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The Arts Past and Present Essay

The editorial is an enthusiastically, conservative times editorial, written to commemorate the centenary of Faraday’s death. This takes the form of two enthusiastic lectures by the Lords Rayleigh and Sir James Dewar, and was typically directed at an elite male, professional audience. Lord Rayleigh enthusiastically, demonstrated some of Faraday’s best loved experiments. The original experiments/performances, being described by the article’s editor as events of remarkable beauty. Finally, the show was closed by speeches by two more British gentleman scientists.

The event was obviously intended for a very specific audience, which was one of the key changes Faraday had hoped to make. Faraday’s reputation in his own lifetime was stratospheric, as fortunately for him, his ‘attributes coincided with the values of the society in which he lived’, (Falconer with James, in AA100 Assignment booklet, 2008, p89). Faraday,s basic concern was the dissemination of greater scientific knowledge to the masses. The Times editor highlights Faraday’s humble origins, and his ‘purity of spirit’ .

He was disdainful of money, and a completely ‘self-made man’ (Falconer with James, in AA100 Assignment booklet, 2008, p89). His reputation was so great because he represented all the qualities admired by his contemporaries, whatever their class. His vision, determined a new scientific age of progress and development. If ‘his eye was fixed upon truth itself and not upon (the) useful results’ other scientists more motivated, perhaps, by financial gain, and others, were keen to produce, and profit from, his ideas.

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The editor impresses upon us the fact that many everyday items, would simply not exist if not for Faraday’s unique qualities. The occasion was also an opportunity for the British colonial establishment to reaffirm its reputation for benevolence, and global hegemony. In the extract there is no reference of the Sandemanian cult, which had a very profound effect on the man himself. This was a purely scientific lecture, however ‘the Sandemanians stressed an ideal of service not only in their church but also in public life. ‘ (OU: Fame and Faraday, p. 96 (Falconer with James)).

Which leads us back to Faraday’s ‘purity of spirit’. Faraday’s dream was to make science a classical art; accessible to the masses. He added a grandiose frontespiece of classical Corinthian columns to the RI, and totally reorganized the previously chaotic lecture theatre. The lecturer assumed a more commanding role, and he encouraged audience members to participate in debates. An unorthodox, self-education gave him an advantage of being able to, ‘think outside the box’, and a combination of factors finally lead Faraday to the upper echelons of the grand Royal Institute.

Faraday must have struggled between religious conviction, and ambition. He qualifies these potential paradoxes by describing his duty, as a natural philosopher was to reveal God’s wonders. He was also a consummate actor/performer, and, it has been argued his more pious persona could have been a pretence. Despite the apparent spontaneity and infallibility of his spectacular experiments, they were rehearsed relentlessly beforehand, in the solitude of his workshop.

He also had elocution lessons to help project his voice, and made constant refinements to his demonstrations, to show his level of confidence, as well as ability. In conclusion we can gather that Faraday was a man of great simplicity in nature. and he felt himself more humble and as a servant to god and to the people to unravel the nature of science and its potential. In doing so he elavted himself to a position of high elevation which he reluctantly had to accept due to his popularity and roles in filled during his career as a man to be admired and consulted upon when called for.

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