A number of editorial articles and letters mention Matthew’s name in the pages of the Sheffield Daily Telegraph between 1872 and 1902. The newspaper’s owner/editor during this time was William C. Leng, and he is almost certainly the reason why Matthew’s name is mentioned so many times, either because he directly authored these editorial pieces or because he told other editorial writers about him. Importantly, the only known retrospective of Matthew that is contemporaneous with the time of Matthew’s death is to be found in the pages of the Sheffield Daily Telegraph, and was presumably written by Leng himself (see Newspaper Articles > Retrospectives > Editorial (1874-09-05)).
Leng’s friendship with Matthew is described in Leng’s own obituary in the Sheffield Daily Telegraph upon his death in 1902 (see bottom of this page for more details on this obituary). They met during Leng’s time on the editorial team of the Dundee Advertiser between 1859-1864.
“The Sheffield of the Past. Ireland, the Marvellous Jumper”. Sheffield Daily Telegraph, Friday 13 December 1872, p.3, col.7 (pdf image)
Matthew is mentioned in a letter (by “Curiosity”) remembering a man called Ireland who was famed for his leaping:
Mr. Patrick Matthew, of Gourdie Hill, in the of Gowrie, a keen student of the phenomena of animated nature, was in England when the marvellous leaper, Ireland, was exhibiting in public, and Mr. Matthew vividly remembers the impression made upon himself by the airy ease with which the young Yorkshireman took such leaps as no one had previously seen or read of.
Untitled. Sheffield Daily Telegraph, Saturday 25 January 1873, p.2, col.2 (pdf image)
Matthew’s prediction of iron-clad steam rams is mentioned in the preamble to a review of a book by Mr. Plimsoll’s on the construction of seaworthy vessels:
An Agriculturist invented the screw propeller, another Agriculturist – a Carse of Gowrie landowner – anticipated in his study the construction of armour-clad steam rams, and described, a quarter of century before its occurrence, the revolution in naval warfare which has recently taken place. And to a third landsman, a gentleman trained to office-work, England owes a book on nautical affairs which is destined to take its place as a standard work in the libraries of nautical men. What “Archimedian Smith” did for our steam marine, and what Patrick Matthew, the Carse of Gowrie Philosopher, did for the Royal Navy – or rather would have done, supposing my Lords had deigned to receive instruction from a landowner who wrote books and planted orchards – will, we trust, be excelled by what Mr. Plimsoll will do for the British seaman in respect of man-traps.
Editorial (1874-09-05): Untitled. Sheffield Daily Telegraph, Saturday 05 September 1874
This editorial is a warm and full-of-praise retrospective/obituary of Patrick Matthew, who had died 3 months earlier. It provides fascinating insights into Matthew’s character (see Newspaper Articles > Retrospectives).
Untitled. Sheffield Daily Telegraph, Saturday 2 October 1875, p.2 col.2 (pdf image)
Matthew’s prediction of iron-clad steam-ram warships is once again mentioned.
There are men who have contended for twenty years that the strongest ship the Admiralty could build might be destroyed by one well-directed stroke from the prow of a vessel of half her size. We who write this have so contended, as Mr. BAXTER, the former Secretary the Admiralty, knows; and there is in existence a scarce old work on naval timber by the late PATRICK MATTHEW – a work which has been read with interest by Mr. WALTER, of the Times – in which the author describes with wonderful prophetic insight the revolution in naval tactics which the sinking of the Vanguard will precipitate. It is now nearly fifty years since PATRICK MATTHEW described with marvellous clearness and precision the armoured steam rams of the future; yet such is the force of usage and such the tenacity of naval tradition, that venerable admirals, dignified post-captains, and self-sufficient journalists are wrathful in the presence a practical illustration of the truth taught by a thoughtful Scotch landowner nearly half a century ago.
“Death of William Leng”. Sheffield Daily Telegraph, Thursday 20 February 1902, p.6 (jpg image 1, jpg image 2)
Leng’s friendship with Matthew is described in Leng’s own obituary in the Sheffield Daily Telegraph upon his death in 1902. Leng’s brother John was the editor of the Dundee Advertiser from 1851 until the 1890’s, and William worked on that newspaper between 1859-1864 before taking up his editorship of the Sheffield Daily Telegraph. It is interesting to note that Leng was friends with both Matthew and with Robert Chambers, the author of Vestiges of Natural Creation and plausibly the abridger of an extract of On Naval Timber and Arboriculture that appeared in Chambers’ Edinburgh Journal in 1832 (see On Naval Timber > Citations). It is also interesting to note that the obituary credits Leng with getting the Dundee Right-of-Way Association off the ground, when judging by the record at least part of that credit should go to Matthew (see the two articles in 1861 on the “Dundee Right-of-Way Association” in Newspaper Articles > Social issues)
A Few Years at Dundee.
Meanwhile his brother John, who had for some time been on the staff of the “Hull Advertiser,” accepted an engagement to edit and manage an important Scotch newspaper. Being well aware of William’s remarkable literary power, he begged of him to come to his assistance. William was then carrying on a business as a chemist with marked success, but, conscious that he was becoming more and more interested the leading questions of the day, he slowly overcame his mistrust of being able to do the literary work which his brother required of him, and after stipulating for entire mental independence, sold his business and removed to Dundee, to become leader-writer and reviewer for the “Dundee Advertiser.” In Dundee, his assaults on the overloading of ships, on American slavery, on the opponents of sanitary and architectural reform in large towns, and more especially on the enclosure of commons and stopping ancient rights of way, soon brought him great repute.
His passionate love of the beautiful in Nature caused him to espouse with all his heart the cause of a few poor men actively opposed to the stealthy closing up of old footpaths which was becoming general in the neighbourhood. He called a mass meeting, formed a Right-of-way Association, accepted the office of treasurer to the Association, husbanded the fund by paying the current expenses out of his own pocket, and had the satisfaction on leaving Dundee of handing over the original fund substantially intact. He and his friend, the late George Gilfillan, the great Scottish essayist and critic, had roused the citizens, and had, among other things, kept free of access that rare miradore — the cone of the volcanic mountain, at the foot of which is the Port of Dundee — a service to the town which is gratefully remembered to this day. His work at Dundee also brought him into very friendly relationship with Mr. Patrick Matthew, who first suggested the application of steam power, armour plating, and the ram system of fighting to modern navies; with the Right Hon. W. E. Baxter, M.P., and afterwards with the late Mr. Robert Chambers, of “Chambers’s Journal.”