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Memoir of Fleeming Jenkin   By: (1850-1894)

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In Robert Louis Stevenson's Memoir of Fleeming Jenkin, readers are treated to a captivating account of the life and achievements of an extraordinary engineer. With vivid prose and meticulous attention to detail, Stevenson brings the lesser-known story of Jenkin to light, painting a portrait of a man whose ingenuity and perseverance forever altered the technological landscape of his time.

The memoir opens with Jenkin's early years, tracing his humble beginnings in the Scottish town of St. Rollox. From an early age, it becomes evident that Jenkin possesses an unyielding curiosity and a natural aptitude for mechanical systems. But it is his time at the University of Edinburgh that truly shapes him into a formidable force in the world of engineering. Stevenson's prose shines as he expertly describes Jenkin's rigorous studies and his interactions with illustrious contemporaries, creating a palpable sense of the intellectual atmosphere of the time.

In an era dominated by colossal engineering projects, Jenkin's contributions may have easily been overshadowed. However, Stevenson masterfully highlights the significance of his subject's innovations. Rather than merely celebrating his achievements in glorious isolation, the narrative deftly intertwines Jenkin's work with the larger historical context. Readers gain a deep understanding of how his discoveries paved the way for numerous advancements, ultimately shaping the world we inhabit today.

While Memoir of Fleeming Jenkin excels in providing a meticulously researched account of Jenkin's professional life, it is the inclusion of personal anecdotes and reflections that truly sets this memoir apart. Stevenson, known for his remarkable storytelling abilities, compels readers to invest emotionally in Jenkin's journey. We witness his triumphs and setbacks, and alongside him, we experience the exhilaration of breakthroughs and the heartbreak of societal resistance.

Moreover, through Stevenson's masterful prose, we are given glimpses into Jenkin's rich inner world. The author delves into the engineer's motivations, fears, and doubts, further elevating the memoir beyond a mere dry recitation of facts. Stevenson's own admiration for his subject's accomplishments seeps through the pages, imbuing the narrative with a sense of awe that is profoundly infectious.

While the Memoir of Fleeming Jenkin might not be one of Stevenson's widely celebrated works, it is undoubtedly a testament to his ability to weave a compelling narrative around an often-overlooked figure. By breathing life into the legacy of Fleeming Jenkin, Stevenson invites readers on a journey that transcends time and reminds us of the remarkable individuals whose contributions continue to shape our world today.

First Page:

Memoir of Fleeming Jenkin


ON the death of Fleeming Jenkin, his family and friends determined to publish a selection of his various papers; by way of introduction, the following pages were drawn up; and the whole, forming two considerable volumes, has been issued in England. In the States, it has not been thought advisable to reproduce the whole; and the memoir appearing alone, shorn of that other matter which was at once its occasion and its justification, so large an account of a man so little known may seem to a stranger out of all proportion. But Jenkin was a man much more remarkable than the mere bulk or merit of his work approves him. It was in the world, in the commerce of friendship, by his brave attitude towards life, by his high moral value and unwearied intellectual effort, that he struck the minds of his contemporaries. His was an individual figure, such as authors delight to draw, and all men to read of, in the pages of a novel. His was a face worth painting for its own sake. If the sitter shall not seem to have justified the portrait, if Jenkin, after his death, shall not continue to make new friends, the fault will be altogether mine.

R. L S.

SARANAC, OCT., 1887.


The Jenkins of Stowting Fleeming's grandfather Mrs... Continue reading book >>

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