Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford - Encyclopedia

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BENJAMIN THOMPSON RUMFORD, Count (1753-1814), British-American man of science, philanthropist and administrator, was born at Woburn, in Massachusetts, on the 26th of March 1753. The Thompson family had been settled in New England since the middle of the previous century, and belonged to the class of moderately wealthy farmers. His father died while he was very young, and his mother speedily married a second time. But he seems to have been well cared for, and he was at the age of fourteen sufficiently advanced "in algebra, geometry, astronomy, and even the higher mathematics," to calculate a solar eclipse within four seconds of accuracy. In 1766 he was apprenticed to a storekeeper at Salem, in New England, and while in that employment occupied himself in chemical and mechanical experiments, as well as in engraving, in which he attained to some proficiency. The outbreak of the American War put a stop to the trade of his master, and he thereupon left Salem and went to Boston, where he engaged himself as assistant in another store. He was at that period between seventeen and eighteen years old, and at nineteen, he says, "I married, or rather I was married." His wife was the widow of Colonel Benjamin Rolfe, and the daughter of Timothy Walker, "a highly respectable minister, and one of the first settlers at Rumford," now called Concord, in New Hampshire. His wife was possessed of considerable property, and was his senior by fourteen years.

This marriage was the foundation of his success. Soon after it he became acquainted with Governor Wentworth of New Hampshire, who conferred on him the majority of a local regiment of militia. He speedily became the object of distrust among the friends of the American cause, and it was considered prudent that he should seek an early opportunity of leaving the country. On the evacuation of Boston by the royal troops, therefore, in 1776, he was selected by Governor Wentworth to carry despatches to England. On his arrival in London Lord George Germain, secretary of state, appointed him to a clerkship in his office. Within a few months he was advanced to the post of secretary of the province of Georgia, and in about four years he was made under-secretary of state. His official duties, however, did not interfere with the prosecution of scientific pursuits, and in 1779 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society. Among the subjects to which he especially directed his attention were the explosive force of gunpowder, the construction of firearms, and a system of signalling at sea. In connexion with the last, he made a cruise in the Channel fleet, on board the "Victory," as a volunteer under the command of Admiral Sir Charles Hardy. On the resignation of Lord North's administration, of which Lord George Germain was one of the least popular members, he left the civil service, and was nominated to a cavalry command in the revolted provinces of America. But the War of Independence was practically at an end, and in 1783 he finally quitted active service, with the rank and half-pay of a lieutenant-colonel. He now formed the design of joining the Austrian army, for the purpose of campaigning against the Turks, and so crossed over from Dover to Calais with Gibbon, who, writing to his friend Lord Sheffield, calls his fellow-passenger "Mr SecretaryColonel-Admiral-Philosopher Thompson." At Strassburg he was introduced to Prince Maximilian, afterwards elector of Bavaria, and was by him invited to enter the civil and military service of that state. Having obtained the leave of the British government to accept the prince's offer, he received the honour of knighthood from George III., and during eleven years he remained at Munich as minister of war, minister of police, and grand chamberlain to the elector. His political and courtly employments, however, did not absorb all his time, and he contributed during his stay in Bavaria a number of papers to the Philosophical Transactions. But that he was sufficiently alert as the principal adviser of the elector the results of his labours in that capacity amply prove. He reorganized the Bavarian army; he immensely improved the condition of the industrial classes throughout the country by providing them with work and instructing them in the practice of domestic economy; and he did much to suppress mendicity. The multitude of beggars in Bavaria had long been a public nuisance and danger. In one day he caused no fewer than 2600 of these outcasts and depredators in Munich and its suburbs alone to be arrested by military patrols, and transferred by them to an industrial establishment which he had prepared for their reception. In this institution they were both housed and fed, and they not only supported themselves by their labours but earned a surplus for the benefit of the electoral revenues. The principle on which their treatment proceeded is stated by him in the following memorable words: "To make vicious and abandoned people happy," he says, "it has generally been supposed necessary first to make them virtuous. But why not reverse this order? Why not make them first happy, and then virtuous?" In 1791 he was created a count of the Holy Roman Empire, and chose his title of Rumford from the name as it then was of the American township to which his wife's family belonged. In 1795 he visited England, one incident of his journey being the loss of all his private papers, including the materials for an autobiography, which were contained in a box stolen from off his postchaise in St Paul's Churchyard. During his residence in London he applied himself to the discovery of methods for curing smoky chimneys and the contrivance of improvements in the construction of fireplaces. But he was quickly recalled to Bavaria, Munich being threatened at once by an Austrian and a French army. The elector fled from his capital, and it was entirely owing to Rumford that a hostile occupation of the city was prevented. It was now proposed that he should be accredited as Bavarian ambassador in London; but the circumstance that he was a British subject presented an insurmountable obstacle. He, however, again came to England, and remained there in a private station for several years.

In 1798 he presented to the Royal Society his "Enquiry concerning the Source of Heat which is excited by Friction," in which he combated the current view that heat was a material substance, and regarded it as a mode of motion. In 1799 he, in conjunction with Sir Joseph Banks, projected the establishment of the Royal Institution. It received its charter of incorporation from George III. in 1800, and Rumford himself selected Sir Humphry Davy as scientific lecturer there. Until 1804 he lived at the Royal Institution in Albemarle Street, London, or at a house which he rented at Brompton, and he then established himself in Paris, marrying (his first wife having died in 1792) as his second wife the wealthy widow of Lavoisier, the celebrated chemist. With this lady he led an extremely uncomfortable life, till at last they agreed to separate. He took up his residence at Auteuil, where he died suddenly on the 21st of August 1814, in the sixty-second year of his age.

Rumford was the founder and the first recipient of the Rumford medal of the Royal Society. He was also the founder of the Rumford medal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and of the Rumford professorship in Harvard University. His complete works with a memoir by G. E. Ellis were published by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1870-75.

Rumi, (1207-1273). Mahommed b. Mahommed b. Husain albalkhi, better known as Maulana Jalal-uddin Rumi (or simply Jalal-uddin, or Jelal-eddin), the greatest Sufic poet of Persia, was born on the 30th of September 1207 (604 A.H. 6th of Rabi` I.) at Balkh, in Khorasan, where his family had resided from time immemorial. He claimed descent from the caliph Abubekr, and from the Khwarizm-Shah Sultan `Ala-uddin b. Tukush (1199-1220), whose only daughter, Malika-i-Jahan, had been married to Jalal-uddin's grandfather. Her son, Mahommed, commonly called Baha-uddin Walad, was famous for his learning and piety, but being afraid of the sultan's jealousy, he emigrated to Asia Minor in 1212. After residing for some time at Malatia and afterwards at Erzingan in Armenia, Bahauddin was called to Laranda in Asia Minor, as principal of the local college. Here young Jalal-uddin grew up, and in 1226 married Jauhar Khatun, the daughter of Laid Sharaf-uddin of Samarkand. Finally, Baha-uddin was invited to Iconium by `Ala-uddin Kaikubad (1219-1236), the sultan of Asia Minor, or, as it is commonly called in the East, Ram - whence Jalaluddin's surname (takhallus) Rumi.

After Baha-uddin's death in 1231, Jalal-uddin went to Aleppo and Damascus for a short time to study, but, dissatisfied with the exact sciences, he returned to Iconium, where he became by and by professor of four separate colleges, and devoted himself to the study of mystic theosophy. His first spiritual instructor was Sayyid Burhan-uddin Husaini of Tirmidh, one of his father's disciples, and, later on, the wandering Stiff Shams-uddin of Tabriz, who soon acquired a most powerful influence over Jalal-uddin. Shams-uddin's aggressive character roused the people of Iconium against him, and during a riot in which Jalal-uddin's eldest son, 'Ala-uddin, was killed, he was arrested and probably executed; at least he was no more seen. In remembrance of these victims of popular wrath Jalal-uddin founded the order of the Maulawi (in Turkish Mevlevi) dervishes, famous for their piety as well as for their peculiar garb of mourning, their music and their mystic dance (sama), which is the outward representation of the circling movement of the spheres, and the inward symbol of the circling movement of the soul caused by the vibrations of a Sufi's fervent love to God. The establishment of this order, which still possesses numerous cloisters throughout the Turkish empire, and the leadership of which has been kept in Jalaluddin's family in Iconium uninterruptedly for the last six hundred years, gave a new stimulus to his zeal and poetical inspiration. Most of his matchless odes were composed in honour of the Maulawi dervishes, and even his opus magnum, the Mathnawi (Mesnevi), or, as it is usually called, The Spiritual Mathnawi (mathnawi-i-ma`nawi), in six books or daf tars, with 30,000 to 40,000 double-rhymed verses, can be traced to the same source. The idea of this immense collection of ethical and moral precepts was first suggested to the poet by his favourite disciple Hasan, better known as Husam-uddin, who in 1258 became Jalal-uddin's chief assistant. Jalal-uddin dictated to him, with a short interruption, the whole work during the remaining years of his life. Soon after its completion Jalal-uddin died, on the 17th of December 1273 (672 A.H. 5th of Jomada II.). His first successor in the rectorship of the Maulawi fraternity was Husam-uddin himself, after whose death in 1284 Jalal-uddin's younger and only surviving son, Shaikh Bahaudd-In Ahmed, commonly called Sultan Walad, and favourably known as author of the mystical mathnawi Rababnama, or the Book of the Guitar (died 1312), was duly installed as grand-master of the order.

Jalal-uddin's life is fully described in Shams-uddin Ahmed Aflaki's Manakib-ul `arifin (written between A.D. 1318 and 1353), the most important portions of which have been translated by J. W. Redhouse in the preface to his English metrical version of The Mesnevi, Book the First (London, 1881); there is also an abridged translation of the Mathnawi, with introduction on Sufism, by E. H. Whinfield (2nd ed., 1898). Complete editions have been printed in Bombay, Lucknow, Tabriz, Constantinople and in Bulaq (with a Turkish translation, 1268 A.H.), at the end of which a seventh daftar is added, the genuineness of which is refuted by a remark of Jalaluddin himself in one of the Bodleian copies of the poem, Ouseley, 294 (f. 328a seq.). A revised edition was made by `Abd-ullatif between 1024 and 1032 A.H., and the same author's commentary on the Mathnawi, Lata'if-ulma`nawi, and his glossary, Lata'if-allughat, have been lithographed in Cawnpore (1876) and Lucknow (1877) respectively, the latter under the title Farhang-i-mathnawi. For the other numerous commentaries and for further biographical and literary particulars of Jalal-uddin, see Rieu's Cat. of the Persian MSS. of the Brit. Mus., vol. ii. p. 584 seq.; A. Sprenger's Oudh Cat., p. 489; Sir Gore Ouseley, Notices of Persian Poets, p. 112 seq.; H. Ethe, in Morgenlandische Studien (Leipzig, 1870), p. 95 seq., and in Geiger and Kuhn's Grundriss der iranischen Philologie (Stuttgart, 5896-1904), vol. ii. pp. 287-292. Selections from Jalal-uddin's diwan (of ten styled Diwan-i-Shams-i-Tabriz) are translated in German verse by V. von Rosenzweig (Vienna, 1838); into English by R. A. Nicholson (2nd ed., 1898) and W. Hastie (1903). (H. E.)

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