which he wrote to me in Japan, December, 1874: "My dear Ayrton—You will be very sorry to learn of the terrible loss which has befallen us in the loss of La Plata, cable ship, with my nephew David King on board...." David King and I had worked together for Thomson. I had seen them much in company with one another. In appearance, independence of thought, and in many ways there was great resemblance between uncle and nephew, so that I used to hope that a corner of the mantle of William Thomson might rest on David King.
Thomson has been called an engineer. In creative power, yes—a great engineer. But not in the forties, nay, even in the sixties, could a university student at either London, Glasgow or Cambridge learn what to-day is called even college engineering. Thomson had never learned to make a working drawing; he designed in metal. We students could not help him with the T square and drawing-board as we might have done had we received the college engineering training of to-day. He thought of a new instrument, a new method of accomplishing some result flashed on him, and he sketched in his pocket-book a rough indication of what he wanted constructed; I took the idea, or what I understood of it, in my head to Messrs. White, so it was not to be wondered at that alteration after alteration was necessary before the thing that was in Thomson's mind's-eye became realized in metal.
But oh! the delight of those days! Would we have exchanged them, had the choice been given us, for days passed in the most perfectly designed laboratory of the twentieth century without him? No! for the inspiration of our lives would have been wanting. As pathetically said, since his death, in the Electrical Review, "Le roi est mort," but we can not add, "Vive le roi," for were the whole world summoned, "no successor would there be."