Wilfrid Richmond.

The Americana: a universal reference library, comprising the arts ..., Volume 10 online

. (page 41 of 185)
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wide field of operations to which any individual
member may be devoting himself.

During the earlier years of the institution's
corporate existence the enormous development
in the construction of railways, roads, harbors,
docks, drainage, and waterworks lead to the
not unnatural predominance of discussion on
questions of special moment to these branches
of the profession in the institution proceedings.
The Council was consequently largely recruited
from the men of eminence on the predominating
side and the civil engineer became in public
estimation more and more exclusively identified
with the designer and constructor of such
works.

With the rapid improvements which have
since taken place in machinery and machine proc-
esses and with the revolution which has been
effected in commerce and in the requirements
and mode of life of the people, by the less
prominent but equally remarkable achievements
of such men as Stephenson, Armstrong, Whit-
worth, Bessemer, and Siemens, the demands for
a greater outlet for the discussion of the me-
chanical problems of interest on this side of the
profession of the civil engineer became more
and more insistent and the opportunities avail-
able in the existing institution being by many
felt to be inadequate, the Institution of Me-
chanical Engineers was founded in 1847 and
was constituted in 1878 as a registered asso-
ciation under the Companies Acts.

With the discovery of the means of practi-
cally utilizing electricity for producing light and
transmitting power and the consequent exten-
sion of its use in all departments of mechanical
work a third development took place in 1889,
when the Society of Telegraph-Engineers and
Electricians which had been incorporated under
the Companies Acts in 1883 and from its es-
tablishment in 187 1 had until 188 1 been called
the Society of Telegraph Engineers again
changed its name to the Institution of Electrical
Engineers. Various other societies and insti-
tutions have been formed at various dates
amongst which may be mentioned the Civil and
Mechanical Engineers' Society, the name of
which the membership is confined to junior
founded on a misconception, the Society of En-
gineers, and the Institution of Junior Engineers,



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a very active and progressive institution of
which the membership is confined to Junior
members of the profession.

The Institution of Civil Engineers is thus
the parent institution, embracing by its consti-
tution and membership all branches of the pro-
fession demanding for entry to its roll (a)
practical professional training in works or as an
assistant to an engineer; (b) theoretical training
as evidenced by the passing of its own examina-
tions held twice a year or by the holding of the
degree or diploma of a recognized university or
technical college; (c) suitable and strictly de-
fined qualifications for each of its classes of
membership or studentship.

It is recognized as the leading professional
body and membership of its Council and occupa-
tion of its presidential chair to which there is
annual election are the most valued of profes-
sional distinctions. It can to a certain extent
guide and control professional conduct within
its own membership but does so with an all-too-
sparing hand. To many it appears that the time
is ripe for further extension of professional or-
ganization and for the application of stricter dis-
cipline in regard to what may be called, gener-
ally, professional etiquette, and it is the Institu-
tion of Civil Engineers which alone has the
constitution and prestige which would enable it
to successfully deal with such a development.

Beside this great leading institution are the
Institution of Mechanical Engineers and the In-
stitution of Electrical Engineers, each represent-
ing one branch of the profession only, and
demanding professional but not examination
qualifications for membership. Most of the
members of each of these belong also to the
premier institution.

To complete the organization of the profes-
sion much remains to be done. There is as yet
no state registration enabling the assumption of
the name civil engineer (embracing, as has been
shown above, engineers of all branches) by
unqualified and untrained persons, to be checked
and fees and professional conduct to be regu-
lated by a governing body, such as the Insti-
tution of Civil Engineers, with the help of the
other professional institutions, might organize
if they had the necessary statutory powers. The
public thus lack the protection to which they are
entitled against the employment of unqualified
advisers whom they have no sure means of dis-
tinguishing from competent engineers. One dif-
ficulty in the way of this necessary step being
taken would probably be removed if the popular
misconception of the functions of a civil engi-
neer were eradicated.

This perhaps is more strongly the case in the
United Kingdom than elsewhere, t for there it
has been the custom, where work involving ma-
chinery or engineering construction of any mag-
nitude was required by those who were not
themselves engineers, to obtain advice as to the
best way to obtain the ends in view, and the best
engineering designs to employ, from leading
members of the appropriate branch of the pro-
fession practicing as consultants. There has
thus grown up a body of engineers whose func-
tion is to give this advice and draw up the in-
structions upon which tenders can be obtained
from engineers who undertake the construction
of the works or machinery involved. Much mis-



conception has arisen in America and elsewhere
as to the foundation and value of this method.
The consultant is in a position of trust between
his non-engineering client and the manufacturer.
By clearly defining the requirements of his
client, after investigating all the conditions of
the problem, he enables competing contractors
to estimate their prices upon a fair and uniform
basis. On the one hand his duty is to see that
his client obtains the best installation and that
which most satisfactorily fulfills the conditions
of the problem on reasonable terms; on the
other he sees that no competing manufacturing
or contracting firm is unfairly handicapped by a
misunderstanding of the problem and by the
unfair competition of a rival. Further, his duty
is to see that the chosen contractor is not un-
fairly dealt with owing to the ignorance of en-
gineering possibilities or limitations on the part
of his client.

In this capacity, as arbitrator and adviser,
the highest qualifications of judgment, independ-
ence, integrity, and justice are required of the
engineer, and it is of the highest importance
that the ranks should be kept purged of any
who may usurp these functions without the nec-
essary qualifications and bring discredit upon
the profession as a whole. Here statutory pow-
ers of control and regulation by a professional
body are pre-eminently needed.

Educational Organization. — On this question
a brief word must suffice. Engineering schools
were first established in London at King's Col-
lege and University College in the first half of
the 19th century. These have been followed by
the establishment of other schools in the prov-
inces and in London until a large number now
exist in which the scientific bases of engineer-
ing are taught in an organized course lasting in
general for three years. During that course En-
gineering Laboratory training at most schools
occupies a large portion of the time. Experi-
mental determinations of the efficiencies of
various machines and prime movers working
under varying conditions, the strength and
properties of materials, flow of liquids, etc.. are
undertaken by the students, and the underlying
scientific laws deduced and exemplified.

In some schools engineering manufacturing
processes are also taught and workshop train-
ing undertaken, but in the United Kingdom it
has generally been held that this branch of
training is best obtained in the factories of man-
ufacturing firms, and this is the method advo-
cated by the Institution of Civil Engineers.

The University of London has an Engineer-
ing Faculty and grants degrees in Science (En-
gineering), and the University of Cambridge
has a Mechanical Science tripos as an avenue
to its degrees in arts.

The provincial universities all grant degrees
in science on the engineering side. Dublin and
Liverpool alone grant a degree in engineering.

The principle upon which such ^engineering*
as distinct from ^science" degrees are generally
held to be unsound in Great Britain is that the
practical, which is an essential portion of an. en-
gineer's training, can not be rightly regulated
or judged by an academic body. A professional
body such as the Institution of Civil Engineers
is alone competent to co-ordinate the two por-
tions of the professional education.



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Bibliography.— <Royal Navy List*; <Royal
Army List ) ; Lord Brassey, ( The Naval An-
nual ; Various Blue Books on Naval Education
and Army Organization; <An Experimental
Enquiry Covering the Nature, Powers of Water
and Wind to Turn Mills and other Machines
Depending on Circular Motion > ; < Royal Society
I759> ; < Narrative of the Building Eddystone
Lighthouse 1791*; ( A short narrative of the
Genius, Life and Works of the late W. John
Smeaton I793 ) ; Smiles, < Lives of The Engi-
neers } ; Lardner, < History of the Steam En-
gine* ; Rankin, < Steam Engine and other Prime
Movers> ; Telford, <Memoirs> (1838) ; 'Trans-
actions > of the Institution of Civil Engineers,
The Institution of Mechanical Engineers and
The Institution of Electrical Engineers; Calen-
dars of the several Universities and University
and Technical Colleges in the United Kingdom ;
< Report by the Committee of the Institution of
Civil Engineers on the Education and Training
of Engineering* (1906).

David Sing Capper,
Professor of Engineering, King's College, Lon-
don; Appointed Teacher in Civil and Me-
chanical Engineering, University of Lon-
don.

3a. Great Britain — English Society. This
paper does not purpose to deal with the history
of society in England, or to compare the
customs, clothes, and conventions of different
centuries; — still less to compile personal anec-
dotes and present sketches of various social
celebrities. To do any of these things ade-
quately would nil a volume. The article there-
fore merely attempts to give an impression of
English society as it exists in the year 1906, and
some account of its chief characteristics, influ-
ences, and pursuits.

Society in England is very difficult of defini-
tion. There are no rules of admission, no
graded qualifications, no inevitable exclusions.
It* is not essential to be well born, or rich —
it is not necessary to be refined or clever. The
enclosure is a very large one and there are many
entrances and many tickets of admission. Cer-
tainly the fame of its easy hospitality attracts
undesirables from all over the world, and
people, who in spite of their vast wealth, have
proved too stupid or too vulgar for Paris and
Rome, often find a happy home in London; but
it is to the credit of society in England that it
tries to be appreciative and will always welcome
anyone who can amuse or interest or stir it —
brains, talent, fame, are keys which unlock every
gate, and this hospitality, combined with cer-
tain national characteristics, helps to make so-
cial life in England, notwithstanding its obvi-
ous faults, on the whole vital and interesting.

A clever German woman said once that in
her own country she would rather belong to the
middle-class, for it contained almost all the
people with brains and talent, but that in Eng-
land there was only one thing to do if you
wished to pass your life among interesting
people — and that was to get into society. She
should have added, from her point of view, that
unless she had been gifted with certain qualities,
she might have been born a member of one of
the greatest families, without attaining this
result Mere rank or birth is not enough —
both undoubtedly fcelp, but it is no use being



born within the enclosure unless you are able
to walk about in it

Unlike the custom of many foreign capitals
it is not really necessary to be received at
Court before admittance, nor on the other hand
is the presentation to the King and Queen a
sufficient introduction. The presentation is an
honor but not a necessity, and except in rare
cases, where the reception at court practically
intimates to society that some scandal is to be
ignored or condoned, carries with it, so far as
England is concerned, no social privileges.
The influence of the Court is, however, very
considerable and confers a certain social posi-
tion even though it cannot always secure ^ ad-
mittance into some coveted circles. For in a
sense it may be said that the Royal family is
apart, having a circle round it drawn from
society, but not itself forming a part of the
general throng.

Roughly speaking, English society has always
concerned itself with Government and with
politics, from the days when the great nobles of
the State took sides and fought for rival Kings,
to the present time, when the sons of great
houses join one or other political party, and
when to be a prominent politician is to be a
prominent social figure.

In the nearer past, society was divided into
hostile camps, following the cleavage of party.
Whigs met, talked, played, and danced with
other Whigs ; Tories with Tories, and the orbits
of the two planetary systems rarely crossed. In
the year 1906, these divisions hardly exist, and
it may often happen that a Minister will find
himself at the same table with a Member of
Parliament who an hour before was denouncing
him as a dangerous enemy to the best interest*
of his country.

There is a rule that no Member of Parlia-
ment when speaking in the House, shall step
beyond a certain line drawn parallel to the
benches ; a necessary precaution once, when pas-
sions ran high, and swords might be whipped
out at any moment But now that there is more
control, and men do not wear swords, the rule
is only a survival whose origin is forgotten. The
line beyond which no man may step has been
transferred from the floor to the tongue. Even
in the days of swords duelists before beginning
to fight used to greet each other with elaborate
bows and courtesies and, in the same spirit,
two men engaged in a bitter struggle can now
exchange smiles and laughter at dinner.

These conventions are reflected in the society
of to-day, where no difference of opinion, no-
rivalry, hardly any dislike, is allowed to hamper
social intercourse — the bitterest public op-
ponents in politics and letters, the criticized, and
the critics meet amiably round tables, and all
goes well.

Two characteristics which during the last
few years have affected the pace and the color
of social life, are restlessness, and love of riches.

The first is fostered by the greater facilities
of transit and of communication, which urge
even the most quiet people into movement.
Routine is almost unknown. The busier a man
or woman, the more imperative becomes the
weekly change of air, the journey to waters, the
visits in Scotland — while life in London itself



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is forced to an ever-increasing pace by the
telegram and telephone.

The second characteristic, the worship of
riches, is the effect of a growing taste for ex-
pensive pleasures and displays. London even
suffers sometimes from the particular type of
American millionaire, who will spend thousands
of pounds upon transforming the courtyard of
his hotel into a lake, and feeding his friends
in gondolas, — but these visitations are rare and
hardly ruffle the surface of social life. There
are however, permanently in its midst, men
who possess special commercial aptitude, but
who have no peculiar social qualifications. Their
wealth enables them to erect palaces, dine
delicately and expensively inside them, whirl
about in magnificent motor cars, hire splendid
moors and forests, and these people, though
they could not have done so fifty years ago,
palpably influence modern social life. A stand-
ard of luxury and pleasure is set up, far be-
yond the power of ordinary well-to-do people
to attain — some struggle to compete, some
acquiesce and give up the effort, but all enjoy
what they can of the rich man's table. Every
door is open to him; his character, his con-
versation, his manners are seen through a
golden haze — he is asked everywhere — he is
flattered and imitated. It may possibly ^ occur
to him at depressed • moments that he is not
quite inside the inner circle; that certain great
houses only remember his existence once a
year, and that there are always some people,
not devoid of influence, who prefer simpler
friends, and simpler modes of life. But he will
be easily consoled; there will always be the
many others, his children will marry what is
called the best in the land, and he himself
will finally, if his ambition so prompt him, take
his seat proudly as a peer of the realm.

Keeping in mind then, these two characteris-
tics, — restlessness and love of riches, a descrip-
tion of the methods of intercourse, and inci-
dentally the pursuits adopted by the pleasure
seekers will help to give a more complete
picture.

The practice of eating together, it need hard-
ly be said, still obtains, and on the whole, the
amount consumed in spite of much that is said
and written, varies very little in quantity. It
certainly does in quality — French cooks and
French dishes have invaded London and the
consequent expense and variety make it difficult
for small households to compete with the res-
taurants. The habit therefore of eating simple
food at home, and of entertaining friends at the
Carlton or the Ritz has taken strong hold. Not
so very long ago it was difficult to get a really
good and choice dinner except at a private club
— now a sovereign or two in the pocket will
secure it on any evening of the year. The
enormous increase in theatres is a subsidiary
effect — a party cannot sit forever round a
table, and they drift to some place of amuse-
ment. The habit of sitting together and talking
is on the wane, •causerie* is becoming a lost
art, and in private houses the theatre is replaced
by bridge tables, and occasionally by music.

Letters have altered in much the same way
as conversation. The old fashioned correspond-
ences, the full, leisurely chronicling of great
and small events, has given place to telegraphic



and telephonic communication. Those people
who are not in the telephone book inevitably
drop out of the busiest ranks of the pleasure
seekers, just as those who do not possess motor
cars have to abandon the chase after distant
golf links and country luncheon parties.

A week's visit in a country house is now a
rarity — the longest shooting parties begin on
Tuesday and end Saturday, and the throng
hurries back to London, or goes on to one of the
usual Saturday to Monday hospitalities. But in
spite of this curtailment, and in spite of the
rush of a week-end party — the country visit
remains the best method of intercourse. There
is a greater freedom — youths and maidens
walk, ride, play games, and m the intervals talk
together, and their elders when released from
their own athletics and cards can also exchange
ideas. Marriages are promoted far better in
this way than in the mazes of the dance, and
many of the best marriages have been made by
girls who are little known in London. This is
greatly due to the decay of town life which is
gradually setting in — out of door pursuits and
games absorb people more and more, and the
ease of transit make them able to combine a cer-
tain amount of town dissipation with country
life. The girls are tall, strong, well-developed,
they hunt and play golf and bicycle — they join
in whatever may be the game of the moment,
with the keenest zest, and improve their figures
and their general health, and indirectly the
whole physique of the race by this custom. The
part which girls and women thus take in the
amusements of the other sex, is only one of the
many invasions which women have practised.
They share to the fullest extent in the work and
struggle of their husbands — in politics they
take an increasing part, many of them now
speaking on political platforms, besides doing
humbler work in constituencies. Women, with
their gift for detail and their organizing power
exert great political influence on all kinds of sub-
jects — an influence which is too impersonal and
diffused to be ascribed only to the usual cause.
The old Aspasian influence, however, always has
existed, and always will, for no change in social
methods will diminish or increase the eternal
power of sex. The political salon has disap-
peared, chiefly because of the vast size of politi-
cal and social circles, but the women who make
the right men meet at the right hour, who
place the derogatory or the praising word at the
auspicious moment, who avert unpopularity or
create it, are as powerful as they have ever
been. Therefore while women leading social
lives certainly read, think, and even work
more than they used to, there is no falling off in
the efforts after personal adornment. On the
contrary, the same thing has happened with
dresses as with dishes — both are now made ex-
pensively by the French. Probably a smart lady
of our day spends three times as much upon her
clothes as her mother or grandmother did. This
is not only because she lives in a more extrava-
gant age — it is also because she does many more
things for which she has to be appropriately
dressed, and because the standard of technique
in this difficult art has been gradually rising.
A smart English woman will often spend from
£2,000 to £3,000 a year on her outfit, which has
to contain for town life, morning gowns, after-



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noon gowns, dinner and ball gowns — even
House of Commons gowns, and for country
life, golfing, shooting, and walking skirts, driv-
ing coats, motor coats, furs, tea gowns and
evening gowns. To all these must be added
the endless supernumaries of veils, gloves, hand-
kerchiefs, scarves, umbrellas, parasols, walking
sticks, hats, shoes, boots. Every new pursuit in
a social woman's life means a new dress. Skirts
hamper athletics in any case, therefore they
must be specially made — the gown in which it
if fitting to open a bazaar looks vulgar in a
drawing-room, the evening gown is not quite in
tune with the House of Commons, and so on.
The men are spared the greater part of these
trammels, but they would not be pleased to see
their wives lacking in any of the so-called es-
sentials.

People often wonder whether smart society
is more or less immoral than it was — an ob-
viously hopeless comparison to attempt, for the
facts are not adequately known or recorded.
If a set of very rich people who have
not got enough to do, spend their lives
in various frivolities, this description undeniably
applies to a section, though a small one, in
England — it is only to be expected that some
fall into follies, and some get caught in the grip
of passions with which they have been playing.
But on the whole the tone is good, the de-
cencies are observed, and the unfaithful wife or
the complaisant husband are not admired. It is
considered more intelligent to get on together
as man and wife, and if a harmony is some-
times preserved only by an organized tolerance
or blindness, it is at least a tribute to the pre^
vailing fashion.

Insensibly an article about Society in Lon-
don becomes an article about women, — and
with reason — for women make it, guide it, sus-
tain it. It is they who organize many of the
pleasures for the other sex, it is they who ar-
range parties for the most brilliant of their ac-
quaintance, male or female, it is they who
select and discard the members of their circle.
A dull man is often accepted by hostesses for
the sake of his clever wife — but a clever man
is rarely able to successfully float a dull or tact-
less woman. He must either go out without
her, or drop from the ranks, for a dull woman
is far more difficult to swamp or absorb owing
to the social custom of deference to women,



Online LibraryWilfrid RichmondThe Americana: a universal reference library, comprising the arts ..., Volume 10 → online text (page 41 of 185)