Page:Dictionary of National Biography. Sup. Vol II (1901).djvu/61

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Colomb
Colomb
49

and the majority were translated into one or more European languages.

Among Collins's plays the chief were: 'The Frozen Deep' (privately printed 1866), first performed at Tavistock House in 1857, and then at the Gallery of Illustration and elsewhere for the benefit of Douglas Jerrold's family. Collins also dramatised four of his works, viz. 'Armadale: a Drama,' 1866, subsequently dramatised anew as 'Miss Gwilt,' 1875; 'No Name' (1870; this had been dramatised by W. B. Bernard in 1863); 'The Woman in White: a Drama,' 1871; and 'The New Magdalen' (published by the author in 1873, and also the subject of several piratical versions and translations). The last was the most successful of the author's plays.

[Illustrated London News, 28 Sept. 1889 (portrait); Times, 24 and 28 Sept. 1889; Spectator, 28 Sept. 1889; World, 25 Sept. 1889; Athenæum,1889,ii. 418; Biograph, 1879, i. 5; Charles Dickens's Letters; Forster's Life of Dickens; Celebrities of the Century; Graves's Dict. of Artists; Swinburne's Studies in Prose and Poetry; Foster's Men at the Bar; Temple Bar, lxxxix. and cii.; Universal Review, October 1889. See also interesting critical notices from different points of view by Messrs. A. Lang and H. Quilter, Contemp. Review, liii. and lvii.]

T. S.

COLOMB, PHILIP HOWARD (1831–1899), vice-admiral, third son of General George Colomb and of Mary, daughter of Sir Abraham Bradley King, bart., twice lord mayor of Dublin, was born on 29 May 1831. He entered the navy in February 1846 on board the Tartarus on the Irish station; and from November 1846 to March 1849 was in the steam frigate Sidon in the Mediterranean. He was then appointed to the Reynard on the China station, and was still in her when she was wrecked on the Plata shoal in 1851. He remained on the station as a supernumerary in various ships, till in September he was appointed to the Serpent, in which, from November till May 1852, he was engaged in the Burmese war and was present at the capture of Rangoon. He passed his examination in seamanship in May 1852, and continued in the Serpent as acting mate and acting lieutenant till she was paid off in January 1854. In March he joined the Phoenix for a voyage to Smith Sound under the command of Captain (afterwards Admiral) Sir Edward Augustus Inglefield [q. v. Suppl.] On his return to England in October he was appointed to the Ajax guardship, and on 3 Feb. 1855 was promoted to be lieutenant of the Hastings, going up the Baltic under the command of (Sir) James Crawford Caffin [q. v.] In May 1856 he was appointed to the Excellent for the gunnery course, and, having passed out in November 1857, was in December appointed flag-lieutenant to Rear-admiral Sir Thomas Sabine Pasley [q. v.], then admiral superintendent at Devonport, and later on to Pasley's successor, (Sir) Thomas Matthew Charles Symonds [q. v.]

These appointments, commonplace as they usually were, proved the turning point of Colomb's career. They brought him into a more direct relation with the current system of signals, and the subject grew on him. In 1858 he was ordered by the admiralty to examine and report on a system of day signals which they had bought. On his showing that it was unsuitable for the sea service, he was asked to turn his attention to night signals, which were still made in the primitive manner devised in the seventeenth century. Colomb had already studied this problem, but without success; he now resumed his experiments, and after many months' work devised a system still in use in the navy, and rightly known as 'Colomb's Flashing Signals.' It was, in fact, an application of the telegraphic system known as Morse's, in which the movements of the needle were replaced by long and short flashes from a lamp by night, or blasts from the fog horn or steam whistle in fog. The novelty of this has been disputed, and it seems not impossible that the method had been more or less vaguely suggested before; but no evidence of any previous practical adaptation of it has ever been produced. At the time it was certainly regarded as absolutely new; and it was only after much opposition and many unfavourable reports that Colomb was at last attached to the Edgar, the flagship of the channel squadron, in which the admiral, (Sir) Sidney Colpoys Dacres [q. v.], was instructed to report on an exhaustive series of experiments. Colomb joined the ship on 16 July and was allowed a quarter of an hour to instruct a few signalmen. The same night Dacres, by an impromptu and unexpected question put by the signal apparatus, which was at once understood and answered, convinced himself of the value of the invention, and partially adopted it from that day. Before the end of the year Dacres and all the captains of the Channel fleet sent in reports calling for the immediate adoption of the system. The apparatus was therefore supplied to every ship of the Channel fleet and to many in the Mediterranean, and was fully adopted in the navy on 12 Feb. 1867. It is this system that is still in use, though in the course of years some changes in detail have been made.