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A History of the Growth of the Steam-Engine

The contemporaries of james watt


was hanging on its accustomed

nail. Many objects lay about or in the drawers, indicating the pursuits which had been interrupted by death--busts, medallions, and figures, waiting to be copied by the copying-machine--many medallion-moulds, a store of plaster-of-Paris, and a box of plaster casts from London, the contents of which do not seem to have been disturbed. Here are Watt's ladles for melting lead, his foot-rule, his glue-pot, his hammer. Reflecting mirrors, an extemporized camera with the lenses mounted on pasteboard, and many camera-glasses laid about, indicate interrupted experiments in optics. There are quadrant-glasses, compasses, scales, weights, and sundry boxes of mathematical instruments, once doubtless highly prized. In one place a model of the governor, in another of the parallel-motion, and in a little box, fitted with wooden cylinders mounted with paper and covered with figures, is what we suppose to be a model of his calculating-machine. On the shelves are minerals and chemicals in pots and jars, on which the dust of nearly half a century has settled. The moist substances have long since dried up; the putty has been turned to stone, and the paste to dust. On one shelf we come upon a dish in which lies a withered bunch of grapes. On the floor, in a corner, near to where Watt sat and worked, is a hair-trunk--a touching memorial of a long-past love and a long-dead sorrow. It contains all poor Gregory's school-books, his first attempts at writing, his boy's drawings of battles, his first school-exercises
down to his college-themes, his delectuses, his grammars, his dictionaries, and his class-books--brought into this retired room, where the father's eye could rest upon them. Near at hand is the sculpture-machine, on which he continued working to the last. Its wooden frame is worm-eaten, and dropping into dust, like the hands that made it. But though the great workman is gone to rest, with all his griefs and cares, and his handiwork is fast crumbling to decay, the spirit of his work, the thought which he put into his inventions, still survives, and will probably continue to influence the destinies of his race for all time to come."

The visitor to Westminster Abbey will find neither monarch, nor warrior, nor statesman, nor poet, honored with a nobler epitaph than that which is inscribed on the pedestal of Chantrey's monument to Watt:

NOT TO PERPETUATE A NAME, WHICH MUST ENDURE WHILE THE PEACEFUL ARTS FLOURISH, BUT TO SHOW THAT MANKIND HAVE LEARNT TO HONOR THOSE WHO BEST DESERVE THEIR GRATITUDE, THE KING, HIS MINISTERS, AND MANY OF THE NOBLES AND COMMONERS OF THE REALM, RAISED THIS MONUMENT TO JAMES WATT, 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, MDCCXXXVI.

DIED AT HEATHFIELD, IN STAFFORDSHIRE, MDCCCXIX.

[Illustration: Tomb of James Watt.]

SECTION II.--THE CONTEMPORARIES OF JAMES WATT.

In the chronology of the steam-engine, the contemporaries of Watt have been so completely overshadowed by the greater and more successful inventor, as to have been almost forgotten by the biographer and by the student of history. Yet, among the engineers and engine-builders, as well as among the inventors of his day, Watt found many enterprising rivals and keen competitors. Some of these men, had they not been so completely fettered by Watt's patents, would have probably done work which would have entitled them to far higher honor than has been accorded them.


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