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The confinement of a populous town was bat ill suited to such an establishment as soon became necessary for Mr. Boulton's farther experiments. Accordingly, in the year 1762, he purchased those extensive tracts of common,
common, at that time a barren heath, with only a small house and mill, on which the Soho manufactory now stands. He laid the foundation of his present extensive works, at the expence of nine thousand pounds. To this spot his liberal patronage soon attracted great numbers of ingenious uren from all parts, and by their aid he so eminently succeeded in imitating the or molu, that the most splendid apartments in this and in many foreign countries received their ornaments from: Soho. Here, too (a most astonishing proof of enterprise and skill!) the works of the greatest masters in oil colours, were mechanically taken off, with such ease and exactness, that the original could scarcely be distinguished from the copy. This mode of copying was invented, we believe, by Mr. Eggington, whose performances in stained glass have since introduced his name to the public.
The utmost power of the water mill, which Mr. Boulton had' hitherto employed, fell infinitely short, even with the aid of horses, of that immense force which was soon found necessary to the completion of bis designs. Recourse was therefore had, about the year 1767, to that chef-xuvre of human ingenuity, the steam engine. In speaking of that wonderful machine, we shall adopt the animated language of a late excellent Review :-The steam engine, ap. proaching to the nature of a perpetuum mobile, Othe rather an animal, is incapable of lassitude or sensation, produces coals, works metals, moves machines, and is certainly the noblest drudge that was ever employed by the hand of art. Thus we
put a hook in the nose of the leviathan: thus we“ play with him as a child, and take him for a servant for ever :*" thus “ we subdue nature, and derive aid and comfort from the elements of earthquakes.”
The first engine that Mr. Boulton constructed was on M. Savary's plan, of which the reader will find one of the most satisfactory accounts in Professor Bradley's “ New Improvements of Planting and Gardening, "I &c. But the machine was yet, as it were, in its infancy, and by no means answered Mr. Boulton's expectations. In the year 1769, Mr. James Watt, of Glasgow, obtained a patent for such a prodigious improvement of it, that Mr. Boulton immediately sought his acquaintance, and induced him to settle at Soho. At this place the facility of its application to a variety of concerns, wherein great force was requisite, soon manifested its superior utility and vaft advantages to the public; and Parliament, thercfore, in 1775, cheerfully granted a prolongation of Mr. Watt's patent, for twenty-five years. A partnership now commenced between Messrs. Boulton and Watt;' and a manufactory of steam-engines, on their improved plan, was established at Soho, which still supplies the chief mines and manufactories thronghout the kingdom. * Job ui. 2-4. † Analyt. Review, Feb. 1797. p. 220.
Seventh Fait. p. 315.
Aided by such talents, and commanding such unlimited mechanical power, Mr. Boulton's views soon expanded, and Soho began to exhibit symptoms of the extraordinary advantages it had acquired. The art of coining had long stood in need of simplification and arrangement, and to this art, Mr. Boulton bad no sooner turned his attention, than about the year 1788, he erected a coining mill, on an improved plan, and struck a gold medal of the full weight of a.guinea, and of the same form as that of his new copper coinage lately put into circulation. The superior advantages of that form are obvious. The impression is far less liable to friction ; and by means of a steel gage of equal diameter, money coined on that principle may be examined by measure as well as by weight, thc rim being exactly circular. Moreover, the intrinsic is so nearly equal to the current value of every piece, that, without a steam-engine and adequate apparatus, every attempt to counterfeit the Soho coinage must be made with loss. The fabrication of base money sccms likely, by these means, to be speedily checked, and hercafter entirely defeated. The reason why Mr. Boulton has not yet been employed by Government in the coioage of gold and silver, we have not been able to learn.
The mill at Soho works eight machines, each of which receives, stamps, and delivers out, by the aid of only a little boy, from seventy to ninety pieces of copper in one minute. Either of them is stopped without the smallest interruption to the motion of the others. In adjoining apartments all the preparatory processes
are carried on with equal facility and dispatch; such : as rolling the copper into shcets, dividing them into blanks, and shaking them into bags clean and ready for the die. Without any personal communication -between the different classes of workmen, &c. the blanks are conveyed to the room where they are shaken, and from thence to the coining room in boxes moving with immense velocity on an inclined plane, and accompanied by a ticket of their weight.
The Sierra Leone Company have employed Mr. Boulton's mint in the coinage of silver, and the East India Company in that of copper. Two complete mints have lately been sent off to Petersburgh. i
Since the demise of the late empress Catharine, Mr. Boulton preschted her successor, the Emperor Paul I., with some of the most curious articles of his manufactory, and in return received a polite letter of thanks and approbation, together syith a splendid collection of medals, minerals from Siberia, and speci-; mens of all the modern money of Russia. Ainong the inedals, which für elegance of design and beauty of execution, haye pever yet been equalled in this or any other country, is a massy one of gold, impressed with a striking likeness, it is said, of his Imperial Majesty. Our readers will be surprized, when they are told that this unrivalled piece, was struck from a die engraved by the present Express, who has, from her youth taken great delightinthe art of engraving on stec!.
With the view of still furtheç improving and facilitating the manufactory of steain-engines, Messrs. Boulton and Watt have lately, in conjunction with
their sons, established a foundery at Smethwick, a short distance from Soho. Here that powerful agent is employed to multiply itself, as it were, and its various parts are fabricated and adapted together with the same regularity, neatness, and expedition, that distinguish all the operations of their manufactory. Those engines are afterwards distributed to all parts of the kingdom by the Birmingham canal, which communicates with a wet dock belonging to the foundery.
To such amazing perfection has the steam engine at length been brought, that the consumption of one bushel of Newcastle coals will raise nearly six thousand hogsheads of Water ten feet high, and will do the work of ten horses for one hour. This remarkable abridgment of human labour, and proportionate diminution of expence are, in a great measure, the result of trials made under the auspices of Mr. Boulton. For a complete account of these machines, their power,
&c. we refer the reader to Dr. Darwin's Botanic Garden. * :
It could scarcely be expected that envy would vicw with indifference such singular merit, and such unexampled success. The inventions and improve. inents of Messrs. Boulton and Watt were first imia tated, and then either decried or disputed. Reason laboured in vain to silence the clamours of injustice, and defeat the stratagems of fraud. At length, in the year 1792, a solemn decision of Parliament, and, about the same time, the concurrent 'opinion of the Court of King's Bench forbad any further encroachment. * Fourth edit. note xi. page 287.