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the spout, and catching and counting the drops of water" formed by condensation. It appears that when thus blamed his active mind was engaged in investigating the condensation of steam.

Who among us, if we had been placed in the same circumstances as Mrs Muirhead, would not in the year 1750 have resorted to the same language? But the world since that time has advanced, and our knowledge has increased. Moreover, when I shall speedily explain that the principal discovery of our associate consisted in a particular method of converting steam into water, Mrs Muirhead's reproaches will appear to us in a very different light; the boy pondering before the teakettle will be viewed as the great engineer preparing discoveries which were soon to immortalize him; and it cannot but appear remarkable that the words condensation of steam should come, as it were, naturally to present themselves in the history of the infancy of Watt. I have the more willingly alluded to this singular anecdote, because, for its own sake, it richly merits preservation. And, as the occasion has presented itself, let us impress on youth that it was not modesty alone which prompted the response of Newton, when, in reply to a certain great personage who inquired how the principle of gravity was discovered, he answered, " By always thinking of it" Let us point out, in these simple words of the great author of the Principia, what is the true secret of men of genius.

The extraordinary felicity of anecdote with which our associate, for fifty years, delighted all those with whom he associated, very early developed itself. The proof of this will be found in a few lines which I extract from an unpublished note written in the year 1798 by Mrs Marion Campbell, the cousin


and youthful companion of the celebrated engineer.* He was not fourteen, when his mother brought him to Glasgow to visit a friend of hers; his brother John accompanied him. On Mrs Watt's return to Glasgow some weeks after, her friend said, "You must take your son James home; I cannot stand the degree of excitement he keeps me in; I am worn out for want of sleep. Every evening before ten o'clock, our usual hour of retiring to rest, he contrives to engage me in conversation, then begins some striking tale, and, whether humorous or pathetic, the interest is so overpowering, that the family all listen to him with breathless attention, and hour after hour strikes unheeded."

James Watt had a younger brother, John,† who, having determined to follow the career of his father, left the other, according to the Scottish custom, at liberty to indulge his own taste in selecting his profession. In the present case, however, this was unusually difficult, for the young student prosecuted almost every branch of science with equal success. The banks of Loch Lomond, already so celebrated by the recollections of the historian Buchanan, and by those of the illustrious inventor of Logarithms, developed his taste for the

* I am indebted for this curious document to my friend Mr James Watt of Soho. Thanks to the profound veneration he has preserved for the memory of his illustrious father, and still more to the exhaustless kindness with which he has answered all my inquiries, I have through his means been able to avoid various inaccuracies which have found their way into the most esteemed biographies, and which I myself, from partial information, had not been able at first to avoid.

† He perished in one of his father's vessels when sailing from Greenock to America, in 1762, aged 23.

beauties of nature and for botany. His rambles among the mountain-scenery of Scotland made him perceive that the inert crust of the globe was not less worthy of attention, and he became a geologist. James also took advantage of his frequent intercourse with the humbler classes in those enchanting regions, for the purpose of decyphering their local traditions, their popular ballads, and their wild prejudices. When his state of health confined him to his father's dwelling, it was chiefly chemistry which formed the subject of his investigations. s'Gravesande's Elements of Natural Philosophy initiated him also into the thousand marvels of general physics; and finally, like all valetudinarians, he devoured such works on medicine and surgery as he could procure. These last sciences had so much excited his interest, that he was one day detected conveying into his room the head of a child which had died of some obscure disease, that he might take occasion to dissect it.

Watt, however, did not devote himself either to botany or to mineralogy, to literature or poetry, or chemistry, or physics, or medicine, although he was so well prepared for the prosecution of any one of these various studies. In the year 1755 he went to London, and there placed himself under the instructions of Mr John Morgan, mathematical and nautical instrument-maker in Finch Lane, Cornhill. The man who was about to cover England with engines, in comparison with which, so far at least as effects are concerned, the antique and colossal machine of Marly is but a pigmy, commenced his career by constructing, with his own hands, instruments which were fine, delicate, and fragile,-those small but admirable reflecting sextants to which navigation is so much indebted for its progress. He did not continue with Mr Morgan much

above a twelvemonth, and " in the year 1757 went to settle in Glasgow, as a maker of mathematical instruments; but being molested by some of the corporations, who considered him as an intruder on their privileges, the University protected him, by giving him a shop within their precincts, and by conferring on him the title of mathematical instrument maker to the University."* There are still in existence some small instruments which were at this time made entirely by Watt's own hands, and they are of very exquisite workmanship. I may add, that his son has lately shewn me the first designs of the steam-engine, and they are truly remarkable for the delicacy and precision of the drawing. It was not without reason, whatever may be said of it, that Watt spoke with complacency of his manual dexterity. Perhaps you will think me over scrupulous in thus claiming for our associate a merit which adds but little to his glory. But I confess that I never listen to a pedantic enumeration of the qualities of which able men have been destitute, without thinking of that would-be general in Louis XIV.'s time, who always carried his right shoulder high, because Prince Eugene had this deformity, and imagined that imitating him in this point, it was unnecessary to carry the resemblance any farther.

Watt had scarcely attained his twenty-first year when he was thus connected with the University of Glasgow. His principal friends on the occasion were Adam Smith, the author of The Wealth of Nations; Dr Black, whose discoveries respecting latent heat and the carbonate of lime have placed him among the first chemists of the eighteenth century; and Robert Simson, the celebrated restorer of the most important

*MS. of Dr Black.

works of the ancient geometricians.*

These eminent men at first only considered that they had relieved from the vexatious annoyances of the corporations, an expert, zealous, and agreeable workman; but they soon discovered that he was, moreover, a remarkable man, and expressed towards him the warmest friendship. The youth attending the University also considered it an honour to be admitted to his intimacy; so that his shop-I repeat, his shop became a kind of academy whither the most eminent persons in Glasgow resorted, to talk over the most difficult questions of art, science, and literature. Nor, in truth, should I venture to describe to you the part that the young workman of twenty-one took in these discussions, if I could not do so in the unpublished words of one of the most illustrious contributors to the Encyclopædia Britannica. " I had always, from my earliest youth," writes the late Professor Robison," a great relish for the natural sciences, and particularly for mathematical and mechanical philosophy. When I was introduced by Drs Simson, Dick, and Moor, gentlemen eminent for their mathematical abilities, to Mr Watt, I saw a workman, and expected no more; but was surprised to find a philosopher, as young as myself, and always ready to instruct me. I had the vanity to think myself a pretty good proficient in my favourite study, and was rather mortified at finding Mr Watt so much my superior. . . . Whenever any puzzle came in the way of any of the young students, we went to Mr Watt. He needed only to be prompted; for every thing became to him the beginning of a new and serious study,

To these it is only an act of justice to add Dr Dick, Professor of Natural Philosophy, of whose merits Professor Robison and Watt always spoke in terms of eulogy.-EDIT.

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