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Charles Anderson Ferrier

CHARLES ANDERSON FERRIER was a native of Dundee, where he was born 10th March, 1829, but lived in Arbroath from a very early age. He came to London about 1848, and obtained an introduction to William Harvey, for whom he had the greatest admiration and to whom he always referred as his best friend. His tastes were artistic and literary, and through the friendship of Harvey he was able to gain inspiration in art and introductions to authors, Thomas Hood being amongst the number; in later years he was the friend of Tom Hood the younger, whose somewhat early death he felt very keenly. Harvey sent him to Dalziel Brothers, where he remained until he commenced his own business. He always spoke of them with warm admiration and respective degrees of affection: they in their turn esteemed him highly, which may be seen in the tribute paid to him in their book upon their work, as follows: —

“Charles Anderson Ferrier, a young Scotsman of varied capabilities, who had made some small efforts at wood-engraving in his native town of Arbroath, without instruction, came to seek employment through an introduction he had obtained to the late William Harvey. He was a youth of considerable promise, and full of enthusiasm for his art. Though the specimens he had to show were very crude, he had evidently been looked upon as a genius by his Scottish friends; but on entering our studio he was indefatigable in his studies ,and eager for improvement. Before he had been two months with us, he became the ‘London Correspondent’ of an Arbroath weekly paper. This work he generally knocked off during the hour allowed for dinner in the middle of the day. We have reason to believe that he turned his attention to scientific subjects and became a Fellow of more than one of the learned scientific Societies. During the whole of his life he has been a staunch Teetotaller, and has worked hard in the Temperance cause. He became a personal friend of George Cruikshank, Sir Benjamin Ward Richardson, Sir James Crichton-Browne, and many other scientific people of the numerous learned Societies, who preferred him as an engraver because of the knowledge he possessed of the subjects he had to work upon.

“Taken altogether Ferrier became one of the most remarkable men who had their beginning as pupils in our Studio.” (From “Fifty Years’ Work: Our Pupils,” p. 349; by Dalziel Brothers.)

His one cause for their respect was his extreme conscientiousness, as witness the following may be cited: a question of time arose, one of the Brothers turned to the housekeeper, enquiring “Is the clock right?” “Yes” was the reply, “I set it when Mr. Ferrier arrived.” “Then that’s near enough!” showed that the partner ‘concurred. The paragraph above referred to was his greatest pride. He was an active member, on the literary side, at Regent’s Square Presbyterian Church, where he incurred much obloquy for his audacity in preferring Shakespeare before Burns, and advocating teetotalism, which in the fifties was less understood than it is in the present day.

His early work included zoological specimens drawn by "T. W. Wood, for ‘Beeton’s Boys’ Own Magazine,’ which (speaking open to correction) he continued to the end of the series; ‘Land & Water,’ the ‘Leisure Hour,’ and other Natural History publications. He became known to the Geological Society, for which he did much work in his own careful and painstaking way. 'The whole secret of his pleasing was—to use his own words—that “he kept the drawing of the artist” instead of altering it according to fancy or accident.

This faculty, engendered of conscientiousness and artistic appreciation of the subject, won him his good name; by treating the subject sympathetically it pleased both the draughtsman and the authors—who wanted the picture to be what they had approved as a drawing. The advantage of this power was greatly felt and appreciated when he was producing anatomical subjects under Dr. Murie, who then was at the Zoological Gardens, when it was important to distinguish between hair, tissue, bone, and muscle.

From this point he became known to the Linnean Society and was elected Fellow, 15th June, 1882.

The love of his art, and the rapid growth of process-work, caused unspeakable sorrow to him in his later days. He mourned that a process almost purely mechanical should supersede an art which he had studied for 50 years and of which he still had much to learn. [R. M. Ferrier]

The entire above article is from: Proceedings of the Linnean Society of London. "Charles Anderson Ferrier." November 7, 1907: 48, 49.