Boulton and Watt (VIII.)
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Among the few household articles belonging to him which descended to his son, and afterwards to his grandson the engineer, were two portraits—one of Sir Isaac Newton, and the other of John Napier, the inventor of Logarithms.


The mansion house of the Shaves is now principally occupied as manorial offices.  The fine old garden and pleasure-grounds have been presented by Sir John Shaw to the people of Greenock as a public park for ever.  It is now called "The Watt Park," and a more beautiful spot (but for the smoke rising from the busy town below) is scarcely to be found in Britain.


In 1715 the Greenock and Cartsdyke men kept strict watch and ward for eighty days against a threatened visit of Rob Roy and his caterans.  The conduct of these unruly neighbours continued to cause apprehensions amongst the townspeople until a much later period, especially during Fair time, then the great event of the year.  The fair was the occasion of the annual gathering of the people from the neighbouring country to buy and to sell.  Highlandmen came from the opposite shores and from the lochs down the Clyde, caring little for Lowland law, but duly impressed by a display of force.  Their boats were drawn up on the beach with their prows to the High Street, the north side of which at that time lay open to the sea.  The Highland folk lived and slept on board, each boat having a plank or gangway between it and the shore.  On the first day of the fair, Sir John Shaw, the feudal superior, convened the local dignitaries, the deacons and the trades, and after drinking the King's health and throwing the glasses amongst the populace, they formed in procession and perambulated the town.


The Shaw baronetcy was the reward of the feudal superior's services on the occasion. The banner carried by the tenantry in the Civil War was long preserved in Greenock, and was hung up with the other town flags in one of the public rooms.


According to Smeaton's report in 1755, there were in spring tides only 3 feet 8 inches water at Pointhouse Ford.  Measures were taken to deepen the river, and operations with that object were begun in 1768.  Salmon abounded in the Clyde, and was so common that servants and apprentices were accustomed to stipulate that they should not have salmon for dinner more than a certain number of days in the week.


In 1735 they had fifteen vessels engaged in the trade; and shortly after, Glasgow became the great mart for tobacco.  Of the 90,000 hogsheads imported into the United Kingdom in 1772, Glasgow alone imported 49,000, or more than one-half.  The American Revolution had the effect of completely ruining the tobacco trade of Glasgow, after which the merchants were compelled to turn to other fields of enterprise and industry.  The capital which they had accumulated from tobacco enabled them to enter upon their new undertakings with spirit, and the steam-engine, which had by that time been invented by their townsman James Watt, proved their best helper in advancing the prosperity of modern Glasgow.


For many curious particulars of Old Glasgow and its society, see Dr. Strang's 'Glasgow and its Clubs.'


We speak of the University as it stood when Watt occupied it, and as the author saw it in 1865, when writing this book.  The University has since been removed to the magnificent new buildings at Hillhead.


When we visited the room some years since, we found laid there the galvanic apparatus employed by Sir William Thomson for perfecting the invention of his delicate process of signalling through the wires of the Atlantic Telegraph.


The 'Glasgow Courant' of Oct. 22, 1759, contains the following advertisement:—

"Just Published,
"And to be Sold by James Watt, at his Shop in the College of Glasgow,
price 2s. 6d.,
"A large Sheet Map of the River Clyde, from Glasgow to Portincross, from an Actual
"To which is added,
"A Draught of Part of the North Channel, with the Frith of Clyde according to the best authorities."


The club he frequented was called the Anderston Club, of which Mr. (afterwards Professor) Millar, Dr. Robert Simson, the mathematician, Dr. Adam Smith, Dr. Black, and Dr. Cullen, were members.  The standing dish of the club was hen-broth, consisting of a decoction of "how-rowdies" (fowls), thickened with black beans, and seasoned with pepper.  Dr. Strang says Professor Simson was in the habit of counting the steps from his house to the club, so that he could tell the distance to the fraction of an inch.  But it is not stated whether he counted the steps on his return, and found the number of them the same.


The principle of the Æolipile is the same as that embodied in Avery and Ruthven's engines for the production of rotary motion.  "These engines," says Bourne, "are more expensive in steam than ordinary engines, and travel at an inconvenient speed; but in other respects they are quite as effectual, and their construction is extremely simple and inexpensive."


'A Century of the Names and Scantlings of such Inventions as at present I can call to mind to have tried and perfected, which (my former Notes being lost) I have, at the instance of a powerful Friend, endeavoured now, in the year 1655, to set these down in such a way as may sufficiently instruct me to put any of them in practice.' London, 1663.


Two boilers, a large, A, A, and a smaller, B, were fixed in a furnace, and connected together at the top by a pipe, C.  The larger boiler was filled two-thirds full, and the smaller quite full of water.  When that in the larger one was raised to the boiling-point, the handle of the regulator, D, was thrust back as far as it would go, by which the steam forced itself through the pipe connected with the vessel E, expelling the air it contained through the clack at F. The handle of the regulator being then drawn towards you, the communication between the boiler and the vessel, E, was closed, and that between the boiler and the second vessel, G, was opened, which latter was also filled with steam, the air being in like manner discharged through the clack, H. Cold water was then poured from the water-cock, T, on to the vessel, E, by which the steam was suddenly condensed, and a vacuum being thereby caused, the water to be raised was drawn up through the sucking-pipe, J, its return being prevented by a clack or valve at K.  The handle of the regulator, D, being again thrust back, the steam was again admitted, and, pressing upon the surface of the water in E, forced it out at the bottom of the vessel and up through the pipe, L, from which it was driven into the open air.  The handle of the regulator was then reversed, on which the steam was again admitted to G, and the water in like manner expelled from it, while E, being again dashed with cold water, was refilling from below.  Then the cold water was turned upon G; and thus alternate filling and forcing went on, and a continuous stream of cold water kept flowing from the upper opening.  The large boiler was replenished with water by shutting off the connection of the small boiler with the cold-water pipe, M, which supplied it from above, on which the steam contained in the latter forced the water through the connecting pipe, C, into the large boiler, and kept it running in a continuous stream until the surface of the water in the smaller boiler was depressed below the opening of the connecting pipe, which was indicated by the noise of the clack, when it was refilled from the cold-water pipe, M, as before.


Dr. Wilkes in 'Shaw's History of Staffordshire,' i. 85, 119.


Newcomen's house occupies the centre of the above engraving—the house with the peaked gable-end supported by timbers.


Switzer, 'Introduction to a System of Hydrostatics and Hydraulics,' p. 342.


Harris, 'Lexicon Technicum.'


It has been stated that Newcomen took out a patent for his invention in 1705; but this is a mistake, as no patent was ever taken out by Newcomen.  It is supposed that Savery, having heard of his invention, gave him notice that he would regard his method of producing a speedy vacuum by condensation as an infringement of his patent, and that Newcomen accordingly agreed to give him an interest in the new engine during the term of Savery's patent.  It will, however, be observed that the principle on which Newcomen's engine worked was entirely different from that of Savery.


Scogging is a north country word, meaning skulking one's work, from which probably the boy gave the contrivance its name.  Potter, however, grew up to be a highly-skilled workman.  He went abroad about the year 1720, and erected an engine at a mine in Hungary, described by Leopold in his 'Theatrum Machinarum,' with many encomiums upon Potter, who was considered the inventor.


The illustration shows the several parts of Newcomen's atmospheric engine.  a is the boiler; b, the piston moving up and down; c, the cylinder; d, a pipe proceeding from the top of the boiler, and inserted into the bottom of the cylinder, having a cock, e, to interrupt the flow of steam at pleasure; f, cold-water cistern, from which the cold water is conveyed by the pipe g, called the injection-pipe, and thrown in a jet into the cylinder, c, on turning the injection-cock, h; the snifting-valve, i, enables the air to escape from, the cylinder, while the siphon-pipe, j, enables the condensed steam to flow from the same cavity in the form of water; k, the main lever beam; l, the counterpoise or weight hung on the balance-beam, or on m, the pump-rod which works the pump, n.


"It may be interesting to know that it required three hands to work Newcomen's first engines.  I have heard it said that when the engine was stopped, and again set at work, the words were passed, 'Snift Benjy!' 'Blow the fire, Pomery!' 'Work away, Joe!' The last let in the condensing water.  Lifting the condensing clack was called 'shifting,' because, on opening the valve, the air rushing through it made a noise like a man sniffing.  The fire was increased through artificial means by another hand, and, all being ready, the machine was set in motion by a third."—Cyrus Redding, 'Yesterday and To-day.' London, 1863. The "snifting clack" was a valve in the cylinder opening outwards, which permitted the escape of air or permanently elastic fluid, which could not be condensed by cold and run off through the eduction-pipe.


Ed.—according to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Newcomen died in London, at the house of Edward Wallin, on the 5th August 1729; he was buried on 8th August in the nonconformist burial-ground at Bunhill Fields, Finsbury, London.  This references goes on to say that Newcomen had the reputation of being an honest man.  According to his 'BBC History' entry, "Newcomen engines were extremely expensive but were nevertheless very successful.  By the time Newcomen died on 5th August 1729 there were at least one hundred of his engines in Britain and across Europe."


At a meeting held in Glasgow in 1839 to erect a monument to Watt, Dr. Ure observed:—"As to the latent heat of steam," said Mr. Watt to me, "it was a piece of knowledge essential to my inquiries, and I worked it out myself in the best way that I could.  I used apothecaries' phials for my apparatus, and by means of them I got approximations sufficient for my purpose at the time."  The passage affords a striking illustration of the large results that may be arrived at by means of the humblest instruments.  In like manner Cavendish, when asked by a foreigner to be shown over his laboratories, pointed to an old tea-tray on the table, containing a few watch-glasses, test-papers, a balance, and a blow-pipe, and observed, "There is all the laboratory I possess."


The following advertisement in the 'Glasgow Journal' of the 1st Dec., 1763, fixes the date of this last removal:—

"James Watt has removed his shop from the Saltmercat to Mr. Buchanan's land in the Trongate, where he sells all sorts of Mathematical and Musical Instruments, with variety of Toys and other goods."


About the site of the Humane Society's House.


Mr. Robert Hart's 'Reminiscences of James Watt,' in Transactions of the Glasgow Archaeological Society, 1859.'


"The last step of all," says Professor Jardine, "was the most difficult—the forming of the separate condensing vessel.  The great knowledge Mr. Watt had acquired of the mechanical powers enabled him to construct it, but I have often heard him say this was a work of great difficulty, and that he met with many disappointments before he succeeded.  I have often made use of this beautiful analysis received from Mr. Watt, in another department in which I have been long engaged,—to illustrate and encourage the progress of genius in youth,—to show, that once in possession of a habit of attention, under proper direction, it may be carried from one easy step to another, till the mind becomes qualified and invigorated for uniting and concentrating effort—the highest exertion of genius."


"I have now (April, 1765) almost a certainty of the facturum of the fire-engine, having determined the following particulars: The quantity of steam produced; the ultimatum of the lever engine; the quantity of steam destroyed by the cold of its cylinder; the quantity destroyed in mine; and if there be not some devil in the hedge, mine ought to raise water to 44 feet with the same quantity of steam that theirs does to 32 (supposing my cylinder as thick as theirs), which I think I can demonstrate.  I can now make a cylinder 2 feet diameter and 3 feet high, only a 40th of an inch thick, and strong enough to resist the atmosphere; sed tace.  In short, I can think of nothing else but this machine."—Watt to Dr. Lind.


For further memoir of Roebuck, see Industrial Biography.


Dr. Small was born in 1734 at Carmylie, in Angus, Scotland, of which parish his father was the minister.  He had been for some time the professor of Natural Philosophy in the University of Williamsburg, Virginia, from whence he had returned to England and settled at Birmingham.


He anticipated the use of high pressure steam, as afterwards employed in the locomotive by Trevithick, in the following passage:—"I intend," he said, "in many cases to employ the expansive force of steam to press on the piston, or whatever is used instead of one, in the same manner as the weight of the atmosphere is now employed in common fire-engines.  In some cases I intend to use both the condenser and this force of steam, so that the powers of these engines will as much exceed those pressed only by the air, as the expansive power of the steam is greater than the weight of the atmosphere. In other cases, when plenty of cold water cannot be had, I intend to work the engines by the force of steam only, and to discharge it into the air by proper outlets after it has done its office."—Watt to Small, March, 1769. Boulton MSS.


The telescope was mounted with two parallel horizontal hairs in the focus of the eyeglass, crossed by one perpendicular hair.  The measuring pole was divided into feet and inches, so that, wrote Watt, "if the hairs comprehend one foot at one chain distance they will comprehend ten feet at ten chains," and so on.  This invention Watt made in 1770, and used the telescope in his various surveys.  Eight years later, in 1778, the Society of Arts awarded to a Mr. Green a premium for precisely the same invention.


Letter to Small, 24th Nov., 1772. Watt, however, took no steps to bring this invention before the public, and in 1777, a similar instrument having been invented by Dr. Maskelyne, was Presented by him to the Royal Society.  Thus Watt also lost the credit of this invention.


The child was stillborn.  Of four other children who were the fruit of this marriage, two died young.  A son and daughter survived; the son, James, succeeded his father, and died unmarried, at Aston Hall, near Birmingham, in 1848. The daughter married Mr. Miller of Glasgow, whose grandson, the present J. W. Gibson Watt, Esq., succeeded to the Watt property.


The clocks, with several other articles, were sent out to Russia, and submitted to the Empress through the kindness of Earl Cathcart. His lordship, in communicating the result to Mr. Boulton, said—"I have the pleasure to inform you that her Imperial Majesty not only bought them all last week, but did me the honour to tell me that she was extremely pleased with them, and thought them superior in every respect to the French, as well as cheaper, which entitled them in all lights to a preference."


Pet names of his two children, Matthew Robinson and Anne Boulton.


These letters are without date, but we infer that they were written in the summer of 1767.


Boulton to the Duke of Richmond, April 8, 1770. The Duke was engaged at the time in preparing a set of machines for making the various experiments in Natural Philosophy described in S'Gravande's book.  The Duke was himself a good turner and worker in metal.


The manufactory was complete so far as regarded the hardware manufacture.  But additions were constantly being made to it; and, as other branches of industry were added, it became more than doubled in extent and accommodation.


Boulton to John Taylor, 23rd January, 1769. Boulton MSS.


On the 22nd May, 1765, Franklin writes to Boulton—"Mr. Baskerville informs me that you have lately had a considerable addition to your fortune, on which I sincerely congratulate you.  I beg leave to introduce my friend Dr. Small to your acquaintance and to recommend him to your civilities.  I would not take this freedom if I were not sure it would be agreeable to you; and that you will thank me for adding to the number of those who from their knowledge of you must respect you, one who is both an ingenious philosopher and a most worthy honest man.  If anything new in magnetism or electricity, or any other branch of natural knowledge, has occurred to your fruitful genius since I last had the pleasure of seeing you, you will, by communicating it, greatly oblige me."


Franklin to Boulton, March, 1766.  Boulton MSS.


Darwin to Boulton, March 11, 1766.  Boulton MSS.


Small to Watt, 18th April, 1769.  Boulton MSS.


Roebuck was at this time willing to admit Boulton as a partner in the patent, but only as respected the profits of engines sold in the counties of Warwick, Stafford, and Derby.  This Boulton declined, saying, "It would not be worth my while to make engines for three counties only; but it might be worth my while to make for all the world."


Watt to Small, 28th April, 1769.  Boulton MSS.


Watt to Small, l0th September, 1769.  Boulton MSS.


Watt to Small, 20th September, 1769.


Small informed Watt that it was intended to make an engine for the purpose of drawing- canal boats. "What Mr. Boulton and I," he wrote, "are very desirous of is to move canal boats by this engine ; so we have made this model of a size sufficient for that purpose.  We propose first to operate without any condenser, because coals are here exceedingly cheap, and because you can, more commodiously than we, make experiments on condensers, having several already by you.  Above 150 boats are now employed on these new waveless canals, so if we can succeed the field is not narrow."  This suggestion of working canal boats by steam immediately elicited a reply from Watt on the subject.  Invention was so habitual to him that a new method of employing power was no sooner hinted than his active mind at once set to work to solve the problem.  "Have you ever," he wrote Small, "considered a spiral oar for that purpose, or are you for two wheels?"  And to make his meaning clear he sketched out a rough but graphic outline of a screw propeller.  Small's reply was unfavourable, and little more was heard of the spiral oar until the invention of the Screw Steamboat.


Roebuck to Boulton, 12th February, 1770.


Small to Watt, 17th September, 1770.  Boulton MSS.


Watt to Small, 20th October, 1770.  Boulton MSS.


He then held an eighth share in the pottery, which brought him in about £70 a year clear.


Watt to Small, 30th August, 1772.  Boulton MSS.


Small to Watt, 16th November, 1772.  Boulton MSS.


Boulton to Watt, 29th March, 1773. Boulton MSS.


"As I found the engine at Kinneil perishing, and as it is from circumstances highly improper that it should continue there longer, and as I have nowhere else to put it, I have this week taken it to Pieces and packed up the ironwork, cylinder, and pump, ready to be shipped for London on its way to Birmingham, as the only place where the experiments can be completed with propriety.  I suppose the whole will not weigh above four tons. I have left the whole of the woodwork until we see what we are to do."—Watt to Small, l0th May, 1773.  Boulton MSS.


Watt to Small, 29th April, 1774.  Boulton MSS.


Richard Lovell Edgeworth says of this distinguished coterie,—"By means of Mr. Keir I became acquainted with Dr. Small of Birmingham, a man esteemed by all who knew him, and by all who were admitted to his friendship, beloved with no common enthusiasm.  Dr. Small formed a link which combined Mr. Boulton, Mr. Watt, Dr. Darwin, Mr, Wedgwood, Mr. Day, and myself together—men of very different characters, but all devoted to literature and science.  This mutual intimacy has never been broken but by death, nor have any of the number failed to distinguish themselves in science or literature.  Some may think that I ought with due modesty to except myself.  Mr. Keir, with his knowledge of the world and good sense; Dr. Small, with his benevolence and profound sagacity; Wedgwood, with his increasing industry, experimental variety, and calm investigation; Boulton, with his mobility, quick perception, and bold adventure; Watt, with his strong inventive faculty, undeviating steadiness, and bold resources; Darwin, with his imagination, science, and poetical excellence and Day, with his unwearied research after truth, his integrity and eloquence;—proved altogether such a society as few men have had the good fortune to live with; such an assemblage of friends as fewer still have had the happiness to possess, and keep through life."—Memoirs, i. 186.


Dr. Roebuck proposed to confine Boulton's profits to the engine business done only in three counties.  It will be observed that Boulton declined to negotiate on such a basis.


Boulton to Watt, 7th February, 1769.  Boulton MSS.


In a statement prepared by Mr. Boulton for the consideration of the arbitrators between himself and Fothergill as to the affairs of that firm, the following passage occurs:—"The first engine that was erected at Soho I purchased of Mr. Watt and Dr. Roebuck.  The cylinder was cast of solid grain tin, which engine, with the boiler, the valves, the condenser, and the pumps, were all sent from Scotland to Soho.  This engine was erected for the use of the Soho manufactory, and for the purpose of making experiments upon by Mr. Watt, who occupied two years of his time at Soho with that object, and lived there at Mr. Boulton's expense.  Nevertheless Mr. Watt often assisted Boulton and Fothergill in anything in his power, and made one journey to London upon their business, when he worked at adjusting and marking weights manufactured by Boulton and Fothergill."  In another statement of a similar kind, Mr. Boulton says—"The only fire-engine that was erected at Soho prior to Boulton and Watt obtaining the Act of Parliament was entirely made and erected in Scotland, and was removed here by sea, being part of my bargain with Roebuck.  All that were afterwards erected were for persons that ordered them, and were at the expense of erecting them."—Boulton MSS.


Watt to Boulton, 31st January, 1775.  Boulton MSS.


Bonds were given for the £1,000, but the assignees of Roebuck becoming impatient for the money, Boulton paid off the bonds in order to get rid of their importunity, long before any profits had been derived from the manufacture of the engines.


Boulton to Watt, 24th February, 1776.  Boulton MSS.


Watt was himself occupied, during his temporary residence at Broseley, in devising improvements in the details of his engine.  Boulton says:—"I observe you are thinking of making an inverted cylinder.  Pray how are you to counterbalance the descent of the piston and pump rods, which will be a vast weight?  If by a counter-weight, you gain nothing.  But if you can employ the power that arises from the descent of that vast weight to strain a spring that will repay its debts—if by it you can compress air in an iron cylinder which in its return will contribute to overcome the vis inertia of the column of water to be raised, you will thereby get rid of that unmechanical tax, and very much improve the reciprocating engine."—Boulton to Watt, 24th February, 1776. Boulton MSS.


Boulton to Watt, 23rd April, 1776.  Boulton MSS.


The arrangement between the partners is indicated by the following passage of Watt's letter to Boulton:—"As you may have possibly mislaid my missive to you concerning the contract, I beg just to mention what I remember of the terms.

"1.    I to assign to you two-thirds of the property of the invention.
"2.    You to pay all expenses of the Act or others incurred before June 1775 (the date of the Act), and also the expense of future experiments, which money is to be sunk without interest by you, being the consideration you pay for your share.
"3.    You to advance stock in trade bearing interest, but having no claim on me for any part of that, further than my intromissions the stock itself to be your security and property.
"4.     I to draw one-third of the profits so soon as any arise from the business, after paying the workmen's wages and goods furnished, but abstract from the stock in trade, excepting the interest thereof, which is to be deducted before a balance is struck.
"5.    I to make drawings, give directions, and make surveys, the company paying the travelling expenses to either of us when upon engine business.
"6.    You to keep the books and balance them once a year.
"7.    A book to be kept wherein to be marked such transactions as are worthy of record, which, when signed by both, to have the force of the contract.
"8.    Neither of us to alienate our share without consent of the other, and if either of us by death or otherwise shall be incapacitated from acting for ourselves, the other of us to be the sole manager without contradiction or interference of heirs, executors, assignees, or others; but the books to be subject to their inspection, and the acting partner of us to be allowed a reasonable commission for extra trouble.
"9.    The contract to continue in force for twenty-five years, from the 1st of June, 1775, when the partnership commenced, notwithstanding the contract being of later date.
"10.    Our heirs, executors, and assignees bound to observance.
"11.    In case of demise of both parties, our heirs, &c., to succeed in same manner, and if they all please they may burn the contract.

"If anything be very disagreeable in these terms, you will find me disposed to do everything reasonable for your satisfaction."—Boulton MSS.


During his Scotch visit Watt spent much of his time in arranging his father's affairs, which had got into confusion.  He was now seventy-five years old, and grown very infirm.  "He is perfectly incapable," wrote his son, "of giving himself the least help, and the seeing him in such a situation has much hurt my spirits."—Watt to Boulton, 28th July, 1776.  Boulton MSS.


Boulton to Watt (without date), 1776.  Boulton MSS.  In this letter Boulton throws out a suggestion for Watt's consideration—"When," he says, "we have got our two-foot pumps up, I think it would be right to try our Soho engine with a steam strong enough to work the pumps with the axis in the centre of the beam, which will be almost 19lbs. upon the inch."


Watt to Boulton, 3rd December, 1776.  Boulton MSS.


Fire-engines at work were objects of curiosity in those days, and had many visitors.  The engineman at the York Buildings reminded those who went to see his engine that something was expected, placing over the entrance to the engine-room the following distich:—

"Whoever wants to see the engine here
 Must give the engine-man a drop of beer,"


"Mr. White told me this morning as a great secret," wrote Boulton's London agent, "that he has reason to believe that Carless and Webb were going beyond sea, for Carless had told him he had £1,000 offered for six years, and he overheard Webb say that he was ready at an hour's warning."  Carless and Webb were immediately ordered back to Soho, and the firm obtained warrants for the apprehension of the men as well as of the person who had bribed them, if they attempted to abscond, "even though," said Watt to Boulton, "Carless be a drunken and comparatively useless fellow."  Later he wrote, "I think there is no risk of Webb's leaving us soon, and he offers to re-engage.  Carless has been working very diligently this week, and is well on with his nozzle patterns.  I mentioned to William the story of Sir John Fielding's warrant, to show him that we are determined to act with spirit in case of interlopers."—Watt to Boulton, May 3, 1777.


Robert Hart's 'Reminiscences of James Watt.'


A mine so called.  Many of the Cornish mines have very odd names.  "Cook's Kitchen," near Camborne, is one of the oldest and richest.  Another is called "Cupboard."  There are also Wheal Fannys and Wheal Abrahams; and Wheal Fortunes and Wheal Virgins in great numbers.


Watt to Boulton, 2nd and 8th July, 1778.  Boulton MSS.


While in Cornwall in the previous year, Watt wrote long letters to his partner as to certain experimental alterations of "Beelzebub."  This was the original engine brought from Kinneil, which continued to be the subject of constant changes.  "I send a drawing," he wrote on the 4th August, 1777, "of the best scheme I can at present devise for equalising the power of Beelzebub, and obliging him to save part of his youthful strength to help him forward in his old age.... As the head of one of the levers will rise higher than the roof, a hole must be cut for it, which may after trial be covered over.  If the new beam answer to be centred upon the end wall and to go out at a window, it will make the execution easy. . . . I long (he concluded) to have some particulars of Beelzebub's doings, and to learn whether he has got on his jockey coat yet [i.e. an outer cylinder], for till that be done you can form no idea of his perfection."  The engine continued to be the subject of repeated alterations, and was renewed, as Watt observed, like the Highlandman's gun, in stock, lock, and barrel.  After the occurrence of the above fire, we learn from Watt's MS. Memoir of Boulton, that "Beelzebub" was replaced by a larger engine, the first on the expansive principle, afterwards known by the name of "Old Bess."  This engine continued in its place long after the career of Boulton and Watt had come to an end; and in the year 1857 the present writer saw "Old Bess" working as steadily as ever, though eighty years had passed over her head.  The old engine has since found an honourable asylum in the Museum of Patents at South Kensington.


Watt to Boulton, 29th August, 1778.  Later, Watt wrote from Redruth, "I hope you will not take amiss my writing so positively on this subject of agreements; but really my faith in mankind will carry me no further, and if I can't get money, I'm resolved to save my bacon and to live in hunger and ease.  As it is, we don't get such a share of reputation as our works deserve, for every man who cheats us defames us in order to justify himself."—Watt to Boulton, 6th September, 1778.  Boulton MSS.


"With all the faults of the Cornish people, I think we have a better chance for tolerable honesty here than elsewhere, as, their meetings being public, they will not choose to expose themselves any further than strict dealing may justify ; and besides, there are generally too many to cabal."—Watt to Boulton, 29th August, 1778.  Boulton MSS.


During his absence Mr. Keir took charge of the works at Soho.  It had been intended to introduce him as a partner, and he left the glass-making concern at Stourbridge, into which he had entered, for the purpose; but when he came to look into the books of the Soho firm, he was so appalled by their liabilities that he eventually declined the connection.


Watt to Black, 12th December, 1778.


Watt to Boulton, 15th January, 1779.


The following is Watt's letter, written in a very unusual style:—

"Birmingham, June 30th, 1779.

Hallelujah! Hallelujee!
We have concluded with Hawkesbury,
£217 per annum from Lady-day last;
£275. 5s. for time past; £157 on account.
We make them a present of 100 guineas—
Peace and good-fellowship on earth—
Perrins and Evans to be dismissed—
3 more engines wanted in Cornwall—
Dudley repentant and amendant—
                               Yours rejoicing,


Watt wrote to Boulton, 2nd July, 1778,—"On the subject of Mr. Hall I should not have been so earnest had I not been urged on by the prospect of impending ruin, which may be much accelerated by a wicked or careless servant in his place."


Watt told Sir Walter Scott that though hundreds probably of his northern countrymen had sought employment at his establishment, he never could get one of them to become a first-rate mechanic.  "Many of them," said he, "were too good for that, and rose to be valuable clerks and book-keepers; but those incapable of this sort of advancement had always the same insuperable aversion to toiling so long at any one point of mechanism as to gain the highest wages among the workmen."—Note to Lockhart's 'Life of Scott.'  The fact, we suppose, was that the Scotch mechanics were only as yet in course of training,—the English having had a long start of them.  Though Watt's statement, that Scotchmen were incapable of being first-class mechanics, may have been true in his day, it is so no longer, as the workshops of the Clyde can prove; some of the most highly finished steam-engines of modern times being turned out of the Glasgow workshops.


The above anecdotes of Murdock's introduction to Soho, and the fight with the captains, were communicated by his son, the late Mr. Murdock of Sycamore Hill, near Birmingham.  He also informed us that Murdock fought a duel with Captain Trevithick (father of the Trevithick of Locomotive celebrity), in consequence of a quarrel between him and Watt, in which Murdock conceived his master to have been unfairly and harshly treated.


It appears from a statement prepared by Zaccheus Walker, the accountant of Boulton and Fothergill, that on an invested capital of about £20,000 the excess of losses over profits during the eighteen years ending 1780 had been upwards of £11,000; and that but for the capital and credit of Matthew Boulton, that concern must have broken down.


Some of the specimens in water-colour are to be seen at the Museum of Patents, South Kensington.  When the paper is moistened with the finger, the colour easily rubs off.  The subject of these pictures has been thoroughly sifted by M. P. W. Boulton, Esq., in his 'Remarks on some Evidence recently communicated to the Photographic Society' (Bradbury and Evans, 1864), apropos of the Papers of Mr. W. P. Smith on the same subject, in which it was surmised that they were the result of some photographic process.  Mr. Boulton clearly shows, from the original correspondence, that the process was mechanical colour-printing.


Watt to Dr. Black, 24th July, 1778.


Boulton to Watt, 14th May, 1780.  Boulton MSS.


His partner Fothergill would not, however, consent to let Boulton go, and the Soho business was continued until the death of Fothergill (bankrupt) in 1782, after which it was continued for some time longer under the firm of Boulton and Scale.


Mrs. Watt to Mr. Boulton, then in London, 15th April, 1781.  Boulton MSS.


Watt to Boulton, 31st October, 1780.  Boulton MSS.


Watt had made use of the crank at a very early period.  Thus we find him writing to Dr. Small on the 20th September, 1769,—"As to the condenser, I laid aside the spiral wheels because of the noise and thumping, and substituted a crank: in other respects it performed well enough.


The invention was patented by James Pickard, a Birmingham button-maker, on the 23rd August, 1780 (No. 1263).  Matthew Washborough, of Bristol, arranged with Pickard for employing it in the engine invented by him for securing circular motion.  Washborough's own patent has no reference to the crank, though he is usually named as the inventor of it.


At a later date we find him writing to his partner thus :—" I cannot agree with Mr. Palmer's notion about the crank-engine, as, though a crank is not new, yet that application of it is new and never was practised except by us. It is by no means our interest to demolish the crank patent, because then all our own machines of that kind will be of no use, and I am convinced that the crank can be made their superior."—Watt to Boulton, 15th October, 1781.


Watt to Boulton, 19th November, 1780.


Boulton and Watt were by this time employing their engine for a like purpose, as appears from a letter of Boulton to S. Wyatt, dated 28th February, 1781, in which he says,—"We are now applying our engines to all kinds of mills, such as corn-mills, rolling iron and copper, winding coals out of the pit, and every other purpose to which the wind or water mill is applicable.  In such applications, one hundred weight of coals will produce as much mechanical power as is equal to the work of ten men for ten hours, and these mills may be made very much more powerful than any water-mills in England."


Boulton to Watt, 21st June, 1781.


Watt to Boulton, 21st June, 1781.


While Boulton spoke good humouredly to his partner in Cornwall, with the object of cheering him up, he privately unbosomed himself to his friend Matthews in London.  When requesting him to call at once on the bankers and get the account reduced to an advance of £12,000, and thus obtain Mr. Watt's release, he complained of the distress which the communications of the latter had caused him.  He thought his conduct ungenerous, taking all the circumstances into account, and considering that the firm were within a year of being tolerably easy in money matters.  "When I reflect," he wrote, "on his situation in 1772 and my own at that time, and compare them with his and mine now, I think I owe him little. . . . I some time ago gave him a security of all my two-thirds, after paying off L. V. and W. [the bankers], from which you may judge how little reason he has to complain.  He talks of his duty to his wife and children; by the same rule I ought not to neglect mine.  His wife's fortune joined to his own did not amount to sixpence: my wife brought me in money and land £28,000.  I advanced him all he wanted without a security, but in return he is not content with an ample security for advancing nothing at all but what he derived from his connexion with me."—Boulton to Matthews, 28th June, 1781.  Boulton MSS.


Watt to Boulton, 16th July, 1781.


"Yesterday I went to Penryn and swore that I had invented 'certain new methods of applying the vibrating or reciprocating motion of steam or fire engines to produce a continued rotation or circular motion round an axis or centre, and thereby to give motion to the wheels of mills or other machines,' which affidavit and petition I transmit to Mr. Hadley by this post with directions to get it passed with all due expedition."—Watt to Boulton, 26th July, 1781.


Watt to Boulton, 28th July, 1781.


Watt to Boulton, 3oth July, 1781. Later he wrote,—"I am tired of making improvements which by some quirk or wresting of the law may be taken from us, as I think has been done in the case of Arkwright, who has been condemned merely because he did not specify quite clearly.  This was injustice, because it is plain that he has given this trade a being—has brought his invention into use and made it of great public utility.  Wherefore he deserved all the money he has got.  In my opinion his patent should not have been invalidated without it had clearly appeared that he did not invent the things in question.  I fear we shall be served with the same sauce for the good of the public! and in that case I shall certainly do what he threatens.  This you may be assured of, that we are as much envied here as he is at Manchester, and all the bells in Cornwall would be rung at our overthrow."—Watt to Boulton, 13th August, 1781.


Watt to Samuel Ewer, junr., 9th July, 1781.  Boulton MSS.


Watt to Boulton, 30th August, 1781.  Boulton MSS.


Watt to Boulton, 18th October, 1781.


Watt, in a letter to Boulton, dated the 3rd July, 1782, speaks of it as an old plan of his own "revived and executed by William Murdock"; but we were informed by the late Mr. Josiah Parkes, that at an interview which he had with Mr. Watt at Heathfield, at which Murdock was present, Murdock spoke of the Sun and Planet motion as his invention, which Watt did not contradict.  Boulton also attributed the invention to Murdock, as appears from his letter to Henderson, dated 22nd January, 1782; in which he says,—"Mr. Watt's packet is not ready.  I am to wait till his drawings [of the rotary motion] are completed, which he is executing himself.  There was some informality in those sent from Soho.  Besides, he has another rotative scheme to add, which I could have told him of long ago, when first invented by William Murdock, but I did not think it a matter of much consequence."


Watt to Boulton, 20th September, 1781.


Fothergill died insolvent in 1782.  Notwithstanding what he had suffered by the connexion, Boulton acted with great generosity towards Fothergill's family, and provided for his widow and orphan Children.


"I don't know a man in Cornwall amongst the adventurers," he wrote, "but what would think it patriotism to free the mines from the tribute they pay to us, and thereby divide our rights amongst their own dear selves.  Nevertheless, let us keep our tempers, and keep the firm hold we have got ; let us do justice, show mercy, and walk humbly, and all, I hope, will be right at last."—Boulton to Watt, 2nd November, 1782.


Boulton to Wyatt, 16th December, 1782.


The above illustration represents the first engine employed at Soho, with the alterations subsequently introduced, for the purpose of producing rotary motion.  It exhibits the original Sun and Planet motion, as specified in the patent of 1782, as well as the Governor and Parallel Motion, which were embodied in later patents.  This engine was called the Lap Engine from its having been used to drive the Lapidary wheels for polishing the various articles made at Soho.  This engine, like the pumping engine called "Old Bess," continued in regular working order down to the year 1858, and was afterwards placed among the collection of old engines in the South Kensington Museum.  The above illustration shows the state in which the Lap engine now stands.


Watt to Boulton, 30th June, 1784.  Boulton MSS.


The parallel motion was first put in practice in the engine erected for Mr. Whitbread; Watt informing Boulton (27th October, 1785) that "the parallel motion of Whitbread's answers admirably."


Boulton to Wilson, 16th December, 1784.  Boulton MSS.


Watt to Boulton, 24th September, 1785.


The Albion Mill engine was set to work in 1786.  The first rotative with a parallel motion in Scotland was erected for Mr. Stein, of Kennet Pans, near Alloa, in the following year.


In a letter to Mr. Matthews (3oth April, 1784) Boulton wrote,—"It seems the millers are determined to be masters of us and the public.  Putting a stop to fire-engine mills because they come into competition with water-mills is as absurd as stopping navigable canals would be because they interfere with farmers and waggoners.  The argument also applies to wind and tide mills, or any other means whereby corn can be ground.  So all machines should be stopped whereby men's labour is saved, because it might be argued that men were thereby deprived of a livelihood.  Carry out the argument, and we must annihilate water-mills themselves, and thus go back again to the grinding of corn by hand labour!"


Watt however, continued to adhere to his own views as to the superiority of the plan adopted:—"I am sorry to find," he observed in his reply to Boulton, "so many things are amiss at Albion Mill, and that you have lost your good opinion of double engines, while my opinion of them is mended.  The smoothness of their going depends on the steam regulators being opened a little before the vacuum regulators, and not opened too suddenly, as indeed the others ought not to be.  Otherwise the shock comes so violently in the opposite direction that no pins or brasses will stand it. Malcolm has no notion how to make gear work quietly, nor do I think he properly understands it.  You must therefore attend to it yourself, and not leave it until it is more perfect."—Watt to Boulton, 3rd March, 1786.


Watt to Boulton, l0th March, 1786.  Boulton MSS.


Watt wrote to Boulton from London, 1st October, 1789,—"I called on Wyatt (the architect) last night.  He says the mill sold above £4,000 worth of flour last week and is doing well."


For further particulars as to the Albion Mill, see Life of Rennie in 'Lives of the Engineers,' vol. ii.


Watt to Boulton, 23rd September, 1786.


Watt to his brother-in-law, Gilbert Hamilton, Glasgow, June 18, 1786.


"Mr. Watt hath lately remitted all his money to Scotland, and I have lately purchased a considerable quantity of copper at the request of Mr. Williams. . . . Besides which I have more than 45 tons of copper by me, 20 of which was bought of the Cornish Metal Company, and 20 of the Duke's at £70, and not an ounce of either yet used.  In short, I shall be in a very few weeks in great want of money, and it is now impossible to borrow in London or this neighbourhood, as all confidence is fled,"—Boulton to Wilson, 4th May, 1788.  MSS.


Boulton acted with his usual open-handed generosity in his partnership arrangements with Watt.  Although the original bargain between them provided that Boulton was to take two-thirds, and Watt one-third profits, Boulton providing the requisite capital and being at the risk and expense of all experiments, he subsequently, at Watt's request, agreed to the profits being equally divided between them.


As early as August, 1768, we find Dr. Small in one of his letters describing Edgeworth to Watt as "a gentleman of fortune, young, mechanical, and indefatigable, who has taken a resolution to move land and water carriages by steam, and has made considerable progress in the short space of time that he has devoted to the study."


Dr. Darwin to Boulton, April 5, 1778.  When the Doctor removed to Derby in 1782, he wrote—"I am here cut off from the milk of science, which flows in such redundant streams from your learned Lunatics, and which, I can assure you, is a very great regret to me."


Mrs. Schimmelpenninck, who had no sympathy for Dr. Priestley's religious views, nevertheless bears eloquent testimony to the beauty of his character.  She speaks of him as "a man of admirable simplicity, gentleness, and kindness of heart, united with great acuteness of intellect.  I can never forget," she says, "the impression produced on me by the serene expression of his countenance.  He, indeed, seemed ever present with God by recollection, and with man by cheerfulness. . . . A sharp and acute intellectual perception, often a pointed, perhaps a playful expression, was combined in him with a most loving heart. . . . Dr. Priestley always spent part of every day in devotional exercises and contemplation; and unless the railroad has spoilt it, there yet remains at Dawlish a deep and beautiful cavern, since known by the name of 'Dr. Priestley's cavern,' where he was wont to pass an hour every day in solitary retirement."—'Life of Mary Ann Schimmelpenninck.'


Boulton to Watt, 3rd July, 1781.  Dr. Black denominated carbonic acid gas "fixed air" because of his having first discovered it in chalk, marble, &c., wherein it was fixed until the furnace or other means extracted it from its fixture.


Boulton to Henderson, 6th September, 1781.


Wedgwood to Boulton, Etruria, 10th March, 1781.


Boulton to Wedgwood, 30th March, 1781.


Watt to Boulton, 26th October, 1782.


A common word in the north—meaning literally putting sense into one.


He discovered, in the course of his inquiries at different periods, no fewer than nine new gases—oxygen, nitrogen (a discovery also claimed by Cavendish and Rutherford), nitric oxide, nitrous oxide, sulphureous acid, muriatic acid (chlorine), volatile ammonia, fluosilicic acid, and carbonic oxide—"a tribute to science," as is truly observed by Dr. Henry, "greatly exceeding in richness and extent that of any contemporary."


Watt to Boulton, loth December, 1782.


Watt to Black, 21st April, 1783.


That Watt felt keenly on the subject is obvious from his letter to Mr. Fry of Bristol (15th May, 1784), wherein he says:—"I have had the honour, like other great men, to have had my ideas pirated.  Soon after I wrote my first paper on the subject, Dr. Blagden explained my theory to M. Lavoisier at Paris; and soon after that, M. Lavoisier invented it himself, and read a paper on the subject to the Royal Academy of Sciences. Since that, Mr. Cavendish has read a paper to the Royal Society on the same idea, without making the least mention of me.  The one is a French financier; and the other a member of the illustrious house of Cavendish, worth above £100,000, and does not spend £1,000 a year.  Rich men may do mean actions.  May you and I always persevere in our integrity, and despise such doings."


Watt to Boulton, 20th September, 1785.


Watt to Boulton, 30th December, 1787.  Boulton MSS.


'Voyage en Angleterre, en Ecosse, et aux Iles Hébrides.'  Par B. Faujas-Saint-Fond.  2 vols.  Paris, 1797.


Horner's 'Memoirs and Correspondence,' ii. 2.


The word "Brummagem" doubtless originated in the numerous issues of counterfeit money from the Birmingham mints.


The punishment for this crime was sometimes of a brutal character.  In March,. 1789, a woman, convicted of coining in London, was first strangled by the stool on which she stood being taken from under her, after which she was fixed to a stake and burnt before the debtor's door at Newgate!


Boulton to Woodman, 13th November, 1789.


To Lord Hawkesbury he wrote (14th April, 1789):—"In the course of my journeys I observe that I receive upon an average two-thirds counterfeit halfpence for change at toll-gates, &c. ; and I believe the evil is daily increasing, as the spurious money is carried into circulation by the lowest class of manufacturers, who pay with it the principal part of the wages of the poor people they employ.  They purchase from the subterraneous coiners 36 shillings'-worth of copper (in nominal value) for 20 shillings, so that the profit derived from the cheating is very large.  The trade is carried on to so great an extent that at a public meeting at Stockport, in Cheshire, in January last, the magistrates and inhabitants came to a resolution to take no other halfpence in future than those of the Anglesey Company [also an illegal coinage, though of full weight and value of copper], and this resolution they have published in their newspapers."


The coins were: in 1790, a five-sous piece, "Pacte Fédératif"; in 1792, a four-sous "Hercule"; and a two-sous "Liberté."


The following were the principal provincial halfpenny tokens executed at Soho: 1789, Cronebane and Dundee; 1791, Anglesey, Cornwall, Glasgow, Hornchurch, Southampton; 1793, Leeds, London, Penryn, John Wilkinson's; 1794, Inverness, Lancaster; 1795, Bishops Stortford; 1800, Enniscorthy.


The following medals were also struck by Mr. Boulton at Soho:—Prince and Princess of Wales on their marriage; Marquis Cornwallis on the peace with Tippoo; Earl Howe on his victory of the First of June; Hudson's Bay Company; Slave Trade abolished; Chareville Forest; General Suwarrow on his successes in Italy; the Empress Catherine of Russia; in commemoration of British Victories; Union with Ireland; on the Peace of 1802; Battle of Trafalgar; Manchester and Salford Volunteers; Frogmore Medal; Prince Regent of Portugal; and the Emperor Alexander of Russia.  The execution of the Trafalgar Medal furnishes a remarkable illustration of Boulton's princely munificence.  It was struck on the occasion of Lord Nelson's last victory, and was presented by him, with the sanction of Government, to every officer and man engaged in the action.  He gave an additional value to the present by confining the medal to this purpose only.


Boulton to Wilson, 26th February, 1792.  Boulton MSS.


There was a great deal of graphic vigour in Watt's correspondence about engines. Thus, in the case of an engine supplied to F. Scott and Co. to drive a hammer, it appears that instead of applying it to the hammer only, they applied it also to blow the bellows. The consequence was, that it worked both badly. They had also increased the weight of the hammer. Watt wrote:—"It was easy to foresee all this ; and the only adequate remedy is to have another engine to blow the bellows. It is impossible that a regular blast can be had while the engine works the hammer and bellows, without a regulating belly as big as a church. . . . They have been for having a pocket bible in large print. If they mean to carry on their work regular, they must have a blowing engine otherwise they will lose the price of one in a few months."


Watt to Boulton, 27th June, 1790.


"I have sent my son to Mr. Wilkinson's ironworks at Bersham, in Wales, where he is to study practical book-keeping, geometry, and algebra, at his leisure hours; and three hours in the day he works in a carpenter's shop.  I intend he should stay there a year; what I shall do with him next I know not, but I intend to fit him for some employment not so precarious as my own."—Watt to Mrs. Campbell, 30th May, 1784.


Watt, jun., to Boulton, 4th December, 1789.  Boulton MSS.


Watt, jun., to Boulton, 26th March, 1789.


'Life of Mary Ann Schimmelpenninck,' 3rd ed., 1859, pp. 125-6.


'Life of Mary Ann Schimmelpenninck,' 3rd edit., 1859, p. 118.


"The address of the Societe des Amis de la Constitution de Bordeaux" to the Revolutionary Society in London, dated the 21st May, 1791, contains the following passage:—"Le jour consacré a porter le deuil de M. Price [the Rev. Dr. Price, recently dead,—an ardent admirer of the French Revolution in its early stages], nous avons entendu la lecture du Discours de M. l'Evêque d'Autun sur la Liberté des Cultes: on nous a fait ensuite le rapport des ouvrages de MM. Priestley et Paine qui ont vengé M. Price des ouvrages de M. Burke; et c'est ainsi que nous avons fait son oraison funèbre.  Peut-être, Messieurs, apprendrez vows avec quelque intérêt, que nous avons inscrit daps la liste de nos Membre les noms de MM. Paine et Priestley; c'est l'hommage de notre estime, et l'estime d'hommage de libres a toujours son prix."


The representation given above of Dr. Priestley's house is taken from a rare book, entitled 'Views of the Ruins of the principal Houses destroyed during the Riots at Birmingham, 1791.'  London, 1792.


"At midnight," says Hutton, "I could see from my house the flames of Bordesley Hall rise with dreadful aspect.  I learned that after I quitted Birmingham the mob attacked my house there three times.  My son bought them off repeatedly; but in the fourth, which began about nine at night, they laboured till eight the next morning, when they had so completely ravaged my dwelling that I write this narrative in a house without furniture, without roof, door, chimneypiece, window or window-frame."—'The Life of William Hutton,' written by himself.  London, 1816.


"Though our principles, which are well known, as friends to the established government and enemies of republican principles, should have been our protection from a mob whose watchword was Church and King, yet our safety was principally owing to most of the Dissenters living south of the town; for after the first moments they did not seem over nice in their discrimination of religion and principles.  I, among others, was pointed out as a Presbyterian, though I never was in a meeting-house in Birmingham, and Mr. Boulton is well known as a Churchman.  We had everything most portable packed up, fearing the worst.  However, all is well with us."—Watt to De Luc, 19th July, 1791.


The 'Discours' delivered by the MM. Cooper and Watt (1792) may be seen at the British Museum.


'Life of Southey,' vi. 209.


Watt to Boulton, 16th May, 1794.  Boulton MSS. The Habeas Corpus Act was suspended on the 23rd May, 1794.


Watt to Boulton, l0th March, 1796.


"We have WON THE CAUSE hollow," Watt wrote from London.  "All the Judges have given their opinions carefully in our favour, and have passed judgment.  Some of them made better arguments in our favour than our own counsel, for Rous's speech was too long and too divergent.  I most sincerely give you joy."—Watt to Boulton, 25th January, 1799.


The model was carefully preserved and exhibited with pride by his son, in whose house at Handsworth we saw it in 1857.


Watt said to Robert Hart, "When Mr. Murdock introduced the slide valve, I was very much against it, as I did not think it so good as the poppet valve, but I gave in from its simplicity."—Hart, 'Reminiscences,' &c.


These several inventions were embodied by him in a patent taken out in 1799.


'Philosophical Transactions,' 1808, pp. 124-132.


Many years later (in 1818), when Murdock was at Manchester for the purpose of starting one of Boulton and Watt's engines, he was invited, with Mr. William Fairbairn, to dine at Medlock Bank, then at some distance from the lighted part of the town.  "It was a dark winter's night," writes Mr. Fairbairn, our informant, "and how to reach the house over such bad roads was a question not easily solved.  Mr. Murdock, however, fruitful in resources, went to the Gas Works (then established in Manchester), where he filled a bladder which he had with him, and, placing it under his arm like a bagpipe, he discharged through the stem of an old tobacco-pipe a stream of gas which enabled us to walk in safety to Medlock Bank."


Watt here alluded to the new machinery and plant erected at Soho under Murdock's directions, at a cost of about £5,000 for the purpose of manufacturing gas apparatus.


The invention of lighting by gas has by some writers been erroneously attributed to Winsor.  It will be observed, from the statement in the text, that coal-gas had been in regular use long before the appearance of his scheme, which was one of the most crude and inflated ever brought before the public.  "The Patriotic Imperial and National Light and Heat Company" proposed amongst other things to aid and assist Government with funds in times of emergency, to increase the Sinking-fund for reducing the National Debt, to reward meritorious discoverers, &c. &c.  Some idea of the character of the project may be formed from Mr. [Lord] Brougham's speech in opening the case against the Bill:—"'The (net) annual profits,' says Mr. Winsor, agreeable to the official experiments' (that is, the experiments of Mr. Accum . . . . ) 'amount to £229,353,627.' . . . . Now Mr. Winsor says, that he will allow there may be an error here, for the sake of arguing with those who still have their doubts; and he will admit that the sum should be taken at only one half, or £114,845,294; and then giving up, to meet all possible objections, nine-tenths of that sum, still there will remain, to be paid to the subscribers of this Company, a yearly profit of £570 for every £5 of deposit! So that upon paying £5 every subscriber is to receive £570 a year for ever, and this to the last farthing; it may increase, but less it can never be; the clear profit is always to be above £10,000 per cent. upon the capital!"


The first application of the "Gas-light and Coke Company" to Parliament in 1809 for an Act proved unsuccessful, but the "London and Westminster Chartered Gas-light and Coke Company" succeeded in the following year.  The Company, however, did not succeed commercially, and was on the point of dissolution, when Mr. Clegg, a pupil of Murdock, bred at Soho, undertook the management and introduced new and improved apparatus.  Mr. Clegg first lighted with gas Mr. Ackerman's shop in the Strand in 1810, and it was regarded as a great novelty.  One lady of rank was so much delighted with the brilliancy of the gas-lamp fixed on the shop-counter, that she asked to be allowed to carry it home in her carriage, and offered any sum for a similar one.  Mr. Winsor, by his persistent advocacy of gas-lighting, did much to bring it into further notice: but it was Mr. Clegg's practical ability that mainly led to its general adoption.  When Westminster Bridge was first lit up with gas in 1812, the lamplighters were so disgusted with it that they struck work, and Mr. Clegg himself had to act as lamplighter.


"It consisted," says Mr. Buckle, "of a piston working in a cylinder io feet diameter in water, with a lift of 12 feet, and raised by forcing in air from a small blowing cylinder 12 inches diameter, 18 inches stroke, which was worked by the gearing in the boring-mill." Paper read by the late William Buckle at the institution of Mechanical Engineers at Birmingham, 23rd October, 1850.


Lockhart's ' Life of Scott,' one vol. edition, p. 500.


The first piece of iron-toothed gearing ever cast is placed on the lawn in front of Murdock's villa.  The teeth are of a somewhat unequal form, and the casting is rough—perhaps it has been exposed to rough usage.  It bears the following inscription: "This Pinton was cast at Carron Ironworks for John Murdock, of Bellow Mill, Ayrshire, A.D. 1760, being the first tooth-gearing ever used in millwork in Great Britain."


Mr. Buckle says,—"So completely was he absorbed at all times with the subject he had in hand, that he was quite regardless of everything else.  When in London explaining to the brewers the nature of his substitute for isinglass, he occupied handsome apartments.  He, however, little respected the splendour of his drawing. room, and, fancying himself in his laboratory at Soho, he proceeded with his experiments quite careless and unconscious of the mischief he was doing.  One morning his landlady, calling in to receive his orders, was horrified to see her magnificent paper-hangings covered with wet fish-skins hung up to dry; and he was caught in the act of pinning up a cod's skin to undergo the same process.  Whether the lady fainted or not is not on record, but the immediate ejectment of the gentleman and his fish was the consequence."


The young partners regarded him with a degree of affection and veneration which often shows itself in their correspondence.  Towards the later years of his life Mr. Murdock's faculties gradually decayed, and he wholly retired from the business of Soho, dying at his house at Sycamore Hill, Handsworth, on the 15th Nov., 1839, in his 85th year.


Boulton to Dumergue, 25th December, 1800.


Lockhart's 'Life of Scott,' 8vo. ed., p. 457.  One of Scott's visits to Soho was made in company with his wife in the spring of 1803.


Robison to Watt, 3rd February, 1797.


Lord Cockburn's 'Memorials,' p. 51.


It is a remarkable fact that Dr. Priestley was regarded with as much suspicion in America as he had been in England.  The American Government looked upon him as a spy in the interest of France; and he had great difficulty in forming a Unitarian congregation.  The horror of the French Revolution, which had extended to America, was the cause of the hostile feeling displayed towards him.  "The change that has taken place," he said, in a letter dated 6th September, 1798, "is indeed hardly credible, as I have done nothing to provoke resentment; but, being a citizen of France, and a friend of the Revolution, is sufficient.  I asked one of the more moderate of the party whether he thought, if Dr. Price, the great friend of their own Revolution, were alive, he would now be allowed to come into this country.  He said he believed he would not!"  In 1801 Dr. Priestley, by deed of trust, appointed Matthew Boulton, Samuel Galton, and Wm. Vaughan, Esqrs., trustees for Mrs. Finch (his daughter) and her children, in respect of £1,200 invested for their benefit in public securities.


Beattie's 'Life of Campbell,' i. 112.


Letter to M. R. Morehead, 7th May, 1796.


'Philosophical Transactions,' xcix. 279.


J. Watt, jun., to M. R. Boulton, 8th June, 1804.


Watt to Boulton, Sidmouth, 14th October, 1804.


Watt to Boulton, Exeter, 22nd October, 1804.


Muirhead's 'Mechanical Inventions of James Watt,—Correspondence,' ii. 269.


One of these, thrown out in a letter to Watt, may be mentioned—a speculation since revived by the late Dr. S. Brown of Edinburgh,—the transmutation of bodies. "These are wonderful steps," said he, "which are every day making in chemical analysis.  The analysis of the alkalis and alkaline earths by Guyton, by Henry, and others, will presently lead, I think, to the doctrine of a reciprocal convertibility of all things into all.  It brings to mind a minister lecturing on the first chapter of one of the Gospels, when, after reading, 'Adam begat Abel, and Abel begat,' &c.,-- to save himself the trouble of so many cramp names, he said, 'and so they all begat one another to the 15th verse.'  I expect to see alchemy revive, and be as universally studied as ever."


De Luc to Boulton, Windsor Castle, 25th January, 1807.  It had been arranged that George III., the Queen, and the Princesses, should pay a visit to Soho in 1805, though the King had by that time become quite blind.  When told of Boulton's illness, and that he was confined to bed, his Majesty replied, "Then I will visit Mr. Boulton in his sick chamber" (MS. Memoir by Mr. Keir).  The royal visit was eventually put off, the Council advising that the King should go direct to Weymouth and nowhere else.


The following is the inscription on the mural monument erected to his memory in the side aisle of Handsworth Church, in the composition of which James Watt assisted:—

Sacred to the Memory of
By the skilful exertion of a mind turned to Philosophy and Mechanics,
The application of a Taste correct and refined,
And an ardent Spirit of Enterprize, he improved, embellished, and extended
The Arts and Manufactures of his Country,
Leaving his Establishment of Soho a noble Monument of his
Genius, Industry, and Success.
The Character his talents had raised, his Virtues adorned and exalted.
Active to discern Merit, and prompt to relieve Distress,
His Encouragement was liberal, his Benevolence unwearied.
Honoured and admired at home and abroad,
He closed a life eminently useful, the 17th of August, 1809, aged 81,
Esteemed, loved, and lamented.


The monument to Boulton is on the left-hand of the altar in the above illustration; that of Murdock is opposite to it, on the right.


Boulton to De Luc, 20th October, 1787.


Boulton MSS.  The Memoir is dated Glasgow the 17th September, 1809, at which period Watt was in his 73rd year.  It had evidently been written at the request of M. Robinson Boulton, shortly after his father's death.  We find various testimony to the same effect as the above in the Soho papers.  Thus Mr. Peter Ewart, C.E., speaks of Mr. Boulton's remarkable quickness in selecting objects to which machinery might be applied with advantage, and of his great promptitude and determination in carrying his plans into effect.  He also describes the contagiousness of his example, which strengthened the weak and inspired the timid.  "He possessed," says Mr. Ewart, "above all other men I have ever known, the faculty of inspiring others with a portion of that ardent zeal with which he himself pursued every important object he had in view; and it was impossible to be near him without becoming warmly interested in the success of his enterprises.  The urbanity of his manners, and his great kindness to young people in particular, never failed to leave the most agreeable impression on the minds of all around him; and most truly may it be said that he reigned in the hearts of those that were in his employment."


Boulton to M. Vanlinder, Rotterdam, 24th April, 1788.


Lord Brougham's 'Lives of Philosophers of the Time of George III.'  The Friday Club of Edinburgh was so called because of the evening of the week on which it met and supped.  It numbered amongst its members Professor Playfair, Walter Scott, Henry Brougham, Francis Jeffrey, Leonard Horner, Lord Corehouse, Sir W. Drummond, and others known to fame.  Watt was a regular attendee of the Club during his Edinburgh visits.


In 1808 Mr. Watt made over £300 to the University by Deed of Gift, for the purpose of founding a prize for students in Natural Science, as some acknowledgment of "the many favours" which the College had conferred upon him.  In 1816 he gave to the town of Greenock £100 for the purpose of purchasing books for the Mathematical School.  "My intention in this donation," he observed in his letter to Mr. Anderson of Greenock, "is to form the beginning of a scientific library, for the instruction of the youth of Greenock ; and I hope it will prompt others to add to it, and to render my townsmen eminent for their spirit of enterprise."  Watt's idea has since been carried out by his townsmen, and the Watt Library is now one of the most valuable institutions of Greenock.  It ought to be added, the erection of the building was mainly due to the munificence of Mr. Watt's son, the late James Watt, Esq., of Aston Hall, near Birmingham.  A marble statue of Watt, by Chantrey, is placed in the Library, with an inscription from the pen of Lord Jeffrey.


Answer by the author of 'Waverley' to the Epistle Dedicatory of 'The Monastery.


'Autobiography of Mrs. Schimmelpenninck,' 3rd ed. p. 35.


The following anecdote is told by Mrs. Schimmelpenninck:—"During the peace of Amiens, Mr. Watt visited Paris.  It so happened that while going through one of the palaces, I believe the Tuileries, a French housemaid appeared much perplexed concerning some bright English stoves which had just been received, and which she did not know how to clean.  An English gentleman was standing by, to whom she appealed for information.  This was Charles James Fox.  He could give no help; 'But,' said he, 'here is a fellow-countryman of mine who will tell you all about it.'  This was Mr. Watt, to whom he was at the moment talking; and who proceeded to give the housemaid full instructions as to the best mode of cleaning her grate.  This anecdote I have often heard Mrs. Watt tell with great diversion."


Lord Brougham says, "His voice was deep and low, and if somewhat monotonous, it yet seemed in harmony with the weight and the beauty of his discourse, through which, however, there also ran a current of a lighter kind; for he was mirthful, temperately jocular, nor could anything to more advantage set off the living anecdotes of men and things, with which the grave texture of his talk was interwoven, than his sly and quiet humour; both of mind and look, in recounting them."—'Lives of Philosophers of the time of George III.'


"I remember, as a young girl," she says, "the pleasant dinners and people I have seen at Soho.  I remember being present one day when Bertrand de Moleville, the exiled minister of Louis XVI., left the dinner-table to make an omelette, which was, of course, pronounced 'excellent.'  That man then gave me a lifelong lesson,–of the power of enjoyment and of giving pleasure by his cheerful bright manner and conversation, under such sad circumstances as exile and poverty.  I looked at him with great admiration, and I have his face distinct before me now, though I saw him only that once."


The following is the inscription:—

Not to perpetuate a Name
Which must endure while the Peaceful Arts flourish,
But to show
That Mankind have learned to honour those
Who best deserve their gratitude,
The King,
His Ministers, and many of the Nobles
and Commoners of the Realm,
Raised this Monument to
Who directing the Force of an Original Genius
Early exercised in Philosophic Research
To the Improvement of
The Steam Engine,
Enlarged the Resources of his Country,
Increased the Power of Man,
And rose to an Eminent Place
Among the most illustrious Followers of Science,
And the real Benefactors of the World.
Born at Greenock, 1736.
Died at Heathfield, in Staffordshire, 1819.


E. M. Bataille, 'Traité des Machines à Vapeur.' Paris, 1847-49.




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