Nor was this all. A trifling operation was to restore his former lightness of foot; and it was a renovated youth that was to set forth upon this reČnacted honeymoon.

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



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

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

Robert Louis Stevenson
Classic Literature Library

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