Page:Dictionary of National Biography. Sup. Vol III (1901).djvu/365

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Smyth
Spears
351

picked out six of the significant triplets in the spectrum of oxygen. The ‘citron-ray’ of the aurora was repeatedly measured by him in 1871–2 (Comptes Rendus, lxxiv. 597), and he observed the spectrum of the zodiacal light at Palermo in April 1872 (Monthly Notices, xxxii. 277). From the indications of thermometers buried on the Calton Hill (1837–1870) he inferred the subjection of the earth's temperature to a cycle identical with that of sunspots (Proc. Roy. Society, xviii. 311). A digest by him of meteorological data collected at fifty-five stations in Scotland appeared in vol. xiii. of the ‘Edinburgh Astronomical Observations’ (1871).

Smyth obtained in 1870 funds for a new equatorial, but the promised allowances for the cost of its working were not forthcoming. A committee appointed by the home secretary (the Right Hon. Richard Assheton Cross, now Viscount Cross) in 1876 to inquire into the affairs of the observatory recommended ameliorations never carried into effect ; and at last, in 1888, Smyth resigned in disgust the post he had held for forty-three years, and withdrew to Clova, near Ripon in Yorkshire. There he executed a large solar spectrographic chart, with a Rowland grating, and studied cloud-forms by photography. He died on 21 Feb. 1900, and was buried in Sharow churchyard, Ripon. On 24 Dec. 1855 he married Jessie Duncan (d. 24 March 1896). She was the constant companion of his travels. They had no children. He bequeathed his residuary estate to the Royal Society of Edinburgh for defraying the expenses of printing his spectroscopic manuscripts, and of sending out occasional expeditions for spectroscopic research at high mountain stations. His membership of the Royal Astronomical Society dated from 1846. He was an honorary LL.D. of the university of Edinburgh, and a corresponding member of the academies of Munich and Palermo.

Besides the works already mentioned, he wrote: 1. ‘Life and Work at the Great Pyramid,’ 8 vols. London, 1867. 2. ‘On the Antiquity of Man,’ Edinburgh, 1868 (awarded the Keith prize of the Royal Society of Edinburgh). 3. ‘Madeira Spectroscopic,’ Edinburgh, 1882. One hundred entries under his name occur in the Royal Society's ‘Catalogue of Scientific Papers.’

[Times, 24 Feb. 1900 ; Observatory, xxiii. 145,184; Notice by Dr. Copeland in Astronomische Nachrichten, No. 3636, and Popular Astronomy, 1900, p. 384; Nature, 14 June 1900; A. S. Herschel on Smyth's Work in Spectroscopy ; Men of the Time, 14th edit.; André et Rayet's l'Astronomie Pratique, ii. 12.]

A. M. C.


SNOWDON, JOHN (1558–1626), priest and political adventurer. [See Cecil.]


SPEARS, ROBERT (1825–1899), unitarian preacher and journalist, fifth son by the second wife of John Spears, foreman of ironworks, was born at Lemington, parish of Newburn, Northumberland, on 25 Sept. 1825. His father was a Calvinistic presbyterian, but the family attended the parish church. Brought up as an engineering smith, his love of reading led him to leave this calling and set up a school in his native village. He joined the new connexion methodists ; a debate (1845) at Newcastle-on-Tyne between Joseph Barker [q. v.] and William Cooke, D.D., gave him the conviction that doctrine must be expressed in ‘the language of scripture.’ In 1846 he was master of the new connexion school at Scotswood-on-Tyne, and was taken on trial as a local preacher. A lecture at Blaydon, Northumberland, in 1848, by George Harris (1794–1859) [q. v.], was followed by an intimacy with Harris, to whom Spears owed his introduction to the Unitarian body in 1849. Leaving the methodists, he became Unitarian minister (without salary) at Sunderland (1852–8), where he conducted a very successful school, and originated (1856) a monthly religious magazine, the ‘Christian Freeman’ (still continued). He removed to a pastorate at Stockton-on-Tees (1858–61), where he originated (30 Dec. 1859) the ‘Stockton Gazette’ (now the ‘North-Eastern Gazette’).

In 1861 Spears attracted the attention of Robert Brook Aspland [q. v.], was invited to London by Sir James Clarke Lawrence, bart. (d. 1898), and became (1862) minister of Stamford Street chapel, Blackfriars. In 1867 he was elected co-secretary of the British and Foreign Unitarian Association with Aspland, on whose death (1869) he became general secretary, ‘put new life into every department,’ and nearly quadrupled its income. In 1874 he left Stamford Street to take charge of a new congregation at College Chapel, Stepney Green. His theological conservatism was the cause of his resigning (1876) the denominational secretaryship. He at once established (20 May 1876) a weekly paper, the ‘Christian Life,’ as an organ of biblical and missionary unitarianism; in 1889 he bought up the ‘Unitarian Herald,’ a Manchester organ (which he had been invited to manage at its establishment in 1861), and amalgamated it with his paper. In 1886, aided by Matilda Sharpe, younger daughter of Samuel Sharpe [q. v.], he established a denominational school for girls at Channing House, High-