James Clerk-Maxwell : [obituary]

Tribute to James Clerk Maxwell by scientist P G Tait.

Date: Written in 1879.
Publication: Proceedings of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Volume 10, Pages 331-339, Session 1879-1880.

James Clerk Maxwell died of stomach cancer at the age of 48. His friend and fellow scientist P G Tait wrote a moving obituary in the Royal Society of Edinburgh's proceedings. He had first met Maxwell 35 years earlier, when they were at school at Edinburgh Academy.

The obituary refers to the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge University, built and furnished under Maxwell's supervision. Tait describes it as a monument to Maxwell's 'wide-ranging practical knowledge and theoretical skill'.

Maxwell's writings, Tait says, resemble those of William Thomson (Lord Kelvin), [link to kelvin biog page (biographies/lord-kelvin/index.html)] 'which in early life he had with great wisdom chosen as a model'.

Professor Tait closes his tribute with reference to 'the galaxy of grand scientific men' Scotland had recently lost. He concludes that Scotland 'will assign a place in the very front rank to James Clerk Maxwell'.