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JAMES NASMYTH (1808-1890)

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Originally appearing in Volume V19, Page 249 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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JAMES NASMYTH (1808-1890), Scottish engineer, was born in Edinburgh on the 19th of August 1808, and was the youngest son of Alexander Nasmyth, the "father of Scottish landscape art." He was sent to school in his native city, and then attended classes in chemistry, mathematics and natural philosophy at the university. From an early age he showed great fondness for mechanical pursuits, and the skill he attained in the practical use of tools enabled him to make models of engines, &c:, which found a ready sale. In 1829 he obtained a position in Henry Maudslay's works in London, where he stayed two years, and then, in 1834, started business on his own account in Manchester. The beginnings were small, but they quickly developed, and in a few years he was at the head of the prosperous Bridgewater foundry at Patricroft, from which he was able to retire in 1856 with a fortune. The invention of the steam-hammer, with which his name is associated, was actually made in 1839, a drawing of the device appearing in his note-book, or " scheme-book;" as he called it, with the date 24th November of that year. It was designed to meet the difficulty experienced by the builders of the Great Britain steamship in finding a firm that would under-take to forge the large paddle-wheel shaft required for that vessel, but no machine of the kind was constructed till 1842. In that year Nasmyth discovered one in Schneiders' Creuzot works, and he found that the design was his own and had been copied from his " scheme-book." His title, therefore, to be called the inventor of the steam-hammer holds good against the claims sometimes advanced in favour of the Schneiders, though apparently he was anticipated in the idea by James Watt. Nasmyth did much for the improvement of machine-tools, and his inventive genius devised many new appliances—a planing-machine (" Nasmyth steam-arm "), a nut-shaping machine, steam pile-driver, hydraulic machinery for various purposes, &c. In his retirement he lived at Penshurst in Kent, and amused himself with the study of astronomy, and especially of the moon, on which he published a work, The Moon considered as a Planet, a World and a Satellite, in conjunction with James Carpenter in 1874. He died in London on the 7th of May 18go. His Autobiography, edited by Dr Samuel Smiles, was published in 1883. NASR-ED-DIN [NAg1Ru'n-DIN] (1829-1896), shah of Persia, was born on the 4th of April 1829. His mother, a capable princess of the Kajar family, persuaded Shah Mahommed, his father, to appoint him heir apparent, in preference to his elder brothers: and he was accordingly made governor of Azerbaijan. His succession to the throne, 13th October 1848, was vigorously disputed, especially by the followers of the reformer El Bab, upon whom he wreaked terrible vengeance. In 1855 he re-established friendly relations with France, and coming under the influence of Russia, signed a treaty of amity on the 17th of December with that power, but remained neutral during the Crimean war. In 1856 he seized Herat, but a British army under Outram landed in the Persian Gulf, defeated his forces and compelled him to evacuate the territory. The treaty of peace was signed at Paris, on the 4th of March 1857, and to the end of his reign he treated Great Britain and Russia with equal friend-ship. In 1866 the shah authorized the passage of the telegraph to India through his dominions and reminted his currency in the European fashion. In 1873, and again in 1889, he visited England in the course of his three sumptuous journeys to Europe, 1873,1878,1889. The only results of his contact with Western civilization appear to have been the proclamation of religious toleration, the institution of a postal service, accession to the postal union and the establishment of a bank. He gave the monopoly of tobacco to a private company, but was soon compelled to withdraw it ii; deference to the resistance of his subjects. Abstemious in habits, and devoted to music and poetry, he was a cultured, able and well-meaning ruler, and his reign, already unusually long for an Eastern potentate, might have lasted still longer had it not been for the unpopular sale of the tobacco monopoly, which was probably a factor in his assassination at Teheran on the 1st of May 1896 by a member of the Babi faction. He was succeeded by his son Muzaffar-ed-din.
End of Article: JAMES NASMYTH (1808-1890)
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