Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 53.djvu/66

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arctic regions. This led him to maintain, in a paper read to the Geological Society of London in 1836, that in Britain, at a time comparatively recent, the temperature had been much lower than at present.

Jordanhill, near Glasgow, was Smith's residence, but from 1839 to 1846 regard for the health of some members of his family caused him to spend much time out of Britain, and he wintered successively at Madeira, Gibraltar, Lisbon, and Malta. He seized the opportunities of studying the geology of these places, and communicated the results to the Geological Society of London, in the journal of which he also published a paper (iii. 234) on changes of land and sea in the Mediterranean, especially as indicated by the well-known Temple of Serapis near Pozzuoli. Glacial questions were resumed in a paper to the same society in 1845, and the subject was continued in 1847 and 1848. Here, while admitting the former existence of glaciers in Britain, he combatted the extreme views as to the extension of land-ice which then were being advocated by Agassiz, and he preferred to attribute much of the boulder clay to the action of coast-ice during a period of submergence. Altogether he appears to have written sixteen separate papers on scientific subjects, most of them published in the journal of the above-named society. In 1862 he republished the majority of them, after some revision, in a small volume entitled ‘Studies in Newer Pliocene and Post-Tertiary Geology,’ which indicates the importance of his contributions to this branch of the science.

But Smith's most important book was historical rather than geological, viz. his ‘Voyage and Shipwreck of St. Paul,’ published in 1848 (4th edit. 1880). His practical knowledge of seamanship fitted him to discuss this question, and his treatise is one of the highest value, in regard not only to the place of the shipwreck, but also to some wider questions. He maintained that internal evidence proved the account to have been written by an eye-witness and a landsman, repudiating the idea that the island was Melida in the Adriatic, and identifying the locality of the wreck with St. Paul's Bay, Malta, to which it had been traditionally assigned. Smith read the proof-sheets of Conybeare and Howson's ‘Life of St. Paul,’ which embodies his conclusions respecting the wreck. Smith's treatise was translated into German, and is generally recognised as a standard authority on ancient ship-building and navigation. Incidentally Smith was led into a discussion relating to the authors of the synoptic gospels, and in a later treatise (‘Dissertation on the Origin and Connection of the Gospels,’ 1853) he worked out the question by a minute comparison of the parallel passages in the three authors, maintaining that St. Luke, in writing his gospel, made use of the other two, viz. that by St. Matthew, and a Hebrew original (probably written by St. Peter) afterwards translated by St. Mark.

He was elected F.G.S. in 1836 and F.R.S. in 1830. He was also F.R.S.E. and F.R.G.S., fellow and for a time president of the Geological Society of Glasgow, and for many years president of the Andersonian University, of which he was an active supporter, presenting its museum with valuable collections. He enjoyed excellent health till the spring of 1866, when he had a slight paralytic stroke; he recovered from this, but another at the end of the year proved fatal on 17 Jan. 1867. In 1809 he married Mary (d 1847), daughter of Alexander Wilson and granddaughter of Professor Alexander Wilson of Glasgow. Archibald Smith [q. v.] was their son.

A photographic portrait was prefixed to Smith's ‘Voyage of St. Paul’ (2nd edit. 1880).

[Obituary Notices, Glasgow Geol. Soc. Trans. ii. 228; Quart. Journ. Geol. Soc. vol. xxii.; Proc. p. xlvi; Proc. Roy. Soc. 1868, p. xlii; Roy. Soc. Cat. of Papers.]

T. G. B.


SMITH, JAMES (1805–1872), merchant, son of Joshua Smith, was born in Liverpool on 26 March 1805. He entered a merchant's office at an early age, and, after remaining there seventeen years, commenced business on his own account, retiring in 1855. He studied geometry and mathematics for practical purposes, and made some mechanical experiments with a view to facilitating mining operations. His attention being called to the problem of squaring the circle, in 1859 he published a work entitled ‘The Problem of squaring the Circle solved’ (London, 8vo), which was followed in 1861 by ‘The Quadrature of the Circle: Correspondence between an Eminent Mathematician and J. Smith, Esq.,’ London, 8vo. This was ridiculed in the ‘Athenæum’ (1861, i. 627, 664, 674), and Smith replied in a letter which was inserted as an advertisement (ib. i. 679). From this time the establishment of his theory became the central interest of his life, and he bombarded the Royal Society and most of the mathematicians of the day with interminable letters and pamphlets on the subject. De Morgan was selected as his peculiar victim on account of certain reflections he had cast on him in the ‘Athenæum.’