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fresh steam admitted for the following merely because a stream of water stroke of the machine was wasted in could there be obtained to turn a mill. restoring the temperature. This ra- Yet one of the improved engines, dical defect being thus obvious, which does not cost above L.500, the inventive mind of Mr Watt re. would turn more machinery than the quired only a little time and experi- brook, to obtain the advantage of ence to discover a remedy. He first which Mr Boulton expended more thought of having'a wooden cylinder than L.10,000. instead of a metal one; but many phy- After Mr Watt had found the ad. sical difficulties caused him almost vantage of condensing the steam unimmediately to abandon that plan, der the piston in a separate vessel, and he soon hit on the happy idea be considered that the cylinder was of letting the steam pass into a sepa- still cooled by the air when the piston rate vessel, where it should be con- descended. To avoid this, he shut densed by the jet of water : by which up the top of the cylinder, and inmeans the cylinder would never be stead of letting the piston be pressed cooled, and consequently no steam down by the weight of the atmowould be lost in restoring its tempe. sphere, he pressed it down by the rature.
force of steam, and restored the Amongst Mr Watt's acquaintances equilibrium by opening a communiat this time was Dr Roebuck, a man cation between the upper and lower of considerable merit, and possessed side of the piston. of some property. This gentleman This was a second and great im. saw the value of the discovery, andas. provement: and all that was done sociated himself with the discoverer, afterwards in the reciprocating for the purpose of bringing it to per- steam-engine, was only to render fection; but it was not till the year the construction more perfect and 1769, that he reduced it to practice, at the management easier. There was Kinniel, near Borrowstoupness, where no departure from this principle ; the Doctor then resided, and tookout but it may be proper to observe, that letters. patent for his “. Method of the steam employed by Mr Watt to lessening the Consumption of Steam depress the piston was never above and Fuel in Fire Engines.” But one.tenth stronger than the atmo. Dr Roebuck's losses in other con- sphere. What are now termed highcerns causing a suspension of pro- pressure engines, were not at all in ceedings, Mr Boulton, in the year use; and Mr Watt, at that time, dis1773, became acquainted with the bu- approved highly of working with siness. His knowledge of' mechanics steam much above the strength of enabled him to appreciate the inven- the atmosphere. tion; and the spirit of enterprise, to- The terms on which the engine gether with the fortune he possess. was offered to the proprietors of ed, induced him to engage in it with mines, were advantageous and well ardour. Dr Roebuck was reimbursed imagined. A set of trials, or expewith interest ; and Mr Watt, having riments, were made with Newcolost his wife, removed to Birming- men's old engine and Mr Watt's ham, where he was indefatigable in new one, to ascertain the saving in the bringing to perfection the engine fuel consumed ; and Messrs Boulton that he had invented.
and Watt were only to be paid oneActhe expence of about L.20,000, third of the value of the coals saved. a manufactory was built, on a barren That saving was estimated according spot at Soho, near Birmingham, to the number of strokes and the
size of the cylinder ; and a counter written a treatise on Vaccination being placed on the top of the beam without introducing the name of or lever, to tell the number of strokes, Jenner, or a history of the discovery the quantity of coal saved was thus of Universal Gravitation, or of the ascertained; and, according to the Method of Fluxions, without ever reprice of coals at the place, Messrs collecting the existence of Newton ! Boulton and Watt were paid.
The steam-engine, as invented by. One of the greatest obstacles to Newcomen, and improved by Mr the introduction of a new and expen- Watt, had only been employed as a sive invention, is, that those who reciprocrating power for drawing have laid out large sums on machi. water; and, indeed, until it was imnery are not willing to incur a fresh proved by Mr Watt, it was too exexpense ; but this obstacle was o. pensive for any purpose where anovercome by the great liberality of ther power could be obtained. Messrs Boulton and Watt, who, at But when Mr Watt had overcome first, used to take the materials of the difficulties as to the reciprocatthe old engine in part payment at ing engine, and had rendered it less a price far beyond their value, and expensive, he thought of various gave credit for the remainder, till methods of converting the reciprothe advantage should be felt. With cating power into a rotative one. It such difficulties had two great men appears, however, that to inventors to struggle, who, in the end, acquir- the most complicated mode of aced great fortunes for themselves, en- complishing a purpose generally ocriched their country, and, in some curs first, and that simplicity is obmeasure, enabled it to sustain a war tained by length of time and experiof more than twenty years against ence, The spinning-wheel, with its Dearly the whole of the civilized crank and Ay, indicates the plan that world.
ought to have been imitated; but Mr Mr Watt came to settle at Bir. Watt, though he meant to employ the mingham in 1773, but it was 1778 crank, wished to make an improvebefore the invention began to be ap- ment, by having on a second axle a flypreciated. In 1789 the Perriers of wheel, with a heavy side, to revolve Paris applied for an engine to raise twice whilst the engine made a stroke; water for that city; and the steam- the heavy side being intended to be engine at Challiot was made at Bire always in the act of descending, when mingham, and sent over in parts, to the piston was at the top or the bote be put together there. Yet, though tom of the cylinder, that is to say, this public transaction ought to make while the power of the engine was not all who know any thing of the im- acting. But had Mr Wati considered proved steam-engine acknowledge that a heavy fly is a reservoir of that it is of English origin, the power, which renders the motion of French have been at great pains to any machine with which it is conconceal it; and the matter was carried nected regular, he would never have 80 far, that M. Riche de Prony, a re- attempted the two revolutions for spectable mathematician, and chief of each stroke, nor thought of the nethe school of roads and bridges in cessity of a heavy side to the fly. France, has written a quarto volume, Mr Watt, in his usual way, gave giving an account of the improved directions for making a model on steam-engine, without once naming this plan; but it was not done under
h the real inventor! We presume the his own eye; and, unfortunately, the same worthy person would have workmen employed made known the
invention to a Mr Rickard, who inflexible bar of iron. Now, as the took out a patent for Mr Watt's in- end of the beam moves in a portion vention before even his model was of a circle, the pull or push could conipleted. The consequence of not be in a perpendicular direction, this theft was, that Mr Watt was ob- which it was absolutely necessary it liged to find another mode of supply- should be. ing the place of the crank; for, as to By means which any one may un. the useless invention of the double derstand by looking at one of his revolving wheel with the heavy side, engines, Mr Watt contrived, with that was soon appreciated as it de. admirable skill, to make the connex. served. In this Mr Watt's inex- ion between the beam and the piston haustible ingenuity enabled him to exactly what was required. With. succeed, though not without ex. out this beautiful invention, which pense and loss of time. The plan, connects in a solid manner the mov. however, was so good, that it is yet ing force and the object moved, the doubtful whether it is not equal to applications of the steam-engine, inthe crank.
stead of being nearly unlimited, But there yet remained one inven- would have been extremely confined tion necessary for giving perfection to and circumscribed. the rotative motion. Though a single Mr Watt was elected a fellow of bar of iron, or beam of wood, will do the Royal Society of Edinburgh in perfectly well to connect the beam 1784, of the Royal Society of Lonof the engine with the crank, yet, don in 1785, and a corresponding at the other end, where the cylinmember of the Batavian Society in der and the moving force are placed, 1817. In 1806 the University of it was necessary to have a chain Glasgow conferred on him the bonomoving on a circular head or end, rary degree of LL.D.; and in 1808 that the pull might be always in a he was chosen, first corresponding, direction accurately perpendicular. and afterwards foreign member of Before a rotative motion was add the National Iostitute of France. ed, this answered every purpose, be- The following character of this cause she piston and the beam, pull- truly illustrious man, who, had he ing alternately, there was never any lived in the early ages of society, pushing. The piston pulled down would have received divine honours, the beam when the vacuum was is from the pen of the same eloquent made under it, and the weight at the writer, who so happily sketched that opposite end pulled up the piston of Professor Playfair: when the equilibrium was restored. • Death is still busy in our high But when a circular or rotative mo. places ; and it is with great pain that tion, with a fly-wheel, was connect we find ourselves called upon, so soon ed with the beam, the fly-wheel be. after the loss of Mr Playfair, to recame the moving power at the mo. cord the decease of another of our ment that the piston was at the high. illustrious countrymen, and one to est or the lowest. In that case the whom mankind has been still more beam did not always pull, but re- largely indebted. Mr James Watt, quired to push the piston, the im- the great improver of the steam-enpelling power being for a moment gine, died on the 25th ult., at his at the other end of the beam or seat of Heathfield, near Birming. lever. A chain therefore could not ham, in the 84th year of his age. answer, it being necessary to connect “ This name, fortunately, needs the piston-rod with the beam by an no commemoration of ours; for he
that bore it survived to see it crown- enables us to pay the interest of our ed with undisputed and unenvied debt, and to maintain the arduous honours; and many generations will struggle in which we are still en. probably pass away before it shall gaged, with the skill and capital of have " gathered all its fame." We countries less oppressed with taxahave said that Mr Watt was the tion. But these are poor and nargreat improver of the steam-engine; row views of its importance. It has but, in truth, as to all that is admi- increased indefinitely the mass of rable in its structure, or vast in its human comforts and enjoyments, and utility, he should rather be describ- rendered cheap and accessible all oed as its inventor. It was by bis in- ver the world the materials of wealth ventions that its action was so re- and prosperity. It has armed the gulated as to make it capable of feeble band of man, in short, with a being applied to the finest and most power to which no limits can be asdelicate manufactures, and its power signed, completed the dominion of so increased as to set weight and mind over the most refractory quasolidity at defiance. By his admira- lities of matter, and laid a sure foun. ble contrivances, it has become a dation for all those future miracles thing stupendous alike for its force of mechanic power which are to aid and its flexibility; for the prodigious and reward the labours of after gepower which it can exert, and the nerations. It is to the genius of one ease, and precision, and ductility, man too that all this is mainly owing; with which they can be varied, dis- and certainly no man ever before tributed, and applied. The trunk bestowed such a gift on his kind. of an elephant that can pick up a pin The blessing is not only universal, or rend an oak is nothing to it. It but unbounded; and the fabled in. can engrave a seal, and crush masses ventors of the plough and the loom, of obdurate metal like wax before who were deified by the erring grait, draw out, without breaking, a titude of their rude contemporaries, thread as fine as gossamer, and lift a conferred less important benefits on ship of war like a bauble in the air. mankind than the inventor of our It can embroider muslin and forge present steam-engine. anchors, cut steel into ribands, and " This will be the fame of Watt impel loaded vessels against the fury with future generations; and it is sufof the winds and waves.
ficient for his race and his country. It would be difficult to estimate But to those to whom he more imthe value of the benefits which these mediately belonged, who lived in his inventions have conferred upon the society and enjoyed his conversation, country. There is no branch of in. it is not perhaps the character in dustry that has not been indebted to which he will be most frequently them; and in all the most material, recalled-most deeply lamented they have not only widened most or even most highly admired. In. magnificently the field of its exer- dependently of his great attainments tions, but multiplied a thousandfold in mechanics, Mr Watt was an ex. the amount of its productions. It traordinary, and in many respects a is our improved steam-engine that wonderful man. Perhaps no indivihas fought the battles of Europe, dual in his age possessed so much and exalted and sustained, through and such varied and exact informathe late tremendous contest, the tion, - had read so much, or remempolitical greatness of our land. It bered what he had read so accurateis the same great power which now ly and so well. He had infinite quickness of apprehension, a prodi- rejecting, as it were instinctively, gious memory, and a certain rectify. whatever was worthless or immateing and methodising power of under- rial. Every conception that was standing, which extracted something suggested to his mind seemed inprecious out of all that was present- stantly to take its place among its ed to it. His stores of miscellane- other rich furniture, and to be conous knowledge were immense, densed into the smallest and most and yet less astonishing than the convenient form. He never appearcommand he had at all times overed, therefore, to be at all encumberthem. It seemed as if every subject ed or perplexed with the verbiage that was casually started in convern of the dull books he perused, or the sation with him had been that which idle talk to which he listened ; but he had been last occupied in study. to have at once extracted, by a kind ing and exhausting ; such was the of intellectual alchemy, all that was copiousness, the precision, and the worthy of attention, and to have readmirable clearness of the inforına- duced it, for his own use, to its true tion which he poured out upon it value and to its simplest form. And without effort or hesitation. Nor 'thus it often happened that a great was this promptitude and compass of deal more was learned from his brief knowledge contined in any degree and vigorous account of the theories to the studies connected with his and arguments of tedious writers, ordinary pursuits. That he should than an ordinary student could ever have been minutely and extensively have derived from the most faithful skilled in chemistry and the arts, study of the originals ; and that erand in most of the branches of phy. rors and absurdities became manifest sical science, might perhaps have from the mere clearness and plainbeen conjectured, but it could not ness of his statement of them, which have been inferred from his usual might have deluded and perplexed occupations, and probably is not ge- most of his hearers without that innerally known, that he was curious. valuable assistance. ly learned in many branches of anti- “ It is needless to say, that with quity, metaphysics, medicine, and those vast resourses, his conversaetymology, and perfectly at home in tion was at all times rich and instrucall the details of architecture, music, tive in no ordinary degree; but it and law. He was well acquainted was, if possible, still more pleasing too with most of the modern lan- than wise, and had all the charms of guages, and familiar with their most familiarity, with all the substantial recent literature. Nor was it at all treasures of knowledge. No man extraordinary to hear the great me- could be more social in his spirit, chanician and engineer detailing and less assuming or fastidious in his expounding, for hours together, the manners, or more kind and indulgent metaphysical theories of the German towards all who approached him. logicians, or criticising the measures He rather liked to talk, at least in or the matter of the German poetry. his latter years; but though he took
“ His astonishing memory was aid. a considerable share of the convered, no doubt, in a great measure, by sation, he rarely suggested the toa still higher and rarer faculty-by pics on which it was to turn, but his power of digesting and arranging readily and quietly took up wbatin its proper place all the information ever was presented by those around he received, and of casting aside and him, and astonished the idle and bar