book on 'Dynamics,' his fragmentary 'Common Sense of the Exact Sciences' and the 'Lectures on Geometry' represent especially the direction and novelty of his elementary teaching; its fundamental aim was not to teach a student the analytical solution of a problem, but to force him to think for himself.
Clifford's works as posthumously published are:
- 'Lectures and Essays,' edited by F. Pollock and L. Stephen, 1879.
- 'Mathematical Fragments, being facsimiles of his unfinished papers relating to the theory of Graphs,' 1881.
- 'Mathematical Papers,' edited by R. Tucker, with a very interesting introduction by H. J. S. Smith, late Savilian professor at Oxford, 1882. A careful bibliography is added.
- 'Common Sense of the Exact Sciences,' edited and partly written by Karl Pearson, 1885.
- 'Elements of Dynamic.'
We may mention, in addition to the works already referred to, the little volume of elementary science entitled 'Seeing and Thinking.'
[Life by F. Pollock prefixed to Lectures and Essays; information from Mrs. Clifford; personal knowledge.]
CLIFT, WILLIAM (1775–1849), naturalist, born at Burcombe, about half a mile from the town of Bodmin in Cornwall, on 14 Feb. 1775, was the youngest of the seven children of Robert Clift, who died a few years later, leaving his wife and family in the depths of poverty. The boy was sent to school at Bodmin, and his taste for drawing came under the notice of Colonel Walter Raleigh Gilbert of the Priory, Bodmin, and his wife, 'a lady of great accomplishments,' with whom he was soon established as a great favourite. Mrs. Gilbert had been a schoolfellow of Miss Home, and kept up a correspondence with her friend after her marriage to John Hunter, the celebrated physician [q. v.] She recommended Clift as an apprentice to Hunter, stating that he was qualified by his quickness and by his natural taste for drawing, which was shown in his eagerness 'to come into her kitchen in Cornwall and make 'wings with chalk on the floor.' Clift arrived in London on 14 Feb. 1792, his own and Hunter's birthday, and as he at once gave satisfaction to Hunter, was apprenticed without the payment of a fee, on the understanding that he was 'to write and make drawings, to dissect and take part in the charge of the museum' which his master had armed at the back of his house in Leicester Square. While Hunter lived this system of labour proved satisfactory to both of them. The pupil waited on his master at his dissections or wrote from his dictation from early morning until late at night. Hunter died on 16 Oct. 1793, but his death made no difference in Clift's attachment to his master's memory. So long as life lasted Clift used to call him a truly honest man, and to ridicule the slanders that envy endeavoured to fasten on his character. For six years he was engaged by Hunter's executors to watch over the collections, living with an old housekeeper in the house in Castle Street, his pay being limited to 'seven shillings a week,' although bread had risen to war prices. For the safety of these specimens he was solely responsible, and he kept zealous guard over his charge, copying and preserving many, probably a half, of Hunter's manuscripts which would otherwise have perished. Clift was unwearied in cleaning, and on the purchase of the collection by parliament it was in a better state than at its owner's death. When the Corporation of Surgeons agreed to undertake the charge of the collection, and was incorporated by a charter dated 22 March 1800 as the Royal College of Surgeons, one of its first acts was to retain Clift in his place, dignifying him with the title of conservator of the museum, and rewarding his services with a salary of about 100l. a year. From that date his time and talents 'were exclusively devoted to the advancement of comparative anatomy and physiology.' His pride was in his daily work, and he lived to see the museum 'enriched, enlarged, and worthily displayed and illustrated.' Under his supervision Hunter's collections were twice removed without the slightest damage, first in 1806 to a temporary place of deposit, and on the second occasion in 1813 to the museum of the college, and the whole of the specimens were more than once numbered by him. After he had been more than fifty years connected with the discoveries and studies of John Hunter, he retired into private life on his full salary of 400l. a year. He married, at St. Martin's-in-the-Fields, London, in 1799, Caroline Amelia Pope, who died in April 1849. A few weeks later, on 20 June 1849, Clift died at Stanhope Cottage, Hampstead Road, London, and they were both buried in Highgate cemetery. His only son, William Home Clift, who assisted his father in the museum, was born in 1803 and died in 1833. His only daughter, Caroline Amelia Clift, was married at New St. Pancras Church on 20 July 1835 to Professor (now Sir Richard) Owen, and died at Sheen Lodge, Richmond Park, on 7 May 1873, aged 70. A pleasing glimpse into her character is afforded by a passage in Caroline Fox's 'Journals' (first ed. p. 137).