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years which he believed to be so critical for Ireland. Under his work, bis responsibilities, his thronging ideas, his working emotions, his frame could not hold out long, and he was prostrated at once by an attack of illness in the spring of 1840. 'I am dying for Ireland, he said, just at the last. He died for Ireland ; and, in contemplation of his death, how do other deaths which bear more of the external marks of martyrdom for Ireland shrink, by comparison, in our estimate !
Here was no passion--no insulting speech--no underhand or defiant action--no collision of duties--no forfeiture of good faith -no implication of the helpless in danger--no disturbance of society—no imperilling of any life but his own. No man who courted the bullet or the gibbet ever dared more. No man who organised rebellion in consultations by day and drillings at night ever wrought harder. No man who cast his all into the revolutionary balance was ever more disinterested and devoted. He, a soldier of a sensitive spirit, brought upon himself unmeasured insult, which would elsewhere have been intolerable ; but for Ireland's sake he bore it all. He went through endless toils, which nobody knew of who could give him any return of honour. He felt himself sinking before he had attained the rewards which might once have been alluring to him—before he had attained wealth, or rank, or a post in the world's eye, or the fame of statesmanship: but he toiled on, too busy on Ireland's behalf to have a regret to spare for such things as these. If there are any who can reconcile themselves to such an issue, let them remember how noble a way remains to do him honour. Let them name his name when Ireland wants his example. When boasts of martyrdom abound, and blustering patriots would rouse the ignorant and suffering to rash enterprises, and men who will not work for Ireland talk of fighting for her, and those who cannot deny their own vanity, or indolence, or worldly care, claim the glory of patriotic agitation, let the name of Thomas Drummond be quietly spoken, and human nature has lost its rectitude and its sensibility, if the arrogance be not shamed, and the vaunt silenced."
LETTER FROM SIR JOHN F. W. HERSCHEL, BART., TO THE LATE
MRS DRUMMOND, SHANDWICK PLACE, EDINBURGH.
COLLINGWOOD, HAWKHURST, May 12, 1840. MY DEAR MADAM,—The wish expressed in your letter to my wife, under the mournful circumstances of the case, has to me the force of a command, to which, on every account, my obedience can only be limited to my power.
Unfortunately I am so circumstanced, having just got into my present residence—my books, papers, memoranda, and every document in a state of utter disorder, and for the most part not unpacked—that it is imposible for me to make any precise statements involving dates, &c., or to go into the subject, however interesting to my feelings, further than my individual recollection of what I have myself witnessed of your lamented son's scientific career will carry me.
But that shall not prevent me so far as my ability goes; for the strong impression left on my mind of his amiable, yet firm and manly character, his distinguished talent and extraordinary activity, will not allow me to hesitate an instant in responding to your call.
He was indeed beloved by every one who came in contact with him, for the strength and correctness of his views were so tempered by the gentleness of his manner, and the modesty of his pretensions, that I never knew but one opinion formed of him; and when he quitted the walks of science for the high and efficient line of public life which called forth the full exertion of his great powers, the impression was general that his success as a man of science, had he desired it, must have been of a very distinguished kind. A strongly characteristic feature of Mr Drummond's scientific undertakings and improvements was, their eminently practical nature, and the directness with which they attained the distinct object in view, by means highly ingenious, and quite out of the common line of contrivance, yet meeting, fully and precisely, every exigency of the
The scene of his scientific labours was the Irish Survey, one of the greatest national works of this description which was ever undertaken. In the very outset of this undertaking great difficulties were experienced, owing to the magnitude of the triangles to be formed, and the dreadful weather encountered, which for weeks and months together rendered the stations invisible from each other.
On occasion of a similar difficulty, but on a smaller scale, during the remeasurement of some of General Roy's triangles, the heliostat of Gauss had been used with effect, but the apparatus devised by its inventor not being obtainable for directing it properly, the resources of Mr Drummond readily furnished, by a simple and very ingenious contrivance, the means of doing so."
But the difficulties of the Irish operations were of a higher kind, and it became further necessary to provide some still more powerful means of producing a light which should penetrate 60, 70, or 80 miles of mist and drizzle, preserving a concentration and sharpness sufficient for a point of astronomical observation. On this occasion was produced the celebrated “Drummond Light,” in which a small ballof quicklime, intensely heated by the flames of spirit lamps, urged by jets of oxygen gas concentrated on it, pours forth a flood of splendour like the meridian sun, insupportable to the eye, and when enclosed in its proper reflector, casting broad shadows at a distance of many miles.
The fact that lime intensely heated gives out a brilliant light, was not new. Not to speak of a strange plan for producing intense heat by addition of much lime to little fuel, which
See pp. 71, 72, ante.