad days, and it would be well to avoid

Soon after this Thompson and his wife went for three
weeks to Bath. He always enjoyed this old and beautiful
city, and the fine country surrounding it. The visit seemed
to bring him much benefit, and he returned looking brisk
and fresh to take up his tasks again.

The passing of the Compulsory Military Service Acts
brought great and special anxieties to members of the
Society of Friends. Although a conscience clause had been
put into the Act, yet it was left to the discretion of tribunals,
often ignorant, and militarist in spirit, to decide whether a
man was " conscientious " or not, with the consequence that
very soon well-known Quakers were being court-martialled
for refusing to obey military orders, and older men who
published protests against this also became liable to trial
under the Defence of the Realm Act.

The Yearly Meeting in May was a time of great anxiety
to the older Friends, and Thompson took his share in the
deliberations. On the last Sunday of the month he was
appointed to give a special address at Westminster Meeting
on " What the Society of Friends stands for." He spoke
calmly and eloquently for an hour, without once referring
to his notes, and his address made a deep impression upon
the congregation.

The lowering to eighteen of the age of those who "came
under the Military Service Acts seemed to bring con-
sequences which were very hard for Thompson to bear,
both for the students themselves, and because of the needs
of the country for trained chemists and engineers.

At eighteen the students were just finishing their second
year's course, and for many it meant the ruin of their
scientific career to be interrupted then. This was especially
true in the case of the chemists, and by great effort Thompson
succeeded in getting exemption for some of them through
the Education Office.

But grief and worry and overwork told on him severely.
One Saturday morning he went to the College to try and


arrange for the exemption of one of the assistants. He was
disappointed in his efforts, and that evening seemed very
tired and exhausted.

Early on Sunday morning he had an attack of cerebral
hemorrhage, which rapidly rendered him unconscious, and
he passed peacefully away on Monday night, June 12th,
a week before his sixty-fifth birthday.

After cremation, his ashes were placed in the burial-
ground near the Old Friends' Meeting House, at Jordans,
Buckinghamshire, which he had sometimes visited and

A memorial Meeting was held at Westminster Meeting
House in St. Martin's Lane. It was crowded by fellow
members of the congregation, large numbers of old students,
and many scientific men who represented all the Societies
and other bodies with which he had been connected.

There were, besides, many other representatives of litera-
ture, art, and science, and many old friends.

The Meeting was solemn and reverent. Lines from
Browning quoted by Edward Grubb, an old friend of him
whom they mourned, seemed very appropriate :

" One who never turned his back, but marched breast forward,

Never doubted clouds would break,

Never dreamed, though right were worsted, wrong would triumph,
Held we fall to rise, are baffled to fight better,
Sleep to wake."



1867 Matriculation in the University of London.

1869 Bachelor of Arts, London.

1875 Fellow of Royal Astronomical Society.

1875 Bachelor of Science, London.

1875 Member of Physical Society of London.

1878 Doctor of Science, London.

1882 Member of Society of Telegraph Engineers and Electri-


1883 Honorary Member of Physical Society of Frankfurt-am-M.
1886 Member of the National Electric Light Association


1886 Member of the Royal Institution of Great Britain.

1890 Member of the " Sette of Odd Volumes."

1890 President of the Junior Institution of Engineers.

1890 Member of the Council of the Societe de Physique, Paris.

1890 Vice-President of the Physical Society. London.

1890 Hon. Vice-President of the Electrical Exhibition, Frank-


1891 Fellow of the Royal Society.

1891 Member of the Administrative Committee of the Societe
Internationale des Electriciens.

1894 Foreign Member of the Royal Academy of Science,

1894 Hon. Degree of Doctor of Medicine and Surgery, Univer-
sity of Konigsberg.

1897 Hon. Member of Yorkshire Philosophical Society.

1897 First President of the Roentgen Society, London.

1898 Foreign Member of the Associazione Elettro-technica


1899 Diploma de Benemerenza, International Electrical Con-

gress, Como.

1899 President of the Institute of Electrical Engineers.



1899 Freeman of the City of London.

1900 Elected Member of the Senate of the University of


1900 Honorary Member of the Roentgen Society.

1901-2 President of the Physical Society of London.

1902 Member of the American Philosophical Society, Phila-

1902 Foreign Member of the Socie*te Neerlandaise des Sciences.

1902 President of the Hampstead Scientific Society.

1902 President of the Friends' Guild of Teachers.

1903 Honorary Member of the Optical Society.

1904 Honorary Fellow of the Royal Microscopical Society.

1905 President of the Optical Society.

1905 President of the " Sette of Odd Volumes."

1905 Honorary Member (number limited) of The Essex Field


1907 Member of the Council of the Royal Society.
1907 President of the South-Eastern Union of Scientific


1907 Member of the Athenaeum Club, elected under Rule II.
1909 First President of the Society of Illuminating Engineering.
1909 Honorary Degree LL.D., University of Birmingham.

1911 Honorary Member of the Friends' Guild of Teachers.

1912 President of the Optical Convention (Second).

1912 Honorary Degree D.Sc., University of Bristol.

1913 Foreign Member, Accademia delle Scienze, Bologna.

1914 Honorary Member of the American Institute of Electrical


1914 Vice-President of the Institute of Ophthalmic Opticians.
Vice-President of the Selborne Society.


1879 Technical Education.

1881 Elementary Lessons in Electricity and Magnetism.

1883 Life of Philipp Reis, Inventor of the Telephone.

1884 Dynamo-electric Machinery.

1890 Translation of Guillemin's Physique (Electricity).

1891 The v Electromagnet and Electromagnetic Mechanisms.

1895 Polyphase Electric Currents.

1896 Light Visible and Invisible.
1898 Life of Faraday.


1900 Photographic Optics. From the German of 0. Lummer.
1903 Design of Dynamos.
1906 The Manufacture of Light.
1910 Life of Lord Kelvin.
1910 Calculus made Easy (by F.R.S.).
1912 Translation of Huyghens' Treatise on Light.
1915 The Quest for Truth.
1918 (posthumous) A Not Impossible Religion.



1891 William Sturgeon the Electrician.

1891 Gilbert of Colchester : An Elizabethan Magnetizer.

(Opusculum of "Sette of Odd Volumes'*)
1893 The Magick Mirrour of Old Japan (Opusculum, O.V.).
1898 Reprint (with preface), Two Tracts on Electricity and

Magnetism by the Hon. Robert Boyle (Opusculum,

1900 Notes on the De Magnete of Gilbert, to accompany the

Gilbert Club translation.

1902 Translation of the Epistola de Magnete of Petrus Pere-


1903 The Family and Arms of Gilbert of Colchester.
1903 Gilbert: Physician.

1903 Gilbert of Colchester, Father of Electrical Science.
1903 William Gilbert and Terrestrial Magnetism in the Time of

Queen Elizabeth.
1905 The Pied Piper of Hamelin (Opusculum, O.V.).




On Some Phenomena of Induced Electric Sparks (Phil. Mag. t
Proc. Physical Soc.).

On the Chromatic Aberration of the Eye in Relation to the

Perception of Distance (Phil. Mag.).

Note on a Curious Effect of the Absorption of Light (Phil. Mag.).
On Interference Fringes within the Nicol Prism (Proc. Physical



On an Improved Lantern Galvanoscope (Brit. Assoc.).

On the Relative Apparent Brightness in Monocular and Bino-
cular Vision (Brit. Assoc.).

Some New Optical Illusions (Brit. Assoc.).

Sur les Figures Stroboscopiques (Bull. Soc. Fran$aise de Physique).

Binaural Audition, Part I (Phil. Mag.).

Methods of Physical Science (Introductory Address, Bristol
University College).


On Technical Education. Where it should be given (Social
Science Congress).

On Permanent Plateau's Films (Phil. Mag., Proc. Physical

Magnetic Figures illustrating Electrodynamic Relations (Phil.
Mag., Proc. Physical Soc.).

New Magnetic Figures (Brit. Assoc.).

On Certain Phenomena accompanying Rainbows (Brit. Assoc.,
Phil. Mag.).

Binaural Audition, Part II (Brit. Assoc., Phil. Mag.).

L' Audition Binauriculaire (Assoc. Fran9aise par TAvancement
des Sciences).

On Unilateral Conductivity in Tourmaline Crystals (in con-
junction with Dr. 0. J. Lodge) (Brit. Assoc., Phil. Mag.).


Apprenticeship Scientific and Unscientific (Jour. Soc. of Arts).

Suggested Scheme for a Central Institution for Technical Educa-

On the Retardation of Phase Vibrations transmitted by Tele-
phone (Brit. Assoc.).

Notes from the Physical Laboratory of University College,
Bristol (Phil. Mag.).

The Pseudophone (Phil. Mag.).

The Action of Magnets on Mobile Conductors of Current (Phil.

A Study in Magnetism (Nature).

On a Law of Retinal Activity (Brit. Assoc., Section D).


Apprenticeship of the Future (Contemporary Review, Sept.).
Apprenticeship Schools in France.


Lecture Experiments in Acoustics (Phil. Mag.).

Optical Illusions of Motion (Brain, October).

The First Telephone (Bristol Naturalists' Soc.).

Science Readings for the Magic Lantern in three parts. Mag-
netism and Electricity, Telephone, Microphone and Phono-
graph, Electric Light and New Inventions.

On the Electric Conductivity and Diehroic Absorption of Tour-
maline (Brit. Assoc.).


The Storage of Electricity (Jour, of Soc. of Arts).-
Binaural Audition, Part III (Phil. Mag.).
On the Conservation of Electricity and the Absolute Scale of

Electric Potential (Phil. Mag.).
On Volta-Electric Inversion (Brit. Assoc.).
On the Opacity of Tourmaline Crystals (Phil. Mag.).
On a New Polarising Prism (Brit. Assoc., Phil. Mag., Jour, de

Physique ; Centralzeitung f. Optik. u. Mech., 1882.
Notes on the Construction of the Photophone (Phil. Mag.).
Labour and Science (Jour, of National Chamber of Trade).

How can Technical Education be best associated with Primary

Schools ? (Social Science Congress).
Dynamo-Electric Machinery. Cantor Lectures (Jour. Soc. of


On the Electric Resistance of Carbon under Pressure (Phil. Mag.).
The Age of Electricity. Introductory Lecture, University

CoUege, Bristol.
A New Phonautograph.

The Beats of Mistuned Consonance (Phil. Mag.).
On the Function of Two Ears in the Perception of Space (Phil.


Remarks on Contact Resistance (Jour. Soc. Telegraph Engineers

and Electricians).
On the Graphic Representation of the Law of Efficiency of an

Electric Motor (Phil. Mag.).
Recent Researches on Dynamo-electric Generators (Proc. Bristol

Naturalist Soc.).
Polarising Prisms (Phil. Mag. ; English Mechanic, 962 ; Jour.

Roy. Microsc. Soc.).
Experiments on Bolometry (Brit. Assoc.),



Recent Progress in Dynamo-Electric Machinery (Jour. Soc. of

Note on the Theory of the Magnetic Balance of Hughes (Proc.

Roy. Soc.).

On a Modified Resistance Balance (Phil. Mag.).
On the Adjustment of Resistance Coils (Phil. Mag.).
On a New Insulating Support (Phil. Mag.).
Communication on Contact Pressure (Jour. Soc. Telegraph

Engineers and Electricians).


Lectures on Waves [Juvenile Lectures] (Jour. Soc. of Arts).
Apparatus for the Automatic Extinction of Fires (Jour. Soc. of


On Maintaining Tuning-forks by Electricity (Phil. Mag.).
Law of the Electromagnet and the Dynamo (Phil. Mag.).
Further Notes on the Formulae of the Electromagnet and the

Dynamo (Phil. Mag.).
German Translation of the above by Exner in Repertorium der

Notes on some New Polarising Prisms (Jour, of Roy. Micros.

Soc., Phil. Mag.).

The Present Position of the Technical Instruction Question

(Conference on T. L, London, Nov. 1887).
Die Neuesten Fortschritte in Dynamo-elektrischen Maschinen

(Jahrbuch f. Elektrotechnik).

Note on the Electrodepofcition of Alloys (Proc. Roy. Soc.).
On an Arc-lamp suitable for use with the Duboscq Lantern

(Phil. Mag.).
Twin Prisms for Polarimeters (Proc. Mag.}.


The Development of the Mercurial Air-pump (Jour. Soc. of Arts).
On the Formulae for the Lighting Power of Magnets (Phil. Mag.).
Note on the Conditions of Self-excitation in a Dynamo Machine

(Phil. Mag.).
Some Experiments on Electro-magnetic Action (Electrician ,



On Electrical Theory (Electrician, Nov.)

The Influence Machine from 1788-1888 (Jour. Soc. Telegraph
Engineers and Electricians).

On a Modified Water-dropping Influence Machine (Phil. Mag.}.

Note on Continuous Current Transformers (Phil. Mag.).

On the Price of the Factor of Safety in the Materials for Light-
ning-rods (Phil. Mag.).


Arc-lamps and their Mechanism (Jour. Soc. of Arts).

On the Magnetic Action of Displacement Currents in a Dielectrio

(Proc. Roy. Soc.).
Note on Polarising Apparatus for the Microscope (Jour. Roy.

Micros. Soc.).

Notes on Geometrical Optics, Part I (Phil. Mag.).
Optical Torque [Friday Discourse] (Royal Institution).


The Organisation of Secondary and Technical Education in

London (Jour. Soc. of Arts).

The Electromagnet. Cantor Lectures (Jour. Soc. of Arts).
The Physical Foundation of Music. Discourse (Koyal Institution).
Electro-magnetic Mechanisms. Presidential Address (Junior

Engineering Soc.).


The Measurement of Lenses (Jour. Soc. of Arts).

Das Neue Gebiet der Alternierende Strome. Vortrag. (Frankfurt-

am-M. : Bericht des Internationalen Elektrotechniker-Kon-


Electricity in Mining. Lecture to Working Men (Brit. Assoc.).
On the Use of Fluor-spar in Optical Instruments (Phil. Mag.).
On the Focometry of Lenses and Lens-combinations (Proc. Roy.

On Galvano-hysteresis. Prelim. Note (Proc. Roy. Soc.).

On the Physics of the Voltaic Arc (Brit. Assoc.).


Practical Electrical Problems at Chicago (Jour. Soc. of Arts).

Ocean Telephony. Pamphlet.

Some Notes on Photometry (Phil. Mag, Proc. Physical Soc.)



Notes on Rotatary Field Motors (Electrician).

On the Design and Winding of Alternate-current Electromagnets
(Phil. Mag.).

Electromagnets. S. P. T. and Miles Walker (Phil. Mag.).

Transformations of Electric Currents. Discourse (Royal Institu-


The Arc Light. Cantor Lectures (Jour. Soc. of Arts).
Mirrors of Magnetism. S. P. T. and Miles Walker (Phil. Mag.).
Note on a Neglected Experiment of Ampere (Phil. Mag.).
Note on the Cause of the Differences in Lichtenberg's Dust
Figures. Preliminary Note (Proc. Roy. Soc.).


The Making of a Great University for London (Jour. Soc. of Arts).
Some Experiments with Roentgen's Rays (Phil. Mag.).
Electric Shadows and Luminescence. Discourse (Royal Institu-

On Hyperphosphorescence (Phil. Mag., Proc. Roy. Soc.).
Luminescence (Oxford University Jun. Sc. Club).
More X-ray Myths (Electrician).
Kathode, X-, and Becquerel Rays (Brit. Assoc.).
Hyperphosphorescence (Brit. Assoc.).


Reforms in the Organisation of Technical Education (Jour. Soc.

of Arts).

Presidential Address to the Roentgen Society.
Cathode Rays and Some Analogous Rays (Proc. Roy. Soc. Phil.

Trans. Roy. Soc., 1898).
Peter Short, Printer, and his Marks (Bibliographical Soc.).


Telegraphy Across Space [Silver Medal] (Jour. Soc. of Arts).
Electric Traction by Surface Contacts. S. P. T. and Miles Walker

(Brit. Assoc., Section G.).
Rotatory Converters (Jour. Inst. Elec. Engin.).



Presidential Address to the Institution of Electrical Engineers
(Jour. Inst. Elec. Engin.).


Intorno alle Immagini Magnetiche (Atti dell' Assoc. Elettro-

technica Italiana).

Ueber Magnetische Bilder (Physikalische Zeitschrift).
Report on Electromagnetic Mechanisms (Rapports et Proems

verbaux, Elec. Congress, Paris).
On Obliquely-crossed Cylindrical Lenses (PhiL Mag.).


Faraday und die Englische Schule der Elektriker (Vortrag in dem

Urania Theater, Berlin).

Presidential Address before the Physical Society of London.
Some Experiments on the Zonal Aberration of Lenses (Archives

Neerlandaises des Sciences exactes et naturelles).


Opto-technics (Jour. Soc. of Arts).

Second Presidential Address to the Physical Society of London.

Illustrative Teaching. Presidential Address to Friends' Guild

of Teachers.

Professor Alfred Marie Cornu (Obit. Notice, Proc. Roy. Soc.).
Magnetism in Growth. The eighth Boyle Lecture (Oxford Univ.

Jun. Science Club).
Magnetism in Transitu. Discourse (Royal Institution).


The Optical and Physical Properties of Mica (Optical Soc.).
Zonal Aberration and its Consequences (Brit. Jour. Photographic


The Fourth Traill Taylor Memorial Lecture.
The Dynamo-Electric Machine. Wilde v. Thompson (Electrician)
William Gilbert and Terrestrial Magnetism (Jour. Roy. Geog.



Note on a Rapid Approximate Method of Harmonic Analysis

(Proc. Physical Soc.).
Address before the City of Bradford Technical College.



On the Nicol Prism and its Modern Varieties [with a biblio-
graphy] (Proc. Optical Convention).
The Early Literature of Optics. Presidential Address (Optical


Harmonic Analysis reduced to Simplicity (Electrician).
Translation of La Qusestio de Aqua et Terra di Dante.


Electric Production of Nitrates from the Atmosphere. Discourse

(Royal Institution).
High-speed Electric Machinery with Special Reference to Steam

Turbines. Howard Lectures (Jour. Soc. of Arts).
Petrus Peregrinus de Maricourt and his Epistola de Magnete

(Proc. Brit. Academy).


Address as President of Section G [Engineering] (Brit. Assoc.).

Presidential Address to the South-Eastern Union -of Scientific

Societies [(Trans, of the South-Eastern Union of Scientific



The Life and Work of Lord Kelvin, The First Kelvin Lecture
(Jour, of the Inst. of Elec. Engin.).


On the Self -demagnetising Factor of Bar Magnets. S. P. T.

and E. W. Moss (Proc. Physical. Soc.).
Presidential Address Illuminating Engineering Society.


On Hysteresis Loops and Lissajous Figures (Proc. Physical Soc.).
On Physiological Effects of an Alternating Magnetic Field
(Phil f Trans. Roy. Soc. B.).


A New Method of Approximate Harmonic Analysis by Selected
Ordinates (Proc. Physical Soc.).


Physiological Effects of an Alternating Magnetic Field (Jour.
Roentgen Soc.).


A New Method of Harmonic Analysis (Archiv for Matematik,

The Magnetism of Permanent Magnets. GlasgOAv Lecture
(Inst. Elec. Engineers).

Presidential Address to Second Optical Convention (Proc. Op-
tical Convention).

The Trend of Geometrical Optics (Proc. Optical Convention).

Design and Construction of Large Polariscopes, S. P. T. and
E. G. Coker (Proc. Optical Convention).

French Translation of the Kelvin Lecture (International Elec-
trotech. Commission).


The Aims and Work of the International Electrotechnical Com-
mission (Jour. Inst. Elec. Engin.).

Le But et L'CEuvre de La Commission Electrotechnique Inter-
nationale (La Lumiere ^lectrique).

Permanent Magnets. Terrestrial Magnetism (Jour. Inst. Elec.

On the Origin and Development of the Compass Card, Rosa
Ventorum (International Congress of Historical Studies,

The Rose of the Winds (Proc. Brit. Academy).

Some Considerations on the Brightness of Lights (Illuminating

The Secret of the Permanent Magnet. Friday Discourse (Royal


Dispersion (Institute of Ophthalmic Opticians).
Note on Mr. Mallock's Observations on Intermittent Vision
(Proc. Roy. Soc.).


On the Criterion of Steel suitable for Permanent Magnets (Proc.

Online LibraryJane Smeal Henderson ThompsonSilvanus Phillips Thompson, D.SC., LL.D., F.R.S.; his life and letters → online text (page 31 of 32)