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Title: Lectures on Popular and Scientific Subjects
Author: John Sutherland Sinclair, Earl of Caithness
Language: English
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There are few subjects of more importance, and few less known or thought
about, than our coal-mines. Coal is one of our greatest blessings, and
certainly one originating cause of England's greatness and wealth. It
has given us a power over other nations, and vast sums of money are
yearly brought to our country from abroad in exchange for the coal we
send. Nearly £17,000,000 is the representative value of the coal raised
every year at the pit's mouth, and £20,000,000 represent its mean value
at the various places of consumption. The capital invested in our
coal-mining trade, apart from the value of the mines themselves,
exceeds £20,000,000 sterling, and the amount of coal annually extracted
from the earth is over 70,000,000 of tons. Taking the calculation of a
working miner--J. Ellwood, Moss Pit, near Whitehaven--we may state, that
if 68,000,000 tons were excavated from a mining gallery 6 feet high and
12 feet wide, that gallery would be not less than 5128 miles, 1090
yards, in length; or, if this amount of coal were erected in a pyramid,
its square base would extend over 40 acres, and the height would be 3356

There are grounds for believing that the produce of the various
coal-fields of the world does not at present much exceed 100,000,000 of
tons annually, and therefore our own country contributes more than
three-fifths of the total amount. If we divide the coal-yielding
counties of Britain into four classes, so as to make nearly equal
amounts of produce, we find that Durham and Northumberland yield rather
more every year than seven other counties, including Yorkshire.
Derbyshire, again, produces more than eight other counties, and nearly
as much as the whole of North and South Wales, Scotland, and
Ireland--the yield of the latter being about 17,000,000 of tons, and
that of the two first-named about 16,000,000 of tons.

In 1773 there were only 13 collieries on the Tyne, and these had
increased to upwards of 30 in 1800. The number of collieries in 1828 had
increased to 41 on the Tyne, and 18 on the Wear, in all 59, producing
5,887,552 tons of coal. The out-put of coal in Northumberland and Durham
in 1854 was no less than 15,420,615 tons, and now in these two counties
there are 283 collieries. Mining began on the Tyne and continued on the
Wear, where the industry has been largely developed. There are in all
about 57 different seams in the Great Northern coal-field, varying in
thickness from 1 inch to 5 feet 5 inches and 6 feet, and these seams
comprise an aggregate of nearly 76 feet of coal. Taking the area of this
field to be 750 square miles--a most probable estimate--we may classify
the contents as household coal, steam coal, or those employed in
steam-engine boilers, and coking coal, employed for making coke and gas.
Of household coal there is only 96 square miles out of the total 750,
all the remainder being steam or coking and gas coal. The greater part
even of this 96 square miles has been worked out on the Tyne, and the
supply is rapidly decreasing also on the Wear, where the largest bulk
of the household coal lies. The collieries of the Tees possess but six
square miles out of the 96, as far as we at present know. Turning,
however, to that part of the coal-field regarded as precarious, and
consisting of first, second, and third-rate household coal, we have for
future use 300 square miles. London was formerly supplied from the pits
east of Tyne Bridge, where is the famous Wallsend Colliery, which gave
the name to the best coal. That mine is now drowned out, and, like the
great Roman Wall, at the termination of which it was sunk, and from
which it derived its name, is now an antiquity. There is now no Wallsend
coal, and the principal part of the present so-called coal comes from
the Wear, but the seam which supplied that famous pit is continued into
Durham, and that seam, or its equivalent, sends a million or two of tons
every year into London. The supply, however, in this district is rapidly
decreasing. Careful calculations have been made as to the probable
duration of this coal, of which the following is a summary. The workable
quantity of coal remaining in the ten principal seams of this coal-field
is estimated at 1,876,848,756 Newcastle chaldrons (each 35 cwt.).
Deducting losses and underground and surface waste, the total
merchantable round or good-sized coal will be 1,251,232,507 Newcastle
chaldrons. Proceeding on this estimate, formed by Mr. Grunwith in 1846,
we may arrive at the probable duration of the supplies: taking the
future annual average of coal raised from these seams to be 10,000,000
of tons--and this is under the present rate--the whole will be exhausted
in 331 years. A still later estimate was made by Mr. T.G. Hall in 1854,
and he reckoned the quantity of coal left for future use at
5,121,888,956 tons; dividing this by 14,000,000 of tons as the annual
consumption, the result would be 365 years; and should the annual demand
arrive at 20,000,000 of tons, the future supply of this famous
coal-field would continue for 256 years. The total available coal (1871)
in the British coal-fields, at depths not exceeding 4000 feet, and in
seams not less than 1 foot thick, is 90,207,285,398 tons, and taking
into account seams which may yet become available, lying under the
Permian, New Red Sandstone, and other superincumbent strata, this
estimate is increased to 146,480,000,000 of tons. This quantity, at the
present annual rate of production throughout the country--namely,
123,500,000 tons--would last 1186 years. Other estimates of various
kinds relative to our coal supply have been put forth: some have
asserted that, owing to increasing population and increasing consumption
in manufactures, it will be exhausted in 100 years, and between this
extreme and that of 1186 years there are many other conjectures and

In the United States there are about 120,000 square miles underlaid by
known workable coal-beds, besides what yet remains to be discovered;
while on the cliffs of Nova Scotia the coal-seams can be seen one over
the other for many hundred feet, and showing how the coal was originally
formed. With this immense stock of fuel in the cellars of the earth, it
seems evident that we need not trouble our minds or be anxious as to the
duration of our coal supply. Besides, the conversion of vegetable matter
into coal seems to be going on even now. In the United States there are
peat-bogs of considerable extent, in which a substance exactly
resembling cannel coal has been found; and in some of the Irish
peat-beds, as also in the North of Scotland, a similar substance has
been discovered, of a very inflammable nature, resembling coal.

Yes! what could have produced this singular-looking, black, inflammable
rock? How many times was this question asked before Science could return
an answer? This she can now do with confidence. Coal was once growing
vegetable matter. On the surface of the shale, immediately above the
coal, you will find innumerable impressions of leaves and branches, as
perfect as artist ever drew. But how could this vegetable matter ever
accumulate in such masses as to make beds of coal of such vast extent,
some not less than 30 feet thick? It would take 10 or 12 feet of green
vegetable matter to make 1 foot of solid coal. Let us transport
ourselves to the carboniferous times, and see the condition of the
earth, and this may assist us to answer the question. Stand on this
rocky eminence and behold that sea of verdure, whose gigantic waves roll
in the greenest of billows to the verge of the horizon--that is a
carboniferous forest. Mark that steamy cloud floating over it, an
indication of the great evaporation constantly proceeding. The scent of
the morning air is like that of a greenhouse; and well it may be, for
the land of the globe is a mighty hothouse--the crust of the earth is
still thin, and its internal heat makes a tropical climate everywhere,
unchecked by winter's cold, thus forcing plants to a most luxurious

Descend, and let us wander through this forest and examine it more
closely. What strange trees are here! No oaks, no elms, or ash, or
chestnut--no trees that we ever saw before. It looks as if the plants of
a boggy meadow had shot up in a single night to a height of 60 or 70
feet, and we were walking among the stalks--a gigantic meadow of ferns,
reeds, grasses, and club-mosses. A million columns rise, so thick at the
top that they make twilight at mid-day, and their trunks are so close
together we can scarcely edge our way between them, whilst the ground is
carpeted with trailing plants completely interwoven. What strange trees
they are! Beneath us lies an accumulation of vegetable matter more than
200 feet in thickness--the result of the growth and decay of plants in
this swamp for centuries. All things are here favourable for the growth
of vegetation--the great heat of the ground causes water to rise rapidly
in vapour, and this again descends in showers, supplying the plants with
moisture continuously. The air contains a large proportion of carbonic
acid gas, poison to animals but food to plants, which, by means of its
aid, build up their woody structure. Winds at times level these gigantic
plants, for their hold on the earth is feeble, and thus the mass goes on

We are now on the edge of a lake abounding with fish, whose bony scales
glitter in the water as they pursue their prey. Lying along the shore
are shells cast up by the waves, and there are also seen the tracks of
some large animals. How like the impression of a man's hand some of
these tracks are! The hind-feet are evidently much larger than the
fore-feet. There is the frog-like animal which made them, and what a
size! It must be six feet long, and its head looks like that of a
crocodile, for its jaws are furnished with formidable rows of long,
strong, sharp, conical teeth.

The continued growth and decomposition of the vegetation during long
ages must have produced beds like the peat-deposits of America and Great
Britain. In the Dismal Swamp of Virginia there is said to be a mass of
vegetable matter 40 feet in thickness, and on the banks of the Shannon
in Ireland is a peat-bog 3 miles broad and 50 feet deep. When conditions
were so much more favourable for these deposits, beds 400 feet in
thickness may easily have been produced. This accumulated mass of
vegetable matter must be buried, however, before we can have a coal-bed.
How was this accomplished? The very weight of it may have caused the
crust of the earth to sink, forming a basin into which rivers, sweeping
down from the surrounding higher country, and carrying down mud in their
waters, the weight of which, deposited upon the vegetable matter,
pressed and squeezed it into half its original compass. Sand carried
down subsequently in a similar manner, and deposited upon the mud,
pressed it into shale, and the vegetable matter, still more reduced in
volume by this additional pressure, is prepared for its final conversion
into shale. In time the basin becomes shallow from the decomposition of
sediment on its bottom, and then we have another marsh with its myriad
plants; another accumulation of vegetable matter takes place, which by
similar processes is also buried. Where thirty or forty seams of coal
have been found one below another, we have evidence of land and water
thus changing places many times.

When vegetable matter is excluded from air and under great pressure, it
decomposes slowly, parting with carbonic acid gas; and is first changed
into lignite or brown coal, and then into bituminous coal, or the soft
coal that burns with smoke and flame. I have been in a coal-mine where
the carbonic acid gas, pouring from a crevice in the coal, put out a
lighted candle. The high temperature to which the coal has been
subjected when buried at great depths has also probably assisted in
producing this change; and where that temperature has been very high,
the coal by the influence of the heat having parted with its inflammable
gases, we have the hard or anthracite coal, which burns with little or
no flame and without smoke. It is indeed coal made into coke under
tremendous pressure, and this is the kind of coal which Americans use
exclusively in their dwelling-houses and monster hotels.

It was at first supposed that the plants of the carboniferous times were
bamboos, palms, and gigantic cactuses, such as are now found in tropical
regions, but a more careful examination of them shows that, with the
exception of the tree-fern now found in the tropics, they differ from
all existing trees. A large proportion of the plants of the
coal-measures were ferns, some authorities say one-half. From their
great abundance we may infer the great heat and moisture of the
atmosphere at the time when they grew, as similar ferns at the present
day are only found in the greatest abundance on small tropical islands
where the temperature is high. Coal often contains impressions of fern
leaves and palm-like ferns--no less than 934 kinds are drawn and
described by geologists. Many animals and insects are found in the coal,
such as large toad-like reptiles with beautiful teeth, small lizards,
water lizards, great fish with tremendous jaws, many insects of the
grasshopper tribe, but none of these are of the same species as those
found now living on this globe.

Wood, peat, brown coal, jet, and true coal, are chemically alike,
differing only in their amount of oxygen, due to the difference of
compression to which they were subjected. The sun gave his heat and
light to the forests now turned into coal, and when we burn it ages
afterwards, we revive some of the heat and light so long untouched.
Stephenson once remarked to Sir Robert Peel, as they stood watching a
passing train: "There goes _the sunshine of former ages_!"


Having thus stated shortly the origin and extent of the coal of this
country, more particularly that of the northern coal-fields of
Northumberland and Durham, I think it may be interesting to say
something of the cost at which this valuable article is obtained, as I
am sure few are at all aware of the vast sums of money that have to be
expended before we can sit down by our comfortable firesides, with a
cold winter night outside, and read our book, or have our family
gathered round us; and few know the danger and hardship of the bold
worker who risks his life to procure the coal. The first step is to find
out if there is coal. This done, the next is to get at it, or, as it is
termed, to _win_ the coal. The process is to sink a shaft, and this is
alike dangerous, uncertain, and very costly. The first attempt to sink a
pit at Haswell in Durham was abandoned after an outlay of £60,000. The
sinkers had to pass through sand, under the magnesian limestone, where
vast quantities of water lay stored, and though engines were erected
that pumped out 26,700 tons of water per day, yet the flood remained the
conqueror. This amount seems incredible, but such is the fact. At
another colliery near Gateshead (Goose Colliery), 1000 gallons a minute,
or 6000 tons of water per day, were pumped out, and only 300 tons of
coal were brought up in the same time, and thus the water raised
exceeded the coal twenty times. The most astonishing undertaking in
mining was the Dalton le Dale Pit, nine miles from Durham. On the 1st
June 1840 they pumped out 3285 gallons a minute. Engines were erected
which raised 93,000 gallons a minute from a depth of 90 fathoms or 540
feet, and this was done night and day. The amount expended to reach the
coal in this pit was £300,000. Mr. Hall estimates the capital invested
in the coal trade of the counties of Durham and Northumberland,
including private railways, waggons, and docks for loading ships, at
£13,000,000 sterling.

The great difficulty in working coal, should these upper seams fail, is
not only the increase of cost in sinking further down, but the increased
heat to be worked in. At 2000 feet the mine will increase in heat 28°,
at 4000, 57°; to this must be added the constant temperature of 50° 5',
so that at 2000 feet it would be 78° 5', and at 4000, 107° 5' Fahr. By
actual trial on July 17, 1857, in Duckingfield Pit, the temperature at
2249 feet was 75° 5'. From this it may be conceived in what great heat
the men have to work, and the work is very hard. One may fancy from this
what can be endured, but it would be next to impossible to work in a
greater temperature. I can speak upon this from actual experience, as
when down the Lady Londonderry Pit the temperature was 85°, and here the
men worked naked. Another great source of expense and anxiety lies in
keeping up the roof, as, from the excessive pressure, the roof and floor
are always inclined to come together, and props must therefore be used,
and these in some pits cost as much as £1500 a year. To digress for a
moment, an amusing story is told of Grimaldi, the celebrated clown, when
paying a visit to a coal-pit. Having gone some way through the mine, a
sudden noise, arising from the falling of coal from the roof, caused him
to ask the reason of the noise. "Hallo!" exclaimed Grimaldi, greatly
terrified, "what's that?" "Hech!" said his guide, "it's only a wee bit
of coal fallen down--we have that three or four times a day." "Then I'll
thank you to ring for my basket, for I'll stop no longer among the wee
bits of falling coal." This "wee bit" was about three tons' weight. A
large proportion of the sad accidents in coal-mines is caused by these
falls of the roof, which give no warning, but suddenly come down and
crush to death those who happen to be near.


The cost of working having thus been given, I wish now to lay before you
an explanation of the method of working and bringing the coal to the
surface. It may not be uninteresting to mention how many men are
employed in this work, as the number is very large. Coal was not
formerly excavated by machinery, but it is so now, and therefore hands
must be had. The number of men employed in the mines of county Durham in
1854 was 28,000; of these, 13,500 were hewers, winning several thousand
tons of coal daily. Of the remainder, 3500 were safety-staff men,
having, besides, 1400 boys belonging to their staff; 2000 were off-hand
men, for bargain work or other duties; 7600 lads and boys, working
under the various designations of "putters," or pushers of coal-tubs,
underground "drivers," "marrows," "half-marrows," and "foals," these
latter terms being local, and significant of age and labour. For
Northumberland must be added 10,536 persons, and Cumberland 3579, making
a total for these three counties of upwards of 42,000 persons labouring
in and round our northern collieries. The average that each hewer will
raise per day is from two to three tons in thin, and three to four tons
in thick seams. The largest quantity raised by any hewer on an average
of the colliers of England is about six tons a day of eight hours. The
mode of working is very laborious, as the majority of seams of coal
being very thin--that is to say, not more than two feet thick--the
worker of necessity is obliged to work in a constrained position, often
lying on his side; and you can fancy the labour of using a pick in such
a position. To get an idea of the position, just place yourself under a
table, and then try to use a pick, and it will give you a pretty clear
idea of the comfortable way in which a great part of our coal is got,
and this also at a temperature of 86° in bad air. The object, of
course, of the worker is to take nothing but coal, as all labour is lost
that is spent in taking any other material away. The man after a time
gets twisted in his form, from being constantly in this constrained
position, and, in fact, to sit upright like other men is at last
painful. Then an amount of danger is always before him, even in the best
regulated and ventilated pits. This danger proceeds from fire-damp, as
one unlucky stroke of the pick may bring forth a stream of carbureted
hydrogen gas, inexplosive of itself, but if mixed with eight times its
bulk of air, more dangerous than gunpowder, and which, if by chance it
comes in contact with the flame of a candle, is sure to explode, and
certain death is the result--not always from the explosion itself, but
from the after-damp or carbonic acid gas which follows it.

Upwards of 1500 lives are yearly lost from these causes, and not less
than 10,000 accidents in the same period show the constant danger that
the miner is exposed to. It would appear that England has more deaths
from mining accidents than foreign countries, as Mr. Mackworth's table
will show:--

Prussia        1.89 per 1000
Belgium        2.8    "
England        4.5    "
Staffordshire  7.3    "

This statement shows that more care is wanted in this last-named county
especially, as I find that the yield of coal in Belgium is half as much
as in England. Long working in the dark, if one may so speak, is a cause
of serious detriment to the sight, and the worker also suffers much from
constantly inhaling the small black dust, which in course of time
affects the lungs, causing what is known as "miner's asthma." Without
going further into the unhealthy nature of the miner's work, it may be
interesting to mention something of the actual process, and having
myself been an eye-witness of it, I will explain it as shortly as I can.
The workers having arrived at the pit-mouth at their proper hours--for
the pit is worked by shifts, and consequently is generally worked day
and night--the first operation is for each to procure his lamp from the
lamp-keeper, receiving it lighted and locked; this is found to be
necessary, as from the small light given by the Davy-lamp the men are
often tempted to open them, and some are even, so foolhardy as to carry
their lamp on their cap and a candle in the hand, and hence a terrible
explosion may take place. A few words on the Davy-lamp, which came into
use about sixty years ago, may not be out of place here. This
safety-lamp of the miner not only shows the presence of gas, but
prevents its explosion. It is constructed of gauze made of iron-wire
one-fortieth to one-sixtieth of an inch in diameter, having 784 openings
to the inch, and the cooling effect of the current passing through the
lamp prevents the gas taking fire. If we pour turpentine over a lighted
safety-lamp, it will show black smoke, but no flame. Provided with his
lamp, the miner takes his place with others in the tub, which conveys
him with great rapidity to the bottom of the shaft. Here landed, he
takes his way to the workings, some of these, in large pits, being two
miles from the bottom of the shaft. To a novice this is not easy, as you
have to walk in a crouching manner most part of the way. Once there, he
begins in earnest, and drives at his pick for eight hours, the monotony
only relieved by his gathering the products into small railway waggons
or tubs to be removed. This is done mostly by boys, but in the larger
mines by ponies of the Shetland and other small breeds. The tubs are
taken to a part of the mine where, if one may so speak, the main line is
reached, and then formed into trains, and taken to the shaft by means of
an endless rope worked by an engine in the pit. In accomplishing all
this work, great care has to be taken that the current of air is not
changed or stopped. This is effected by means of doors placed in various
parts of the mine, so as to stop the current and drive it in the
required direction. These doors are kept by boys, whose duty it is to
open and close them for the passage of the coal tubs. Those boys are
often allowed no light, and sit in a hole cut in the side of the road
near to the doors. Upon their carefulness the safety of the mine in a
great measure depends, as if they neglect to shut the door the current
of air is changed. I have been told that these boys are subject to
accidents no less than the workers, for, sitting in the dark, and often
alone for hours, they are very apt to go to sleep. To ensure being awoke
at the proper time, they frequently lie down on the line of rails under
the rope, so that when the rope is started it may awake them by its
motion, but at times so sound is their sleep, that it has failed to
rouse them in time, and a train of coal waggons has passed over them,
causing in most cases death.

The coal having been brought to the pit-mouth, it remains to be shown
what becomes of this most valuable mineral, the consumption of which is
now so large in all parts of the globe. The next person employed in the
trade is the sailor, to convey it to the market, and the collier vessels
are a valuable navy to the country, proving quite a nursery of seamen
for our royal marine service. Newcastle, Sunderland, West Hartlepool,
and a large number of other ports along our coast, have an immense
amount of shipping employed exclusively in the coal trade--no less than
5359 vessels carrying coal having entered the port of London alone in
1873, and the average annual quantity of coal exported abroad during the
three years ending 1872 was 12,000,000 tons.

I will not now detain you longer on the subject of the extent and
working of coal, lest I should tire your patience; but before concluding
I should wish to give some account of the uses to which this most
valuable product is applied. The main use of coal, as we all know, is to
produce heat, without which many a paterfamilias would grumble when the
dinner-hour came and he had nothing hot to eat. It not only, however,
supplies heat, but the beauty of the processes for lighting up our
houses is now mainly derived from coal. The immense consumption of coal,
among other things, is in the production of the vapour of water--steam,
by which our thousands of engines on sea and land are made to perform
their various appointed tasks. This production, formed of decayed
vegetable matter, which in ages past nourished on the surface of the
earth, as I have already shown, is again brought forth for our use, and
is a testimony of the goodness and kindness of God in providing for our
wants. By its heat some 10,000 locomotive engines are propelled, and
many hundreds of iron furnaces are kept in work, besides those for other
purposes. It moves the machinery of at least 3000 factories, 2500 steam
vessels, besides numerous smaller craft, and I cannot tell how many
forges and fires. It aids in producing delicacies out of season in our
hothouses. It lights our houses and streets with gas, the cheapest and
best of all lights--London alone in this way spending about £50,000 a
year. It gives us oil and tar to lubricate machinery and preserve timber
and iron; and last, not least, by the aid of chemistry it is made to
produce many beautiful dyes, such as magenta and mauve, and also, in the
same way, gives perfumes resembling cloves, almonds, and spices.

The annual consumption of coal in Great Britain is reckoned to be not
less than 80,000,000 tons. The amount raised in 1873 amounted to
127,000,000 tons, and of this was imported into London alone 7,883,138
tons--4,000,000 tons, or 15 per cent. of the total out-put of the
country, being sent from Durham alone. The cost of the Wallsend coal on
board the ship may be stated at 10s. 6d. per ton; to this must be added
the charge at coal-market of 2s. 8d., freight say 5s. 9d., profit 7s.
6d., so that a ton of coal of this kind will cost in your cellar in
London the sum of £1, 6s. 5d.

I think it is now time to conclude this most interesting subject, for
though I have by no means exhausted it, yet I fear I have said as much
as a lecture will warrant. The subject shows us how mindful a kind
Providence has been of man, and to this nation in particular, for to our
coal we in a measure owe much of our greatness. So while we admire the
geology of our globe, let us not forget who made it and all that it
contains, and who, when He had finished the work, pronounced it all very
good. Let us so strive to live, that though we may be called away
suddenly, as 199 of our fellow-creatures were called by what is termed a
mining accident, we may be ready to meet Him who not only made us, but
made the coal, and who, when man, at first made perfect, fell away, was
pleased to send a Saviour to redeem us and bring us to that light which
fadeth not away.


A resumé of science and art requires to set forth what they have already
done and what they are now doing--to trace them down to our own time,
and contrast their early stages with their present development. Giving
to art and science all that is their due, it must be evident to every
one that they are primarily not of human origin, but owe their existence
and progress to those inherent faculties of man which have been bestowed
upon him by an Almighty Being--faculties given not only to fathom the
works of creation, and adapt them for man's use and benefit, but also
that they might show forth the praise and honour of their Creator, as
"the heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His
handiwork." To set forth science and art before an Institution like that
here met together, behoves one to enter upon the subject in a way which
will not only interest but also instruct. But this is only an opening
address, and the lecturers who will follow me in due course will bring
before you the special interests of those special subjects on which they
are to treat. These cannot fail to interest as well as instruct those
who attend, their object being profit to the mind, and hence not only
the furtherance of mental culture, but increasing capabilities for
material prosperity.

To address a meeting in Glasgow gives one a feeling of pleasure; but,
before going further, I trust that when I have finished you may not be
able to say of me, as the two Highlanders did after leaving church--"Eh,
man! wasna that a grand discoorse?--it jumbled the head and confused the
understanding!" This city has brought forth one of the greatest of
men--though, like many others, he had to fight an uphill battle in his
early career--that man was James Watt. But what a career was his! and
what a benefit to all now living has proved the result of his
perseverance, for to his genius are we mainly indebted for the manifold
applications of the wondrous power of _Steam_! That word is enough; and
the engines it now propels are a powerful testimony to the talent of
the great man who brought this mighty power to bear on the vast
machinery, not only of this great country, but of the whole world.
Contrast, for one thing, the travelling facilities of Watt's early days
with those we now possess through his persevering industry. Fourteen
days was then the usual time for a journey from Glasgow to London, while
at present it can be performed in a less number of hours.

Railways! what have they not done! We see towns spring up in a few years
where only a few cottages formerly stood, and wild glens transformed
into fruitful valleys, by means of railways in their neighbourhood
developing traffic and trade, and creating employment by placing them in
communication with larger towns, and thus opening up new sources of
material prosperity. Look at the magnitude of our railways. With respect
to locomotives alone, in 1866 there were 8125 of these, and the work
performed by them was the haulage of 6,000,000 trains a distance of
143,000,000 miles. As each engine possesses a draught-power equal to 450
horses, these 8125 locomotives consequently did the work of more than
3,500,000 horses, and as the average durability of a locomotive is
computed to be about fifteen years, each will have in that time
traversed nearly 300,000 miles! Then, again, there have to be replaced
about 500 worn-out locomotives every year, at a cost for each of about
£2500 to £3000, entailing an annual expenditure of nearly £1,500,000
sterling. All this money circulates for the country's benefit, keeping
our iron, copper, and coal mines, our furnaces and our workshops, all at
work, and our people well and usefully employed, and thus proving one of
the greatest advantages of applied science and art to this country and
the world at large. If it had not been for steam, this valuable
Institution might not have been in existence, having for its chief
objects the promotion of the growth and increasing the usefulness of the
applied sciences.

We have now one of the greatest triumphs of engineering art in the Mont
Cenis Railway, and this, though worked out under great difficulties, has
proved a perfect success. Still more recently we have had brought under
our notice the bold scheme of connecting Britain and France by a tunnel
under the English Channel--a project which, but a few years ago, any one
would have been thought mad to propose; but science has proved that it
can be carried out; and it is only a few days since a large meeting was
held in Liverpool with a view of tunnelling under the Mersey, and thus
connecting Liverpool and Birkenhead. Nor do these schemes seem at all
visionary when we learn that our go-ahead Transatlantic cousins have a
project before the Legislature of New Jersey for laying wooden tubes
underground, through which the mails and small parcels will be forwarded
at the rate of 150 miles an hour! Through a similar tube, 6 feet in
diameter, laid under the East and Hudson Rivers, passengers are to be
transported from Brooklyn to Jersey city. A like scheme is in course of
construction under the Thames.[A] Another American engineering triumph
will be the railway suspension bridge proposed to be built across the
Hudson River at Peekskill, in the hilly district known to New Yorkers as
the Highlands, which is to have a clear span of 1600 feet at a height of
155 feet above high water.

Another grand and comparatively recent application of steam is in its
adaptation to agriculture. Fields are now turned up by the
steam-plough--an invention as yet in its infancy--in a manner that could
never be done by mere hand-labour. Steam-culture has already penetrated
as far north as John-o'-Groats, where I have one of the ploughs of Mr.
Howard of Bedford, and but for its assistance I could not have taken in
the land I have now worked up. So great is the demand for
steam-cultivating apparatus, not only in Britain, but throughout the
German plains and the flat alluvial soils of Egypt, that the makers have
now more orders than they can readily supply.

In all our manufactories steam proves itself the motive power, and there
is hardly a large work without it. This city can show its weaving,
spinning, bleaching, and dyeing works--all which have tended to raise
Glasgow from the small town of Watt's time to the proud position it now
holds of being the first commercial city of Scotland. In this city,
second only to Manchester in the production of cotton goods, it cannot
fail to be interesting to state, that in the first nine months of the
present year there has been exported 2,188,591,288 yards of cotton
piece-goods manufactured in this country--a larger quantity by nearly
150,000,000 yards than the corresponding period of 1867, the year of the
largest export of cotton manufactures ever known until then. Of course
Glasgow has had its share in this great branch of export trade,
rendering it large, wealthy, and populous--results which have mainly
followed from the application of science to art.

Last, not least, see what steam has enabled us to do in regard to the
food for the mind, both in printing it and afterwards in its
distribution. Look, for instance, to Printing House Square--to the
"Times" newspaper. In the short space of one hour 20,000 copies are
thrown off the printing-machine, and, thanks to the express train, the
same day the paper can be read in Glasgow. Still further in this
direction, the value of steam is also shown by its having enabled us to
produce cheap literature, so strikingly instanced in the world-famed
works of Sir Walter Scott, which we are now enabled to purchase at the
small sum of sixpence for each volume--a result which well shows the
application of science to art.

Let us now observe what a varied number of mechanical and agricultural
appliances are required to furnish us with this cheap literature. There
is agriculture, in the growth of the fibre that produces the material of
which the printing paper is made; then the flax-mill is brought into
play to produce the yarn to be woven; then weaving to produce the
cloth; after this, dyeing. Then the fine material is used for various
purposes too numerous to mention; and after it has performed its own
proper work, and is cast away as rags, no more to be thought of by its
owner, it is gathered up as a most precious substance by the papermaker,
who shows us the true value of the cast-off rags. Subjected to the
beautiful and costly machinery of the paper-mill, the rags turn out an
article of so much value that without it the world would almost come to
a stand-still. Yet further, we have next the miner, who by his labour
brings to the surface of the earth the metal required to produce the
type for printing; after this the printing-press; and next the chemist,
who by certain chemical combinations gives us the ink that is to spread
knowledge to the world, by making clear to the eye the thoughts of
authors who have applied their minds for the instruction and amusement
of their fellow-men. But we do not end here; consider also that each and
all, the farmer, the spinner, the weaver, the chemist, the miner, the
printer, and the author, must respectively have a profit out of their
various branches of industry, and does it not strike one forcibly what
a boon to the world is this all-important application of science to
art--putting within the reach of the poor man and the working man the
means of cultivating his mind, and so, by giving him matters of deep
interest to think over, keeping him from idleness and perhaps sin (for
idleness is the root of most evil), and making him a happy family-man
instead of a public-house frequenter.

Many were strongly opposed to the introduction of steam, and would
rather have seen it put down, and the old coach and printing-press,
loom, spinning-wheel, and flail kept in use, fearing that machinery
would limit employment; and a hard fight it has been to carry forward
all that has hitherto been done. But what has proved to be the result?
Thousands are now employed where formerly a few people sufficed, and we
are all benefited in having better and cheaper goods, books, provisions,
and all things needful. There is therefore the satisfaction of knowing
that, by the thousand and one applications of steam, the physical,
mental, and even moral condition of the people has been greatly
ameliorated; in this way again proving a triumph for the application of
science to art.

Glasgow is not only famous for its multifarious applications of water
in its finely divided gaseous form of steam, but it has made admirable
use of that element in its more familiar and fluid form, as shown in the
gigantic undertaking of bringing a water-supply into this thriving and
populous city. The peaceful waters of a Highland lake are suddenly
turned from their quiet resting-place, where they have remained in peace
for generations, the admiration of all beholders, and made to take an
active part in contributing to the health, wealth, and comfort of
Glasgow. The beautiful Loch Katrine has been brought into the city,
furnishing a stream of pure water to minister to the wants of all
classes of the people--an undertaking which a few years ago would have
been pronounced impossible; but here again science and art have
prevailed, and brought about this all-important object and greatly
desired and inestimable boon. The great capital of England itself cannot
boast of such an advantage, and must still be content to drink water
contaminated with impurities. Does not this speak volumes for the wealth
and energy of Glasgow? What so conducive to health and cleanliness (and
cleanliness is akin to godliness) as a pure and perfect supply of water
such as you now possess; and you have great reason to be grateful for
this beneficent application of science and art. With a worldwide
celebrity for your waterworks, you have cause also to be proud of your
chemical works, and that famous chimney of St. Rollox, one of the
loftiest structures in the world. There are few cities more highly
favoured than this. Would not Captain Shaw be glad if, in London, he had
the head or command of water such as you have from Loch Katrine to save
the great metropolis from the destruction by fire that they are in daily
dread of? In Glasgow we hardly want this--our grand Loch Katrine does it

Turn to your river, the beautiful Clyde, which eighty years ago could be
forded at Erskine, while Port Glasgow was as far as ships could then
come up--a striking contrast to what is now to be seen at the
Broomielaw, where the largest steamers and ships drawing thirty feet of
water are moored in the very heart of the city, discharging produce from
all parts of the world. What has done this but steam--the energy of man;
steam cutting a channel by dredging to admit of ships passing so far up
the river: and this has been to Glasgow a great source of wealth by the
promotion of commerce. Art has been permitted to work out great things
for your city, and I trust still greater things are in store. Take the
trade now in full progress on the banks of the Clyde. The shipbuilding
is fast leaving the Thames and finding its way here. It is a pleasure to
hear people say: "There is a fine ship--she is Clyde-built."--"Who built
her? Was it Napier, or Thomson, or Tod, or M'Gregor, or Randolph &
Elder, or Caird, or Denny of Dumbarton, or Cunliff & Dunlop?" Pardon me
if I have left out any name, for all are good builders. Then, again, it
may be asked: "Who engined these ships?"--"Oh, Clyde engineers, or those
who built them." I had the pleasure of being this year on board the
Trinity yacht "Galatea," on a cruise when fourteen knots an hour were
accomplished; and that yacht is a good specimen of what Clyde
shipbuilders can turn out. She was built by Caird. I have also had the
pleasure of a trip in the "Russia," one of the finest screw-vessels
afloat, built by Thomson; and she has proved herself perhaps the fastest
of sea-going steamers. Does not all this show what science applied to
art has done?

Glasgow has also a College of the first order, one that is looked up to
as sending men of high standing forth to the world. Watt worked under
its roof as a poor mathematical instrument maker, and although enjoying
little of its valuable instruction, he produced the steam-engine--a
lesson as to what those ought to do towards promoting the application of
science to art who have the full benefit of a scientific training such
as your College affords.

Each day brings forth something new--the electric telegraph, for
instance, by which our thoughts and desires are transmitted to all parts
of the world, so to speak, in a moment of time. When we think that we
are within an instant of America, it gives one a feeling of awe, for it
shows to what an extent we have been permitted to carry the application
of science to art. A small wire is carried across the great Atlantic,
and immediate communication is the result. The achievements of science
were shown to a great extent in the laying of this cable, and perhaps
still more in its recovery after it had been broken. A small cable is
lost at the bottom of the ocean, far from the land, and in water about
two miles in depth--a ship goes out, discovers the spot, and then
grappling irons are lowered. Science with its long arm, as it were,
reaches down the almost unfathomable abyss, and with its powerful hand
secures and brings to the surface of the ocean the fractured cable,
which is again made to connect the Old and New Worlds--thus verifying
almost the words of Shakespeare, when he speaks of calling "spirits from
the vasty deep." After splicing the cable, the vessel proceeds with the
work of paying it out, as it sails across the Atlantic; and once more
science and art find a successful issue, for Europe and America are

What the combination of science and art has done is, however, not yet
exhausted: witness the splendid specimens of artillery now produced by
Sir Joseph Whitworth and Sir William Armstrong--weapons by which
projectiles are thrown with an almost irresistible force. The beauty of
their construction is a triumph to art, and their mathematical truth a
triumph to science. One thing follows another, and no sooner have men of
originality and observation perfected the means of destruction, when
others press forward and furnish the means of defence. Our armour-clads,
such as the "Warrior" and others which lately visited these waters, have
thus been called into existence, and they are splendid specimens of
what science applied to art can achieve.

The Menai Bridge is another instance of the power of man in applied
science. A railway bridge is required to further communication, but
Government demands that the navigation of the Strait shall not be
impeded. The mind of a great man is called into action, and by applying
scientific principles to engineering art, we have that wonder of the
world, the great tubular bridge over the Menai Straits. This work
required a mind of no ordinary nature, but such a one was found in the
celebrated Robert Stephenson. I am proud to say I was privileged to have
him as a friend, and I greatly lamented his death, not only as a friend,
but as an irreparable loss to the world of science.

Another instance of science applied to art--and not the least
important--is the adaptation of glass to form the lens which enables the
flame of a lamp to be seen from a great distance. What this has done for
the mariner is shown in our lighthouses, which enable him to know where
he is by night as well as by day, for the lights are made to revolve, to
be stationary, or to show various colours or flashes, which reveal to
him their respective positions. The compass also, though ancient, is
still an application of applied science, and by it the mariner is
enabled to guide his ship safely over the ocean. A very beautiful
instance of applied science to art is electrometallurgy, in which metals
are deposited by means of the galvanic battery in any required form or
shape, and this process of gilding and plating is executed with
marvellous rapidity. All these various instances show what the mind of
man has done, and is doing; but the applications of science to art are
so endless, that even their simple enumeration could not be included in
the limits of an opening address, for there are few things to which
science cannot be applied. One of the most recent and beautiful is the
art of photography, where, by means of applied chemistry, aided by the
rays of the sun, there can be produced the most pleasing and lifelike
representations. This new application of chemistry is a most interesting
one, which shows that we do not stand still, and as long as arts and
science are permitted to be practised by us we are not intended to stand
still, but to exercise our minds to the utmost to unravel those
mysteries of nature that are yet to be developed.

Chemistry, as a regular branch of natural science, is of comparatively
recent origin, and can hardly be said to date earlier than the latter
third of last century. The Greek philosophers had some vague yet
profound ideas on this subject, but their acquaintance was limited to
speculations _à priori_, founded on general and often inaccurate
observations of natural occurrences. Yet their acuteness was such, that
some of their speculations as to the constituent properties of matter
coincide in a wonderful degree with those which now prevail among modern
philosophers. It is not easy to define what chemistry is in a few words,
but it may be described as the science which has for its object the
investigation of all elementary bodies which exist in the universe, with
the view of determining their composition and properties. It also seeks
to detect the laws which regulate their mutual relations, and the
proportions in which these elements will combine together to form the
compounds which constitute the animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms,
as well as the properties of these various compounds. The ancients
admitted only four elements--earth, air, fire, and water. Chemists now
far exceed this number, and seek to show what these elements are
composed of by analysing them into the various gases, solids, and

Astronomy is the most ancient of all the sciences. The Chaldeans, the
Egyptians, the Chinese, the Hindoos, Gauls, and Peruvians, each regarded
themselves as the inventors of astronomy, an honour which Josephus
deprives them of by ascribing it to the antediluvian patriarchs. From
the few facts to be gleaned out of the vague accounts by ancient authors
regarding the Chaldeans, it may be inferred that their boasted knowledge
of this science was confined to observations of the simplest kind,
unassisted by any instruments whatever. The Egyptians, again, though
anciently considered the rivals of the Chaldeans in the cultivation of
this science, have yet left behind them still fewer records of their
labours, though it is so far certain that their astronomical knowledge
was even greater than that of the Chaldeans. The Phoenicians seem to
have excelled in the art of navigation, and would no doubt direct their
course among the islands of the Mediterranean by the stars; but if they
had any further speculative notions of astronomy, they were probably
derived from the Chaldeans or Egyptians. In China, astronomy has been
known from the remotest ages, and has always been considered as a
science necessary and indispensable to the civil government of the
Celestial Empire. On considering the accounts of Chinese astronomy, we
find it consisted only in the practice of certain observations, which
led to nothing more than the knowledge of a few isolated facts, and they
are indebted to foreigners for any further improvements they have since

The Greeks seem to have made the most early advances in astronomy; for
notwithstanding that the art of observation was still in its infancy, we
are indebted to the labours and speculations of ancient Greek
philosophers for raising astronomy to the dignity of a science. The
complicated but ingenious hypotheses of the Greek Ptolemy prepared the
way for the discovery of the elliptic form of the planetary orbits and
other astronomical laws by the German Kepler, which again conducted our
English Newton to the discovery of the law of gravitation. I am not,
however, desirous of giving this meeting a lecture on astronomy--I shall
leave that to Professor Grant. But it is singular that I should have
come here on a day on which one of the now known observations and
movements of the planets has taken place--the transit of Mercury. This
was calculated to occur this day by the science of astronomy, and it is
also known when it will again occur, namely, on the 6th of May 1878. I
will end this subject by saying, that the discoveries in astronomy in
the last and present centuries have been so many and interesting, that
it would be quite impossible for me to enter here minutely upon them.

In conclusion,--What have science and art done for us? They have
cultivated our minds--they have made us think, wonder, and admire, and I
trust caused us to adore and reverence the Creator of this vast
universe. They have taught us the knowledge and value of time, and have
also shown the value of what man has been enabled to work out for his
own benefit and that of the world at large.

The chemist deals with the various substances brought under his notice,
thereby acquiring a knowledge of their properties, enabling him to
produce results which are truly beneficial. This knowledge is power.

The painter makes the features of Nature his study, and by his brush
delineates them on the canvas, and thus by knowledge of art he exhibits

The astronomer's science is one of vast magnitude and importance--the
study of it embracing both science and art: science in the various
intricate calculations he requires to make in connection with the
heavenly bodies. By his researches we have discovered the form of the
earth and other planets, their respective distances from each other,
their revolutions, their eclipses and their orbits, and, more wonderful
still, the precise time when the various movements of each occur. In
art, the astronomer has originated and perfected the many powerful and
beautiful instruments now required for taking observations, and these,
when compared with the instruments in use in bypast times, are excellent
evidences of modern progress in this direction. Our wonder is excited
when we look at the instruments formerly in use; that so much was done
through them, and the advance made by art in the perfection of those now
adopted, show us again that knowledge is power.

The navigator, by a combination of astronomy and seamanship, is enabled
to plough the great deep, and at all times by mathematical calculation
to discover the exact position of his ship. What, however, would he be
without the aid of art? The compass, the sextant, or quadrant, &c., are
the means which enable him to attain these grand results, and to bring
his ship to the desired haven. The use of these is knowledge, and this
knowledge is power.

Alike with all other things which science and art have called into use,
knowledge is power, and this power was given by the Almighty, as I said
at the beginning of this lecture, to enable man to fathom the works of
creation. Let us then so live that we may ever admire the results of the
labours of science and of art, and at the same time ever remember Him
who has given us the power to discover and use them for our
benefit,--thanking God, who first made all things and pronounced them
very good, for His great mercy toward us.


[A] Now carried out.




A penny seems a small sum to talk about, and with many, I am sorry to
say, is looked upon as so insignificant as to be considered almost
worthless; but I hope, before I have done, to show you something of the
great value of even a penny, and of the effects and products we have
been enabled to produce and dispose of with a reasonable profit at the
cost of one penny. A much smaller sum than this was looked upon and
regarded as of inestimable value by our blessed Saviour, when He saw the
rich men and the widow casting their offerings into the treasury, for He
said: "All these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of
God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had."

Now what did this widow cast in? Two mites, which make one farthing.
Though this took place more than eighteen hundred years ago, it shows to
us even now the great value of small things when given with the heart
and used in the right way.

Money is a most desirable thing, and without it the business of the
world would come to a stand-still, but how to spend it aright is a
matter of grave thought, for it may with ease be spent in luxury, but it
requires a mind to use it profitably. Both pleasure and profit may be
gained by prudent and proper expenditure, and to show how even a limited
income may enjoy great comfort at home (and there is, I hope you think,
no place like home, and one's own home-fireside), I have ventured to
bring before you at this time what can be done for one penny.

The penny itself is a matter which leads one into thought. The vastness
of mind which has been brought to bear on the production of the coin is
itself worthy of consideration. Before any coin can be sanctioned by the
realm, it has to go through the ordeal of Her Majesty's Government, and
after all has been done to the satisfaction of the authorities, a little
bit of copper--though now, for the good of our pockets, mixed with an
alloy--is made to minister to our wants in ways which I hope to lay
before you as plainly and shortly as possible. First and foremost we
must have that great and valuable thing heat, for without heat generated
by fire we could have no penny. One of the first things required to
produce this heat is wood. Now the wood must be grown,--trees attended
to with care and at great cost. Years pass before they are either fit
for beauty or use, yet, during the time of their growth, the smaller
branches that are lopped off form just what is required to set on fire
the coal and coke to produce the heat which is necessary for smelting
and blast furnaces, for our own domestic fires, and various other uses.
A faggot of these lopped branches can be bought for a penny. Having thus
found out, as a beginning, one thing which can be obtained for a penny,
let us go on to see what has to be attended to and encountered before
this valuable coin can be made. Sums of money have to be spent, risks
very great have to be entered into, and beautiful machinery constructed
before it can be placed in our pockets. The mines of Cornwall have to be
reached for both copper and tin--a matter of great cost to the pockets
of speculators, and of anxiety to the minds of engineers, who lay
themselves out to gain the material. Furnaces have to be built to smelt
the ore and bring it into a workable condition. The Mint is then, after
the metal is ready, called into requisition to produce a coin which,
after all this labour and expense, is only a penny.

I come now to tell some of the things which can be accomplished and
produced for a penny. One of the earliest publications of any note was
the "Penny Magazine," which is endeared to my memory as having shown me
the earliest of George Stephenson's great works--the Liverpool and
Manchester Railway. This magazine has now passed away, but it has been
amply replaced by others of equal merit, carrying out its principles of
giving a sound and cheap literature to the people; it was a boon to all
who cared for instruction, and at the same time had to take care of a
penny. Now we have our daily papers at a penny, and of the 1711
newspapers issued (1876) in the United Kingdom, 808 are sold at this
small price. Look at those papers, the "Telegraph," "Standard," and
many others; are they not a light that has shone over our world, showing
what man has been enabled to do for his fellows, in being able to
disseminate the knowledge of what is transpiring over the world to their
readers, both near and far off, and all for only one penny! Has this
been done without labour? No. What has caused it but the earnest desire
to know the events of daily life in as short a time as possible. I do
not care to vouch for what I now say, but I should think that about
20,000 copies are thrown off of the "Daily Telegraph" in an hour, and
these can be bought for one penny each. This penny's worth has cost a
great amount of thought to bring about. Besides the various manufactures
which are required for this result, the daily paper also brings to its
aid the agriculturist as regards the paper; for though this was at first
only made of rags, we now produce it from straw, and I have made it from
thistles, whilst it has also been made from wood and other things. The
rags, of course, were derived from agriculture in as far as flax
required to be grown, but now the farmer gets his grain from the crop,
and the straw left is made into paper--the chief agent in distributing
through the world the thoughts of the learned in science, arts,
literature, and politics. With what eagerness do we look for our paper
in the morning, and with what pleasure do we pay our penny for it! A
penny's worth with respect to this material does not stop here. Look at
our beautiful and not costly decorations; see what a charming room we
can show, produced by a wall-paper at a cost of one penny a yard. Some
of these coloured decorations produce an eye-deception that quite, as
the Scotch would say, "jumbles the judgment and confounds the

We have not done with luxuries, and I will now bring one before you
that, like many others, if used aright, there is no harm in, and which I
look upon as a means of keeping up social good-fellowship among all. I
mean _smoking_. Now the use of tobacco in itself is harmless, but used
in excess is not only dangerous, but acts as a poison. I like a pipe,
but I find at the same time it is needful to have a light. The ingenuity
of man has supplied my want and wish, and I can now get a light from an
article which, to look at, seems only something black tipped with red.
The labour required to produce this small box of lights, as it is
called, is wonderful--the chemist, the wood merchant, the mechanician
(and I am sorry to say, also the surgeon, from the deleterious effects
of the phosphorus on the human frame), have all to bring their work to
bear on the production of this most useful article. Yet, after all, it
is sold and bought for one penny a box. Messrs. Bryant & May profess to
save your houses from fire for this sum by using their matches, and I
think they are right. Fire and heat are among our best friends, but are
also dangerous enemies; and I am sure a penny spent on Bryant & May's
matches is _well_ spent. I do not wish to disparage other makers--far
from it; but a match that will only ignite on the box is an article all
householders should procure, not only for their own protection, but also
for that of their neighbours.

A very striking instance of the value of a penny is set before us in
that most wonderful system the penny-postage, the institution of which
was a boon to the kingdom that cannot be too highly appreciated. It
enables rich and poor alike to bring their thoughts and desires into
communication with each other, and so relieve anxious cares in regard
to the health and wealth, the joys and sorrows of friends in an easy
manner. A penny stamp can convey all our requirements, whether for good
or for evil, and many a large sum is now transmitted under its care. I
have been told that as many as 60,000 letters have passed through the
travelling post-office of the London and North-Western Railway in one
night. How could this great correspondence ever have been carried on but
for railways; and but for the foresight of Sir Rowland Hill this system
might still have been in the background. It is clearly in my
recollection when 1 s. 1-1/2 d. was the charge for a letter from London
to Edinburgh, and that was for what was then called a _single_ letter;
now you may send as much as you like under a certain weight for one

Travelling is now also a thing within the reach of all, for you can
travel for one penny a mile, and this at a rate of speed that could not
be done a few years ago. So much for railways.

Having begun with matters more especially affecting older people, it
would be hard indeed to leave out the younger branches, and the means
that are now employed not only for their comfort, but their amusement.
Among other requirements for them we may class their toys. They are in a
sense most needful, as well as useful, for our children, and from many
of the ingenious toys now-a-days we can acquire a great deal of
knowledge, useful to ourselves and of advantage to others. The beauty of
their manufacture is a striking instance of the ingenuity of man as
applied to small things, seeing that toys, so to speak, are only made
for a few days' enjoyment, and are then almost certain to be broken. But
for their short and transient existence what an amount of mental energy
has been brought to bear--the fancy of the child has to be studied and
provided for, in a way to please, gratify, and amuse, teaching the young
idea how to shoot: all this for one penny. Look at the carts, horses,
and other articles innumerable that are to be bought at the bazaars in
London for a penny, and do they not bring before us in a striking manner
what has been done for the benefit of the young. These toys, which only
cost a penny, have caused many hard and anxious thoughts, are the means
of giving work to thousands, and enabling these thousands to live an
honest and happy life by furnishing a paying living, while at the same
time they minister to the acquirements of those who when young require
amusement. All this is done for a penny's worth; but how divided is this
before the wonderful toy is produced! We have wood, iron, copper, tin,
lead--I may say, all the metals, even the most precious (for gold is
frequently used in the production of a toy that can be bought for a
penny), are employed. Not only have these to be utilised, but they have
first to be obtained--some by the growth of timber, others by mining,
then by the heat of the furnace, then by hammer and workman, then by the
chemist and colour-maker, then by the maker of the toy--many of these
employed at large wages; and yet you receive for your children an
article which not only gives instruction, but the greatest amusement,
all for one penny.

An old saying, but a very true one, "Cleanliness is next to godliness;"
and this brings us to a luxury which, though long known in France, has
only been lately introduced here. This is the shoe-black. You come up to
him, dirty from the mud of the streets of London, and in a very short
time you have your boots shining for a penny. This penny's worth brings
before us a large amount of thought before it can be earned and paid
for. We have to begin with the farmer, who feeds the animal that, after
we have eaten a good dish from and think no more of, yet furnishes the
hair which is made into brushes by the brushmaker; the carpenter has to
make the box to hold them; the blacking-maker also comes to the service;
and the tailor to give the uniform red coat worn by the Shoeblack
Brigade--yet after all this, you can get your boots blacked, and that
well done, for one penny. Out of their earnings, at some stations the
boys--so I was told a short time ago--have to pay 2s. 6d. a day for
leave to stand at their station.

I have gone a long way on things that can be obtained for a penny, but I
have not yet got to the greatest and most valuable--a thing which is to
be obtained for even less than the widow's mite. It is this: "Come ye,
buy and eat, without money and without price, for My word is meat
indeed, and My word is drink indeed." Christ says this, and man cannot
deny it. I am not going to preach a sermon, but as things have come
before me, I have put them down.

Seeing what a penny can do, let us turn to some of the results. A penny
a week at a school, and what can be gained? A child is educated to use
the talents given him or her, so as to work out an honest living, and is
there taught what it can do for the life that now is and that which is
to come. The value of education is so great that it cannot be
over-estimated. A young man I knew got into a railway workshop. He saved
enough to go to Australia, where he has now made a large sum of money.
He left this country with less than £50 in his pocket. He knew work and
business, thanks to education, and had a determined desire to work his
way. I wish it was so all over England, for I know in the Midland
Counties every one will not leave home. You must leave home, at least
for a season, if you wish to get on in the world. Nothing is to be
gained in this world without striving for it. Here is work, but after
death there is rest, but not till then. So, in conclusion, let me say,
Let us all remember that while on earth it is a season for work. _Here
is work_--work for the body, work for the mind, and, above all, work to
prepare the soul for eternity. So that when we come to die, we may not
only be able to look back on a life in which we have spent a penny
aright, but be able to look forward to that life where is everlasting
peace and joy, through Christ in God. And may our last words be--_Here
was_ work, but _there is_ rest, through Christ our Saviour.


We may, I think, commence by saying, "Lord, so teach us to number our
days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom," for, as David says,
"What is man that Thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that Thou
visitest him? Thou makest him to have dominion over the works of Thy
hands, and hast put all things in subjection under his feet." The
difference of past and present means of communication are so great, that
it is no easy task to enter into a discussion on the subject; but it
leads one to gravely consider what is said in the 90th Psalm: "So teach
us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom." To
address an association such as I have now the honour and pleasure of
doing, gives one a feeling of interest, as well as a feeling of
responsibility, for as I have been kindly asked to close the course of
lectures for this session, such an address is looked to in general with
expectation. Do not hope for too much from me; but I trust that, when I
have concluded, you will not be able to pay me the compliment an
old Highland woman did to her minister on seeing him after
church-service--"Ah, maister, this discoursing will never do, for I
wasna weel asleep till ye were done." Having said this by way of
introduction, I think it devolves upon me in some way first to explain
what is the meaning of the subject of Communication. It may be briefly
stated to be _a means to an end_--an intercourse or passage of either
the body from one place to another, or of the thoughts of one person to
another. And as I begin with the communication of the body, I cannot do
better than name some of the methods by which communication is carried
on, and shall commence with _Roads, Coaches, Railways, Canals_, and
_Steamers_. Then, for mind, I will take _Books, Printing, Letters,
Exhibitions_, and _Telegraphs_.

Our age has so advanced, that though Methuselah lived nearly one
thousand years, yet he in his age did not live as long as we do now.
See what science and art have done for us. We now do more in one day
than could be done in a month some very few years ago; and, as far as
travelling about the world is concerned, I can say that I have been from
John-o'-Groat's House to Brighton, thence into Hertfordshire, thence
back to London, from there to Edinburgh, thence to John-o'-Groat's, and
here I am before you, without fatigue, or a thought that I should not be
present in time. What has enabled us to do this but the determination of
man to communicate with his fellow-men, and his thirst for the knowledge
of what is doing in places where he, as an individual, could not be
present. When there were no roads, it was no easy matter to move about,
so the people remained at rest. But the Romans, a people who aspired to
conquer the world, were not a people to sleep and let things stand
still. They began the making of roads in Britain, and to them we owe the
first of our greatness. They saw, as every wise man now sees, that the
first thing to the improvement of land and property is easy
communication, and facilities for bringing the things needed for the
improvement of the land, and the means also of export for the produce.
The earliest roads were, as we may say, right on end; and the Roman
roads, as I hear, have borne the traffic of two thousand years. I hope I
may say that even a Roman road would not bear the traffic of a town like
Greenock for anything like that period of time, or I fear the commerce
of this populous and most thriving town would be in a bad way. The great
Telford and Macadam are the persons to be thanked for our beautiful
system of road-making, and no person can, I am sure, deny the utility of
their plans. As I said, roads are a means of communication for the body,
and also for the mind; and therefore, now that their advantages are
seen, we should strive to further their advance in all districts.

_Coaches_.--We come now to the means of communication on the roads for
the body, and also for the mind, as both must go together--viz., the
coach and the carriage or cart (for before the roads were made we had no
coaches). In the first place, these carts or carriages were rude and
heavy waggons, without springs or other comfort; but still they served
to convey the body, and the mind that went with it at last discovered,
by degrees, that conveyances could be constructed so as to cause less
wear and tear on animal life. The result of time and labour has been the
elegant constructions of the present day. The first hackney-coaches were
started in London, A.D. 1625, by a Captain Bailey. Another conveyance
for the body, the sedan-chair, was introduced first into England in
1584, and came into fashion in London in 1634. The late Sir John
Sinclair was called a fool because he said a mail-coach would come from
London to Thurso. I am glad to say that he _saw_ it, and it opened up a
communication for the body and mind that has worked wonders in the far
North. We now have a railway.

_Steam._--We proceed next to the grandest stage--or, as it is said in
the North, "We took a start." What place have we to thank for this great
start, but the very town in which I have the honour to give this closing
address. Was not James Watt born here? The 19th January 1736 was a great
day for England, Scotland, and the world at large, for that day brought
into the world a man who, by his talents and by his observations of what
others had done before him, was the means of bringing to a workable
state that all-powerful and most useful machine, the steam-engine. The
people of Greenock may well indeed feel proud of being citizens of a
town that produced such a man; for though many places have given birth
to great and valuable men, and persons who rendered the world vast and
lasting service, yet, I may safely say, no one has surpassed James Watt
in the benefits he has bestowed on the world, on its trade, its
commerce, and its means of communication for both body and mind, as the
producer of the steam-engine. There were not even coaches in his time,
and his first journey to London was performed on horseback, a ten days'
ride, very different to our ten or twelve hours now-a-days. His life and
determination show what a man can do, both for himself and his
fellow-men, and are a bright example to be followed by all those
especially who belong to such associations as the one I now have the
honour to address. He not only thought, but carried out his thoughts to
a practical issue, and, though laughed at, he still stuck to his great
work, and by his perseverance gave to the world one of its greatest
boons, and certainly its greatest motive power--the steam-engine. The
first use of the engine, as you well know, was the pumping of water.
Rude were the machines made by Savory, Newcombe, and others, to achieve
the desired end, but Watt, in his small room in the cottage at Glasgow,
at last brought about a triumph that the world at large now feels and
acknowledges. I will not go further into the history of a man so well
known and appreciated, as his memory must be here, but will go on to say
something briefly on the results of the operations of the mind over the
material placed before it, to bring into form and make it practically
useful for the advantage of man.

_Steamers_.--Greenock must see and value the great power at her disposal
in the steam-ship. She has now her large building yards, and it was from
her yards that, in 1719, the first ship--belonging to Greenock, and I
believe built there--sailed for America, and from that time the trade
increased rapidly. And I believe Glasgow launched the first Scotch ship
that ever crossed the Atlantic in 1718, only one year in advance of
Greenock. The large building yards of Greenock bring into the town sums
of money which, but for these yards, would go elsewhere, and deprive the
community of many comforts, not to say luxuries. They are the means of
carrying on the import and export trade of this thriving town in a way
that could not otherwise have been done; famous as this place is for
shipbuilding, spinning, and its splendid sugar-works. These latter you
have indeed reason to be proud of, for there are few finer. The increase
of importation of sugar is striking. In Britain in 1856, our imports of
this article were 6,813,000 lbs., in 1865 it was 7,112,772 lbs. Though
all this did not come to Greenock, yet from what you do in this trade, I
think the word holds good that we as Scotchmen are sweet-toothed. You
can now boast of a steam communication not only on the coast, but over
the world. I had last year the pleasure of a cruise in the Trinity yacht
"Galatea," and does not she speak volumes for what can be done by your
citizens? for that vessel was built by Mr. Caird, and even the ship
seemed to feel that she came from the beautiful Clyde. What a difference
now to the time of Henry Bell in 1812, who first started a steamer for
passengers on the Clyde! We have now in Great Britain 2523 steamers,
registering no less than 766,200 tons. Have not these improvements shown
what means of communication do for body and mind?

_Railways_.--Having said this much about steamers, I will turn for a
short time to another means of communication for body and mind--I mean
the railways. Are not they a striking advance in science, and the
bringing to bear the power of mind to work on the material that has been
provided for our use by an all-wise God? It is but a few years since,
comparatively speaking, they came into existence, and yet, from the time
of George Stephenson (and his perseverance largely aided to perfect the
railway), see what vast sums of money have been spent, what magnificent
and noble structures have been erected, and what speed has been obtained
for the communication of body and mind. Instead of the thirty miles from
Manchester to Liverpool in 1830, we now have in Great Britain and
Ireland 13,289 miles of railway. The total capital paid in 1865 was
£455,478,000, and this has largely increased since then. An idea may be
formed of the difference of the rate of speed in travelling effected,
both before and after the introduction of railways, by such facts as the
following:--Two hundred years ago, King James's groom rode six days in
succession between London and York, and a wonderful feat it was deemed;
whilst now, the same distance is performed in five hours. About 1755 to
1760, the London and Edinburgh coach was advertised to run between these
cities in fourteen days in summer, and sixteen in winter, resting one
Sunday on the road. So much for the growing desire for speedy
intercourse for mind and body.

_Suez Canal_.--There is an all-absorbing topic now before the public,
and it is one that brings strikingly before us the thirst for
communication of both body and mind to and from distant parts of our
globe. It is one of deep importance to all who take an interest in the
advancement of science--I mean the Suez Canal. The Red Sea cannot but be
familiar to us all--a sea of the most profound interest, for there did
the mighty Jehovah work one of His most stupendous miracles, when He
brought the children of Israel out of Egypt, and at the same time
destroyed Pharaoh and all his host. But in how different a manner did
the Lord work! By a word He caused the waters to go back, leaving a wall
on the right hand and on the left, so that the people of Israel went
through on dry land. This was not all. Were not His chosen people
accompanied by a pillar of fire to give light in the night season, and a
cloud of thick darkness to prevent the Egyptians coming near them during
the day? Does not this show that His mercy is over all His works? For
after He had brought out His people with joy, and His chosen with
gladness, He overthrew their enemies in the sea--in the same place where
He had performed such wonders for the preservation of His people.

Often has the spot been crossed by our steamers; and though some may,
and I trust do, bring to mind the stupendous miracle, yet it, like many
other thing's, is regarded as a matter gone by. Here now we have the Red
Sea brought under our notice in a most striking manner, and one that
leads us not only to feel the greatness of the power of man over
material things, but I trust it may also lead us to see our littleness
when compared with Him who made us. We, that is the nations which
brought about this great canal, have had to spend years and vast sums of
money to carry out the end aimed at, and under the Divine aid it has
been brought to a successful termination. But see what God did! Did the
Almighty consult engineers, or take soundings and levels, or ask the
laws of Nature if He could or would succeed? Nay,--one word was enough.
He spake, and that was sufficient--the waters stood up in a heap. We,
however, have succeeded in bringing the Red Sea and the Mediterranean
into connection with each other--an achievement that strongly shows the
determination of man. It is a boon, indeed, to the commerce of this
country, and I hope also of many others, as by enabling ships to pass
through, the transhipment of cargo is now done away with, and the
distance to the other side of the globe reduced to its minimum.
Engineers may truly be proud of the day that brought this great and
noble work to a completion; and I trust they will thank the Lord who
hath crowned their strenuous efforts with success.

_Books_.--Having got thus far as regards the conveyance of the body, we
must now turn to the communication of the mind, and the thoughts of one
individual as conveyed to another, and this leads one to speak of books.
What are they but the means of communication of the thoughts of great
men, and a distribution of those thoughts for the benefit of their
fellows, by bringing before them matters of interest in the history of
our own country and that of others. The great object to be looked to is
the selection of our books--the variety is now so great; and I grieve to
say (and I think I am right) that the sensational works of the present
day have a tendency to lead the mind into a train of thought that is
flippant and unsteady, and I would warn young people against them. When
we look to such works as those of Sir Walter Scott, Macaulay, and many
others of the same kind, we find food for the mind, the benefit of which
cannot be over-estimated.

_Printing_.--The spread of knowledge through the world is indeed a boon
which cannot be too highly extolled; but the thoughts of man could not
thus have been circulated had it not been for the printing-press. See
what science and art have done for us in this most perfect and beautiful
machine! When we go only to one example, the "Times" newspaper, and
consider the amount of information it circulates each day through the
world, it strikes one forcibly what man has been allowed and enabled to
do for the benefit of himself and his fellow-men. What we have brought
the printing-press to, is shown in 20,000 copies of the "Times" being
thrown off in one hour, and the advantage it has been to the advancement
of literature in our now being able to buy such works as those of Sir
Walter Scott for sixpence a volume.

Having gone so far, I must not detain you for more than a brief period.
You have had such an able and interesting course of lectures given by
men of high talent, that little remains for me except to close this
course with congratulation to the Association in being able to procure
those individuals to give their valuable time to this desirable object;
for what in life is more interesting than the imparting the knowledge we
may possess to others who desire to acquire it, seeing that there is no
way in which moral and social intercourse is more advanced and
developed. Still, before closing, I must ask for a short time to go into
one or two other subjects. And first, I will take one of the greatest
importance to the commerce of this country, and one that has shown what
the mind has done for communicating the thoughts of one person to
another at far distant places--I refer to the telegraph. The land is
not only covered with wires, but even the vast depths of the great ocean
are made to minister to our requirements. The world, we may say, is
encircled with ropes, and instant communication has been the result.
What has achieved these great results but the mind of man applied to
science! And see in what a multitude of ways this application of mind
has been made to work! What does it bring into play? Why, we have mining
to produce the metal to make the wire; we have the furnace, hammers, and
wire-drawing machines to produce the wire from the raw material. We have
the forest then to go to for gutta-percha, for land poles, and for tar
to preserve the cables. We have the farmer for our hemp. We have the
chemist, we have the electrician, we have the steamer, and a great
number of other requisites before the silent but unerring voice of the
needle brings the thoughts of one man in America to another in this town
in an instant of time. Accidents and mistakes will occur in the
best-regulated works of all kinds, but I hope not often. One as to the
telegraph I must tell that happened during the Indian Mutiny. The
message meant to say that "The general won't act, and the troops have no
head." The transformation was curious, namely, "The general won't eat,
and the troops have cut off his head." If men would only consider well
this grand achievement, they would be led indeed to say and feel, with
all humility and thankfulness, that God has truly given him dominion
over the works of His hands, and has put all things in subjection under
his feet.

I had almost forgotten one other point of communication for mind, and,
though at the risk of trying your patience, I must mention it, as its
increase has been so large, and its advantages so manifold and untold. I
mean the penny-postage. I am not going to enter into it at any length,
but the increase of correspondence has been so large, that Sir Rowland
Hill's name should not be left out of a lecture treating on subjects
such as this one is intended to do. I will content myself by merely
telling the increase of correspondence, and leave you to judge for
yourselves as to its benefits. The number of letters in 1839, before the
penny-postage, was 82,470,596, and in 1866 it was 597,277,616. Judge the

Coming to the results of communication, I have one subject to bring
before you, and as it has shown to such a large extent the benefits of
international communication, I trust a few words on it may not be out
of place. The subject is the great International Exhibitions that have
been held in various countries in the last eighteen years. The first
idea of holding such great exhibitions emanated from a man whose name
cannot be held in too great estimation by all. Few men were gifted with
such rare talents as he was, for there were few subjects, whether in
science, literature, or art, that he was not intimately acquainted with.
This man was the late Prince Consort. He conceived the idea that if the
products of the various countries of the world could be brought together
under one roof, the knowledge these would convey of the machinery,
cultivation, science, literature, and arts practised in the various
parts of the globe would tend to stimulate and advance the mind by
showing that we had not only ourselves to look to, but that in a great
measure we had to depend on others for the many blessings we now enjoy;
and also lead us to see how needful to our prosperity and comfort is a
constant communication with those who can communicate to us that
knowledge which otherwise we could not obtain. Certainly the results
have proved that he was right. Could anything have been more
interesting or instructive to all than a visit to the Great Exhibitions
of 1851 or 1862, or that of Paris in 1867. The public interest is at
once shown when I tell you that 6,039,195 persons visited the latter,
and the receipts in money were £506,100. There, all and every one had
before him at a glance the subject most suited to his taste, with a full
description of the country which produced it. From the largest machine,
the heaviest ordnance, the most brilliant and precious stones, the
finest silks, lace, furniture, carriages, the greatest luxuries for the
table, and, in fact, everything needful for the use of man;--all were
there, and all to be seen and studied by the inquiring mind, or to be
regarded as very wonderful by those who went to the Exhibition as a
sight. Few, I venture to say, ever left these buildings except wiser
than when they entered. It could not fail to strike one, if one only
gave it a moment's reflection, and asked himself, how has all this been
brought about, but that it was the result of the communication of the
minds of certain individuals with those of others, and by a
concentration of the products of various countries to enlighten the
mind as to the vast intelligence of the world at large.

In conclusion, I feel now that I have spoken long enough for any
lecture, though I have not by any means exhausted the subject of
communication of either past or present; but I should feel grieved if I
exhausted your patience. All things, as we well know, must have an end,
except that life to which we are looking forward and striving to gain,
where we shall cease from our labours and be at rest. We have been
endued by our Maker with thought and mind, talents to be used for our
benefit, and not wrapped up in a napkin till our Lord's return, but to
be placed out so as to bring in either the five or the ten talents. And,
as you all know, we are answerable for the manner in which we employ
them. May the result prove that we have used them aright.

The progress of means of communication of mind and body have been
gradual but steady, and I think may be represented by human life from
its childhood to manhood, as beautifully set forth in the 13th chapter
of 1st Corinthians 11th verse, where it is said, "When I was a child, I
spake as a child; I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but
when I became a man, I put away childish things." Is not this very much
in keeping with our growth in communication? At first it was small, and
we were content to hear of what others were engaged in without regard to
time, as one day earlier or later was of little consequence. But now we
are not children, but are become men in our interests and thirst for
communication with each other. What should we say if we found the
Express, as was written on the boy's post-bag, busily engaged in a game
of bowls on the road, regardless of the loss of time or money thereby
occasioned? I think we should be inclined to write to the papers.

The results of communication are manifold, and day by day they are
brought before us in a manner which shows the untiring wish of man for
improvement both in social and commercial interests. These results are
strikingly shown in the various subjects I have endeavoured to bring
before you. Each and all of them are subjects for thought. What should
we now be without, I may say, any one of them?

A well-regulated mind is the most desirable of all acquirements, and I
know no better means of gaining this than by meetings of such
institutions as this. Here you have intercourse with your friends, and
you can gain from one another by friendly intercourse stores of
knowledge, that to search for as individuals would take away much more
time than you could by any means devote, and at the same time attend to
the business of your calling. Here you have the means of amusement as
well as of gaining sound information, and I trust no one here will ever
have cause to regret the day when he came to associate with his friends,
and hear what others could communicate, for "in the multitude of
counsellors there is wisdom."


The many varieties of the world's manufactures--one might almost call
them wonders--are now so numerous, that to bring any particular one in a
single form before this meeting is a matter of no easy nature. To-night,
however, I have ventured to single out, and have the pleasure of
bringing before you, the steam-engine, as the prime mover at present of
our workshops and manufactories, as also the grand motive power of our
railways, now so different from the time when the great Stephenson was
said to be mad, because he thought it possible to drive a train at
fifteen miles an hour. For the first serviceable use of this grand
machine we are indebted to the great James Watt. He it was who first
wrought it so as to be under the useful and entire control of man, from
what it was in the time of Hero of Alexandria, about 120 years before
Christ. Our engineers have, since Watt's time, improved upon it year by
year, till at the present day, instead of having to go in a mail-coach
from London to Edinburgh, which formerly took fifty hours, we now go in
the express train in ten, a distance of 420 miles. If beyond this ten
hours, we grumble, and ask guards, porters, &c., at the various
stations, "What has made the train so late to-day?" forgetting that just
before the railways were first opened, the great Stephenson was urged
not to say too much as to the supposed power of the locomotive, in case
the cause of railways might be damaged. This was only some forty years
ago, and it shows us how times are changed, for in the present day we
consider thirty miles an hour anything but a fast train.

The history of the steam-engine is a subject on which so much has been
written in books and magazines now before the public, that what I am
about to offer, though pretending nothing new, yet I hope may be looked
upon as containing something useful as well as instructive, both to the
practical and the amateur mechanic. I shall therefore, in as small a
compass as possible, trace the steam-engine from its first and early
stages up to its present perfect state as our grand motive power. The
first mention made of the vapour of water, as formed by the action of
heat upon it, is found to be as far back as 120 B.C., when one Hero of
Alexandria employed this vapour for the purpose of driving a machine. It
is a well-known fact that when water is brought up to a certain degree
of heat, called the boiling-point, that it sends forth a vapour, the
elastic properties of which, when in an open vessel, are not
perceived--as, for instance, in a common pan--yet if the vessel is
closed or shut up at the top, you will find that the vapour acquires
such a degree of elastic force, that, if not allowed to escape by fair
means, it would soon make a way or vent for itself by bursting whatever
vessel it was contained in. Steam is thus highly elastic, but when
separated from the fluid out of which it is generated, it does not
possess a greater elastic force than the same quantity of air. If, for
example, a vessel is filled with steam only at 212°, it may be brought
to a red heat without fear of bursting; but if water is also in the
vessel, each additional quantity of heat causes a fresh quantity of
steam to be generated, which adds its elastic force to that of the steam
already in the vessel, till the constantly accumulating force at last
bursts the vessel.

This elastic vapour is called steam, and it is by this that that most
beautiful machine, the steam-engine, is driven. As you all know, by this
vapour or air--for it is invisible till it loses part of its
heat--enormous power is obtained in a small compass, and the labour of
man reduced to nothing compared with former ages. Many men laboured to
perfect machinery to be worked by this vapour of water, and many came
near the mark; but it remained for the great Watt, at the Soho Works,
Birmingham, to bring the engine to its useful and working state, for
though discovered as a motive power 120 B.C., it was yet reserved for
this truly great man to be what may be termed the inventor of the

In 120 B.C., Hero of Alexandria made a machine to be driven by steam. It
consisted of a hollow sphere into which the steam was admitted;
projecting from the sphere were two arms, from which the steam escaped
by three holes on the side of _each_ arm opposite to that of the
direction of its revolution, which, by removing the power from off the
one part of _each_ arm, caused it to revolve in the direction opposite
to that of the hole that allowed the steam to escape. This kind of
engine has been for some years in use by Mr. Ruthven of Edinburgh. There
are others who have followed very closely on Hero's plan in more ways
than one; for instance, it is the common Barker's mill, though with this
difference, that his mill is driven by water instead of steam: Avery,
also, made a steam-engine almost exactly the same. I may here, perhaps,
just be allowed to mention what a little water and coal will produce, as
it will show at once from whence our power is derived. "A pint of water
may be evaporated by two ounces of coal; in its evaporation it swells to
216 gallons of steam, with a mechanical force equal to raising a weight
of thirty-seven tons one foot high." A pound of coal in a locomotive
will evaporate about five pints of water, and in their evaporation these
will exert a force equal to drawing two tons on a railway a distance of
one mile in two minutes. A train of eighty tons weight will take 240
passengers and luggage from Liverpool to Birmingham and back, each
journey about four and a quarter hours; this double journey of 190 miles
being effected by the combustion of one and a half tons of coke, worth
about twenty-four shillings. To perform the same work by common road
would require twenty coaches, and an establishment of 3800 horses, with
which the journey would be performed each way in about twelve hours,
stoppages included. So much for the advantages of steam.

The Romans are supposed to have had some knowledge of the power of
steam. Among amusing anecdotes, showing the knowledge the ancients had
of steam, it is told that Anthemius, the architect of Saint Sophia,
lived next door to Zeno. There existed a feud between them, and to annoy
his neighbour, Anthemius had some boilers placed in his house containing
water, with a flexible tube which he could pass through a hole in the
wall under the floor of Zeno's dwelling; he then lit a fire, which soon
caused steam to pass through the tube in such a quantity as to make the
floors to heave as if by an earthquake. But to return. We next come to
Blasco de Garay (A.D. 1543), who proposed to propel a ship by the power
of steam. So much cold water seems to have been thrown on his engine,
that it must have condensed all his steam, as little notice is taken of
it except that he got no encouragement. We find that it has also been
used by some of the ancients in connection with their deities.
Rusterich, one of the Teutonic gods, which was found in an excavation,
proves how the priests deceived the people. The head of this one was
made of metal and contained a pot of water. The mouth and another hole
in the forehead being stopped by wooden plugs, a fire of charcoal was
lighted under this pot of water, and at length the steam drove out the
plugs with a great noise, and the god was shrouded in a mist of steam
which concealed him from his astonished worshippers.

In 1629, Giovanni Branca of Loretto in Italy, an engineer and architect,
proposed to work mills and other machinery by steam blowing against
vanes, much in the same way as water does in turning a wheel. The waste
of steam in such a plan is so obvious, that it is not to be wondered at
that it did not produce any great results, as we all know that the
moment we let steam out of his case, the case is all up with him, and he
dies a natural death. He is a most delicate yet powerful agent, and
requires to be kept warm in all weathers--this fact does not seem to
have struck Mons. Branca when he let him out of his boiler.

The next person we come to, and perhaps the first of any note, is the
Marquis of Worcester in 1663 (died 1667). He was a man who seems, as far
as history tells us, to have taken a great interest in furthering the
advancement of steam. He was not contented with one invention, but
published a book entitled "A Century of Inventions," and in this work he
describes a means of raising water by the pressure of steam. The Marquis
appears to have been a politician as well as an inventor, as we find he
was engaged on the side of the Royalists in the Civil Wars of the
Revolution, lost his fortune and went to Ireland, where he was
imprisoned. Escaping to France, from thence he returned to London as a
secret agent of Charles II., but was detected and imprisoned in the
Tower, where he remained till the Restoration, when he was set at
liberty. One day, while in prison, he observed the lid of the pot in
which his dinner was being prepared lifted up by the vapour of the water
boiling inside. Reflecting on this, he turned his mind to the matter,
and thought that this vapour, if rightly applied, might be made a useful
moving power. He thus describes his invention in his 68th Article: "I
have contrived an admirable way to drive up water by fire, not by
drawing or sucking it upwards, thirty-two feet. But this way hath no
bounds, if the vessels be strong enough." He then goes on to say, that
"having a way to make his vessels, so that they are strengthened by the
force within, I have seen the water run like a constant stream forty
feet high. One vessel rarified by fire driveth forty of cold water, and
one being consumed, another begins to force, and refill with cold water,
and so on successively, the fire being kept constant. The engineman
having only to turn two cocks, so as to connect the steam with the one
or the other vessel."

In this engine, if it can be called an engine, we see that the Marquis
had a good idea of the power of steam, but he had none, you will
observe, as to the action of the condensation which would immediately
take place when the steam from the boiler was brought into contact with
the cold water to be raised. Therefore this plan would be most
expensive, on account of the great loss of steam by condensation. It
was, however, quite able to produce the effect, though only equal to
raising 20 cubic feet of water, or 1250 lbs., one foot high by one pound
of coal, or about the two-hundredth part of the effect of a good
steam-engine. After this, of course, it proved of no avail; but still we
may say that the Marquis of Worcester was among the first who tried to
make, and did do so, steam a moving power.

Our next is Denys Papin (died 1710), a native of Blois, in France, who
was mathematical professor at Marpurg. To him is due the discovery of
one of the qualities of steam--its condensation, so as to produce a
vacuum, to the proper management of which our modern engines owe much of
their efficacy. Papin seems to have been the first who conserved the
idea of the cylinder and piston, which he made to act on atmospheric
principles--that is to say, he took a cylinder with a piston moving up
and down in it, and found that by removing the air from under the piston
in the cylinder, that the pressure of the atmosphere would drive it down
to the bottom of the cylinder: this he performed by admitting steam, and
then condensing it rapidly, so causing the required vacuum. The pressure
of the atmosphere is as near as may be 16 lbs. on every square inch of
surface on the globe: this is obviously the weight of the columns of
air extending from that square inch of surface upwards to the top of the
atmosphere. This force is thus measured: Take a glass tube 32 inches
long, open at one end and closed at the other; provide also a basin full
of mercury; let the tube be filled with mercury and inverted into the
basin. The mercury will then fall in the tube, till it gets to that
height which the atmosphere will sustain. This is nothing more than the
barometer used in all our houses. If the action of the tube be equal to
a square inch, the weight of the column of mercury in the tube would be
exactly equal to the weight of the atmosphere on each square inch of
surface. Thus Papin discovered a great step in the steam-engine, though
it was not much acted on for some years; he was also the first who
proposed to drive ships with paddles worked by steam.

We now come to Thomas Savory, who got a patent in 1698 for a method of
condensing steam to form a vacuum. Savory describes his discovery in
this way:--Having drank a flask of wine at a tavern, he flung the empty
flask on the fire, and then called for a basin of water to wash his
hands. A little wine remained in the flask, which of course soon
boiled, and it occurred to him to try what effect would be produced by
putting the mouth of the flask into the cold water. He did this, and in
a moment the cold water rushed up and filled the flask, this being
caused by the steam being condensed and leaving a vacuum, which Nature
abhors, and rather than permit this the water rushed up and took the
place formerly occupied by the now condensed steam. We see by this in
how simple a way great ends are produced, and in the age in which this
happened, the result may be indeed be said to have produced a great end.
The engine of Savory was used for some years as a machine to raise
water. The principle of his engine was just as I have stated, and
consisted of two cases and other various parts, and this engine
possessed advantages over that of the Marquis of Worcester in sucking up
the water as well as forcing.

Savory's engine consisted of two steam vessels connected to a boiler by
tubes; a suction pipe, or that pipe which leads from a pump of the
present day to the well, and communicating with each of the steam
vessels by valves opening upwards; a pipe going from these steam vessels
to any required height to which the water is to be raised. The steam
vessels were connected to this pipe by other valves, also opening
upwards, and by pipes. Over the steam vessels was placed a cistern,
which was kept filled with _cold_ water. From this proceeded a pipe with
a stopcock. This cistern was termed the condensing cistern, and the pipe
could be brought over each steam vessel alternately from the boiler.
Now, suppose the tubes to be filled with common air, and the regulator
placed so that one tube and the boiler are made to communicate, and the
other tube and the boiler closed, steam will fill one of the steam
vessels through one tube; at first it will condense quickly, but erelong
the heat of the steam will impart its heat to the metal of the vessel,
and it will cease to condense. Mixed with the heated air, it will
acquire a greater force than the air outside the valve, which it will
force open, and drive out the mixture of air and steam, till all the air
will have passed from the vessel, and nothing but the vapour of water
remain. This done, a cock is opened, and the water from the cistern is
allowed to flow over the outside of the steam vessel, first having
stopped the further supply of steam from it; this produced the
immediate condensation of the steam contained in it, by the temperature
being brought down again by the cold water, and the condensation thus
produced caused a vacuum inside the vessel. The valve will then be kept
closed by the atmosphere outside, and the pressure of the air on the
surface of the water in the well or reservoir will open another valve,
force the water up the pipe, till, after one or two exhaustions--if I
may so term it--it will at last reach the second vessel. Thus far the
atmosphere has done all the work, but at last the water fills the
vessel, and then comes the forcing point. Now the power of the steam
itself is used to drive the water up the pipe. The steam is again let
into the vessel, now filled in whole, or at least in great part, with
water; at first it will, as before, condense rapidly, but soon the
surface of the water will get heated, and as hot water is lighter than
cold, it will keep on the surface, and the pressure of the steam from
the boiler will drive all the water from the vessel up the pipe. When it
is empty the cock is again opened, and the steam, which the vessel by
this time only contains, is again condensed, and the same process which
I have just described is again commenced and carried out, thus making
Savory's engine a complete pump by the aid of the vapour of water as
raised by fire.

Savory had the honour of showing this engine to His Majesty William III.
at Hampton Court Palace, and to the Royal Society. He proposed the
following uses, which perhaps may as well be mentioned, as they show how
little was then known of the real value of the power of steam:--1. To
raise water to drive mill-wheels--fancy erecting a steam engine now, of
say fifty horse-power, to raise water to turn a wheel of say thirty; 2.
To supply palaces and houses with water; 3. Towns with water; 4.
Draining marshes; 5. Ships; 6. Draining mines. There is one more thing I
may mention as curious, that though the steam he used must have been of
a high pressure, he did not use a safety-valve, though it had been
invented about the year 1681 by Papin. The consumption of fuel was
enormous in Savory's engine, as may easily be perceived from the great
loss of steam by condensation. Nevertheless, it was on the whole a good
and a workable engine, as we find the following said of it by Mr.
Farey:--"When comparison is made between Captain Savory's engine and
those of his predecessors, the result will be favourable to him as an
inventor and practical engineer. All the details of his invention are
made out in a masterly style, so as to make it a real workable engine.
His predecessors, the Marquis of Worcester, Sir S. Morland, Papin, and
others, only produced outlines which required to be filled up to make
them workable."

I must not detain you much longer before I proceed to the great Watt,
but I will just name Newcomen, who invented an engine with a cylinder,
and introduced a beam, to the other end of which he fixed a pump rod
like a common or garden pump. He made the weight of the pump and beam to
lift the piston, and then let the steam enter below the piston and
condensed it by a jet of water, thus causing a vacuum, when the pressure
of the atmosphere drove the piston from the top to the bottom of the
cylinder and lifted the pump rods in the usual way. There were various
cocks to be opened and shut in the working of this engine for the right
admission of steam and water at the required moments, a task which was
performed by boys who were termed cock-boys. I will now mention an
instance which, though in practice not to be imitated, yet was one of
those happy accidents which sometimes turn out for the best. One of
these boys, like many, more fond of play than work, got tired of turning
these cocks day by day, and conceived the idea of making the engine do
it for itself. This idle boy--we will not call him good-for-nothing, as
he proved good for a great deal in one way--was named Humphrey Potter,
and one day he fixed strings to the beam, which opened and shut the
valves, and so allowed him to play, little thinking this was one of the
greatest boons he could possibly have bestowed on the world at large,
for by so doing he rendered the steam-engine a self-acting machine.

We now come to a period which was destined to advance the cause of steam
to a far greater extent--in fact, the time which rendered the
steam-engine the useful and valuable machine it now is. This is the time
of James Watt. This great man, be it said to the credit of Scotland, was
born in Greenock, on the Clyde, on the 19th January 1736. His
grandfather was a farmer in Aberdeenshire, and was killed in one of the
battles of Montrose. His father was a teacher of mathematics, and was
latterly chief magistrate of Greenock. James Watt, the celebrated man of
whom I now speak, was a very delicate boy, so much so, that he had to
leave school on account of his health, and was allowed to amuse himself
as he liked. This he did in a scientific way, however, as an aunt of his
said to him one day: "Do you know what you have been doing? You have
taken off and put on the lid of the teapot repeatedly; you have been
holding spoons and saucers over the steam, and trying to catch the drops
of water formed on them by it. Is it not a shame so to waste your time?"
Mrs. Muirhead, his aunt, was little aware that this was the first
experiment in the way which afterwards immortalised her nephew.

In 1775 Watt was sent to London to a mathematical instrument maker, but
could not stay on account of his health, and soon afterwards came back
to Glasgow. He then got rooms in the College, and was made mathematical
instrument maker to the University, and he afterwards opened a shop in
the town. He was but twenty-one years of age when he was appointed to
this post in the College, and his shop became the lounge of the clever
and the scientific. The first time that his attention was directed to
the agency of steam as a power was in 1734, when a friend of his, Mr.
Robinson, who had some idea of steam carriages, consulted him on the
subject,--little is said of this, however. In 1762 Watt tried some
experiments on high-pressure steam, and made a model to show how motion
could be obtained from that power; but did not pursue his experiments on
account of the supposed danger of such pressure. He next had a model of
Newcomen's engine, which would not work well, sent him to repair. Watt
soon found out its faults, and made it work as it should do. This did
not satisfy him, and setting his active mind to work, he found in the
model that the steam which raised the piston had of course to be got rid
of. This, as a natural consequence, caused great loss of heat, as the
cylinder had to be cooled so as to condense the steam; and this led him
at last, after various plans, to adopt a separate vessel to condense
this steam. Of course, if you wish to save fuel, it is necessary that
the steam should enter a heated cylinder or other vessel, or else all
the steam is lost,--or in other words, condensed,--that enters it, until
it has from its own heat imparted so much to the cylinder as to raise
it to its own temperature, when it will no longer condense, and not till
then does it begin to exert its elastic power to produce motion. This
was the great object gained by James Watt, when, after various
experiments, he gave up the idea altogether of condensing steam in its
own or working cylinder, and then made use of a separate vessel, now
called the condenser.

The weight of steam is about 1800 times less than water. I may here
perhaps mention also that water will boil at 100 degrees Fahr. in vacuo,
whereas in atmosphere it takes 212 degrees to boil. There is also a
thing perhaps worth knowing to all who wish to get the most stock out of
bones, &c., that if they are boiled in a closed vessel, that is to say,
under a pressure of steam, a very large increase in quantity of the
stock will be produced, because the heat is increased. A cubic inch of
water, evaporated under _ordinary_ atmospheric pressure, will be
converted into a cubic foot of steam; and a cubic inch of water,
evaporated as above, gives a mechanical force equal to raising about a
ton a foot high.

The next great improvement of Watt, in addition to the condenser, is the
air-pump, the use and absolute necessity for which you will understand
when I explain its action. Watt first used it for his atmospheric
engine. The piston of this engine was kept tight by a flow of oil and
water on the top, which tended to make the whole a troublesome and
bad-working machine. The cold atmosphere, as the piston went down, of
course followed it and cooled the cylinder. On the piston again rising,
some steam would of course be condensed and cause waste. If the
engine-room could be kept at the heat of boiling water, this would not
have been the case, but the engineman who could live in this heat would
also require to be invented, and so this had to be given up. Watt's next
and most important step was the one which brings us to talk of the
steam-engine as it now is in the present day. This important step was
the idea, of making the steam draw down the piston, as well as help to
drive it up; in the first engines it was raised by the beam, and steam
used only to cause a vacuum, so as to let the air drive it down. All
before this had been merely steps in advance, like those of children,
who must walk before they can run; so was it with the steam-engine. It
was uphill work for many years, and the top of the hill cannot be said
to have been readied till Watt worked out this grand idea. The first
engine could only be called atmospheric; now it was destined to become
in reality a steam-engine. Time would fail were I to attempt to go into
any details of all the experiments through which Watt toiled to bring
his ideas to perfection--enough to say that he did so; and I trust you
will be able, through the description I will endeavour to give, to
understand how well his labour was bestowed, and how beautiful the
result has proved for the benefit of the world at large. In 1773, Watt
removed to Soho, near Birmingham, where a part of the works was allotted
to him to erect the machinery necessary to carry out his inventions on a
grand scale.

We must now proceed to some of the useful points of the engine, all I
have before mentioned simply relating to the inventors and improvers;
but having brought it so far, I may now, I think, proceed further. The
first use of the steam-engine was simply to raise water from mines, and
for long it was thought it could be used for nothing else; so much so,
that it was at one time used to raise water to turn wheels and thus
produce motion. One of its first uses after it became a really useful
machine was to propel ships, though many a weary hour was spent to bring
it to this point. There is a very pretty monument on the Clyde,
dedicated to Mr. Bell, who I believe was the first person who
successfully brought steamers to work on its waters. The first who used
steam for ships was Mr. James Taylor, in conjunction with Mr. Miller of
Dalswinton. The danger of the fire-ship took such hold on people's minds
that it was with great toil and difficulty they were persuaded to
venture on the face of the waters in such dangerous and unseamanlike
craft. But go to Glasgow Bridge any day, and you will see how time has
overcome fear and prejudice, for our ocean is covered with steamers of
all sizes. It is not many years ago since it was said that steamers
could never reach America; this has given way to proof, and even
Australia has been reached by steam. I know of a steamer building which
could carry the whole population of this place and not be full; she is
680 feet or 226 yards long, and a large vessel would hang like a boat
alongside her.

The first attempt at giving motion by steam to ships was of course only
in one way--by a ratchet at the end of a beam, at one moment driving
and the next standing still. This was on account of the engine being
only in power one half of the stroke; but by the double-acting engine
being introduced, and the steam acting both ways, it became at last a
steady mover (without the aid of two or three cylinders, as in the first
engines, one to take up the other as the power was given off), by a
ratchet on the end of a beam or else a chain. This acted on the shaft
which moved the paddles. It is to Watt that we are indebted for the
crank and direct action, so as to give a circular motion to the wheels.

We find in 1752 a Mr. Champion of Bristol applied the atmospheric engine
to raise water to drive a number of wheels for working machinery in a
brasswork, in other words, a foundry. Also, in Colebrokedale,
steam-engines were used to raise water that had passed over the wheel,
so as to save water. All these plans have, however, now passed by, like
the water over the wheel, and we now have the engine the prime
mover--the double action of the steam on the piston, this acting on the
sway beam, and the beam on the crank, which, by the assistance of the
fly-wheel on land or fixed engines, gives a uniform motion to the
machine. All these have now enabled us to apply the engine as our grand
moving power. One great and important point in the engine is the
governor, and the first modes of changing the steam from the top to the
bottom of the cylinder were cumbrous, till the excentric wheel was

Boilers also have to be attended to--these were at first rude and now
would be useless. They were unprovided with valves, gauge-cocks, or any
other safety, all of which are now so well understood that nothing but
carelessness can cause a blow-up. One of the greatest causes of danger
is that of letting there be too little water in the boiler, and thus
allowing it to get red-hot, when, if you let in water, such a volume of
steam is generated that no valve will let it escape fast enough. Force
or feed pumps are also required to keep the water in the boiler at a
proper height, which is ascertained by the gauge-cocks. Mercury gauges
for low pressure act according to the pressure of the atmosphere;
high-pressure boilers of course require a different construction, as the
steam is greater in pressure than the air.

Having got so far in my subject, I think before concluding I must devote
a short time in showing the first steps of the locomotive; the more so,
as I am speaking to those who are so largely engaged in the daily
working of that now beautifully perfect machine. Various and for a time
unsuccessful experiments were made to bring out a machinery or
travelling engine, as it was first called. A patent was taken by a Mr.
Trevethick for a locomotive to run on common roads, and to a certain
extent it did work. An amusing anecdote is told of it. In coming up to a
toll-gate, the gatekeeper, almost frightened out of his seven senses,
opened the gate wide for the monster, as he thought, and on being asked
what was to pay, said "Na-na-na-na!" "What have we got to pay?" was
again asked. "No-noth-nothing to pay, my dear Mr. Devil; do drive on as
fast as you can!" This, one of the first steam carriages, reached London
in safety, and was exhibited in the square where the large station of
the London and North-Western Railway now stands. Sir Humphrey Davy took
great interest in it, and, in writing to a friend, said: "I shall hope
soon to see English roads the haunts of Captain Trevethick's dragons."
The badness of roads, however, prevented its coming into general use.

Trevethick in 1804 constructed a locomotive for the Merthyr and Tydvil
Rail in South Wales, which succeeded in drawing ten tons at five miles
an hour. The boiler was of cast-iron, with a one-cylinder engine, spur
gear and a fly-wheel on one side. He sent the waste steam into the
chimney, and by this means was very nearly arriving at the blast-pipe,
afterwards the great and important discovery of George Stephenson. The
jumping motion on the bad roads, however, caused it constantly to be
dismounted, and it was given up as a practical failure, being sent to
work a large pump at a mine. Trevethick was satisfied with a few
experiments, and then gave it up for what he thought more profitable
speculations, and no further advances were made in locomotives for some
years. An imaginary difficulty seems to have been among the obstacles to
its progress. This was the supposition that if a heavy weight were to be
drawn, the grip or bite of the wheels would not be sufficient, but that
they would turn round and leave the engines stationary, hence Trevethick
made his wheels with cogs, which of course tended to cause great jolts,
as well as being destructive to the cast-iron rails.

A Mr. Blenkinsop of Leeds patented in 1811 a locomotive with a racked or
toothed rail. It was supported on four wheels, but they did not drive
the engine; its two cylinders were connected to one wheel behind, which
was toothed and worked in the cog-rail, and so drove the engine. It
began running on Middleton Coal Rail to Leeds, three and a quarter
miles, on the 12th August 1812, and continued a great curiosity to
strangers for some years. In 1816 the Grand Duke Nicholas of Russia saw
this engine working with great interest and expressions of no slight
admiration. An engine then took thirty coal-waggons at three and a
quarter miles in an hour.

We next come to Messrs. Chapman of Newcastle, who in 1812 tried to
overcome the supposed want of adhesion by a chain fixed at the ends of
the line and wound round a grooved drum driven by the engine. It was
tried on the Heaton Rail near Newcastle, but was found to be so clumsy
that it was soon abandoned. The next was a remarkable contrivance--a
mechanical traveller to go on legs. It never got beyond its experimental
state, and unfortunately blew up, killing several people. All these
plans show how lively an interest was then being taken in endeavouring
to bring out a good working locomotive. Mr. Blackett, however,
persevered hard to perfect a railway system, and to work it by
locomotives. The Wylam waggon-way, one of the oldest in the North, was
made of wooden rails down to 1807, and went to the shipping-place for
coals on the Tyne. Each chaldron-waggon was originally drawn by a horse
with a man in charge, only making two journeys in the one day and three
on the following, the man being allowed sevenpence for each journey.
This primitive railway passed before the cottage where George Stephenson
was born, and was consequently one of the first sights his infant eyes
beheld; and little did his parents think what their child was destined
to work out in his day for the advancement of railways. Mr. Blackett
took up the wood and laid an iron plate-way in 1808, and in 1812 he
ordered an engine on Trevetbick's principle. It was a very awkward one,
had only one cylinder of six inches diameter, with a fly-wheel; the
boiler was cast-iron, and was described by the man who had charge of it
as having lots of pumps, cog-wheels, and plugs. It was placed on a
wooden frame with four wheels, and had a barrel of water on another
carriage to serve as a tender. It was at last got on the road, but
would not move an inch, and her driver says:--"She flew all to pieces,
and it was the biggest wonder we were not all blown up." Mr. Blackett
persevered, and had another engine, which did its work much better,
though it often broke down, till at length the workmen declared it a
perfect plague. A good story is told of this engine by a traveller, who,
not knowing of its existence, said, after an encounter with the
Newcastle monster working its great piston, like a huge arm, up and
down, and throwing out smoke and fire, that he had just "encountered a
terrible deevil on the Hight Street road."

We now come to George Stephenson, who did for the locomotive what Watt
did for our other steam-engines. His first engine had two vertical
cylinders of eight inches diameter and two-feet stroke, working by
cross-heads; the power was given off by spur-wheels; it had no springs,
consequently it jolted very much on the then bad railways; the wheels
were all smooth, as Stephenson was sure the adhesion would be
sufficient. It began work on the 25th July 1814, went up a gradient of
one in 450, and took eight waggons with 30 tons at four miles an hour.
It was by far the most successful engine that had yet been made. The
next and most valuable improvement of Stephenson was the blast-pipe--by
its means the slow combustion of the fire was at once overcome, and
steam obtained to any amount. This pipe was the result of careful
observation and great thought. His next engine had horizontal connecting
rods, and was the type of the present perfect machine. This truly great
man did not rest here, but time would fail, as well as your patience, if
I were to proceed further. Enough to say, that he afterwards established
a manufactory at Newcastle, and time has shown the result and benefit it
has proved to the whole world at large. A short time before the
Liverpool and Manchester Railway was opened, Stephenson was laughed at
because he said he thought he could go thirty miles an hour, and was
urged before the House of Commons not to say so, as he might be thought
to be mad. This I have from person who knew the circumstances.
Nevertheless, at the trial, I believe the "Rocket" did go at the rate of
thirty miles an hour, to the not small astonishment of the world, and
especially to the unbelievers in steam as a land agent. The stipulation
made was that trains were to be conveyed at the rate of twelve miles an

In our present perfect engines, the coke or fuel consumed per mile is
about 18 lbs. with a train of 100 tons gross weight, carrying 250
passengers. A first-class carriage weighs 6 tons 10 cwts.; a
second-class, 5 tons 10 cwts., each with passengers; a Pullman car
weighs about 30 tons. Our steamers consume 5 lbs. of coal per
horse-power in one hour. And last, not least, one of the greatest
improvements we have had in steam propulsion is the screw. Again, I may
also name the great advantage derived from steam by our farmers in
thrashing out grain. The engines principally used in farm-work are what
are termed high-pressure, or of the same class as the locomotive. The
great saving in cost in the first place, the simplicity and ease of
action in the second, and the small quantity of water required to keep
them in action, are all reasons why they should be preferred. The danger
in the one, that is, the high-pressure, over the condenser, is very
small, and all that is required is common care to guard against
accidents. Steam being a steady power, is much to be preferred to
water, as by its constant and uniform action the tear and wear of
machinery is much diminished, and of course proportionate saving made in
keeping up the mill or any other machinery.

Having now, to the best of my power, so far as a single lecture will
permit, brought the steam-engine from 120 B.C. to the present time, it
only remains for me to say, that it shows how actively the mind of man
has been permitted to work to bring it to perfection by the direction of
an all-wise Providence, "who knows our necessities before we ask, and
our ignorance in asking." A traveller by rail sees but little of the
vast and difficult character of the works over which he is carried with
such ease and comfort. Time is his great object. No age of the world has
conquered such difficulties as our engineers have had to deal with, and
the result is now before the eye of every thinking traveller. Our
engineers were at first self-taught, and many a self-taught man has had
reason to rejoice in the time he spent in his education. Of these men we
have examples in Brindley, who was at first a labourer and afterwards a
millwright; Telford was a stone-mason; Rennie a farmer's son apprenticed
to a millwright; and George Stephenson was a brakesman at a colliery.
Perseverance with genius, and a determination to overcome, made them the
great men they were. That you may so persevere and strive is the earnest
wish of him who has this evening had the great pleasure of giving you
this lecture, and who feels so greatly obliged to you for the very
patient hearing you have given him.


_Gravitation_.--Attraction, which may be illustrated by the effect a
magnet has on a piece of iron, may be viewed generally as an influence
which two bodies, say, exert on each other, under which, though at a
distance, they tend to move towards each other till they come into
contact. The force by which a body has weight, and, when free, falls to
the ground, is of this nature; and it is called, from _gravis_, "heavy,"
the gravitating force of the earth, because it causes weight, and
because, though emanating in a small degree from the falling body, it is
mainly exerted by the earth itself. It is under the action of gravity
that a pendulum oscillates: it is by that unseen influence it begins to
sway alternately downward and upward as soon as it is moved to a side;
and it is only because it is withheld by the rod that the ball or bob
keeps traversing the arc of a circle and does not fall straight to the

All material substances, however small, and however light, buoyant, and
ethereal they may seem, are subject to this force: the tiniest speck in
a sunbeam and the most volatile vapour, equally with the heaviest metal
and the hugest block, the particles of bodies as well as the bodies
themselves. The rising of a balloon in the air may seem an exception to
this law; but it is not so; for the balloon rises, not because the
particles of the gas with which it is inflated are not acted upon by the
earth's attraction, but because the air outside being bulk for bulk
heavier than the air inside, its particles press in below the balloon
and buoy it up, until it reaches a stratum of the atmosphere where, the
pressure being less, the air outside is no heavier than the air
within--a fact which rather proves than disproves the universal action
of gravitation; because the greater weight of the air in the lower
strata of the atmosphere is due to the pressure of the air in those
above, and the balloon ceases to ascend because it has reached a point
where the air outside is the same weight as the air within, and the
weight in both cases is caused by the attraction of the earth.

And not only is the force of attraction universal, it is the same for
every particle; for though this may seem to be contradicted by the fact
that some bodies fall faster to the ground than others, that fact is
fully accounted for by the greater resistance which the air offers to
the falling of lighter bodies than to the falling of heavier. A
particles of bodies, and all bodies, tend to fall with the same
velocity, and, in fact, all do; for though, for the reason just stated,
a feather will take longer to reach the ground than an ounce of lead, an
ounce of lead will fall as fast as a hundredweight. And that it is the
resistance of the air, and not any diminution in the power of
attraction, which causes the feather to lag behind, may be proved by
experiment; for if you let a feather and a coin drop together from the
top of the exhausted receiver of an air-pump, they will both be seen to
descend at the same rate, and reach the bottom at the same instant; a
fact which may be demonstrated more simply by placing the coin and
feather free of each other in a paper cone, and letting the cone fall
with its apex downwards, so as to break the air's resistance; or by
suspending a piece of gold-leaf in a bottle, and letting the bottle
drop--of course short of the ground--in which case the included leaf
will be seen to have gone as fast and as far as the bottle.

It is to be especially noticed that attraction is no lopsided affair;
that it is mutual; that, while the larger body attracts the less, the
less also attracts and moves the larger in proportion; and that, indeed,
every body and every particle attracts every other, far as well as near,
to the utmost verge of the universe of matter. Under it the moon
maintains its place with reference to the earth, the planets with
reference to the sun, and the solar system with reference to the
stellar. As for the moon, it maintains its orbit and revolves round the
earth under the action of two forces, the one akin to that by which a
ball is projected from the mouth of a cannon, and the other the
attraction of the earth, which, by its constant and equal operation,
bends its otherwise rectilineal track into a circular one, as we might
show if we could only project a ball with such a force as exactly to
balance the power of gravity, so that it would at no point in its course
be drawn nearer the earth than at starting.

That the force we are considering pervades the solar system is
demonstrable, for it is on the supposition of it and the laws it is
known to obey that all the calculations of astronomy--and they never
miscarry--are grounded; and it is by noticing disturbances in the
otherwise regular movements of certain planets that astronomers have
been led more than once to infer and discover the presence of some
hitherto unknown body in the neighbourhood. It was actually thus the
planet Neptune was discovered in 1846. Certain irregularities had been
observed in the movements of Uranus, which could not be accounted for by
the influence of any other bodies known to be near it; and these
irregularities, being carefully watched and studied, gradually led more
than one astronomer first to the whereabouts, and then to the vision of
the disturbing planet.

Notwithstanding what we said about the universality of this force, and
how it affects all forms of matter, it may still appear as if the air
were an exception. But it is not so; the air also gravitates. The fact
that it gravitates is proved in various ways. First, if it did not, it
would not accompany the earth in its movements round the sun; the earth
would sweep along into space, and leave it behind it. Secondly, if we
place a bottle from which the air is exhausted in a balance and exactly
poise it with a counter-weight, and then open it and let in the air, it
will show at once that the air has weight or gravitates by immediately
descending. Thirdly, if we extend a piece of india-rubber over the end
of a vessel and begin to withdraw the air from it, we shall see the
india-rubber sink in, under the pressure of the air outside, to fill up
the space left vacant by the removal of the included air. The fact that
air gravitates we have already taken for granted in explaining the
ascent of a balloon; and the proofs now given are enough to show that
the cause assumed is a real one. The lighter gas rises and the heavier
sinks by law of gravitation.

_Gravitation and Cohesion._--Unlike the attraction of aggregation, or
cohesion, which acts only between particles separated from each other
by spaces that are imperceptible, gravitation takes effect at distances
which transcend conception, but it diminishes in force as the distance
increases. The law according to which it does so is expressed thus; its
intensity decreases with the square of the distance; that is to say, at
twice the original distance it is 1-4th; at thrice, 1-9th; at four
times, 1-16th, for 4, 9, 16 are the squares respectively of 2, 3, and 4.
To take an instance, a ball which weighs 144 lb. at the surface of the
earth will weigh 1-4th of that, or 36 lb., when it is twice as far from
the centre as it is at the surface; and 1-9th, or 16 lb. when it is
thrice as far; and 1-16th, or 9 lb. when it is four times as far. The
attraction of cohesion, on the other hand, as we say, acts only when the
particles seem almost in contact, and it ceases altogether when once, by
mechanical or other means, the bond is broken, in consequence of the
particles being forced too near, or sundered too far from, one another.

One distinguishing difference between the attraction of gravitation and
that of cohesion is, that whereas the former is uniform, the latter is
variable; that is, under gravitation the attraction of any one particle
to any other is the same, but under cohesion, some sets of particles
are more forcibly drawn together than others. For instance, a particle
of iron and a particle of cork gravitate equally, but particles of iron
and particles of cork among themselves do not cohere equally. And it is
just because those of the former cohere more than those of the latter,
that a piece of iron feels harder and weighs heavier than a piece of

Further, the attraction of gravitation is unaffected by change in the
condition of bodies, while that of cohesion is. It makes nothing to
gravitation whether a piece of metal is as cold as ice, or heated with a
sevenfold heat. Not so to the power of cohesion; withdraw heat, and the
particles under cohesion cling closer; add it, and both the spaces grow
wider and the attraction feebler. Thus, for example, you may suspend a
weight by a piece of copper-wire, and the wire not break. But apply heat
to the wire, and its cohesion will be lessened; the force of gravitation
will overpower it, rupture the wire, and cause the weight to fall.

_Cohesion_.--That the action of the attraction of cohesion depends on
the contiguity of the particles in the cohering body, may be shown by
an illustration. Take a ball of lead, divide it into two hemispheres,
smooth the surfaces of section, then press them together, and you will
find it requires some force to separate them; thus proving the
dependence of cohesion on contiguity, although the effect in this case
may be due in some degree to the pressure of the atmosphere as well as
the power of cohesion.

Heat is the principal agent in inducing cohesion, as well as in relaxing
its energy; for by means of it you can weld the hardest as well as the
softest substances into one, and two pieces of iron together, no less
than two pieces of wax. It is possible, indeed, by heat to unite two
sufficient waxed corks to one another, so as to be able by means of the
one to draw the other out of a bottle: such, in this case, is the force
of cohesion induced by heat.

The power of cohesion exists between the particles of liquids as well as
those of solids, the only difference being that in solids the particles
are relatively fixed, while in liquids they move freely about one
another, unless indeed when they are attracted to the surface of a
solid--a fact we are familiar with when we dip our finger into a vessel
of water. The cohesive power of liquids is overcome by heat as well as
that of solids, only to a much greater degree, for under it they assume
a new form, acquire new properties, and expand immensely in volume. They
pass into the form of vapour, occupy a thousand times larger area, and
possess an elasticity of compressibility and expansibility they were
destitute of before.

There is a beautiful phenomenon which accompanies the expansion of ether
under the influence of heat. Placed in a flask to which heat is applied,
the ether will go off in vapour; and as the heat increases, the vapour
will gradually light up into a lovely flame. The expansibility of air,
which is vapour in a permanent form, can be shown by experiment. If we
tie up an empty or collapsed bladder, and place it in a vessel over an
air-pump, we may see, as we withdraw the air from the vessel, and so
diminish its pressure, the bladder gradually expand and swell as it does
under inflation.

The cohesive power of water is beautifully illustrated. Have a small
barrel or bucket so constructed as to be fitted with gauze at the top;
immerse it exactly, so that the water may form a film between the
meshes, and then open the tap at the bottom: the water will not flow
till the meshes at the top are broken by blowing on their surface. The
adhesion of the particles in a soap-bubble is another illustration, no
less beautiful, as well as more familiar; for the soap, which might be
supposed to be the cause of the phenomenon, serves only to prevent the
intrusion of dust between the particles, but by no means to intensify
their attractive power.

There are some liquids the adhesiveness of whose particles is so perfect
as to bar out the access of air when we strew them on the surface of
other liquids; and on the Continent it is not uncommon to protect wines
against the action of the atmosphere by, instead of corking the bottle,
simply pouring in a few drops of oil, which, being lighter than the
wine, floats on the surface. It is parallel to the instance of the
barrel with the gauze-wire top mentioned above, that if we loosely plug
a bottle full of liquid with a piece of cotton-wool, and invert it, the
particles in contact with the wool will cohere so closely that the fluid
will not be able to escape. The adhesiveness of the particles of water
to a solid surface can be exemplified by allowing one of the scales of a
balance to float in water and leaving the other free; the one in
contact with the water will refuse to yield after we have placed even a
tolerable weight in the other which is suspended in the air.

The power of cohesion is more rigorous in some bodies than others. In
some cases the body will rupture if it is interfered with ever so
little; in others, the particles admit of a certain displacement, and if
the limits are not transgressed, they return to their original position
when the compressing or distending cause is removed. This rallying power
in the cohesive force is called Elasticity, and it exists in no small
degree in glass. The spaces between the particles can, within limits, be
either lessened by compression or increased by distension, and the
particles retain their power of recovering and maintaining the relation
they stood in before they were disturbed. It is the power of cohesion or
aggregation which resists any disturbance among the particles, and which
restores order among them when once disturbance has taken place. And not
only does nature resist directly any undue interference with the
cohering force, but tampering with it even slightly has often a certain
deteriorating effect upon the physical properties of bodies. A bell,
for instance, loses its tone when heated, because by that means its
particles are disturbed; though it recovers its tone-power as it cools,
and as the particles return to their places.

In organic bodies, both during growth and decay, the particles are more
or less in flux; but in feathers, after their formation, the attraction
of aggregation remains constant, and by means of it their particles
continue fixed in their places, not only with the life of the bird, but
long after. Nay, you may even crumple them up, and toss them away as
worthless, and yet if you expose them to the vapour of steam, they will
not only recover their form, but they can be made to look as beautiful
as ever.

_Chemical Affinity_.--The attraction of the particles of bodies of
different kinds to each other is often striking and curious; as, for
instance, those of salt to those of water. The salt attracts the water,
and the water the salt, till at last, if there is a sufficient quantity
of water, all the salt is attracted particle by particle from itself,
and taken up and united to the water. The salt is no longer visible to
the eye, and is said to be dissolved or in solution; but this change of
form is due to its affinity for the water, and the resulting attraction
of the one to the other. The same phenomena are observed, and they are
due to the same cause, in other solutions; as when we infuse our tea or
sweeten it with sugar. The attraction of water, or one of its elements
rather, for other substances, sometimes shows itself in vehement forms.
When a piece of potassium, for example, is thrown into a vessel of
water, its attraction for the water is such, and of the water for it,
that it instantly takes fire, and the two blaze away, particle violently
seizing on particle until the elements of the water unite part for part
with the metal. It is the mutually attractive force that causes the heat
and flame which accompany the combination; and this force is most
violently active in the union of dissimilar substances. Unions of a
quieter kind, though not less thorough, occur even between solids when
placed in contact. For instance, sulphate of soda and sulphate of
ammonia, when placed side by side, will diliquesce, and in liquid form
unite into a new combination. Sulphuric acid, when we mix it with water,
generates great heat; and this is due to its attraction for the water.
Sometimes two fluids unite together, and, in doing so, pass from the
liquid into the solid form; as, _e.g._, sulphuric acid and chloride of
calcium. Attraction of this nature is called chemical: it takes effect
between dissimilar particles, and results in combinations with new
properties. It operates not only between solid and solid, solid and
liquid, and liquid and liquid, but between these and gases, and gases
with one another; and these as well as those combine into new
substances, and evince in the act not a little violent commotion. Thus,
phosphorus catches fire in the atmosphere at a temperature of 140
degrees, and it goes on rapidly combining with the oxygen, burning with
a dazzling white light, and producing phosphoric acid. Indeed, most
metals have an affinity for the oxygen in the air, and oxydise in it
with more or less facility; and a metal, as such, has more value than
another according as it has less affinity for that element, and is less
liable to oxydise or rust in it. This is one reason, among others, why
gold is the most precious metal, and the conventional representative of
highest worth in things.

There are some metals, such as lead, for instance, which oxydise
readily, but this process stops short at the surface in contact with the
air, and so forms a coating which prevents the metal from further
oxydation; so that here, as in so many things else, strength is
connected with weakness.

_Electricity_.--This, in the most elementary view of it, is a more or
less attractive or repellant force latent in bodies, and which is
capable of being roused into action by the application of friction. It
is excited in a rod of glass by rubbing it with silk, and in a piece of
sealing-wax by rubbing it with flannel, though the effect is different
when we apply first the one and then the other to the same body. Thus,
_e.g._, if we apply the excited sealing-wax to a paper ring, or a
pith-ball, hung by a silk thread from a horizontal glass rod, it will,
after contact, repel it; and if, thereafter, we apply to it the excited
glass rod, it will attract it; or if we first apply the excited glass
rod to the paper ring, or pith-ball, it will, after contact, repel it;
and if thereafter we apply to it the excited sealing-wax, it will
attract it. The reason is, that when we once charge a body by contact
with either kind, it repels that kind, and attracts the opposite; if we
charge it from the glass, _i.e._, with vitreous electricity, it refuses
to have more, and is attracted to the sealing-wax; and if we charge it
from the sealing-wax, _i.e._, with resinous electricity, it refuses to
have more, and is attracted to the glass-rod; only it is to be observed
that, till the body is charged by either, it has an equal attraction for
both. From all which it appears that kindred electricities repel, and
opposite attract, each other.

Two pieces of gold leaf suspended from a metal rod, inserted at the top
of a glass shade full of perfectly pure, dry air, will separate if we
rub our foot on the carpet, and touch the top of the rod with one of our
fingers; for the motion of the body, as in walking, always excites
electricity, and it is this which, as it passes through the finger,
causes the phenomenon; though the least sensation of damp in the glass
would, by instantly draining off the electricity, defeat the experiment.
What happens in this case is, that one kind of electricity passes from
the finger to the leaves, while another kind, to make room for it,
passes from the leaf to the finger; and the leaves separate because they
are both more or less charged with the same kind of electricity, and
kindred electricities repel each other. Ribbons, particularly of white
silk, when well washed, are similarly susceptible of electrical
excitation; and they behave very much as the gold leaf does when they
are rubbed sharply through a piece of flannel. Gutta-percha is another
substance which, when similarly treated, is similarly affected.

This power is a very mysterious one, and of a nature to perplex even the
philosophic observer. Certain bodies, such as the metals, convey it, and
are called conductors; certain others, such as glass and porcelain,
arrest it, and are called insulators. It is for this reason that the
wires of the telegraph are supported by a non-conductor, for if not, the
electric current would pass into the earth by the first post and never
reach its final destination. Glass being an insulator, it was found
that, if a glass bottle was filled with water, and then corked up with a
cork, through which a nail was passed so that the top of it touched the
water, it would receive and retain a charge as long as it was held in
the hand; and this observation led to an invention of some account in
the subsequent applications of electricity, known, from the place of its
conception, as the Leyden jar. This is a glass jar, the inside of which
is coated with tinfoil, and the outside as far as the neck, and into
which, so as to touch the inside coating, a brass rod with a knob at
the top is inserted through a cork, which closes its mouth. By means of
this, in consequence of the isolation of the coatings by the glass,
electricity can, in a dry atmosphere, be condensed, and stored up and
husbanded till wanted.

A series of eggs, arranged in contact and in line, give occasion to a
pretty experiment. In consequence of the shells being non-conductors,
and the inside conducting, it happens that a current of electricity,
applied to the first of the series, will pass from one to another in a
succession of crackling sparks, in this way forcing itself through the
obstructing walls. This effect of electricity in making its way through
non-conducting obstructions accounts for the explosion which ensues when
a current of it comes in contact with a quantity of gunpowder; as it
also does for the fatal consequences which result when, on its way from
the atmosphere to the earth, it rushes athwart any resisting organic or
inorganic body.

_Magnetism_.--Unlike electricity, which acts with a shock and then
expires, magnetism is a constant quantity, and constant in its action;
and it has this singular property, that it can impart itself as a
permanent force to bodies previously without it. Thus, there being
natural magnets and artificial, we can, by passing a piece of steel over
a magnet, turn it into a strong magnet itself; although we can also,
when it is in the form of a horse-shoe, by a half turn round and then
rubbing it on the magnet, take away what it has acquired, and bring it
back to its original state. The magnetic property is very readily
imparted (by induction, as it is called) to soft iron, but when the iron
is removed from the magnetising body, it parts with the virtue as fast
as it acquired it. To obtain a substance that will retain the power
induced, we must make some other election; and hard steel is most
serviceable for conversion into a permanent magnet.

The properties of the magnet are best observed in magnetised steel; and
when we proceed to test its magnetic power, it will be found that it is
most active at the extremities of the bar, which are hence called its
poles, and hardly, if at all, at the centre; that while both poles
attract certain substances and repel others, the one always points
nearly north and the other nearly south when the bar is horizontally
suspended; and that, when we break the bar into two or any number of
pieces, however small, each part forms into a complete magnet with its
virtue active at the poles, which, when suspended, preserves its
original direction; so that of two particles one is, in that case,
always north of the other; nay, it is probable that each of these has
its north pole and its south, as constant as those of the earth itself,
which, too, is a large magnet.

The magnet acts through media and at a distance, as well as in contact;
and it has an especial attraction for iron, the more so when the
conducting medium is solid, such as a table; and so when the magnet is
horizontally suspended, or poised, in the vicinity of iron, its tendency
to point north and south is seriously disturbed. The disturbance of the
bar, or needle, in such a case, is called its _deflection_; and it is
corrected by so placing a piece of soft iron or another magnet in its
neighbourhood as to neutralise the effect, and leave said bar, or
needle, free to obey the magnetism of the earth. The needle, it is to be
remarked, does not point due north and south, neither, when poised
freely on its centre, does it lie perfectly horizontal; in our latitude
it points at present 20° west of north, which is called its
_declination_, and its north pole slopes downwards at an angle of 68°,
which is called its _dip_.

By holding a rod of iron, or a poker, for a length of time parallel to
the direction of the needle, so as to have the same declination and the
same dip, it will gradually assume and display magnetic virtue, and this
will ere long become fixed and powerful under a succession of vibratory
shocks. There is a beautiful experiment in which a needle, when
magnetised, can be made to float on water, when it adjusts itself to the
magnetic meridian, and will incline north and south the same as the
needle of the compass.

_The Chemical Action of Electricity and Magnetism_.--These agents
possess powers which develop wonderfully in connection with chemical
combination. Thus, if we suspend a piece of iron in a vessel which
contains oxygen gas, and apply to the metal an electric current, it will
immediately begin to unite rapidly, and form an oxide with oxygen,
emitting, during the process, intense heat and a bright flame. Zinc,
too, when similarly acted on, will ignite in the common atmosphere and
burn away, though with less intensity, till it also is, under the
electric force, reduced to an oxide. It is presumed that many other
chemical combinations take place because of the simultaneous joint
development of electric agencies, as in copper, water, and aquafortis,
nitrate of copper, &c. So also it happens that, when a plate of iron is
for some time immersed in a copper solution, it comes out at length
covered over with a coating of copper. And it is because there is
electricity at work that a silver basin will be coated with copper when
we pour into it a copper solution, and at the same time place in it a
rod of zinc, so that it rests on the side and bottom, though no coating
will form at all when there is no rod present to excite the electric
current. The same phenomena will appear if we deposit a silver coin in
the solution in question: the coin will come out unaffected, unless we
excite affinity by means of a rod of iron. It is under the action of an
electric current that one metal is coated with another. The metal,
copper say, is steeped in a solution of the coating substance, and
connected by means of wires with a galvanic battery, under the action of
which the metal in solution unites with the surface of the plate
immersed in it. Heat also is developed under magnetic influence, and
that often of great intensity. Thus, if we connect the poles of a
voltaic battery by means of a platinum wire, heat will develop to such a
degree that the platinum will almost instantaneously become red hot and
emit a bright light, and that along a wire of some considerable length.
A similar effect is noticeable when we substitute other metals, such as
silver or iron, for platinum. And the _electric light_, which flashes
out rays of sunlike brilliance, is the result of placing a piece of
compact charcoal between the separated but confronting poles of a
powerful galvanic battery, light, developing more at the one pole and
heat more at the other of the incandescent substance.

Kindred, though much milder, results will show themselves under simpler,
though similar, contrivances. A flounder will jump and jerk about
uneasily if we lay it upon a piece of tinfoil and place over it a thin
plate of zinc, and then connect the two with a bent metal rod; which
will happen to an eel also, if we expose it to a gentle current from a

By means of electric or magnetic action we can separate bodies
chemically combined, as well as unite them into chemical compounds; as
will appear if we place a piece of blotting paper upon tinfoil, and this
upon wool; if we then spread above these two pieces of test-paper,
litmus and turmeric, the one the test of acids, and the other of
alkalis, and saturate both with Glauber salt (which is by itself neither
an acid nor an alkali, but a combination of the two), and, finally,
connect each by means of a piece of zinc with the poles of a battery,
the test-papers will immediately change colour, as they do the one in
the presence of an acid simply, and the other of an alkali simply, but
never in a compound where these are neutralised; thus proving that the
compound has in this case been decomposed, and its elements
disintegrated one from another.

A very powerful magnet can be produced by coiling a wire round a bar of
soft iron, and attaching its extremities to the poles of a galvanic
battery, when it will be found that its strength will be proportioned to
the strength of the current and the turns of the coil. This is
especially the case when the bar is bent into the form of a horse-shoe,
and the wires are insulated and coiled round its limbs. The force
communicated to a magnet of this kind, which is often immense, is the
product of the chemical action which goes on in the battery, and, in a
certain sense, the measure of it. How great that is we may judge when
we consider that, evanescent as it is in itself, it has imparted a
virtue which is both powerful and constant, and ever at our service.

_Summary_.--Thus, then, on a review of the whole, we find all things are
endowed with attractive power, and that there is no particle which is
not directly or indirectly related, in manifold ways, to the other
particles of the universe. There is, first, the universal attraction of
gravitation, under which every particle is, by a fixed law, drawn to
every other within the sphere of existence. There is, secondly, the
attraction of cohesion or aggregation, which acts at short distances,
and unites the otherwise loose atoms of bodies into coherent masses.
There is, thirdly, the power by which elements of different kinds
combine into compounds with new and useful qualities, known by the name
of chemical affinity. And, lastly, related to the action of affinity,
aiding in it and resulting from it, there are those strange negative and
positive, attractive and repellant polar forces which appear in the
phenomena of electricity and magnetism, agencies of such potency and
universal avail in modern civilisation.

On the permanency of such forces and their mutual play the universe
rests, and its wonderful history. With the collapse of any of them it
would cease to have any more a footing in space, and all its elements
would rush into instant confusion. What a Hand, therefore, that must be
which holds them up, and what a Wisdom which guides their movements!
Verily, He that sends them forth and bids them work His will is greater
than any one--greater than all of them together. How insignificant,
then, should we seem before Him who rules them on the wide scale by
commanding them, while we can only rule them on the small by obeying
them! And yet how benignant must we regard Him to be who both wields
them Himself for our benefit and subjects them to our intelligence and


[B] This paper on "Attraction" is the substance of a lecture which I
composed on the basis of notes taken by me when. I had the honour of
attending the Prince of Wales at the course given, on the same subject
by the late Professor Faraday. The Professor, having seen the _resumé_ I
had written, warmly commended the execution, and generously accorded me
his sanction to make any use of it, whether for the purpose of a lecture
or otherwise, as might seem good to me. It is on the ground of this
sanction I feel warranted to print it here.


Various processes have for a long time been in use for the purpose of
extracting the oils from different species of nuts and seeds, a few of
the more interesting of which are not unworthy of brief notice and

In Ceylon, where cocoa-nuts and oil-producing seeds abound, the means
employed by the natives in the last century for extracting the oils were
of a most primitive character. A few poles were fixed upright in the
ground, two horizontal bars attached to them, between which a bag
containing the pulp of the seed or nut was placed. A lever was then
applied to the horizontal bars, which brought them together, thus
creating a pressure which, by squeezing the bag, gradually expressed the
oil from the pulpy substance. This rude machine was at that time of day
one of the most approved for the purpose.

The system of pestle and mortar was also in use, but as the process was
necessarily very slow, this method was seldom resorted to. An
improvement on this system was invented by a Mr. Herbert, whose design
it had been to construct a powerful and efficient machine which should
combine cheapness and simplicity. It consisted of three pieces of wood,
viz., an upright piece fixed in the ground, from the lower and upper
extremities of which there projected the two other pieces, the top one
attached to the joint of a long horizontal lever, and the lower one to
the joint of a vertical one. The fixed upright post and the horizontal
lever formed the press. The bag of pulp being put between the upright
one and the vertical, the pressure was obtained by suspending a negro or
a weight from the lever.

In another press of the same or a similar kind, the bags were placed in
a horizontal frame, and a loose beam of wood pressed down on it by a

Another form of press had cambs and wedges; also a modification of it by
Mr. Hall of Dartford, who applied the pressure by means of a
steam-cylinder. The cambs are arranged alternately, so that one is
filled while the other is being pressed. This brief notice will suffice
to give an idea of such machines as are wrought by lever pressure.

We pass on, therefore, to later inventions and improvements.

First, The Dutch or _stamper_ press, invented in Holland; second, the
_screw_; and, third, the _hydraulic_:--

(1.) _The stamper press_ is something like a beetling-machine, in which
wedges are driven in between the bags, containing, of course in a
bruised condition, the seed to be pressed.

(2.) _The screw press_ has an ordinary square-threaded screw, and it
acts in the same way as press for making cider or cheese.

(3.) _The hydraulic press_. Here the pressure is produced by means of a
piston driven up by the force of water, the immense power of which is,
in great part, due to its almost total incompressibility. This is by far
the most perfect form of press. Its power must be familiar to all who
remember the lifting of the tubes of the Britannia Bridge, and the
_launching of the Great Eastern_.

An oil-mill is in form something like a flour-mill. The operation
begins at the top, where the seed is passed through a flat screw or
shaker and then through a pair of rollers, which crush it. These rollers
are of unequal diameter, the one being 4 feet, and the other 1 foot; but
they are both of the same length, 1 foot 4 inches, and make fifty-six
revolutions in a minute. By this arrangement it is found the seed is
both better bruised and faster than when, as was formerly the case, the
rollers were of the same diameter. A pair of rollers will crush 4-1/2
tons of seed in eleven hours, a quantity enough to keep two sets of
hydraulic presses going.

After the seed is crushed in this way, it is passed under a pair of edge
stones. These stones weigh about seven tons, are 7 feet 6 inches in
diameter and 17 inches broad, and make seventeen revolutions a minute.
If of good quality, they will not require to be faced more than once in
three years, and they will last from fifteen to twenty. They are fitted
with two scrapers, one for raking the seed between the stones, the other
for raking it off at the proper period. One pair of stones will grind
seed sufficient for two double hydraulic presses, and the operation
occupies about twenty-five minutes. The seed is now crushed and ground,
but before it is passed on to the press it is transferred to the

The heating-kettle is composed of two cylindrical castings, one fitting
loosely into the other, so that a space is left between them for a free
circulation of steam all round both the sides and bottom of the interior
vessel. The internal casting is again divided horizontally into two
partitions, one above the other therefore, by two plates, between which
also there is a space left for the admission and circulation of steam;
and a communication is kept up between the upper compartment and the
under by means of a stripping valve. Besides this, there is a
communication from the internal kettle through the external one, and
also a shaft passes between the two horizontal parts to give motion to
the stirrer, which revolves thirty-six times a minute. A cover encloses
the top, and it is through this the vessel is charged. The upper portion
is filled first, where the contents introduced are allowed to remain ten
or fifteen minutes, after which the valve is opened and the whole falls
into the lower kettle, where it is kept till wanted. The seed is then
taken away from the lower kettle by an opening, and bestowed in bags of
sufficient size to make a cake of 8 lbs. weight after the oil is pressed
out of it. Indeed, the compartments of the heating-kettle are of a size
to contain enough to charge one side of a hydraulic press. These,
therefore, are so constructed as to render the operation continuous, the
upper one being discharged into the under as soon as its contents are
withdrawn to the press. The seed is heated to the temperature of 170
degrees Fahr., when it is drawn off and placed in the bags.

In another form of kettle the seed is heated on a hot hearth, and on the
top of the hearth is a loose ring, within which a spindle revolves to
stir the seed. After the requisite temperature has been reached, the
ring is raised and the seed swept into the bags, which are made of
horse-hair. There is great loss of heat in this method, however, as the
seed is exposed to the atmosphere, which of course cools it.

We now come to the final operation, the mode of expressing the oil. The
screw press we do not need to describe, as it consists simply of two
plates, brought together by a screw, in the same way as the press used
for squeezing apples in the manufacture of cider, and the cheese press.
Let us look therefore at the stamper press. It consists of an iron box,
open at the top, at each end of which are two plates, capable of
containing between them a bag of seed which shall yield a cake weighing
9 lbs. To one of the inner plates of the box is attached a wedge, beside
which is inserted another filling up, and then the driving wedge is
introduced; and lastly, another block is let in between this wedge and
the other plate as soon as the bags have been placed vertically in the
press-box. A stamper of wood, worked by cambs on a revolving shaft, is
allowed to fall about 1 foot 10 inches, at the rate of fifteen strokes a
minute, for about six minutes. This stamper is 16 feet long by 8 inches
square, and falls on the head of the wedge, and drives it in to a level
at the top of the box. Another stamper is employed to drive down an
inverted wedge, so as to release the working one, and enable the
attendant to take out the cake. A press of this kind will turn out only
about 12 cwts. of cake a day.

We come now to the hydraulic press. This is certainly the most approved
invention that has yet been adopted, and it is simply a Bramah press
adjusted for the purpose. It has been in use for about thirty years,
though it was, of course, at first less skilfully and scientifically
constructed than it is now. In one of the earliest of these presses, the
box which contains the seed runs on a tramway in order to facilitate its
removal from the heating-kettle, so that each time the bags have to be
replenished the whole box has to be removed; and this causes no
inconsiderable loss both of power and time, for it has, when filled, to
be replaced on the ram and lifted bodily upwards in order to bring it
flush with the top of the press, which fits the press-box and acts as a
point of resistance. In this arrangement there are introduced only one
press and one set of small pumps.

The next press we come to is Blundell's, which is admitted to be by far
the most efficient in use to-day. Here there are two distinct presses,
or a double hydraulic press, fed by two pumps, one 2-1/2 inches and the
other 1 inch in diameter, both connected with the separate cylinders by
hydraulic tubing. The stroke of these pumps is 5 inches, and they make
thirty-six strokes a minute. The larger pump is weighted to 740 lbs. on
the square inch, and the smaller to 5540 the square inch. The diameter
of the rams is 12 inches, and the stroke 10 inches. Each press is fitted
to receive four bags of seed, and it produces 64 lbs. of cake at each
operation. After the heated seed has been placed in the bags, the
attendant proceeds to fill one press, and then he opens the valve
between the large pump and the charged press, which causes the ram to
rise till there is a pressure of forty tons, whereupon the safety-valve
of the large pump opens, and is kept so by a spring. While this
operation is going on, the attendant is occupied with filling the second
press; which completed, he opens the communication between the large
pump and the second press, taking care first to replace the
safety-valve. The ram of this press is then raised to the same height as
the other, after which the safety-valve rises a second time. The
attendant, as he closes the valve which opens the communication between
the large pump and the press, at the same time opens the valve between
the small pumps and the presses; and the pressure, amounting to about
300 tons, exerted by the small pump, is allowed to remain on the rams
for about seven minutes. From which it appears that, allowing three
minutes for emptying and charging the press, the process of expressing
the oil takes only three minutes in all; and it is done by this press in
this brief time in the most effectual manner. The oil, as it is
expressed, passes through the canvas and hair bags to a cistern, known
as the spill-tank, which is just large enough to contain the produce of
one day's working. The presses are worked by oil instead of water, as it
keeps both presses and pumps in better order. Each of them will produce
36 cwts. of cake per day of eleven hours, while the yield of oil is
about 14 cwts. The oil is pumped from the spill-tanks to larger ones,
capable of holding from 25 to 100 tons, where it remains for some time
in order to settle previously to being brought to the market.

I do not intend to enter into the relative merits of the various
presses, but content myself with having explained to you the manner in
which the oil is produced.

Before concluding, it may be interesting to give you some idea of the
vast extent of this manufacture. It appears, according to the official
returns, that in the year 1841 we imported 364,000 quarters of seed.


   | 1842 | 368,000 | 1847 | 439,000 | 1852 |   800,000 |
   | 1843 | 470,000 | 1848 | 799,000 | 1853 | 1,000,000 |
   | 1844 | 616,000 | 1849 | 626,000 | 1854 |   828,000 |
   | 1845 | 666,000 | 1850 | 668,000 | 1855 |   757,000 |
   | 1846 | 506,000 | 1851 | 630,000 | 1856 | 1,100,000 |

Now if we take the last year's imports, we shall find that the produce
would amount to about 144,000 tons' weight of oil-cake, and above 56,000
tons of oil.

The cake is used for feeding cattle, and the oil for burning,
lubricating, painting, &c.; and a very large quantity is exported.

We find that to crush the seed imported in 1856 it required from 150 to
160 double hydraulic presses, nearly 100 of which were in Hull. This
shows the extent of our commerce in the seed of flax, to say nothing of
its fibre; and is one more instance of the great results which may be
wrought out of little things. What a beautiful illustration of the
bounty of Providence; and what an encouragement to the ingenuity of man!
Who knows what treasures may yet lie hidden in neglected fields, or to
what untold wealth the human family may one day fall heir?



The subject and treatment, as well as title, of this Lecture are
suggested by the answer of the hostess at a Scottish inn to an English
tourist, who was inquisitive to know the composition of a dish which she
offered him, and which she called Hodge-Podge. "There's water intilt,"
she said, "there's mutton intilt, there's pease intilt, there's leeks
intilt, there's neeps intilt, and sometimes somethings else intilt." The
analysis was an exhaustive one, and the intelligence displayed by the
landlady was every way worthy of the shrewdness indigenous to her
country; but her answer was not so lucid to her listener as to herself,
as appeared by his bewildered looks, and his further half-despairing
interrogatory. "But what is _intilt_?" said he, impatiently striking in
before she had well finished. "Haven't I been tellin' ye what's
intilt?" she replied. And she began the enumeration again, only with
longer pause and greater emphasis at every step, as if she were
enlightening a slow apprehension,--"There's water intilt, there's mutton
intilt;" quietly and self-complacently adding, as she finished, "Ye
surely ken now what's intilt." Whether her guest now understood her
meaning, or whether he had to succumb, contented with his ignorance, we
are not informed; but few of my readers need to be told that "intilt" is
a Scotch provincialism for "into it," and that the landlady meant by
using it to signify that the particulars enumerated entered as
constituents _into_ her mysterious dish.

My aim is to discourse on the same constituents as they display their
virtues and play their parts on a larger scale, in a wider economy; and
when I have said my say, I hope I may be able to lay claim to the credit
of having spoken intelligibly and profitably, though I must at the
outset bespeak indulgence by promise of nothing more than the serving up
of a dish of simple hodge-podge. The question I put in a wider reference
is the question of the Englishman, as expressed in the Scotchwoman's
dialect, What's intilt? and I assume that there enter into it, as
radically component parts, at least the ingredients of this motley soup.
Into the large hodge-podge of nature and terrestrial economics, as into
this small section of Scotch cookery, there enter the element of water,
the flesh of animals, and the fruits of the earth, as well as the
processes by which these are brought to hand and rendered serviceable to
life. The ingredients of hodge-podge exist in _rerum natura_, and the
place they occupy and the function they fulfil in it are no less
deserving of our inquisitive regard.

Thus, there is water in it, without which there were no seas and no
sailing of ships, no rivers and no plying of mills, no vapour and no
power of steam, no manufacture and no trade, and not only no motion, but
no growth and no life. There is mutton, or beef, in it, and connected
therewith the breeding and rearing of cattle, the production of wool,
tallow, and leather, and the related manufactures and crafts. There are
turnips and carrots in it, the latter of such value to the farmer that
on one occasion a single crop of them sufficed to clear off a rent; and
the former of such consequence in the fattening of stock and the
provision of animal food, that a living economist divides society
exhaustively into turnip-producing classes and turnip-consuming. There
are leeks and onions in it, and these, with the former, suggest the art
of the gardener, and the wonderful processes by which harsh and fibrous
products can be turned into pulpy and edible fruits. And there are pease
and barley in it, and associated therewith the whole art of the
husbandman in the tillage of the soil and the raising of cereals, with
the related processes of grinding the meal, baking the bread, preparing
the malt, brewing the beer, and distilling the fiery life-blood at the

Now, to discourse on all these, as they deserve, would be a task of no
ordinary magnitude, but the subject is an interesting one, and to treat
of it ever so cursorily might not unprofitably occupy a reflective
moment or two. Water is the first topic it is laid upon me to talk
about, and I begin with it all the more readily because it suggests a
sense of freshness, and thoughts which may float our enterprise
prosperously into port.

I. Water, as already hinted, is an element of vast account in the
economy of nature, and is a recreation to the heart and a delight to the
eye of both man and beast. To have a plentiful supply of it is one of
the greatest blessings of God to the creature, and to be able to bestow
it wisely and employ it usefully is one of the most serviceable of human
arts. It is too valuable a servant to suffer to go idle, and many are
the offices it might do us, if, as it travels from the mountains to the
sea-board, we caught it in its course, harnessed it to our chariot, and
guided it to our aim. We should turn it to account every inch of its
progress, and compel it, as it can, to minister to our requirements by
its irresistible energy. Its merely mechanical power is immense, and
this is due in great part to its incompressibility; for it is in virtue
of this quality alone we can, by means of it, achieve feats not
otherwise feasible. How else could we have raised to its sublime height
that stupendous bridge which spans the Menai Straits, and which is the
wonder of the beholder, as it is the boast of the designer? It stands
where it does by the help of some mechanism indeed, but the true giant
that lifted it on his shoulders and bore it to its airy elevation was
the incompressible force of water, a fluid which is, strangely, the
simple product of the combination of two elastic transparent gases,
oxygen and hydrogen, neither of which apart has the thew and sinew of
its offspring. Nay, it is this single element, which, acted on by heat
or acting through machinery, fetches and carries for us over the wide
globe, and is fast weaving into one living web the far-scattered
interests of the world.

Water was in primitive times utilised into a motive power by the help of
a mechanism of rude design, which yet is hardly out of date, and might
recently be seen in its original, still more in modified form, in
certain back-quarters of civilisation. A stream, guided by a sluice, was
made to play upon four vertical paddle-blades, attached to a shaft which
they caused to revolve, and which moved a millstone, resting upon
another through which it passed. It was a primitive mill, which
superseded the still more primitive hand-mill, or quern; and I myself
have seen it at work in the Shetland Islands, and even the north of
Scotland, though it is now done away with even there, still more farther
south, and its place supplied and its work done by overshot and
under-shot wheel-gear, and improved machinery attached, of less or more
complexity. One of the most recent improvements is the Turbine, a sort
of Barker's mill; it is of great power, small compass, and acts under a
good fall with a minimum expenditure of water-power.

Passing from the consideration of water as a motive power in its natural
state, I ask you to notice briefly the gigantic force it can be made to
develop under the action of heat. In its normal form the power of water
is due, as I have said, to its incompressibility; in the state of
vapour, to which it is reduced by heat, its power is due to the counter
force of expansion. It was when confined as a state prisoner in the
Tower of London that the Marquis of Worcester began to speculate on the
possibilities of steam, though he little dreamed of its more important
applications, and the incalculable services it might be made to render
to the cause of humanity. Suddenly, one day, his musings in his solitude
were interrupted by the rattling of the lid of a kettle, which was
boiling away on the fire beside him, when, being of a philosophic vein,
he commenced to inquire after the cause; and he soon reasoned himself
into the conclusion that the motive power lay in the tension of the
vapour, and that the maintenance of this must be due to successive
additions of heat. The thought was a seed sown in a fit soil, for it led
to experiments which confirmed the supposition, and inaugurated others
that have borne fruit, as we see. It was a great moment in the annals of
discovery, and from that time to this the genius of improvement has
moved onward with unprecedented strides; and this in the application of
steam-power as well as the results, stupendous as these last have been.
For as there is no department of industry that has not made immense
advances since, none on which steam has not directly or indirectly been
brought to bear with effect; so there has been no end to the ingenuity
and ingenious devices by which steam has been coaxed into subjection to
human use and made the pliant minister of the master, man. All these
results follow as a natural consequence from the first discovery of its
motive power by the Marquis of Worcester, and the subsequent invention
of James Watt, by which the force detected was rendered uniform, instead
of fitful and spasmodic, as it had been before. And yet, important as
was the discovery of the one, and ingenious as is the invention of the
other, both are of slight account in the presence of the great fact of
nature observed by the English nobleman and humoured by the Scottish
artisan. The _genie_ whom the one captured and the other tamed, is the
great magic worker, apart from whose subtle strength their ingenuity had
been wasted, and had come to naught.

But here I must restrain my rovings, and recall my purpose to descant on
other points. And indeed the uses of water are so numerous and varied
that the subject might well engross a lecture by itself; and I must
needs therefore cut the matter short. It is only Hodge-Podge, moreover,
I have undertaken to dish up before you, and I must keep my word. For,
fain as I am to dilate on the many economic virtues of water, I must not
forget that the pot contains other ingredients, and that the dish I am
serving out of it would yield but poor fare, if it did not.

2. I come therefore to the next ingredient in the soup I am providing;
for, as the housewife said, "there's mutton intilt," and it is the most
important ingredient in the mess. But the animal which produces it, like
the kindred animals that produce the like, serves other purposes as
well, and these no less essential to the exigency of the race; and it is
of them I propose to speak. It is beside my design to enter on the
domain of the sheep-breeder, and attempt an account of the different
kinds reared by the farmer; enough to say that, numerous as these are,
they are all fed and tended for the benefit of the human family, and
that they minister to the supply of the same human wants.

The child, as it frolics on the lawn, stops his gambols and steps gently
aside to coax, to caress his woolly-fleeced companion; and the mother
talks softly to her child of the innocent darlings, and asks if they are
not lovely creatures, and beautiful to look at, as they timidly wander
from spot to spot, and nibble the delicate pasture. So it is to the
lively fancy of childhood, and so it is to the mother whose affections
are naturally melted into softness in the presence of simplicity; but
when economic considerations arise, and the question is one of service
and value, all such sentimental and aesthetic emotions pass out of
court, and only calculations of base utilitarianism fill the eye from
horizon to horizon. No doubt the creatures are lovely and beautiful to
behold on the meadows and hill-sides of the landscape, which they
enliven and adorn; but man must live as well as admire, and unless by
sacrifice of the sheep he must not only go without hodge-podge to his
dinner, but dispense with much else equally necessary to his life and
welfare. The cook requires the sacrifice, that he may purvey for the
tables of both gentle and semple; the tallow-dealer requires the
sacrifice, that he may provide light for our homesteads, and oil for our
engines, both stationary and locomotive; and the wool-merchant and the
currier insist on stripping the victim of his fleece, and even flaying
his skin, before they can assure us of fit clothing and covering against
cold and rain for our bodies and our belongings. And what a wretched
plight we should be in, if the sheep, or their like, did not come to the
rescue, or the help they are fitted to render were not laid under
contribution! For not only might we be fated to go often dinnerless to
bed, and to live all our days in a body imperfectly nourished, but our
evenings would in many cases be spent without light, and our journeys
undertaken without comfort, and our outer man left to battle at odds,
unshod and unprotected, with the discomforts of the highway and the
inclemency of the seasons. Of all the services rendered by the sheep to
the race of man, perhaps the most invaluable is that which is accorded
in the gift of wool; and it is for the sake of this alone that, in many
quarters, whole flocks, and even breeds, are reared and tended,--so
great is the demand for it, and such the esteem in which it is held for
the purpose of clothing the body and keeping it in warmth.

3. But, again, to advance a step further, there are, as the landlady of
the inn remarked, "neeps intilt." On this part of the subject, that I
may pass to the next topic on which I mean to speak, and which is of
wider range, I intend to say little. I have already referred to the
important place assigned to this vegetable by a living economist as
affording a basis for grouping society into two great classes. To the
farmer it is of equal, and far more practical, importance; for it is, by
the manner of its cultivation, a great means of clearing the land of
weeds; it is the chief support of sheep and cattle through the months of
winter; and it is one of the most valuable crops raised on British soil,
and of equal account in the agriculture of both England and Scotland.
The culture of turnips on farms involves considerable expense indeed,
and is sometimes attended with loss, and even failure; but they are of
inestimable value in cattle husbandry, as without them our sheepfarms
would soon be depopulated, and the animals hardly outlive a winter. One
function they, and the like, fulfil in nature, is turning inorganic
matter into vegetable, that the component elements may in this form be
more readily assimilated into animal flesh and blood; while their
introduction as an article of farming is of great importance as
rendering possible and feasible a regular rotation of crops.

4. But I must, as I said, hasten on to another ingredient of the dish we
are compounding; I refer to barley, for that too, as our gracious
hostess would say, is "_intilt_." From this single grain what virtues
have been developed! what mildness, what soothing, what nourishment, and
what strength! What a source it is to us of comfort, of enjoyment, and
of wealth! There is barley-water, for instance, a beverage most
harmless, yet most soothing; meet drink for the sick-room, and specially
promotive of the secretions in patients whose disease is inflammatory,
and who suffer from thirst. Then there is barley-bread, extensively used
in both England and Scotland, than which there is none more wholesome to
the blood and more nourishing to the system; the meal of which is of
service too in the shape of a medical appliance, and, when so used,
acts with most beneficial effect. But its strength is not so pronounced
or decisive either in the form of an infusion or in that of bread, much
as in these forms it contributes to health and vigour: it is not when it
is put into the pot, or when bruised by the miller, that it comes out in
the fulness of its might; it is when it is immersed in water, and
subjected to heat, and metamorphosed into malt. In this form it can be
converted into a beverage that is simple and healthful, and, when used
aright, conducive to strength of muscle and general vigour of life; but
when it has undergone a further process, which I am about to describe,
it evolves a spirit so masterful that the weak would do well to
withstand its seductiveness, for only a strong head and a stout will
dare with impunity to enter the lists with it, and can hope to retire
from the contest with the strength unshorn and a firm footstep.[C]

Whisky, which is what I now refer to as the highest outcome of the
strength of barley, is, like hodge-podge, of Scotch incubation, and
deserves, for country's sake and the fame it has, some brief regard. The
process by which the grain is prepared may be described as follows. The
grain is first damped, then spread out on a floor, and finally a certain
quantity of water and heat applied, when it begins to germinate, which
it continues to do to a certain stage, beyond which it is not allowed to
pass. At this moment a Government official presents himself, and exacts
a duty of the manufacturer for the production of the malt, the
authorities shrewdly judging that they are entitled to levy off so
valuable an article a modicum of tax. The grain thus prepared is now in
a state for further manufacture, and it passes into the hands of the
brewer or distiller, to be converted into a more or less alcoholic

First the brewer produces therefrom those excellent beverages called
beer and porter, and so contributes to our refreshment, enjoyment, and
strength. These beverages are, in one shape or other, nearly in
universal demand, and the money spent upon the consumption of Bass and
XX almost passes belief. They are exported into every zone of the
world, and consumed by every class. And then the distiller takes the
grain in the same form, and, by slow evaporation and subsequent
condensation, extracts the pure, subtle, and potent spirit we have
referred to, and which, in more or less diluted form, we call whisky, or
Scotch drink. And this article also, in spite of cautions, is in large
demand and extensively exported, though perhaps not so much is consumed
among us as was fifty years ago. It is not by any means so bad an
article as it has a bad name; for when of good quality, and moderately
indulged in, it is perfectly wholesome; only when the quality is bad, or
the indulgence excessive, do evil results follow. And indeed such are
its merits when good, that it is said dealers sometimes export it to
France and other parts, from which it is imported again to this country,
transfused into splendidly labelled brandy bottles, and sold
untransformed as best brandy!

Little do we think, when eating our quiet dinner at a Scottish country
inn, what power and wealth are represented in the hodge-podge which
belike forms one of the dishes, and which, by suggestion and in the
style of the housewife, we are now analysing. As we disintegrate the
mess, and resolve it into its elements, we may well bethink ourselves of
the cost of our board on the planet, and of the value of the articles we
are daily consuming. To help you to a clearer idea of this, in regard to
the article barley alone in the form of malt, let me commend to your
attention the following statistical statement:--

A Parliamentary return of 1876 shows that the quantity of _malt_ charged
with _duty_ during the year was--

                                BUSHELS.            DUTY.
England,                       54,655,274        £7,412,621
Scotland,                       2,927,763           396,241
Ireland,                        3,346,606           453,883
                               ----------        ----------
Total of United Kingdom,       60,929,633        £8,262,746

The quantity of barley imported into the United Kingdom during the year
was equivalent to 2,736,425 quarters. See how great a fire a little
spark, hodge-podge, kindleth!

So much for the quantity of malt produced, and the revenue derived from
it, in a year in the United Kingdom. I have spoken of this malt as being
convertible into a form which possesses, among other virtues, the power
of quenching our thirst. I wish it did not also quench our thirst for
the knowledge we all ought to have of its production and really
serviceable qualities; that it would stimulate inquiry after such
things, and not smother it, as it is too apt to do; and, in general,
prompt us to a wiser study of our social wants, and the means at our
command for further social improvement; which we might prosecute with
less and less recourse to the stimulant virtues of malt in such forms as
whisky. And this we may do, if we limit our indulgence in it to the less
potent form of it in beer, which, while it is calculated to quench man's
bodily thirst, is equally calculated to quicken his mental. How much it
contributes to allay the former, and how many thirsty souls are
refreshed by it, we may estimate from the statistics of the sale of it
furnished by a single firm in London. I refer to the firm of the Messrs.
Foster, Brook Street, who are friends of my own, and to whom I should be
glad to refer all who may be in want of a wholesome beer, for theirs is
so good and genuine. The Messrs. Foster are among the most extensive
bottlers and exporters in the country; and I find from the information
they have kindly supplied me, that the beer bottled by them for export
purposes during the year 1874 was 6000 butts, of 108 gallons each; that
their contracts for the supply of bottles during that period represented
25,000 gross, or 5,040,000 bottles, which, if laid end to end, would
extend to about 1000 miles; and that their accounts with Bass & Co.
alone for that term amounted to £150,000. All, from the highest to the
lowest, drink beer in England; and when unadulterated and taken in
moderation, it is one of the most healthful beverages of which the human
being, man or woman, can partake.

Though I have only partially gone over the ground contemplated at first,
I feel I must now draw to a conclusion, which I am the less indisposed
to do, as I think in what I have said I have pretty fairly set before
you the wonderful properties latent in a basin of hodge-podge. For it is
a habit of mine, which I have sought to indulge on the present occasion,
to analyse every subject to which my attention is directed, and in which
I feel interest, before I can make up my mind as to the proper
significance and importance of the whole compound. Thus, for instance,
set a dish of hodge-podge before me; it does not satisfy me to be told
that it is only a basin of broth, and that it is wholesome fare; I
must, as I have now been doing in a way, resolve the compound into its
elements, see these in other and wider relations, and refer them
mentally to their rank and standing in the larger world of the economy
of nature and of social existence. I am always asking "What's intilt?"
and am never satisfied, any more than the English tourist, with a bare
enumeration: I must subject the factors included to rational inspection,
and watch their play and weigh their worth in connection with interests
more general.

And if, in the delivery of this lecture, I have persuaded any one to
regard common things in a similar light and from a similar interest, I
shall deem the time spent on it not altogether thrown away. Mind, not
water, is the ultimate solvent in nature, and everything, when thrown
into it, will be found in the end to resolve itself into it, or what in
nature is of kin to it. And if a Latin poet could justify his interest
in man by a reference to his own humanity, so may we rest content with
nature when we find that we and it are parts of each other. It is well
to learn to look on nothing as private, but on everything as a part of
a great whole, of which we ourselves are units; so shall we feel
everywhere at home, and a sense of kinship with the remote as well as
near within the round of existence.


[C] The Highlanders are said to be able to offer it a stout defiance,
for they can stand an immense quantity; and I have heard of an innkeeper
in the north, who, when remonstrated with on account of his excessive
drinking, so far admitted the justice of the charge implied, but pled
that he could not be accused of undue indulgence the night before, as,
whatever he might have drunk during the day, he had, after supper, had
only seventeen glasses!



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