Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V10, Page 639 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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JAMES DAVID FORBES (1809—1868), Scottish physicist, was the fourth son of Sir William Forbes, 7th baronet of Pitsligo, and was born at Edinburgh on the loth of April 1809. He entered the university of Edinburgh in 1825, and soon afterwards began to contribute papers to the Edinburgh Philosophical Journal anonymously under the signature " A." At the age of nineteen he became a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and in 1832 he was elected to the Royal Society of London, A year later he was appointed professor of natural philosophy in Edinburgh University, in succession to Sir John Leslie and in competition with Sir David Brewster, and during his tenure of that office, which he did not give up till 186o, he not only proved himself an active and efficient teacher, but also did much to improve the internal conditions of the university. In 1859 he was appointed successor to Brewster in the principalship of the United College of St Andrews, a position which he held until his death at Clifton on the 31st of December 1868. As a scientific investigator he is best known for his researches on heat and on glaciers. Between 1836 and 1844 he published in the Trans. Roy. Soc. Ed. four series of " Researches on Heat," in the course of which he described the polarization of heat by tourmaline, by transmission through a bundle of thin mica plates inclined to the transmitted ray, and by reflection from the multiplied surfaces of a pile of mica plates placed at the polarizing angle, and also its circular polarization by two internal to the theatre,making his first appearance in London as Chastelard in Mary, Queen of Scots. He studied under Samuel Phelps, from whom he learnt the traditions of the tragic stage. He played with the Bancrofts and with John Hare, supported Miss Mary Anderson in both England and America, and also acted at different times with Sir Henry Irving. His refined and artistic style, and beautiful voice and elocution made him a marked man on the English stage, and in Pinero's The Profligate at the Garrick theatre (1889), under Hare's management, he established his position as one of the most individual of London actors. In 1895 he started under his own management at the Lyceum with Mrs Patrick Campbell, producing Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Macbeth and also some modern plays; his impersonation as Hamlet was especially fine, and his capacity as a romantic actor was shown to great advantage also in John Davidson's For the Crown and in Maeterlinck's Pelle,a.r and Melisande. In 1900 he married the actress Gertrude Elliott, with whom, as his leading lady, he appeared at various theatres, producing in subsequent years The Light that Failed, Madeleine Lucette Riley's Mice and Men, and G. Bernard Shaw's Caesar and Cleopatra, Jerome K. Jerome's Passing of the Third Floor Back, &c. His brothers, Ian Robertson (b. 1858) and Norman Forbes (b. 1859), had also been well-known actors from about 1878 onwards.
End of Article: JAMES DAVID FORBES (1809—1868)
EDWARD FORBES (1815—1854)
SIR JOHN FORBES (1787—1861)

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