Whether his inventive genius was exhausted, or he became disheartened, it would be difficult to say, but he never flourished again. The rise in his condition may be inferred from the preamble to his patent for electric telegraphs and clocks, dated May 29, 1852, wherein he describes himself as 'Gentleman,' and living at Beevor Lodge, Hammersmith. After an ephemeral appearance in this character he sank once more into poverty, if not even wretchedness. Moved by his unhappy circumstances, Sir William Thomson, the late Sir William Siemens, Mr. Latimer Clark and others, obtained from Mr. Gladstone, in the early part of 1873, a pension for him under the Civil List of L80 a year; but the beneficiary lived in such obscurity that it was a considerable time before his lodging could be discovered, and his better fortune take effect. The Royal Society had previously made him a gift of L150.
In his latter years, while he resided in Glasgow, his health failed, and he was struck with paralysis in the legs. The massive forehead once pregnant with the fire of genius, grew dull and slow of thought, while the sturdy frame of iron hardihood became a tottering wreck. He was removed to the Home for Incurables at Broomhill, Kirkintilloch, where he died on January 2, 1877, and was interred in the Old Aisle Cemetery. He was a widower, and had two children, but they were said to be abroad at the time, the son in America and the daughter on the Continent.
Several of Bain's earlier patents are taken out in two names, but this was perhaps owing to his poverty compelling him to take a partner. If these and other inventions were substantially his own, and we have no reason to suppose that he received more help from others than is usual with inventors, we must allow that Bain was a mechanical genius of the first order --a born inventor. Considering the early date of his achievements, and his lack of education or pecuniary resource, we cannot but wonder at the strength, fecundity, and prescience of his creative faculty. It has been said that he came before his time; but had he been more fortunate in other respects, there is little,doubt that he would have worked out and introduced all or nearly all his inventions, and probably some others. His misfortunes and sorrows are so typical of the 'disappointed inventor' that we would fain learn more about his life; but beyond a few facts in a little pamphlet (published by himself, we believe), there is little to be gathered; a veil of silence has fallen alike upon his triumphs, his errors and his miseries.
THE leading electrician of Germany is Dr. Ernst Werner Siemens, eldest brother of the same distinguished family of which our own Sir William Siemens was a member. Ernst, like his brother William, was born at Lenthe, near Hanover, on December 13, 1816. He was educated at the College of Lubeck in Maine, and entered the Prussian Artillery service as a volunteer. He pursued his scientific studies at the Artillery and Engineers' School in Berlin, and in 1838 obtained an officer's commission.
Physics and chemistry were his favourite studies; and his original researches in electro-gilding resulted in a Prussian patent in 1841. The following year he, in conjunction with his brother William, took out
another patent for a differential regulator. In 1844 he was appointed to a post in the artillery workshops in Berlin, where he learned telegraphy, and in 1845 patented a dial and printing telegraph, which is still in use in Germany.
In 1846, he was made a member of a commission organised in Berlin to introduce electric telegraphs in place of the optical ones hitherto employed in Prussia, and he succeeded in getting the commission to adopt underground telegraph lines. For the insulation of the wires he recommended gutta-percha, which was then becoming known as an insulator. In the following year he constructed a machine for covering copper wire with the melted gum by means of pressure; and this machine is substantially the same as that now used for the purpose in cable factories.
In 1848, when the war broke out with Denmark, he was sent to Kiel where, together with his brother-in-law, Professor C. Himly, he laid the first submarine mines, fired by electricity and thus protected the town of Kiel from the advance of the enemies' fleet.