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accuracy. Since that time, Mr. the mind by the tools, through the Nicholson has procured the volume to fingers, that hypothesis never can imwhich this specimen of early skill is part. It is not indeed often that men attached, and there can be little doubt, of science labour with their hands, that, hereafter, this drawing will but when this happens to be the case, greatly enhance its value among col- in all future inquiries their ideas are lectors of curiosities, antiquaries, and more accurate, and there is a greater connoisseurs. The writer of this me- probability that they will become inmoir has been favoured with a sight ventors. So far as observation can of this curious specimen of ingenuity, extend, it is an unquestionable fact, and thinks it well worthy of the pre- that the greatest inventors in me servation it has experienced. In more chanics have, at one time or other, modern editions of Euclid, the figures | laboured with their hands. This, to cut on wood are embodied in the same Mr. Nicholson, has been an advantage, page that contains the letter-press, so that has more than compensated for that their fate cannot be separated, the scantiness of his education. He but in the translation by Cann, all the was not ignorant of its value, and he figures were on distinct plates. has turned it to good account, for
About the age of twelve, Mr. Nichol- there are few men to whose genius the son was taken from school, to assist art of building is more indebted, than his father in his business; but this to the subject of this memoir. was an occupation to which he felt no On the termination of his apprenattachment. He discovered nothing ticeship, Mr. Nicholson repaired to in it that coincided with his genius, so Edinburgh, in the character of a that it was viewed with indifference, journeyman, where, while working if not with aversion. This did not with his hands, he prosecuted his escape the observation of his father, studies with unabating vigour, exwho, instead of compelling him to tending his knowledge of mathematics submit to an employment which he more generally, from“ Ward's Introdisapproved, at the end of one year duction.” Having, in some books bound him an apprentice to a cabinet, which fell into his hands, found sevemaker, in the neighbouring village of ral references to the fluxionary calcuLinton, this being
an occupation more lus, a strong desire was excited in bis congenial with his taste. In Scotland, mind, to obtain an additional acthree years are as usually the period quaintance with this branch of science. of an apprenticeship, as seven are in Full of this desire, he went to the shop England, but, for reasons we have not of a Mr. Bell, a noted bookseller in heard, young Nicholson was inden- Parliament-square, and after examintured for four years.
ing the titles, prefaces, and contents During his apprenticeship, he stu- of several works, be fixed on the Indied Algebra with unremitting assi- troduction to Emerson's Fluxions. duity, from Maclaurin, and employed But here, unfortunately, a new obstaevery spare moment in improving his cle presented itself. His wages being mind. In the summer mornings, from scanty and his resources low, the price daylightuntil six, when he went to work, of the book amounted to more money and also in the evenings, when the than he could spare. With this fact business of the day was over, he prac- Mr. Bell was soon made acquainted, tised drawing from“ Salmon's London when, with a generosity that deserves Art of Building,” and by occasionally to be handed to posterity, on seeing a measuring heights and distances in young man eager in the pursuit of the fields, he became familiar with knowledge, but retarded through petrigonometry, as applicable to real cuniary deficiencies, he resolved to give business, which, in all his exertions, him encouragement, by directing him he invariably kept in view.
to take the book, although an entire In addition to these prosecutions of stranger, and pay for it when more his studies in theory, every day fur convenient. This was accordingly nished him with an opportunity, while done, and Mr. Nicholson now menworking with his hands, of reducing tions the circumstance with feelings of his speculations to practice. This has gratitude. always been considered as of great Although Emerson's treatise on fluxadvantage to men of science. There ions has been generally considered is a species of knowledge conveyed to as peculiarly difficult, on this branch
of analytical science, it was not long | than he had been accustomed to enbefore Mr. Nicholson became master joy. This he devoted to the invention of its first principles; and the pleasure and arrangement of materials for a which resulted from their application new and original treatise, in quarto, to 'many sublime problems, at once on carpentry and joinery, which was rewarded his industry and stimulated published in 1792, under the title of him to renewed exertions. In all his “ The Carpenter's New Guide." Of advances, he saw difficulties in his this work the plates were engraven way, but he encountered them with by himself. In addition to the imcourage, and surmounted them with provements in various kinds of groins such success, that, to whatever part of which are to be found in this producthe work he turned his attention, new tion, he introduced the construction of conquests crowned his exertions. spherical niches, both upon straight
At the age of twenty, Mr. Nicholson and circular planes. Before this vofirst made his appearance in London, lume made its appearance, no work where, in addition to his regular la- on the practical parts of building had bour, he still devoted his leisure hours shewn, generally, how the sections to the study of mathematical science. / and coverings of solids were obtainAfter some time, however, he discon- able from their definitions. The printinued his pursuit of analytical sub- ciples went only to find the section of jects, confining his researches to Geo- a right cylinder perpendicular to a metry alone, as being more congenial given plane, parallel to its axis, and with his views in life. He was at- to the covering of such a cylinder, and tracted to the British metropolis by that of the frustum of a right cone. an uncle, named Hastie, who then car- Some attempts had, indeed, been preried on an extensive business as a viously made to obtain the same rebuilder. The patronage, however, sult, but they proved on trial to be which he expected from this relative, erroneous and abortive; and, as they only served to delude his hopes. The had not succeeded with the plane secuncle was willing to employ him as a tions and coverings of simple solids, working mechanic, and to receive him they could scarcely be expected to as an assistant, but as a mathemati- give rules for the construction of the eian he gave him every discourage- intersection of any two surfaces or ment. But, notwithstanding these curves of double curvature, of which partial oppositions, Mr. Nicholson the variety is almost infinite. still pursued his mathematical studies, Mr. Nicholson, in this work, besides and such was his knowledge in the his own inventions, has both simpligeometrical construction of carpentry fied and generalized the old methods, and joinery, that the fame of his ac- which before were only applicable to quirements soon spread among his particular circumstances. His rules fellow-workmen, who, anxious to im- for finding the section of a prism, prove themselves, solicited to become cylinder, or cylindroid, through any his pupils. ' At this time he was with three given points, whether in or out a Mr. Wyat, in Berwick-street, where of the body to be cut, enable workhe announced his intention of deliver- men to execute band-rails without ing some lectures on those branches of difficulty, and from the least quantity science which he had made his parti- of stuff. His principles on the intercular study. The number that first section of solids extend to groins and made their application was about ten. arches of almost every description. They, however, frankly declared that The covering of polygonal and circuthey could not afford to give any thing Iar domes had been exhibited in seveby way of entrance, but expressed ral prior publications on carpentry their wish to pay for his lectures and building, but no author bad ever whatever they could spare from their shewn how these coverings were to be wages.
formed, without the actual plan, the Mr. Nicholson made a beginning ; drawing of which might be attended the fame of his teaching soon brought with some inconvenience, on account an influx of pupils; and his success of the great space it required;
neither being more than equal to his expecta- had any method for covering domes tions, the plane was soon dropped. upon an elliptic plan been given. “The Being thus raised above a common Carpenter's New Guide” has passed journeyman, he obtained more leisure | through nine editions. It is still in as
much request as ever, and, though He has not only shewn how points in his first publication, may be ranked the curves of volutes are to be found among his most useful works.
by means of proportional compasses, “ The Carpenter's New Guide” was and by calculation, but also the most. immediately followed by “ The Stu- easy and practical methods of dedent's Instructor,"in octavo, which has scribing them with compasses, from the passed through several editions. This most minute scale, to that of the was succeeded by “ The Joiner's As- greatest magnitude. His method of sistant,” in quarto, a work abounding forming the logarithmic spiral with with useful information, both to those compasses is so far perfect, that every who are employed to make working two adjacent arcs not only join each drawings, and to such as are engaged other, but have the same tangent at the in the superintendence of buildings. point of junction; that all the points In this work, several of the articles of junction are in the true curve of the which were but slightly touched in the proposed spiral; and, lastly, that the
Carpenter's New Guide,” are more centres of the arcs are in the curve of fally explained and extended. Be- another proportional or logarithmic sides the designs of roofs actually spiral, which is the evolute of the executed, which it contains, it was the curve of the spiral required. These first work that treated on the methods methods were first published in Rees's of forming the joints, and of hinging Cyclopedia, in the Edinburgh Encycloand hanging doors and shutters. The pedia, and recently in the “ Builder's utility of “The Joiner's Assistant,” | Director.” and the high estimation in which it is “ The Principles of Architecture" held, may be inferred from its having was the first book in this country, in passed through five editions.
which the projection of planes and In 1799, Mr. Nicholson published, solids, and the orthographical forms in three volumes octavo, a work en- of the shadows of objects, were cleartitled, “The Principles of Architec- ly ascertained from principles purely ture." Prior to the appearance of geometrical. These subjects were this publication, all the works that treated of, by Mr. Nicholson, without had been known on this subject, were the least knowledge of any publicagreatly deficient in mathematical prin- tion from which he received the slightciples, which this production of our est hint, although, nearly about the author happily supplied. It also con- same time that his work appeared in tains a system of practical geometry, England, a treatise somewhat similar including many new problems of great was published in France by M. Monge, utility to builders. Mr. Nicholson, in but the methods pursued by these this work, was the first who noticed two authors are widely different. that Grecian mouldings are conic sec- Another work on the projection of tions ; and that the volutes of the shadows, translated from the French, Ionic capital ought to be composed of has also lately appeared ; but the aulogarithmic spirals, for which he gave thor has not so explained the subject rules for the describing of arches, as to be clearly understood, nor are mouldings, and spirals, of so general the delineations of the shadow intellia natare, as to be applicable in all gibly defined. cases. It is also understood, that he Mr. N. has not only treated of the was the first to shew how to describe shadows of objects, but he has given a any number of revolutions, between most luminous view of projections in any two given points in a given radius, general. He has shewn how every in which the centre of the spiral was object may be projected by means of given. By these means he generalized an intersecting line, which is not only the principles of De l'Orme and Gold- more simple and uniform, but more man, whose methods were limited to useful, than the French method by three revolutions, and the eye of each means of traces. This general method of their volutes to one-eighth part of was first published in Rees's Cyclothe whole height.
pedia, since which, it has got into But, above all the methods which general practice, and its principles have hitherto been invented for de- have appeared in several recent pubscribing volutes, his application of the lications; but, we understand, of late logarithmic spiral to this purpose, ap- he has greatly improved the principroximates most nearly to perfection. ples and extended the application of projections. These volumes of Mr. metry, but as operative mechanics Nicholson have been highly esteemed take all their angles with an instruby the most competent judges, and ment called a bevel, graphical conhave passed through various editions. structions are better adapted to the
In the year 1800, Mr. Nicholson re- use of workmen. turned to Scotland, and, after remain- A work entitled “Mechanical Exering in bis native village some months, cises,” which had been some time in repaired Glasgow, where he prac- hand, was finished soon after his retised as an architect with honour and turn to London. The design of this reputation. Among the numerous publication is to give a familiar deedifices executed in that city and its scription of such parts of a building as vicinity from his designs, and which, are susceptible of being explained by gentlemen best qualified to judge, without the aid of geometrical lines. are esteemed classical models of taste, In April 1814, the Society of Arts Carlton-Place, an addition to the Col- voted to Mr. Nicholson their gold Isis lege Buildings, the Wooden- bridge Medal, for the improvement be had over the Clyde, and the town of Ar- made in the construction of hand-raildrossan, in Ayrshire, designed as a ing; and during the same year, that bathing-place, at the request of the society rewarded him with the sum of Earl of Eglington, deserve to be par twenty guineas, for his invention of ticularly noticed.
the Centrolinead. During his residence in Glasgow, In the following year he was reMr. Nicholson wrote numerous arti- warded with the silver medal of the cles for Rees's and the Edinburgh same society, for the invention of Encyclopedias, the two most celebrat- another Centrolinead.
This is now ed works then issuing from the press, brought into general use among those together with various articles for other artists who make drawings in perpublications. He also wrote the spective, in architecture or in machiarticle “ Architecture,” published in nery. By means of this instrument, the Encyclopedia by Mr. William lines may be drawn to a point at any Nicholson, a celebrated chemist. given distance, or a series of straight This composition has been transcribed lines may be drawn between any two into a work now publishing, in octavo, straight lines given in position. entitled “The Popular Encyclopedia." While publishing his Architectural
Mr. Nicholson, in the year 1808, Dictionary, a work now litigated in removed to Carlisle, in Cumberland, Chancery, the numerous articles which in consequence of his having been it contained, led Mr. Nicholson to appointed architect for the new court- many curious investigations, which houses then begun from designs by Mr. induced him once more to turn his atTelford. It was by this celebrated tention to analytical science. The civil engineer that he was recommend result of these investigations was, that ed to this situation, and also as an during the publication of the above architect for the county of Cumber- work, he produced a tract on the land. In 1810, Mr. Nicholson, how-“ Method of Increments, Essays on ever, returned to London, where he the Combinatorial Analysis," and his continued to write for the Encyclope- “Rudiments of Algebra,” all within dias of Dr. Rees and Dr. Brewster, the short space of two years. and about the same time laid the these three works, the last was pubfoundation of his “ Architectural lished on the 1st of July 1819, and the Dictionary.”
Architectural Dictionary was He was the first to apply the con- pleted about two months afterwards. sideration of the trehedral, or solid Mr. Nicholson's “ Analytical and angle, to the geometrical constructions Arithmetical Essays" were published of carpentry, joinery, and masonry, as in 1820, and during the same year, may be seen in the instances he has “Essay,” of this laborious author, prodnced in the Carpenter's and Join- on “Involution and Evolution," was er's Assistant, in the article Masonry honoured with the approbation of the in Rees's Cyclopedia, and the article French Institute and Royal Academy Carpentry in the Edinburgh Encyclo- of Sciences. pedia. The determination of the sides He is also the author of “Rudiand angles of the trehedral, may in- ments of Linear Perspective ;” but his deed be found by spherical trigono- / works being generally known, from
their extcnsive circulation, a minute --the child of genius, indebted chiefly analysis of their particular merits is to application for that renown by rendered almost unnecessary. Their which his elevation is distinguished. worth was acknowledged on their On reviewing this memoir, it will first appearance, in the reviews and be seen, that, as an individual, Mr. periodical journals of the day; and Nicholson has done much, and from particularly in the Monthly Review for the numerous editions through which December 1820, there is a perspicu- his works have passed, that the public ous and luminous examination of his are not insensible to his merit. The analytical tracts.
advantage also to be derived from his In the month of February 1822, publications, is as fully verified by the Mr. Nicholson published a “ Popular constant deinand in which they are Course of Mathematics,” consisting of held, as by the legal contention, still Algebra, Euclid's Elements, Differen- undecided, respecting the copy-right tial Calculus, Fluxions, Conic Sec- of one of his valuable works. tions, Doctrine of Curves, Trigonome- The productions of this author will try, Mensuration, Land- Surveying, present to posterity alasting monument Gauging, Perspective, Dialing, Sphe- of what may be accomplished by the efrics, Mechanics, Dynamics, Hydro-forts of original talents, under the most statics, Optics, Physics, and Astrono- disadvantageous circumstances. To my, with tables of Logarithms, and supineness and imbecility, mountains numerous questions for exercise, il- may appear formidable, but instinctive lustrated by several hundred engrav- activity will always find means, either ings.
to scale their acclivities, or to wind He also furnished the materials for round their base. The honourable the higher branches of a practical niche which his name has obtained in system of Algebra, lately published the temple of Fame, will operate as a by Baldwin and Co. In these de- powerful incentive to future aspirants, partments of abstruse science, Mr. while the path that marks his career, Nicholson appears to be quite at by inviting them to imitation, will home; and the works enumerated in furnish a presage and promise of this memoir, will serve to shew what success. may be accomplished by industry and Mr. Nicholson still resides in Lonupwearied perseverance.
don, and, although sixty years of age, To connect science with industry, his mental faculties remain unimpairand to improve their union, has been ed, and his bodily energies shew but the great object of this celebrated little of the effects of time. It is not, architect, and both by the lectures he therefore, unreasonable for the scienhas delivered, the lessons of instruc- tific public to expect something more tion he has given, and the volumes he from his pen, nor at all improbable bas published, these important ob- that such an expectation will be jects have been essentially promoted. gratified. In our present day, lectures are deli- For many leading facts in the prevered, and institutions are establish- ceding article, we acknowledge oured, in many cities and large towns; selves indebted to the biographical from which the rising generations of sketch of Mr. Nicholson, written by genius may derive incalculable ad- Mr. William Playfair, brother to the vantages. Of such assistants Mr. late celebrated professor of that name; Nicholson, in early life, knew nothing. the other parts have been derived from Like Columbus, he had to navigate equally authentic sources. the ocean for himself, and, like that celebrated adventurer, his laborious researches have immortalized his A Nation must be truly blessed if it
were governed by no other laws than If such institutions as now facilitate those of this blessed book; it is so comthe acquirement of science, had ex- plete a system, that nothing can be isted in bis early days, bis advance added to it, or taken from it ; it conment would, in all probability, have tains every thing needful to be known been still much greater than it now or done; it affords a copy for a king, appears.
But we must not forget, and a rule for a subject; it gives inthat in such a case, Mr. Nicholson struction and counsel to a senate, auwould not have been what he now is, I thority and direction to a magistrate;