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“ visits from me, which in my present situation I cannot 6 make.

“I talk of interesting you more in the success, because “ generosity ought to go a small way in directing our actions, " and you have hitherto had little other motive excepting a “promise of being concerned if we could agree upon terms. “ We may disagree about terms; we may from caprice or “ interest break that promise; or we may suddenly be called “ by death to another state, and our heirs may laugh at any “ promise that is not written upon stamped paper. Consider “ what I have said. Consider also that Dr. R. owes Mr. “ Boulton money, which will go in part of the price, which

can never be so low as at present. I am sorry that there “ is occasion to ask a price, but it cannot be helped; the “ Doctor's circumstances oblige him to demand it if he parts “ with any great part of the property.

“I by no means intend to insinuate by this that I consider " it necessary that you should pay down a sum of money “ before we would assign to you any part of the property;

on the contrary, I think that you and Mr. B. ought to “ have a certain share without advancing to the Doctor “or me, provided you took upon you the charge of the “ future experiments, and of finding money to carry on 66 the business in case of success. What that share should “ be must be the result of some conversation between

But I would much rather have the matter so settled “ that at least the half of the property should belong to 66 Mr. B. and you.


rate let us be on such a foot“ing, that the experiments may go on, and the matter be “ concluded."

There can be no doubt that even this contingent transfer of one-third of the property of the patent to his two friends was of some comfort to the now drooping spirits of the poor inventor; he much liked Boulton and Small, he valued their personal attachment, admired their mechanical ingenuity, and clear-sighted yet liberal business views and habits, and


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* To Dr. Small, 7 November, 1772.

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it was pleasant to him to be concerned with them even without much hope of immediately increasing his own fortune. Such hope, indeed, began to appear more distant than ever; for it was now more than four years since “the capital "improvement” had “flashed upon his mind, and filled it " with rapture;" yet still, though fortified with a patent, and satisfied of the value of his invention, could it only be duly exemplified and carried out, he found himself left without any profitable return, and involved in some debt. This was not yet, it is true, of any large amount, but still sufficient to begin to throw a lengthening shadow in the sunshine of his life; for “ it cut him to the bone to owe." His family, also, had increased, and he had now attained to the onerous dignity of being the father of three children; but, unhappily, without receiving that triple proportion of corn, which, among the Romans, the “jus trium liberorum ” brought with it. Those

. little voices, “whose crying was a cry for gold,” were not to be stilled by the baser metal of a badly cast Carron cylinder, or the “block-tin and hammered lead” of a Glasgow condenser. So that we cannot wonder to find him writing, as he did some time before the acceptance of Roebuck's proposal, — “ I am resolved, unless those things I have brought to some

perfection reward me for the time and money I have lost “ on them, if I can resist it, to invent no more. Indeed, I " am not near so capable as I was once.

I find that I am “not the same person


years ago, when I invented " the fire-engine, and foresaw, even before I made a model, “ almost every circumstance that has since occurred. I was " at that time spurred on by the alluring hope of placing

myself above want, without being obliged to have much dealing with mankind, to whom I have always been a dupe. " The necessary experience in great* was wanting; in ac

quiring it I have met with many disappointments. I must “ have sunk under the burthen of them if I had not been “supported by the friendship of Dr. Roebuck. *

* I have now brought the engine near a conclusion, yet I am not in

was four



* i. e. "on a great scale."

“ idea nearer that rest I wish for than I was four years ago. “ However, I am resolved to do all I can to carry on this “ business, and if it does not thrive with me, I will lay aside “the burthen I cannot carry.

And again, in March, 1770;—“It is a damned thing for a man to have his all hanging by a single string. If I had “ wherewithal to pay the loss, I don't think I should so much “ fear a failure, but I cannot bear the thought of other people “ becoming losers by my schemes, and I have the happy dis"position of always painting the worst.”






In this state of matters, every employment that enabled Mr. Watt to earn an independent income, and served to relieve his mind, now too constantly occupied with anxious and uncomfortable thoughts, was doubly welcome; and he was gradually, led more frequently to forsake the solitary vigils of his workshop in the city, for the active labours of his profession of civil engineer. “Somehow or other," as he modestly expresses it,-or, as we cannot doubt, from his ability and integrity having now become well known,—the magistrates of Glasgow had for two or three years past employed him in various engineering works of importance. In 1769 he made a survey and estimate for a navigable canal from the collieries at Monkland in Lanarkshire to the city of Glasgow; which was carried out under his own directions and superintendence, to the great advantage of the public as well as of the parties to the undertaking.

“I somehow or other,” he says,* " got into the good graces “ of our present magistracy, who have employed me in

engineering for them, (as Mr. Smeaton terms it); among "other things I have projected a canal to bring coals to the " town ;-for though coal is everywhere hereabout in plenty, and the

very town stands upon it, yet measures have been "taken by industrious people to monopolize it and raise its "price 50 per cent. within these ten years. Now this canal “is nine miles long, goes to a country full of level free coals


* To Dr. Small, 12 December, 1769.


“ of good quality, in the hands of many proprietors, who sell “ them at present at 6d. per cart of 7 cwt. at the pit. There “ is a valley from Glasgow to the place, but it has a rise of “ 266 feet perpendicular above our river; I therefore set that “ aside, and have found among the hills a passage, whereby a “ canal may come within a mile of the town without locks, “ from whence the coals can be brought on a waggon-way. “ This canal will cost 10,0001.— is proposed 16 feet wide at “ bottom, the boats 9 feet wide and 50 feet long, to draw 21 feet water.”

· Vanity also,” he adds,* " bade me tell Glasgow people they might be served as well at home as by strangers. The “ time has not been thrown away, for the vaguing + about “ the country, and bodily fatigue, have given me health and

spirits beyond what I commonly enjoy at this dreary season, though they would still thole amends. I Hire yourself to somebody for a ploughman; it will cure ennui.”

And, although “a determination that everything should “ yield to the engine,” led him to refuse going to London with the Bill for the Monkland Canal, yet, after the Act for it had been obtained, and he was asked to superintend the execution of the canal, he felt himself obliged not to refuse that request. “I had now a choice," he says, “ whether to go on with the experiments on the engine, the "event of which was uncertain, or to embrace an honourable " and perhaps profitable employment, attended with less risk “ of want of success :—to carry into execution a canal pro“jected by myself with much trouble, or to leave it to some “other person that might not have entered into my views, « and might have had an interest to expose my errors; (for “ everybody commits them in those cases.)

Many people here had conceived a much higher idea of my abilities than they merit ;-they had resolved to encou

rage a man that lived among them rather than a stranger. “ If I refused this offer I had little reason to expect such a

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* To the same 3 January, 1770.
+ Vagor expeditus."-for.
tie. • Would still bear amend.

“ ment."

$ To Dr. Small, 9 September, 1770.

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