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Sir Henry Cole, K.C.B.

Nature volume 25, pages 611612 | Download Citation

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HENRY COLE, the eldest son of Captain Henry A Robert Cole, was born at Bath, on July 15, 1808. On January 12, 1817, he was admitted to Christ's Hospital, where he remained until April 9, 1823. There had been some idea of sending him into the Church, but it was abandoned, and the day after he left school he commenced his career in the public service, under Mr. Cohen, afterwards Sir Francis Palgrave. His leisure at this time was spent in botanising in the neighbourhood of London; drawing under the tuition of David Cox, and contributing to the public journals. On December 28, 1833, he married his cousin, Miss Marian Bond. The public records were endangered by the burning of the Houses of Parliament in the following year. Cole worked vigorously for their preservation at the time, and was for long afterwards engaged in their arrangement. In spite of these heavy labours he had found time to commence a work on light, shade, and colour, when the prosperity of the young manager was abruptly interrupted by his summary dismissal from the Augmentation Office on December 5, 1835. He had ventured to call in question, and that in the singularly emphatic manner which characterised him through life, the competency of his official superiors, and had indi cated the gross mismanagement which then obtained. It was believed that Mr. Cole's charges were unfounded, but a Committee of the House of Commons fully justified his action. He was at once reinstated in his office and advanced to be assistant keeper of the Records. At this period of his career he did yeoman's service to the cause of postal reform, and found leisure to issue, under the nom de plume of Felix Summerly, a series of Guide Books to Hampton Court, Canterbury, Westminster Abbey, Temple Church, the National Gallery, Free Pic ture Galleries, Day Excursions, Holidays spent in and near London, as well as to the various lines of Railway as they sprang into existence. Besides these he published his long-deferred “Light, Shade, and Colour,” and it is one of the features of his life that he uniformly dropped a scheme which was for the time abortive, and uniformly took it up again at the relinquished point when a more propitious time arrived. He also wrote numerous works for the amusement and instruction of children in whose service he enlisted some of the most eminent artists then living. He found employment for ladies in engraving his illustrations, thus making an early attempt to solve the difficult problem of woman's work.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/025611a0

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