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´╗┐Title: James Nasmyth, Engineer: An Autobiography
Author: Nasmyth, James
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "James Nasmyth, Engineer: An Autobiography" ***

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James Nasmyth: Engineer, An Autobiography.

Edited by Samuel Smiles, LL.D.

(this Etext is taken from the popular edition, pub. John Murray 1897)


I have had much pleasure in editing the following Memoir of my friend
Mr. Nasmyth.  Some twenty years since (in April 1863), when I applied
to him for information respecting his mechanical inventions, he
replied:  "My life presents no striking or remarkable incidents,
and would, I fear, prove but a tame narrative.  The sphere to which my
endeavours have been confined has been of a comparatively quiet order;
but, vanity apart, I hope I have been able to leave a few marks of my
existence behind me in the shape of useful contrivances, which are in
many ways helping on great works of industry."

Mr. Nasmyth, nevertheless, kindly furnished me with information
respecting himself, as well as his former master and instructor,
Henry Maudslay, of London, for the purpose of being inserted in
Industrial Biography, or Ironworkers and Toolmakers, which was
published at the end of 1863.  He was of opinion that the outline of
his life there presented was sufficiently descriptive of his career as
a mechanic and inventor.

During the years that have elapsed since then, Mr. Nasmyth has been
prevailed upon by some of his friends more especially by Sir John
Anderson, late of Woolwich Arsenal--to note down the reminiscences of
his life, with an account of his inventions, and to publish them for
the benefit of others.  He has accordingly spent some of his well
earned leisure during the last two years in writing out his
recollections.  Having consulted me on the subject, I recommended that
they should be published in the form of an Autobiography, and he has
willingly given his consent.

Mr. Nasmyth has furnished me with abundant notes of his busy life,
and he has requested me, in preparing them for publication, to
"make use of the pruning-knife."  I hope, however, that in editing the
book I have not omitted anything that is likely to be interesting or
instructive.  I must add that everything has been submitted to his
correction and received his final approval.

The narrative abundantly illustrates Mr. Nasmyth's own definition of
engineering; namely, common sense applied to the use of materials.
In his case, common sense has been more especially applied to
facilitating and perfecting work by means of Machine Tools.
Civilisation began with tools; and every step in advance has been
accomplished through their improvement.  Handicraft labour, in bone,
stone, or wood, was the first stage in the development of man's power;
and tools or machines, in iron or steel, are the last and most
efficient method of economising it, and enabling him to intelligently
direct the active and inert forces of nature.

It will be observed that Mr. Nasmyth, on his first start in life,
owed much to the influence of his father, who was not only an admirable
artist--"the founder," as Sir David Wilkie termed him, "of the
landscape painting school of Scotland"--but an excellent mechanic.
His "bow-and-string" roofs and bridges show his original merits as a
designer; and are sufficient to establish his ability as a mechanical
engineer.  Indeed, one of Mr. Nasmyth's principal objects in preparing
the notes of the following work, has been to introduce a Memorial to
the memory of his father, to whom he owed so much, and to whom he was
so greatly attached through life. Hence the numerous references to him,
and the illustrations from his works of art, of architecture,
as well as of mechanics, given in the early part of the book.

I might point out that Mr. Nasmyth's narrative has a strong bearing
upon popular education; not only as regards economical use of time,
careful observation, close attention to details, but as respects the
uses of Drawing.  The observations which he makes as to the accurate
knowledge of this art are very important.  In this matter he concurs
with Mr. Herbert Spencer in his work on Education.  "It is very strange,"
Mr. Nasmyth said some years ago, "that amidst all our vaunted
improvements in education, the faculty of comparison by sight, or what
may be commonly called the correctness of eye, has been so little
attended to" He accordingly urges the teaching of rudimentary drawing in
all public schools.  "Drawing is," he says, "the Education of the Eye.
It is more interesting than words.  It is graphic language."

The illustrations given in the course of the following book will serve
to show his own mastery of drawing whether as respects Mechanical
details, the Moon's surface, or the fairyland of Landscape.
It is perhaps not saying too much to aver that had he not devoted his
business life to Mechanics, he would, like his father, his brother
Patrick, and his sisters, have taken a high position as an artist.
In the following Memoir we have only been able to introduce a few
specimens of his drawings; but "The Fairies," "The Antiquary,"
and others, will give the reader a good idea of Mr. Nasmyth's artistic
ability.  Since his retirement from business life, at the age of
forty-eight, Mr. Nasmyth's principal pursuit has been Astronomy.
His Monograph on "The Moon," published in 1874, exhibits his ardent and
philosophic love for science in one of its sublimest aspects.
His splendid astronomical instruments, for the most part made entirely
by his own hands, have enabled him to detect the "willow leaf-shaped"
objects which form the structural element of the Sun's luminous
surface.  The discovery was shortly after verified by Sir John Herschel
and other astronomers, and is now a received fact in astronomical

A Chronological List of some of Mr. Nasmyth's contrivances and
inventions is given at the end of the volume, which shows, so far,
what he has been enabled to accomplish during his mechanical career.
These begin at a very early age, and were continued for about thirty
years of a busy and active life.  Very few of them were patented;
many of them, though widely adopted, are unacknowledged as his
invention. They, nevertheless, did much to advance the mechanical arts,
and still continue to do excellent service in the engineering world.

The chapter relating to the origin of the Cuneiform Character,
and of the Pyramid or Sun-worship in its relation to Egyptian
Architecture, is placed at the end, so as not to interrupt the personal
narrative. That chapter, it is believed, will be found very
interesting, illustrated, as it is, by Mr. Nasmyth's drawings.


LONDON, October 1885.



List of Illustrations [omitted in this Etext]

CHAPTER 1  My Ancestry
Sentiment of Ancestry
Origin of the name of Naesmyth
Naesmyth of Posso
Naesmyth of Netherton
Battle of Bothwell Brig
Estate confiscated
Elspeth Naesmyth
Michael Naesmyth builder and architect
Fort at Inversnaid
Naesmyth family tomb
Former masters and men
Michael Naesmyth's son
New Edinburgh
Grandmother Naesmyth
Uncle Michael

CHAPTER 2  Alexander Nasmyth
Born 1758--Grassmarket
The Bibler's Seat
The brothers Erskine
Apprenticed to a coachbuilder
The Trustees' Academy
Huguenot artisans
Alexander Runciman
Copy of "The Laocoon"
Assistant to Allan Ramsay
Faculty of resourcefulness
Begins as portrait painter
Friendship with Miller of Dalswinton
Miller and the first steamboat
Visit to Italy
Marriage to Barbara Foulis
Burns the poet
Edinburgh clubs
Landscape beauty
Abandons portrait for landscape painting
David Roberts, R.A.
Dean Bridge
St. Bernard's Well
Nelson's Monument
Bow-and-string bridges
Sunday rivet

CHAPTER 3  An Artist's Family
Sir James Hall
Geology of Edinburgh
Friends of the family
Henry Raeburn
Evenings at home
Society of artists
"Caller Aon"
Management of the household
The family
Education of six sisters
The Nasmyth classes
Pencil drawing
Excursions round Edinburgh
Graphic memoranda
Patrick Nasmyth, sketch of his life
Removes to London
Visit to Hampshire
Original prices of his works
His friends
His death

CHAPTER 4  My Early Years
Born 1808
Mary Peterkin
The brilliant red poppies
Patrick's birthday
Vocal performance
A wonderful escape
Events of the war
The French prisoners
Entry of the 42d into Edinburgh
Bleaching "claes" on the Calton
The Greenside workshops
The chimes of St. Giles'
The Edinburgh Market
The caddies
The fishwives
The "floore"
Traditional fondness for cats
A Nasmyth prayer

CHAPTER 5  My School-days
My first schoolmaster
"Preter pluperfect tense"
The "penny pig"
Country picnics
Pupil at the High School
Dislike of Latin
Love of old buildings
Their masonry
Sir Walter Scott
"The Heart of Midlothian"
John Linnell
The collecting period
James Watt
My father's workshop
Make peeries, cannon, and "steels"
School friendships
Paterson's ironfoundry
His foremen
Johnie Syme
Tom Smith and chemical experiments
Kid gloves and technical knowledge

CHAPTER 6  Mechanical Beginnings
Study arithmetic and geometry
Practise art of drawing
Its important uses
Make tools and blowpipe
Walks round Edinburgh
Volcanic origin of the neighbourhood
George the Fourth's visit
The Radical Road
Destructive fires
Journey to Stirling
The Devon Ironworks
Robert Bald
Carron Ironworks
Coats of mail found at Bannockburn
Models of condensing steam-engine
Professor Leslie
Edinburgh School of Arts
Attend University classes
Brass-casting in the bedroom
George Douglass
Make a working steam-engine
Sympathy of activity
The Expansometer
Make a road steam-carriage
Desire to enter Maudslay's factory

CHAPTER 7  Henry Maudslay, London
Voyage to London with specimens of workmanship
First walk through London
Visit to Henry Maudslay
The interview
Exhibit my specimens
Taken on as assistant
The private workshop
Maudslay's constructive excellence
His maxims
Uniformity of screws
Meeting with Henry Brougham
David Wilkie
Visit to the Admiralty Museum
The Block machinery
The Royal Mint
Steam yacht trip to Richmond
Lodgings taken
"A clean crossing"

CHAPTER 8  Maudslay's Private Assistant
Enter Maudslay's service
Rudimentary screw generator
The guide screw
Interview with Faraday
Rate of wages
Economical living
My cooking stove
Make model of marine steam-engine
My collar-nut cutting machine
Maudslay's elements of high-class workmanship
Flat filing
Standard planes
Maudslay's "Lord Chancellor"
Maudslay's Visitors
General Bentham, Barton, Donkin and Chantrey
The Cundell brothers
Walks round London
Norman architecture

CHAPTER 9  Holiday in the Manufacturing Districts
Coaching trip to Liverpool
English scenery
'The Rocket'
The two Stephensons
Opening of the railway
William Fawcett
Walk back to London
Edward Tootal
Sharp, Roberts and Co.
Manchester industry
The Black Country
Dudley Castle
Wren's Nest Hill
Boulton and Watt
William Murdoch
John Drain

CHAPTER 10  Begin Business at Manchester
Stamping machine improved
Astronomical instruments
A reflecting telescope proposed
Death of Maudslay
Joshua Field
'Talking books'
Leave Maudslay and Field
Take temporary workshop in Edinburgh
Archie Torry
Construct a rotary steam-engine
Prepare a stock of machine tools
Visit to Liverpool
John Cragg
Visit to Manchester
John Kennedy
Grant Brothers
Take a workshop
Tools removed to Manchester
A prosperous business begun
Story of the brothers Grant
Trip to Elgin and Castle Grant
The brothers Cowper
The printing machine
Edward Cowper

CHAPTER 11  Bridgewater Foundry--Partnership
Demand for skilled labour
Machine tools in request
My flat overloaded
A crash among the decanters
The land at Patricroft
Lease from Squire Trafford
Bridgewater Foundary begun
Trip to Londonderry
The Giant's Causeway
Cottage at Barton
The Bridgewater canal
Lord Francis Egerton
Safety foundry ladle
Holbrook Gaskell taken as partner
His eventual retirement

CHAPTER 12  Free Trade in Ability--The Strike--Death of my Father
Hugo de Lupus
The Peter Stubb's files
Worsley labourers
Promotion from the ranks
Free trade in ability
Foreman lieutenants, Archie Torry
James Hutton
John Clarke
Thomas Crewdson
Trades' Union interference
A strike ordered
Workman advertised for
A reinforcement of Scotch mechanics
The strike scotched
Millwrights and engineers
Indenture-bound apprentices
Visits of my father
Enthusiastic reception
His last work
His death
Testimony of Sir David Wilkie

CHAPTER 13  My Marriage--The Steam Hammer
Preparations for a home
Influence of chance occurrences
Visit to Mr. Hartop's near Barnsley
Important interview
Eventual marriage
Great Western Railway locomotives
Mr. Humphries and 'Great Western' steamship
Forging of paddle-shaft
Want of range of existing hammers
The first steam hammer sketched
Its arrangement
The paddle shaft abandoned
My sketch copied and adopted
My visit to Creuzot
Find steam hammer in operation
A patent taken out
First steam hammer made in England
Its general adoption
Patent secured for United States

CHAPTER 14  Travels in France and Italy
The French Minister of Marine at Paris
M. Rosine
Architecture of Nismes
Marseilles--Toulon--Voyage to Naples--Genoa--Pisa
Bay of Naples
The National Museum
Visit to Vesuvius
The edge of the crater
Volcanic commotion
Overflows of burning lava
Wine-shop at Rosina
Return ride to Naples

CHAPTER 15  Steam Hammer Pile-driver
The Royal Dockyards
Steam hammer for Devonport
Scene at the first stroke
My Lords of the Admiralty
Steam hammer pile-driver required
The new docks at Devonport
The pile-driver delivered
Its description
Trail against the old method
Its general adoption
Happy thoughts
Testing of chain cables and anchors
Causes of failure
Punctilliousness of officials at royal dockyards
Egyptian workman employed
Affiffi Lalli
Letter from Faraday

CHAPTER 16  Nuremberg--St. Petersburg--Dannemora.
Visit to Nuremberg
Albert Durer
Adam Krafft
Visit to St. Petersburg
General Wilson
General Greg
Struve the astronomer
Palaces and shops
Ivy ornamentation
The Emperor Nicholas a royal salute
Francis Baird
Work of Russian serfs
The Izak Church
Voyage to Stokholm
Visit to Upsala
The iron mines of Dannemora
To Gottenburg by steamer
Trollhatten Falls
Sweedish people
Tycho Brahe;
Zeland and Holstein
Holland, and return

CHAPTER 17  More about Bridgewater Foundry--Woolwich Arsenal
Increased demand for self-acting tools
Promotions of lads
The Trades' Union again
Strike against Platt Brothers
Edward Tootal's advice
Friendliness between engineering firms
Small high-pressure engines
Uses of waste steam
Improvements in calico-printing
Improvements at Woolwich Arsenal
Enlargement of workshops
Improved machine tools
The gun foundry and laboratories
Orders for Spain and Russia
Rope factory machinery
Russian Officers
Grand Duke Constantine
Lord Ellesmere's visitors
Admiral Kornileff

CHAPTER 18  Astronomical pursuits
Hobbies at home
Washington Irving
Pursuit of astronomy
Wonders of the heavens
Construction of a new speculum
William Lassell
Warren de la Rue
Home-made reflecting telescope
A ghost at Patricroft
Twenty-inch diameter speculum
Drawings of the moon's surface
Structure of the moon
Lunar craters
Wrinkles of age
Extinct craters
Landscape scenery of the moon
Meeting of British Association at Edinburgh
The Bass Rock
Professor Owen
Robert Chambers
The grooved rocks
Hugh Miller and boulder clay
Lecture on the moon
Visit the Duke of Argyll
Basaltic formation at Mull
The Giant's Causeway
The great exhibition
Steam hammer engine
Prize medals
Interview with the Queen and Prince Consort
Lord Cockburn
Visit to Bonally
D. O. Hill

CHAPTER 19  More about Astronomy
Sir David Brewster
Edward Cowper's lecture
Cause of the sun's light
Lord Murray
Sir T. Mitchell
The Milky Way
Countless suns
Infusoria in Bridgewater Canal
Rotary movements of heavenly bodies
Geological Society meeting
Dr Vaugham
Improvement of Small Arms Factory, Enfield
Generosity of United States Government
The Enfield Rifle

CHAPTER 20  Retirement from Business
Letter from David Roberts, R. A.
Puddling iron by steam
The process tried
Sir Henry Bessemer's invention
Discussion at Cheltenham
Bessemer's account
Prepare to retire from business
The Countess of Ellesmere
The "Cottage in Kent"
The "antibilious stock"
Hammerfield, Penshurst
Planting and gardening
The Crystal Palace
Tools and telescopes
The greenhouse

CHAPTER 21  Active leisure
Lecture on the Moon
Old friends
Visit to the Continent--Paris, Chartres, Nismes, Chamounix
Art of photography
Sir John Herschel
Spots on the sun's surface
E.J. Stone
De la Rue
Visit from Sir John Herschel
Cracking glass globe
A million spots and letters
Geological diagram
Father Secchi at Rome
Lord Lyndhurst
Visit to Herschel
His last letter
Publication of The Moon
Philip H. Calderon
Cardinal Manning
Miss Herschel
William Lassell
Windmill grinding of speculum
The dial of life
End of recollections

List of Inventions and Contrivances

Articles on the Sun-Ray origin of the Pyramids and Cuneiform Character

[Image]  Edinburgh Castle, From the Vennel


CHAPTER 1.  My Ancestry

Our history begins before we are born.  We represent the hereditary
influences of our race, and our ancestors virtually live in us.
The sentiment of ancestry seems to be inherent in human nature,
especially in the more civilised races.  At all events, we cannot help
having a due regard for the history of our forefathers.  Our curiosity
is stimulated by their immediate or indirect influence upon ourselves.
It may be a generous enthusiasm, or, as some might say, a harmless
vanity, to take pride in the honour of their name.  The gifts of nature,
however, are more valuable than those of fortune; and no line of
ancestry, however honourable, can absolve us from the duty of diligent
application and perseverance, or from the practice of the virtues of
self-control and self-help.

Sir Bernard Burke, in his Peerage and Baronetage Ed 1879 Pp 885-6,
gives a faithful account of the ancestors from whom I am lineally
descended.  "The family of Naesymth, he says, "is one of remote
antiquity in Tweeddale, and has possessed lands there since the 13th
century."  They fought in the wars of Bruce and Baliol, which ended in
the independence of Scotland.

The following is the family legend of the origin of the name of
Naesymth: --

In the troublous times which prevailed in Scotland before the union of
the Crowns, the feuds between the King and the Barons were almost
constant.  In the reign of James III. the House of Douglas was the
most prominent and ambitious.  The Earl not only resisted his liege
lord, but entered into a combination with the King of England, from
whom he received a pension.  He was declared a rebel, and his estates
were confiscated.  He determined to resist the royal power, and crossed
the Border with his followers.  He was met by the Earl of Angus, the
Maxwells, the Johnstons, and the Scotts.  In one of the engagements
which ensued the Douglases appeared to have gained the day, when an
ancestor of the Naesmyths, who fought under the royal standard, took
refuge in the smithy of a neighbouring village.  The smith offered him
protection, disguised him as a hammerman, with a leather apron in
front, and asked him to lend a hand at his work.

While thus engaged a party of the Douglas partisans entered the smithy.
They looked with suspicion on the disguised hammerman, who, in his
agitation, struck a false blow with the sledge hammer, which broke the
shaft in two.  Upon this, one of the pursuers rushed at him, calling
out, "Ye're nae smyth!"  The stalwart hammerman turned upon his
assailant, and, wrenching a dagger from him, speedily overpowered him.
The smith himself, armed with a big hammer, effectually aided in
overpowering and driving out the Douglas men.  A party of the royal
forces made their appearance, when Naesmyth rallied them, led them
against the rebels, and converted what had been a temporary defeat into
a victory.  A grant of lands was bestowed upon him for his service.
His armorial bearings consisted of a hand dexter with a dagger, between
two broken hammer-shafts, and there they remain to this day.  The motto
was, Non arte sect marte, "Not by art but by war" In my time I have
reversed the motto (Non marte sed arte); and instead of the broken
hammer-shafts, I have adopted, not as my "arms" but as a device,
the most potent form of mechanical art--the Steam Hammer.

[Image] Origin of the Name.  By James Nasmyth.

Sir Michael Naesmyth, Chamberlain of the Archbishop of St. Andrews,
obtained the lands of Posso and Glenarth in 1544, by right of his wife,
Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of John Baird of Posso.  The Bairds
have ever been a loyal and gallant family.  Sir Gilbert, father of John
Baird, fell at Flodden in 1513, in defence of his king.

The royal eyrie of Posso Crag is on the family estate;
and the Lure worn by Queen Mary, and presented by her son James VI. to
James Naesmyth, the Royal Falconer, is still preserved as a family

During the intestine troubles in Scotland, in the reign of Mary,
Sir Michael Naesmyth espoused the cause of the unfortunate Queen.
He fought under her banner at Langside in 1568.  He was banished,
and his estates were seized by the Regent Moray.  But after the
restoration of peace, the Naesmyths regained their property.
Sir Michael died at an advanced age.

He had many sons.  The eldest, James, married Joana, daughter of
William Veitch or Le Veitch of Dawick.  By this marriage the lands of
Dawick came into the family.  He predeceased his father, and was
succeeded by his son James, the Royal Falconer above referred to.
Sir Michael's second son, John, was chief chirurgeon to James VI. of
Scotland, afterwards James I. of England, and to Henry, Prince of
Wales.  He died in London in 1613, and in his testament he leaves
"his herb to his young master, the Prince's grace."  Charles I.,
in his instructions to the President of the Court of Session, enjoins
"that you take special notice of the children of John Naesmyth, so
often recommended by our late dear father and us."  Two of Sir Michael's
other sons were killed at Edinburgh in 1588, in a deadly feud between
the Scotts and the Naesmyths.  In those days a sort of Corsican
vendetta was carried on between families from one generation to

Sir Michael Naesmyth, son of the Royal Falconer, succeeded to the
property.  His eldest son James was appointed to serve in Claverhouse's
troop of horse in 1684.  Among the other notable members of the family
was James Naesmyth, a very clever lawyer.  He was supposed to be so
deep that he was generally known as the "Deil o' Dawyk".   His eldest
son was long a member of Parliament for the county of Peebles; he was,
besides, a famous botanist, having studied under Linnaeus, Among the
inter-marriages of the family were those with the Bruces of Lethen, the
Stewarts of Traquhair, the Murrays of Stanhope, the Pringles of Clifton,
the Murrays of Philiphaugh, the Keiths (of the Earl Marischal's family),
the Andersons of St. Germains, the Marjoribanks of Lees, and others.

In the fourteenth century a branch of the Naesmyths of Posso settled at
Netherton, near Hamilton.  They bought an estate and built a residence.
The lands adjoined part of the Duke of Hamilton's estate, and the house
was not far from the palace.  There the Naesmyths remained until the
reign of Charles II. The King, or his advisers, determined to
introduce Episcopacy, or, as some thought, Roman Catholicism, into the
country, and to enforce it at the point of the sword.

The Naesmyths had always been loyal until now.  But to be cleft by
sword and pricked by spear into a religion which they disbelieved, was
utterly hateful to the Netherton Naesmyths.  Being Presbyterians, they
held to their own faith.  They were prevented from using their
In the reign of James II. of England and James VII. of Scotland a law
was enacted, "that whoever should preach in a conventicle under a roof,
or should attend, either as a preacher or as a hearer, a conventicle in
the open air, should be punished with death and confiscation of
and they accordingly met on the moors, or in unfrequented places for
worship.  The dissenting Presbyterians assumed the name of Covenanters.
Hamilton was almost the centre of the movement.  The Covenanters met,
and the King's forces were ordered to disperse them.  Hence the
internecine war that followed.  There were Naesmyths on both sides--
Naesmyths for the King, and Naesmyths for the Covenant.

In an early engagement at Drumclog, the Covenanters were victorious.
They beat back Claverhouse and his dragoons.  A general rising took
place in the West Country.  About 6000 men assembled at Hamilton,
mostly raw and undisciplined countrymen.  The King's forces assembled
to meet them, -- 10,000 well-disciplined troops, with a complete train
of field artillery.  What chance had the Covenanters against such a
force?  Nevertheless, they met at Bothwell Bridge, a few miles west of
Hamilton. It is unnecessary to describe the action.*
See the account of a Covenanting Officer in the Appendix to the Scots
Worthies.  See also Sir Waiter Scott's Old Mortality, where the battle
of Bothwell Brig is described.

The Covenanters, notwithstanding their inferior force, resisted the
cannonade and musketry of the enemy with great courage.  They defended
the bridge until their ammunition failed.  When the English Guards and
the artillery crossed the bridge, the battle was lost.  The Covenanters
gave way, and fled in all directions; Claverhouse, burning with revenge
for his defeat at Drumclog, made a terrible slaughter of the
unresisting fugitives.  One of my ancestors brought from the
battlefield the remnant of the standard; a formidable musquet--
"Gun Bothwell" we afterwards called it; an Andrea Ferrara; and a
powder-horn.  I still preserve these remnants of the civil war.

My ancestor was condemned to death in his absence, and his property at
Netherton was confiscated.  What became of him during the remainder of
Charles II.'s reign, and the reign of that still greater tormentor,
James II., I do not know.  He was probably, like many others, wandering
about from place to place, hiding "in wildernesses or caves, destitute,
afflicted, and tormented."  The arrival of William III. restored
religious liberty to the country, and Scotland was again left in
comparative peace.

My ancestor took refuge in Edinburgh, but he never recovered his
property at Netherton.  The Duke of Hamilton, one of the trimmers of
the time, had long coveted the possession of the lands, as Ahab had
coveted Naboth's vineyard.  He took advantage of the conscription of
the men engaged in the Bothwell Brig conflict, and had the lands
forfeited in his favour.  I remember my father telling me that, on one
occasion when he visited the Duke of Hamilton in reference to some
improvement of the grounds adjoining the palace, he pointed out to the
Duke the ruined remains of the old residence of the Naesmyths.  As the
first French Revolution was then in full progress, when ideas of
society and property seemed to have lost their bearings, the Duke
good-humouredly observed, "Well, well, Naesmyth, there's no saying but
what, some of these days, your ancestors' lands may come into your
possession again!"

Before I quit the persecutions of "the good old times," I must refer to
the burning of witches.  One of my ancient kinswomen, Elspeth Naesmyth,
who lived at Hamilton, was denounced as a witch.  The chief evidence
brought against her was that she kept four black cats, and read her
Bible with two pairs of spectacles!  a practice which shows that she
possessed the spirit of an experimental philosopher.

In doing this she adopted a mode of supplementing the power of
spectacles in restoring the receding power of the eyes.  She was in all
respects scientifically correct.  She increased the magnifying power of
the glasses; a practice which is preferable to using single glasses of
the same power, and which I myself often follow.  Notwithstanding this
improved method of reading her Bible, and her four black cats, she was
condemned to be burned alive!  She was about the last victim in
Scotland to the disgraceful superstition of witchcraft.

The Naesmyths of Netherton having lost their ancestral property, had to
begin the world again.  They had to begin at the beginning.
But they had plenty of pluck and energy.  I go back to my
great-great-grandfather, Michael Naesmyth, who was born in 1652.
He occupied a house in the Grassmarket, Edinburgh, which was afterwards
rebuilt, in 1696.  His business was that of a builder and architect.
His chief employment was in designing and erecting new mansions,
principally for the landed gentry and nobility.  Their old castellated
houses or towers were found too dark and dreary for modern uses.
The drawbridges were taken down, and the moats were filled up.
Sometimes they built the new mansions as an addition to the old.
But oftener they left the old castles to go to ruin; or, what was
worse, they made use of the stone and other materials of the old
romantic buildings for the construction of their new residences.

Michael Naesmyth acquired a high reputation for the substantiality of
his work.  His masonry was excellent, as well as his woodwork.
The greater part of the latter was executed in his own workshops at the
back of his house in the Grassmarket.  His large yard was situated
between the back of the house and the high wall that bounded the
Greyfriars Churchyard,to the east of the flight of steps which forms
the main approach to George Heriot's Hospital.

[Image] Michael Naesmyth's House, Grassmarket.The lower building at the
        right hand corner of the engraving, with the three projecting
        gable ends

The last work that Michael Naesmyth was engaged in cost him his life.
He had contracted with the Government to build a fort at Inversnaid,
at the northern end of Loch Lomond.  It was intended to guard the
Lowlands, and keep Rob Roy and his caterans within the Highland Border.
A promise was given by the Government that during the progress of the
work a suitable force of soldiers should be quartered close at hand to
protect the builder and his workmen.

[Image] Inversnaid Fort.  After a drawing by Alexander Nasmyth

Notwithstanding many whispered warnings as to the danger of undertaking
such a hazardous work, Michael Naesmyth and his men encamped upon the
spot, though without the protection of the Government force.  Having
erected a temporary residence for their accommodation, he proceeded
with the building of the fort.  The work was well advanced by the end
of 1703, although the Government had treated all Naesmyth's appeals for
protection with evasion or contempt.

Winter set in with its usual force in those northern regions.
One dark and snowy night, when Michael and his men had retired to rest,
a loud knocking was heard at the door.  "Who's there?"  asked Michael.
A man outside replied, "A benighted traveller overt aken by the storm"
He proceeded to implore help, and begged for God's sake that he might
have shelter for the night.  Naesmyth, in the full belief that the
traveller's tale was true, unbolted and unbarred the door, when in
rushed Rob Roy and his desperate gang.  The men, with the dirks of the
Macgregors at their throats, begged hard for their lives.  This was
granted on condition that they should instantly depart, and take an
oath that they should never venture within the Highland border again.

Michael Naesmyth and his men had no alternative but to submit, and they
at once left the bothy with such scanty clothing as the Macgregors
would allow them to carry away.  They were marched under an armed
escort through the snowstorm to the Highland border, and were there
left with the murderous threat that, if they ever returned to the fort,
they would meet with certain death.

Another attempt was made to build the fort at Inversnaid.  But Rob Roy
again surprised the small party of soldiers who were in charge.
They were disarmed and sent about their business.  Finally, the fort
was rebuilt, and placed under the command of Captain (afterwards
General) Wolfe.  When peace fell upon the Highlands and Rob Roy's
country became the scene of picnics, the fort was abandoned and allowed
to go to ruin.

Poor Michael never recovered from the cold which he caught during his
forced retreat from Inversnaid.  The effects of this, together with the
loss and distress of mind which he experienced from the Government's
refusal to pay for his work--notwithstanding their promise to protect
him and his workmen from the Highland freebooters--so preyed upon his
mind that he was never again able to devote himself to business.
One evening, whilst sitting at his fireside with his grandchild on his
knee, a death-like faintness came over him; he set the child down
carefully by the side of his chair, and then fell forward dead on his

Thus ended the life of Michael Naesmyth in 1705, at the age of
fifty-three.  He was buried by the side of his ancestors in the old
family tomb in the Greyfriars Churchyard.

[Image] The Naesmyth Tomb in Greyfriars Churchyard

This old tomb, dated 1614, though much defaced, is one of the most
remarkable of the many which surround the walls of that ancient and
memorable burying-place.

Greyfriars Churchyard is one of the most interesting places in
Edinburgh.  The National Covenant was signed there by the Protestant
nobles and gentry of Scotland in 1638.  The prisoners taken at the
battle of Bothwell Brig were shut up there in 1679, and, after enduring
great privations, a portion of the survivors were sent off to
Barbadoes.  When I first saw the tombstone, an ash tree was growing out
of the top of the main body of it, though that has since been removed.
In growing, the roots had pushed out the centre stone, which has not
been replaced.  The tablet over it contains the arms of the family,
the broken hammer-shafts, and the motto "Non arte sed marte."  There are
the remains of a very impressive figure, apparently rising from her
cerements.  The body and extremities remain, but the head has been
broken away.  There is also a remarkable motto on the tablet above the
tombstone--"Ars mihi vim contra Fortunce; which I take to be,
"Art is my strength in contending against Fortune,"--a motto which is
appropriate to my ancestors as well as to myself.

The business was afterwards carried on by Michael's son, my
great-grandfather.  He was twenty-seven years old at the time of his
father's death, and lived to the age of seventy-three.  He was a man of
much ability and of large experience.

One of his great advantages in carrying on his business was the support
of a staff of able and trustworthy foremen and workmen.  The times were
very different then from what they are now.  Masters and men lived
together in mutual harmony.  There was a kind of loyal family
attachment among them, which extended through many generations.
Workmen had neither the desire nor the means to shift about from place
to place.  On the contrary, they settled down with their wives and
families in houses of their own, close to the workshops of their
employers.  Work was found for them in the dull seasons when trade was
slack, and in summer they sometimes removed to jobs at a distance from
headquarters.  Much of this feeling of attachment and loyalty between
workmen and their employers has now expired.  Men rapidly remove from
place to place.  Character is of little consequence.  The mutual
feeling of goodwill and zealous attention to work seems to have passed

My grandfather, Michael Naesmyth, succeeded to the business in 1751.
He more than maintained the reputation of his predecessors.
The collection of first-class works on architecture which he possessed,
such as the folio editions of Vitruvius and Palladio, which were at
that time both rare and dear, showed the regard he had for impressing
into his designs the best standards of taste.  The buildings he
designed and erected for the Scotch nobility and gentry were well
arranged, carefully executed, and thoroughly substantial.  He was also
a large builder in Edinburgh.  Amongst the houses he erected in the
Old Town were the principal number of those in George Square.  In one
of these, No. 25, Sir Walter Scott spent his boyhood and youth.
They still exist, and exhibit the care which he took in the elegance
and substantiality of his works.

I remember my father pointing out to me the extreme care and attention
with which he finished his buildings.  He inserted small fragments of
basalt into the mortar of the external joints of the stones, at close
and regular distances, in order to protect the mortar from the adverse
action of the weather.  And to this day they give proof of their
efficiency.  The basalt protects the joints, and at the same time gives
a neat and pleasing effect to what would otherwise have been merely the
monotonous line of mason-work.

A great change was about to take place in the residences of the
principal people of Edinburgh.  The cry was for more light and more
air. The extension of the city to the south and west was not
sufficient. There was a great plateau of ground on the north side of
the city, beyond the North Loch.  But it was very difficult to reach;
being alike steep on both sides of the Loch.  At length, in 1767,
an Act was obtained to extend the royalty of the city over the northern
fields, and powers were obtained to erect a bridge to connect them with
the Old Town.

The magistrates had the greatest difficulty in inducing the inhabitants
to build dwellings on the northern side of the city.  A premium was
offered to the person who should build the first house; and #20 was
awarded to Mr. John Young on account of a mansion erected by him close
to George Street.  Exemption from burghal taxes was also granted to a
gentleman who built the first house in Princes Street.  My grandfather
built the first house in the south-west corner of St. Andrew Square,
for the occupation of David Hume the historian, as well as the two most
important houses in the centre of the north side of the same square.
One of these last was occupied by the venerable Dr. Hamilton, a very
conspicuous character in Edinburgh.  He continued to wear the cocked
hat, the powdered pigtail, tights, and large shoe buckles, for about
sixty years after this costume had become obsolete.  All these houses
are still in perfect condition, after resisting the ordinary tear and
wear of upwards of a hundred and ten northern winters.  The opposition
to building houses across the North Loch soon ceased; and the New Town
arose, growing from day to day, until Edinburgh became one of the most
handsome and picturesque cities in Europe.

There is one other thing that I must again refer to the highly-finished
character of my grandfather's work.  Nothing merely moderate would do.
The work must be of the very best.  He took special pride in the sound
quality of the woodwork and its careful workmanship.  He chose the best
Dantzic timber because of its being of purer grain and freer from knots
than other wood.  In those days the lower part of the walls of the
apartments were wainscoted--that is, covered by timber framed in
large panels.  They were from three to four feet wide, and from six to
eight feet high.  To fit these in properly required the most careful

It was always a holiday treat to my father, when a boy, to be permitted
to go down to Leith to see the ships discharge their cargoes of timber.
My grandfather had a Wood-yard at Leith, where the timber selected by
him was piled up to he seasoned and shrunk, before being worked into
its appropriate uses.  He was particularly careful in his selection of
boards or stripes for floors, which must be perfectly level, so as to
avoid the destruction of the carpets placed over them.  The hanging of
his doors was a matter that he took great pride in--so as to prevent
any uneasy action in opening or closing.  His own chamber doors were so
well hung that they were capable of being opened and closed by the
slight puff of a hand-bellows.

The excellence of my grandfather's workmanship was a thing that my own
father always impressed upon me when a boy.  It stimulated in me the
desire to aim at excellence in everything that I undertook; and in all
practical matters to arrive at the highest degree of good workmanship.
I believe that these early lessons had a great influence upon my future

I have little to record of my grandmother.  From all accounts she was
everything that a wife and mother should be.  My father often referred
to her as an example of the affection and love of a wife to her
husband, and of a mother to her children.  The only relic I possess of
her handiwork is a sampler, dated 1743, the needlework of which is so
delicate and neat, that to me it seems to excel everything of the kind
that I have seen.

I am fain to think that her delicate manipulation in some respects
descended to her grandchildren, as all of them have been more or less
distinguished for the delicate use of their fingers--which has so
much to do with the effective transmission of the artistic faculty into
visible forms.  The power of transmitting to paper or canvas the
artistic conceptions of the brain through the fingers, and out at the
end of the needle, the pencil, the pen, the brush, or even the
modelling tool or chisel, is that which, in practical fact, constitutes
the true artist.

This may appear a digression; though I cannot look at my grandmother's
sampler without thinking that she had much to do with originating the
Naesmyth love of the Fine Arts, and their hereditary adroitness in the
practice of landscape and portrait painting, and other branches of the

My grandfather died in 1803, at the age of eighty-four, and was buried
by his father's side in the Naesmyth ancestral tomb in Greyfriars
Churchyard.  His wife, Mary Anderson, who died before him, was buried
in the same place.

Michael Naesmyth left two sons--Michael and Alexander.  The eldest
was born in 1754.  It was intended that he should have succeeded to the
business; and, indeed, as soon as he reached manhood he was his
father's right-hand man.  He was a skilful workman, especially in the
finer parts of joiner-work.  He was also an excellent accountant and
bookkeeper.  But having acquired a taste for reading books about
voyages and travels, of which his father's library was well supplied,
his mind became disturbed, and he determined to see something of the
world.  He was encouraged by one of his old companions, who had been to
sea, and realised some substantial results by his voyages to foreign
parts. Accordingly Michael, notwithstanding the earnest remonstrances
of his father, accompanied his friend on the next occasion when he went
to sea.

After several voyages to the West Indies and other parts of the world,
which both gratified and stimulated his natural taste for adventures,
and also proved financially successful, his trading ventures at last
met with a sad reverse, and he resolved to abandon commerce, and enter
the service of the Royal Navy.  He was made purser, and in this
position he entered upon a new series of adventures.  He was present at
many naval engagements.  But he lost neither life nor limb.  At last he
was pensioned, and became a resident at Greenwich Hospital.
He furnished his apartments with all manner of curiosities, such as his
roving naval life had enabled him to collect.  His original skill as a
worker in wood came to life again.  The taste of the workman and the
handiness of the seaman enabled him to furnish his rooms at the
Hospital in a most quaint and amusing manner.

My father had a most affectionate regard for Michael, and usually spent
some days with him when he had occasion to visit London.  One bright
summer day they went to have a stroll together on Blackheath; and while
my uncle was enjoying a nap on a grassy knoll, my father made a sketch
of him, which I still preserve.  Being of a most cheerful disposition,
and having a great knack of detailing the incidents of his adventurous
life, he became a great favourite with the resident officers of the
Hospital; and was always regarded by them as real good company.
He ended his days there in peace and comfort, in 1819, at the age of

CHAPTER 2.   Alexander Nasmyth

My father, Alexander Nasmyth, was the second son of Michael Nasmyth.
He was born in his father's house in the Grassmarket on the 9th of
September 1758.  The Grassmarket was then a lively place.  On certain
days of the week it was busy with sheep and cattle fairs.  It was the
centre of Edinburgh traffic.  Most of the inns were situated there,
or in the street leading up to the Greyfriars Church gate.

The view from my grandfather's house was very grand.  Standing up,
right opposite, was the steep Castle rock, with its crown buildings and
circular battery towering high overhead.  They seemed almost to hang
over the verge of the rock.  The houses on the opposite side of the
Grassmarket were crowded under the esplanade of the Castle Hill.

There was an inn opposite the house where my father was born, from
which the first coach started from Edinburgh to Newcastle.  The public
notice stated that "The Coach would set out from the Grass Market ilka
Tuesday at Twa o'clock in the day, GOD WULLIN', but whether or no on
Wednesday."  The "whether or no" was meant, I presume, as a precaution to
passengers, in case all the places on the coach might be taken, or not,
on Wednesday,

[Image]  Plan of the Grassmarket

The Grassmarket was also the place for public executions.  The gibbet
stone was at the east end of the Market.  It consisted of a mass of
solid sandstone, with a quadrangular hole in the middle, which served
as a socket for the gallows.  Most of the Covenanters who were executed
for conscience' sake in the reigns of Charles II. and James II.
breathed their last at this spot.  The Porteous mob, in 1736, had its
culmination here.  When Captain Porteous was dragged out of the
Tolbooth in the High Street and hurried down the West Bow, the gallows
was not in its place; but the leaders of the mob hanged him from a
dyer's pole, nearly opposite the gallows stone, on the south side of
the street, not far from my grandfather's door*
See Heart of Midlothian

I have not much to say about my father's education.  For the most part,
he was his own schoolmaster.  I have heard him say that his mother
taught him his A B C; and that he afterwards learned to read at Mammy
Smith's.  This old lady kept a school for boys and girls at the top of
a house in the Grassmarket.  There my father was taught to rear his
Bible, and to repeat his Carritch.*
The Shorter Catechism.

As it was only the bigger boys who could read the Bible, the strongest
of them consummated the feat by climbing up the Castle rock, and
reaching what they called "The Bibler's Seat."  It must have been a
break-neck adventure to get up to the place.  The seat was almost
immediately under the window of the room in which James VI was born.
My father often pointed it out to me as one of the most dangerous bits
of climbing in which he had been engaged in his younger years.

[Image]  The Bibler's seat

The annexed illustration is from his own slight sepia drawing;
the Bibler's Seat is marked + Not so daring, but much more mischievous,
was a trick which he played with some of his companions on the tops of
the houses on the north side of the Grassmarket.  The boys took a
barrel to the Castlehill, filled it with small stones, and then shot it
down towards the roofs of the houses in the Grassmarket.  The barrel
leapt from rock to rock, burst, and scattered a shower of stones far
and wide.  The fun was to see the "boddies" look out of their garret
windows with their lighted lamps or candles, peer into the dark,
and try to see what was the cause of the mischief.

Sir David Baird, the hero of Seringapatam, played a trick of the same
kind before he went to India.

Among my father's favourite companions were the two sons of Dr. John
Erskine, minister of Old Greyfriars, in conjunction with the equally
celebrated Dr. Robertson.  Dr. Erskine*
Dr. Erskine is well described by Scott in Guy Mannering, on the
occasion when Pleydell and Mannering went to hear him preach a famous
was a man of great influence in his day, well known for his literary
and theological works, as well as for his piety and practical
benevolence.  On one occasion, when my father was at play with his
sons, one of them threw a stone, which smashed a neighbour's window.
A servant of the house ran out, and seeing the culprit, called out,
"Very wee!, Maister Erskine, I'll tell yeer faither wha broke the
windae!"  On which the boy, to throw her off the scent, said to his
brother loudly, "Eh, keist! she thinks we're the boddy Erskine's sons."

The boddy Erskine!  Who ever heard of such an irreverent nickname
applied to that good and great man?  "The laddies couldna be his sons,"
thought the woman.  She made no further inquiry, and the boys escaped
scot free.  The culprit afterwards entered the service of the East
India Company.  "The boy was father to the man."  He acquired great
reputation at the siege of Seringapatam, where he led the forlorn hope.
Erskine was promoted, until in course of time he returned to his native
city a full-blown general.  To return to my father's education.
After he left "Mammy Smith's, he went for a short time to the original
High School.  It was an old establishment, founded by James VI. before
he succeeded to the English throne, It was afterwards demolished to
make room for the University buildings; and the new High School was
erected a little below the old Royal Infirmary.  After leaving the High
School, Alexander Nasmyth was taught by his father, first arithmetic
and mensuration, next geometry and mathematics, so far as the first
three books of Euclid were concerned.  After that, his own innate
skill, ability, and industry enabled him to complete the rest of his

At a very early period my father exhibited a decided natural taste for
art.  He used his pencil freely in sketching from nature; and in course
of time he showed equal skill in the use of oil colour.  At his own
earnest request he was bound apprentice to Mr. Crighton, then the
chief coachbuilder in Edinburgh.  He was employed in that special
department where artistic taste was necessary--that is, in decorating
the panels of the highest class of carriages, and painting upon them
coats of arms, with their crests and supporters.  He took great
pleasure in this kind of work.  It introduced him to the practical
details of heraldry, and gave him command over his materials.

Still further to improve himself in the art of drawing, my father
devoted his evenings to attending the Edinburgh Drawing Academy.
This institution, termed "The Trustees' Academy of Fine Art," had been
formed and supported by the funds arising from the estates confiscated
after the rebellions of 1715 and 1745.  Part of these funds was set
apart by Government for the encouragement of drawing, and also for the
establishment of the arts of linen weaving, carpet manufacture,
and other industrial occupations.

These arts were introduced into Scotland by the French Protestants,
who had been persecuted for conscience' sake out of their own country,
and settled in England, Ireland, and Scotland, where they prosecuted
their industrial callings.  The Corporation was anxious to afford an
asylum for these skilled and able workmen.  The emigrants settled down
with their families, and pursued their occupations of damask, linen,
and carpet weaving.  They were also required to take Scotch apprentices,
and teach them the various branches of their trade.  The Magistrates
caused cottages and workshops to be erected on a piece of unoccupied
land near Edinburgh, where the street appropriately called Picardy
Place now stands,--the greater number of the weavers having come from
Picardy in France.

In connection with the establishment of these industrial artisans,
it was necessary to teach the young Scotch apprentices drawing, for the
purpose of designing new patterns suitable for the market.  Hence the
establishment by the Trustees of the Forfeited Estate Funds of
"The Academy of Fine Art."  From the designing of patterns, the
institution advanced to the improvement of the fine arts generally.
Young men who had given proofs of their natural taste for drawing were
invited to enter the school and participate in its benefits.

At the time that my father was apprenticed to the coach painter,
the Trustees' Academy was managed by Alexander Runciman.  He had
originally been a house painter, from which business he proceeded to
landscape painting.  "Other artists," said one who knew him, "talked
meat and drink; but Runciman talked landscape."  He went to Rome and
studied art there.  He returned to Edinburgh, and devoted himself to
historical painting.  He was also promoted to the office of master of
the Trustees' Academy.  When my father called upon him with his
drawings from nature, Runciman found them so satisfactory that he was
at once admitted as a student.  After his admission he began to study
with intense eagerness.  The young men who had been occupied at their
business during the day could only attend in the evening.  And thus the
evenings were fixed for studying drawing and design.  The Trustees'
Academy made its mark upon the art of Scotland: it turned out many
artists of great note -- such as Raeburn, Wilkie, my father, and many

At the time when my father entered as a student, the stock of casts
from the antique, and the number of drawings from the old masters,
were very small; so much so, indeed, that Runciman was under the
necessity of setting the students to copy them again and again.
This became rather irksome to the more ardent pupils.  My father had
completed his sixth copy of a fine chalk drawing of "The Laocoon."
It was then set for him to copy again.  He begged Mr. Runciman for
another subject.  The quick-tempered man at once said,"l'll give you
another subject."  And turning the group of the Laocoon upside down, he
added, "Now, then, copy that!"  The patient youth set to work, and in a
few evenings completed a perfect copy.  It was a most severe test; but
Runciman was so proud of the skill of his pupil that he had the drawing
mounted and framed, with a note of the circumstances under which it had
been produced.  It continued to hang there for many years, and the
story of its achievement became traditional in the school.

During all this time my father remained in the employment of Crighton
the carriage builder.  He improved in his painting day by day.  But at
length an important change took place in his career.  Allan Ramsay,
son of the author of The Gentle Shepherd, and then court painter to
George III., called upon his old friend Crighton one day, to look over
his works.  There he found young Nasmyth painting a coat of arms on the
panel of a carriage.  He was so much surprised with the lad's artistic
workmanship--for he was then only sixteen--that he formed a strong
desire to take him into his service.  After much persuasion, backed by
the offer of a considerable sum of money, the coachbuilder was at
length induced to transfer my father's indentures to Allan Ramsay.

It was, of course, a great delight to my father to be removed to London
under such favourable auspices.  Ramsay had a large connection as a
portrait painter.  His object in employing my father was that he should
assist him in the execution of the subordinate parts, or dress
portions, of portraits of courtiers, or of diplomatic personages.
No more favourable opportunity for advancement could have presented
itself.  But all this was entirely due to my father's perseverance and
advancing skill as an artist--the results of his steady application
and labour.

Ramsay possessed a very fine collection of drawings by the old masters,
all of which were free for my father to study.  Ramsay was exceedingly
kind to his young pupil.  He was present at all the discussions in the
studio, even when the sitters were present. Fellow-artists visited
Ramsay from time to time.  Among them was his intimate friend Philip
Reinagle--an agreeable companion, and an excellent artist.  Reinagle
was one day so much struck with my father's earnestness in filling up
some work, that he then and there got up a canvas and made a capital
sketch-portrait of him in oil.  It only came into my father's
possession some years after Ramsay's death, and is now in my possession.

[Image]  Alexander Nasmyth.  After Reinagle's Portrait

Among the many amusing recollections of my father's life in London,
there is one that I cannot resist narrating, because it shows his
faculty of resourcefulness--a faculty which served him very usefully
during his course through life.  He had made an engagement with a
sweetheart to take her to Ranelagh, one of the most fashionable places
of public amusement in London.  Everybody went in full dress, and the
bucks and swells wore long striped silk stockings.  My father, on
searching, found that he had only one pair of silk stockings left.
He washed them himself in his lodging-room, and hung them up before the
fire to dry.  When he went to look at them, they were so singed and
burnt that he could not put them on. They were totally useless.
In this sad dilemma his resourcefulness came to his aid.  The happy
idea occurred to him of painting his legs so as to resemble stockings.
He went to his water-colour box, and dexterously painted them with
black and white stripes.  When the paint dried, which it soon did,
he completed his toilet, met his sweetheart and went to Ranelagh.
No one observed the difference, except, indeed, that he was
complimented on the perfection of the fit, and was asked "where he
bought his stockings?"  Of course he evaded the question, and left the
gardens without any one discovering his artistic trick.

My father remained in Allan Ramsay's service until the end of 1778,
when he returned to Edinburgh to practise on his own behalf the
profession of portrait painter.  He took with him the kindest
good-wishes of his master, whose friendship he retained to the end of
Ramsay's life.  The artistic style of my father's portraits, and the
excellent likenesses of his sitters, soon obtained for him ample
employment.  His portraits were for the most part full-lengths, but of
a small or cabinet size.  They generally consisted of family groups,
with the figures about twelve to fourteen inches high.  The groups were
generally treated and arranged as if the personages were engaged in
conversation with their children; and sometimes a favourite servant was
introduced, so as to remove any formal aspect in the composition of the
picture.  In order to enliven the background, some favourite view from
the garden or grounds, or a landscape, was given; which was painted
with as much care as if it was the main feature of the picture.
Many of these paintings are still to be found in the houses of the
gentry in Scotland.  Good examples of his art are to be seen at Minto
House, the seat of the Earl of Minto, and at Dalmeny Park, the seat of
the Earl of Rosebery.

Among my father's early employers was Patrick Miller, Esq., of
Dalswinton, in Dumfriesshire.  He painted Mr. Miller's portrait as
well as those of several members of his family.  This intercourse
eventually led to the establishment of a very warm personal friendship
between them.  Miller had made a large fortune in Edinburgh as a
banker; and after he had partially retired from business, he devoted
much of his spare time to useful purposes.  He was a man of great
energy of character, and was never idle.  At first he applied himself
to the improvement of agriculture, which he did with great success on
his estate of Dalswinton.  Being one of the largest shareholders in the
Carron Ironworks near Stirling, he also devoted much of his time to the
improvement of guns for the Royal Navy.  He was the inventor of that
famous gun the Carronade.  The handiness of these short and effective
guns, which were capable of being loaded and fired nearly twice as
quickly as the long small-bore guns, gave England the victory in many a
naval battle, where the firing was close and quick, yardarm to yardarm.

But Mr. Miller's greatest claim to fame arises from his endeavours to
introduce steam-power as an agent in the propulsion of ships at sea.
Mr. Clerk of Eldin had already invented the system of "breaking the
line" in naval engagements--a system that was first practised with
complete success by Lord Rodney in his engagement off Martinico in
1780.  The subject interested Mr. Miller so much that he set himself
to work to contrive some mechanical method by means of which ships of
war might be set in motion, independently of wind, tide, or calms, so
that Clerk's system of breaking the line might be carried into effect
under all circumstances.

It was about this time that my father was often with Miller; and the
mechanical devices by means of which the method of breaking the line
could be best accomplished was the subject of many of their
conversations.  Miller found that my father's taste for mechanical
contrivances, and his ready skill as a draughtsman, were likely to be
of much use to him, and he constantly visited the studio.  My father
reduced Miller's ideas to a definite form, and prepared a series of
drawings, which were afterwards engraved and published.  Miller's
favourite design was, to divide the vessel into twin or triple hulls,
with paddles between them, to be worked by the crew.  The principal
experiment was made in the Firth of Forth on the 2d of June 1787.
The vessel was double-hulled, and was worked by a capstan of five bars.
The experiment was on the whole successful.  But the chief difficulty
was in the propulsive power.  After a spurt of an hour or so, the men
became tired with their laborious work.  Mr. Taylor, student of
divinity, and tutor of Mr. Miller's sons, was on board, and seeing the
exhausted state of the men at the capstan, suggested the employment of
steam-power.  Mr. Miller was pleased with the idea, and resolved to
make inquiry upon the subject.

At that time William Symington, a young engineer from Wanlockhead,
was exhibiting a road locomotive in Edinburgh.  He was a friend of
Taylor's, and Mr. Miller went to see the Symington model.  In the
course of his conversation with the inventor, he informed the latter of
his own project, and described the difficulty he had experienced in
getting his paddle-wheels turned round.  On which Symington immediately
asked, "Why don't you use the steam-engine?" The model which Symington
exhibited, produced rotary motion by the employment of ratchet-wheels.
The rectilinear motion of the piston-rod was thus converted into rotary
motion.  Mr. Miller was pleased with the action of the ratchet-wheel
contrivance, and gave Symington an order to make a pair of engines of
that construction.  They were to be used on a small pleasure-boat on
Dalswinton Lake.

The boat was constructed on the double-hull or twin plan, so that the
paddle should be used in the space between the hulls.*
 This steam twin boat was in fact the progenitor of the Castalia,
constructed about a hundred years later for the conveyance of
passengers between Calais and Dover.

After much vexatious delay, arising from the entire novelty of the
experiment, the boat and engines were at length completed, and removed
to Dalswinton Lake.  This, the first steamer that ever "trod the waters
like a thing of life," the herald of a new and mighty power, was tried
on the 14th of October 1788.  The vessel steamed delightfully, at the
rate of from four to five miles an hour, though this was not her
extreme rate of speed.  I give, on the next page, a copy of a sketch
made by my father of this the first actual steamboat, with her
remarkable crew.

[Image]  The first steamboat.  By Alexander Nasmyth*
The original drawing of the steamer was done by my father, and lent by
me to Mr. Woodcroft, Who inserted it in his Origin and Progress of
Steam Navigation.  He omitted my father's name, and inserted only that
of the lithographer, although it is a document of almost national
importance in the history of Steam Navigation.

P.S.-- since the above paragraph was written for the first edition,
I have been enabled to find the drawing, with another remarkable pencil
sketch of my father's, in the Gallery of the Museum of Naval
Architecture at South Kensington.  It will henceforward belong to that
interesting collection.

The remarkable pencil sketch to which I have referred, is that of a
screw propeller, drawn by my father, dated 1819.  It was the result of
many discussions as to the proper mode of propelling a vessel.  First,
he had drawn Watt's idea of a "spiral oar"; then, underneath, he has
drawn his own idea, of a disk of six.  blades, like a screw-jack,
immediately behind the rudder.  There is a crank shown on the screw
shaft, by which the propeller was driven direct, showing that he was
the first to indicate that method of propulsion of steamboats.

The persons on board consisted of Patrick Miller, William Symington,
Sir William Monteith, Robert Burns (the poet, then a tenant of
Mr. Miller's), William Taylor, and Alexander Nasmyth.  There were also
three of Mr. Miller's servants, who acted as assistants.  On the edge
of the lake was a young gentleman, then on a visit to Dalswinton.
He was no less a person than Henry Brougham, afterwards Lord Chancellor
of England.  The assemblage of so many remarkable men was well worthy
of the occasion.

Taking into account the extraordinary results which have issued from
this first trial of an actual steamboat, it may well be considered that
this was one of the most important circumstances which ever occurred in
the history of navigation.  It ought, at the same time, to be
remembered that all that was afterwards done by Symington, Fulton, and
Bell, followed long after the performance of this ever-memorable

I may also mention, as worthy of special record, that the hull of this
first steamboat was of iron.  It was constructed of tinned iron plate.
It was therefore the first iron steamboat, if not the first iron ship,
that had ever been made.  I may also add that the engines, constructed
by Symington, which propelled this first iron steamboat are now
carefully preserved at the Patent Museum at South Kensington, where
they may be seen by everybody.*
 The original engines of the boat, with the ratchet-wheel contrivance
of Symington, are there: the very engine that propelled the first
steamer on Dalswinton Lake. It may be added that Mr. Miller expended
about #30,000 on naval improvements, and, as is often the case, he was
wholly neglected by the Government.

To return to my father's profession as a portrait painter.  He had
given so much assistance to Mr. Miller, while acting as his chief
draughtsman in connection with the triple and twin ships, and also
while attending him at Leith and elsewhere, that it had considerably
interfered with his practice; though everything was done by him con
amore, in the best sense of the term.  In return for this, however,
Mr. Miller made my father the generous offer of a loan to enable him to
visit Italy, and pursue his studies there.  It was the most graceful
mode in which Mr. Miller could express his obligations.  It was an
offer pure and simple, without security, and as such was thankfully
accepted by my father.

In those days an artist was scarcely considered to have completed his
education until he had studied the works of the great masters at
Florence and Rome.  My father left England for Italy on the 30th of
December 1782.  He reached Rome in safety, and earnestly devoted
himself to the study of art.  He remained in Italy for the greater part
of two years.  He visited Florence, Bologna, Padua, and other cities
where the finest artistic works were to be found.  He made studies and
drawings of the best of them, besides making sketches from nature of
the most remarkable places he had visited.  He returned to Edinburgh at
the end of 1784, and immediately resumed his profession of a portrait
painter.  He was so successful that in a short time he was enabled to
repay his excellent friend Miller the #500 which he had so generously
lent him a few years before.

The satisfactory results of his zealous practice, and of his skill and
industry in his profession, together with the prospect of increasing
artistic work, enabled him to bring to a happy conclusion an engagement
he had entered into before leaving Edinburgh for Italy. I mean his
marriage to my mother--one of the greatest events of his life which
took place on the 3rd of January 1786.  Barbara Foulis was a distant
relation of his own.  She was the daughter of William Foulis, Esq., of
Woodhall and Colinton, near Edinburgh.  Her brother, the late Sir James
Foulis, my uncle, succeeded to the ancient baronetcy of the family.
See Burkes's Peerage and Baronetage*
In Burke's Peerage and Baronetage an account is given of the Foulis
family.  They are of Norman origin.  A branch settled in Scotland in
the reign of Malcolm Canmore.  By various intermarriages, the Foulises
are connected with the Hopetoun, Bute, and Rosebery families.
The present holder of the title represents the houses of Colinton,
Woodhall, and Ravelstone.

My mother did not bring with her any fortune, so to speak, in the way
of gold or acres; but she brought something far better into my father's
home,--a sweetness of disposition, and a large measure of common
sense, which made her, in all respects, the devoted helpmate of her
husband.  Her happy cheerful temperament, and her constant industry and
attention, shed an influence upon all around her.  By her example she
inbred in her children the love of truth, excellence, and goodness.
That was indeed the best fortune she could bring into a good man's

During the first year of my father's married life, when he lived in
St. James's Square, he painted the well-known portrait of Robert Burns
the poet.  Burns had been introduced to him by Mr. Miller at
Dalswinton.  An intimate friendship sprang up between the artist and
the poet.  The love of nature and of natural objects was common to
both.  They also warmly sympathised in their political views.
When Burns visited Edinburgh my father often met him.  Burns had a
strange aversion to sit for his portrait, though often urgently
requested to do so.  But when at my father's studio, Burns at last
consented, and his portrait was rapidly painted.  It was done in the
course of a few hours, and my father made a present of it to
Mrs. Burns.

A mezzotint engraving of it was afterwards published by William Walker,
son-in-law of the famous Samuel Reynolds.  When the first proof
impression was submitted to my father, he said to Mr. Walker:
"I cannot better express to you my opinion of your admirable engraving,
than by telling you that it conveys to me a more true and lively
remembrance of Burns than my own picture of him does; it so perfectly
renders the spirit of his expression, as well as the details of his
every feature."

While Burns was in Edinburgh, my father had many interesting walks with
him in the neighbourhood of the city.  The Calton Hill, Arthur's Seat,
Salisbury Crags.  Habbie's How, and the nooks in the Pentlands, were
always full of interest; and Burns, with his brilliant and humorous
conversation, made the miles very short as they strode along.  Lockhart
says, in his Life of Burns, that "the magnificent scenery of the
Scottish capital filled the poet with extraordinary delight.  In the
spring mornings he walked very often to the top of Arthur's Seat, and,
lying prostrate on the turf, surveyed the rising of the sun out of the
sea in silent admiration; his chosen companion on such occasions being
that learned artist and ardent lover of nature, Alexander Nasmyth."

A visit which the two paid to Roslin Castle is worthy of commemoration.
On one occasion my father and a few choice spirits had been spending a
"nicht wi' Burns."  The place of resort was a tavern in the High Street,
Edinburgh.  As Burns was a brilliant talker, full of spirit and humour,
time fled until the "wee sma' hours ayont the twal'" arrived.
The party broke up about three o'clock.  At that time of the year
(the 13th of June) the night is very short, and morning comes early.
Burns, on reaching the street, looked up to the sky.  It was perfectly
clear, and the rising sun was beginning to brighten the mural crown of
St. Giles's Cathedral.

Burns was so much struck with the beauty of the morning that he put his
hand on my father's arm and said, "It'll never do to go to bed in such
a lovely morning as this!  Let's awa' to Roslin Castle."  No sooner said
than done.  The poet and the painter set out.  Nature lay bright and
lovely before them in that delicious summer morning.  After an
eight-miles walk they reached the castle at Roslin.  Burns went down
under the great Norman arch, where he stood rapt in speechless
admiration of the scene.  The thought of the eternal renewal of youth
and freshness of nature, contrasted with the crumbling decay of man's
efforts to perpetuate his work, even when founded upon a rock, as
Roslin Castle is, seemed greatly to affect him.

My father was so much impressed with the scene that, while Burns was
standing under the arch, he took out his pencil and a scrap of paper
and made a hasty sketch of the subject.  This sketch was highly
treasured by my father, in remembrance of what must have been one of
the most memorable days of his life.

Talking of clubs reminds me that there was a good deal of club life in
Edinburgh in those days.  The most notable were those in which the
members were drawn together by occupations, habits, or tastes.  They
met in the evenings, and conversed upon congenial subjects.  The clubs
were generally held in one or other of the taverns situated in or near
the High Street.  Every one will remember the Lawyers' Club, held in an
Edinburgh close, presided over by Pleydell, so well described by Scott
in Guy Mannering.

In my father's early days he was a member of a very jovial club, called
the Poker Club.  It was so-called because the first chairman,
immediately on his election, in a spirit of drollery, laid hold of the
poker at the fireplace, and adopted it as his insignia of office. He
made a humorous address from the chair, or "the throne," as he called
it, with sceptre or poker in hand; and the club was thereupon styled by
acclamation "The Poker Club."  I have seen my father's diploma of
membership; it was tastefully drawn on parchment, with the poker duly
emblazoned on it as the regalia of the club.

In my own time, the club that he was most connected with was the
Dilettanti Club.  Its meetings were held every fortnight, on Thursday
evenings, in a commodious tavern in the High Street.  The members were
chiefly artists, or men known for their love of art.  Among then were
Henry Raeburn, Hugh Williams (the Grecian), Andrew Geddes,
William Thomson, John Shetkay, William Nicholson, William Allan,
Alexander Nasmyth, the Rev. John Thomson of Duddingston,
George Thomson, Sir Walter Scott, John Lockhart, Dr. Brewster,
David Wilkie, Henry Cockburn, Francis Jeffrey, John A. Murray,
Professor Wilson, John Ballantyne, James Ballantyne, James Hogg (the
Ettrick Shepherd), and David Bridges, the secretary.*
Davie Bridges was a character.  In my early days he was a cloth
merchant in the High Street.  His shop was very near that gigantic
lounge, the old Parliament House, and was often resorted to by
non-business visitors.  Bridges had a good taste for pictures.  He had
a small but choice collection by the Old Masters, which he kept
arranged in the warehouse under his shop.  He took great pride in
exhibiting them to his visitors, and expatiating upon their excellence.
I remember being present in his warehouse with my father when a very
beautiful small picture by Richard Wilson was under review.  Davie
burst out emphatically with, "Eh, man, did ye ever see such glorious
buttery touches as on these clouds!"  His joking friends clubbed him
"Director-General of the Fine Arts for Scotland," a title which he
complacently accepted.  Besides showing off his pictures, Davie was an
art critic, and wrote articles for the newspapers and magazines.
Unfortunately, however, his attention to pictures prevented him from
attending to his shop, and his customers (who were not artists) forsook
him, and bought their clothes elsewhere.  He accordingly shut up his
shop, and devoted himself to art criticism, in which, for a time, he
possessed a monopoly.

The drinks were restricted to Edinburgh ale and whisky toddy.

An admirable picture of the club in full meeting was painted by William
Allan, in which characteristic portraits of all the leading members
were introduced in full social converse.  Among the more prominent
portraits is one of my father, who is represented as illustrating some
subject he is describing, by drawing it on the part of the table before
him, with his finger dipped in toddy.  Other marked and well-known
characteristics of the members are skilfully introduced in the picture.
The artist afterwards sold it to Mr. Horrocks of Preston, in Lancashire.

Besides portrait painting, my father was much employed in assisting the
noblemen and landed gentry of Scotland in improving the landscape
appearance of their estates, especially when seen from their mansion
windows.  His fine taste, and his love of natural scenery, gave him
great advantages in this respect.  He selected the finest sites for the
new mansions, when they were erected in lieu of the old towers and
crenellated castles.  Or, he designed alterations of the old buildings
so as to preserve their romantic features, and at the same time to fit
them for the requirements of modern domestic life.

In those early days of art-knowledge, there scarcely existed any
artistic feeling for the landscape beauty of nature.  There was an
utter want of appreciation of the dignified beauty of the old castles
and mansions, the remnants of which were in too many instances carted
away as material for now buildings.  There was also at that time an
utter ignorance of the beauty and majesty of old trees.  A forest of
venerable oaks or beeches was a thing to be done away with.  They were
merely cut down as useless timber; even when they so finely embellished
the landscape.  My father exerted himself successfully to preserve
these grand old forest trees.  His fine sketches served to open the
eyes of their possessors to the priceless treasures they were about to
destroy; and he thus preserved the existence of many a picturesque old
tree.  He even took the pains in many cases to model the part of the
estate he was dealing with; and he also modelled the old trees he
wished to preserve.  Thus, by a judicious clearing out of the
intercepting young timber, he opened out distant views of the
landscape, and at the same time preserved many a monarch of the
It is even now to be deeply deplored that those who inherit or come
into possession of landed estates do not feel sufficiently impressed
with the possession of such grand memorials of the past.  Alas! how
often have we to lament the want of taste that leads to the sacrifice
of these venerable treasures.  Would that the young men at our
universities especially those likely to inherit estates--were
impressed with the importance of preserving them. They would thus
confer an inestimable benefit to thousands.  About forty years ago Lord
Cockburn published a pamphlet on How to Destroy the Beauty of
Edinburgh!  He enforced the charm of green foliage in combination with
street architecture.  The burgesses were then cutting down trees.
His lordship went so far as to say "that he would as soon cut down a
burgess as a tree!"  Since then the growth of trees in Edinburgh,
especially in what was once the North Loch, has been greatly improved;
and might be still further improved if that famous tree, "The London
plane," were employed.

[Image]  The Family Tree

My father modelled old castles, old trees, and such like objects as he
wished to introduce into his landscapes.  The above illustration, may
perhaps give a slight idea of his artistic skill as a modeller.
I specially refer to this, which he called "The Family Tree," as he
required each member of his family to assist in its production.
We each made a twig or small branch, which he cleverly fixed into its
place as a part of the whole.  The model tree in question was
constructed of wire slightly twisted together, so as to form the main
body of a branch.  It was then subdivided into branchlets, and finally
into individual twigs.  All these, combined together by his dexterous
hand, resulted in the model of an old leafless tree, so true and
correct, that any one would have thought that it had been modelled
direct from nature.

The Duke of Athol consulted my father as to the improvements which he
desired to make in his woodland scenery near Dunkeld.  The Duke was
desirous that a rocky crag, called Craigybarns, should be planted with
trees, to relieve the grim barrenness of its appearance.  But it was
impossible for any man to climb the crag in order to set seeds or
plants in the clefts of the rocks.  A happy idea struck my father.
Having observed in front of the castle a pair of small cannon used for
firing salutes, it occurred to him to turn them to account.  His object
was to deposit the seeds of the various trees amongst the soil in the
clefts of the crag.  A tinsmith in the village was ordered to make a
number of canisters with covers.  The canisters were filled with all
sorts of suitable tree seeds.  A cannon was loaded, and the canisters
were fired up against the high face of the rock.  They burst and
scattered the seed in all directions.  Some years after, when my father
revisited the place, he was delighted to find that his scheme of
planting by artillery had proved completely successful; for the trees
were flourishing luxuriantly in all the recesses of the cliff. This was
another instance of my father's happy faculty of resourcefulness.

Certain circumstances about this time compelled my father almost
entirely to give up portrait painting and betake himself to another
branch of the fine arts.  The earnest and lively interest which he took
in the state of public affairs, and the necessity which then existed
for reforming the glaring abuses of the State, led him to speak out his
mind freely on the subject.  Edinburgh was then under the reign of the
Dundases; and scarcely anybody dared to mutter his objections to
anything perpetrated by the "powers that be."  The city was then a much
smaller place than it is now.  There was more gossip, and perhaps more
espionage, among the better classes, who were few in number.  At all
events, my father's frank opinions on political subjects began to be
known.  He attended Fox dinners.  He was intimate with men of known
reforming views.  All this was made the subject of general talk.
Accordingly, my father received many hints from aristocratic and
wealthy personages, that "if this went on any longer they would
withdraw from him their employment."  My father did not alter his
course; it was right and honest.  But he suffered nevertheless.
His income from portrait painting fell off rapidly.

At length he devoted himself to landscape painting.  It was a freer and
more enjoyable life.  Instead of painting the faces of those who were
perhaps without character or attractiveness, he painted the fresh and
ever-beautiful face of nature.  The field of his employment in this
respect was almost inexhaustible.  His artistic talent in this
delightful branch of art was in the highest sense congenial to his mind
and feelings; and in course of time the results of his new field of
occupation proved thoroughly satisfactory.  In fact, men of the highest
rank with justice entitled him the "Father of landscape painting in

[Image]  No.  47 York Place, Edinburgh

At the same time, when changing his branch of art, he opened a class in
his own house forgiving practical instruction in the art of landscape
painting.  He removed his house and studio from St. James's Square to
No. 47 York Place.  There was at the upper part of this house a noble
and commodious room.  There he held his class.  The house was his own,
and was built after his own designs.  A splendid prospect was seen from
the upper windows; and especially from the Belvidere, which he had
constructed on the summit of the roof.  The view extended from Stirling
in the west to the Bass Rock in the east.  In fine summer evenings the
sun was often seen setting behind Ben Lomond and the more conspicuous
of the Perthshire mountains.

My father did not confine himself to landscape painting, or to the
instruction of his classes.  He was an all-round man.  He had something
of the Universal about him.  He was a painter, an architect, and a
mechanic.  Above all, he possessed a powerful store of common sense.
Of course, I am naturally a partial judge of my father's character; but
this I may say, that during my experience of over seventy years I have
never known a more incessantly industrious man.  His hand and mind were
always at work from morn till night.  During the time that he was
losing his business in portrait painting, he set to work and painted
scenery for the theatres.  The late David Roberts--himself a scene
painter of the highest character--said that his style was founded
upon that of Nasmyth.*
David Roberts, R,A., in his Autobiography, gives the following
recollections of Alexander Nasmyth: -- "In 1819 I commenced my career as
principal scene painter in the Theatre Royal, Glasgow.  This theatre
was immense in its size and appointments--in magnitude exceeding
Drury Lane and Covent Garden. The stock scenery had been painted by
Alexander Nasmyth, and consisted of a series of pictures far surpassing
anything of the kind I had ever seen.  These included chambers,
palaces, streets, landscapes, and forest scenery.  One, I remember
particularly, was the outside of a Norman castle, and another of a
cottage charmingly painted, and of which I have a sketch.  But the act
scene, which was a view on the Clyde looking towards the Highland
mountains with Dumbarton Castle in the middle distance, was such a
combination of magnificent scenery, so wonderfully painted, that it
excited universal admiration.  These productions I studied incessantly;
and on them my style, if I have any, was originally founded."

Stanfield was another of his friends.  On one occasion Stanfield showed
him his sketch-book, observing that he wished to form a style of his
own.  "Young man," said Nasmyth, "there's but one style an artist
should endeavour to attain, and that is the style of nature; the nearer
you can get to that the better."

My father was greatly interested in the architectural beauty of his
native city, and he was professionally consulted by the authorities
about the laying out of the streets of the New Town.  The subject
occupied much of his time and thought, especially when resting from the
mental fatigue arising from a long sitting at the easel.  It was his
regular practice to stroll about where the building work was in
progress, or where new roads were being laid out, and carefully watch
the proceedings.  This was probably due to the taste which he had
inherited from his forebears--more especially from his father, who
had begun the buildings of the New Town.  My father took pleasure in
modelling any improvement that occurred to him; and in discussing the
subject with the architects and builders who were professionally
engaged in the works.  His admirable knack of modelling the contour of
the natural surface of the ground, and applying it to the proposed new
roads or new buildings, was striking and characteristic.  His efforts
in this direction were so thoroughly disinterested that those in office
were all the more anxious to carry out his views.  He sought for no
reward; but his excellent advice was not unrecognised.  In testimony of
the regard which the Magistrates of Edinburgh had for his counsel and
services, they presented him in 1815 with a sum of #200, together with
a most complimentary letter acknowledging the value of his
disinterested advice.  It was addressed to him under cover, directed to
"Alexander Nasmyth, Architect."

He was, indeed, not unworthy of the name.  He was the architect of the
Dean Bridge, which spans the deep valley of the Water of Leith,
north-west of the New Town.  Sir John Nesbit, the owner of the property
north of the stream, employed my father to make a design for the
extension of the city to his estate.  The result was the construction
of the Dean Bridge, and the roads approaching it from both sides.
The Dean Estate was thus rendered as easy and convenient to reach as
any of the level streets of Edinburgh.  The construction of the bridge
was superintended by the late James Jardine, C.E. Mr Telford was
afterwards called upon to widen the bridge.  He threw out parapets on
each side, but they did not improve the original design.

[Image]  St Bernard's Well

From the Dean Bridge another of my father's architectural buildings may
be seen, at St. Bernard's Well.  It was constructed at the instance of
his friend Lord Gardenstone.  The design consists of a graceful
circular temple, built over a spring of mineral water, which issues
from the rock below.  It was dedicated to Hygeia, the Goddess of
Health.  The whole of the details are beautifully finished, and the
basement of the design will be admired by every true artist.  It is
regarded as a great ornament, and is thoroughly in keeping with the
beauty of the surrounding scenery.

Shortly after the death of Lord Nelson it was proposed to erect a
monument to his memory on the Calton Hill.  My father supplied a
design, which was laid before the Monument Committee.  It was so much
approved that the required sum was rapidly subscribed.  But as the
estimated cost of this erection was found slightly to exceed the amount
subscribed, a nominally cheaper design was privately adopted. It was
literally a job.  The vulgar, churn-like monument was thus thrust on
the public and actually erected; and there it stands to this day, a
piteous sight to beholders.  It was eventually found greatly to exceed
in cost the amount of the estimate for my father's design.  I give a
sketch of my father's memorial; and I am led to do this because it is
erroneously alleged that he was the architect of the present inverted
spy glass, called "Nelson's Monument"

[Image]  Nelson's Monument as it should have been.

Then, with respect to my father's powers as a mechanic.  This was an
inherited faculty, and I leave my readers to infer from the following
pages whether I have not had my fair share of this inheritance. Besides
his painting room, my father had a workroom fitted up with all sorts of
mechanical tools.  It was one of his greatest pleasures to occupy
himself there as a relief from sitting at the easel, or while within
doors from the inclemency of the weather.  The walls and shelves of his
workroom were crowded with a multitude of artistic and ingenious
mechanical objects, nearly all of which were the production of his own
hands.  Many of them were associated with the most eventful incidents
in his life.  He only admitted his most intimate friends, or such as
could understand and appreciate the variety of objects connected with
art and mechanism, to his workroom.  His natural taste for neatness and
arrangement gave it a very orderly aspect, however crowded its walls
and shelves might be.  Everything was in its place, and there was a
place for everything.  It was in this workroom that I first began to
handle mechanical tools.  It was my primary technical school--the
very foreground of my life.

[Image]  Bow-and-string Roofs and Bridges

I may mention one or two of my father's mechanical efforts, or rather
his inventions in applied science.  One of the most important was the
"bow-and-string bridge," as he first called it, to which he early
directed his attention.  He invented this important method of
construction about the year 1794.  The first bow-and-string bridge was
erected in the island of St. Helena over a deep ravine.

Many considered, from its apparent slightness, that it was not fitted
to sustain any considerable load.  A remarkable and convincing proof
was, however, given of its stability by the passage over it of a herd
of wild oxen, that rushed across without the slightest damage to its
structure.  After so severe a test it was for many succeeding years
employed as a most valuable addition to the accessibility of an
important portion of the island.  The bow-and-string bridge has since
been largely employed in spanning wide spaces over which suburban and
other railways pass, and in roofing over such stations as those at
Birmingham, Charing Cross, and other Great Metropolitan centres, as
well as in bow-and-string bridges over rivers.  I give the fac-simile
of his original drawings*
 The original drawings of these bow-and-string bridges, of various
spans, are now deposited at the Gallery of the Museum of Naval
Architecture at South Kensington, and are signed "Alexander Nasmyth
for the purpose of showing our great railway engineers the originator
of the graceful and economical method of spanning wide spaces, now
practised in every part of the civilised world.

Another of his inventions was the method of riveting by compression
instead of by blows of the hammer.  It originated in a slight
circumstance.  One wet, wintry Sunday morning he went into his
workroom.  There were some slight mechanical repairs to be performed
upon a beautiful little stove of his own construction.  To repair it,
iron rivets were necessary to make it serviceable.  But as the
hammering of the hot rivets would annoy his neighbours by the unwelcome
sound of the hammer, he solved the difficulty by using the jaws of his
bench vice to squeeze in the hot rivets when put into their places.
The stove was thus quickly repaired in the most perfect silence.

This was, perhaps, the first occasion on which a squeeze or compressive
action was substituted for the percussive action of the hammer,
in closing red-hot rivets, for combining together pieces of stout sheet
or plate iron.  This system of riveting was long afterwards patented by
Smith of Deanston in combination with William Fairbairn of Manchester;
and it was employed in riveting the plates used in the construction of
the bridges over the River Conway and the Menai Straits.

It is also universally used in boiler and girder making, and in all
other wrought-iron structures in which thorough sound riveting is
absolutely essential; and by the employment of hydraulic power in a
portable form a considerable portion of iron shipbuilding is effected
by the silent squeeze  system in place of hammers, much to the
advantage of the soundness of the work.  My father frequently,
in aftertimes, practised this mode of riveting by compression in place
of using the blow of a hammer; and in remembrance of the special
circumstances under which he contrived this silent and most effective
method of riveting, he named it "The Sunday Rivet."

CHAPTER 3.   An Artist's Family.

Although Alexander Nasmyth had to a considerable extent lost his
aristocratic connection as a portrait painter, yet many kind and
generous friends gathered round him.  During his sojourn in Italy,
in 1783, he had the good fortune to make the acquaintance of Sir James
Hall of Dunglass, Haddingtonshire.  The acquaintance afterwards ripened
into a deeply-rooted friendship.

During the winter season Sir James resided with his family in his town
house in George Street.  He was passionately attached to the pursuit of
art and science.  He practised the art of painting in my father's room,
and was greatly helped by him in the requisite manipulative skill.
Sir James was at that time engaged in writing his well-known essay
"On the Origin of Gothic Architecture," and in this my father was of
important use to him.  He executed the greater number of the
illustrations for this beautiful work.  The book when published had a
considerable influence in restoring the taste of architects to a style
which they had heretofore either neglected or degraded.

Besides his enthusiasm in art and architecture, Sir James devoted a
great deal of time to the study of geology.  The science was then in
its infancy.  Being an acute observer, Hall's attention was first
attracted to the subject by the singular geological features of the
sea-coast near his mansion at Dunglass.  The neighbourhood of Edinburgh
also excited his interest.  The upheaval of the rocks by volcanic heat
--as seen in the Castle Hill, the Calton Hill, and Arthur's Seat--
formed in a great measure the foundation of the picturesque beauty of
the city.  Those were the days of the Wernerian and Huttonian
controversy as to the origin of the changes on the surface of the
earth.  Sir James Ball was President of the Edinburgh Royal Society,
and necessarily took an anxious interest in the discussions.
He observed and experimented, and established the true volcanic nature
of the composition and formation of the rocks and mountains which
surround Edinburgh.

I have been led to speak of this subject, because when a boy I was
often present at the discussions of these great principles.
My father, Sir James Hall, Professors Playfair and Leslie, took their
accustomed walks round Edinburgh, and I clung eagerly to their words.
Though unable to understand everything that was said, these walks had a
great influence upon my education.  Indeed, what education can compare
with that of listening attentively to the conversation and interchange
of thought of men of the highest intelligence?  It is on such occasions
that ideas, not mere words, take hold of the memory, and abide there
until the close of life.

Besides mixing in the society of scientific men, my father enjoyed a
friendly intercourse with the artists of his day.  He was often able to
give substantial help and assistance to young students; and he was most
liberal in giving them valuable practical instruction, and in assisting
them over the manipulative difficulties which lay in their way.  He was
especially assiduous when he saw them inspired by the true spirit of
art, and full of application and industry,--without which nothing can
be accomplished.  Amongst these young men were David Wilkie, Francis
Grant, David Roberts, Clarkson Stanfield, William Allan, Andrew Geddes,
"Grecian" Williams, Lizars the engraver, and the Rev. John Thomson of

Henry Raeburn was one of his most intimate friends and companions.
He considered Raeburn's broad and masterly style of portrait painting
as an era in Scottish art.  Raeburn, with innate tact, discerned the
character of his sitters, and he imparted so much of their
individuality into his portraits as to make them admirable likenesses
in the highest sense.  In connection with Raeburn, I may mention that
when he was knighted by George IV. in 1822, my father, who was then at
the head of his profession in Scotland, was appointed chairman at the
dinner held to do honour to the great Scottish portrait painter.

Raeburn often joined my father in his afternoon walks round Edinburgh
--a relaxation so very desirable after hours of close attention to
artistic work.  They took delight in the wonderful variety of
picturesque scenery by which the city is surrounded.  The walks about
Arthur's Seat were the most enjoyable of all.  When a boy I had often
the pleasure of accompanying them, and of listening to their
conversation.  I thus picked up many an idea that served me well in
after life.  Indeed, I may say, after a long experience, that there is
no class of men whose company I more delight in than that of artists.
Their innate and highly-cultivated power of observation, not only as
regards the ever-varying aspects of nature, but also as regards the
quaint, droll, and humorous varieties of character, concur in rendering
their conversation most delightful.  I look back on these walks as
among the brightest points in my existence.  I have been led to digress
on this subject.  Although more correctly belonging to my father's
life, yet it is so amalgamated with my own that it almost forms part of
it, and it is difficult for me to separate the one from the other.

And then there were the pleasant evenings at home.  When the day's work
was over, friends looked in to have a fireside crack--sometimes
scientific men, sometimes artists, often both.  They were all made
welcome.  There was no formality about their visits.  Had they been
formal, there would have been comparatively little pleasure.
The visitor came in with his "Good e'en", and seated himself.
The family went on with their work as before.  The girls were usually
busy with their needles, and others with pen and pencil.  My father
would go on with the artistic work he had in hand, for his industry was
incessant.  He would model a castle or a tree, or proceed with some
proposed improvement of the streets or approaches of the rapidly
expanding city.  Among the most agreeable visitors were Professor
Leslie, James Jardine, C.E., and Dr. Brewster.  Their conversation was
specially interesting.  They brought up the last new thing in science,
in discovery, in history, or in campaigning, for the war was then
raging throughout Europe.

The artists were a most welcome addition to the family group.
Many a time did they set the table in a roar with their quaint and
droll delineations of character.  These unostentatious gatherings of
friends about our fireside were a delightful social institution.
The remembrance of them lights up my recollection of the happiest
period of a generally happy life.  Could I have been able to set forth
the brightness and cheerfulness of these happy evenings at my father's
house, I am fain to think that my description might have been well
worth reading.  But all the record of them that remains is a most
cherished recollection of their genial tone and harmony, which makes me
think that, although in these days of rapid transit over earth and
ocean, and surrounded as we are with the results of applied scientific
knowledge, we are not a bit more happy than when all the vaunted
triumphs of science and so-called education were in embryo.

The supper usually followed, for my father would not allow his visitors
to go away supperless.  The meal did not amount to much.  Rizard or
Finnan harddies, or a dish of oysters, with a glass of Edinburgh ale,
and a rummer of toddy, concluded these friendly evenings.  The cry of
"Caller Aou" was constantly heard in the streets below of an evening.
When the letter r was in the name of the month, the supply of oysters
was abundant.  The freshest oysters, of the most glorious quality, were
to be had at 2s. 6d. the hundred!  And what could be more refreshing
food for my father's guests?  These unostentatious and inexpensive
gatherings of friends were a most delightful social institution among
the best middle-class people of Edinburgh some sixty or seventy years
ago.  What they are now I cannot tell.  But I fear they have
disappeared in the more showy and costly tastes that have sprung up in
the progress of what is called "modern society."

No part of my father's character was more admirable than his utter
unselfishness.  He denied himself many things, that he might give the
greater pleasure to his wife and children.  He would scarcely take part
in any enjoyment, unless they could have their fair share of it. In all
this he was faithfully followed by my mother.  The admirable example of
well-sustained industry that was always before her, sustained her in
her efforts for the good of her family.  She was intelligently
interested in all that related to her husband's business and interests,
as well as in his recreative enjoyments.  The household affairs were
under her skilful guidance.  She conducted them with economy, and yet
with generous liberality, free from the least taint of ostentation or
extravagance.  The home fireside was a scene of cheerfulness.
And most of our family have been blest with this sunny gift.  Indeed,
a merrier family circle I have never seen.  There were twelve persons
round the table to be provided for, besides two servants.
This required, on my mother's part, a great deal of management,
as every housekeeper will know.  Yet everything was provided and paid
for within the year's income.

The family result of my father and mother's happy marriage was four
sons and seven daughters.  Patrick, the eldest, was born in 1787.
He was called after my father's dear and constant friend, Patrick
Miller of Dalswinton.  I will speak by and by of his artistic
reputation.  Then followed a long succession of daughters--
Jane, the eldest', was born in 1788; Barbara 1790; Margaret in 1791;
Elizabeth in 1793; Anne in 1798; Charlotte in 1804.
Then came a succession of three sons--Alexander, George,and James.
There followed another daughter, Mary; but as she only lived for about
eighteen months, I remained the youngest of the family.

My sisters all possessed, in a greater or less degree, an innate love
of art, and by their diligent application they acquired the practice of
painting landscape in oils.  My father's admirable system and method of
teaching rendered them expert in making accurate sketches from nature,
which, as will afterwards be seen, they turned to good account.
My eldest sister, Jane, was in all respects a most estimable character,
and a great help to my mother in the upbringing of the children.
Jane was full of sound common sense; her judgment seemed to be beyond
her years.  Because of this the younger members of the family jokingly
nicknamed her "Old Solid"!--Even my father consulted her in every
case of importance in reference to domestic and financial affairs.
I had the great good fortune, when a child, to be placed under her
special protection, and I have reason to be thankful for the
affectionate care which she took of me during the first six years of
my life.

Besides their early education in art, my mother was equally earnest in
her desire to give her daughters a thorough practical knowledge in
every department and detail of household management.  When they had
attained a suitable age they were in succession put in charge of all
the household duties for two weeks at a time.  The keys were given over
to them, together with the household books, and at the end of their
time their books were balanced to a farthing.  They were then passed on
to the next in succession.  One of the most important branches of
female education--the management of the domestic affairs of a family,
the superintendence of the cooking so as to avoid waste of food, the
regularity of the meals, and the general cleaning up of the rooms--
was thus thoroughly attained in its best and most practical forms.
And under the admirable superintendence of my mother everything in our
family went on like clockwork.

My father's object was to render each and all of his children--
whether boys or girls--independent on their arrival at mature years.
Accordingly, he sedulously kept up the attention of his daughters to
fine art.  By this means he enabled them to assist in the maintenance
of the family while at home, and afterwards to maintain themselves by
the exercise of their own abilities and industry after they had left.
To accomplish this object, as already described, he set on foot drawing
classes, which were managed by his six daughters, superintended by

Edinburgh was at that time the resort of many county families.
The war which raged abroad prevented their going to the Continent.
They therefore remained at home, and the Scotch families for the most
part took up their residence in Edinburgh.  There were many young
ladies desiring to complete their accomplishments, and hence the
establishment of my sisters' art class.  It was held in the large
painting-room in the upper part of the house.  It soon became one of
the most successful institutions in Edinburgh.  When not engaged in
drawing and oil painting, the young ladies were occupied in sketching
from nature, under the superintendence of my sisters, in the outskirts
of Edinburgh.  This was one of the most delightful exercises in which
they could be engaged; and it also formed the foundation for many
friendships which only terminated with life.

My father increased the interest of the classes by giving little art
lectures.  They were familiar but practical.  He never gave lectures as
such, but rather demonstrations.  It was only when a pupil encountered
some technical difficulty, or was adopting some wrong method of
proceeding, that he undertook to guide them by his words and practical
illustrations.  His object was to embue the minds of the pupils with
high principles of art.  He would take up their brushes and show by his
dexterous and effective touches how to bring out, with marvellous ease,
the right effects of the landscape.  The other pupils would come and
stand behind him, to see and hear his clear instructions carried into
actual practice on the work before him.  He often illustrated his
little special lessons by his stores of instructive and interesting
anecdotes, which no doubt helped to rivet his practice all the deeper
into their minds.  Thus the Nasmyth classes soon became the fashion.
In many cases both mothers and daughters might be seen at work together
in that delightful painting-room.  I have occasionally met with some of
them in after years, who referred to those pleasant hours as among the
most delightful they had ever spent.

These classes were continued for many years.  In the meantime my
sisters' diligence and constant practice enabled them in course of time
to exhibit their works in the fine art exhibitions of Edinburgh.
Each had her own individuality of style and manner, by which their
several works were easily distinguished from each other.  Indeed,
whoever works after Nature will have a style of their own.  They all
continued the practice of oil painting until an advanced age.
The average duration of their lives was about seventy-eight.

There was one point which my father diligently impressed upon his
pupils, and that was the felicity and the happiness attendant upon
pencil drawing.  He was a master of the pencil, and in his off-hand
sketches communicated his ideas to others in a way that mere words
could never have done.  It was his Graphic Language.  A few strokes of
the pencil can convey ideas which quires of writing would fail to
impart.  This is one of the most valuable gifts which a man who has to
do with practical subjects can possess.  "The language of the pencil"
is a truly universal one, especially in communicating ideas which have
reference to material forms.  And yet it is in a great measure
neglected in our modern system of education.

The language of the tongue is often used to disguise our thoughts,
whereas the language of the pencil is clear and explicit.  Who that
possesses this language can fail to look back with pleasure on the
course of a journey illustrated by pencil drawings?  They bring back to
you the landscapes you have seen, the old streets, the pointed gables,
the entrances to the old churches, even the bits of tracery, with a
vividness of association such as mere words could never convey.
Thus, looking at an old sketch-book brings back to you the recollection
of a tour, however varied, and you virtually make the journey over
again with its picturesque and beautiful associations.  On many a fine
summer's day did my sisters make a picnic excursion into the
neighbourhood of Edinburgh.  They were accompanied by their pupils,
sketch-book and pencil in hand.  As I have already said, there is no
such scenery near any city that I know of.  Arthur's Seat and Salisbury
Crags, Duddingston Loch, the Braid Hills, Craigmillar Castle,
Hawthornden, Roslin, Habbie's How, and the many valleys and rifts in
the Pentlands, with Edinburgh and its Castle in the distance; or the
scenery by the sea-shore, all round the coast from Newhaven to Gullane
and North Berwick Law.

The excursionists came home laden with sketches.  I have still by me a
multitude of these graphic records made by my sisters.  Each sketch,
however slight, strikes the keynote, as it were, to many happy
recollections of the circumstances, and the persons who were present at
the time it was made.  I know not of any such effective stimulant to
the recollection of past events as these graphic memoranda.
Written words may be forgotten, but these slight pencil recollections
imprint themselves on the mind with a force that can never be effaced.
Everything that occurred at the time rises up as fresh in the memory as
if hours and not years had passed since then.  They bring to the mind's
eye many dear ones who have passed away, and remind us that we too must
follow them.

It is much to be regretted that this valuable art of graphic memoranda
is not more generally practised.  It is not merely a most valuable help
to the memory, but it educates the eye and the hand, and enables us to
cultivate the faculty of definite observation.  This is one of the most
valuable accomplishments that I know of, being the means of storing up
ideas, and not mere words, in the mental recollection of both men and

Before I proceed to record the recollections of my own life, I wish to
say something about my eldest brother Patrick, the well-known landscape
painter.  He was twenty-one years older than myself!  My father was his
best and almost his only instructor.  At a very early age he manifested
a decided taste for drawing and painting.  His bent was landscape.
This gave my father great pleasure, as it was his own favourite branch
of art.  The boy acquired great skill in sketching trees, clouds,
plants, and foregrounds.  He studied with wonderful assiduity and
success.  I possess many of his graphic memoranda, which show the care
and industry with which he educated his eye and hand in rendering with
truth and fidelity the intimate details of his art.  The wild plants
which he introduced into the foregrounds of his pictures were his
favourite objects of study.  But of all portions of landscape nature,
the Sky was the one that most delighted him.  He studied the form and
character of clouds--resting cloud, the driving cloud, and the rain
cloud--and the sky portions of his paintings were thus rendered so
beautifully attractive.

He was so earnest in his devotion to the study of landscape that in
some respects he neglected the ordinary routine of school education.
He successfully accomplished the three R.'s, but after that his school
was the fields, in the face of Nature.  He was by no means a Romantic
painter.  His taste was essentially for Home subjects.  In his
landscapes he introduced picturesque farm-houses and cottages,
with their rural surroundings; and his advancement and success were
commensurate with his devotion to this fine branch of art.  The perfect
truth with which he represented English scenery, associated as it is
with so many home-loving feelings, forms the special attractiveness of
his works.  This has caused them to be eagerly sought after,
and purchased at high prices.

Patrick had a keen sense of humour, though in other respects he was
simple and unpretending.  He was a great reader of old-fashioned
novels, which indeed in those days were the only works of the kind to
be met with.  The Arabian Nights, Robinson crusoe, The Mysteries of
Udolpho, and such like, were his favourites, and gave a healthy filip
to his imagination.  He had also a keen relish for music, and used to
whistle melodies and overtures as he went along with his work.
He acquired a fair skill in violin playing.  While tired with sitting
or standing he would take up his violin, play a few passages, and then
go to work again.

Patrick removed to London in 1808, and exhibited at the Royal Academy
in the following year.  He made excursions to various parts of England,
where he found subjects congenial to his ideas of rural beauty.
The immediate neighbourhood of London, however, a bounded with the most
charming and appropriate subjects for his pencil.  These consisted of
rural "bits" of the most picturesque but homely description--decayed
pollard trees and old moss-grown orchards, combined with cottages and
farm-houses in the most paintable state of decay, with tangled hedges
and neglected fences, overrun with vegetation clinging to them with all
"the careless grace of Nature."  However neglected these might be by the
farmer, they were always tit-bits for Patrick.  When sketching such
subjects he was in his glory, and he returned to his easel loaded with
sketch-book treasures, which when painted form the gems of many a

In some of these charming subjects glimpses of the distant capital may
be observed, with the dome of St. Paul's in the distance; but they are
introduced with such skill and correctness as in no way to interfere
with the rural character of his subject.  When he went farther afield
--to Windsor Forest, Hampshire, the New Forest, or the Isle of Wight
--he was equally diligent with his pencil, and came home laden with
sketches of the old monarchs of the forest.  When in a state of partial
decay his skilful touch brought them to life again, laden with branches
and lichen, with leaves and twigs and bark, and with every feature that
gives such a charm to these important elements in true English
landscape scenery.  On my brother's first visit to London, accompanied
by my father, he visited many collections where the old Dutch masters
were to be seen, and he doubtless derived much advantage from his
careful studies, more particularly from the works of Hobbema, Ruysdael,
and Wynants.  These came home to him as representations of Nature as
she is.  They were more free from the traditional modes of representing
her.  The works of Claude Lorraine and Richard Wilson were also the
objects of his admiration, though the influence of the time for
classicality of treatment to a certain extent vitiated these noble
works.  When a glorious sunset was observed, the usual expression among
the lovers of art was, "What a magnificent Claudish effect!"  thus
setting up the result of man's feeble attempt at representation as the
standard of comparison, in place of the far grander original!

My brother carefully studied Nature herself.  His works, following
those of my father, led back the public taste to a more healthy and
true condition, and by the aid of a noble army of modern British
landscape painters, this department of art has been elevated to a very
high standard of truth and excellence.

I find some letters from Patrick to my father, after his settlement as
an artist in London.  My father seems to have supplied him with money
during the early part of his career, and afterwards until he had
received the amount of his commissions for pictures.  In one of his
letters he says: "That was an unlucky business, the loss of that order
which you were so good as send me on my account."  It turned out that
the order had dropt out of the letter enclosing it, and was not
recovered.  In fact, Patrick was very careless about all money

In 1814 he made the acquaintance of Mr. Barnes, and accompanied him to
Bure Cottage, Ringwood, near Southampton, where he remained for some
time.  He went into the New Forest, and brought home "lots of sketches."
In 1815 he exhibited his works at the Royal Academy. He writes to his
father that "the prices of my pictures in the Gallery are--
two at fourteen guineas each (small views in Hampshire), one at
twelve guineas, and two at fourteen guineas.  They are all sold but
one.  These pictures would now fetch in the open market from two to
three hundred guineas each.  But in those days good work was little
known, and landscapes especially were very little sought after.

Patrick Nasmyth's admirable rendering of the finer portions of
landscape nature attracted the attention of collectors, and he received
many commissions from them at very low prices.  There was at that time
a wretched system of delaying the payment for pictures painted on
commission, as well as considerable loss of time by the constant
applications made for the settlement of the balance.  My brother was
accordingly under the necessity of painting his pictures for the
Dealers, who gave him at once the price which he required for his
works.  The influence of this system was not always satisfactory.
The Middlemen or Dealers, who stood between the artist and the final
possessor of the works, were not generous.  They higgled about prices,
and the sums which they gave were almost infinitesimal compared with
the value of Patrick Nasmyth's pictures at the present time.

The Dealers were frequent visitors at his little painting-room in his
lodgings.  They took undue advantage of my brother's simplicity and
innate modesty in regard to the commercial value of his works.  When he
had sketched in a beautiful subject, and when it was clear that in its
highest state of development it must prove a fine work, the Dealer
would pile up before him a row of guineas, or sovereigns, and say,
"Now, Peter, that picture's to be mine!", The real presence of cash
proved too much for him.  He never was a practical man.  He agreed to
the proposal, and thus he parted with his pictures for much less than
they were worth.  He was often remonstrated with by his brother artists
for letting them slip out of his hands in that way--works that he
would not surrender until he had completed them, and brought them up to
the highest point of his fastidious taste and standard of excellence.
Among his dearest friends were David Roberts and Clarkson Stanfield.
He usually replied to their friendly remonstrances by laughingly
pointing to his bursting portfolios of sketches, and saying,
"There's lots of money in these banks to draw from."  He thus warded off
their earnest and often-repeated remonstrances.  Being a single man,
and his habits and style of living of the most simple kind, he had very
little regard for money except as it ministered to his immediate
necessities.  His evenings were generally spent at a club of brother
artists "over the water;" and in their company he enjoyed many a
pleasant hour.  His days were spent at his easel.  They were
occasionally varied by long walks into the country near London,
for the purpose of refilling his sketch-book.

It was on one of such occasions--when he was sketching the details of
some picturesque pollard old willows up the Thames, and standing all
the time in wet ground--that he caught a severe cold which confined
him to the house.  He rapidly became worse.  Two of his sisters,
who happened to be in London at the time, nursed him with devoted
attention.  But it was too late.  The disease had taken fatal hold of
him.  On the evening of the l7th August 1831 there was a violent
thunderstorm.  At length the peals of thunder ceased, the rain passed
away, and the clouds dispersed.  The setting sun burst forth in a
golden glow.  The patient turned round on his couch and asked that the
curtains might be drawn.  It was done.  A blaze of sunset lit up his
weary and worn-out face.  "How glorious it is!" he said.  Then, as the
glow vanished he fell into a deep and tranquil sleep, from which he
never awoke.  Such was the peaceful end of my brother Patrick, at the
comparatively early age of forty-four years.

CHAPTER 4.  My Early Years.

I WAS born on the morning of the 19th of August 1808, at my father's
house No. 47 York Place, Edinburgh.  I was named James Hall after my
father's dear friend, Sir James Hall of Dunglass.  My mother afterwards
told me that I must have been "a very noticin'  bairn," as she observed
me, when I was only a few days old, following with my little eyes any
one who happened to be in the room, as if I had been thinking to my
little self, "Who are you?"

After a suitable time I was put under the care of a nursemaid.
I remember her well--Mary Peterkin--a truly Scandinavian name.
She came from Haddingtonshire, where most of the people are of
Scandinavian origin.  Her hair was of a bright yellow tint.
She was a cheerful young woman, and sang to me like a nightingale.
She could not only sing old Scotch songs, but had a wonderful memory
for fairy tales. When under the influence of a merry laugh,
you could scarcely see her eyes; their twinkle was hidden by her
eyelids and lashes.  She was a willing worker, and was always ready
to lend a helping hand at everything about the house, she took great
pride in me, calling me her "laddie."

When I was toddling about the house, another sister was born, the last
of the family.  Little Mary was very delicate; and to improve her
health she was sent to a small farm-house at Braid Hills, about four
miles south of Edinburgh.  It was one of the most rural and beautiful
surroundings of the city at that time.  One of my earliest
recollections is that of being taken to see poor little Mary at the
farmer's house.  While my nursemaid was occupied in inquiring after my
sister, I was attracted by the bright red poppies in a neighbouring
field.  When they made search for me I could not be found.  I was lost
for more than an hour.  At last, seeing a slight local disturbance
among the stalks of corn, they rushed to they spot, and brought me out
with an armful of brilliant red poppies.  To this day poppies continue
to be my greatest favourites.

When I was about four or five years old, I was observed to give a
decided preference to the use of my left hand.  Everything was done to
prevent my using it in preference to the right.  My mother thought that
it arose from my being carried on the wrong arm by my nurse while an
infant.  The right hand was thus confined, and the left hand was used.
I was constantly corrected, but "on the sly" I always used it,
especially in drawing my first little sketches.  At last my father,
after viewing with pleasure one of my artistic efforts, done with the
forbidden hand, granted it liberty and independence for all time
coming.  "Well," he said, "you may go on in your own way in the use of
your left hand, but I fear you will be an awkward fellow in everything
that requires handiness in life.  I used my right hand in all that was
necessary, and my left in all sorts of practical manipulative affairs.
My left hand has accordingly been my most willing and obedient servant
in transmitting my will through my fingers into material or visible
forms.  In this way I became ambidexter.

When I was about four years old, I often followed my father into his
workshop when he had occasion to show to his visitors some of his
mechanical contrivances or artistic models.  The persons present
usually expressed their admiration in warm terms of what was shown to
them.  On one occasion I gently pulled the coat-tail of one of the
listeners and confidentially said to him, as if I knew all about it,
"My papa's a kevie Fellae!"  My father was so greatly amused by this
remark that he often referred to it as "the last good thing" from that
old-fashioned creature little Jamie.

One of my earliest recollections is the annual celebration of my
brother Patrick's birthday.  Being the eldest of the family, his
birthday was held in special honour.  My father invited about twenty of
his most intimate friends to dinner.  My mother brought her culinary
powers into full operation.  The younger members of the family also
took a lively interest in all that was going on, with certain
reversionary views as to "the day after the feast."  We took a great
interest in the Trifle, which was no trifle in reality, in so far as
regarded the care and anxiety involved in its preparation.
In connection with this celebration, it was all established institution
that a large hamper always arrived in good time from the farm attached
to my mother's old home at Woodhall, near Edinburgh.  It contained many
substantial elements for the entertainment--a fine turkey, fowls,
duck, and suchlike; with two magnums of the richest cream.  There never
was such cream!  It established a standard of cream in my memory;
and since then I have always been hypercritical about the article.

On one of these occasions, when I was about four years old, and being
the youngest of the family, I was taken into the company after the
dinner was over, and held up by my sister Jane to sing a verse from a
little song which my nurse Mary Peterkin had taught me, and Which ran

 "I'll no bide till Saturday,
 But I'll awa' tile morn,
 An' follow Donald Hielandman,
 An' carry his poother-horn."

This was my first and last vocal performance.  It was received with
great applause.  In fact, it was encored.  The word "poother,"
which I pronounced "pootle", excited the enthusiasm of the audience.
I was then sent to bed with a bit of plum-cake, and was doubtless
awakened early next morning by the irritation of the dried crumbs of
the previous night's feast.

I am reminded, by reading over a letter of my brother Patrick's, of an
awkward circumstance that happened to me when I was six years old.
In his letter to my father, dated London, 22d September 1814, he says:
"I did get a surprise when Margaret's letter informed me of my little
brother Jamie's fall.  It was a wonderful escape.  For God's sake keep
an eye upon him!"  Like other strong and healthy boys, I had a turn for
amusing myself in my own way.  When sliding down the railing of the
stairs I lost my grip and fell suddenly over.  The steps were of stone.
Fortunately, the servants were just coming up laden with carpets which
they had been beating.  I fell into their midst and knocked them out of
their hands.  I was thus saved from cracking my poor little skull.
But for that there might have been no steam hammer--at least of my

Everything connected with war and warlike exploits is interesting to a
boy.  The war with France was then in full progress.  Troops and bands
paraded the streets.  Recruits were sent away as fast as they could be
drilled.  The whole air was filled with war.  Everybody was full of
excitement about the progress of events in Spain.  When the great guns
boomed forth from the Castle, the people were first startled.
Then they were surprised and anxious.  There had been a battle and a
victory!  "Who had fallen?" was the first thought in many minds.
Where had the battle been, and what was the victory?  Business was
suspended.  People rushed about the streets to ascertain the facts.
It might have been at Salamanca, Talavera, or Vittoria.  But a long
time elapsed before the details could be received; and during that time
sad suspense and anxiety prevailed in almost every household.
There was no telegraph then.  It was only after the Gazette had been
published that people knew who had fallen and who had survived.

The war proceeded.  The volunteering which went on at the time gave
quite a military aspect to the city.  I remember how odd it appeared to
me to see some well-known faces and figures metamorphosed into soldiers
It was considered a test of loyalty as well as of patriotism, to give
time, money, and leisure to take up the arms of defence, and to
practise daily in military uniform in the Meadows or on Bruntsfield
Links.  Windows were thrown up to hear the bands playing at the head of
the troops, and crowds of boys, full of military ardour, went, as usual,
hand to hand in front of the drums and fifes.  The most interesting
part of the procession to my mind was the pioneers in front, with their
leather aprons, their axes and saws, and their big hairy caps and
beards.  They were to me so suggestive of clearing the way through
hedges and forests, and of what war was in its actual progress.

Every victory was followed by the importation of large numbers of
French prisoners.  Many of them were sent to Edinburgh Castle.
They were permitted to relieve the tedium of their confinement by
manufacturing and selling toys; workboxes, brooches, and carved work of
different kinds.  In the construction of these they exhibited great
skill, taste, and judgment.  They carved them out of bits of bone and
wood.  The patterns were most beautiful; and they were ingeniously and
tastefully ornamented.  The articles were to be had for a mere trifle,
although fit to be placed with the most choice objects of artistic

These poor prisoners of war were allowed to work at their tasteful
handicrafts in small sheds or temporary workshops at the Castle, behind
the palisades which separated them from their free customers outside.
There was just room between the bars of the palisades for them to hand
through their exquisite works, and to receive in return the modest
prices which they charged.  The front of these palisades became a
favourite resort for the inhabitants of Edinburgh; and especially for
the young folks.  I well remember being impressed with the contrast
between the almost savage aspect of these dark-haired foreigners,
and the neat and delicate produce of their skilful fingers.

At the peace of 1814, which followed the siege of Paris, great
rejoicings and illuminations took place, in the belief that the war was
at an end.  The French prisoners were sent back to their own country,
alas! to appear again before us at Waterloo.  The liberation of those
confined in Edinburgh Castle was accompanied by an extraordinary scene.
The French prisoners marched down to the transport ships at Leith by
torchlight.  All the town was out to see them.  They passed in military
procession through the principal streets, singing as they marched along
their revolutionary airs, "Ca lra" and "The Marseillaise."  The wild
enthusiasm of these haggard-looking men, lit up by torchlight and
accompanied by the cheers of the dense crowd which lined the streets
and filled the windows, made an impression on my mind that I can never

A year passed.  Napoleon returned from Elba, and was rejoined by nearly
all his old fighting-men.  I well remember, young as I was, an assembly
of the inhabitants of Edinburgh in Charlotte Square, to bid farewell to
the troops and officers then in garrison.  It was a fine summer
evening when this sad meeting took place.  The bands were playing as
their last performance, "Go where glory waits thee!"  The air brought
tears to many eyes; for many who were in the ranks might never return.
After many a hand-shaking, the troops marched to the Castle, previous
to their early embarkation for the Low Countries on the following

Then came Waterloo and the victory!  The Castle guns boomed forth again;
and the streets were filled with people anxious to hear the news.
At last came the Gazette filled with the details of the killed and
wounded.  Many a heart was broken, many a fireside was made desolate.
It was indeed a sad time.  The terrible anxiety that pervaded so many
families; the dreadful sacrifice of lives on so many battlefields; and
the enormously increased taxation, which caused so many families to
stint themselves to even the barest necessaries of life;--such was
the inglorious side of war.

But there was also the glory, which almost compensated for the sorrow.
I cannot resist narrating the entry of the Forty-second Regiment into
Edinburgh shortly after the battle of Waterloo.  The old "Black Watch"
is a regiment dear to every Scottish heart.  It has fought and
struggled when resistance was almost certain death.  At Quatre Bras two
flank companies were cut to pieces by Pire's cavalry.  The rest of the
regiment was assailed by Reille's furious cannonade, and suffered
severely.  The French were beaten back, and the remnant of the
Forty-second retired to Waterloo, where they formed part of the brigade
under Major-General Pack.  At the first grand charge of the French,
Picton fell and many were killed.  Then the charge of the Greys took
place, and the Highland regiments rushed forward, with cries of
"Scotland for ever!"  Only a remnant of the Forty-second survived.
They were however recruited, and marched into France with the rest of
the army.

Towards the end of the year the Forty-Second returned to England,
and in the beginning of 1816 they set out on their march towards
Edinburgh.  They were everywhere welcomed with enthusiasm.  Crowds
turned out to meet them and cheer them.  When the first division of the
regiment approached Edinburgh, almost the entire population turned out
to welcome them.  At Musselburgh, six miles off; the road was thronged
with people.  When the soldiers reached Piershill, two miles off, the
road was so crowded that it took them two hours to reach the Castle.
I was on a balcony in the upper part of the High Street, and my father,
mother, and sisters were with me.  We had waited very long; but at last
we heard the distant sound of the cheers, which came on and on, louder
and louder.

The High Street was wedged with people excited and anxious.
There seemed scarcely room for a regiment to march through them.
The house-tops and windows were crowded with spectators.  It was a
grand sight.  The high-gabled houses reaching as far as the eye could
see, St. Giles' with its mural crown, the Tron Kirk in the distance,
and the picturesque details of the buildings, all added to the
effectiveness of the scene.

At last the head of the gallant band appeared.  The red coats gradually
wedged their way through the crowd, amidst the ringing of bells and the
cheers of the spectators.  Every window was in a wave of gladness,
and every house-top was in a fever of excitement.  As the red line
passed our balcony, with Colonel Dick at its head, we saw a sight that
can never be forgotten.  The red-and-white plumes, the tattered colours
riddled with bullets, the glittering bayonets, were seen amidst the
crowd that thronged round the gallant heroes, amidst tears and cheers
and hand-shakings and shouts of excitement.  The mass of men appeared
like a solid body moving slowly along; the soldiers being almost hidden
amongst the crowd.  At last they passed, the pipers and drums playing a
Highland march; and the Forty-Second slowly entered the Castle.  It was
perhaps the most extraordinary scene ever witnessed in Edinburgh.

One of my greatest enjoyments when a child was in going out with the
servants to the Calton, and wait while the "claes" bleached in the sun
on the grassy slopes of the hill.  The air was bright and fresh and
pure.  The lasses regarded these occasions as a sort of holiday.
One or two of the children usually accompanied them.  They sat
together, and the servants told us their auld-warld stories; common
enough in those days, but which have now, in a measure, been forgotten.
"Steam" and "progress" have made the world much less youthful and
joyous than it was then.

The women brought their work and their needles with them, and when they
had told their stories, the children ran about the hill making bunches
of wild flowers--including harebells and wild thyme.  They ran after
the butterflies and the bumbees, and made acquaintance in a small way
with the beauties of nature.  Then the servants opened their baskets of
provisions, and we had a delightful picnic.  Though I am now writing
about seventy years after the date of these events, I can almost
believe that I am enjoying the delightful perfume of the wild thyme and
the fragrant plants and flowers, wafted around me by the warm breezes
of the Calton hillside.

In the days I refer to, there was always a most cheerful and intimate
intercourse kept up between the children and the servants.  They were
members of the same family, and were treated as such.  The servants
were for the most part country-bred--daughters of farm servants or
small farmers.  They were fairly educated at their parish schools;
they could read and write, and had an abundant store of old
recollections.  Many a pleasant crack we had with them as to their
native places, their families, and all that was connected with them.
They became lastingly attached to their masters and mistresses, as well
as to the children.  All this led to true attachment; and when they
left; us, for the most part to be married we continued to keep up a
correspondence with them, which lasted for many years.

While enjoying these delightful holidays, before my school-days began,
my practical education was in progress, especially in the way of
acquaintance with the habits of nature in a vast variety of its phases,
always so attractive to the minds of healthy children.  It happened
that close to the Calton Hill, in the valley at its northern side,
there were many workshops where interesting trades were carried on;
there were coppersmiths, tinsmiths, brass-founders, goldbeaters, and
blacksmiths.  Their shops were all arranged in a busy group at the foot
of the hill, in a place called Greenside.  The workshops were open to
the inspection of passers-by.  Little boys looked in and saw the men at
work amidst the blaze of fires and the beatings of hammers.

Amongst others, I was an ardent admirer.  I may almost say that this
row of busy workshops was my first school of practical education.
I observed the mechanical manipulation of the men, their dexterous use
of the hammer, the chisel, and the file; and I imbibed many lessons
which afterwards proved of use to me.  Then I had tools at home in my
father's workshop.  I tried to follow their methods; I became greatly
interested in the use of tools and their appliances; I could make
things for myself.  In short, I became so skilled that the people about
the house called me "a little Jack-of-all-trades."

While sitting on the grassy slopes of the Calton Hill I would often
hear the chimes sounding from the grand old tower of St.Giles.
The cathedral lay on the other side of the valley which divides the
Old Town from the New.  The sounds came over the murmur of the traffic
in the streets below.

The chime-bells were played every day from twelve till one--the
old-fashioned dinner-hour of the citizens.  The practice had been in
existence for more than a hundred and fifty years.  The pleasing effect
of the merry airs, which came wafted tome by the warm summer breezes,
made me long to see them as well as hear them.

[Image]  Mural crown of St Giles', Edinburgh

My father was always anxious to give pleasure to his children.
Accordingly, he took me one day, as a special treat, to the top of the
grand old tower, to see the chimes played.  As we passed up the tower,
a strong vaulted room was pointed out to me, where the witches used to
be imprisoned.  I was told that the poor old women were often taken
down from this dark vault to be burnt alive!  Such terrible tales
enveloped the tower with a horrible fascination to my young mind.
What a fearful contrast to the merry sound of the chimes issuing from
its roof on a bright summer day.

On my way up to the top flat, where the chimes were played, I had to
pass through the vault in which the great pendulum was slowly swinging
in its ghostly-like tick-tack, tick-tack; while the great ancient clock
was keeping time with its sudden and startling movement.  The whole
scene was almost as uncanny as the witches' cell underneath.  There was
also a wild rumbling thumping sound overhead.  I soon discovered the
cause of this, when I entered the flat where the musician was at work.
He was seen in violent action, beating or hammering on the keys of a
gigantic pianoforte-like apparatus.  The instruments he used were two
great leather-faced mallets, one of which he held in each hand.
Each key was connected by iron rods with the chime-bells above.
The frantic and mad-like movements of the musician, as he energetically
rushed from one key to another, often widely apart gave me the idea
that the man was daft--especially as the noise of the mallets was
such that I heard no music emitted from the chimes so far overhead.
It was only when I had climbed up the stair of the tower to where the
bells were rung that I understood the performance, and comprehended the
beating of the chimes which gave me so much pleasure when I heard them
at a distance.

Another source of enjoyment in my early days was to accompany my mother
to the market.  As I have said before, my mother, though generous in
her hospitality, was necessarily thrifty and economical in the
management of her household.  There were no less than fourteen persons
in the house to be fed, and this required a good deal of marketing.
At the time I refer to, (about 1816, it was the practice of every lady
who took pride in managing economically the home department of her
husband's affairs, to go to market in person.  The principal markets in
Edinburgh were then situated in the valley between the Old and New Towns,
in what used to be called the Nor Loch.

Dealers in fish and vegetables had their stalls there: the market for
butcher meat was near at hand: each being in their several locations.
It was a very lively and bustling sight to see the marketing going on.
When a lady was observed approaching, likely to be a customer, she was
at once surrounded by the "caddies."  They were a set of sturdy
hard-working women, each with a creel on her back.  Their competition
for the employer sometimes took a rather energetic form.  The rival
candidates pointed to her with violent exclamations; "She's my ledie!
she's my ledie!" ejaculated one and all.  To dispel the disorder,
a selection of one of the caddies would be made, and then all was quiet
again until another customer appeared.

There was a regular order in which the purchases were deposited in the
creel.  First, there came the fish, which were carefully deposited in
the lowest part, with a clean deal board over them.  The fishwives were
a most sturdy and independent class, both in manners and language.
When at home, at Newhaven or Fisherrow, they made and mended their
husbands' nets, put their fishing tackle to rights, and when the
fishing boats came in they took the fish to market at Edinburgh.
To see the groups of these hard-working women trudging along with their
heavy creels on their backs, clothed in their remarkable costume,
with their striped petticoats kilted up and showing their sturdy legs,
was indeed a remarkable sight.  They were cheerful and good-natured,
but very outspoken.  Their skins were clear and ruddy, and many of the
young fishwives were handsome and pretty.  They were, in fact, the
incarnation of robust health.  In dealing with them at the Fish Market
there was a good deal of higgling.  They often asked two or three times
more than the fish were worth--at least, according to the then market
price.  After a stormy night, during which the husbands and sons had
toiled to catch the fish, on the usual question being asked,
"Weel, Janet, hoo's haddies the day!" "Haddies, mem?  Ou, haddies is
men's lives the day!"  which was often true, as haddocks were often
caught at the risk of their husbands' lives.  After the usual amount of
higgling, the haddies were brought down to their proper market price,
--sometimes a penny for a good haddock, or, when herrings were rife,
a dozen herrings for twopence, crabs for a penny, and lobsters for
threepence.  For there were no railways then to convey the fish to
England, and thus equalise the price for all classes of the community.

Let me mention here a controversy between a fishwife and a buyer called
Thomson.  the buyer offered a price so ridiculously small for a parcel
of fish that the seller became quite indignant, and she terminated at
once all further higgling.  Looking up to him, she said, "Lord help yer
e'e-sight, Maister Tamson!" "Lord help my e'e-sight, woman!  What has
that to do with it?" "Ou," said she, "because ye ha'e nae nose to put
spectacles on!"  As it happened, poor Mr. Thomson had, by some accident
or disease, so little of a nose left, if any at all, that the bridge of
the nose for holding up the spectacles was almost entirely wanting.
And thus did the fishwife retaliate on her niggardly customer.

When my mother had got her fish laid at the bottom of the creel, she
next went to the "flesher" for her butcher-meat.  There was no higgling
here, for the meat was sold at the ordinary market price. Then came the
poultry stratum; then the vegetables, or fruits in their season;
and, finally, there was "the floore"--a bunch of flowers;
not a costly bouquet, but a, large assortment of wallflowers, daffodils
(with their early spring fragrance), polyanthuses, lilacs, gilly-flowers,
and the glorious old-fashioned cabbage rose, as well as the even more
gloriously fragrant moss rose. The caddy's creel was then topped up,
and the marketing was completed.  The lady was followed home; the
contents were placed in the larder; and the flowers distributed all
over the house.

I have many curious traditional evidences of the great fondness for
cats which distinguished the Nasmyth family for several generations.
My father had always one or two of such domestic favourites, who were,
in the best sense, his "familiars."  Their quiet, companionable habits
rendered them very acceptable company when engaged in his artistic
work.  I know of no sound so pleasantly tranquillising as the purring
of a cat, or of anything more worthy of admiration in animal habit as
the neat, compact, and elegant manner in which the cat adjusts itself
at the fireside, or in a snug, cosy place, when it settles down for a
long quiet sleep.  Every spare moment that a cat has before lying down
to rest is occupied in carefully cleaning itself, even under adverse
circumstances.  The cat is the true original inventor of a sanitary
process, which has lately been patented and paraded before the public
as a sanitary novelty; and yet it has been in practice ever since cats
were created.  Would that men and women were more alive to habitual
cleanliness--even the cleanliness of cats.  The kindly and gentle
animal gives us all a lesson in these respects.

Then, nothing can be more beautiful in animal action than the
exquisitely precise and graceful manner in which the cat exerts the
exact amount of effort requisite to land it at the height and spot it
wishes to reach at one bound.  The neat and delicately precise manner
in which cats use their paws when playing with those who habitually
treat them with gentle kindness is truly admirable.  In these respects
cats are entitled to the most kindly regard.  There are, unfortunately,
many who entertain a strong prejudice against this most perfect and
beautiful member of the animal creation, and who abuse them because
they resist ill-treatment, occasioned by their innate feeling of
independence.  Cats have no doubt less personal attachment than dogs,
but when kindly treated they become in many respects attached and
affectionate animals.

My father, when a boy, made occasional visits to Hamilton, in the West
of Scotland, where the descendants of his Covenanting ancestors still
lived.  One of them was an old bachelor--a recluse sort of man;
and yet he had the Nasmyth love of cats.  Being of pious pedigree and
habits, he always ended the day by a long and audible prayer.
My father and his companions used to go to the door of his house to
listen to him, but especially to hear his culminating finale.
He prayed that the Lord would help him to forgive his enemies and all
those who had done him injury; and then, with a loud burst, he
concluded, "Except John Anderson o' the Toonhead, for he killed my cat,
and him I'll ne'er forgie!  In conclusion, I may again refer to Elspeth
Nasmyth, who was burnt alive for witchcraft, because she had four black
cats, and read her Bible through two Pairs of spectacles!

CHAPTER 5.  My School-days.

Before I went to school it was my good fortune to be placed under the
special care of my eldest sister, Jane.  She was twenty years older
than myself, and had acquired much practical experience in the
management of the younger members of the family.  I could not have
had a more careful teacher.  She initiated me into the difficulties of
A B C, and by learning me to read she gave me a key to the thoughts of
the greatest thinkers who have ever lived.

But all this was accomplished at first in a humdrum and tentative way.
About seventy years ago children's books were very uninteresting.
In the little stories manufactured for children, the good boy ended in
a Coach-and-four, and the bad boy in a ride to Tyburn.  The good boys
must have been a set of little snobs and prigs, and I could scarcely
imagine that they could ever have lived as they were represented in
these goody books.  If so, they must have been the most tiresome and
uninteresting vermin that can possibly be imagined. After my sister had
done what she could for me, I was sent to school to learn "English."
I was placed under the tuition of a leading teacher called Knight,
whose school-room was in the upper storey of a house in George Street.
Here I learned to read with ease.  But my primitive habit of spelling
by ear, in accordance with the simple sound of the letters of the
alphabet (phonetically, so to speak) brought me into collision with my
teacher.  I got many a cuff on the side of the head, and many a
"palmy" on my hands with a thick strap of hard leather, which did not
give me very inviting views as to the pleasures of learning.
The master was vicious and vindictive.  I think it a cowardly way to
deal with a little boy in so cruel a manner, and to send him home with
his back and fingers tingling and sometimes bleeding, because he cannot
learn so quickly as his fellows.

On one occasion Knight got out of temper with my stupidity or dulness
in not comprehending something about 'a preter-pluperfect tense,' or
some mystery of that sort.  He seized me by the ears, and beat my head
against the wall behind me with such savage violence that when he let
me go, stunned and unable to stand, I fell forward on the floor
bleeding violently at the nose, and with a terrific headache.
The wretch might have ruined my brain for life.  I was carried home and
put to bed, where I lay helpless for more than a week.  My father
threatened to summon the teacher before the magistrates for what might
have been a fatal assault on poor little me; but on making a humble
apology for his brutal usage he was let off.  Of course I was not sent
back to his school.  I have ever since entertained a hatred against
grammatical rules.

There was at that time an excellent system of teaching young folks the
value of thrift.  This consisted in saving for some purpose or another
the Saturdays penny--one penny being our weekly allowance of
pocket-money.  The feats we could perform in the way of procuring toys,
picture-books, or the materials for constructing flying kites, would
amaze the youngsters of the present day, who are generally spoiled by
extravagance.  And yet we obtained far more pleasure from our
purchases.  We had in my time "penny pigs," or thrift boxes.
They were made in a vase form, of brown glazed earthenware, the only
entrance to which was a slit--enough to give entrance to a penny.
When the Saturday's penny was not required for any immediate purposes,
it was dropped through the slit, and remained there until the box was
full.  The maximum of pennies it could contain was about forty-eight.
When that was accomplished, the penny pig was broken with a hammer,
and its rich contents flowed forth.  The breaking of the pig was quite
an event.  The fine fat old George the Third penny pieces looked
thoroughly substantial in our eyes.  And then there was the spending of
the money,--for some long-looked-for toy, or pencils, or book,
or painting materials.

One of the ways in which I used my Saturday pennies was in going with
some of my companions into the country to have a picnic.  We used to
light a fire behind a hedge or a dyke, or in the corner of some ruin,
and there roast our potatoes, or broil a red herring on an extempore
gridiron we contrived for the purpose.  We lit the fire by means of a
flint and steel and a tinder-box, which in those days every boy used to
possess.  The bramble-berries gave us our dessert.  We thoroughly
enjoyed these glorious Saturday afternoons.  It gave us quite a
Robinson Crusoe sort of feeling to be thus secluded from the world.
Then the beauty of the scenery amidst which we took our repast was such
as I cannot attempt to describe.  A walk of an hour or so would bring
us into the presence of an old castle, or amongst the rocky furze and
heather-clad hills, amidst clear rapid streams, so that, but for the
distant peeps of the city, one might think that he was far from the
busy haunts of men and boys.

To return to my school-days.  Shortly after I left the school in
George Street, where the schoolmaster had almost split my skull in
battering it upon the wall behind me, I was entered as a pupil at the
Edinburgh High School, in October 1817.  The school was situated near
the old Infirmary.  Professor Pillans was the rector, and under him
were four masters.  I was set to study Latin under Mr. Irvine.  He was
a mere schoolmaster in the narrowest sense of the term.  He was not
endowed with the best of tempers, and it was often put to the
breaking strain by the tricks and negligence of the lower-form
portion of his class.  It consisted of nearly two hundred boys;
the other three masters had about the same number of scholars.
They each had a separate class-room.

I began to learn the elementary rudiments of Latin grammar.  But not
having any natural aptitude for aquiring classic learning so called,
I fear I made but little progress during the three years that I
remained at the High School.  Had the master explained to us how
nearly allied many of the Latin and Greek roots were to our familiar
English words, I feel assured that so interesting and valuable a
department of instruction would not have been neglected.  But our
memories were strained by being made to say off "by heart," as it was
absurdly called, whole batches of grammatical rules, with all the
botheration of irregular verbs and suchlike.  So far as I was
concerned, I derived little benefit from my High School teaching,
except that I derived one lesson which is of great use in after life.
I mean as regards the performance of duty.  I did my tasks punctually
and cheerfully, though they were far from agreeable.  This is an
exercise in early life that is very useful in later years.

In my walks to and from the High School, the usual way was along the
North and South Bridges,--the first over the Nor' Loch, now the
railway station, and the second over the Cowgate.  That was the main
street between the Old Town and the New.  But there were numerous
wynds and closes (as the narrow streets are called) which led down
from the High Street and the upper part of the Canongate to the High
School, through which I often preferred to wander.  So long as Old
Edinburgh was confined within its walls the nobles lived in those
narrow streets; and the Old houses are full of historical incident.
My father often pointed out these houses to me, and I loved to keep
up my recollections.  I must have had a little of the antiquarian
spirit even then.  I got to know the most remarkable of those ancient
houses--many of which were distinguished by the inscriptions on the
lintel of the entrance, as well as the arms of the former possessors.
Some had mottoes such as this: "BLESIT BE GOD AND HYS GIFTIS. 1584."
There was often a tower-shaped projection from the main front of the
house, up which a spiral stair proceeded.

This is usually a feature in old Scotch buildings.  But in these closes
the entrance to the houses was through a ponderous door, studded with
great broad-headed nails, with loopholes at each side of the door,
as if to present the strongest possible resistance to any attempt at
forcible entrance.  Indeed, in the old times before the Union the
nobles were often as strong as the King, and many a time the High Street
was reddened by the blood of the noblest and bravest of the land.
In 1588 there was a cry of "A Naesmyth," "A Scott," in the High Street.
It was followed by a clash of arms, and two of Sir Michael Naesmyth's
sons were killed in that bloody feud.  Edinburgh was often the scene of
such disasters.  Hence the strengthening of their houses, so as to
resist the inroads of feudal enemies.

[Image]  Doorhead, from an old mansion

The mason-work of the doors was executed with great care and dexterity.
It was chamfered at the edges in a bold manner, and ornamented with an
O.G. bordering, which had a fine effect while it rendered the entrance
more pleasant by the absence of sharp angles.  The same style of
ornamentation was generally found round the edges of the stone-work of
the windows, most commonly by chamfering off the square angle of the
stone-work.  This not only added a grim grace to the appearance of the
windows, but allowed a more free entrance of light into the apartments,
while it permitted the inmates to have a better ranged view up and down
the Close.  These gloomy-looking mansions were grim in a terrible
sense, and they reminded one of the fearful transactions of
"the good old times!"

On many occasions, when I was taking a daunder through these historic
houses in the wynds and closes of the Old Town, I have met Sir Walter
Scott showing them to his visitors, and listened to his deep, earnest
voice while narrating to them some terrible incident in regard to their
former inhabitants.  On other occasions I have frequently met Sir Walter
sturdily limping along over the North Bridge, while on his way from the
Court of Session (where he acted as Clerk of the Records) to his house
in Castle Street.  In the same way I saw most of the public characters
connected with the Law Courts or the University.  Sir Waiter was easily
distinguished by his height, as well as his limp or halt in his walk.
My father was intimate with most, if not all, of the remarkable
Edinburgh characters, and when I had the pleasure of accompanying him
in his afternoon walks I could look at them and hear them in the
conversations that took place.

I remember, when I was with my father in one of his walks, that a
young English artist accompanied us.  He had come across the Border to
be married at Gretna Green, and he brought his bride onward to
Edinburgh.  My father wished to show him some of the most remarkable
old buildings of the town.  It was about the end of 1817, when one of
the most interesting buildings in Edinburgh was about to be
demolished.  This was no less a place than the Old Tolbooth in the
High Street,--a grand but gloomy old building.  It had been
originally used as the city palace of the Scottish kings.  There they
held their councils and dispensed justice.  But in course of time the
King and Court abandoned the place, and it had sunk into a gaol or
prison for the most abandoned of malefactors.  After their trial the
prisoners were kept there waiting for execution, and they were hanged
on a flat-roofed portion of the building at its west end.

[Image]  The Old Tolbooth, Edinburgh.  By Alexander Nasmyth.
         From the drawing in the possession of lord Inglis,
         Lord Justice-General.

At one of the strongest parts of the building a strong oak chest,
iron-plated, had been built in, held fast by a thick wall of stone and
mortar on each side.  The iron chest measured about nine feet square,
and was closed by a strong iron door with heavy bolts and locks.  This
was the Heart of Midlothian, the condemned cell of the Tolbooth.*
Long after the condemned cell had been pulled down, an English Chartist
went down to Edinburgh to address a large meeting of his brother
politicians.  He began by addressing them as "Men of the Heart of
Midlothian!"  There was a loud guffaw throughout the audience.
He addressed them as if they were a body of condemned malefactors.

The iron chest was so heavy that the large body of workmen could not,
with all their might, pull it out.  After stripping it of its masonry,
they endeavoured by strong levers to tumble it down into the street.
At last, with a "Yo! heave ho!" it fell down with a mighty crash.

The iron chest was so strong that it held together, and only the narrow
iron door, with its locks, bolts, and bars, was burst open, and jerked
off amongst the bystanders.

It was quite a scene.  A large crowd had assembled, and amongst them
was Sir Walter Scott.  Recognising my father, he stood by him,
while both awaited the ponderous crash.  Sir Walter was still the Great
Unknown.  When his Heart of Midlothian was published in the course of
the following year, it was pretty well known that he was the author of
that fascinating novel.  Sir Waiter got the door and the key, as
relics, for his house at Abbotsford.

There was a rush of people towards the iron chest to look into the dark
interior of that veritable chamber of horrors.  My father's artist
friend went forward with the rest, and endeavoured to pick up some
remnant of the demolished structure.  As soon as the clouds of dust had
been dispersed, he observed, under the place where the iron box had
stood, a number of skeletons of rats, as dry as mummies.  He selected
one of these,*
I was so much impressed with the events of the day, and also with the
fact of the young artist having taken with him so repulsive a memento
as a rat's skeleton, that I never forgot it.  More than half century
later, when I was at a private view of the Royal Academy, I saw sitting
on one of the sofas a remarkable and venerable-looking old gentleman.
On inquiring of my friend Thomas Webster who he was, he answered,
"Why, that's old Linnell!"  I then took the liberty of sitting down
beside him, and, apologising for my intrusion on his notice, I said it
was just fifty-seven years since I had last seen him!  I mentioned the
circumstance of the rat-skeleton which he had put in his pocket at
Edinburgh.  He was pleased and astonished to have the facts so vividly
recalled to his mind.  At last he said, "Well, I have that mummy rat,
the relic of the Heart of Midlothian, safe in a cabinet of curiosities
in my house at Redhill to this day."
wrapped it in a newspaper and put it in his pocket as a recollection
of his first day in Edinburgh, and of the final destruction of the
"Heart of Midlothian."  This artist was no other than John Linnell,
the afterwards famous landscape painter.  He was then a young and
unknown man.  He brought a letter of introduction to my father.
He also brought a landscape as a specimen of his young efforts, and it
was so splendidly done that my father augured a brilliant career for
this admirable artist.

I had the pleasure of seeing Sir Waiter Scott on another and, to me, a
very memorable occasion.  From an early period of my schoolboy days I
had a great regard for every object that had reference to bygone times.
They influenced my imagination, and conjured up in my mind dreamy
visions of the people of olden days.  It did not matter whether it was
an old coin or an old castle.  took pleasure in rambling about the old
castles near Edinburgh, many of them connected with the times of Mary
Queen of Scots.  Craigmillar Castle was within a few miles of the city;
there was also Crighton Castle, and above all Borthwick Castle.
This grand massive old ruin left a deep impression on my mind.
The sight of its gloomy interior, with the great hall lighted up only
by stray glints of sunshine, as if struggling for access through the
small deep-seated windows in its massive walls, together with its
connection with the life and times of Queen Mary, had a far greater
influence upon my mind than I experienced while standing amidst the
Coliseum at Rome.

Like many earnest-minded boys, I had a severe attack at the right time
of life, say from 12 to 15, of what I would call "the collecting period."
This consisted, in my case, of accumulating old coins, perhaps one of
the most salutary forms of this youthful passion.  I made exchanges
with my school companions.  Sometimes my father's friends, seeing my
anxiety to improve my collection gave me choice specimens of bronze and
other coins of the Roman emperors, usually duplicates from their own

These coins had the effect of promoting my knowledge of Roman history.
I read up in order to find out the acts and deeds of the old rulers of
the civilised world.  Besides collecting the coins, I used to make
careful drawings of the obverse and reverse faces of each in an
illustrated catalogue which I kept in my little coin cabinet.

I remember one day, when sitting beside my father making a very careful
drawing of a fine bronze coin of Augustus, that Sir Walter Scott
entered the room.  He frequently called upon my father in order to
consult him with respect to his architectural arrangements.  Sir Walter
caught sight of me, and came forward to look over the work I was
engaged in.  At his request I had the pleasure of showing him my little
store of coin treasures, after which he took out of his waistcoat
pocket a beautiful silver coin of the reign of Mary Queen of Scots,
and gave it to me as being his "young brother antiquarian."  I shall
never forget the kind fatherly way in which he presented it.
I considered it a great honour to be spoken to in so friendly a way by
such a man; besides, it vastly enriched my little collection of coins
and medals.

It was in the year 1817 that I had the pleasure, never to be forgotten,
of seeing the great engineer, James Watt.  He was then close upon his
eighty-second year.  His visit to Edinburgh was welcomed by the most
distinguished scientific and literary men of the city.  My father had
the honour of meeting him at a dinner given by the Earl of Buchan,
at his residence in George Street.  There were present, Sir James Hall,
President of the Royal Society; Francis Jeffrey, Editor of the
Edinburgh Review; Walter Scott, still the Great Unknown; and many other
distinguished notabilities.  The cheerful old man delighted them with
his kindly talk, as well as astonished them with the extent and
profundity of his information.

On the following day Mr. Watt paid my father a visit he carefully
examined his artistic and other works.  Having inspected with great
pleasure some landscape paintings of various scenes in Scotland
executed by my sisters, who were then highly efficient artists,
he purchased a specimen of each, as well as three landscapes painted by
my father, as a record of his pleasant visit to the capital of his
native country.  I well remember the sight I then got of the Great
Engineer.  I had just returned from the High School when he was leaving
my father's house.  It was but a glimpse I had of him.  But his
benevolent countenance and his tall but bent figure made an impression
on my mind that I can never forget.  It was even something to have seen
for a few seconds so truly great and noble a man.

I did not long continue my passion for the collection of coins, I felt
a greater interest in mechanical pursuits.  I have a most cherished and
grateful remembrance of the happy hours and days that I spent in my
father's workroom.  When the weather was cold or wet ,he took refuge
with his lathe and tools, and there I followed and watched him.
He took the greatest pleasure in instructing me.  Even in the most
humble mechanical job he was sure to direct my attention to the action
of the tools and to the construction of the work he had in hand,
and pointed out the manipulative processes requisite for its being
effectually carried out.  My hearty zeal in assisting him was well
rewarded by his implanting in my mind the great fundamental principles
on which the practice of engineering in its grandest forms is based.
But I did not learn this all at once.  It came only gradually, and by
dint of constant repetition and inculcation.  In the meantime I made a
beginning by doing some little mechanical work on my own account.

While attending the High School, from 1817 to 1820, there was the usual
rage amongst boys for spinning-tops, "peeries," and "young cannon."
By means of my father's excellent foot-lathe I turned out the
spinning-tops in capital style, so much so that I be came quite noted
amongst my school companions.  They all wanted to have specimens of my
productions.  They would give any price for them.  The peeries were
turned with perfect accuracy, and the steel shod, or spinning pivot,
was centred so as to correspond exactly with the axis of the top.
They could spin twice as long as the bought peeries.  When at full
speed they would "sleep," that is, revolve without the slightest
waving.  This was considered high art as regarded top-spinning.

Flying-kites and tissue paper balloons were articles that I was
somewhat famed for producing.  There was a good deal of special skill
required for the production of a flying-kite.  It must be perfectly
still and steady when at its highest flight in the air.
Paper messengers were sent up to it along the string which held it to
the ground.  The top of the Calton Hill was the most favourite place
for enjoying this pleasant amusement.

Another article for which I became equally famous was the manufacture
of small brass cannon.  These I cast and bored, and mounted on their
appropriate gun-carriages.  They proved very effective, especially in
the loudness of the report when fired.  I also converted large
cellar-keys into a sort of hand-cannon.  A touch-hole was bored into
the barrel of the key, with a sliding brass collar that allowed the
key-guns to be loaded and primed and ready for firing.  The principal
occasion on which the brass cannon and hand-guns were used was on the
4th of June--King George the Thirds birthday.  This was always
celebrated with exuberant and noisy loyalty.  The guns of the Castle
were fired at noon, and the number of shots corresponded with the
number of years that the king had reigned.  The grand old Castle was
enveloped in smoke, and the discharges reverberated along the streets
and among the surrounding hills.  Everything was in holiday order.
The coaches were hung with garlands, the shops were ornamented,
the troops were reviewed on Bruntsfield Links, and the citizens drank
the king's health at the Gross, throwing the glasses over their
shoulders.  The boys fired off gunpowder, or threw squibs or crackers
from morning till night.  It was one of the greatest schoolboy events
of the year.  My little brass cannon and hand-guns were very busy
during that day.  They were fired until they became quite hot.
These were the pre-lucifer days.  The fire to light the powder at the
touch-hole was obtained by the use of a flint, a steel, and a tinder-box.
The flint was struck sharply on the steel; a spark of fire fell into
the tinderbox, and the match of hemp string, soaked in saltpetre,
was readily lit, and fired off the little guns.

I carried on quite a trade in forging beautiful little steels.
I forged them out of old files, which proved excellent material for the
purpose.  I filed them up into neat and correct forms, and then
hardened and tempered them, secundum artem, at the little furnace stove
in my father's workroom, where of course there were also a suitable
anvil, hammer, and tongs.  I often made potent use of these steels in
escaping from the ordeal of some severe task imposed upon me at school.
The schoolmaster often deputed his authority to the monitors to hear us
say our lessons.  But when I slyly exhibited a beautiful steel the
monitor could not maintain his grim sense of duty, and he often let me
escape the ordeal of repeating some passage from a Latin school-book by
obtaining possession of the article.  I thus bought myself off.
This system of bribery and corruption was no doubt shockingly improper,
but as I was not naturally endowed with the taste for learning Latin
and Greek, I continued my little diplomatic tricks until I left school.

As I have said, I did not learn much at the High School.  My mind was
never opened up by what was taught me there.  It was a mere matter of
rote and cram.  I learnt by heart a number of Latin rules and phrases,
but what I learnt soon slipped from my memory.  My young mind was
tormented by the tasks set before me.  At the same time my hungry mind
thirsted for knowledge of another kind.

There was one thing, however, that I did learn at the High School. That
was the blessings and advantages of friendship.  There were several of
my schoolfellows of a like disposition with myself, with whom I formed
attachments which ended only with life.  I may mention two of them in
particular--Jemmy Patterson and Tom Smith.  The former was the son of
one of the largest iron founders in Edinburgh. He was kind, good, and
intelligent.  He and I were great cronies.  He took me to his father's
workshops.  Nothing could have been more agreeable to my tastes.
For there I saw how iron castings were made. Mill-work and
steam-engines were repaired there, and I could see the way in which
power was produced and communicated.  To me it was a most instructive
school of practical mechanics.  Although I was only about thirteen at
the time, I used to "lend a hand," in which hearty zeal made up for
want of strength.  I look back to these days, especially to the
Saturday afternoons spent in the workshops of this admirably conducted
iron foundry, as a most important part of my education as a mechanical
engineer.  I did not read about such things; for words were of little
use.  But I saw and handled, and thus all the ideas in connection with
them became permanently rooted in my mind.

Each department of the iron foundry was superintended by an able and
intelligent man, who was distinguished not only by his ability but
for his steadiness and sobriety.  The men were for the most part
promoted to their fore-manship from the ranks, and had been brought
up in the workshop from their boyhood.  They possessed a strong
individuality of character, and served their employer faithfully and
loyally.  One of these excellent men, with whom I was frequently
brought into contact, was William Watson.  He took special charge of
all that related to the construction and repairs of steam-engines,
water-wheels, and mill-work generally.  He was a skilful designer and
draughtsman, and an excellent pattern maker.  His designs were drawn
in a bold and distinct style, on large deal boards, and were passed
into the hands of the mechanics to be translated by them into actual
work.  It was no small privilege to me to stand by, and now and then
hold the end of the long straight edge, or by some humble but zealous
genuine help of mine contribute to the progress of these substantial
and most effective mechanical drawings.  Watson explained to me,
in the most common-sense manner, his reasons for the various forms,
arrangements, and proportions of the details of his designs.  He was
an enthusiast on the subject of Euclid; and to see the beautiful
problems applied by him in working out his excellent drawings was to me
a lesson beyond all price.

Watson was effectively assisted by his two sons, who carried out their
father's designs in constructing the wood patterns after which the
foundry-men or moulders reproduced their forms in cast iron, while the
smiths by their craft realised the wrought-iron portions. Those sons of
Mr. Watson were of that special class of workmen called millwrights--
a class now almost extinct, though many of the best known engineers
originally belonged to them.  They could work with equal effectiveness
in wood or iron.

Another foreman in Mr. Patterson's foundry was called Lewis.  He had
special charge of the iron castings designed for architectural and
ornamental purposes.  He was a man of great taste and artistic
feeling, and I was able even at that time to appreciate the beauty of
his designs.  One of the most original characters about the foundry,
however, was Johnie Syme.  He took charge of the old Boulton and Watt
steam-engine, which gave motion to the machinery of the works.
It also produced the blast for the Cupolas, in which the pig and cast
iron scrap was daily melted and cast into the various objects produced
in the foundry.  Johnie was a complete incarnation of technical
knowledge.  He was the Jack-of-all-trades of the establishment;
and the standing counsel in every out-of-the-way case of managing and
overcoming mechanical difficulties.  He was the superintendent of the
boring machines.  In those days the boring of a steam-engine cylinder
was considered high art in excelsis!  Patterson's firm was celebrated
for the accuracy of its boring.

I owe Johnie Syme a special debt of gratitude, as it was he who first
initiated me into that most important of all technical processes in
practical mechanism--the art of hardening and temperinq steel.
It is, perhaps, not saying too much to assert that the successful
practice of the mechanical arts, by means of which man rises from the
savage to the civilised state, is due to that wonderful change.
Man began with wood, and stone, and bone; he proceeded to bronze and
iron; but it was only by means of hardened steel that he could
accomplish anything in arms, in agriculture, or in architecture.
The instant hardening which occurs on plunging a red-hot piece of steel
into cold water may well be described as mysterious.  Even in these
days, when science has defined the causes of so many phenomena,
the reason of steel becoming hard on suddenly cooling it down from a
red-heat, is a fact that no one has yet explained.  The steel may be
tempered by modifying the degree of heat to which it is afterwards
subjected.  It may thus be toughened by slightly reheating the hardened
steel; the resoftening course is indicated by certain prismatic tints,
which appear in a peculiar order of succession on its surface.
The skilful artisan thus knows by experience the exact point at which
it is necessary again to plunge it into cold water in order to secure
the requisite combination of toughness and hardness to the steel
required for his purposes.

In all these matters, my early instructor, Johnie Syme, gave me such
information as proved of the greatest use to me in the after progress
of my mechanical career.  Johnie Syme was also the very incarnation of
quaint sly humour; and when communicating some of his most valued
arcana of practical mechanical knowledge he always reminded me of some
of Ostade's Dutchmen, by an almost indescribable sly humorous twinkle
of the eye, which in that droll way stamped his information on my

Tom Smith was another of my attached cronies.  Our friendship began at
the High School in 1818.  Our similarity of disposition bound us
together.  Smith was the son of an enterprising general merchant at
Leith.  His father had a special genius for practical chemistry.
He had established an extensive colour manufactory at Portobello, near
Edinburgh, where he produced white lead, red lead, and a great variety
of colours--in the preparation of which he required a thorough
knowledge of chemistry.Tom Smith inherited his father's tastes, and
admitted me to share in his experiments, which were carried on in a
chemical laboratory situated behind his father's house at the bottom of
Leith Walk.

We had a special means of communication.  When anything particular was
going on at the laboratory, Tom hoisted a white flag on the top of a
high pole in his father's garden.  Though I was more than a mile apart,
I kept a look-out in the direction of the laboratory with a spy-glass.
My father's house was at the top of Leith Walk, and Smith's house was
at the bottom of it.  When the flag was hoisted I could clearly see the
invitation to me to "come down."  I was only too glad to run down the
Walk and join my chum, and take part with him in some interesting
chemical process.  Mr. Smith, the father, made me heartily welcome.
He was pleased to see his son so much attached to me, and he perhaps
believed that I was worthy of his friendship.  We took zealous part in
all the chemical proceedings, and in that way Tom was fitting himself
for the business of his life.

Mr. Smith was a most genial tempered man.  He was shrewd and
quick-witted, like a native of York, as he was.  I received the
greatest kindness from him as well as from his family.  His house was
like a museum.  It was full of cabinets, in which were placed choice
and interesting objects in natural history, geology, mineralogy, and
metallurgy.  All were represented.  Many of these specimens had been
brought to him from abroad by his ship captains who transported his
colour manufactures and other commodities to foreign parts.

My friend Tom Smith and I made it a rule--and in this we were
encouraged by his father--that, so far as was possible, we ourselves
should actually make the acids and other substances used in our
experiments.  We were not to buy them ready made, as this would have
taken the zest out of our enjoyment.  We should have lost the pleasure
and instruction of producing them by aid of our own wits and energies.
To encounter and overcome a difficulty is the most interesting of all
things.  Hence, though often baffled, we eventually produced perfect
specimens of nitrous, nitric, and muriatic acids.  We distilled alcohol
from duly fermented sugar and water, and rectified the resultant spirit
from fusel oil by passing the alcoholic vapour through animal charcoal
before it entered the worm of the still.  We converted part of the
alcohol into sulphuric ether.  We produced phosphorus from bones,
and elaborated many of the mysteries of chemistry.

The amount of practical information which we obtained by this system of
making our own chemical agents was such as to reward us, in many
respects, for the labour we underwent.  To outsiders it might appear a
very troublesome and roundabout way of getting at the finally desired
result.  But I feel certain that there is no better method of rooting
chemical or any other instruction, deeply in our minds.  Indeed, I
regret that the same system is not pursued by young men of the present
day.  They are seldom, if ever, called upon to exert their own wits and
industry to obtain the requisites for their instruction.  A great deal
is now said about "technical education"; but how little there is of
technical handiness or head work!  Everything is bought ready made to
their hands; and hence there is no call for individual ingenuity.

I often observe, in shop-windows, every detail of model ships and model
steam-engines, supplied ready made for those who are "said to be" of an
ingenious and mechanical turn.  Thus the vital uses of resourcefulness
are done away with, and a sham exhibition of mechanical genius is
paraded before you by the young impostors--the result, for the most
part, of too free a supply of pocket money.  I have known too many
instances of parents, led by such false evidence of constructive skill,
apprenticing their sons to some engineering firm; and, after paying
vast sums, finding out that the pretender comes out of the engineering
shop with no other practical accomplishment than that of cigar-smoking!

The truth is that the eyes and the fingers--the bare fingers--are
the two principal inlets to sound practical instruction.  They are the
chief sources of trustworthy knowledge as to all the materials and
operations which the engineer has to deal with, No book knowledge can
avail for that purpose.  The nature and properties of the materials
must come in through the finger ends.  Hence, I have no faith in young
engineers who are addicted to wearing gloves.  Gloves, especially kid
gloves, are perfect non-conductors of technical knowledge.
This has really more to do with the efficiency of young aspirants for
engineering success than most people are aware of!

CHAPTER 6.   Mechanical Beginnings.

I left the High School at the end of 1820.  I carried with me a small
amount of Latin, and no Greek.  I do not think I was much the better
for my small acquaintance with the dead languages.  I wanted something
more living and quickening.  I continued my studies at private classes.
Arithmetic and geometry were my favourite branches.The three first
books of Euclid were to me a new intellectual life.  They brought out
my power of reasoning.  They trained me mentally.  They enabled me to
arrive at correct conclusions, and to acquire a knowledge of absolute
truths.  It is because of this that I have ever since held the
beautifully perfect method of reasoning, as exhibited in the exact
method of arriving at Q.E.D., to be one of the most satisfactory
efforts and exercises of the human intellect.

Besides visiting and taking part in the works at Patterson's foundry,
and joining in the chemical experiments at Smith's laboratory, my
father gave me every opportunity for practising the art of drawing.
He taught me to sketch with exactness every object, whether natural or
artificial, so as to enable the hand to accurately reproduce what the
eye had seen.  In order to acquire this almost invaluable art, which
can serve so many valuable purposes in life, he was careful to educate
my eye, so that I might perceive the relative proportions of the
objects placed before me.  He would throw down at random a number of
bricks, or pieces of wood representing them, and set me to copy their
forms, their proportions, their lights and shadows respectively.

I have often heard him say that any one who could make a correct
drawing in regard to outline, and also indicate by a few effective
touches the variation of lights and shadows of such a group of model
object's, might not despair of making a good and correct sketch of the
exterior of York Minster!

My father was an enthusiast in praise of this graphic language,
and I have followed his example.  In fact, it formed a principal part
of my own education.  It gave me the power of recording observations
with a few graphic strokes of the pencil, which far surpassed in
expression any number of mere words.  This graphic eloquence is one
of the highest gifts in conveying clear and correct ideas as to the
forms of objects--whether they be those of a simple and familiar
kind, or of some form of mechanical construction, or of the details of
fine building, or the characteristic features of a wide-stretching
landscape.  This accomplishment of accurate drawing, which I achieved
for the most part in my father's work-room, served me many a good turn
in future years with reference to the engineering work which became the
business of my life.

I was constantly busy.  Mind, hands, and body were kept in a state of
delightful and instructive activity.  When not drawing, I occupied
myself in my father's workshop at the lathe, the furnace, or the bench.
I gradually became initiated into every variety of mechanical and
chemical manipulation.  I made my own tools and constructed my chemical
apparatus, as far as lay in my power.  With respect to the latter,
I constructed a very handy and effective blowpipe apparatus, consisting
of a small air force-pump, connected with a cylindrical vessel of tin
plate.  By means of an occasional use of the handy pump, it yielded
such a fine steady blowpipe blast, as enabled me to bend glass tubes
and blow bulbs for thermometers, to analyse metals or mineral substances,
or to do any other work for which intense heat was necessary.
My natural aptitude for manipulation, whether in mechanical or chemical
operations, proved very serviceable to myself as well as to others;
and (as will be shown hereafter) it gained for me the friendship of
many distinguished scientific men.

But I did not devote myself altogether to experiments.  Exercise is
as necessary for the body as the mind.  Without full health a man
cannot enjoy comfort, nor can he possess endurance.  I therefore took
plenty of exercise out of doors.  I accompanied my father in his walks
round Edinburgh.  My intellect was kept alive during these delightful
excursions.  For sometimes my father was accompanied by brother-artists,
whose conversation is always so attractive; and sometimes by scientific
men, such as Sir James Hall, Professor Leslie, Dr. Brewster, and others.
Whatever may have been my opportunities for education so-called,
nothing could have better served the purpose of real education
(the evolution of the mental faculties) than the opportunities I
enjoyed while accompanying and listening to the conversation of men
distinguished for their originality of thought and their high
intellectual capacity.  This was a mental culture of the best kind.

The volcanic origin of the beautiful scenery round Edinburgh was often
the subject of their conversation.  Probably few visitors are aware
that all those remarkable eminences, which give to the city and its
surroundings so peculiar and romantic an aspect, are the results of the
operation, during inconceivably remote ages, of volcanic force
penetrating the earth's crust by disruptive power, and pouring forth
streams of molten lava, now shrunk and cooled into volcanic rock.
The observant eye, opened by the light of Science, can see unmistakable
evidences of a condition of things which were in action at periods so
remote as, in comparison, to shrink up the oldest of human records into
events of yesterday.

I had often the privilege of standing by and hearing the philosophic
Leslie, Brewster, and Hall, discussing these volcanic remains in their
actual presence; sometimes at Arthur's Seat or on the Calton Hill,
or at the rock on which Edinburgh Castle stands, Their observations
sank indelibly into my memory, and gave me the key to the origin of
this grand class of terrestrial phenomena.  When standing at the
"Giant's Ribs," on the south side of Arthur's Seat, I felt as if one
of the grandest pages of the earth's history lay open before me.
The evidences of similar volcanic action abound in many other places
near Edinburgh; and they may be traced right across Scotland from the
Bass Rock to Fingal's Cave, the Giant's Causeway in Antrim, and Slievh
League on the south-west coast of Donegal in Ireland.

Volcanic action, in some inconceivably remote period of the earth's
crust history, has been the Plough, and after denudation by water,
has been the Harrow, by which the originally deep-seated mineral
treasures of the globe have been brought within the reach of man's
industrial efforts.  It has thus yielded him inexhaustible mineral
harvests, and helped him to some of the most important material
elements in his progress towards civilisation.  It is from this
consideration that, while enjoying the results of these grand
fundamental actions of the Creator's mighty agencies in their
picturesque aspect, the knowledge of their useful results to man adds
vastly to the grandeur of the contemplation of their aspect and nature.
This great subject caused me, even at this early period of my life, to
behold with special interest the first peep at the structure of the
moon's surface, as revealed to me by an excellent Ramsden "spy-glass,"
which my father possessed, and thus planted the seed of that earnest
desire to scrutinise more minutely the moon's wonderful surface, which
in after years I pursued by means of the powerful reflecting telescopes
constructed by myself.

To turn to another subject.  In 1822 the loyalty of Scotland was
greatly excited when George the Fourth paid his well-known visit to
Edinburgh.  It was then the second greatest city in the kingdom,
and had not been visited by royalty for about 170 years.  The civic
authorities, and the inhabitants generally, exerted themselves to the
utmost to give the king a cordial welcome, in spite of a certain
feeling of dissatisfaction as to his personal character.  The recent
trial and death of Queen Caroline had not been forgotten, yet all such
recollections were suppressed in the earnest desire to show every
respect to the royal visitor.  Edinburgh was crowded with people from
all parts of the country; heather was arrayed on every bonnet and hat;
and the reception was on the whole magnificent.  Perhaps the most
impressive spectacle was the orderliness of the multitude, all arrayed
in their Sunday clothes.  The streets, windows; and house-tops were
crowded; and the Calton Hill, Salisbury Crags, and even Arthur's Seat
it self, were covered with people.  On the night before the arrival a
gigantic bonfire on Arthur's Seat lit up with a tremendous blaze the
whole city, as well as the surrounding country.  It formed a
magnificent and picturesque sight, illuminating the adjacent mountains
as well as the prominent features of the city.  It made one imagine
that the grand old volcanic mountain had once more, after a rest of
some hundreds of thousands of years, burst out again in its former
vehemence of eruptive activity.

There were, of course, many very distinguished men who took part in the
pageant of the king's entry into Edinburgh, but none of them had their
presence more cordially acknowledged than Sir Walter Scott, who never
felt more proud of "his own romantic town" than he did upon this
occasion.  It is unnecessary to mention the many interesting features
of the royal reception.  The king's visit lasted for seven or eight
days, and everything passed off loyally, orderly, happily,
and successfully.

Shortly after this time there was a great deal of distress among the
labouring classes.  All the manufacturing towns were short of
employment, and the weavers and factory workers were thrown upon the
public.  Many of the workmen thought that politics were the causes of
their suffering.  Radical clubs were formed, and the Glasgow weavers
began to drill at nights in the hopes of setting things to rights by
means of physical force.  A large number of the starving weavers came
to Edinburgh.  A committee was formed, and contributions were
collected, for the purpose of giving them temporary employment.
They were set to work to make roads and walks round the Calton Hill and
Crags.  The fine walk immediately under the precipitous crags, which
opens out such perfect panoramic views of Edinburgh, was made by these
poor fellows.  It was hard work for their delicate hands and fingers,
which before had been accustomed only to deal with threads and soft
fabrics.  They were very badly suited for handling the mattock, shovel,
and hand-barrow.  The result of their labours, however, proved of great
advantage to Edinburgh in opening up the beauties of its scenery.
The road round the crags is still called "The Radical Road."

Let me here mention one of the most memorable incidents of the year
1824.  I refer to the destructive fire which took place in the old town
of Edinburgh.  It broke out in an apartment situated in one of the
highest piles of houses in the High Street.  In spite of every effort
of the firemen the entire pile was gutted and destroyed.  The fire was
thought to be effectually arrested; but towards the afternoon of the
next day smoke was observed issuing from the upper part of the steeple
of the Tron Church.  The  steeple was built of timber, covered with
lead.  There is never smoke but there is fire; and at last the flames
burst forth.  The height of the spire was so lofty that all attempts to
extinguish the fire were hopeless.  The lead was soon melted, and
rushed in streams into the street below.  At length the whole steeple
fell down with a frightful crash.

I happened to see the first outbreak of this extraordinary fire, and I
watched its progress to its close.  Burning embers were carried by the
wind and communicated the fire to neighbouring houses.  The last
outburst took place one night about ten.  All the fire-engines of
Edinburgh and the neighbourhood were collected round the buildings,
and played water upon the flames, but without effect.  Whole ranges of
lofty old houses were roaring with fire.  In the course of two or three
hours, several acres, covered by the loftiest and most densely crowded
houses in the High Street, were in a blaze.  Some of them were of
thirteen stories.  Floor after floor came crashing down, throwing out a
blaze of embers.  The walls of each house acted as an enormous chimney
--the windows acting as draught-holes.  The walls, under the intense
heat, were fluxed and melted into a sort of glass.  The only method of
stopping the progress of the fire was to pull down the neighbouring
houses, so as to isolate the remaining parts of the High Street.

As the parapet of the grand old tower of the High Church, St. Giles,
was near the site of the fire,--so near as to enable one to look down
into it,--my father obtained permission to ascend, and I with him.
When we emerged from the long dark spiral stairs on to the platform on
the top of the tower, we found a select party of the most distinguished
inhabitants looking down into the vast area of fire; and prominent
among them was Sir Walter Scott.  At last, after three days of
tremendous efforts, the fire was subdued; but not till after a terrible
destruction of property.  The great height of the ruined remains of the
piles of houses rendered it impossible to have them removed by the
ordinary means.  After several fruitless attempts with chains and
ropes, worked by capstans, to pull them down, gunpowder was at last
resorted to.  Mines were dug under each vast pile; one or two barrels
of gunpowder were placed into them and fired; and then the before solid
masses came tumbling down amidst clouds of dust.  The management of
this hazardous but eventually safe process was conducted by Captain
Basil Ball.  He ordered a crew of sailors to be brought up from the
man-of-war guardship in the Firth of Forth; and by their united efforts
the destruction of the ruined walls was at last successfully

In the autumn of 1823, when I was fifteen years old, I had a most
delightful journey with my father.  It was the first occasion on which
I had been a considerable distance from home.  And yet the journey was
only to Stirling.  My father had received a commission to paint a view
of the castle as seen from the ruins of Cambuskenneth Abbey, situated a
few miles from the town.  We started from Newhaven by a small steamboat,
passing, on our way up the Firth, Queensferry, Culross, and Alloa.
We then entered the windings of the river, from which I saw the Ochils,
a noble range of bright green mountains.  The passage of the steamer
through the turns and windings of the Forth was most interesting.

We arrived at Stirling, and at once proceeded to Cambuskenneth Abbey,
where there was a noble old Gothic tower.  This formed the foreground
of my father's careful sketch, with Stirling Castle in the background,
and Ben Lomond with many other of the Highland mountains in the
distance.  As my father wished to make a model of the Gothic tower,
he desired me to draw it carefully, and to take the dimensions of all
the chief parts as well as to make detailed sketches of its minor
architectural features.  It was a delightful autumn afternoon, and,
before the day had closed, our work at the abbey was done.  We returned
to Stirling and took a walk round the castle to see the effect of the
sun setting behind the Highland mountains.

Next morning we visited the castle.  I was much interested with the
interior, especially with a beautifully decorated Gothic oratory or
private chapel, used by the Scottish kings when they resided at
Stirling.  The oratory had been converted with great taste into an
ante-drawingroom of the governor's house.  The exquisite decorations of
this chapel*
This exquisite specimen of a carved oak Gothic apartment had a terrible
incident in Scottish history connected with it.  It was in this place
that The Douglas intruded his presence on James the Third.  He urged
his demands in a violent and threatening manner, and afterwards laid
hands upon the king.  The latter, in defending himself with his dagger,
wounded the Douglas mortally; and to get rid of the body the king cast
it out of the window of the chapel, where it fell down the precipitous
rock underneath.  The chapel has since been destroyed by fire.
were the first specimens of Gothic carving in oak that I had ever seen,
and they seemed to put our modern carvings to shame.  The Great Hall,
where the Scottish Parliament used to meet, was also very interesting
as connected with the ancient history of the country.

From Stirling we walked to Alloa, passing the picturesque cascades
rushing down the cleft's of the Ochils.  We put up for the night at
Clackmannan, a very decayed and melancholy-looking village, though it
possessed a fine specimen of the Scottish castellated tower.  It is
said that Robert Bruce slept here before the Battle of Bannockburn.
But the most interesting thing that I saw during the journey was the
Devon Ironworks.  I had read and heard about the processes carried on
there in smelting iron ore and running it into pig-iron.  The origin of
the familiar trade term "pig-iron" is derived from the result of the
arrangement most suitable for distributing the molten iron as it rushes
forth from the opening made at the bottom part of the blast-furnace;
when, after its reduction from the ore, it collects in a fluid mass of
several tons weight.  Previous to "tapping" the furnace a great central
channel is made in the sand-covered floor of the forge; this central
channel is then subdivided into many lateral branches or canals, into
which the molten iron flows, and eventually hardens.

The great steam-engine that worked the blast furnace was the largest I
had ever seen.  A singular expedient was employed at these works, of
using a vast vault hewn in the solid rock of the hillside for the
purpose of storing up the blast produced by the engines, and so
equalising the pressure; thus turning a mountain side into a reservoir
for the use of a blast-furnace.  This seemed to me a daring and
wonderful engineering feat.

We waited at the works until the usual time had arrived for letting out
the molten iron which had been accumulating at the lower part of the
blast-furnace.  It was a fine sight to see the stream of white-hot iron
flowing like water into the large gutter immediately before the
opening.  From this the molten iron flowed on until it filled the
moulds of sand which branched off from the central gutter.  The iron
left in the centre, when cooled and broken up, was called sow metal,
while that in the branches was called pig iron; the terms being derived
from the appearance of a sow engaged in its maternal duties.
The pig-iron is thus cast in handy-sized pieces for the purpose of
being transported to other iron foundries; while the clumsy sow metal
is broken up and passes through another process of melting, or is
reserved for foundry uses at the works where it is produced.
After inspecting with great pleasure the machinery connected with the
foundry, we took our leave and returned to Edinburgh by steamer from

Shortly after, I had the good fortune to make the acquaintance of
Robert Bald, the well-known mining engineer.  He was one of the most
kind-hearted men I have ever known.  He was always ready to communicate
his knowledge to young and old.  His sound judgment and long practical
experience in regard to coal-mining and the various machinery connected
with it, rendered him a man of great importance in the northern
counties, where his advice was eagerly sought for. Besides his special
knowledge, he had a large acquaintance with literature and science.
He was bright, lively, and energetic.  He was a living record of good
stories, and in every circle in which he moved he was the focus of
cheerfulness.  In fact, there was no greater social favourite in
Edinburgh than Robert Bald.

Bald was very fond of young people, and he became much attached to me.
He used to come to my father's house, and often came in to see what I
was about in the work-room.  He was rejoiced to see the earnest and
industrious manner in which I was employed, in preparing myself for my
proposed business as an engineer.  He looked over my tools, mostly of
my own making, and gave me every encouragement.  When he had any
visitors he usually brought them and introduced them to me.  In this
way I had the happiness to make the acquaintance of Robert Napier,
Nelson, and Cook, of Glasgow; and in after life I continued to enjoy
their friendship.  It would be difficult for me to detail the acts of
true disinterested kindness which I continued to receive from this
admirable man.

On several occasions he wished me to accompany him on his business
journeys, in order that I might see some works that would supply me
with valuable information.  He had designed a powerful pumping engine
to drain more effectually a large colliery district situated near
Bannockburn--close to the site of the great battle in the time of
Robert the Bruce.  He invited me to join him.  It was with the greatest
pleasure that I accepted his invitation; for there would be not only
the pleasure of seeing a noble piece of steam machinery brought into
action for the first time, but also the enjoyment of visiting the
celebrated Carron Ironworks.

The Carron Ironworks are classic ground to engineers.  They are
associated with the memory of Roebuck, Watt, and Miller of Dalswinton.
For there Roebuck and Watt began the first working steam-engine; Miller
applied the steam-engine to the purposes of navigation, and invented
the Carronade gun.  The works existed at an early period in the history
of British iron manufacture.  Much of the machinery continued to be of
wood.  Although effective in a general way it was monstrously cumbrous.
It gave the idea of vast power and capability of resistance, while it
was far from being so in reality. It was, however, truly imposing and
impressive in its effect upon strangers.  When seen partially lit up by
the glowing masses of white-hot iron, with only the rays of bright
sunshine gleaming through a few holes in the roof, and the dark, black,
smoky vaults in which the cumbrous machinery was heard rumbling away in
the distance--while the moving parts were dimly seen through the
murky atmosphere, mixed with the sounds of escaping steam and rushes of
water; with the half-naked men darting about with masses of red-hot
iron and ladles full of molten cast-iron--it made a powerful
impression upon the mind.

I was afterwards greatly interested by a collection of old armour, dug
up from the field of the Battle of Bannockburn close at hand. They were
arranged on the walls of the house of the manager of the Carron
Ironworks.  There were swords, daggers, lances, battle-axes, shields,
and coats of chain-armour.  Some of the latter were whole, others in
fragmentary portions.  I was particularly interested with the admirable
workmanship of the coats of mail.  The iron links extended from the
covering of the head to the end of the arms, and from the shoulders
down to the hips, in one linked iron fabric.  The beauty and exactness
with which this chain-armour had been forged and built up were truly
wonderful.  There must have been "giants in those days."  This grand
style of armour was in use from the time of the Conquest, and was most
effective in the way of protection, as it was fitted by its flexibility
to give full play to the energetic action of the wearer.  It was
infinitely superior to the senseless plate-armour that was used, at a
subsequent period, to encase soldiers like lobsters.  The chain-armour
I saw at Carron left a deep impression on my mind.  I never see a bit
of it, or of its representation in the figures on our grand tombs of
the thirteenth century, but I think of my first sight of it at Carron
and of the tremendous conflict at Bannockburn.

Remembering, also, the impressive sight of the picturesque fire-lit
halls, and the terrible-looking, cumbrous machinery which I first
beheld on a grand scale at Carron, I have often regretted that some of
our artists do not follow up the example set them by that admirable
painter, Wright of Derby, and treat us to the pictures of some of our
great ironworks.  They not only abound with the elements of the
picturesque in its highest sense, but also set forth the glory of the
useful arts in such a way as would worthily call forth the highest
power of our artists.

To return to my life at Edinburgh.  I was now seventeen years old.
I had acquired a considerable amount of practical knowledge as to the
use and handling of mechanical tools, and I desired to turn it to some
account.  I was able to construct working models of steam-engines and
other apparatus required for the illustration of mechanical subjects.
I began with making a small working steam engine for the purpose of
grinding the oil-colours used by my father in his artistic work.
The result was quite satisfactory.  Many persons came to see my active
little steam-engine at work, and they were so pleased with it that I
received several orders for small workshop engines, and also for some
models of steam-engines to illustrate the subjects taught at Mechanics'

[Image]  Sectional model of condensing steam-engine.  By James Nasmyth

I contrived a sectional model of a complete condensing steam-engine of
the beam and parallel motion construction.  The model, as seen from one
side, exhibited every external detail in full and due action when the
flywheel was moved round by hand; while, on the other or sectional
side, every detail of the interior was seen, with the steam-valves and
air-pump, as well as the motion of the piston in the cylinder, with the
construction of the piston and the stuffing box, together with the
slide-valve and steam passages, all in due position and relative

The first of these sectional models of the steam-engine was made for
the Edinburgh School of Arts, where its uses in instructing mechanics
and others in the application of steam were highly appreciated.
The second was made for Professor Leslie, of the Edinburgh University,
for use in his lectures on Natural Philosophy.  The professor had,
at his own private cost, provided a complete and excellent set of
apparatus, which, for excellent workmanship and admirable utility,
had never, I believe, been provided for the service of any university.
He was so pleased with my addition to his class-room apparatus, that,
besides expressing his great thanks for my services, he most handsomely
presented me with a free ticket to his Natural Philosophy class as a
regular student, so long as it suited me to make use of his instruction.
But far beyond this, as a reward for my earnest endeavours to satisfy
this truly great philosopher, was the kindly manner in which he on all
occasions communicated to me conversationally his original and masterly
views on the great fundamental principles of Natural Philosophy--
especially as regarded the principles of Dynamics and the Philosophy of
Mechanics. The clear views which he communicated in his conversation,
as well as in his admirable lectures, vividly illustrated by the
experiments which he had originated, proved of great advantage to me;
and I had every reason to consider his friendship and his teaching as
amongst the most important elements in my future success as a practical

Having referred to the Edinburgh School of Arts, I feel it necessary to
say something about the origin of that excellent institution.
A committee of the most distinguished citizens of Edinburgh was formed
for the purpose of instituting a college in which working men and
mechanics might possess the advantages of instruction in the principles
on which their various occupations were conducted.  Among the committee
were Leonard Horner, Francis Jeffrey, Henry Cockburn, John Murray of
Henderland, Alexander Bryson, James Mline, John Miller, the Lord Provost,
and various members of the Council.  Their efforts succeeded, and the
institution was founded.  The classes were opened in 1821, in which
year I became a student.

In order to supply the students, who were chiefly young men of the
working class, with sound instruction in the various branches of
science, the lectures were delivered and the classes were superintended
by men of established ability in their several departments.
This course was regularly pursued from its fundamental and elementary
principles to the highest point of scientific instruction.
The consecutive lectures and examinations extended, as in the
University, from October to May in each year's session.  It was, in
fact, our first technical college.  In these later days when so many of
our so-called Mechanics' Institutes are merely cheap reading-clubs for
the middle classes, and the lectures are delivered for the most part
merely for a pleasant evening' s amusement, it seems to me that we have
greatly departed from the original design with which Mechanics'
Institutions were founded.

As the Edinburgh School of Arts was intended for the benefit of
mechanics, the lectures and classes were held in the evening after the
day's work was over.  The lectures on chemistry were given by Dr. Fyfe
--an excellent man.  His clearness of style, his successful
experiments, and the careful and graphic method by which he carried his
students from the first fundamental principles to the highest points of
chemical science, attracted a crowded and attentive audience.  Not less
interesting were the lectures on Mechanical Philosophy, which in my
time were delivered by Dr. Lees and Mr.Buchanan.  The class of
Geometry and Mathematics was equally well conducted, though the
attendance was not so great.

The building which the directors had secured for the lecture-hall and
class-rooms of the institution was situated at the lower end of Niddry
Street, nearly under the great arch of the South Bridge.  It had been
built about a hundred years before, and was formerly used by an
association of amateur musicians, who gave periodical concerts of vocal
and instrumental music.  The orchestra was now converted into a noble
lecture table, with accommodation for any amount of apparatus that
might be required for the purposes of illustration.  The seats were
arranged in the body of the hall in concentric segments, with the
lecture table as their centre.  In an alcove fight opposite the
lecturer might often be seen the directors of the institution--
Jeffrey, Horner, Murray, and others--who took every opportunity of
dignifying by their presence this noble gathering of earnest and
intelligent working men.

A library of scientific books was soon added to the institution, by
purchases or by gifts.  Such was the eagerness to have a chance of
getting the book you wanted that I remember standing on many occasions
for some time amidst a number of applicants awaiting the opening of the
door on an evening library night.  It was as crowded as if I had been
standing at the gallery door of the theatre on a night when some
distinguished star from London was about to make his appearance.
There was the same eagerness to get a good place in the lecture-room,
as near to the lecture table as possible, especially on the chemistry

I continued my regular attendance at this admirable institution from
1821 to 1826.  I am glad to find that it still continues in active
operation.  In November 1880 the number of students attending the
Edinburgh School of Arts amounted to two thousand five hundred!  I have
been led to this prolix account of the beginning of the institution by
the feeling that I owe a deep debt of gratitude to it, and because of
the instructive and intellectually enjoyable evenings which I spent
there, in fitting myself for entering upon the practical work of my

The successful establishment of the Edinburgh School of Arts had a
considerable effect throughout the country.  Similar institutions were
established, lectures were delivered, and the necessary illustrations
were acquired--above all, the working models of the steam-engine.
There was quite a run upon me for supplying them.  My third working
model was made to the order of Robert Bald, for the purpose of being
presented to the Alloa Mechanics' Institute; the fourth was
manufactured for Mr. G. Buchanan, who lectured on mechanical subjects
throughout the country; and the fifth was supplied to a Mr. Offley, an
English gentleman who took a fancy for the model when he came to
purchase some of my father's works.

The price I charged for my models was #10; and with the pecuniary
results I made over one-third to my father, as a sort of help to
remunerate him for my "keep," and with the rest I purchased tickets of
admission to certain classes in the University.  I attended the
Chemistry course under Dr. Hope; the Geometry and Mathematical course
under Professor Wallace; and the Natural Philosophy course under my
valued friend and patron Professor Leslie.  What with my attendance
upon the classes, and my workshop and drawing occupations, my time did
not hang at all heavy on my hands.

I got up early in the mornings to work at my father's lathe, and I sat
up late at night to do the brass castings in my bedroom.  Some of this,
however, I did during the day-time, when not attending the University
classes.  The way in which I converted my bedroom into a brass foundry
was as follows:  I took up the carpet so that there might be nothing
but the bare boards to be injured by the heat.  My furnace in the grate
was made of four plates of stout sheet-iron, lined with fire-brick,
corner to corner.  To get the requisite sharp draught I bricked up with
single bricks the front of the fireplace, leaving a hole at the back of
the furnace for the short pipe just to fit into.  The fuel was
generally gas coke and cinders saved from the kitchen.  The heat I
raised was superb--a white heat, sufficient to melt in a crucible six
or eight pounds of brass.

Then I had a box of moulding sand, where the moulds were gently rammed
in around the pattern previous to the casting.  But how did I get my
brass?  All the old brassworks in my father's workshop drawers and boxes
were laid under contribution.  This brass being for the most part soft
and yellow, I made it extra hard by the addition of a due proportion of
tin.  It was then capable of retaining a fine edge.  When I had
exhausted the stock of old brass, I had to buy old copper, or new,
in the form of ingot or tile copper, and when melted I added to it
one-eighth of its weight of pure tin, which yielded the strongest alloy
of the two metals.  When cast into any required form this was a treat
to work, so sound and close was the grain, and so durable in resisting
wear and tear.  This is the true bronze or gun metal.

When melted, the liquid brass was let into the openings, until the
whole of the moulds were filled.  After the metal cooled it was taken
out; and when the room was sorted up no one could have known that my
foundry operations had been carried on in my bedroom.  My brass foundry
was right over my father's bedroom.  He had forbidden me to work late
at night, as I did occasionally on the sly.  Sometimes when I ought to
have been asleep I was detected by the sound of the ramming in of the
sand of the moulding boxes.  On such occasions my father let me know
that I was disobeying his orders by rapping on the ceiling of his
bedroom with a slight wooden rod of ten feet that he kept for measuring
purposes.  But I got over that difficulty by placing a bit of old
carpet under my moulding boxes as a non-conductor of sound, so that no
ramming could afterwards be heard. My dear mother also was afraid that
I should damage my health by working so continuously.  She would come
into the workroom late in the evening, when I was working at the lathe
or the vice, and say, "Ye'll kill yerself, laddie, by working so hard
and so late".  Yet she took a great pride in seeing me so busy and so

Nearly the whole of my steam-engine models were made in my father's
workroom.  His foot-lathe and stove, together with my brass casting
arrangements in my bedroom, answered all my purposes in the way of
model making.  But I had at times to avail myself of the smithy and
foundry that my kind and worthy friend, George Douglass, had
established in the neighbourhood.  He had begun business as "a jobbing
smith," but being a most intelligent and energetic workman, he shot
ahead and laid the foundations of a large trade in steam-engines.
When I had any part of a job in hand that was beyond the capabilities
of my father's lathe, or my bedroom casting apparatus, I immediately
went to Douglass's smithy, where every opportunity was afforded me for
carrying on my larger class of work.

His place was only about five minutes' walk from my father's house.
I had the use of his large turning-lathe, which was much more suitable
for big or heavy work than the lathe at home.  When any considerable
bit of steel or iron forging had to be done, a forge fire and anvil
were always placed at my service.  In making my flywheels for the
sectional models of steam-engines I had a rather neat and handy way of
constructing them.  The boss of the wheel of brass was nicely bored;
the arm-holes were carefully drilled and taped, so as to allow the arms
which I had turned to be screwed in and appear like neat columns of
round wrought iron or steel screwed into the boss of the flywheel.

In return for the great kindness of George Douglass in allowing me to
have the use of his foundry, I resolved to present him with a specimen
of my handiwork.  I desired to try my powers in making a more powerful
steam-engine than I had as yet attempted to construct, in order to
drive the large turning-lathe and the other tools and machinery of his
small foundry.  I accordingly set to work and constructed a
direct-acting, high-pressure steam-engine, with a cylinder four inches
in diameter.  I use the term direct acting, because I dispensed with
the beam and parallel motion, which was generally considered the
correct mode of transferring the action of the piston to the crank.

The result of my labours was a very efficient steam-engine, which set
all the lathes and mechanical tools in brisk activity of movement.
It had such an enlivening effect upon the workmen that George Douglass
afterwards told me that the busy hum of the wheels, and the active,
smooth, rhythmic sound of the merry little engine had, through some
sympathetic agency, so quickened the stroke of every hammer, chisel,
and file in his workmen's hands, that it nearly doubled the output of
work for the same wages!

The sympathy of activity acting upon the workmen's hands cannot be
better illustrated than by a story told me by my father.  A master
tailor in a country town employed a number of workmen.  They had been
to see some tragic melodrama performed by some players in a booth at
the fair.  A very slow, doleful, but catching air was played, which so
laid hold of the tailors' fancy that for some time after they were
found slowly whistling or humming the doleful ditty, the movement of
their needles keeping time to it; the result was that the clothing that
should have been sent home on Saturday was not finished until the
Wednesday following.  The music had done it!  The master tailor, being
something of a philosopher, sent his men to the play again; but he
arranged that they should be treated with lively merry airs.
The result was that the lively airs displaced the doleful ditty;
and the tailors' needles again reverted to even more than their
accustomed quickness.

However true the story may be, it touches an important principle in
regard to the stimulation of activity by the rapid movements or sounds
of machinery, which influence every workman within their sight or
hearing.  We all know the influence of a quick merry air, played by
fife and drum, upon the step and marching of a regiment of soldiers.
It is the same with the quick movements of a steam-engine upon the
activity of workmen.

I may add that my worthy friend, George Douglass, derived other
advantages from the construction of my steam-engine.  Being of an
enterprising disposition he added another iron foundry to his smaller
shops; he obtained many good engineering tools, and in course of time
he began to make steam-engines for agricultural purposes.  These were
used in lieu of horse power for thrashing corn, and performing several
operations that used to be done by hand labour in the farmyards.
Orders came in rapidly, and before long the chimneys of Douglass's
steam-engines were as familiar in the country round Edinburgh as corn
stacks.  All the large farms, especially in Midlothian and
East Lothian, were supplied with his steam-engines. The business of
George Douglass became very large; and in course of time he was enabled
to retire with a considerable fortune.

In addition to the steam-engine which I presented to Douglass,
I received an order to make another from a manufacturer of braiding.
His machines had before been driven by hand labour; but as his business
extended, the manufacturer employed me to furnish him with all engine
of two-horse power, which was duly constructed and set to work,
and gave him the highest satisfaction.

[Image]  James Nasmyth's Expansometer, 1826.

I may here mention that one of my earliest attempts at original
contrivance was an Expansometer--an instrument for measuring in bulk
all metals and solid substances.  The object to be experimented on was
introduced into a tube of brass, with as much water round it as to fill
the tube.  The apparatus was then plunged into a vessel of boiling
water, or heated to boiling point; when the total expansion of the bar
was measured by a graduated scale, as seen in the annexed engraving.
By this simple means the expansion of any material might be ascertained
under various increments of heat, say from 60deg to 2l2deg.
It was simply a thermometer, the mass marking its own expansion.
Dr. Brewster was so much pleased with the apparatus that he described
it and figured it in the Edinburgh Philosophical Journal, of which he
was then editor.

[Image]  The road steam-carriage.  By James Nasmyth.

About the year 1827, when I was nineteen years old, the subject of
steam carriages to run upon common roads occupied considerable
attention.  Several engineers and mechanical schemers had tried their
hands, but as yet no substantial results had come of their attempts to
solve the problem.  Like others, I tried my hand.  Having made a small
working model of a steam-carriage, I exhibited it before the members of
the Scottish Society of Arts.  The performance of this active little
machine was so gratifying to the Society that they requested me to
construct one of such power as to enable four or six persons to be
conveyed along the ordinary roads.  The members of the Society, in
their individual capacity, subscribed #60, which they placed in my
hands as the means for carrying out their project.

I accordingly set to work at once.  I had the heavy parts of the engine
and carriage done at Anderson's foundry at Leith.  There was in
Anderson's employment a most able general mechanic named Robert
Maclaughlan, who had served his time at Carmichaels' of Dundee.
Anderson possessed some excellent tools, which enabled me to proceed
rapidly with the work.  Besides, he was most friendly, and took much
delight in being concerned in my enterprise.  This "big job" was
executed in about four months.  The steam-carriage was completed and
exhibited before the members of the Society of Arts.  Many successful
trials were made with it on the queensferry Road, near Edinburgh.
The runs were generally of four or five miles, with a load of eight
passengers sitting on benches about three feet from the ground.

The experiments were continued for nearly three months, to the great
satisfaction of the members.  I may mention that in my steam-carriage
I employed the waste steam to create a blast or draught by discharging
it into the short chimney of the boiler at its lowest part, and found
it most effective.  I was not at that time aware that George Stephenson
and others had adopted the same method; but it was afterwards
gratifying to me to find that I had been correct as regards the
important uses of the steam blast in the chimney.  In fact, it is to
this use of the waste steam that we owe the practical success of the
locomotive-engine as a tractive power on railways, especially at high

The Society of Arts did not attach any commercial value to my steam
road-carriage.  It was merely as a matter of experiment that they had
invited me to construct it.  When it proved successful they made me a
present of the entire apparatus.  As I was anxious to get on with my
studies, and to prepare for the work of practical engineering,
I proceeded no further.  I broke up the steam-carriage and sold the two
small high-pressure engines, provided with a compact and strong boiler,
for #67, a sum which more than defrayed all the expenses of the
construction and working of the machine.

I still continued to make investigations as to the powers and
capabilities of the steam-engine.  There were numerous breweries,
distilleries, and other establishments, near Edinburgh, where such
engines were at work.  As they were made by different engineers, I was
desirous of seeing them and making sketches of them, especially when
there was any special peculiarity in their construction.  I found this
a most favourite and instructive occupation.  The engine tenters became
very friendly with me, and they we re always glad to see me interested
in them and their engines.  They were especially delighted to see me
make "drafts," as they called my sketches, of the engines under their

My father sometimes feared that my too close and zealous application to
engineering work might have a bad effect upon my health.  My bedroom
work at brass casting, my foundry work at the making of steam-engines,
and my studies at the University classes, were perhaps too much for a
lad of my age, just when I was in the hobbledehoy state--between a
boy and a man.  Whether his apprehensions were warranted or not, it did
so happen that I was attacked with typhus fever in 1828, a disease that
was then prevalent in Edinburgh.  I had a narrow escape from its fatal
influence.  But thanks to my good constitution, and to careful nursing,
I succeeded in throwing off the fever, and after due time recovered my
usual health and strength.

In the course of my inspection of the engines made by different makers,
I was impressed with the superiority of those made by the Carmichaels
of Dundee.  They were excellent both in design and in execution.
I afterwards found that the Carmichaels were among the first of the
Scottish engine makers who gave due attention to the employment of
improved mechanical tools, with the object of producing accurate work
with greater ease, rapidity, and economy, than could possibly be
effected by the hand labour of even the most skilful workmen.  I was
told that the cause of the excellence of the Carmichaels' work was not
only in the ability of the heads of the firm, but in their employment
of the best engineers' tools.  Some of their leading men had worked at
Maudslay's machine shop in London, the fame of which had already
reached Dundee; and Maudslay's system of employing machine tools had
been imported into the northern steam factory.

I had on many occasions, when visiting the works where steam-engines
were employed, heard of the name and fame of Maudslay.  I was told that
his works were the very centre and climax of all that was excellent in
mechanical workmanship.  These reports built up in my mind, at this
early period of my aspirations, an earnest and hopeful desire that
I might some day get a sight of Maudslay's celebrated works in London.
In course of time it developed into a passion.  I will now proceed to
show how my inmost desires were satisfied.

CHAPTER 7.  Henry Maudslay, London

The chief object of my ambition was now to be taken on at Henry
Maudslay's works in London.  I had heard so much of his engineering
work, of his assortment of machine-making tools, and of the admirable
organisation of his manufactory, that I longed to obtain employment
there.  I was willing to labour, in however humble a capacity, in that
far-famed workshop.

I was aware that my father had not the means of paying the large
premium required for placing me as an apprentice at Maudslay's works.
I was also informed that Maudslay had ceased to take pupils.
After experience, he found that the premium apprentices caused him much
annoyance and irritation.  They came in "gloves;" their attendance was
irregular; they spread a bad example amongst the regular apprentices
and workmen; and on the whole they were found to be very disturbing
elements in the work of the factory.

It therefore occurred to me that, by showing some specimens of my work
and drawings, I might be able to satisfy Mr. Maudslay that I was not an
amateur, but a regular working engineer.  With this object I set to
work, and made with special care a most complete working model of a
high-pressure engine.  The cylinder was 2 inches diameter, and the
stroke 6 inches.  Every part of the engine, including the patterns,
the castings, the forgings, were the results of my own individual
handiwork.  I turned out this sample of my ability as an engineer
workman in such a style as even now I should be proud to own.

In like manner I executed several specimens of my ability as a
mechanical draughtsman; for I knew that Maudslay would thoroughly
understand my ability to work after a plan.  Mechanical drawing is the
alphabet of the engineer.  Without this the workman is merely a "hand."
With it he indicates the possession of "a head" I also made some
samples of my skill in hand-sketching of machines, and parts of
machines, in perspective--that is, as such objects really appear when
set before us in their natural aspect.  I was the more desirous of
exhibiting the ability which I possessed in mechanical draughtsmanship,
as I knew it to be a somewhat rare and much-valued acquirement.
It was a branch of delineative art that my father had carefully taught me.
Throughout my professional life I have found this art to be of the
utmost practical value.

Having thus provided myself with such visible and tangible evidences
of my capabilities as a young engineer, I carefully packed up my
working model and drawings, and prepared to start for London.
On the 19th of May 1829, accompanied by my father, I set sail by the
Leith smack Edinburgh Castle, Captain Orr, master.  After a pleasant
voyage of four days we reached the mouth of the Thames.  We sailed up
from the Nore on Saturday afternoon, lifted up, as it were, by the tide,
for it was almost a dead calm the whole way.

The sight of the banks of the famous river, with the Kent orchards in
full blossom, and the frequent passages of steamers with bands of music
and their decks crowded with pleasure-seekers, together with the sight
of numbers of noble merchant ships in the river, formed a most glorious
and exciting scene.  It was also enhanced by the thought that I was
nearing the great metropolis, around which so many bright but anxious
hopes were centred, as the scene of my first important step into the
anxious business of life, The tide, which had carried us up the river
as far as Woolwich suddenly turned; and we remained there during the
night.  Early next morning the tide rose, and we sailed away again.
It was a bright mild morning.  The sun came "dancing up the east"
as we floated past wharfs and woodyards and old houses on the banks,
past wherries and coal boats and merchant ships on the river,
until we reached our destination at the Irongate Wharf, near the
Tower of London.  I heard St. Paul's clock strike six just as we
reached our mooring ground.

Captain Orr was kind enough to allow us to make the ship our hotel
during the Sunday, as it was by no means convenient for us to remove
our luggage on that day.  My father took me ashore and we walked to
Regent's Park.  One of my sisters, who was visiting a friend in London,
was residing in that neighbourhood.  My father so planned his route as
to include many of the most remarkable streets and buildings and sights
of London.  He pointed out the principal objects, and gave me much
information about their origin and history.

I was much struck with the beautiful freshness and luxuriant growth of
the trees and shrubs in the squares; for spring was then in its first
beauty.  The loveliness of Regent's Park surprised me.  The extent of
the space, the brilliancy of the fresh-leaved trees, and the handsome
buildings by which the park was surrounded, made it seem to me more
splendid than a picture from the Arabian Nights.  Under the happy
aspect of a brilliant May forenoon, this first long walk through
London, with all its happy attendant circumstances, rendered it one of
the most vividly remembered incidents in my life.  After visiting my
sister and giving her all the details of the last news from home, she
joined us in our walk down to Westminster Abbey.  The first view of the
interior stands out in my memory as one of the most impressive sights I
ever beheld.  I had before read, over and over again, the beautiful
description of the Abbey given by Washington Irving in the Sketch Book,
one of the most masterly pieces of writing that I know of I now found
one of my day-dreams realised.

We next proceeded over Westminster Bridge to call upon my brother
Patrick.  We found him surrounded by paintings from his beautiful
sketches from Nature.  Some of them were more or less advanced in the
form of exquisite pictures, which now hang on many walls, and will long
commemorate his artistic life.  We closed this ever memorable day by
dining at a tavern at the Surrey end of Waterloo Bridge.  We sat at an
upper window which commanded a long stretch of the river, and from
which we could see the many remarkable buildings, from St. Paul's to
Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament, which lay on the other
side of the Thames.

On the following day my father and I set out in search of lodgings,
hotels being at that time beyond our economical method of living.
We succeeded in securing a tidy lodging at No.  14 Agues Place,
Waterloo Road.  The locality had a special attraction for me, as it was
not far from that focus of interest--Maudslay's factory.  Our luggage
was removed from the ship to the lodgings, and my ponderous cases,
containing the examples of my skill as an engineer workman,
were deposited in a carpenter's workshop close at hand.

I was now anxious for the interview with Maudslay.  My father had been
introduced to him by a mutual friend some two or three years before,
and that was enough.  On the morning of May the 26th we set out
together, and reached his house in Westminster Road, Lambeth.
It adjoined his factory.  My father knocked at the door.  My own heart
beat fast.  Would he be at home?  Would he receive us?  Yes!  he was at
home; and we were invited to enter.

Mr. Maudslay received us in the most kind and frank manner.  After a
little conversation my father explained the object of his visit.
"My son," he said, pointing to me, "is very anxious to have the
opportunity of acquiring a thorough practical knowledge of mechanical
engineering, by serving as an apprentice in some such establishment as
yours" "Well," replied Maudslay, "I must frankly confess to you that my
experience of pupil apprentices has been so unsatisfactory that my
partner and myself have determined to discontinue to receive them--no
matter at what premium.  This was a very painful blow to myself; for it
seemed to put an end to my sanguine expectations.

Mr. Maudslay knew that my father was interested in all matters relating
to mechanical engineering, and he courteously invited him to go round
the works.  Of course I accompanied them.  The sight of the workshops
astonished me.  They excelled all that I had anticipated. The beautiful
machine tools, the silent smooth whirl of the machinery, the active
movements of the men, the excellent quality of the work in progress,
and the admirable order and management that pervaded the whole
establishment, rendered me more tremblingly anxious than ever to obtain
some employment there, in however humble a capacity.

Mr. Maudslay observed the earnest interest which I and my father took
in everything going on, and explained the movements of the machinery
and the rationale of the proceedings in the most lively and kindly
manner.  It was while we were passing from one part of the factory to
another that I observed the beautiful steam-engine which gave motion to
the tools and machinery of the workshops.  The man who attended it was
engaged in cleaning out the ashes from under the boiler furnace,
in order to wheel them away to their place outside.  On the spur of the
moment I said to Mr. Maudslay, "If you would only permit me to do such
a job as that in your service, I should consider myself most fortunate!"
I shall never forget the keen but kindly look that he gave me.  "So ,"
said he, "you are one of that sort, are you?" I was inwardly delighted
at his words.

When our round of the works was concluded, I ventured to say to
Mr. Maudslay that "I had brought up with me from Edinburgh some
working models of steam-engines and mechanical drawings, and I should
feel truly obliged if he would allow me to show them to him?"
"By all means," said he; "bring them to me tomorrow at twelve o'clock."
I need not say how much pleased I was at this permission to exhibit my
handiwork, and how anxious I felt as to the result of Mr. Maudslay's
inspection of it.

I carefully unpacked my working model of the steam-engine at the
carpenter's shop, and had it conveyed, together with my drawings,
on a hand-cart to Mr. Maudslay's next morning at the appointed hour.
I was allowed to place my work for his inspection in a room next his
office and counting-house.  I then called at his residence close by,
where he kindly received me in his library.  He asked me to wait until
he and his partner, Joshua Field, had inspected my handiwork.

I waited anxiously.  Twenty long minutes passed.  At last he entered
the room, and from a lively expression in his countenance I observed in
a moment that the great object of my long cherished ambition had been
attained!  He expressed, in good round terms, his satisfaction at my
practical ability as a workman engineer and mechanical draughtsman.
Then, opening the door which led from his library into his beautiful
private workshop, he said, "This is where I wish you to work, beside
me, as my assistant workman.  From what I have seen there is no need of
an apprenticeship in your case."

He then proceeded to show me the collection of exquisite tools of all
sorts with which his private workshop was stored.  They mostly bore the
impress of his own clearheadedness and common-sense.  They were very
simple, and quite free from mere traditional forms and arrangements.
At the same time they were perfect for the special purposes for which
they had been designed.  The workshop was surrounded with cabinets and
drawers, filled with evidences of the master's skill and industry.
Every tool had a purpose.  It had been invented for some special
reason.  Sometimes it struck the keynote, as it were, to many of the
important contrivances which enable man to obtain a complete mastery
over materials.

There were also hung upon the walls, or placed upon shelves, many
treasured relics of the first embodiments of his constructive genius.
There were many models explaining, step by step, the gradual progress
of his teeming inventions and contrivances.  The workshop was thus
quite a historical museum of mechanism.  It exhibited his
characteristic qualities in construction.  I afterwards found out that
many of the contrivances preserved in his private workshop were
treasured as suggestive of some interesting early passage in his useful
and active life.  They were kept as relics of his progress towards
mechanical perfection.  When he brought them out from time to time,
to serve for the execution of some job in hand, he was sure to dilate
upon the occasion that led to their production, as well as upon the
happy results which had followed their general employment in mechanical

It was one of his favourite maxims, "First, get a clear notion of what
you desire to accomplish, and then in all probability you will succeed
in doing it."  Another was "Keep a sharp look-out upon your materials;
get rid of every pound of material you can do without; put to yourself
the question, 'What business has it to be there? avoid complexities,
and make everything as simple as possible."  Mr. Maudslay was full of
quaint maxims and remarks, the result of much shrewdness, keen
observation, and great experience.  They were well worthy of being
stored up in the mind, like a set of proverbs, full of the life and
experience of men.  His thoughts became compressed into pithy
expressions exhibiting his force of character and intellect.
His quaint remarks on my first visit to his workshop, and on subsequent
occasions, proved to me invaluable guides to "right thinking" in regard
to all matters connected with mechanical structure.

Mr. Maudslay seemed at once to take me into his confidence.  He treated
me in the most kindly manner--not as a workman or an apprentice,
but as a friend.  I was an anxious listener to everything that he said;
and it gave him pleasure to observe that I understood and valued his
conversation.  The greatest treat of all was in store for me.
He showed me his exquisite collection of taps and dies and screw-tackle,
which he had made with the utmost care for his own service.
They rested in a succession of drawers near to the bench where he worked.
There was a place for every one, and every one was in its place.
There was a look of tidiness about the collection which was very
characteristic of the man.  Order was one of the rules which he
rigidly observed, and he endeavoured to enforce it upon all who were in
his employment.

He proceeded to dilate upon the importance of the uniformity of screws.
Some may call it an improvement, but it might almost be called a
revolution in mechanical engineering which Mr. Maudslay introduced.
Before his time no system had been followed in proportioning the number
of threads of screws to their diameter. Every bolt and nut was thus a
speciality in itself, and neither possessed nor admitted of any
community with its neighbours.  To such an extent had this practice
been carried that all bolts and their corresponding nuts had to be
specially marked as belonging to each other.  Any intermixture that
occurred between them led to endless trouble and expense, as well as
inefficiency and confusion,--especially when parts of complex
machines had to be taken to pieces for repairs.

None but those who lived in the comparatively early days of machine
manufacture can form an adequate idea of the annoyance, delay, and cost
of this utter want of system, or can appreciate the vast services
rendered to mechanical engineering by Mr. Maudslay, who was the first
to introduce the practical measures necessary for its remedy.  In his
system of screw-cutting machinery, and in his taps and dies, and
screw-tackle generally, he set the example, and in fact laid the
foundation, of all that has since been done in this most essential
branch of machine construction.  Those who have had the good fortune to
work under him, and have experienced the benefits of his practice, have
eagerly and ably followed him; and thus his admirable system has become
established throughout the entire mechanical world.

Mr. Maudslay kept me with him for about three hours, initiating me into
his system.  It was with the greatest delight that I listened to his
wise instruction.  The sight of his excellent tools, which he showed me
one by one, filled me with an almost painful feeling of earnest hope
that I might be able in any degree to practically express how thankful
I was to be admitted to so invaluable a privilege as to be in close
communication with this great master in all that was most perfect in
practical mechanics.

When he concluded his exposition, he told me in the most kindly manner
that it would be well for me to take advantage of my father's presence
in London to obtain some general knowledge of the metropolis, to see
the most remarkable buildings, and to obtain an introduction to some of
my father's friends.  He gave me a week for this purpose, and said he
should be glad to see me at his workshop on the following Monday week.

It singularly happened that on the first day my father went out with
me, he encountered an old friend.  He had first known him at
Mr. Miller's of Dalswinton, when the first steamboat was tried, and
afterwards at Edinburgh while he was walking the courts as an advocate,
or writing articles for the Edinburgh Review.  This was no other than
Henry Brougham.  He was descending the steps leading into St. James's
Park, from the place where the Duke of York's monument now stands.
Brougham immediately recognised my father.  There was a hearty shaking
of hands, and many inquiries on either side.  "And what brings you to
London now?" asked Brougham.  My father told him that it was about his
son here, who had obtained an important position at Maudslay's the

"If I can do anything for you," said Brougham, addressing me, "let me
know.  It will afford me much pleasure to give you introductions to men
of science in London."  I ventured to say that "Of all the men of
science in London that I most wished to see, was Mr. Faraday of the
Royal Institution."  " Well," said Brougham, "I will send you a letter
of introduction.  We then parted.

My father availed himself of the opportunity of introducing me to
several of his brother artists.  We first went to the house of
David Wilkie, in Church Street, Kensington.  We found him at home,
and he received us most kindly.  We next visited Clarkson Stanfield,
David Roberts, and some other artists.  They were much attached to
my father, and had, in the early part of their career, received much
kindness from him while living in Edinburgh.  They all expressed the
desire that I should visit them frequently.  I had thus the privilege
of entree to a number of pleasant and happy homes, and my visits to
them while in London was one of my principal sources of enjoyment.

On returning home to our lodgings that evening we found a note from
Brougham, enclosing letters of introduction to Faraday and other
scientific men; and stating that if at any time he could be of service
to me he hoped that I would at once make use of him.  My father was
truly gratified with the substantial evidence of Brougham's kindly
remembrance of him; and I? how could I be grateful enough? not only for
my father's never-failing attention to my growth in knowledge and
wisdom, but to his ever-willing readiness to help me onward in the path
of scientific working and mechanical engineering. And now I was
fortunate in another respect, in being admitted to the school,
and I may say the friendship, of the admirable Henry Maudslay.
Everything now depended upon myself, and whether I was worthy of all
these advantages or not.

One of the days of this most interesting and memorable week was devoted
to accompanying Mr. Maudslay in a visit to Somerset House.  In the
Admiralty Museum, then occupying a portion of the building, was a
complete set of the working models of the celebrated block-making
machinery.  Most of these were the result of Maudslay's own skilful
handiwork.  He also designed, for the most part, this wonderful and
complete series of machines.  Sir Samuel Bentham and Mr. Brunel had
given the idea, and Maudslay realised it in all its mechanical details.
These working models contained the prototypes of nearly all the modern
engineer tools which have given us so complete mastery over materials,
and done so much for the age we live in.

It added no little to the enjoyment of this visit to hear Mr. Maudslay
narrate, in his quaint and graphic language, the difficulties he had to
encounter in solving so many mechanical problems.  It occupied him
nearly six years to design and complete these working models.
They were forty-four in number--all masterly pieces of workmanship.
To describe them was to him like living over again the most interesting
and eventful part of his life.  And no doubt the experience which he
had thus obtained formed the foundation of his engineering fortunes.

Mr. Maudslay next conducted us to the Royal Mint on Tower Hill.
Here we saw many of his admirable machines at work.  He had a happy
knack, in his contrivances and inventions, of making "short cuts" to
the object in view.  He avoided complexities, did away with roundabout
processes, however ingenious, and went direct to his point.
"Simplicity" was his maxim in every mechanical contrivance.
His mastermind enabled him to see through and attain the end he sought
by the simplest possible means.  The reputation which he had acquired
by his minting machinery enabled him to supply it in its improved form
to the principal Governments of the world.

Some of the other days of the week were occupied by my father in
attending to his own professional affairs, more particularly in
connection with the Earl of Cassilis--whose noble mansion in London,
and whose castle at Colzean, on the coast of Ayrshire, contain some of
my father's finest works.  The last day was most enjoyable.
Mr. Maudslay invited my father, my brother Patrick, and myself,
to accompany him in his beautiful small steam yacht, the Endeavour,
from Westminster to Richmond Bridge, and afterwards to dine with him at
the Star and Garter.  I must first, however, say something of the
origin of the Endeavour.

Mr. Maudslay's son, Joseph, inherited much of his father's constructive
genius.  He had made a beautiful arrangement of William Murdoch's
original invention of the vibrating cylinder steam-engine, and adapted
it for the working of paddle-wheel steamers.  He first tried the action
of the arrangement in a large working model, and its use was found to
be in every respect satisfactory.  Mr. Maudslay resolved to give his
son's design a full-sized trial.  He had a combined pair of vibrating
engines constructed, of upwards of 20 horse-power, which were placed in
a beautiful small steam vessel, appropriately named the Endeavour.
The result was perfectly successful.  The steamer became a universal
favourite.  It was used to convey passengers and pleasure parties from
Blackfriars Bridge to Richmond.  Eventually it became the pioneer of a
vast progeny of vessels propelled by similar engines, which still crowd
the Thames.  All these are the legitimate descendants of the bright and
active little Endeavour.

To return to my trip to Richmond.  We got on board the boat on the
forenoon of May the 29th.  It was one of the most beautiful days of the
year.  The spring was at its loveliest.  The bright fresh green of the
trees was delightful.  I shall never forget the pleasure with which I
beheld, for the first time, the beautiful banks of the Thames.
There was at that time a noble avenue of elm trees extending along the
southern bank of the river, from Westminster Bridge to Lambeth Palace;
while, on the northern side, many equally fine trees added picturesque
grace to the then Houses of Parliament, while behind them were seen the
great roof of Westminster Hall and the noble towers of Westminster
Abbey.  As we sped along we admired the ancient cedars, which gave
dignity to the Bishop's grounds, on the one side, and the elms,
laburnums, and lilacs, then in full bloom, which partially shaded the
quaint old mansions of Cheyne Row, on the other.  Alas! the march of
improvement and the inevitable extension of the metropolis is rapidly
destroying these vestiges of the olden time.

The beautiful views that came into sight, as we glided up the river,
kept my father and my brother in a state of constant excitement.
There were so many truly picturesque and paintable objects.
Patrick's deft pencil was constantly at work, taking graphic notes of
"glorious bits" Dilapidated farm-buildings, old windmills, pollarded
willows, were rapidly noted, to be afterwards revisited and made
immortal by his brush.  There were also the fine mansions and cosy
villas, partially shrouded by glorious trees, with their bright velvety
lawns sloping down towards the river; not forgetting the delicate
streams of thin blue smoke rising lazily through the trees in the
tranquil summer air, and reminding one of the hospitable preparations
then in progress.

We landed at Richmond Bridge, and walked up past the quaint
old-fashioned mansions which gave so distinct a character to Richmond
at that time.  We then passed on to the celebrated Richmond Terrace,
at the top of the hill, from which so glorious a view of the windings
of the Thames is seen, with the luxuriant happy-looking landscape
around.  The enjoyment of this glorious day now reached its climax.
We dined in the great dining-room, from the large windows of which we
observed a view almost unmatched in the world, with the great tower of
Windsor in the distance.  I need not speak of the entertainment, which
was everything that the kindest and most genial hospitality could
offer.  After a pleasant stroll in the Park, amidst the noble and
venerable oak trees, which give such a dignity to the place, and after
another visit to the Terrace, where we saw the sun set in a blaze of
glory beyond the distant scenery, we strolled down the hill to the
steamer, and descended the Thames in the cool of the summer evening.

I must not, however, omit to mention the lodgings taken for me by my
father before he left London.  It was necessary that they should be
near Maudslay's works for the convenience of going and coming.
We therefore looked about in the neighbourhood of Waterloo Road.
One of the houses we visited was situated immediately behind the Surrey
theatre.  It seemed a very nice tidy house, and my father seemed to
have taken a liking for it.  But when we were introduced into the room
where I was to sleep, he observed an ultra-gay bonnet lying on the bed,
with flashy bright ribbons hanging from it.  This sight seemed to alter
his ideas, and he did not take the lodgings; but took another where
there was no such bonnet.

I have no doubt about what passed through his mind at the time.
We were in the neighbourhood of the theatre.  There was evidently some
gay young woman about the house.  He thought the position might be
dangerous for his son.  I afterwards asked him why we had not taken
that nice lodging.  "Well," he said, "did not you see that ultra-gay
bonnet lying on the bed?  I think that looks rather suspicious!"
Afterwards he added, "At all events, James, you will find that though
there are many dirty roads in life, if you use your judgment you may
always be able to find a clean crossing!" And so the good man left me.
After an affectionate parting he returned to Edinburgh, and I remained
in London to work out the plan of my life.

CHAPTER 8.  Maudslay's Private Assistant

On the morning of Monday, the 30th of May 1829, I commenced my regular
attendance at Mr. Maudslay's workshop.  My first job was to assist him
in making some modifications in the details of a machine which he had
contrived some years before for generating original screws.  I use the
word "generating" as being most appropriate to express the objects and
results of one of Mr. Maudslay's most original inventions.

It consisted in the employment of a knife-edged hardened steel
instrument, so arranged as to be set at any required angle, and its
edge caused to penetrate the surface of a cylindrical bar of soft steel
or brass.  This bar being revolved under the incisive action of the
angularly placed knife-edged instrument, it thus received a continuous
spiral groove cut into its surface.  It was then in the condition of a
rudimentary screw; the pitch, or interval between the threads, being
determined by the greater or less angle of obliquity at which the
knife-edged instrument was set with respect to the axis of the
cylindrical bars revolving under its incisive action.

The spiral groove, thus generated, was deepened to the required extent
by a suitable and pointed hard steel tool firmly held in the jaws of an
adjustable slide made for the purpose, as part and parcel of the bed of
the machine.  In the case of square-threaded screws being required,
a square-pointed tool was employed in place of the V or angle-threaded
tool.  And in order to generate or produce right hand or left hand
screws, all that was necessary was to set the knife-edged instrument to
a right or left hand inclination in respect to the axis of the
cylindrical bar at the outset of the operation.

This beautiful and truly original contrivance became, in the hands of
its inventor, the parent of a vast progeny of perfect screws, whose
descendants, whether legitimate or not, are to be found in every
workshop throughout the world, wherever first-class machinery is
constructed.  The production of perfect screws was one of Maudslay's
highest ambitions and his principal technical achievement.  It was a
type of his invaluable faculty of solving the most difficult problems
by the most direct and simple methods.

It was by the same method that he produced the Guide screw.
His screw-cutting lathe was moved by combination wheels, and by its
means he could, by the one Guide screw, obtain screws of every variety
of pitch and diameter.  As an illustration of its complete accuracy
I may mention that by its means a screw of five feet in length and two
inches in diameter was cut with fifty threads to the inch; the Nut to
fit on to it being twelve inches long, and containing six hundred
threads!  This screw was principally used for dividing scales for
astronomical and other metrical purposes of the highest class.
By its means divisions were produced with such minuteness that they
could only be made visual by a microscope.

This screw was sent for exhibition to the Society of Arts.  It is still
preserved with the utmost care at the Lambeth Works amongst the many
admirable specimens of Henry Maudslay's inventive genius and delicate
handiwork.  Every skilled mechanic must thoroughly enjoy the sight of
it, especially when he knows that it was not produced by an exceptional
tool, but by the machine that was daily employed in the ordinary work
of the factory.

I must not, however, omit to say that I took an early opportunity of
presenting Brougham's letter of introduction to Faraday at the Royal
Institution.  I was received most cordially by that noble-minded man,
whose face beamed with goodness and kindness.  After some pleasant
conversation he said he would call upon me at Maudslay's, whom he knew
very well.  Not long after Faraday called, and found me working beside
Maudslay in his beautiful little workshop.  A vice had been fitted up
for me at the bench where he himself daily worked.  Faraday expressed
himself as delighted to find me in so enviable a position.
He congratulated me on my special good fortune in having the
inestimable advantage of being associated as assistant workman with one
of the greatest mechanical engineers of the day.

Mr. Maudslay offered to conduct Faraday through his workshops, and I
was permitted to accompany them.  I was much impressed with the
intelligent conversation of Faraday, as well as with the quickness he
exhibited in appreciating not only the general excellence of the design
and execution of the works in progress, but his capacity for entering
into the technical details of the composite tools and machinery which
he saw during his progress through the place.  This most pleasant and
memorable meeting with the great philosopher initiated a friendship
which I had the good fortune to continue until the close of his life.

It was, of course, an immense advantage for me to be so intimately
associated with Mr. Maudslay in carrying on his experimental work.
I was not, however, his apprentice, but his assistant workman.
It was necessary, therefore, in his opinion, that I should receive some
remuneration for my services.  Accordingly, at the conclusion of my
first week in his service, he desired me to go to his chief cashier and
arrange with him for receiving whatever amount of weekly wages I might
consider satisfactory.  I went to the counting-house and had an
interview with Mr. Young the cashier, a most worthy man*
I may mention that he was brother to Dr. Thomas Young, the celebrated
natural philosopher.
Knowing as I did the great advantages of my situation, and having a
very modest notion of my own worthiness to occupy it, I said, in answer
to Mr. Young's question as to the amount of wages I desired, that
"if he did not think ten shillings a week too much I could do well
enough with that."  "Very well" said he,"let it be so" And he handed me
over half a sovereign!

I had determined, after I obtained a situation, not to cost my father
another shilling.  I knew how many calls he had upon him, at a time
when he had his own numerous household to maintain.  I therefore
resolved, now that I had begun life on my own resources, to maintain
myself, and to help him rather than be helped any longer.  Thus the
first half-sovereign I received from Mr. Young was a great event in my
life.  It was the first wages, as such, that I had ever received.
I well remember the high satisfaction I felt as I carried it home to my
lodgings; and all the more so as I was quite certain that I could,
by strict economy and good management, contrive to make this weekly sum
of ten shillings meet all my current expenses.

I had already saved the sum of #20, which I placed in the bank as a
deposit account.  It was the residue of the sale of some of my model
steam-engines at Edinburgh.  My readers will remember that I brought
with me a model steam-engine to show to Mr. Maudslay as a specimen of
my handiwork.  It had gained for me the situation that I desired, and I
was now willing to dispose of it.  I found a purchaser in Mr. Watkins,
optician at Charing Cross, who supplied such apparatus to lecturers at
Mechanics' Institutions.  He gave me #35 for the model, and I added the
sum to my deposit account.  This little fund was quite sufficient to
meet any expenses beyond those of a current weekly nature.

[Image]  My cooking stove*
I have this handy apparatus by me still; and to prove its possession of
its full original efficiency I recently set it in action after its rest
of fifty years, and found that it yielded results quite equal to my
grateful remembrance of its past services.

But I was resolved that my wages alone should maintain me in food and
lodging.  I therefore directed my attention to economical living.
I found that a moderate dinner at an eating-house would cost move than
I could afford to spend.  In order to keep within my weekly income I
bought the raw materials and cooked them in my own way and to my own
taste.  I set to and made a drawing of a very simple, compact, and
handy cooking apparatus.  I took the drawing to a tinsmith near at
hand, and in two days I had it in full operation.  The apparatus cost
ten shillings, including the lamp.  As it contributed in no small
degree to enable me to carry out my resolution, and as it may serve as
a lesson to others who have an earnest desire to live economically,
I think it may be useful to give a drawing and a description of my
cooking stove.  The cooking or meat pan rested on the upper rim of the
external cylindrical case, and was easily removable in order to be
placed handy for service.  The requisite heat was supplied by an oil
lamp with three small single wicks, though I found that one wick was
enough.  I put the meat in the pot, with the other comestibles,
at nine o'clock in the morning.  It simmered away all day, until
half-past six in the evening, when I came home with a healthy appetite
to enjoy my dinner.  I well remember the first day that I set the
apparatus to work. I ran to my lodging, at about four P.M., to see how
it was going on.  When I lifted the cover it was simmering beautifully,
and such a savoury gusto came forth that I was almost tempted to fall
to and discuss the contents.  But the time had not yet come, and I ran
back to my work.

The meat I generally cooked in it was leg of beef, with sliced potato,
bits of onion chopped down, and a modicum of white pepper and salt,
With just enough of water to cover "the elements."  When stewed slowly
the meat became very tender; and the whole yielded a capital dish,
such as a very Soyer might envy.  It was partaken of with a zest that,
no doubt, was a very important element in its savouriness.  The whole
cost of this capital dinner was about 4 1/2d. I sometimes varied the
meat with rice boiled with a few raisins and a pennyworth of milk.
My breakfast and tea, with bread, cost me about fourpence each.
My lodgings cost 3s. 6d. a week.  A little multiplication will
satisfy any one how it was that I contrived to live economically and
comfortably on my ten shillings a week.  In the following year my
wages were raised to fifteen shillings a week, and then I began to take
butter to my bread.

To return to my employment under Mr. Maudslay.  One of the first jobs
that I undertook was in assisting him to make a beautiful small model
of a pair of 200 horsepower marine steam-engines.  The engines were
then in course of construction in the factory.  They were considered a
bold advance on the marine engines then in use, not only in regard to
their great power, but in carrying out many specialities in their
details and general structure.  Mr. Maudslay had embodied so much of
his thought in the design that he desired to have an exact model of
them placed in his library, so as to keep a visible record of his ideas
constantly before him.  In fact, these engines might be regarded as the
culmination of his constructive abilities.

In preparing the model it was necessary that everything should be made
in exact conformity with the original.  There were about three hundred
minute bolts and nuts to be reduced to the proportional size.
I esteemed it a great compliment to be entrusted with their execution.
They were all to be made of cast-steel, and the nuts had to be cut to
exact hexagonal form.  Many of them had collars.  To produce them by
the use of the file in the ordinary mode would not only have been
difficult and tedious, but in some cases practically impossible.

[Image]  Collar-nut cutting machine.

To get rid of the difficulty I suggested to Mr. Maudslay a contrivance
of my own by means of which the most rigid exactness in size as well as
form could be given to these hexagonal nuts.  He readily granted his
permission.  I constructed a special apparatus, consisting of a hard
steel circular cutter to act as a circular file. When brought into
operation in the production of these minute six-sided collared nuts,
held firm in the spindle of a small dividing plate and attached to the
slide-rest, each side was brought in succession under the action of the
circular file or cutter with the most exact precision in regard to the
division of the six sides.  The result was absolutely perfect as
respects the exactness of the six equal sides of the hexagonal nut, as
well as their precise position in regard to the collar that was of one
solid piece with it.  There was no great amount of ingenuity required
in contriving this special tool, or in adapting it to the slide-rest of
the lathe, to whose spindle end the file or cutter /\ was fixed.
But the result was so satisfactory, both as regards the accuracy and
rapidity of execution in comparison with the usual process of hand
filing, that Mr. Maudslay was greatly pleased with the arrangement as
well as with my zeal in contriving and executing this clever little
tool.  An enlarged edition of this collar-nut cutting machine was soon
after introduced into the factory.

[Image]  Arrangement of the machine

It was one of the specialities that I adopted in my own workshop when I
commenced business for myself, and it was eagerly adopted by mechanical
engineers, whom we abundantly supplied with this special machine.
It was an inestimable advantage to me to be so intimately associated
with this Great Mechanic.  He was so invariably kind, pleasant, and
congenial.  He communicated an infinite number of what he humorously
called "Wrinkles" which afterwards proved of great use to me.
My working hours usually terminated at six in the evening.  But as many
of the departments of the factory were often in full operation during
busy times until eight o'clock, I went through them to observe the work
while in progress.  On these occasions I often met "the guvnor, as the
workmen called Mr. Maudslay.  He was going his round of inspection,
and when there was any special work in hand he would call me up to him
to and explain point in connection with it that was worthy of
particular notice.  I found this valuable privilege most instructive,
as I obtained from the cheif mechanic himself a full insight into the
methods, means, and processes by which the skilful workman advanced
the various classes of work.  I was also permitted to take notes and
make rapid sketches of any object that specially interested me.
The entire establishment thus became to me a school of practical
engineering of the most instructive kind.

Mr. Maudslay took pleasure in showing me the right system and method of
treating all manner of materials employed in mechanical structures.
He showed how they might be made to obey your will, by changing them
into the desired forms with the least expenditure of time and labour.
This in fact is the true philosophy of construction. When clear ideas
have been acquired upon the subject, after careful observation and
practice, the comparative ease and certainty with which complete
mastery over the most obdurate materials is obtained, opens up the most
direct road to the attainment of commercial as well as of professional

To be permitted to stand by and observe the systematic way in which
Mr. Maudslay would first mark or line out his work, and the masterly
manner in which he would deal with his materials, and cause them to
assume the desired forms, was a treat beyond all expression.
Every stroke of the hammer, chisel, or file, told as an effective step
towards the intended result.  It was a never-to-be-forgotten practical
lesson in workmanship, in the most exalted sense of the term.
In conformity with his often repeated maxim, "that there is a right way
and a wrong way of doing everything," he took the shortest and most
direct cuts to accomplish his objects.  He illustrated this by telling
me, in his own humorous style, " When you want to go from London to
Greenwich, don't go round by Inverness."  Another of his droll sayings
was that he "considered no man a thorough mechanic unless he could cut
a plank with a gimlet, and bore a hole with a saw!"

The grand result of thoughtful practice is what we call experience:
it is the power or faculty of seeing clearly before you begin, what to
avoid and what to select--or rather what to do and what not to do.
High-class workmanship, or technical knowledge, was in his hands quite
a science.  Every piece of work was made subject to the soundest
philosophical principles, as applied to the use and treatment of
materials.  It was this that gave such a charm of enjoyment to his
dealing with tools and materials.  He loved this sort of work for its
own sake, far more than for its pecuniary results.  At the same time he
was not without regard for the substantial evidence of his supremacy in
all that regarded first-class tools, admirable management, and thorough
organisation of his factory.

The innate love of truth and accuracy which distinguished Mr. Maudslay,
led him to value highly that class of technical dexterity in
engineering workmen which enabled them to produce those details of
mechanical structures in which perfect flat or true plane surfaces were
required.  This was an essential condition for the effective and
durable performance of their functions.  Sometimes this was effected
by the aid of the turning-lathe and slide-rest.  But in most cases
the object was attained by the dexterous use of the file, so that
"flat filing" then was, as it still is, one of the highest qualities
of the skilled workman.  No one that I ever met with could go beyond
Henry Maudslay himself in his dexterous use of the file.  By a few
masterly strokes he could produce plane surfaces so true that when
their accuracy was tested by a standard plane surface of absolute
truth, they were never found defective; neither convex, nor concave,
nor "cross-winding,"--that is, twisted.

The importance of having such Standard Planes caused him to have many
of them placed on the benches beside his workmen, by means of which
they might at once conveniently test their work.  Three of each were
made at a time, so that by the mutual rubbing of each on each the
projecting surfaces were effaced.  When the surfaces approached very
near to the true plane, the still projecting minute points were
carefully reduced by hard steel scrapers, until at last the standard
plane surface was secured.  When placed over each other they would
float upon the thin stratum of air between them until dislodged by time
and pressure.  When they adhered closely to each other, they could only
be separated by sliding each off each.  This art of producing
absolutely plane surfaces is, I believe, a very old mechanical "dodge."
But, as employed by Maudslay's men, it greatly contributed to the
improvement of the work turned out.  It was used for the surfaces of
slide valves, or wherever absolute true plane surfaces were essential
to the attainment of the best results, not only in the machinery turned
out, but in educating the taste of his men towards first-class

Maudslay's love of accuracy also led him to distrust the verdicts given
by the employment of the ordinary callipers and compasses in
determining the absolute or relative dimensions of the refined
mechanism which he delighted to construct with his own hands.
So much depended upon the manner in which the ordinary measuring
instruments were handled and applied that they sometimes failed to give
the required verdict as to accuracy.  In order, therefore, to get rid
of all difficulties in this respect, he designed and constructed a very
compact and handy instrument which he always had on his bench beside
his vice.  He could thus, in a most accurate and rapid manner, obtain
the most reliable evidence as to the relative dimensions, in length,
width, or diameter, of any work which he had in hand.  In consequence
of the absolute truth of the verdicts of the instrument, he considered
it as a Court of Final Appeal, and humorously called it
"The Lord Chancellor."

[Image]  Maudslay's "Lord Chancellor"

This trustworthy "Companion of the Bench" consisted of a very
substantial and inflexible bed or base of hard brass.  At one end of it
was a perfectly hardened steel surface plate, having an absolutely true
flat or plane face, against which one end or side of the object to be
measured was placed; whilst a similar absolutely true plane surface of
hardened steel was advanced by means of a suitable fine thread screw,
until the object to be measured was just delicately in contact with it.
The object was, as it were, between the jaws of a vice, but without any
squeeze--being just free, which could be easily ascertained by
feeling.  These two absolutely plane surfaces, between which the object
lay, had their distances apart easily read off from the scale engraved
on the bed of the instrument, in inches and tenth parts of an inch,
while the disk-head or handle of the screw was divided on its edge rim
into hundredth or thousandth parts, as these bore an exact metrical
relation to the pitch of the screw that moved the parallel steel faces
of the measuring vice (as I may term it) nearer or farther apart.

Not only absolute measure could be obtained by this means, but also the
amount of minute differences could be ascertained with a degree of
exactness that went quite beyond all the requirements of engineering
mechanism; such, for instance, as the thousandth part of an inch!
It might also have been divided so far as a millionth part of an inch,
but these infinitesimal fractions have really nothing to do with the
effective machinery*
I may mention another saying of Mr. Maudslay's.  Besides his
observation that "in going from London to Greenwich we must not go
round by Inverness," he said, "We must not become too complicated with
our machinery.  Remember the get-at-ability of parts.  If we go on as
some mechanics are doing, we shall soon be boiling our eggs with a
that comes forth from our workshops, and merely show the mastery we
possess over materials and mechanical forms.  The original of this
measuring machine of Maudslay's was exhibited at the Loan Collection at
South Kensington in 1878.  It is now treasured up, with other relics of
his handiwork, in a cabinet at the Lambeth works.  While writing upon
this subject it may be worthy of remark, that the employment of a screw
as the means of adjusting the points or reference marks of a measuring
instrument, for the ascertainment of minute distances between objects,
was first effected by William Gascoigne, about the year 1648.
There can be no doubt that he was the inventor of the Micrometer--an
instrument that, when applied (as he first did so) to the eye-piece of
the Telescope, has been the means of advancing the science of astronomy
to its present high position (See Grant's History of Astronomy, p. 453)

I had abundant occupation for my leisure time after my regular
attendance at the factory was over.  I had not only the opportunity of
studying mechanics, but of studying men.  It is a great thing to know
the character of those who are over you as well as those who are under
you.  It is also well to know the character of those who are associated
with you in your daily work.  I became intimate with the foremen and
with many of the skilled workmen.  From them I learnt a great deal.
Let me first speak of the men of science who occasionally frequented
Maudslay's private workshop.  They often came to consult him on
subjects with which he was specially acquainted.

Among Mr. Maudslay's most frequent visitors were General Sir Samuel
Bentham, Mr. Barton, director of the Royal Mint, Mr. Bryan Donkin,
Mr. Faraday, and Mr. Chantrey, the sculptor.  As Mr. Maudslay wished me
to be at hand to give him any necessary assistance, I had the
opportunity of listening to the conversation between him and these
distinguished visitors.  Sir Samuel Bentham called very often.
He had been associated with Maudslay during the contrivance and
construction of the block machinery.  He was brother of the celebrated
Jeremy Bentham, and he applied the same clear common-sense to
mechanical subjects which the other had done to legal, social,
and political questions.  It was in the highest degree interesting and
instructive to hear these two great pioneers in the history and
application of mechanics discussing the events connected with the
block-making machinery.  In fact, Maudslay's connection with the
subject had led to the development of most of our modern engineering
tools.  They may since have been somewhat altered in arrangement,
but not in principle.  Scarcely a week passed without a visit from the
General. He sat in the beautiful workshop, where he always seemed so
happy.  It was a great treat to hear him and Maudslay "fight their
battles o'er again," in recounting the difficulties, both official and
mechanical, over which they had so gloriously triumphed.

At the time when I listened to their conversation, the great work in
hand was the organisation of a systematic series of experiments on the
hulls of steamships, with the view of determining the laws of
resistance on their being propelled through the sea by a power other
than those of winds and sails.  The subject was as complex as it was
interesting and important.  But it had to be put to the test of actual
experiment.  This was done in the first place by large models of hulls,
so as to ascertain at what point the curves of least resistance could
be applied.  Their practical correctness was tested by careful
experiment in passing them through water at various velocities,
to record which conditions special instruments were contrived and
executed.  These, as well as the preparation of large models of hulls,
embodying the various improved "lines," occupied a considerable portion
of the time that I had the good fortune to spend in Mr. Maudslay's
private workshop.

Mr. Barton of the Royal Mint was quite a "crony" of Maudslay's.
He called upon him often with respect to the improvements for stamping
the current coin of the realm.  Bryan Donkin was also associated with
Maudslay and Barton on the subject of the national standard of the yard
measure.  But perhaps Mr. Chantrey was the most attractive visitor at
the private workshop.  He had many a long interview with Maudslay with
respect to the planning and arranging of a small foundry at his studio,
by means of which he might cast his bronze statues under his own
superintendence.  Mr. Maudslay entered con amore into the subject,
and placed his skill and experience entirely at Chantrey's service.
He constructed the requisite furnaces, cranes, and other apparatus,
at Chantrey's studio; and it may be enough to state that, when brought
into operation, they yielded the most satisfactory results.

Among my most intelligent private friends in London were George Cundell
and his two brothers.  They resided near my lodgings, and I often
visited them on Saturday evenings.  They were most kind, gentle,
and genial.  The eldest brother was in Sir William Forbes's bank.
George was agent for Mr. Patrick Maxwell Stuart in connection with his
West India estates, and the third brother was his assistant.
The elder brother was an admirable performer on the violoncello, and he
treated us during these Saturday evenings with noble music from
Beethoven and Mozart.  My special friend George was known amongst us as
"the worthy master."  He was thoroughly versed in general science,
and was moreover a keen politician.  He had the most happy faculty of
treating complex subjects, both in science and politics, in a
thoroughly common-sense manner.  His two brothers had a fine feeling
for art, and, indeed, possessed no small skill as practical artists.
With companions such as these, gifted with a variety of tastes, I spent
many of my Saturday evenings most pleasantly and profitably. They were
generally concluded with a glass of beer of "the worthy master's" own

When the season of the year and the state of the weather were suitable
I often joined this happy fraternity in long and delightful Sunday
walks to various interesting places round London.  Our walks included
Waltham Abbey, Waltham Cross, Eltham Palace, Hampton Court, Epping
Forest, and many other interesting places of resort.  When the weather
was unfavourable my principal resort was Westminster Abbey, where,
besides the beautifully-conducted service and the noble anthems,
I could admire the glory of the architecture, and the venerable tombs,
under which lay the best and bravest.  I used generally to sit at a
point from which I could see the grand tomb of Aylmer de Vallance with
its magnificent surroundings of quaint and glorious architecture.
It was solemn, and serious also, to think of the many generations who
had filled the abbey, and of the numbers of the dead who lay beneath
our feet.

I was so great an admirer of Norman and Gothic architecture that there
was scarcely a specimen of it in London which I did not frequently
visit.  One of the most interesting examples I found in the Norman
portion of St. Saviours Church, near London Bridge, through some of
it has since been destroyed by the so-called "restoration" in 1831.
The new work has been executed in the worst taste and feeling.
I also greatly admired the Norman chapel of the Tower, and some Norman
portions of the Church of St. Bartholomew the Less, near Smithfield.

No style of architecture that I have ever seen has so impressed me with
its intrinsic gravity, and I may say solemnity, as that of the Norman.
There is a serious earnestness in its grave simplicity that has a
peculiar influence upon the mind; and I have little doubt that this was
felt, and understood by those true architects who designed and built
the noble cathedrals at Durham and elsewhere.  But there, as elsewhere,
some of our modern so-called "Architects" have made sad havoc with the
earliest and most impressive portions of those grand and truly
interesting remains, by their "Restorations", as they term it--but
which I call Defamations.

CHAPTER 9.  Holiday in the Manufacturing Districts.

In the autumn of 1830 Mr. Maudslay went to Berlin for the purpose of
superintending the erection of machinery at the Royal Mint there.
He intended to be absent from London for about a month; and he kindly
permitted me to take my holiday during that period.

I had been greatly interested by the descriptions in the newspapers of
the locomotive competition at Rainhill, near Liverpool.  I was,
therefore, exceedingly anxious to see Stephenson's "Rocket," the engine
that had won the prize.  Taking with me letters of introduction from
Mr. Maudslay to persons of influence at Liverpool, I left London for
the north on the afternoon of Saturday the 9th of September 1830.
I took my place on the outside of the Liverpool coach, which set out
from "The Swan with Two Necks," in Lad Lane, City, one of the most
celebrated coach-offices in those days

The first part of the journey to Liverpool was very dismal.
The night was wet.  The rain came pouring down, and no sort of
wrappings could keep it out.  The outside passengers became thoroughly
soaked.  On we went, however, as fast as four horses could carry us.
Next morning we reached Coventry, when the clouds cleared away,
and the sun at last burst forth.  I could now enjoy this charming part
of old England. Although I had only a hasty glimpse in passing of the
quaint streets and ancient buildings of the town I was perfectly
delighted with the specimens of ancient domestic architecture which
I saw.  At that time Coventry was quite a museum of that interesting
class of buildings. The greater part of them have since been swept away
in the so-called improvement of modern builders, none of whose works
can ever so attract an artistic eye.

During the rest of the day the journey was delightful.  Though the
inside passengers had had the best of it during the night, the outside
passengers had the best of it now.  To go scampering across the country
on the top of the coach, passing old villages, gentlemen's parks, under
old trees, along hedges tinged with autumn tints, up hill and down
dale, sometimes getting off the coach to lighten the load, and walking
along through the fields by a short cut to meet it farther on; all this
was most enjoyable.  It gave me a new interest in the happier aspects
of English scenery, and of rural and domestic life in the pretty
old-fashioned farm buildings that we passed on our way.  Indeed, there
was everything to delight the eye of the lover of the picturesque
during the course of that bright autumnal day.

The coach reached Liverpool on Sunday night.  I took up my quarters at
a commercial inn in Dale Street, where I found every comfort which
I desired at moderate charges.  Next morning, without loss of time,
I made my way to the then terminus of the Liverpool and Manchester
Railway; and there, for the first time, I saw the famous "Rocket"
The interest with which I beheld this distinguished and celebrated
engine was much enhanced by seeing it make several short trial trips
under the personal management of George Stephenson, who acted as
engineman, while his son Robert acted as stoker.  During their trips of
four or five miles along the line the "Rocket" attained the speed of
thirty miles an hour--a speed then thought almost incredible!  It was
to me a most memorable and interesting sight, especially to see the
father and son so appropriately engaged in working the engine that was
to effect so great a change in the communications of the civilised
world.  I spent the entire day in watching the trial trips,
in examining the railway works, and such portions of of their details
as I could obtain access to.  About mid-day the "Rocket" was at rest
for about an hour near where I stood; and I eagerly availed myself of
the opportunity of making a careful sketch of the engine, which I still

The line was opened on the 15th of September, when the famous "Rocket"
led the way in conducting the first train of passengers from Liverpool
to Manchester.  There were present on that occasion thousands of
spectators, many of whom had come from distant parts of the kingdom to
witness this greatest of all events in the history of railway locomotion.

During my stay in Liverpool I visited the vast range of magnificent
docks which extend along the north bank of the Mersey, all of which
were crowded with noble merchant ships, some taking in cargoes of
British manufactures, and others discharging immense stores of cotton,
sugar, tobacco, and foreign produce.  The sight was most interesting,
and gave me an impressive idea of the mighty functions of a
manufacturing nation--energy and intelligence, working through
machinery, increasing the value of raw materials and enabling them to
be transported for use to all parts of the civilised world.

Mr. Maudslay having given me a letter of introduction to his old friend
William Fawcett, head of the firm of Fawcett, Preston, and Company,
engineers, I went over their factory.  They were engaged in producing
sugar mills for the West Indies, and also in manufacturing the
steam-engines for working them.  The firm had acquired great reputation
for their workmanship; and their shops were crowded with excellent
specimens of their skill.  Everything was in good order;
their assortment of machine tools was admirable.  Mr. Fawcett, who
accompanied me, was full in his praises of my master, whom he regarded
as the greatest pioneer in the substitution of the unerring accuracy of
machine tools for the often untrustworthy results of mere manual

I cannot resist referring to the personal appearance and manner of this
excellent gentleman, William Fawcett.  His peculiar courteous manner,
both in speech and action, reminded me of the "grand old Style"
Which I had observed in some of my father's oldest noble employers,
and the representations given of them by some of our best actors.
There was also a dignified kindliness about his manner that was quite
peculiar to himself; and when he conducted me through his busy
workshops, the courtly yet kindly manner in which he addressed his
various foremen and others, was especially cheering.  When I first
presented my letter of introduction from Henry Maudslay, he was sitting
at a beautiful inlaid escritoire table with his letters arrayed before
him in the most neat and perfect order.  The writing table stood on a
small Turkey carpet apart from the clerks' desks in the room, but so
near to them that he could readily communicate with them.  His neat
old-fashioned style of dress quite harmonised with his advanced age,
and the kindly yet dignified grace of his manner left a lasting
impression on me as a most interesting specimen of "the fine old
English gentleman, quite of the olden time."

I spent another day in crossing the Mersey to Birkenhead--then a very
small collection of buildings--wandered about the neighbourhood.
I had my sketch-book with me, and made a drawing of Liverpool from the
other side of the river.  Close to Birkenhead were some excellent bits
of scenery, old and picturesque farmhouses, overshadowed with venerable
oaks, with juttings-out of the New Red Sandstone rocks, covered with
heather, furze, and broom, with pools of water edged with all manner of
effective water plants.  They formed capital subjects for the artistic
pencil, especially when distant peeps of the Welsh hills came into the
prospect.  I made several sketches, and they kept company with my
graphic memoranda of architectural and mechanical objects.  I may here
mention that on my return to London I showed them to my brother
Patrick, and some of them so much met his fancy that he borrowed my
sketch-book and painted some pictures from them, which at this day are
hanging on the walls of some of his admirers.

With the desire of seeing as much as possible of all that was
interesting in the mechanical, architectural and picturesque line,
on my return journey to London, I determined to walk, halting here and
there by the way.  The season of the year and the state of the weather
were favourable for my purpose.  I accordingly commenced my pedestrian
tour on Saturday morning, the 17th September.  I set out for Manchester.
It was a long but pleasant walk.  I well remember, when nearing
Manchester, that I sat down to rest for a time on Patricroft Bridge.
I was attracted by the rural aspect of the country, and the antique
cottages of the neighbourhood.  The Bridgewater Canal lay before me,
and as I was told that it was the first mile of the waterway that the
great Duke had made, it became quite classic ground in my eyes.
I little thought at the time that I was so close to a piece of ground
that should afterwards become my own, and where I should for twenty
years carry on the most active and interesting business of my life.

I reached Manchester at seven in the evening, and took up my quarters
at the King's Arms Inn, Deansgate.  Next day was Sunday.  I attended
service in the Cathedral, then called the Old Church.  I was much
interested by the service, as well as by the architecture of the
building.  Some of the details were well worthy of attention, being
very original, and yet the whole was not of the best period of Gothic
architecture.  Some of the old buildings about the Cathedral were very
interesting.  They were of a most quaint character, yet bold and
effective.  Much finely carved oak timber work was introduced into
them; and on the whole they gave a very striking illustration of the
style of domestic architecture which prevailed in England some three or
four centuries ago.

On the following day I called upon Mr. Edward Tootal, of York Street.
He was a well-known man in Manchester.

I had the happiness of meeting him in London a few months before.
He then kindly invited me to call upon him should I ever visit
Manchester, when he would endeavour to obtain for me sight of some of
the most remarkable manufacturing establishments.  Mr. Tootal was as
good as his word.  He received me most cordially, and at once proceeded
to take me to the extensive machine factory of Messrs. Sharp, Roberts,
and Co.  I found to my delight that a considerable portion of the
establishment was devoted to the production of machine tools,
a department of mechanical business then rising into the highest
importance.  Mr. Roberts, an admirable mechanic as well as inventor,
had derived many of his ideas on the subject while working with
Mr. Maudslay in London, and he had carried them out with many additions
and improvements of his own contrivance.  Indeed, Roberts was one of
the most capable men of his time, and is entitled to be regarded as one
of the true pioneers of modern mechanical mechanism.

Through the kindness of Mr. Tootal I had also the opportunity of
visiting and inspecting some of the most extensive cotton mills in
Manchester.  I was greatly pleased with the beautiful contrivances
displayed in the machinery.  They were perfect examples of the highest
order of ingenuity, combined with that kind of common-sense which casts
aside all mere traditional forms and arrangements of parts, such as do
not essentially contribute to the efficiency of the machine in the
performance of its special and required purpose.  I found much to
admire in the design as well as in the execution of the details of the

The arrangement and management of the manufactories were admirable.
The whole of the buildings, howsoever extensive and apparently
complicated, worked like one grand and perfectly constructed machine.

I was also much impressed by the keen interest which the proprietors of
these vast establishments took in the minute details of their
machinery, as well as by their intelligent and practical acquaintance
with the technical minutiae of their business.  Although many of them
were men of fortune, they continued to take as deep an interest in such
matters as if they were beginning life and had their fortunes still to
make.  Their chief ambition was to be at the head of a thoroughly
well-managed and prosperous establishment.  No detail, be it ever so
small, was beneath their care and attention.  To a young man like
myself, then about to enter upon a similar career of industry, these
lessons were very important.  They were encouraging examples of
carefully thought out designs, carried into admirable results by close
attention to details, ever watchful carefulness, and indomitable
perseverance.  I brooded over these circumstances, They filled my mind
with hope.  They encouraged me to go on in the path which I had
selected; and I believed that at some time or other I might be enabled
to imitate the examples of zeal and industry which I had witnessed
during my stay in Manchester.  It was then that I bethought me of
settling down in this busy neighbourhood; and as I plodded my way back
to London this thought continually occupied me. It took root in my mind
and grew, and at length the idea became a reality.

I did not take the shortest route on my return journey to London.
I desired to pass through the most interesting and picturesque places
without unduly diverging from the right direction.  I wished to see the
venerable buildings and cathedrals of the olden time, as well as the
engineering establishments of the new.  Notwithstanding my love for
mechanics I still retained a spice of the antiquarian feeling.
It enabled me to look back to the remote past, into the material
records of man's efforts hundreds of years ago, and contrast them with
the modern progress of arts and sciences.  I was especially interested
in the architecture of bygone ages; but here, alas! arts and sciences
have done nothing.  Modern Gothic architecture is merely an imitation
of the old, and often a very bad imitation.  Even ancient domestic
architecture is much superior to the modern.  We can now only imitate
it; and often spoil when imitating.

I left Manchester and turned my steps in the direction of Coalbrookdale.
I passed through a highly picturesque country, in which I enjoyed the
sight of many old timber houses, most attractive subjects for my pencil.
My route lay through Whitchurch, Wem, and Wellington; then past the
Wrekin to Coalbrookdale.  Before arriving there I saw the first iron
bridge constructed in England, an object of historical interest in that
class of structures.  It was because of the superb quality of the
castings produced at Coalbrookdale that the ironmasters there were able
to accomplish the building of a bridge of that material, which before
had baffled all projectors both at home and abroad

I possessed a letter of introduction to the manager, and was received
by him most cordially.  He permitted me to examine the works.
I was greatly interested at the sight of the processes of casting.
Many beautiful objects were turned out for architectural, domestic,
and other purposes.  I saw nothing particularly novel, however, in the
methods and processes of moulding and casting.

The excellence of the work depended for the most part upon the great
care and skill exercised by the workmen of the foundry.  They seemed to
vie with each other in turning out the best castings, and their models
or patterns were made with the utmost care.  I was particularly
impressed with the cheerful zeal and activity of the workmen and
foremen of this justly celebrated establishment.

On leaving Coalbrookdale I trudged my way towards Wolverhampton.
I rested at Shiffnal for the night.  Next day I was in the middle of
the Black Country.  I had no letters of introduction to employers in
Wolverhampton; so that, without stopping there, I proceeded at once to
Dudley.  The Black Country is anything but picturesque.  The earth
seems to have been turned inside out.  Its entrails are strewn about;
nearly the entire surface of the ground is covered with cinder-heaps
and mounds of scoriae.  The coal which has been drawn from below ground
is blazing on the surface.  The district is crowded with iron furnaces,
puddling furnaces, and coal-pit engine furnaces.  By day and by night
the country is glowing with fire, and the smoke of the ironworks hovers
over it.  There is a rumbling and clanking of iron forges and rolling
mills.  Workmen covered with smut, and with fierce white eyes, are seen
moving about amongst the glowing iron and the dull thud of forge-hammers.
Amidst these flaming, smoky, clanging works, I beheld the remains of
what had once been happy farmhouses, now ruined and deserted.
The ground underneath them had sunk by the working out of the coal,
and they were falling to pieces.  They had in former times been
surrounded by clumps of trees; but only the skeletons of them remained,
dead, black, and leafless.  The grass had been parched and killed by
the vapours of sulphurous acid thrown out by the chimneys; and every
herbaceous object was of a ghastly gray--the emblem of vegetable
death in its saddest aspect.  Vulcan had driven out Ceres.  In some
places I heard a sort of chirruping sound, as of some forlorn bird
haunting the ruins of the old farmsteads.  But no! the chirrup was a
vile delusion.  It proceeded from the shrill creaking of the
coal-winding chains, which were placed in small tunnels beneath the
hedgeless road.

I went into some of the forges to see the workmen at their labours.
There was no need of introduction; the works were open to all, for they
were unsurrounded by walls.  I saw the white-hot iron run out from the
furnace; I saw it spun, as it were, into bars and iron ribbands, with
an ease and rapidity which seemed marvellous.  There were also the
ponderous hammers and clanking rolling-mills.  I wandered from one to
another without restraint.  I lingered among the blast furnaces, seeing
the flood of molten iron run out from time to time, and remained there
until it was late.  When it became dark the scene was still more
impressive.  The workmen within seemed to be running about amidst the
flames as in a pandemonium; while around and outside the horizon was a
glowing belt of fire, making even the stars look pale and feeble.
At last I came away with reluctance, and made my way towards Dudley.
I reached the town at a late hour.  I was exhausted in mind and body,
yet the day had been most interesting and exciting.  A sound sleep
refreshed me, and I was up in the morning early, to recommence my
journey of inquiry,

I made my way to the impressive ruins of Dudley Castle, the remnant of
a very ancient stronghold, originally built by Dud, the Saxon.
The castle is situated on a finely wooded hill; it is so extensive that
it more resembles the ruins of a town than of a single building.
You enter through a treble gateway, and see the remnants of the moat,
the court, and the keep.  Here are the central hall, the guard, rooms,
and the chapel.  It must have been a magnificent structure.  In the
Midlands it was known as the "Castle of the Woods" Now it is abandoned
by its owners, and surrounded by the Black Country.  It is undermined
by collieries, and even penetrated by a canal.  The castle walls
sometimes tremble when a blast occurs in the bowels of the mountain
beneath.  The town of Dudley lies quite close to the castle, and was
doubtless protected by it in ancient times.

The architectural remains are of various degrees of antiquity, and are
well worthy of study, as embodying the successive periods which they
represent.  Their melancholy grandeur is rendered all the more
impressive by the coal and iron works with which they are surrounded--
the olden type of buildings confronting the modern.  The venerable
trees struggle for existence under the destroying influence of
sulphurous acid; while the grass is withered and the vegetation
everywhere blighted.  I sat down on an elevated part of the ruins,
and looked down upon the extensive district, with its roaring and
blazing furnaces, the smoke of which blackened the country as far as
the eye could reach; and as I watched the decaying trees I thought of
the price we had to pay for our vaunted supremacy in the manufacture of
iron.  We may fill our purses, but we pay a heavy price for it in the
loss of picturesqueness and beauty.  I left the castle with reluctance,
and proceeded to inspect the limestone quarries in the neighbourhood.
The limestone has long been worked out from underneath the castle;
but not far from it is Wren's Nest Hill, a mountain of limestone.
The wrens have left, but the quarries are there.  The walk to the hill
is along green lanes and over quiet fields.  I entered one of the
quarries opened out in the sloping precipice, and penetrated as far as
the glimmer of sunlight enabled me to see my way.  But the sound of the
dripping of water from the root of the cave warned me that I was
approaching some deep pool, into which a false step might plunge me.
I therefore kept within the light of day.  An occasional ray of the sun
lit up the enormous rock pillars which the quarrymen had left to
support the roof.  It was a most impressive sight.

Having emerged from the subterranean cave, I proceeded on my way to
Birmingham.  I reached the town in the evening, and found most
comfortable quarters.  On the following day I visited some of the
factories where processes were carried on in connection with the
Birmingham trade.  I saw the mills where sheet brass and copper were
rolled for the purpose of being plated with silver.  There was nothing
in these processes of novel interest, though I picked up many practical
hints.  I could not fail to be attracted by the dexterous and rapid
manipulation of the work in hand, even by boys and girls whose quick
sight and nimble fingers were educated to a high degree of perfection.
I could have spent a month profitably among the vast variety of small
traders in metal, of which Birmingham is the headquarters.
Even in what is called "the toy trade," I found a vast amount of skill
displayed in the production of goldsmith work, in earrings, brooches,
gold chains, rings, beads, and glass eyes for stuffed birds, dolls, and

I was especially attracted by Soho, once the famous manufacturing
establishment of Boulton and Watt.  Although this was not the
The birthplace of the condensing engine of Watt was the workshop in the
Glasgow University, where he first contrived and used a separate
condenser--the true and vital element in Watt's invention.
The condenser afterwards attained its true effective manhood at Soho
The Newcomen engine was in fact a condensing engine, but as the
condensation was effected inside the steam cylinder it was a very
costly source of power in respect to steam.  Watt's happy idea of
condensing in a separate vessel removed the defect.  This was first
done in his experimental engine in the Glasgow University workshop,
and before he had made the one at Kinniel for Dr. Roebuck.
of the condensing steam-engine it was the place where it attained its
full manhood of efficiency, and became the source and origin of English
manufacturing power.  Watt's engine has had a greater influence on the
productive arts of mankind than any other that can be named.  Boulton
also was a thorough man of business, without whom, perhaps, Watt could
never have made his way against the world, or perfected his magnificent
invention.  Not less interesting to my mind was the memory of that
incomparable mechanic,  William Murdoch, a man of indomitable energy,
and Watt's right-hand man in the highest practical sense.  Murdoch was
the inventor of the first model locomotive, and the inventor of gas for
lighting purposes; and yet he always kept himself in the background,
for he was excessively modest. He was happiest when he could best
promote the welfare of the great house of Boulton and Watt.  Indeed he
was a man whose memory ought to be held in the highest regard by all
true engineers and mechanics.

The sight which I obtained of the vast series of workshops of this
celebrated establishment--filled with evidences of the mechanical
genius of these master minds--made me feel that I was indeed on
classic ground in regard to everything connected with steam-engine
machinery.  Some of the engines designed by Watt--the prototypes of
the powerful condensing engines of the present day--were still
performing their daily quota of work.  There was "Old Bess,"
a sort of experimental engine, upon which Watt had tried many
adaptations and alterations, for the purpose of suiting it for pumping
water from coal mines.  There was also the engine with the
sun-and-planet motion, an invention of William Murdoch's.
Both of these engines were still at work.

I went through the workshops, where I was specially interested by
seeing the action of the machine tools.  There I observed Murdoch's
admirable system of transmitting power from one central engine to other
small vacuum engines attached to the individual machines they were set
to work.  The power was communicated by pipes led from the central air
or exhaust pump to small vacuum or atmospheric engines devoted to the
driving of each separate machine, thus doing away with all shafting and
leather belts, the required speed being kept up or modified at pleasure
without in any way interfering with the other machines. --This vacuum
method of transmitting power dates from the time of Papin; but until it
received the masterly touch of Murdoch it remained a dead contrivance
for more than a century.

I concluded my visits to the workshops of Birmingham by calling upon a
little known but very ingenious man, whose work I had seen before
I left Edinburgh, in a beautifully constructed foot turning-lathe made
by John Drain.  I was so much impressed with the exquisite design,
execution, and completeness of the lathe, that I made it one of my
chief objects to find out John Drain's workshop.  It was with some
difficulty that I found him.  He was little known in Birmingham.
His workshops were very small; they consisted of only one or two rooms.
His exquisite lathes were not much in demand.  They found their way
chiefly to distant parts of the country, where they were highly

I found that he had some exquisitely finished lathes completed and in
hand for engraving the steel plates for printing bank notes.  They were
provided with the means of producing such intricate ornamental patterns
as to defy the utmost skill of the forger.  Perkins had done a good
deal in the same way; but Drain's exquisite mechanism enabled his
engraving lathes to surpass anything that had before been attempted in
the same line.  I believe that Drain's earnest attention to his work,
in which he had little or no assistance, undermined his health,
and arrested the career of one who, had he lived, would have attained
the highest position in his profession.  I shall never forget the rare
treat which his fine mechanism afforded me.  Its prominent quality was
absolute truth and accuracy in every part.

Having now had enough of the Black Country and of Birmingham workshops,
I proceeded towards London.  There were no more manufacturing districts
to be visited.  Everything now was to be green lanes, majestic trees,
old mansions, venerable castles, and picturesque scenery.  There is no
way of seeing a country properly except on foot.  By railway you whiz
past and see nothing.  Even by coach the best parts of the scenery are
unseen.  "Shank's naig" is the best of all methods, provided you have
time.  I had still some days to spare before the conclusion of my
holiday.  I therefore desired to see some of the beautiful scenery and
objects of antiquarian interest before returning to work.

I made my way across country to Kenilworth.  The weather was fine,
and the walk was perfect.  The wayside was bordered by grassy sward.
Wide and irregular margins extended on each side of the road, and noble
trees and untrinnned hedges, in their glowing autumnal tint, extended
far and wide.  Everything was in the most gloriously neglected and
therefore highly picturesque condition.  Here and there old farmhouses
and labourers' cottages peeped up from amidst the trees and hedges--
worthy of the landscape painter's highest skill.

I reached Kenilworth about half an hour before sunset.  I made my way
direct to the castle, glorious in its decay.  The fine mellow glow of
the setting sun lit up the grand and extensive ruins.  The massive
Norman keep stood up with melancholy dignity, and attracted my
attention more than any other part of the ruined building.  To me there
is an impressiveness in the simple massive dignity of the Norman
castles and cathedrals, which no other buildings possess. There is an
expression of terrible earnestness about them.  The last look I had of
the Norman keep was grand.  The elevated part was richly tinted with
the last glow of the setting sun, while the outline of the buildings
beneath was shaded by a dark purply gray.  It was indeed a sight never
to be forgotten.  I waited until the sun had descended beneath the
horizon, still leaving its glimmer of pink and crimson and gray,
and then I betook me to the little inn in the village, where I obtained
comfortable quarters for the night.  I visited the ruins again in the
morning.  Although the glory of the previous evening had departed,
I was much interested in observing the various styles of architecture
adopted in different parts of the buildings--some old, some
comparatively new.  I found the older more grand and massive, and the
newer, of the sixteenth century, wanting in dignity of design, and the
workmanship very inferior.  The reign of Shoddy had already begun
before Cromwell laid the castle in ruins.

In the course of the day I proceeded to Warwick.  I passed along the
same delightful grass-bordered roads, shaded by noble trees.  I reached
the grand old town, with its antique buildings and its noble castle--
so famous in English history.  Leaving the place with reluctance,
I left it late in the afternoon to trudge on to Oxford. But soon after
I started the rain began to fall.  It was the first interruption to my
walking journey which I had encountered during my three weeks' absence
from London.  As it appeared from the dark clouds overhead that a wet
night had set in, I took shelter in a wayside inn at a place called
Steeple Aston.  My clothes were dripping wet; and after a glass of very
hot rum and water I went to bed, and had a sound sleep.  Next morning
it was fair and bright.  After a substantial homely breakfast I set out
again.  Nature was refreshed by the steady rain of the previous night,
and the day was beautiful.  I reached Deddington and stayed there for
the night, and early next morning I set out for Oxford.

I was greatly excited by the first sight I had of the crowd of towers
and spires of that learned and illustrious city.  Nor were my
expectations at all disappointed by a nearer approach to the colleges
of Oxford.  After a most interesting visit to the best of the
buildings, I took in a, fair idea of the admirable details of this
noble city, and left in the afternoon of next day.  I visited, on my
way to Thame, the old church of Iffley.  I was attracted to it by the
fine old Norman work it contains, which I found most quaint and

I slept at Thame for the night, and next day walked to Windsor.
I arrived there at sunset, and had a fine view of the exterior of the
castle and the surrounding buildings.  I was, however, much
disappointed on examining the architectural details.  In sight of the
noble trees about the castle, and the magnificent prospect from the
terrace, I saw much that tended to make up for the disgust I felt at
the way in which all that was so appropriate and characteristic in so
historic a place as Windsor Castle should have been tampered with and
rubbed out by the wretched conceit of the worst architects of our worst
architectural period.

I left Windsor next morning, and walked direct for London.  My time was
up, but not my money.  I had taken eight sovereigns on setting out from
London to Liverpool by coach, and I brought one sovereign back with me.
Rather than break into it I walked all the way from Windsor to London
without halting for refreshment my entire expenditure during my three
weeks' journey was thus seven pounds.

When I look back upon that tour, I feel that I was amply rewarded.
It was throughout delightful and instructive.  The remembrance of it is
as clear in my mind now as if I had performed the journey last year
instead of fifty years ago.  There are thousands of details that pass
before my mind's eye that would take a volume to enunerate.  I brought
back a book full of sketches; for graphic memoranda are much better
fitted than written words to bring up a host of pleasant recollections
and associations.  I came back refreshed for work, and possessed by an
anxious desire to press forward in the career of industry which I had
set before me to accomplish.

CHAPTER 10.   Begin Business at Manchester

Mr. Maudslay arrived from Berlin two days after my return to London.
He, too, had enjoyed his holiday.  During his stay in Berlin he had
made the friendship of the distinguished Humboldt.  Shenkel,
the architect, had been very kind to him, and presented him with a set
of drawings and engravings of his great architectural works, which
Mr. Maudslay exhibited to me with much delight.  What he most admired
in Shenkel was the great range of his talent in all matters of design,
his minute attention to detail, and his fine artistic feeling.

Soon after Mr. Maudslay's return, a very interesting job was brought to
him, in which he took even more than his usual interest.  It was a
machine which his friend Mr. Barton, of the Royal Mint, had obtained
from France.  It was intended to cut or engrave the steel dies used for
stamping coin.  It was a remarkable and interesting specimen of
inventive ingenuity.  It copied any object in relief which had been
cast in plaster of Paris or brass from the artist's original wax model.
The minutest detail was transferred to soft steel dies with absolute
accuracy.  This remarkable machine could copy and cut steel dies either
in intaglio or in cameo of any size, and, in short, enabled the
mechanic who managed it to transfer the most minute and characteristic
touches of the original model to the steel dies for any variety of size
of coin.  Nevertheless, the execution of some of the details of the
machine were so defective, that after giving the most tempting proof of
its capabilities at the Royal Mint, Mr. Barton found it absolutely
necessary to place it in Maudslay's hands, in order to have its details
thoroughly overhauled, and made as mechanically perfect as its design
and intention merited.

This interesting machine was accordingly brought to the private
workshop, and placed in the hands of the leading mechanic, whom I had
the pleasure of being associated with, James Sherriff, one of our most
skilled workmen.  We were both put to our mettle.  It was a job quite
to my taste, and being associated with so skilled a workman as
Sherriff, and in constant communication with Mr. Maudslay, I had every
opportunity of bringing my best manipulative ability into action and
use while perfecting this beautiful machine.  It is sufficient to say
that by our united efforts, by the technical details suggested by
Mr. Maudslay and carried out by us, and by the practical trials made
under the superintendence of Mr. Wyon of the Mint, the apparatus was at
length made perfect and performed its duty to the satisfaction of every
one concerned.

Mr. Maudslay had next a pair of 200 horse-power marine engines put in
hand.  His sons and partners were rather opposed to so expensive a
piece of work being undertaken without an order.  At that time such a
power as 200 horse nominal was scarcely thought of; and the Admiralty
Board were very cautious in ordering marine engines of any sort.
Nevertheless, the engines were proceeded with and perfected.
They formed a noble object in the great erecting shop.  They embodied
in every detail all Mr. Maudslay's latest improvements.  In fact the
work was the sum total of the great master's inventions and adaptations
in marine engines.  The Admiralty at last secured them for the purpose
of being placed in a very fine vessel, the Dee, then in course of
construction.  Mr. Maudslay was so much pleased with the result that
he had a very beautiful model made of the engines; and finding that
I had some artistic skill as a draughtsman, he set me to work to make a
complete perspective drawing of their great engines as they stood all
perfect in the erecting-shop.  This was a work entirely to my taste.
In due time I completed a graphic portrait of these noble engines,
treated, I hope, in an artistic spirit.  Indeed, such a class of
drawing was rarely to be had from any engineering draughtsman.
Mere geometrical drawing could not give a proper idea, as a whole,
of so grand a piece of mechanism.  It required something of the
artistic spirit to fairly represent it.  At all events my performance
won the entire approval of my master.

Mr. Maudslay was a man of a wide range of mechanical abilities.
He was always ready to enter upon any new work requiring the exercise
of special skill.  It did not matter whether it was machine tools,
engraving dies, block machinery, or astronomical instruments.  While at
Berlin he went to see the Royal Observatory.  He was naturally much
interested by the fine instruments there--the works of Repsoldt and
Hertz, the pioneers of improved astronomical workmanship.
The continental instrument makers were then far in advance of those of
England.  Mr. Maudslay was greatly impressed with the sight of the fine
instruments in the Berlin Observatory.  He was permitted to observe
some of the most striking and remarkable of the heavenly bodies--
Jupiter, Saturn, and the Moon.  It was almost a new revelation to him;
for the subject was entirely novel.  To be able to make such
instruments seemed to him to be a glorious achievement of refined
mechanism and manipulative skill.  He returned home full of the
wonderful sights he had seen.  It was a constant source of pleasure to
him to dwell upon the splendour and magnificence of the heavenly bodies.

He became anxious to possess a powerful telescope of his own.
His principal difficulty was in procuring a lens of considerable
diameter, possessed of high perfection of defining power.  I suggested
to him the employment of a reflecting telescope, by means of which the
difficulties connected with the employment of glass could be avoided.
This suggestion was based upon some knowledge I had acquired respecting
this department of refined mechanical art.  I knew that the elder
Herschel had by this means vastly advanced our knowledge of the
heavenly bodies, indeed to an extent far beyond what had been achieved
by the most perfect of glass lens instruments.  Mr. Maudslay was
interested in the idea I suggested; and he requested me to show him
what I knew of the art of compounding the alloy called speculum metal.
He wished to know how so brittle a material could be cast and ground
and polished, and kept free from flaws or defects of every kind.

I accordingly cast for him a speculum of 8 inches diameter.  I ground
and polished it, and had it fitted up in a temporary manner to exhibit
its optical capabilities, which were really of no mean order. But, as
his ambition was to have a grand and powerful instrument of not less
than 24 inches diameter, the preparation for such a speculum became a
subject to him of the highest interest.  He began to look out for a
proper position for his projected observatory.  He made inquiry about a
residence at Norwood, where he thought his instrument might have fair
play.  It would there be free from the smoke and disturbing elements of
such a place as Lambeth.   His mind was full of this idea when he was
called away by the claims of affection to visit a dear old friend at
Boulogne.  He remained there for more than a week, until assured of his
friend's convalescence.  But on his return voyage across the Channel he
caught a severe cold.  On reaching London he took to his bed and never
left it alive.  After three or four weeks' suffering he died on the
14th of February 1831.

It was a very sad thing for me to lose my dear old master.  He was so
good and so kind to me in all ways.  He treated me like a friend and
companion.  He was always generous, manly, and upright in his dealings
with everybody.  How his workmen loved him; how his friends lamented
him!  He directed, before his death, that he should be buried in
Woolwich Churchyard, where a cast iron tomb, made to his own design,
was erected over his remains.  He had ever a warm heart for Woolwich,
where he had been born and brought up.  He began his life as a mechanic
there, and worked his way steadily upwards until he reached the highest
point of his profession.  He often returned to Woolwich after he had
left it; sometimes to pay a share of his week's wages to his mother,
while she lived; sometimes to revisit the scenery of his youth.
He liked the green common, with the soldiers about it; Shooter's Hill,
with its wide look-out over Kent and down the valley of the Thames;
the river busy with shipping; the Dockyard wharf, with the royal craft
loading and unloading their armaments.  He liked the clangour of the
arsenal smithy, where he had first learned his art; and all the busy
industry of the place.  It was natural, therefore, that being so proud
of his early connection with Woolwich he should wish his remains to be
laid there; and Woolwich, on its part, has equal reason to be proud of
Henry Maudslay.

After the death of my master I passed over to the service of his worthy
partner, Joshua Field.  I had an equal pleasure in working under him.
His kindness in some degree mitigated the sad loss I had sustained by
the death of my lamented friend and employer.  The first work I had to
perform for Mr. Field was to assist him in making the working drawings
of a 200 horse-power condensing steam-engine, ordered by the Lambeth
Waterworks Company.  The practical acquaintance which I had by this
time acquired of the mechanism of steam-engines enabled me to serve
Mr. Field in a satisfactory manner.  I drew out in full practical
detail the rough but excellent hand sketches with which he supplied me.
They were handed out for execution in the various parts of the factory;
and I communicated with the foremen as to the details and workmanship.

While I was occupied beside Mr. Field in making these working drawings,
he gave me many most valuable hints as to the designing of machinery in
general.  In after years I had many opportunities of making good use of
them.  One point he often impressed upon me.  It was, he said, most
important to bear in mind the get-at-ability of parts--that is, when
any part of a machine was out of repair, it was requisite to get at it
easily without taking the machine to pieces.  This may appear a very
simple remark, but the neglect of such an arrangement occasions a vast
amount of trouble, delay, and expense.  None but those who have had to
do with the repair of worn-out or damaged parts of machinery can
adequately value the importance of this subject.

I found Mr. Field to be a most systematic man in all business affairs.
I may specially name one of his arrangements which I was quick to take
up and appreciate.  I carried it out with great advantage in my after
life.  It was, to record subjects of conversation by means of "graphic"
memoranda.  Almost daily, persons of note came to consult with him
about machinery.  On these occasions the consultations took place
either with reference to proposed new work, or as to the progress of
orders then in hand.  Occasionally some novel scheme of applying power
was under discussion, or some new method of employing mechanism:
On ordinary occasions rough and rapid sketches are made on any stray
pieces of waste paper that were about, and after the conversation is
over the papers are swept away into the waste basket and destroyed.
And yet some of these rapid drawings involve matters of great interest
and importance for after consultations.

To avoid such losses, Mr. Field had always placed upon his table a
"talking book" or "graphic diary."  When his visitors called and entered
into conversation with him about mechanical matters, he made rapid
sketches on the successive pages of the book, and entered the brief
particulars and date of the conversation, together with the name and
address of the visitor.  So that a conversation, once begun, might
again be referred to, and, when the visitor called, the graphic
memoranda might be recalled without loss of time, and the consultation
again proceeded.  The pages of Mr. Field's "talking books" were in many
ways most interesting.  They contained data that, in future years,
supplied valuable evidence in respect to first suggestions of
mechanical contrivances, and which sometimes were developed into very
important results.  I may add that Mr. Field kept these "talking books"
on a shelf in front of his drawing table.  The back of each volume was
marked with the year to which the entries referred, and an index was
appended to each.  A general index book was also placed at the end of
the goodly range of these graphic records of his professional life.

The completion of the working drawings of the Lambeth pumping engines
occupied me until August 1831.  I had then arrived at my twenty-third
year.  I had no intention of proceeding further as an assistant or a
journeyman.  I intended to begin business for my self.  Of course I
could only begin in a very small way.  I informed Mr. Field of my
intention, and he was gratified with my decision.  Not only so; but he
kindly permitted me to obtain castings of one of the best
turning-lathes in the workshops.  I knew th at when I had fitted it up
it would become the parent of a vast progeny of descendants--not only
in the direct line, but in planing machines, screw-cutting lathes,
and many other minor tools.

At the end of the month, after taking a grateful farewell of Mr. Field
and his partners, I set sail for Leith with my stock of castings,
and reached Edinburgh in due time.  In order to proceed with the
construction of my machine tools, I rented a small piece of land at Old
Broughton.  It was at the rear of my worthy friend George Douglass's
small foundry, and was only about five minutes' walk from my father's
house.  I erected a temporary workshop 24 feet long by 16 feet wide.

I removed thither my father's foot-lathe, to which I had previously
added an excellent slide-rest of my own making.  I also added a
"slow motion," which enabled me to turn cast-iron and cast-steel
portions of my great Maudslay lathe.  I soon had the latter complete
and in action.  Its first child was a planing machine capable of
executing surfaces in the most perfect style--of 3 feet long by
1 foot 8 inches wide.  Armed with these two most important and
generally useful tools, and by some special additions, such as boring
machines and drilling machines, I soon had a progeny of legitimate
descendants crowded about my little workshop, so that I often did not
know which way to turn.

[Image]  My temporary workshop at Edinburgh

I had one labourer to drive the wheel which gave motion to my big
lathe; but I was very much in want of some one else to help me.
One day a young hearty fellow called upon me.  He had come from the
Shotts Iron Company's Works in Edinburgh.  Having heard of what I was
about, he offered his services.  When he told me that he had been bred
as a millwright, and that he could handle the plane and the saw as well
as the chisel and the file, I closed with him at once.  He was to have
fifteen shillings a week.  I liked the young man very much--he was so
hearty and cheerful.  His name was Archibald Torry, or " Archie," as he
was generally called during the twenty years that he remained in my
service I obtained another assistant in the person of a young man whose
father wished him to get an insight into practical engineering.  I was
offered a premium of #50 for twelve months' experience in my workshop.
I arranged to take the young man, and to initiate him in the general
principles and practice of engineering. The #50 premium was a very
useful help to me, especially as I had engaged the millwright.
It enabled me to pay Torry's wages during the time that he remained
with me in Edinburgh.  I found it necessary, however, to take in some
work in the regular way of business, in order to supply me with the
means of completing my proper supply of tools.

The chief of these extraneous and, I may say, disturbing jobs, was that
of constructing a rotary steam-engine.  Mr. Robert Steen had contrived
and patented an engine of this sort.  He was a dangerously enthusiastic
man, and entertained the most visionary ideas as to steam power.
He was of opinion that his own contrivance was more compact and simple,
and possessed of more capability of producing power from the
consumption of a given quantity of fuel, than the best steam-engines
then in use.  I warned him of his error; but nothing but an actual
proof would satisfy him.  He urgently requested me to execute his
order.He made me a liberal and tempting offer of weekly payments for my
work during the progress of his engine.  He only required that I should
give his invention the benefit of my careful workmanship.
He considered that this would be sufficient to substantiate all his
enthusiastic expectations.  I was thus seduced to accept his order.

I made the requisite drawings, and proceeded with the work.  At the
same time my own machine tools were in progress, though at a retarded
pace.  The weekly payments we're regularly made, and I was kept in a
sort of financial ease.  After three months the rotary engine was
finished to the inventor's complete satisfaction.  But when the power
it gave out was compared with that of a good ordinary steam-engine,
the verdict as to consumption of fuel was against the new rotary
engine.  Nevertheless, the enthusiastic projector, "tho' vanquished he
would argue still," insisted that the merits of his contrivance would
sooner or later cause it to be a most formidable rival to the crank
steam-engines.  As he was pleased with its performances, I had no
reason to be dissatisfied.  I had done my part in the matter, and
Mr. Steen had done his.  His punctual weekly payments had assisted me
in the completion of my tools; and after a few months more labour I had
everything ready for starting business on my own account.

My choice lay between Liverpool and Manchester.  I had seen both of
these cities while on my visit to Lancashire to witness the opening of
the Liverpool and Manchester Railway.  I now proceeded to visit them
again.  I was fortified with valuable introductions to leading men in
both places.  I was received by them with great kindness and
hospitality.  I have heard a great deal about the ingratitude and
selfishness of the world.  It may have been my good fortune, but I have
never experienced either of those unfeeling conditions.  On the whole I
have found a great deal of unselfish kindness among my fellow-beings.
They have often turned out of their way to do me a service; and I can
never be too grateful for the unwearied kindness, civility, and
generosity of the friends I met with during my stay in Lancashire.

It was a question which would be the best place to settle in--
Liverpool or Manchester.  I had seen striking evidences of the natural
aptitude of Lancashire workmen for every sort of mechanical employment,
and had observed their unsparing energy while at work.  I compared them
with the workmen whom I had seen in London, and found them superior.
They were men of greater energy of character; their minds were more
capacious; their ingenuity was more inventive.  I felt assured that in
either Liverpool or Manchester--the centres of commercial and
manipulative energy--I could settle down with my limited capital and
tools, and in course of time contrive to get on, helped by energy,
self-reliance, and determination.  I also found that the demand for
machine-making tools was considerable, and that their production would
soon become an important department of business.  It might be carried
on with little expenditure of capital, as the risks were small and the
returns were quick.  I resolved to cultivate that moderate and safe
class of mechanical business, at all events at the outset.

I first went to Liverpool.  I presented my letter of introduction to
Mr. Roscoe, head of the Mersey Steel and Iron Company.  He received me
with great kindness, and gave me much good advice.  I called upon
Edward Berry, engineer, and also upon William Fawcett, who had received
me with so much kindness on my former visit.  I cannot omit mentioning
also the friendly reception which I received from Dr. Sillar.
He had been a medical student at Edinburgh, and had during that time
met with some kindness from my father.  He expressed his remembrance of
it with grateful effusion; and added his personal introduction, with
that of my letters, to some of the leading men in Liverpool.  I may
mention that Dr. Sillar was the son of Burns's "Brother Poet" Davie,
to whom the well-known "Epistle" was addressed.

Among the other well-known men to whom I was introduced at Liverpool
was John Cragg, an intelligent and enterprising ironfounder.  He was an
extensive manufacturer of the large sugar-boiling pans used in the West
Indies.  He had also given his attention to the introduction of iron
into buildings of different sorts.  Being a man of artistic taste he
had even introduced cast-iron into Gothic architecture.  In order to
exhibit, in an impressive form, the uses of his favourite metal,
he erected at his own cost a very elegant church in the northern part
of Liverpool.*
So far as I can recollect, the name of the church was St. James's.
It exhibited a very early introduction of iron as an important element
in architectural construction.  Iron was afterwards largely introduced
into mills, mill gearing, and buildings generally.

Cast-iron was introduced, not only in the material parts of the
structure, but into the Gothic columns and Gothic tracery of the
windows, as well as into the lofty and elegant spire.  Iron was also
employed in the external ornamental details, where delicate yet
effective decoration was desirable.  The famous architect,
Edward Blore, was the designer of the church; and the whole details of
the building--of which cast-iron formed the principal material--
were executed to his entire satisfaction*
So far as I can recollect, the name of the church was St. James's.
It exhibited a very early introduction of iron as an important element
in architectural construction.  Iron was afterwards largely introduced
into mills, mill gearing, and buildings generally.

My introduction to Mr. Cragg led to an acquaintance, and then to a
friendship.  When the ice was broken which was very soon--he told me
that he was desirous of retiring from the more active part of his
business.  Whether he liked my looks or not I do not know; but, quite
unexpectedly, he made me a very tempting offer to enter his works as
his successor.  He had already amassed a fortune, and I might do the
same.  I could only thank him most sincerely for his kindness.
But, on carefully thinking the matter over, I declined the proposal.
My principal reason was, that the special nature of his foundry work
did not quite harmonise with my desire to follow the more strictly
mechanical part of the iron business.  Besides, I thought I had a
brighter prospect of success before me; though I knew that I had many
difficulties to contend against.  Did I throw away my chances in
declining the liberal proposal of Mr. Cragg?  The reader will be able
to judge from the following pages.  But to the last*
Mr. Cragg died in 1853, aged 84.
I continued a most friendly intercourse with my intended patron, while
he on his part took an almost paternal interest in my progress.

After my visit to Liverpool I passed on to Manchester.
I was fortunate in having introductions to some of the leading men
there,--to John Kennedy, William Fairbairn, the Grant Brothers, and
lastly, to that most admirable man, Benjamin Hick, engineer, Bolton.
To narrate in detail all the instances of warm and hospitable
kindnesses which I received from men in Lancashire, even from the
outset of my career there, would fill a volume.

I first went to see my friend Edward Tootal, who had given me so kind
a reception in 1830.  I was again cordially received; he now promised
to befriend me, which he did most effectually.  I next visited John
Chippendale, of the firm of Thomson, Chippendale, and Company, calico
printers.  I had met him at a friend's house in London, where he had
offered, if I ever visited Manchester, to introduce me to some of the
best men there.  I accordingly called upon him at his counting-house.
It happened to be Tuesday, the market day, when all the heads of
manufacturing establishments in and round Manchester met together at
the Exchange between 12 and 1; and thus all were brought to a focus in
a very convenient manner.

Mr. Chippendale first introduced me to Mr. John Kennedy, one of
the most distinguished men in Manchester.  I had a special letter
of introduction to him from Buchanan of Catrine, and his partner
Smith of Deanstone.  I explained to him the object of my visit to
Manchester, and he cordially entered into my views.  He left his
occupation at the time, and went with me to see a place which he
thought might be suitable for my workshop.  The building was new at
hand--in Dale Street, Piccadilly.  It had been used as a cotton mill,
but was abandoned by the owner in favour of more suitable and extensive
premises.  It was now let out in flats for manufacturing purposes.
Power was supplied to each flat from a shaft connected with a large
mill up the street, the owner of which had power to spare. The flat
shown to me was 130 feet long by 27 feet wide, and the rent was only
#50 a year.  I thought the premises very suitable, but I took a night
to sleep over it.  I thanked Mr. Kennedy very much for his kindness,
and for the trouble which he had taken on behalf of an unknown

On this memorable day I had another introduction, through the kindness
of Mr. Chippendale, which proved of great service to me.  It was to the
Messrs. Grant, the famous "Brothers Cheeryble" of Dickens. I was taken
to their counting-house in Cannon Street, where I was introduced to
Daniel Grant.  Although business was at its full height, he gave me a
cordial reception.  But, to save time, he invited me to come after the
Exchange was over and take "tiffin" with him at his hospitable mansion
in Mosely Street.

There, he said, I should meet some of the most enterprising men in
Lancashire.  I was most happy, of course, to avail myself of his
invitation.  I went thither accordingly, and the first thing that
Daniel did was to present me in the most cordial manner to "his noble
brother William," as he always affectionately called him.  William was
the head of the firm, and he, too, gave me a warm and hearty welcome.
He asked me to sit beside him at the head of the table.

During dinner--for indeed it was such, being the survival of the
old-fashioned one o'clock dinner of a departing age--William entered
into conversation with me.  He took occasion to inquire into the object
of my visit to Manchester.  I told him, as briefly as I could,
that I intended to begin the business of a mechanical engineer on a
very moderate scale, and that I had been looking out for premises
wherein to commence operations.  He seemed interested, and asked more
questions.  I related to him my little history, and told him of my
desires, hopes, and aspirations.  What was my age?  "Twenty-six."
"That is a very young age at which to begin business on your own account"
"Yes; but I have plenty of work in me, and I am very economical."
Then he pressed his questions home.  "But what is your capital?"
I told him that my capital in cash was #63.  "What!" he said,
"that will do very little for you when Saturday nights come round."
"That's true," I answered; "but as there will be only myself and Archy
Torry to provide for, I think I can manage to get along very well until
profitable work comes in."

He whispered to me, "Keep your heart up!"  With such views, he said,
I was sure to do well.  And if, he added, on any Saturday night I
wanted money to pay wages or other expenses, I would find a credit for
#500 at 3 per cent at his office in Cannon Street, "and no security."
These were his very words.  What could have been more generous?
I could only whisper my earnest thanks for his warm-hearted kindness.
He gave me a kindly squeeze of the hand in return, which set me in a
glow of gladness.  He also gave me a sort of wink that I shall never
forget--a most knowing wink.  In looking at me he seemed to turn his
eye round and brought his eyebrows down upon it in a sudden and
extraordinary manner.  I thought it was a mere confirmation of his kind
advice to "keep my heart up!"  It was not until two years after that
I found, from a mutual friend, that the eye in question was made of
glass!  Sometimes the glass eye got slightly out of its place, and
Mr. Grant had to force it in again by this odd contortion of his
eyebrows, which I had translated into all manner of kind intentions.
As soon as the party broke up I went to Wren and Bennett, the agents
for the flat of the old mill which I had seen in Dale Street.
I inspected it again, and found that it was in all respects suitable
for my purpose.  I may mention in passing that the flat below mine was
in the occupation of a glass-cutter, whose glass-cutting lathes and
grindstones were supplied with power from the same upright shaft that
was to serve me in the same manner on the flat above, Encouraged by the
support of William Grant, I immediately entered into a contract for the
premises as a yearly tenant.  Nothing could have been more happily
arranged for my entering into business as a mechanical engineer and
machine tool maker.  The situation of the premises was excellent, being
in the heart of Manchester There was a powerful crab crane, or hoisting
apparatus, in the upper story, and the main chains came down in front
of the wide door of my workshop, so that heavy castings or cases of
machinery might be lifted up or let down with the utmost case and
convenience.  At the same time I was relieved from looking after the
moving power and its natural accompaniment of trouble and expense in
the way of fuel and attendance.

[Image]  My factory flat at Manchester

When I had settled the contract for taking the place, I wrote down to
Edinburgh by that night's post to tell my father of the happy results
of my visit to Manchester, and also to inform my right hand man, Archy
Torry, that I should soon be with him.  He was to prepare for packing
up my lathes, planing machines, drilling machines, and other smaller
tools, not forgetting my father's foot lathe, of which I had made such
effective use.*
I have still this foot-lathe in full and perfect and almost daily
action.  I continue to work with it now, after sixty-three years of
almost constant use.  It is a lathe that I duly prize and venerate, not
only because it was my father's, but also because it was, in practical
fact, the progenitor, more or less directly, of all the mechanical
productions of my long and active life.

I soon followed up my letter.  I was in Edinburgh in a few days' time,
and had all my tools packed up.  In the course of about ten days
I returned to Manchester, and was followed by Archy Torry and the
ponderous cases of machinery and engineer's tools.  They were all duly
delivered, hoisted to my flat, and put in their proper places.
I was then ready for work.

The very first order I received was from my friend Edward Tootal.
It was a new metallic piston for the small steam-engine that gave
motion to his silk-winding machinery.  It was necessary that it should
be done over night, in order that his factory should be at work as
usual in the morning.

My faithful Archy and I set to work accordingly.  We removed the old
defective piston, and replaced it by a new and improved one, made
according to my own ideas of how so important a part of a steam-engine
should be constructed.  We conveyed it to Mr. Tootal's factory over
night, and by five o'clock in the morning gave it a preliminary trial
to see that everything was in order.  The "hands" came in at six,
and the machine was set to work.  It was no doubt a very small order,
but the piston was executed perfectly and satisfactorily.  The result
of its easier action, through reduced friction, was soon observable in
the smaller consumption of coal.  Mr. Tootal and his brother were
highly pleased at my prompt and careful attention to their little
order, and it was the forerunner of better things to come.

Orders soon came in.  My planing machine was soon fully occupied.
When not engaged in executing other work it was employed in planing the
flat cast-iron inking tables for printing machines.  These were made in
considerable numbers by Messrs.  Wren and Bennett (my landlords) under
the personal superintendence of Ebenezer Cowper, brother of the
inventor, who, in conjunction with Mr. Applegath, was the first to
produce a really effective newspaper printing machine.  I had many
small subsidiary jobs sent to me to execute.  They not only served to
keep my machine tools properly employed, but tended in the most
effective way to make my work known to some of the best firms in
Manchester, who in course of time became my employers.

In order to keep pace with the influx of work I had to take on fresh
hands.  I established a smithy down in the cellar flat of the old mill
in Dale Street, so that all forge work in iron and steel might be
promptly and economically produced on the premises.  There was a small
iron foundry belonging to a Mr. Heath, about three minutes walk from my
workshop, where I had all my castings of iron and brass done with
promptness, and of excellent quality.  Mr. Heath very much wanted a
more powerful steam-engine to drive his cupola blowing fan.  I had made
a steam-engine in Edinburgh and brought it with me.  There it lay in my
workshop, where it remained unused, for I was sufficiently supplied
with power from the rotating shaft.  Mr. Heath offered to buy it.
The engine was accordingly removed to his iron foundry, and I received
my full quota of value in castings.

Week by week my orders grew, and the flat of the old mill soon assumed
a very busy aspect.  By occasionally adding to the number of my lathes,
drilling machines, and other engineers' tools, I attracted the
attention of employers.  When seen in action they not only facilitated
and economised the production of my own work, but became my best
advertisements.  Each new tool that I constructed had some feature of
novelty about it.  I always endeavoured after greater simplicity and
perfectness of workmanship.  I was punctual in all my engagements.
The business proved safe and profitable.  The returns were quick.
Sometimes one-third of the money was paid in advance on receipt of the
order, and the balance was paid on delivery at my own premises.
All risk of bad debts was avoided.  Thus I was enabled to carry on my
business with a very moderate amount of capital.

My crowded workshop and the active scene it presented, together with
the satisfaction my work gave to my employers, induced several persons
to offer to enter into partnership with me.  Sometimes it was on their
own account, or for a son or relation for whom they desired an opening.
But I fought shy of such proposals.  It was a very riskful affair to
admit as partners young men whose character for ability might be very
doubtful.  I was therefore satisfied to go on as before. Besides, I had
the kind and disinterested offer of the Brothers Grant, which was
always available, though, indeed, I did not need to make use of it.
I had also the good fortune to be honoured by the friendship of Edward
Lloyd, the head of the firm of Jones, Lloyd, and Co.  I had some
moderate financial transactions with the bank.  Mr. Lloyd had,
no doubt, heard something of my industry and economy.  I never asked
him for any accommodation; but on one occasion he invited me into his
parlour, not to sweat me, but to give me some most kindly hints and
advice as to the conduct of my financial affairs.  He volunteered an
offer which I could not but feel proud of.  He said that I should have
a credit of #1000 at my service, at the usual bank rate.  He added,
"As soon as you can, lay by a little capital of your own, and baste it
with its own gravy!"  A receipt which I have carefully followed through
life, and I am thankful to say with satisfactory results.

Before I conclude this chapter, let me add something more about my kind
friends the Brothers Grant.  It is well that their history should be
remembered, as the men who personally knew them will soon be all dead.
The three brothers, William, Daniel, and John Grant, were the sons of a
herdsman or cattle-dealer, whose occupation consisted in driving cattle
from the far north of Scotland to the rich pastures of Cheshire and
Lancashire.  The father was generally accompanied by his three sons,
who marched barefoot, as was the custom of the north country lads in
those days.  Being shrewd fellows, they observed with interest the
thriving looks and well-fed condition of the Lancashire folks.
They were attracted by the print works and cotton mills which lay by
the Irwell, as it crept along in its bright and rural valley towards
Manchester.  When passing the works of Sir Robert Peel at Nuttal, near
Bury, they admired the beauty of the situation.  The thought possessed
them that they would like to obtain some employment in the neighbourhood.
They went together in search of a situation.  It is said that when they
reached the crown of the hill near Walmsley, from which a beautiful
prospect is to be seen, they were in doubt as to the line of road which
they should pursue.  To decide their course, a stick was put up,
and they agreed to follow the direction in which it should fall.
The stick fell in the direction of Ramsbottom, then a little village in
the bottom of the valley, on the river Irwell.  There they went,
and found employment.

They were thrifty, economical, and hard-working; and they soon saved
money.  Their savings became capital, and they invested it in a little
print work.  Their capital grew, and they went on investing it in print
works and cotton mills.

They became great capitalists and manufacturers; and by their industry,
ability, and integrity, were regarded as among the best men in
Lancashire.  As a memorial of the event which enabled them to take up
their happy home at Ramsbottom, they caused to be erected at the top of
Walmsley Hill a lofty tower, overlooking the valley, as a kind of
public thank-offering for the prosperity and success which they had
achieved in their new home.  Their well-directed diligence made the
valley teem with industry, activity, health, joy, and opulence.
They never forgot the working class from which they had sprung, and as
their labours had contributed to their wealth, they spared no expense
in providing for the moral, intellectual, and physical interests of
their work-people.  Whenever a worthy object was to be achieved,
the Brothers Grant were always ready with their hearty and substantial
help. They contributed to found schools, churches, and public buildings,
and many a deserving man did they aid with their magnanimous bounty.

I may also mention that they never forgot their first impression of the
splendid position of the first Sir Robert Peel's works at Nuttal.
In course of time Sir Robert had, by his skill and enterprise, acquired
a large fortune, and desired to retire from business.  By this time the
Grant Brothers had succeeded so well that they were enabled to purchase
the whole of his works and property in the neighbourhood.
They proceeded to introduce every improvement in the way of machinery
and calico printing, and thus greatly added to the quality of their
productions.  Their name became associated with everything that was
admirable.  They abounded in hospitality and generosity.
In the course of many long years of industry, enterprise, and benevolence,
they earned the goodwill of thousands, the gratitude of many, and the
respect of all who knew them.  I was only one of many who had cause to
remember them with gratefulness.  How could I acknowledge their
kindness?  There was one way; it was a very small way, but I will
relate it.   Soon after my introduction to the Grants, and before I had
brought my tools to Manchester, William invited me to join a gathering
of his friends at Ramsbottom.  The church built at his cost had just
been finished, and it was to be opened with great eclat on the
following Sunday.  He asked me to be his guest, and I accepted his
invitation with pleasure.  As it was a very fine day at the end of May,
I walked out to Ramsbottom, and enjoyed the scenery of the district.
Here was the scene of the Grant Brothers' industry and prosperity.
I met many enterprising and intelligent men, to whom William Grant
introduced me.  I was greatly pleased with the ceremonies connected
with the opening of the church.

On the Monday morning William Grant, having seen some specimens of my
father's artistic skill as a landscape painter, requested me to convey
to him his desire that he should paint two pictures--one of Castle
Grant, the residence of the chief of the Clan Grant, and the other of
Elgin Cathedral.  These places were intimately associated with his
early recollections, The brothers had been born in the village
adjoining Castle Grant; and Elgin Cathedral was one of the principal
old buildings of the north.  My father replied, saying that he would be
delighted to execute the pictures for a gentleman who had given me so
kindly a reception, but that he had no authentic data--no drawings,
no engravings--from which to paint them; and that he was now too old
to visit the places.  I therefore resolved to do what I could to help
him to paint the pictures.

As it was necessary that I should go to London before returning to
Edinburgh to pack up my machine tools there, I went thither, and after
doing my business, I embarked for Dundee by the usual steamer.
I made my way from there, via Perth and Dunkeld, to Inverness, and from
thence I proceeded to Elgin.  I made most careful drawings of the
remains of that noble cathedral.  I endeavoured to include all that was
most beautiful in the building and its surrounding scenery.
I then went on to Castle Grant, through a picturesque and romantic
country.  I found the castle amidst its deep forests of pine, larch,
elm, and chestnut.  The building consists of a high quadrangular pile
of many stories, projecting backwards at each end, and pierced with
windows of all shapes and sizes.  I did my best to carry away a graphic
sketch of the old castle and its surroundings:  and then, with my stock
of drawings, I prepared to return to Inverness on foot.  The scenery
was grand and beautiful.  The weather was fine, although after mid-day
it became very hot.  A thunder storm was evidently approaching.
The sun was obscured by a thunder-cloud; the sky flashed with
lightning, and the rain began to pour down.  I was then high up on a
wild looking moor, covered with heather and vast boulders.

[Image]  An extemporised shower-bath

There was no shelter to be had, for not a house was in sight.
I did not so much mind for my clothes, but I feared very much for my
sketches.  Taking advantage of the solitude, I stripped myself, put my
sketches under my clothes, and thrust them into a hollow underneath a
huge boulder.  I sat myself down on the top of it, and there I had a
magnificent shower-bath of warm rain.  I never enjoyed a bath under
such romantic circumstances.  The thunder-clouds soon passed over my
head, and the sun broke out again  cheerily.  When the rain had ceased
I took out my clothes and drawings from the hollow, and found them
perfectly dry.  I set out again on my long walk to Inverness;
and reached it just in time to catch the Caledonian Canal steamer.
While passing down Loch Ness I visited the romantic Fail of Foyers;
then through Loch Lochy, past Ben Nevis to Loch Linnhe, Oban, and the
Kyles of Bute, to Glasgow, and from thence to Edinburgh.

I had the pleasure of placing in my father's hands the sketches I had
made.  He was greatly delighted with them.  They enabled him to set to
work with his usual zeal, and in the course of a short time he was able
to execute, con amore, the commission of the Brothers Grant.  So soon
as I had completed my sketches I wrote to Daniel Grant and informed him
of the result of my journey.  He afterwards expressed himself most
warmly as to my prompt zeal in obtaining for him authentic pictures of
places so dear to the brothers, and so much associated with their
earliest and most cherished recollections.

I have already referred to the Brothers Cowper.  They were among my
most attached friends at Manchester.  Many of my most pleasant
associations are connected with them.  Edward Cowper was one of the
most successful mechanics in bringing the printing machine to a state
of practical utility.  He was afterwards connected with Mr. Applegath
of London, the mechanical engineer of the Times newspaper*
Mr. Koeig's machines, first used at the Times office, were patented in
1814.  They were too complicated and expensive, and the inking was too
imperfect for general adoption.  They were superseded by Mr. Edward
Cowper's machine, which he invented and patented in 1816.
He afterwards added the inking roller and table to the common press.
The effect of Mr. Cowper's invention was to improve the quality and
speed of printing, and to render literature accessible to millions of
he invented for the proprietors a machine that threw off from 4500 to
5000 impressions in the hour.

In course of time the Brothers Cowper removed the manufacture of their
printing machines from London ,to Manchester.  There they found skilled
and energetic workmen, ready to carry their plans into effect.
They secured excellent premises, supplied with the best modern machine
tools, in the buildings of Wren and Bennett, about two minutes' walk
from my workshop, which I rented from the same landlords.

I had much friendly intercourse with the Cowpers, especially with
Ebenezer the younger brother, who took up his residence at Manchester
for the purpose of specially superintending the manufacture of printing
machines.  These were soon in large demand, not only for the printing
of books but of newspapers.  One of the first booksellers who availed
himself of the benefits of the machine was Mr. Charles Knight,
who projected the Penny Magazine of 1832, and sold it to the extent of
about 180,000 copies weekly.  It was also adopted by the Messrs.
Chambers of Edinburgh, and the proprietors of the Magasin Pittoresque
of Paris.  The Universities of Oxford and Cambridge also used Cowper's
machine in printing vast numbers of bibles and prayer-books, thereby
reducing their price to one-third of the former cost.  There was
scarcely a newspaper of any importance in the country that was not
printed with a Cowper's machine.

As I possessed some self-acting tools that were specially suited to
execute some of the most refined and important parts of the printing
machine, the Messrs.  Cowper transferred their execution to me.  This
was a great advantage to both.  They were relieved of the technical
workmanship; while I kept my men and machine tools fully employed at
times when they might otherwise have been standing idle.
Besides, I derived another advantage from my connection with the
Brothers Cowper, by having frequent orders to supply my small
steam-engines, which were found to be so suitable for giving motion to
the printing machines.  At first the machines were turned by hand, and
very exhausting work it was; but the small steam-engine soon relieved
the labourer from his heavy work.

Edward frequently visited Manchester to arrange with his brother as to
the increasing manufacture of the printing machines, and also to
introduce such improvements in the minor details as the experience and
special requirements of the printing trade suggested.  It was on these
occasions that I had the happy opportunity of becoming intimately
acquainted with him; and this resulted in a firm friendship which
continued until the close of his admirable life.  The clear and
masterly way in which, by some happy special faculty, he could catch up
the essential principles and details of any mechanical combination,
however novel the subject might be, was remarkable; and the quaint and
humorous manner in which he treated all such subjects, in no small
degree caused his shrewd and intelligent remarks to take a lasting hold
of the memory.

On many occasions Edward Cowper gave Friday evening lectures on
technical subjects at the Royal Institution, London.  Next to Faraday,
no one held the attention of a delighted audience in so charming a
manner as he did.  Like Faraday, he possessed the power of clearly
unveiling his subject, and stripping it of all its complicated
perplexities.  His illustrations were simple, clear, and understandable.
Technical words were avoided as much as possible.  He threw the
ordinary run of lecturers far into the shade.  Intelligent boys and
girls could understand him.  Next to Faraday, no one filled the theatre
of the Institution with such eager and crowded audiences as he did.
His choice of subjects, as well as his masterly treatment, always
rendered his lectures instructive and attractive.  He was one of the
most kind-hearted of men, and the cheerful way in which he laid aside
his ordinary business to give instruction and pleasure to others
endeared him to a very wide circle of devoted friends.

CHAPTER 11.  Bridgewater Foundry--Partnership.

My business went on prosperously.  I had plenty of orders, and did my
best to execute them satisfactorily.  Shortly after the opening of the
Liverpool and Manchester Railway there was a largely increased demand
for machine-making tools.  The success of that line led to the
construction of other lines, concentrating in Manchester;
and every branch of manufacture shared in the prosperity of the time.

There was a great demand for skilled, and even for unskilled labour.
The demand was greater than the supply.  Employers were subjected to
exorbitant demands for increased rates of wages.  The workmen struck,
and their wages were raised.  But the results were not always
satisfactory.  Except in the cases of the old skilled hands, the work
was executed more carelessly than before.  The workmen attended less
regularly; and sometimes, when they ought to have been at work on
Monday mornings, they did not appear until Wednesday.
Their higher wages had been of no use to them, but the reverse.
Their time had been spent for the most part in two days' extra drinking.

The irregularity and carelessness of the workmen naturally proved very
annoying to the employers.  But it gave an increased stimulus to the
demand for self-acting machine tools by which the untrustworthy efforts
of hand labour might be avoided.  The machines never got drunk;
their hands never shook from excess; they were never absent from work;
they did not strike for wages; they were unfailing in their accuracy
and regularity, while producing the most delicate or ponderous portions
of mechanical structures.

It so happened that the demand for machine tools, consequent upon the
increasing difficulties with the workmen, took place at the time that I
began business in Manchester, and I had my fair share of the increased
demand.  Most of my own machine tools were self-acting--planing
machines, slide lathes, drilling, boring, slotting machines, and so on.
When set up in my workshop they distinguished themselves by their
respective merits and efficiency.  They were, in fact, their own best
advertisements.  The consequence was that orders for similar machines
poured in upon me, and the floor of my flat became completely loaded
with the work in hand.

The tenant below me, it will be remembered, was a glass-cutter.
He observed, with alarm, the bits of plaster from the roof coming down
among his cut glasses and decanters.  He thought that the rafters
overhead were giving way, and that the whole of my machinery and
engines would come tumbling down upon him some day and involve him in
ruin.  He probably exaggerated the danger; still there was some cause
for fear.

When the massive castings on my floor were moved about from one part to
another, the floor quivered and trembled under the pressure.
The glass-cutter complained to the landlord, and the landlord
expostulated with me.  I did all that I could to equalise the pressure,
and prevent vibration as much as possible.  But at length, in spite of
all my care, an accident occurred which compelled me to take measures
to remove my machinery to other premises.  As this removal was followed
by consequences of much importance to myself, I must endeavour to state
the circumstances under which it occurred.

My kind friend, John Kennedy, continued to take the greatest interest
in my welfare.  He called in upon me occasionally.  He admired the
quality of my work, and the beauty of my self-acting machinery.
More than that, he recommended me to his friends.  It was through his
influence that I obtained an order for a high-pressure steam-engine of
twenty horse-power to drive the machinery connected with a distillery
at Londonderry, in Ireland.  I was afraid at first that I could not
undertake the job.  The size of the engine was somewhat above the
height of my flat, and it would probably occupy too much space in my
already overcrowded workshop.  At the same time I was most anxious not
to let such an order pass me.  I wished to please my friend Mr. Kennedy;
besides, the execution of the engine might lead to further business.

At length, after consideration, I undertook to execute the order.
Instead of constructing the engine perpendicularly, I constructed it
lying upon its side.  There was a little extra difficulty, but I
managed to complete it in the best style.  It had next to be taken to
pieces for the purpose of being conveyed to Londonderry.  It was then
that the accident happened.  My men had the misfortune to allow the end
of the engine beam to crash through the floor!  There was a terrible
scattering of lath and plaster and dust.  The glass-cutter was in a
dreadful state.  He rushed forthwith to the landlord, and called upon
him to come at once and judge for himself!

Mr. Wren did come, and did judge for himself.  He looked in at the
glass shop, and saw the damage that had been done amongst the tumblers
and decanters.  There was the hole in the roof, through which the end
of the engine beam had come and scattered the lath and plaster.
The landlord then came to me.  The whole flat was filled with
machinery, including the steam-engine on its side, now being taken to
pieces for the purpose of shipment to Ireland.  Mr. Wren, in the
kindest manner, begged me to remove from the premises as soon as I
could, otherwise the whole building might be brought to the ground with
the weight of my machinery.  "Besides," he argued, "you must have more
convenient premises for your rapidly extending business."  It was quite
true.  I must leave the place and establish myself elsewhere.

The reader may remember that while on my journey on foot from Liverpool
to Manchester in 1830, I had rested myself for a little on the parapet
of the bridge overlooking the canal near Patricroft, and gazed
longingly upon a plot of land situated along the canal side.
On the afternoon of the day on which the engine beam crashed through
the glass-cutter's roof, I went out again to look at that favourite
piece of land.  There it was, unoccupied, just as I had seen it some
years before.  I went to it and took note of its dimensions.
It consisted of about six acres.  It was covered with turf,
and as flat and neat as a bowling-green.  It was bounded on one side by
the Bridgewater Canal, edged by a neat stone margin 1050 feet long,
on another side by the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, while on a
third side it was bounded by a good road, accessible from all sides.
The plot was splendidly situated.  I wondered that it had not been
secured before. It was evidently waiting for me!

I did not allow the grass to grow beneath my feet.  That very night I
ascertained that the proprietor of this most beautiful plot was squire
Trafford, one of the largest landed proprietors in the district.
Next morning I proceeded to Trafford Hall for the purpose of
interviewing the Squire.  He received me most cordially.  After I had
stated my object in calling upon him, he said he would be exceedingly
pleased to have me for one of his tenants.  He gave me a letter of
introduction to his agent, Mr. Thomas Lee, of Princes Street, Manchester,
with whom I was to arrange as to the terms.  I was offered a lease of
the six acre plot for 999 years, at an annual rent of 1 3/4d per square
yard.  This proposal was most favourable, as I obtained the advantage
of a fee-simple purchase without having to sink capital in the land.
All that I had to provide for was the annual rent.

My next step in this important affair was to submit the proposal to the
judgment of my excellent friend Edward Lloyd, the banker.  He advised
me to close the matter as soon as possible, for he considered the terms
most favourable.  He personally took me to his solicitors, Dennison,
Humphreys, and Cunliffe, and introduced me to them.  Mr. Humphreys took
the matter in hand.  We went together to Mr.Lee, and within a few days
the lease was signed and I was put into possession of the land upon
which the Bridgewater Foundry was afterwards erected.*
I called the place the Bridgewater Foundry as an appropriate and humble
tribute to the memory of the first great canal maker in Britain the
noble Duke of Bridgewater.  My ground was on the first mile of the
Bridgewater Canal which the Duke had constructed under the
superintendence of Brindley, so that it might well be considered,
in an Engineering sense, "classic ground."

I may mention briefly the advantages of the site.  The Bridgewater Canal,
which lay along one side of the foundry communicated with every
waterway and port in England whilst the railway alongside enabled a
communication to be kept up by rail with every part of the country.
The Worsley coal-boats came alongside the wharf, and a cheap and
abundant supply of fuel was thus insured.  The railway station was near
at hand, and afforded every opportunity for travelling to and from the
works, while I was at the same time placed within twenty minutes of

Another important point has to be mentioned.  A fine bed of brick-clay
lay below the surface of the ground, which supplied the material for
bricks.  Thus the entire works may be truly said to have "risen out of
the ground;" for the whole of the buildings rested upon the land from
which the clay below was dug and burned into bricks.  Then, below the
clay lay a bed of New Red Sandstone rock, which yielded a solid
foundation for any superstructure, however lofty or ponderous.

As soon as the preliminary arrangements for the lease of the six acre
plot had been made, I proceeded to make working drawings of a temporary
timber workshop; as I was anxious to unload the floor of my flat in
Dale Street, and to get as much of my machinery as possible speedily
removed to Patricroft.  For the purpose of providing the temporary
accommodation, I went to Liverpool and purchased a number of logs of
New Brunswick pine.  The logs were cut up into planks, battens, and
roof-timbers, and were delivered in a few days at the canal wharf in
front of my plot.  The building of the workshops rapidly proceeded.
By the aid of some handy active carpenters, superintended by my
energetic foreman, Archy Torry, several convenient well-lighted
workshops were soon ready for the reception of my machinery.
I had a four horsepower engine, which I had made at Edinburgh,
ready to be placed in position, together with the boiler.
This was the first power I employed in starting my new works.

I must return for a moment to the twenty horse-power engine, which had
been the proximate cause of my removal from Dale Street.  It was taken
to pieces, packed, and sent off to Londonderry.  When I was informed
that it was erected and ready for work I proceeded to Ireland to see it
begin it's operations.

I may briefly say that the engine gave every satisfaction,
and I believe that it continues working to this day.  I had the
pleasure of bringing back with me an order for a condensing engine of
forty horse-power, required by Mr. John Munn for giving motion to his
new flax mill, then under construction.  I mention this order because
the engine was the first important piece of work executed at the
Bridgewater Foundry.

This was my first visit to Ireland.  Being so near the Giant's Causeway,
I took the opportunity, on my way homewards, of visiting that object of
high geologic interest, together with the magnificent basaltic
promontory of Fairhead.  I spent a day in clambering up the
terrible-looking crags.  In a stratum of red hematite clay, underneath
a solid basaltic crag of some sixty feet or more in thickness, I found
the charred branches of trees--the remains of some forest that had,
at some inconceivably remote period, been destroyed by a vast
out-belching flow of molten lava from a deep-seated volcanic store

I returned to Patricroft, and found the wooden workshops nearly
finished.  The machine tools were, for the most part, fixed and ready
for use.  In August 1836 the Bridgewater foundry was in complete and
efficient action.  The engine ordered at Londonderry was at once put in
hand, and the concern was fairly started in its long career of
prosperity.  The wooden workshops had been erected upon the grass.
But the sward soon disappeared.  The hum of the driving belts,
the whirl of the machinery, the sound of the hammer upon the anvil,
gave the place an air of busy activity.  As work increased, workmen
increased. The workshops were enlarged.  Wood gave place to brick.
Cottages for the accommodation of the work-people sprang up in the
neighbourhood; and what had once been quiet grassy fields became the
centre of a busy population.

[Image] Bridgewater Foundry.  From a sketch by Alexander Nasmyth.

It was a source of vast enjoyment to me, while engaged in the anxious
business connected with the establishment of the foundry, to be
surrounded with so many objects of rural beauty.  The site of the works
being on the west side of Manchester, we had the benefit of breathing
pure air during the greater part of the year.  The scenery round about
was very attractive.  Exercise was a source of health to the mind as
well as the body.   As it was necessary that I should reside as near as
possible to the works, I had plenty of opportunities for enjoying the
rural scenery of the neighbourhood.  I had the good fortune to become
the tenant of a small cottage in the ancient village of Barton,
in Cheshire, at the very moderate rental of #15 a year.  The cottage
was situated on the banks of the river Irwell, and was only about
six minutes' walk from the works at Patricroft.  It suited my moderate
domestic arrangements admirably.

The village was surrounded by apple orchards and gardens, and situated
in the midst of tranquil rural scenery.  It was a great treat to me,
after a long and busy day at the foundry, especially in summer time,
to take my leisure walks through the green lanes, and pass the many
picturesque old farmhouses and cottages which at that time presented
subjects of the most tempting kind for the pencil.  Such quiet summer
evening strolls afforded me the opportunity for tranquil thought.
Each day's transactions furnished abundant subjects for consideration.
It was a happy period in my life.  I was hopeful for the future,
as everything had so far prospered with me.

When I had got comfortably settled in my cosy little cottage, my dear
sister Margaret came from Edinburgh to take charge of my domestic
arrangements.  By her bright and cheerful disposition she made the
cottage a very happy home.  Although I had neither the means nor the
disposition to see much company, I frequently had visits from some of
my kind friends in Manchester.  I valued them all the more for my
sister's sake, inasmuch as she had come from a bright household in
Edinburgh, full of cheerfulness, part of which she transferred to my

At the same time, it becomes me to say a word or two about the great
kindness which I received from my friends and well-wishers at
Manchester and the neighbourhood.  Amongst these were the three
brothers Grant, Benjamin Hick of Bolton, Edward Lloyd the banker,
John Kennedy, and William Fairbairn.  I had not much leisure during the
week days, but occasionally on Sunday afternoons my sister and myself
enjoyed their cordial hospitality.  In this way I was brought into
friendly intercourse with the most intelligent and cultivated persons
in Lancashire.  The remembrance of the delightful evenings I spent in
their society will ever continue one of the most cherished
recollections of my early days in Manchester.

I may mention that one of the principal advantages of the site of my
works was its connection with the Liverpool and Manchester Railway,
as well as with the Bridgewater Canal.  There was a stone-edged roadway
along the latter, where the canal barges might receive and deliver
traffic in the most convenient manner.  As the wharfage boundary was
the property of the trustees of the Bridgewater Canal, it was necessary
to agree with them as to the rates to be charged for the requisite
accommodation.  Their agent deferred naming the rent until I had finally
settled with Squire Trafford as to the lease of his land, and then,
after he supposed he had got me into a cleft stick, he proposed so
extravagant a rate that I refused to use the wharf upon his terms.

It happened, fortunately for me, that this agent had involved himself
in a Chancery suit with the trustees, which eventually led to his
retirement.  The property then merged into the hands of Lord Francis
Egerton, heir to the Bridgewater Estates.  The canal was placed under
the management of that excellent gentleman, James Loch, M.P.
Lord Francis Egerton, on his next visit to Worsley Hall, called upon me
at the foundry.  He expressed his great pleasure at having us as his
near neighbours, and as likely to prove such excellent customers of the
canal trustees.  Because of this latter circumstance, he offered me the
use of the wharf free of rent.  This was quite in accordance with his
generous disposition in all matters.  But as I desired the agreement to
be put in a regular business-like form, I arranged with Mr. Loch to pay
5s. per annum as a formal acknowledgment, and an agreement to this
effect was accordingly drawn up and signed by both parties.

Lord Francis Egerton was soon after created Earl of Ellesmere.
He became one of the most constant visitors at the foundry, in which he
always took a lively interest.  He delighted to go through the workshops,
and enjoy the sight of the active machinery and the work in progress.
When he had any specially intelligent visitors at Worsley Hall, which
was frequently the case, he was sure to bring them down to the foundry
in his beautiful private barge, and lead them through the various
departments of the establishment.  One of his favourite sights was the
pouring out of the molten iron into the moulds for the larger class of
castings; when some twelve or sixteen tons, by the aid of my screw
safety ladle, were decanted with as much neatness and exactness as the
pouring out of a glass of wine from a decanter.  When this work was
performed towards dark, Lord Ellesmere's poetic fancy and artistic eye
enabled him to enjoy the sight exceedingly.*
I had the happiness to receive the kindest and most hospitable
attention from Lord Ellesmere and his family.  His death, which
occurred in 1857, at the early age of fifty-seven, deprived me of one
of my warmest friends.  The Countess of Ellesmere continued the
friendship until her death, which occurred several years later.
The same kindly feelings still exist in the children of the lamented
pair, all of whom evince the admirable qualities which so peculiarly
distinguished their parents, and made them universally beloved by all
classes, rich and poor.

I must here say a few words as to my Screw Safety Ladle.
I had observed the great danger occasioned to workmen by the method of
emptying the molten iron into the casting moulds.  The white-hot fluid
was run from the melting furnace into a large ladle with one or two
cross handles and levers, worked by a dozen or fifteen men.  The ladle
contained many tons of molten iron, and was transferred by a crane to
the moulds.  To do this required the greatest caution and steadiness.
If a stumble took place, and the ladle was in the slightest degree
upset, there was a splash of hot metal on the floor, which, in the
recoil, flew against the men's clothes, set them on fire, or occasioned
frightful scalds and burns.

[Image]  Old foundry ladle

To prevent these accidents I invented my Safety Foundry Ladle.
I applied a screw wheel, keyed to the trunnion of the ladle, which was
acted on by an endless screw attached to the sling of the ladle;
and by this means one man could move the largest ladle on its axis,
and pour out its molten contents with the most perfect ease and safety.
Not only was all risk of accident thus removed, but the perfection of
the casting was secured by the steady continuous flow of the white-hot
metal into the mould.  The nervous anxiety and confusion that usually
attended the pouring of the metal required for the larger class of
castings was thus entirely avoided.

[Image]  Safety foundry ladle

At the same time I introduced another improvement in connection with
these foundry ladles which, although of minor importance, has in no
small degree contributed to the perfection of large castings.
This consisted in hanging "the skimmer" to the edge of the ladle,
so as to keep back the scorae that invariably float on the surface of
the melted metal.  This was formerly done by hand, and many accidents
were the consequence.  But now the clear flow of pure metal into the
moulds was secured, while the scoriae were mechanically held back.
All that the attendant has to do is to regulate the inclination of the
Skimmer so as to keep its lower edge sufficiently under the surface of
the outflowing metal.  The preceding illustrations will enable the
reader to understand these simple but important technical improvements.

These inventions were made in 1838.  I might have patented them,
but preferred to make them over to the public.  I sent drawings and
descriptions of the Safety Foundry Ladle to all the principal founders
both at home and abroad; and I was soon after much gratified by their
cordial expression of its practical value.  The ladle is now
universally adopted.  The Society of Arts of Scotland, to whom I sent
drawings and descriptions, did me the honour to present me with their
large silver medal in acknowledgment of the invention.

In order to carry on my business with effectiveness it was necessary
that I should have some special personal assistance.  I could carry on
the whole "mechanical" department as regards organisation, designing,
and construction; but there was the "financial" business to be attended
to,--the counting-house, the correspondence, and the arrangement of
money affairs.  I wanted some help with respect to these outer matters.

When I proceeded to take my plot of land at Patricroft some of my
friends thought it a very bold stroke, especially for a young man who
had been only about three years in business.  Nevertheless, there were
others who watched my progress with special interest, and were willing
to join in my adventure--though adventure it was not. They were ready
to take a financial interest in my affairs. They did me the compliment
of thinking me a good investment, by offering to place their capital
in my concern as sleeping partners.  But I was already beyond the
"sleeping partner" state of affairs.  Whoever joined me must work as
energetically as I did, and must give the faculties of his mind to the
prosperity of the concern.  I communicated the offers I had received to
my highly judicious friend Edward Lloyd.  He was always willing to
advise me, though I took care never to encroach upon his kindness.
He concurred with my views, and advised me to fight shy of
sleeping partners.  I therefore continued to look out for a working
partner.  In the end I was fortunate.  My friend, Mr. Thomas Jeavons,
of Liverpool, having been informed of my desire, made inquiries,
and found the man likely to suit me.  He furnished him with a letter
of introduction to me, which he presented one day at the works.

The young man became my worthy partner, Holbrook Gaskell.
He had served his time with Yates and Cox, iron merchants, of Liverpool.
Having obtained considerable experience in the commercial details of
that business, and being possessed of a moderate amount of capital,
he was desirous of joining me, and embarking his fortune with mine.
He was to take charge of the counting-house department, and conduct
such portion of the correspondence as did not require any special
technical knowledge of mechanical engineering.  The latter must
necessarily remain in my hands, because I found that the "off-hand"
sketches which I introduced in my letters as explanatory of mechanical
designs and suggestions were much more intelligible than any amount of
written words.

I was much pleased with the frank and friendly manner of Mr. Gaskell,
and I believe that the feeling between us was mutual.  With the usual
straight forwardness that prevails in Lancashire, the articles of
partnership were at once drawn up and signed, and the firm of Nasmyth
and Gaskell began.  We continued working together with hearty zeal for
a period of sixteen successive years; and I believe Mr. Gaskell had no
reason to regret his connection with the Bridgewater Foundry.

The reason of Mr. Gaskell leaving the concern was the state of his
health.  After his long partnership with me, he was attacked by a
serious illness, when his medical adviser earnestly recommended him to
retire from all business affairs.  This was the cause of his reluctant
retirement.  In course of time the alarming symptoms departed,
and he recovered his former health.  He then embarked in an extensive
soda manufactory, in conjunction with one of our pupils, whose taste
for chemistry was more attractive to him than engine-making.
A prosperous business was established, and at the time I write these
lines Mr. Gaskell continues a hale and healthy man, the possessor of a
large fortune, accumulated by the skilful manner in which he has
conducted his extensive affairs.

CHAPTER 12. Free Trade in Ability--The Strike--Death of my Father

I had no difficulty in obtaining abundance of skilled workmen in South
Lancashire and Cheshire.  I was in the neighbourhood of Manchester,
which forms the centre of a population gifted with mechanical instinct.
From an early period the finest sort of mechanical work has been turned
out in that part of England.  Much of the talent is inherited.
It descends from father to son, and develops itself from generation to
generation.  I may mention one curious circumstance connected with the
pedigree of Manchester:  that much of the mechanical excellence of its
workmen descends from the Norman smiths and armourers introduced into
the neighbourhood at the Norman Conquest by Hugo de Lupus, the chief
armourer of William the Conqueror, after the battle of Hastings, in 1066.

I was first informed of this circumstance by William Stubbs of
Warrington, then maker of the celebrated "Lancashire files."
The "P. S.," or Peter Stubbs's files, were so vastly superior to
other files, both in the superiority of the steel and in the perfection
of the cutting, which long retained its efficiency, that every workman
gloried in the possession and use of such durable tools.
Being naturally interested in everything connected with tools and
mechanics, I was exceedingly anxious to visit the factory where these
admirable files were made.  I obtained an introduction to William Stubbs,
then head of the firm, and was received by him with much cordiality
when I asked him if I might be favoured with a sight of his factory,
he replied that he had no factory, as such; and that all he had to do
in supplying his large warehouse was to serve out the requisite quantities
of pure cast steel as rods and bars to the workmen; and that they,
on their part, forged the metal into files of every description at
their own cottage workshops, principally situated in the neighbouring
counties of Cheshire and Lancashire.

This information surprised as well as pleased me.  Mr. Stubbs proceeded
to give me an account of the origin of this peculiar system of cottage
manufacture in his neighbourhood.  It appears that Hugo de Lupus,
William the Conqueror's Master of Arms, the first Earl of Chester,
settled in North Cheshire shortly after the Conquest.  He occupied
Halton Castle, and his workmen resided in Warrington and the adjacent
villages of Appleton, Widnes, Prescot, and Cuerdley.
There they produced coats of steel, mail armour, and steel and
iron weapons, under the direct superintendence of their chief.

The manufacture thus founded continued for many centuries.
Although the use of armour was discontinued, the workers in steel and
iron still continued famous.  The skill that had formerly been employed
in forging chain armour and war instruments was devoted to more
peaceful purposes.  The cottage workmen made the best of files and
steel tools of other kinds.  Their talents became hereditary, and the
manufacture of wire in all its forms is almost peculiar to Warrington
and the neighbourhood.  Mr. Stubbs also informed me that most of the
workmen's peculiar names for tools and implements were traceable to old
Norman-French words.  He also stated that at Prescot a peculiar class
of workmen has long been established, celebrated for their great skill
in clock and watchmaking; and that, in his opinion, they were the
direct descendants of a swarm of workmen from Hugo de Lupus's original
Norman hive of refined metal-workers, dating from the time of the
Conquest.  To return to my narrative.  In the midst of such a
habitually industrious population, it will be obvious that there was no
difficulty in finding a sufficient supply of able workmen.  It was for
the most part the most steady, respectable, and well-conducted classes
of mechanics who sought my employment--not only for the good wages
they received, but for the sake of their own health and that of their
families; for it will be remembered that the foundry and the workmen's
dwellings were surrounded by the fresh, free, open country.
In the course of a few years the locality became a thriving colony of
skilled mechanics.  In order to add to the accommodation of the
increasing numbers, an additional portion of land, amounting to eight
acres, was leased from Squire Trafford on the same terms as before.
On this land suitable houses and cottages for the foremen and workmen
were erected.  At the same time substantial brick workshops were built
in accordance with my original general plan, to meet the requirements
of our rapidly expanding business, until at length a large and
commodious factory was erected, as shown in the annexed engraving.

[Image]  Bridgewater Foundry Patricroft.
         From a painting by Alexander Nasmyth.

The village of Worsley, the headquarters of the Bridgewater Canal,
supplied us with a valuable set of workmen.  They were, in the first
place, labourers; but, like all Lancashire men, they were naturally
possessed of a quick aptitude for mechanical occupations connected with
machinery.  Our chief employment of these so-called labourers was in
transporting heavy castings and parts of machinery from one place to
another.  To do this properly required great care and judgment,
in order that the parts might not be disturbed, and that the mechanics
might proceed towards their completion without any unnecessary delay.
None but those who have had practical acquaintance with the importance
of having skilful labourers to perform these apparently humble,
but in reality very important functions, can form an adequate idea of
the value of such services.

All the requisite qualities we required were found in the Worsley
labourers.  They had been accustomed to the heaviest class of work in
connection with the Bridgewater Canal.  They had been thoroughly
trained in the handling of all manner of ponderous objects.
They performed their work with energy and willingness.  It was quite a
treat to me to look on and observe their rapid and skilful operations
in lifting and transporting ponderous portions of machinery, in which a
vast amount of costly work had been embodied.  After the machines or
engines had been finished, it was the business of the same workmen to
remove them from the workshops to the railway-siding alongside the
foundry, or to the boats at the canal wharf.  In all these matters the
Worsley men could be thoroughly depended upon.

Where they showed the possession, in any special degree, of a true
mechanical faculty, I was enabled to select from the working labourers
the most effective men to take charge of the largest and most powerful
machine tools--such as planing machines, lathes, and boring machines.
The ease and rapidity with which they caught up all the technical arts
and manipulations connected with the effective working of these
machines was extraordinary.  The results were entirely satisfactory to
myself, as well as to the men themselves, by the substantial rise in
their wages which followed their advancement to higher grades of
labour.  Thus I had no difficulty in manning my machine tools by
drawing my recruits from this zealous and energetic class of Worsley
labourers.   It is by this "selection of the fittest" that the true
source of the prosperity of every large manufacturing establishment
depends.  I believe that Free Trade in Ability has a much closer
relation to national prosperity than even Free Trade in Commodities.

But here I came into collision with another class of workmen--those
who are of opinion that employers should select for promotion, not
those who are the fittest and most skilful, but those who have served a
seven years' apprenticeship and are members of a Trades' Union.
It seemed to me that this interference with the free selection and
promotion of the fittest was at variance with free choice of the best
men, and that it was calculated, if carried out, to strike at the root
of the chief source of our prosperity.  If every workman of the same
class went in the same rut, and were paid the same uniform rate of
wages, irrespective of his natural or acquired ability, such a system
would destroy the emulative spirit which forms the chief basis of
manipulative efficiency and practical skill, and on which, in my
opinion, the prosperity of our manufacturing establishments mainly
depends.  But before I proceed to refer to the strike of Unionists,
which for a time threatened to destroy, or at all events to impede the
spirit of enterprise and the free choice of skilful workmen, in which I
desired to conduct the Bridgewater Foundry, I desire to say a few words
about those excellent helpers, the foremen engineers, who zealously
helped me in my undertaking from beginning to end.

I must place my most worthy, zealous, and faithful Archy Torry at the
top of the list.  He rose from being my only workman when I first
started in Manchester, to be my chief general foreman.  The energy and
devotion which he brought to bear upon my interests set a high example
to all in my employment.  Although he was in some respects deficient in
his knowledge of the higher principles of engineering and mechanical
construction, I was always ready to supply that defect.  His hearty
zeal and cheerful temper, and his energetic movement when among the
men, had a sympathetic influence upon all about him.  His voice had the
same sort of influence upon them as the drum and fife on a soldier's
march:  it quickened their movements.  We were often called in by our
neighbour manufacturers to repair a breakdown of their engines.
That was always a sad disaster, as all hands were idle until the repair
was effected.  Archy was in his glory on such occasions.  By his ready
zeal and energy he soon got over the difficulty, repaired the engines,
and set the people to work again. He became quite famous in these cases
of extreme urgency.  He never spared himself, and his example had an
excellent effect upon every workman under him.

Another of my favourite workshop lieutenants was James Hutton.
He had been leading foreman to my worthy friend George Douglass,
of Old Broughton, Edinburgh.  He was fully ten years my senior,
and when working at Douglass's I looked up to him as a man of
authority.  I had obtained from him many a valuable wrinkle in
mechanical and technical construction.  After I left Edinburgh he had
emigrated to the United States for the purpose of bettering his
condition.  But he promised me that if disappointed in his hopes of
settling there, he should be glad to come into my service if I was ever
in a position to give him employment.  Shortly after my removal to
Patricroft, and when everything had been got into full working order,
I received a letter from him in which he said that he was anxious to
return to England, and asking if there was any vacancy in our
establishment that he might be employed to fill up.  It so happened
that the foremanship of turners was then vacant.  I informed Hutton of
the post; and on his return to England he was duly enrolled in our

The situation was a very important one, and Hutton filled it admirably.
He was a sound practical man, and thoroughly knew every department of
engineering mechanism.  As I had provided small separate rooms or
offices for every department of the establishment for the use of the
foremen, where they kept their memoranda and special tools, I had often
the pleasure of conferring with Hutton as to some point of interest, or
when I wished to pass my ideas and designs through the ordeal of his
judgment, in order that I might find out any lurking defect in some
proposed mechanical arrangement.  Before he gave an opinion, Hutton
always took a pinch of snuff to stimulate his intellect, or rather to
give him a little time for consideration.  He would turn the subject
over in his mind.  But I knew that I could trust his keenness of
insight.  He would give his verdict carefully, shrewdly, and truthfully.
Hutton remained a faithful and valued servant in the concern for nearly
thirty years, and died at a ripe old age.  Notwithstanding his
mechanical intelligence, Hutton was of too cautious a temperament to
have acted as a general foreman or manager, otherwise he would have
been elevated to that position.  A man may be admirable in details,
but be wanting in width, breadth, and largeness of temperament and
intellect.  The man who possesses the latter gifts becomes great in
organisation; he soon ceases to be a "hand," and becomes a "head,"
and such men generally rise from the employed to be the employer.

Another of my excellent assistants was John Clerk.  He had been for a
long time in the service of Fairbairn and Lillie; but having had a
serious difference with one of the foremen, he left their service with
excellent recommendations.  I soon after engaged him as foreman of the
pattern-making department.  He was a most able man in some of the more
important branches of mechanical engineering.  He had, besides,
an excellent knowledge of building operations.  I found him of great
use in superintending the erection of the additional workshops which
were required in proportion as our business extended. He made out
full-sized chalk-line drawings from my original pencil sketches,
on the large floor of the pattern store, and from these were formed the
working drawings for the new buildings.  He had a wonderful power of
rapidity and clearness in apprehending new subjects, and the way in
which he depicted them in large drawings was quite masterly.
John Clerk and I spent many an hour on our knees together on the
pattern store floor, and the result of our deliberations usually was
some substantial addition to the workshops of the foundry, or some
extra large and powerful machine tool.  This worthy man left our
service to become a partner in an engineering concern in Ireland;
and though he richly deserved his promotion, he left us to our very
great regret.

The last of our foremen to whom I shall refer was worthy Thomas
Crewdson.  He entered our service as a smith, in which pursuit he
displayed great skill.  We soon noted the high order of his natural
ability; promoted him from the ranks, and made him foreman of the
smith's and forge-work department.  In this he displayed every quality
of excellence, not only in seeing to the turning out of the forge work
in the highest state of perfection, but in managing the men under his
charge with such kind discretion as to maintain the most perfect
harmony in the workshops.  This is always a matter of great importance
--that the foreman should inspire the workmen with his own spirit,
and keep up their harmony and activity to the most productive point.
Crewdson was so systematic in his use of time that we found that he was
able also to undertake the foremanship of the boiler-making department,
in addition to that of the smith work; and to this he was afterwards
appointed, with highly satisfactory results to all concerned.

So strongly and clearly impressed is my mind with the recollection of
the valuable assistance which I received during my engineering life
from those vicegerents of practical management at Patricroft,
that I feel that I cannot proceed further in my narrative without thus
placing the merits of these worthy men upon record.  It was a source of
great good fortune to me to be associated with them, and I consider
them to have been among the most important elements in the prosperity
of the Bridgewater Foundry.  There were many others, in comparatively
humble positions, whom I have also reason to remember with gratitude.
In all well-conducted concerns the law of "selection of the fittest"
sooner or later comes into happy action, when a loyal and attached set
of men work together harmoniously for their own advantage as well as
for that of their employers.

It was not, however, without some difficulty that we were allowed to
carry out our views as to Free Trade in Ability.  As the buildings were
increased, more men were taken on--from Manchester, Bolton, Liverpool,
as well as from more distant places.  We were soon made to feel that
our idea of promoting workmen according to their merits, and advancing
them to improved positions and higher wages in proportion to their
skill, ability, industry, and natural intelligence, was quite contrary
to the views of many of our new employees.  They took advantage of a
large access of orders for machinery, which they knew had come into the
foundry, to wait upon us suddenly, and to lay down their Trade Union
law for our observance.

The men who waited upon us were deputed by the Engineer Mechanics'
Trades' Union to inform us that there were men in our employment who
were not, as they termed it, "legally entitled to the trade;" that is,
they had never served a regular seven years' apprenticeship.
"These men," said the delegates, "are filling up the places,
and keeping out of work, the legal hands."  We were accordingly
requested to discharge the workmen whom we had promoted, in order to
make room for members of the Trades' Union.

To have complied with this request would have altered the whole
principles and practice on which we desired to conduct our business.
I wished, and my partner agreed with me, to stimulate men to steadfast
and skilful work by the hope of promotion.  It was thus that I had
taken several of the Worsley men from the rank of labourers, and raised
them to the class mechanics with correspondingly higher wages.
We were perfectly satisfied with the conduct of these workmen, and with
the productive results of their labour.  We thought it fair to them as
well as to ourselves to resist the order to discharge them, and we
consequently firmly refused to submit to the dictation of the

The delegates left us with a distinct intimation that if we continued
to retain the illegal men in our employment they would call out the
Union men, and strike until "the grievance " was redressed.
The Unionists, no doubt, fixed upon the right time to place their case
before us.  We wanted more workmen to execute the advantageous orders
which had come in; and they thought that the strike would put an entire
stop to our operations.  On engaging the workmen we had never up to
this time concerned ourselves with the question of whether they
belonged to the Trades' Union or not.  The only proof we required of a
man was Ability.  If, after a week's experience, he proved himself an
efficient workman, we engaged him.

The strike took place.  All the Union men were "called out," and left
the works.  Many of them expressed their great regret at leaving us,
as they were perfectly satisfied with their employment as well as with
their remuneration.  But they were nevertheless compelled to obey the
mandate of the Council.  The result was that more than half of our men
left us.  Those who remained were very zealous.  Nothing could exceed
their activity and workfulness.  We appealed to our employers.
They were most considerate in not pressing us for the speedy execution
of the work we had in hand.  We made applications in the neighbourhood
for other mechanics in lieu of those who had left us. But the men on
strike, under orders from the Union, established pickets round the
works, who were only too efficient in preventing those desirous of
obtaining employment from getting access to the foundry.

Our position for a time seemed to be hopeless.  We could not find
workmen enough to fill our shops or to execute our orders.
What were we to do under the circumstances?  We could not find mechanics
in the neighbourhood; but might they not, be found elsewhere?
Why not bring them from a distance?  We determined to try.
Advertisements were inserted in the Scotch newspapers, announcing our
want of mechanics, smiths, and foundrymen.  We appointed an agent in
Edinburgh, to whom applications were to be made.  We were soon in
receipt of the welcome intelligence that numbers of the best class of
mechanics had applied, and that our agent's principal difficulty
consisted in making the proper selection from amongst them.

A selection was, however, made of over sixty men, who appeared in every
respect likely to suit us.  With true Scotch caution they deputed two
of their number to visit our works and satisfy themselves as to the
real state of the case.  We had great pleasure in receiving these two
clear-headed cautious pioneers.  We showed them over the workshops,
and pointed out the habitations in the neighbourhood with their
attractive surroundings.  The men returned to their constituents,
and gave such a glowing account of their mission that we had no
difficulty in obtaining the men we required.  Indeed, we might easily
have obtained three times the number of efficient mechanics.
Sixty-four of the most likely men were eventually selected, men in the
zenith of their physical powers.  We made arrangements for their
conveyance to Glasgow, from whence they started for Liverpool by
steamer.  They landed in a body at the latter port, many of them
accompanied by their wives and children, and eight-day clocks!
A special train was engaged for the conveyance of the whole--men,
women, and children, bag and baggage--from Liverpool to Patricroft,
where suitable accommodation had been provided for them.

The arrival of so powerful a body of men made a great sensation in the
neighbourhood.  The men were strong, respectable looking, and well
dressed.  The pickets were "dumfoundered."  They were brushed to one
side by the fresh arrivals.  They felt that their game was up, and they
suddenly departed.  The men were taken over the workshops, with which
they appeared quite delighted.  They were told to be ready to start
next morning at six, after which they departed to their lodgings.
The morning arrived and the gallant sixty-four were all present.
After allotting to each his special work, they gave three hearty
cheers, and dispersed throughout the workshops.

We had no reason to regret the results which were effected through the
strike ordered by the Trades' Union.  The new men worked with a will.
They were energetic, zealous, and skilful.  They soon gave evidence of
their general handiness and efficiency in all the departments of work
in which they were engaged.  We were thus enabled to carry out our
practice of Free Trade in Ability in our own way, and we were no longer
interfered with in our promotion of workmen who served us best.
In short, we had scotched the strike; we conquered the Union in their
wily attempt to get us under their withering control; and the
Bridgewater Foundry resumed its wonted activity in every department.

It was afterwards a great source of happiness to me to walk through the
various workshops and observe the cheerful and intelligent countenances
of the new men, and to note the energetic skill with which they used
their tools in the advancement of their work.  General handiness is one
of the many valuable results that issues from the practice of handling
the variety of materials which are more or less employed in mechanical
structures.  At the time that I refer to, the skilful workmen employed
in the engineering establishments of Scotland (which were then
comparatively small in size) were accustomed to use all manner of
mechanical tools.  They could handle with equally good effect the saw,
the plane, the file, and the chisel; and, as occasion required, they
could exhibit their skill at the smith's forge with the hammer and the
anvil.  This was the kind of workmen with which I had reinforced the
foundry.  The men had been bred to various branches of mechanics.
Some had been blacksmiths, others carpenters, stone masons, brass or
iron founders; but all of them were handy men.  They merely adopted the
occupation of machine and steam-engine makers because it offered a
wider field for the exercise of their skill and energy.

I may here be allowed to remark that we owe the greatest advances in
mechanical invention to Free Trade in Ability.  If we look carefully
into the narratives of the lives of the most remarkable engineers,
we shall find that they owed very little to the seven years' rut in
which they were trained.  They owed everything to innate industry,
energy, skill, and opportunity.  Thus, Brindley advanced from the
position of a millwright to that of a canal engineer; Smeaton and Watt,
from being mathematical instrument makers, advanced to higher
positions,--the one to be the inventor of the modern lighthouse,
the other to be the inventor of the condensing steam-engine.
Some of the most celebrated mechanical and civil engineers--such as
Rennie, Cubitt, and Fairbairn--were originally millwrights.
All these men were many-handed.  They had many sides to their intellect.
They were resourceful men.  They afford the best illustrations of the
result of Free Trade in Ability.

The persistent aim at an indolent equality which Union men aim at,
is one of the greatest hindrances to industrial progress.
When the Union Delegates called upon me to insist that none but men who
had served seven years' apprenticeship should be employed in the works,
I told them that I preferred employing a man who had acquired the
requisite mechanical skill in two years rather than another who was so
stupid as to require seven years' teaching.  The delegates regarded
this statement as preposterous and heretical.  In fact, it was utter
high treason.  But in the long run we carried our point.

It is true, we had some indenture-bound apprentices.  These were pupils
who paid premiums.  In certain cases we could not very well refuse to
take them.  Some of them caused a great deal of annoyance and
disturbance.  They were irregular in their attendance, consequently
they could not be depended upon for the regular operations of the
foundry.  They were careless in their work, and set a bad example to
the others.  We endeavoured to check this disturbing element by
stipulating that the premium should be payable in six months' portions,
and that each party should be free to terminate the connection at the
end of each succeeding six months.  By this system we secured more care
and regularity on the part of the pupil apprentices; as, while it
checked inattention and irregularity, it offered a direct and
substantial encouragement to zeal and industry.

But the arrangement which we greatly preferred was to employ
intelligent well-conducted young lads, the sons of labourers or
mechanics, and advance them by degrees according to their merits.
They took charge of the smaller machine tools, by which the minor
details of the machines in progress were brought into exact form
without having recourse to the untrustworthy and costly process of
chipping and filing.  A spirit of emulation was excited amongst the
lads.  They vied with each other in executing their work with
precision.  Those who excelled were paid an extra weekly wage.
In course of time they took pride, not only in the quantity but in the
quality of their work; and in the long run they became skilful
mechanics.  We were always most prompt to recognise their progress in a
substantial manner.  There was the most perfect freedom between
employer and employed.  Every one of these lads was at liberty to leave
at the end of each day's work.  This arrangement acted as an
ever-present check upon master and apprentice.  The only bond of union
between us was mutual interest.  The best of the lads remained in our
service because they knew our work and were pleased with the
surroundings; while we on our part were always desirous of retaining
the men we had trained, because we knew we could depend upon them.
Nothing could have been more satisfactory than the manner in which this
system worked.

In May 1835 I had the great happiness of receiving a visit from my dear
father.  I was then in Dale Street, Manchester, where my floor was
overloaded with the work in progress.  My father continued to take a
great interest in mechanical undertakings, and he was pleased with the
prosperity which had followed my settlement in this great manufacturing
centre.  He could still see his own lathe, driven by steam power,
in full operation for the benefit of his son.  His fame as an artist
was well known in Manchester, for many of his works were possessed by
the best men of the town.  I had the pleasure of introducing him to the
Brothers Grant, John Kennedy, Edward Lloyd, George Murray, James Frazer,
William Fairbairn, and Hugh and Joseph Birley, all of whom gave him a
most cordial welcome, and invited him to enjoy their hospitality.

[Image]  Alexander Nasmyth.  After a cameo by Samuel Joseph

In 1838 he visited me again.  I had removed to Patricroft, and
the Bridgewater Foundry was in full operation.  My father was then in
his eightieth year.  He was still full of life and intellect.
He was vastly delighted in witnessing the rapid progress which I had
made since his first visit.  He took his daily walk through the
workshops, where many processes were going on which greatly interested
him.  He was sufficiently acquainted with the technical details of
mechanical work to enjoy the sight, especially when self-acting tools
were employed.  It was a great source of pleasure to him to have
"a crack" with the most intelligent foremen and mechanics.  These,
on their part, treated him with the most kind and respectful attention.
The Scotch workmen regarded him with special veneration.  They knew
that he had been an intimate friend of Robert Burns, their own
best-beloved poet, whose verses shed a charm upon their homes, and were
recited by the fireside, in the fields, or at the workman's bench.

They also knew that he had painted the only authentic portrait of their
national bard.  This fact invested my father with additional interest
in their eyes.  Their respect for him culminated in a rather
extraordinary demonstration.  On the last day of his visit the leading
Scotch workmen procured "on the sly" an arm-chair, which they fastened
to two strong bearing poles.  When my father left the works at the
bell-ringing at mid-day, he was approached by the workmen,
and respectfully requested to "take the chair."  He refused; but it was
of no use.  He was led to the chair, and took it.  He was then raised
and carried in triumph to my house.  He was carefully set down at the
little garden-gate, where the men affectionately took leave of him,
and ended their cordial good wishes for his safe return home with three
hearty cheers.  I need scarcely say that my father was greatly affected
by this kind demonstration on the part of the workmen.

His life was fast drawing to a close.  He had borne the heat and burden
of the day; and was about to be taken home like a shock of corn in full
season.  After a long and happy life, blessed and cheered by a most
affectionate wife, he laid down his brushes and went to rest.
In his later years he rejoiced in the prosperity of his children,
which was all the more agreeable as it was the result of the example of
industry and perseverance which he had ever set before them.
My father untiringly continued his professional occupations until 1840,
when he had attained the age of eighty-two.  His later works may be
found wanting in that degree of minute finish which characterised his
earlier productions; but in regard to their quality there was no
falling off, even to the last picture which he painted. The delicate
finish was amply compensated by the increase in general breadth and
effectiveness, so that his later works were even more esteemed by his
brother-artists.   The last picture he painted was finished eight days
before his death.  It was a small work.  The subject was a landscape
with an autumnal evening effect.  There was a picturesque cottage in
the middle distance, a rustic bridge over a brook in the foreground,
and an old labouring man, followed by his dog, wearily passing over it
on his way towards his home.  From the chimney of his cottage a thin
streak of blue smoke passed upward through the tranquil evening air.
All these incidents suggested the idea, which no doubt he desired to
convey, of the tranquil conclusion of his own long and active life,
which was then, too evidently, drawing to a close.
The shades of evening had come on when he could no longer see to work,
and he was obliged to lay down his pencil.  My mother was at work with
her needle close by him; and when he had finished he asked her what he
should call the picture.  Not being ready with an answer, he leant back
in his chair, feeling rather faint, and said, "Well, I think I had
better call it Going Home."  And so it was called.

Next morning his strength had so failed him that he could not get up.
He remained there for eight days, and then he painlessly and tranquilly
passed away.  While on his deathbed he expressed the desire that his
remains should be placed beside those of a favourite son who had died
in early youth.  "Let me lie," he said, "beside my dear Alick."
His desire was gratified.  He was buried beside his son in St. Cuthbert's
churchyard, under the grandest portion of the great basaltic rock on
which Edinburgh Castle stands.  His grave is marked by a fine Runic Cross,
admirably sculptured by Rhind of Edinburgh.

[Image]  Monument to Alexander Nasmyth

One of the kindest letters my mother received after her great loss was
one from Sir David Wilkie.  It was dated 18th April 1840.  "I hasten,"
he said, "to assure you of my most sincere condolence on your severe
affliction, feeling that I can sympathise in the privation you suffer
from losing one who was my earliest professional friend, whose art I at
all times admired, and whose society and conversation was perhaps the
most agreeable that I ever met with.  " He was the founder of the
Landscape Painting School of Scotland, and by his taste and talent has
for many years taken a lead in the patriotic aim of enriching his
native land with the representations of her romantic scenery; and,
as the friend and contemporary of Ramsay, of Gavin Hamilton, and the
Runcimans, may be said to have been the last remaining link that unites
the present with the early dawn of the Scottish School of Art."
I may add that my mother died six years later, in 1846, at the same age
as my father, namely eighty-two.

CHAPTER 13. My Marriage--The Steam Hammer

Before I proceed to narrate the later events of my industrial life,
it is necessary to mention, incidentally, an important subject.
As it has been the source of my greatest happiness in life,
I cannot avoid referring to it.

I may first mention that my earnest and unremitting pursuit of all
subjects and occupations, such as I conceived were essential to the
acquirement of a sound practical knowledge of my profession, rendered
me averse to mixing much in general society.  I had accordingly few
opportunities of enjoying the society of young ladies.  Nevertheless,
occasions now and then occurred when bright beings passed before me
like meteors.  They left impressions on my memory, which in no small
degree increased the earnestness of my exertions to press forward in my
endeavours to establish myself in business, and thereby acquire the
means of forming a Home of my own.

Many circumstances, however, conspired to delay the ardently longed for
condition of my means, such as should induce me to solicit some dear
one to complete my existence by her sweet companionship, and enter with
me into the most sacred of all the partnerships of life. In course of
time I was rewarded with that success which, for the most part,
ensues upon all honourable and unremitting business efforts.
This cheered me on; although there were still many causes for anxiety,
which made me feel that I must not yet solicit some dear heart to
forsake the comforts of an affluent home to share with me what I knew
must for some years to come be an anxious and trying struggle for
comfort and comparative independence.  I had reached my thirtieth year
before I could venture to think that I had securely entered upon such a
course of prosperity as would justify me in taking this the most
important step in life.

It may be a trite but not the less true remark that some of the most
important events originate in apparently chance occurrences and
circumstances, which lead up to results that materially influence and
even determine the subsequent course of our lives.  I had occasion to
make a business journey to Sheffield on the 2d of March 1838, and also
to attend to some affairs of a similar character at York.  As soon as I
had completed my engagement at Sheffield, I had to wait for more than
two dreary hours in momentary expectation of the arrival of the coach
that was to take me on to York.  The coach had been delayed by a deep
fall of snow, and was consequently late.  When it arrived, I found that
there was only one outside place vacant; so I mounted to my seat.
It was a very dreary afternoon, and the snow was constantly falling.

As we approached Barnsley I observed, in the remaining murky light of
the evening, the blaze of some ironwork furnaces near at hand.
On inquiring whose works they were, I was informed that they belonged
to Earl Fitzwilliam, and that they were under the management of a
Mr. Hartop.  The mention of this name, coupled with the sight of the
ironworks, brought to my recollection a kind invitation which
Mr. Hartop had given me while visiting my workshop in Manchester to
order some machine tools, that it I ever happened to be in his
neighbourhood, he would be most happy to show me anything that was
interesting about the ironworks and colliery machinery under his

I at once decided to terminate my dreary ride on the top of the coach.
I descended, and with my small valise in hand I trudged over some
trackless snow-covered fields, and made my way by the shortest cut
towards the blazing iron furnaces.  On reaching them I was informed
that Mr. Hartop had just gone to his house, which was about a mile
distant.  I accordingly made my way thither the best that I could
through the deep snow.  I met with a cordial welcome, and with the
hospitable request that I should take up my quarters there for the
night, and have a round of the ironworks and the machinery on the
following day.  I cheerfully acceded to the kind invitation.
I was then introduced to his wife and daughter in a cosy room, where I
spent a most pleasant evening.  As Mr. Hartop was an enthusiast in all
matters relating to mechanism and mechanical engineering subjects
generally, we found plenty to converse about; while his wife and daughter,
at their needlework, listened to our discussions with earnest and
intelligent attention.

On the following day I was taken a round of the ironworks,
and inspected their machinery, as well as that of the collieries,
in the details of which Mr. Hartop had introduced many common-sense and
most effective improvements.  All of these interested me, and gave me
much pleasure.  In the evening we resumed our "cracks" on many subjects
of mutual interest.  The daughter joined in our conversation with the
most intelligent remarks; for, although only in her twenty-first year,
she had evidently made good use of her time, aided by her clear natural
faculties of shrewd observation.  Mr. Hartop having met with some
serious reverse of fortune, owing to the very unsatisfactory conduct of
a partner, had in a manner to begin business life again on his own
account; and although he had to reduce his domestic establishment
considerably in consequence, there was in all its arrangements a degree
of neatness and perfect systematic order, combined with many evidences
of elegant taste and good sense which pervaded the whole, that enhanced
in no small degree the attractiveness of the household.  The chief of
these, however, was to me their daughter Anne!  I soon perceived in her,
most happily and attractively combined, all the conditions that I could
hope for and desire to meet with in the dear partner of my existence.

As I had soon to proceed on my journey, I took the opportunity of
telling her what I felt and thought, and so ardently desired in regard
to our future intercourse.  What little I did say was to this great
purpose; and, so far as I could judge, all that I said was received in
the best spirit that I could desire.  I then communicated my hopes and
wishes to the parents.  I explained to them my circumstances, which
happily were then beginning to assume an encouraging prospect,
and realising, in a substantial form, a return for the earnest
exertions that I had made towards establishing a home of my own.
They expressed their concurrence in the kindest manner; and it was
arranged that if business continued to progress as favourably as I
hoped, our union should take place in about two years from that time.

Everything went on hopefully and prosperously.  The two years that
intervened looked very long in some respects, and very short in others;
for I was always fully occupied, and labour shortens time.  At length
the two years came to an end.  My betrothed and myself continued of the
same mind.  The happy "chance" event of our meeting on the evening of
the 2d of March 1838 culminated in our marriage at the village church
of Wentworth on the 16th of June 1840--a day of happy memory!
From that day to this the course of our united hearts and lives has
continued to run on with steady uninterrupted harmony and mutual
happiness.  Forty-two years of our married life finds us the same
affectionate and devoted "cronies" that we were at the beginning;
and there is every prospect that, under God's blessing, we shall
continue to be so to the end.

I was present at the opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway,
on the 15th of September 1830.  Every one knows the success of the
undertaking.  Railways became the rage.  They were projected in every
possible direction.  They were first made between all the large towns,
after which branches were constructed to place the whole country in
connection with the main lines.  Coaches were driven off the road,
and everything appeared to be thrown into a state of confusion.
People wondered greatly at the new conditions of travelling;
and they flocked from all quarters to see the railway at work.

When the line was opened from Edinburgh to Glasgow, a shepherd and his
wife came from beyond the Pentlands to see the train pass.
On it came, and flashed out of sight in a minute.
"How wonderful are the works o' man!" exclaimed the shepherd.
"But what's a' the hurry for?", rejoined his wife.
Still more marvellous, however, was the first adventure by train of an
old woman from Newtyle to Dundee.  In those days the train was let down
part of the railway by a rope.  The woman was on her way down hill,
with a basket of eggs by her side.  Suddenly the rope broke, and the
train dashed into the Dundee Station, scattering the carriages,
and throwing out the old woman and her basket of broken eggs.
A porter ran to her help, when, gathering herself together,
she exclaimed, "Odd sake, sirs, d'ye aye whummil*
Whummil, to turn upside down.--Jamieson's Scottish Dictionary.
us oot this way?"  She thought it was only the ordinary way of
delivering railway passengers.

Ropes, however, were merely exceptional methods of working railway
trains.  Eventually locomotives were invariably adopted.  When railways
were extended in so many directions, more and more locomotives were
required to work them.

When George Stephenson was engaged in building his first locomotive at
Killingworth, he was greatly hampered, not only by the want of handy
mechanics, but by the want of efficient tools.  But he did the best
that he could.  His genius overcame difficulties.  It was immensely to
his credit that he should have so successfully completed his engines
for the Stockton and Darlington, and afterwards for the Liverpool and
Manchester Railway.

Only a few years had passed, and self-acting tools were now enabled to
complete, with precision and uniformity, machines that before had been
deemed almost impracticable.

In proportion to the rapid extension of railways the demand for
locomotives became very great.  As our machine tools were peculiarly
adapted for turning out a large amount of first-class work, we directed
our attention to this class of business.  In the course of about ten
years after the opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway,
we executed considerable orders for locomotives for the London and
Southampton, the Manchester and Leeds, and the Gloucester railway

The Great Western Railway Company invited us to tender for twenty of
their very ponderous engines.  They proposed a very tempting condition
of the contract.  It was, that if, after a month's trial of the
locomotives, their working proved satisfactory, a premium of #100 was
to be added to the price of each engine and tender.  The locomotives
were made and delivered; they ran the stipulated number of test miles
between London and Bristol in a perfectly satisfactory manner;
and we not only received the premium, but, what was much more
encouraging, we received a special letter from the Board of Directors,
stating their entire satisfaction with the performance of our engines,
and desiring us to refer other contractors to them with respect to the
excellence of our workmanship.  This testimonial was altogether
spontaneous, and proved extremely valuable in other quarters.

I may mention that, in order to effect the prompt and perfect execution
of this order, I contrived several special machine tools, which
assisted us most materially.  These tools for the most part rendered us
more independent of mere manual strength and dexterity, while at the
same time they increased the accuracy and perfection of the work.
They afterwards assisted us in the means of perfecting the production
of other classes of work.  At the same time they had the important
effect of diminishing the cost of production, as was made sufficiently
apparent by the balance-sheet prepared at the end of each year.
My connection with the Great Western Company shortly led to a most
important event in connection with my own personal history. It appears
that their famous steam-ship the Great Western  had been very
successful in her voyages between Bristol and New York; so much so,
indeed, that the directors of the Company ordered the construction of
another vessel of much greater magnitude--the Great Britain.
Mr. Francis Humphries, their engineer, came to Patricroft to consult
with me as to the machine tools, of unusual size and power, which were
required for the construction of the immense engines of the proposed
ship, which were to be made on the vertical trunk principle.
Very complete works were erected at Bristol for the accommodation of
the requisite machinery.  The tools were made according to Mr. Humphries'
order; they were delivered and fitted to his entire approval, and the
construction of the gigantic engines was soon in full progress.

An unexpected difficulty, however, was encountered with respect to the
enormous wrought-iron intermediate paddleshaft.  It was required to be
of a size and diameter the like of which had never been forged.
Mr. Humphries applied to the largest forges throughout the country for
tenders of the price at which they would execute this important part of
the work, but to his surprise and dismay he found that not one of them
could undertake so large a forging.  In this dilemma he wrote a letter
to me, which I received on the 24th of November 1839, informing me of
the unlooked-for difficulty.  "I find," he said, "that there is not a
forge hammer in England or Scotland powerful enough to forge the
intermediate paddle-shaft of the engines for the Great Britain!
What am I to do?  Do you think I might dare to use cast-iron?

This letter immediately set me a-thinking.  How was it that the
existing hammers were incapable of forging a wrought-iron shaft of
thirty inches diameter?  Simply because of their want of compass, of
range and fall, as well as of their want of power of blow.
A few moment's rapid thought satisfied me that it was by our rigidly
adhering to the old traditional form of a smith's hand hammer--
of which the forge and tilt hammer, although driven by water or steam
power, were merely enlarged modifications--that the difficulty had
arisen; as, whenever the largest forge hammer was tilted up to its full
height, its range was so small that when a piece of work of considerable
size was placed on the anvil, the hammer became "gagged;" so that,
when the forging required the most powerful blow, it received next to
no blow at all, as the clear space for the fall of the hammer was
almost entirely occupied by the work on the anvil.

The obvious remedy was to contrive some method by which a ponderous
block of iron should be lifted to a sufficient height above the object
on which it was desired to strike a blow, and then to let the block
full down upon the forging, guiding it in its descent by such simple
means as should give the required precision in the percussive action of
the falling mass following up this idea, I got out my "Scheme Book,"
on the pages of which I generally thought out, with the aid of pen and
pencil, such mechanical adaptations as I had conceived in my mind,
and was thereby enabled to render them visible. I then rapidly sketched
out my Steam Hammer, having it all clearly before me in my mind's eye.
In little more than half an hour after receiving Mr. Humphries' letter
narrating his unlooked-for difficulty, I had the whole contrivance in
all its executant details, before me in a page of my Scheme Book,
a reduced photographed copy of which I append to this description.
The date of this first drawing was the 24th November, 1839.

[Image]  First drawing of steam hammer, 24th Nov.  1839

My Steam Hammer as thus first sketched, consisted of, first, a massive
anvil on which to rest the work; second, a block of iron constituting
the hammer or blow-giving portion; and, third, an inverted steam
cylinder to whose piston-rod the hammer-block was attached.
All that was then required to produce a most effective hammer was
simply to admit steam of sufficient pressure into the cylinder,
so as to act on the under-side of the piston, and thus to raise the
hammer-block attached to the end of the piston rod.  By a very simple
arrangement of a slide valve, under the control of all attendant,
the steam was allowed to escape and thus permit the massive block of
iron rapidly to descend by its own gravity upon the work then upon the

Thus, by the more or less rapid manner in which the attendant allowed
the steam to enter or escape from the cylinder, any required number or
any intensity of blows could be delivered.  Their succession might be
modified in an instant.  The hammer might be arrested and suspended
according to the requirements of the work.  The workman might thus,
as it were, think in blows.  He might deal them out on to the ponderous
glowing mass, and mould or knead it into the desired form as if it were
a lump of clay; or pat it with gentle taps according to his will,
or at the desire of the forgeman.

Rude and rapidly sketched out as it was, this, my first delineation of
the steam hammer, will be found to comprise all the essential elements
of the invention.  Every detail of the drawing retains to this day the
form and arrangement which I gave to it forty-three years ago.
I believed that the steam hammer would prove practically successful;
and I looked forward to its general employment in the forging of heavy
masses of iron.  It is no small gratification to me now, when I look
over my rude and hasty first sketch, to find that I hit the mark so
exactly, not only in the general structure but in the details;
and that the invention as I then conceived it and put it into shape,
still retains its form and arrangements intact in the thousands of
steam hammers that are now doing good service in the mechanical arts
throughout the civilised world.

But to return to my correspondence with the Great Western Steamship
Company.  I wrote at once to Mr. Humphries, and sent him a sketch of my
proposed steam hammer.  I told him that I felt assured he would now be
able to overcome his difficulty, and that the paddle-shaft of the Great
Britain might now be forged.  Mr. Humphries was delighted with my
design.  He submitted it to Mr. Brunel, engineer-in-chief of the
steamship:  to Mr. Guppy, the managing director; and to other persons
interested in the undertaking,--by all of whom it was heartily
approved.  I accordingly gave the Company permission to communicate my
design to such forge proprietors as might feel disposed to erect the
steam hammer, the only condition that I made being, that in the event
of its being adopted I was to be allowed to supply it in accordance
with my design.

But the paddle-shaft of the Great Britain was never forged.  About that
time the substitution of the Screw for the paddle-wheel as a means of
propulsion was attracting much attention.  The performances of the
Archimedes, as arranged by Mr. Francis P. Smith, were so satisfactory
that Mr. Brunel, after he had made an excursion in that vessel,
recommended the directors to adopt the new propelling power. After much
discussion, they yielded to his strongly-urged advice.  The consequence
was, that the great engines which Mr. Humphries had so elaborately
designed, and which were far advanced in construction, were given up,
to his inexpressible regret and mortification, as he had pinned his
highest hopes as a practical engineer on the results of their
performance.  And, to crown his distress, he was ordered to produce
fresh designs of engines specially suited for screw propulsion.
Mr. Humphries was a man of the most sensitive and sanguine constitution
of mind.  The labour and the anxiety which he had already undergone,
and perhaps the disappointment of his hopes, proved too much for him;
and a brain fever carried him off after a few days' illness.
There was thus, for a time, an end of the steam hammer required for
forging the paddle-shaft of the Great Britain.

Very bad times for the iron-trade, and for all mechanical undertakings,
set in about this time.  A wide-spread depression affected all
conditions of industry Although I wrote to the heads of all the great
firms, urging the importance of my invention, and forwarding designs of
my steam hammer, I was unable to obtain a single order.  It is true,
they cordially approved of my plan, and were greatly struck by its
simplicity, unity, and apparent power.*
Among the heads of firms who sent me cordial congratulations on my
design, were Benjamin Hick, of the Soho Ironworks, Bolton, a man,
whose judgment in all matters connected with engineering and mechanical
construction was held in the very highest regard;
Messrs. Rushton and Eckersley, Bolton Ironworks;
Messrs. Howard and Ravenhill, Rotherhithe Ironworks, London;
Messrs. Hawkes, Crashaw, and Company, Newcastle-upon-Tyne;
George Thorneycroft, Wolverhampton; and others.

But the substance of their replies was, that they had not sufficient
orders to keep the forge hammers they already possessed in work.
They promised, however, that in the event of trade recovering from its
depression, they would probably adopt the new power.

In the meantime my invention was taken up in an entirely new and
unexpected quarter.  I had for some years been supplying foreign
customers with self-acting machine tools.  The principals of
continental manufacturing establishments were accustomed to make
frequent visits to England for the purpose of purchasing various
machine tools required for the production of the ponderous as well as
the lighter parts of their machinery.  We gave our foreign visitors
every facility and opportunity for seeing our own tools at work,
and they were often so much pleased that, when they came to order one
special tool, they ended by ordering many,--the machine tools in full
activity thus acting as their most effective advertisements.
In like manner I freely opened my Scheme Book to any foreign visitors.*
Some establishments in the same line of business were jealous of the
visit of foreigners; but to our views, restriction in the communication
of new ideas on mechanical subjects to foreigners of intelligence and
enterprising spirit served no good purpose, as the foreign engineer was
certain to obtain all the information he was in quest of from the
drawings in the Patent Office, or from the admirable engravings
contained in the engineering publications of the day.  It was better to
derive the advantage of supplying them with the machines they were in
quest of, than to wait until the demand was supplied by foreigners

There I let them see the mechanical thoughts that were passing through
my mind, reduced to pen and ink drawings.  I did not hesitate to
advocate the advantage of my steam hammer over every other method of
forging heavy masses of iron; and I pointed out the drawing in my
Scheme Book in confirmation of my views.  The book was kept in the
office to be handy for such occasions; and in many cases it was the
means of suggesting ideas of machine tools to our customers, and thus
led to orders which might not have been obtained without this effective
method of prompting them.  Amongst our foreign visitors was M. Schneider,
proprietor of the great ironworks at Creuzot, in France.
We had supplied him with various machine tools, and he was so pleased
with their action that the next time he came to England he called at
our office at Patricroft.  M. Bourdon, his mechanical manager,
accompanied him.

I happened to be absent on a journey at the time; but my partner,
Mr. Gaskell, was present.  After showing them over the works, as an act
of courtesy he brought them my Scheme Book and allowed them to examine
it.  He pointed out the drawing of my steam hammer, and told them the
purpose for which it was intended.  They were impressed with its
simplicity and apparent practical utility,--so much so, that M. Bourdon
took careful notes and sketches of the constructive details of the hammer.

I was informed on my return of the visit of MM.Schneider and Bourdon,
but the circumstance of their having inspected the designs in my Scheme
Book, and especially my original design of the steam hammer, was
regarded by my partner as too ordinary and trivial an incident of their
visit to be mentioned to me.  The exhibition of my mechanical designs
to visitors at the Foundry was a matter of almost daily occurrence.
I was, therefore, in entire ignorance of the fact that these foreign
visitors had taken with them to France a copy of the plan and details
of my steam hammer.

It was not until my visit to France in April 1842 that the upshot of
their visit was brought under my notice in an extraordinary manner.
I was requested by M. Bouchier, Minister of Marine, to visit the
French dockyards and arsenals for the purpose of conferring with the
director of each with reference to the supply of various machine tools
for the proper equipment of the marine engine factories in connection
with the Royal Dockyards.  In order to render this journey more
effective and instructive, I visited most of the French engineering
establishments which had been supplied with machine tools by our firm.
Amongst these was of course the famous firm of Schneider, whose works at
Creuzot lay not far out of the way of my return journey accordingly
made my way thither, and found M. Bourdon at his post, though M. Schneider
was absent.

M. Bourdon received me with much cordiality.  As he spoke English with
fluency I was fortunate in finding him present, in order to show me
over the works; on entering which, one of the things that particularly
struck me was the excellence of a large wrought-iron marine engine
single crank, forged with a remarkable degree of exactness in its
general form.  I observed also that the large eye of the crank had been
punched and drifted with extraordinary smoothness and truth.
I inquired of M. Bourdon "how that crank had been forged?"
His immediate reply was, "It was forged by your steam hammer!"

Great was my surprise and pleasure at hearing this statement.
I asked him how he had come to be acquainted with my steam hammer?
He then narrated the circumstance of his visit to the Bridgewater
Foundry during my absence.  He told me of my partner having exhibited
to him the original design, and how much he was struck by its
simplicity and probable efficiency; that he had taken careful note and
sketches on the spot; that among the first things he did after his
return to Creuzot was to put in hand the necessary work for the
erection of a steam hammer; and that the results had in all respects
realised the high expectations he had formed of it.

M. Bourdon conducted me to the forge department of the works,
that I might, as he said, "see my own child;" and there it was,
in truth--a thumping child of my brain.  Until then it had only
existed in my scheme book; and yet it had often and often been before
my mind's eye in full action.  On inspecting the steam hammer I found
that Bourdon had omitted some important details, which had led to a few
mishaps, especially with respect to the frequent breaking of the
piston-rod at its junction with the hammer block.  He had effected this,
in the usual way, by means of a cutter wedge through the rod;
but he told me that it often broke through the severe jar during the
action of the hammer.  I sketched for him, then and there, in full size
on a board,the elastic packing under the end of the piston-rod,
which acted, as I told him, like the cartilage between the bones of the
vertebrae, preventing the destructive effects of violent jars.
I also communicated to him a few other important details, which he had
missed in his hasty inspection of my design.  Indeed, I felt great
pleasure in doing so, as I found Bourdon to be a most intelligent
mechanic, and thoroughly able to appreciate the practical value of the
information I communicated to him.  He expressed his obligation to me
in the warmest terms, and the alterations which he shortly afterwards
effected in the steam hammer, in accordance with my plans, enabled it
to accomplish everything that he could desire.

I had not yet taken out a patent for the steam hammer.  The reason was
this.  The cost of a patent at the time I invented it was little short
of #500, all expenses included.  My partner was unwilling to lay out so
large a sum upon an invention for which there seemed to be so little
demand at that time; and I myself had the whole of my capital embarked
in the concern.  Besides, the general depression still continued in the
iron trade; and we had use for every farthing of money we possessed.
I had been warned of the risk I ran by freely exhibiting my original
design, as well as by sending drawings of it to those who I thought
were most likely to bring the invention into use.  But nothing had as
yet been done in England.  It was left for France, as I have described,
to embody my invention in an actual steam hammer.  I now became
alarmed, and feared lest I should lose the benefits of  my invention.
As my partner declined to help me, I applied to my brother-in-law,
William Bennett.  He was a practical engineer, and had expressed
himself as highly satisfied with its value.  He had also many times
cautioned me against "publishing" its advantages so widely, without
having first protected it by a patent. He was therefore quite ready to
come to my assistance.  He helped me with the necessary money, and the
invention was placed in a position of safety so far as my interests
were concerned.  In return for his kindness I stipulated that the
reimbursement of his loan should be a first charge upon any profits
arising from the manufacture of the steam hammer; and also that he
should have a share in the profits during the period of the patent
rights.  Mr. Bennett lived for many years, rejoicing in the results of
his kindness to me in the time of my difficulty.  I may add that the
patent was secured in June 1842, or less than two months after my
return from France.

Soon after this, the iron trade recovered from its depression.
The tide of financial prosperity of the Bridgewater Foundry soon set
in, and my partner's sanguine confidence in my ability to raise it to
the condition of a thriving and prosperous concern was justified in a
most substantial manner.  In order to make the most effective
demonstration of the powers and capabilities of my steam hammer,
I constructed one of 30cwt.  of hammer block, with a clear four feet
range of fall.  I soon had it set to work; and its energetic services
helped us greatly in our smith and forge work.  It was admired by all
observers.  People came from a distance to see it.  Mechanics and
ironfounders wondered at the new power which had been born.
The precision and beauty of its action seemed marvellous.
The attendant could, by means of the steam slide-valve lever in his
hand, transmit his will to the action of the hammer, and thus think in
blows.  The machine combined great power with gentleness.  The hammer
could be made to give so gentle a blow as to crack the end of an egg
placed in a wine glass on the anvil; whilst the next blow would shake
the parish or be instantly arrested in its descent midway.*
This is no mere figure of speech.  I have heard the tea-cups rattle in
the cupboard in my house a quarter of a mile from the place where the
hammer was at work.  I was afterwards informed that the blows of my
great steam hammer at Woolwich Arsenal were sensibly felt at Greenwich
Observatory, about two miles distant.

Hand-gear was the original system introduced in working the hammer.
A method of self-acting was afterwards added.  In 1843, I admitted
steam above the piston, to aid gravitation.  This was an important
improvement.  The self-acting arrangement was eventually done away
with, and hand-gear again became all but universal.  Sir John Anderson,
in his admirable Report on the Vienna Exhibition of 1873, says:
The most remarkable features of the Nasmyth hammers were the almost
entire abandonment of the old self-acting motion of the early hammers
and the substitution of new devices, and in the use of hand-gear only
in all attempts to show off the working.  There is no real saving,
as a general rule, by the self-acting arrangement, because one
attendant is required in either case, and on the other hand there is
frequently a positive loss in the effect of the blow. By hand-working,
with steam on top of piston, the full force can be more readily
maintained until the blow is fully delivered; it is thus more of a dead
blow than was formerly the case with the other system."

There was no want of orders when the valuable qualities of the steam
hammer came to be seen and experienced.  The first Order came from
Rushton and Eckersley of Bolton, who, by the way, had seen the first
copy of my original design a few years before.  The steam hammer I made
for them was more powerful than my own.  The hammer block was of five
tons weight, and had a clear fall of five feet.  It gave every
satisfaction, and the fame of its performances went abroad amongst the
ironworkers.  The Lowmoor Ironworks Company followed suit with an order
for one of the same size and power; and another came from Hawkes and Co.,
of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

One of the most important uses of the steam hammer was in forging
anchors.  Under the old system, anchors upon the soundness of which the
safety of ships so often depends--were forged upon the "bit by bit"
system.  The various pieces of an anchor were welded together,
but at the parts where the different pieces of iron were welded
together, flaws often occurred; the parts would break off--blades
from the stock, or flukes from the blades--and leave the vessel,
which relied upon the security of its anchor, at the risk of the winds
and the waves.  By means of the steam hammer these risks were averted.
The slag was driven out during the hammering process.  The anchor was
sound throughout because it was welded as a whole.

Those who are technically acquainted with smith work as it used to be
practised, by what I term the "bit by bit" system--that is,
of building up from many separate parts of iron, afterwards welded
together into the required form--can appreciate the vast practical
value of the Die method brought into general use by the controllable
but immense power of the steam hammer.  At a very early period of my
employment of the steam hammer, I introduced the system of stamping
masses of welding hot iron as if it had been clay, and forcing it into
suitable moulds or dies placed upon the anvil.  This practice had been
in use on a small scale in the Birmingham gun trade, The ironwork of
firearms was thus stamped into exact form.  But, until we possessed the
wide range and perfectly controllable powers of the steam hammer,
the stamping system was confined to comparatively small portions of
forge work.  The new power enabled the die and stamp system to be
applied to the largest class of forge work; and another era in the
working of ponderous masses of smith and forge work commenced, and has
rapidly extended until the present time.  Without entering into further
details, the steam hammer has advanced the mechanical arts, especially
with relation to machinery of the larger class, to an extent that is of
incalculable importance.

Soon after my steam hammer had exhibited its merits as a powerful and
docile agent in percussive force, and shown its applicability to some
of the most important branches of iron manufacture, I had the
opportunity of securing a patent for it in the United States.
This was through the kind agency of my excellent friend and solicitor,
the late George Humphries of Manchester.  Mr. Humphries was a native of
Philadelphia, and the intimate friend of Samuel Vaughan Merrick,
founder of the eminent engineering firm of that city.  Through his
instrumentality I forwarded to Mr. Merrick all the requisite documents
to enable a patent to be secured at the United States Patent Office at
Washington.  I transferred the patent to Mr. Merrick in order that it
might be worked to our mutual advantage.  My invention was thus
introduced into America under the most favourable auspices.
The steam hammer soon found its way into the principal ironworks of the
country.  The admirable straightforward manner in which our American
agent conducted the business from first to last will ever command my
grateful remembrance.

CHAPTER 14.  Travels in France and Italy.

I have already referred to my visit to Creuzot, in France.
I must explain how it was that I was induced to travel abroad.
The French Government had ordered from our firm some powerful machine
tools, which were manufactured, delivered, and found to give every
satisfaction.  Shortly after, I received a letter from M. Bouchier,
the Minister of Marine, inviting me to make a personal visit to the
French naval arsenals for the purpose of conferring with the directing
officials as to the mechanical equipments of their respective

I accordingly proceeded to Paris, and was received most cordially by
the Minister of Marine.  After conferring with him, I was furnished
with letters of introduction to the directing officers at Cherbourg,
Brest, Rochefort, Indret, and Toulon.  While in Paris I visited some
of the principal manufacturing establishments, the proprietors of
which had done business with our firm.  I also visited Arago at the
Observatory, and saw his fine array of astronomical instruments.
The magnificent collections of antiquities at the Louvre and Hotel
Cluny occupied two days out of the four I spent in Paris; after which
I proceeded on my mission.  Rouen lay in my way, and I could not fail
to stay there and indulge my love for Gothic architecture.
I visited the magnificent Cathedral and the Church of St. Ouen,
so exquisite in its beauty, together with the refined Gothic
architectural remains scattered about in that interesting and
picturesque city.  I was delighted beyond measure with all that I saw.
With an eye to business, however, I paid a visit to the works which had
been established by the late Joseph Locke in the neighbourhood of Rouen
for the supply of locomotives to the Havre, Rouen, and Paris Railway.
The works were then under the direction of Mr. Buddicom.
I went onward through Caen to Bayeux.  There I rested for a few hours
for the purpose of visiting the superb Norman Cathedral, and also to
inspect the celebrated Bayeux tapestry.  I saw the needlework of Queen
Matilda and her handmaidens, which so graphically commemorates the
history of the Norman Conquest.  In the evening I reached Cherbourg.
I was cordially received by the directing officer of the dockyard,
which is of very large extent and surrounded by fortifications.
My business was with the smithy or atelier des forges,
and the workshops or ateliers des machiness.  There I recognised many
of the machine-tools manufactured at the Bridgewater Foundry, doing
excellent work.

My next visit was to Brest, the chief naval arsenal of France.
It combines a dockyard, arsenal, and fortress of the first class.
Everything has been done to make the place impregnable.  The harbour is
situated on the north side of one of the finest havens in the world,
and is almost land-locked.  Around the harbour run quays of great
extent, alongside of which the largest ships can lie--five artificial
basins being excavated out of the solid rock.  The whole of the harbour
is defended by tier above tier of batteries.  Foreigners are not
permitted to enter the dockyard without special permission; but as I
was armed with my letter of introduction from the Minister of Marine,
I was admitted and cordially received, as at Cherbourg.  I went through
the Government foundry and steam-factory, for which I had supplied many
of my machine tools.  I found the establishment to be the largest and
most complete that I had seen.  From Brest I went to Rochefort,
an excellent naval arsenal, though much smaller than those at Cherbourg
and Brest.  Next to Indret on the Loire.  Here is the large factory
where marine engines are made for the royal steamers.
The works were superintended by M. Rosine, a most able man.*
The only man I ever met, to whom I might compare Rosine, was my
lamented friend Francis Humphries, engineer of the Great Western
Steamship Company.  Both were men of the same type, though Rosine was
several octaves-higher in the compass and vividness of his intellect.

I was so much pleased with him that I spent two days in his society.
I have rarely met with a more perfect union of the sound practical
mechanic, of strong common-sense, and yet with a vivid imagination,
which threw a light upon every subject that he touched.
It was delightful to see the perfect manner in which he had arranged
all the details of the engine factory under his superintendence,
and to observe the pride which he took in the accuracy of the work
turned out by his excellent machinery.  It was a treat to see the
magnificent and intricate iron castings produced there.

As M. Rosine spoke English fluently, we had discussions on a vast
variety of topics, not only relating to technical subjects, but on
other matters relating to art and mechanical drawing.  He was one of
the few men I have met who had in perfection the happy accomplishment
of sketching with true artistic spirit any object that he desired to
bring before you.  His pencil far outstripped language in conveying
distinct ideas on constructive and material objects.  The time that I
spent in the company of this most interesting man will ever remain
vivid in my memory.  It grieved me greatly to hear of his premature
death about two years after the date of my visit.  He must have been a
sad loss to his deeply attached friends, as well as to the nation
whom he so faith fully served.

On my way to Toulon I passed through Bordeaux, and by Avignon to
Nismes.  At the latter city I was delighted with the sight of the
exquisite Roman temple, the Maison Carree.  It is almost perfect.
But the most interesting of the Roman remains at Nismes is the
magnificent Amphitheatre.  In viewing this grand specimen of
architecture, as well as the old temples, cathedrals, and castles,
I felt that we moderns are comparative pigmies.  Our architecture wants
breadth, grandeur, sublimity.

It appears to me that one of the chief causes of the inferiority and
defects of Modern Architecture is, that our designers are so anxious
to display their taste in ornamentation.  They first design the
exterior, and then fit into it the interior of their building.
The purpose of the building is thus regarded as a secondary
consideration.  In short, they utilise ornament instead of ornamenting
utility--total inversion, as it appears to me, of the fundamental
principle which ought to govern all classes of architectural structures.
This is, unfortunately, too evident in most of our public buildings.
See, for instance, our new Law Courts.

One thing I was especially struck with at Nismes--the ease with
which some thousands of people might issue, without hindrance, from
the Amphitheatre.  The wedge-shaped passages radiate from the centre,
and, widening outwards, would facilitate the egress of an immense
crowd.  Contrast this with the difficulty of getting out of any modern
theatre or church in case of alarm or fire.  Another thing is
remarkable--the care with which the huge blocks of magnesian limestone*
I believe Dolomite is the proper geological term. This fine material
abounds in this part of France, and has materially contributed to the
durability of the Roman mason work.
have been selected.  Some of the stone slabs are eighteen feet long;
they roof over the corridors; yet they still retain the marks of the
Roman chisel.  Every individual chip is as crisp as on the day on which
it was made; even the delicate "scribe" marks, by which the mason some
1900 years ago lined out his work on the blocks of stone he was about
to chip into its required form, are still perfectly distinct.

This wonderfully durable stone is of the same material as that
employed by lithographers.  Though magnesian, it is of a different
quality from that employed in building our Houses of Parliament.
As this was carefully selected, the latter was carelessly unselected.
It was quarried at random, in the most ignorant way; some of it proved
little better than chalk; and though all sorts of nostrums have been
tried, nothing will cure the radical defect.  This, however, is a wide
digression from my subject of the admirable mason work,
and the wonderful skill and forethought employed in erecting that
superb arena and the other Roman buildings at Nismes.

I proceeded to Marseilles, where I had some business to transact with
Philip Taylor and Company, the engineering firm.  They were most kind
and attentive to me while there, and greatly added to the enjoyment
of my visit to that remarkable city.  From Marseilles I proceeded to
Toulon, the last of the marine dockyards I had to visit.  There was no
railway between the places at that time, and it was accordingly
necessary that I should drive along the usual road.  In the course of
my journey to Toulon I went through the Pass of Col d'Ollioulles.
It was awfully impressive.  The Pass appeared to consist of a mighty
cleft between two mountains; the result of some convulsion of Nature.
There was only room for the carriage road to pass between the cliffs.
The ruins of a Saracenic castle stood on the heights to guard the
passage.  It was certainly the most romantic scene I had ever beheld.

Looking down into the deep cleft below me, at the bottom of which ran
a turbulent stream, I saw the narrow road along which our carriage
was to pass.  And then suddenly I emerged in full sight of the
Mediterranean, with the calm blue heavens resting over the deep blue
sea.  There were palms, cactuses, and orange trees, mixed with olive
groves.  The fields were full of tulips and narcissuses, and the rocks
by the roadside were covered with boxwood and lavender.  Everything
gave evidence of the sunny South.  I had got a glimpse of the
Mediterranean a few days before; but now I saw it in its glory.

I arrived in due time at Toulon.  The town is not very striking in
itself.  It is surrounded by an amphitheatre of mountains of hard
magnesian limestone.  These are almost devoid of vegetation.
This it is which gives so arid an aspect to this part of the coast.
Facing the south, the sun's rays, reflected from the bare surface of
the rocks, place one at mid-day as if in the focus of a great burning
mirror, and send every one in quest of shade.  This intense temperature
has its due effect upon the workers in the dockyard.  I found the place
far inferior to the others which I had visited.  The heat seemed to
engender a sort of listlessness over the entire place. The people
seemed to be falling asleep.  Though we complain of cold in our
northern hemisphere, it is a great incentive to work.  Even our east
wind is an invigorator; it braces us up, and strengthens our nerves and

It is quite possible that the workmen of the Toulon dockyard might fire
up and work with energy provided an occasion arose to call forth their
dormant energy.  But without the aid of an almost universal
introduction of self-acting tools in this sleepy establishment,
to break, with the busy hum of active working machinery, the spell of
indolence that seemed to pervade it, there appeared to me no hope of
anything like continuous and effective industry or useful results.
The docks looked like one vast knacker's yard of broken-down obsolete
ships and wretched old paraphernalia--unfortunately a characteristic
of other establishments nearer home than Toulon.

After transacting my business with the directing officers of this
vast dockyard I returned to Marseilles.  There I found letters
requiring me to proceed to Naples, in order to complete some business
arrangements in that city.  I was exceedingly rejoiced to have an
opportunity of visiting the south of Italy.  I set out at once.
A fine new steamer of the Messageries Imperiales, the Ercolano, was
ready to sail from the harbour.  I took my place on board.
I found that the engines had been made by Maudsley Sons and Field;
they were of their latest improved double-cylinder construction.
When I went down into the engine-room I felt myself in a sense at home;
for the style of the engines brought to my mind many a pleasant
remembrance of the days gone by.

We steamed out of the harbour, and passed in succession the beautiful
little islands which gem the bay of Marseilles.  Amongst others,
the isle of If, crowned by its castle, once a State prison,
and the Chateau d'If, immortalised by Dumas.  Then Pomegne, Ratoneau,
and other islands.  We were now on the deep blue Mediterranean,
watching the graceful curves of the coast as we steamed along.
Soon after, we came in sight of the snow-capped maritime Alps behind
Nice.  The evening was calm and clear, and a bright moon shone
overhead.  Next morning I awoke in the harbour of Genoa, with a
splendid panoramic view of the city before me.  I shall never forget
the glorious sight of that clear bright morning as long as I live.

As the steamer was to remain in the harbour until two o'clock next
day, I landed with the passengers and saw the wonders of the city.
I felt as if I were in a new world.  On every side and all around me
were objects of art lighted up by glorious sunshine.  The picturesque
narrow streets, with the blue sky overhead and the bright sunshine
lighting up the beautiful architecture of the palatial houses, relieved
by masses of clear shade, together with the picturesque dresses of the
people, and the baskets of oranges and lemons with the leaves on the
boughs on which they had been born and reared, the brilliant greenery
of the inner courts into which you peeped while passing along the
Strada Nuova, literally a street of palaces, threw me into a fervency
of delight.  Here, indeed, was architecture to be proud of--grand,
imposing, and massive--chastely yet gloriously ornamented.
There was nothing of the gingerbread order here!

The plan of these palaces is admirable.  They are open to the street,
so that all the inner arrangements may be seen.  There is the court,
surrounded by arcades, the arches of which rest upon columns; the
flights of marble steps on each side, leading to the great hall or
the principal apartments; and inside the court, the pink daphnes and
Tangerine orange frees, surrounded by greenery, with which the
splendour of the marble admirably contrasts;--the whole producing a
magnificent effect.  I remembered that Genoa la superba was one of my
father's pet subjects when talking of his first visit to Italy;
and now I could confirm all that he had said about the splendour of its

I do not know of anything more delightful than to grope one's way
through a foreign city, especially such a city as Genoa, and come
unexpectedly upon some building that one has heard of--that has
dimly lived in the mind like a dream--and now to see it realised in
fact.  It suddenly starts into life, as it were, surrounded by its
natural associations.  I hate your professional guides and their
constant chatter.  Much better to come with a mind prepared with some
history to fall back upon, and thus be enabled to compare the present
with the past, the living with the dead.

I climbed up some of the hills surrounding Genoa--for it is a city
of ups and downs.  I wandered about the terraced palaces surrounded by
orange groves and surveyed the fortified heights by which the place
is surrounded.  What exquisite bits of scenery there were to sketch;
what a rich combination of nature and art!  And what a world of
colour, with the clear blue sea in the distance!  Altogether,
that one day at Genoa--though but a succession of glimpses formed a
bright spot in my life, that neither time nor distance can dim or

I returned to the harbour two hours before the steamer was to leave.
To commemorate my visit, I mounted the top of the paddle-box, took out
my sketch book, and made a panoramic view of Genoa as seen from the
harbour.  I did it in pencil at the time, and afterwards filled it up
with ink.  When the pages of the sketch book had been joined together
the panoramic view extended to about eight feet long.  The accuracy of
the detail, as well as the speed with which the drawing was done,
were perhaps rather creditable to the draughtsman--at least so my
artistic friends were pleased to tell me.  Indeed, many years after,
a friend at court desired to submit it to the highest Lady in the land,
and, being herself an artist, she expressed herself as highly gratified
with the performance.

[Image]  A monk on board

The next station the steamer touched at was Leghorn.  As the vessel was
not to start until next day, there was sufficient time for me to run up
to Pisa.  There I spent a delightful day principally in wandering about
that glorious group of buildings situated so near to each other--
the Cathedral, the Baptistery, the Campo Santo, and the Campanile or
Leaning Tower.  What interested me most at the Cathedral was the two
bronze lamps suspended at the end of the nave, which suggested to the
mind of Galileo the invention of the pendulum. Thousands had seen the
lamps swinging before them, but he alone would know "the reason why."
The one swung at a different rate as compared with the other, being the
result of the chains being hung of different lengths.  Hence Galileo's
discovery of the principle or Law of the Pendulum.  This paved the way
for Newton's law of gravitation--one of the grandest laws of the

Some of the finest works of Andrea del Sarto, son of the Tailor,
are found here.  Indeed, the works of that great painter are little
known out of Pisa and Florence.  I was reluctant to tear myself away
from Pisa; but the Ercolano could not wait, and I was back in good
time, and soon under weigh.

The next port we touched at was Civita Vecchia, one of the most dreary
places that can be imagined, though at one time an Etruscan city,
and afterwards the port of Trajan.  I did not land, as there were some
difficulties in the way of passports.  We steamed on; and next morning
when I awoke we were passing the coast of Ischia.  We could scarcely
see the island for a thick mist had over-spread the sea. Naples was
still hidden from our sight, but over the mist I could observe the
summit of Vesuvius vomiting forth dense clouds of white smoke.
The black summit of the crater appeared floating in the clear blue sky.
But the heat of the sun shortly warmed the mist, and it floated away
like a curtain.

[Image]  Distant view of Vesuvius

A grand panorama then lay before us.  Naples looked bright and
magnificent under the sunlight.  The sea was so smooth that the
buildings and towers and convents and spires were reflected in the
water.  On our left lay the Bay of Baiae, with its castles and temples
and baths, dating from the days of the Roman Republic.  To the right
lay Castellamare, Sorrento, and the island of Capri.  But the most
prominent object was Vesuvius in front, with its expanding cloud of
white smoke over the landscape.  On landing, I took up my quarters at
the Hotel Victoria.  I sallied forth to take my first hasty view of the
Chiaia, the streets, and the principal buildings.  But, in accordance
with my motto of "Duty first, pleasure second," I proceeded to attend
to the business respecting which I had visited Naples.  That, however,
was soon disposed of.  In a few days I was able to attend to pleasure.
I made my way to the Museo Borbonico, now called the National Museum.
I found it a rich mine of precious treasures, consisting of Greek,
Etruscan, and Roman antiquities of every description.
Not the least interesting part of the Museum is the collection of marbles,
pictures, and articles of daily use, dug from the ruins of the buried
city of Pompeii.  Every spare hour that I could command was occupied in
visiting and revisiting this wonderful Museum.

Herculaneum and Pompeii were also visited, but, more than all,
the crater of Vesuvius.  During my visit the mountain was in its normal
state.  I mounted the volcanic ashes with which it is strewn,
and got to the top.  There I could look down into the pit from which
the clouds of steam are vomited forth.  I went down to the very edge of
the crater, stood close to its mouth, and watched the intermittent
up-rushing of the blasts of vapour and sulphureous gases.
To keep clear of these I stood to the windward side, and was thus out
of harm's way.

What struck me most was the wonderfully brilliant colours of the rugged
lava rocks forming the precipitous cliffs of the interior walls of the
crater.  These brilliant colours were the result of the sublimation and
condensation on their surfaces of the combinations of sulphur and
chloride of iron, quite as bright as if they had been painted with
bright red, chrome, and all the most brilliant tints. Columns of all
manner of chemical vapours ascended from the clefts and deep cracks,
at the bottom of which I clearly saw the bright hot lava.

I rolled as big a mass of cool lava as I could to the edge of the
crater and heaved it down; but I heard no sound.  Doubtless the depth
was vast, or it might probably have fallen into the molten lava,
and thus made no noise.  On leaving this horrible pit edge, I tied the
card of the Bridgewater Foundry to a bit of lava and threw it in,
as token of respectful civility to Vulcan, the head of our craft.

I had considerably more difficulty in clambering up to the top edge
of the crater than I had in coming down.  Once or twice, indeed,
I was half choked by the swirls of sulphureous and muriatic acid vapour
that environed me before I could reach the upper edge.  I sat down in a
nook, though it was a very hot one, and made a sketch or two of the
appearance of the crater.  But I feel that it is quite beyond my power
either by pen or pencil, to convey an idea of the weird unearthly
aspect which the funnel-shaped crater of Vesuvius presented at that
time.  An eruption of unusual violence had occurred shortly before I
saw it.  Great rounded blocks of lava had been thrown high into the air
again and again, and had fallen back into the terrible focus of
volcanic violence.  Vast portions of the rugged and precipitous sides
of the crater had fallen in, and were left in a state of the wildest
confusion.  When I visited the place the eruption had comparatively
subsided.  The throat of the crater was a rugged opening of more than
forty feet diameter, leading down to--Where?  Echo answers, "Where?"
And yet there is no doubt but that the great mass of materials which
lay around me as I made my sketches, had been shot up from
inconceivable depths beneath the solid crust of the earth.
There still remains an enormous mass of molten materials that has been
shut up beneath that crust since the surface of the globe assumed its
present condition.  The mineral matter that formed the globe had
converged towards its centre of gravity, and the arrestment of the
momentum of the coalescing particles resulted in intense heat.
Hence the molten condition of the globe in its primitive state.
The molten lava of volcanoes is the survival of that original cosmical

This heat has played a great part in the physical history of the globe.
Volcanic action has been, as it were, the universal plough!
It has given us mountains, hills, and valleys.  It has given us
picturesque scenery, gorges, precipices, waterfalls.  The up heaving
agent has displayed the mineral treasures of the earth, and enabled man,
by intelligent industry, to use them as mines of material blessings.
This is indeed a great and sublime subject.

I had remained near the mouth of the crater for about five hours.
Evening was approaching.  My drawings were finished, and I prepared to
leave.  My descent from the summit of the crater edge was comparatively
rapid, though every footstep went down some fifteen inches through the
volcanic ashes.  I descended by the eastern side, and was soon at the
base of the great cone.  I made my way by tortuous walking round the
erupted masses of lava, and also by portions of the lava streams,
which, on losing their original fluidity, had become piled up and
contorted into gigantic masses.

At the extreme edges of the flow, where the lava had become viscid,
these folds and contortions were very remarkable.  They were piled fold
over fold,--the result of the mighty pressure from behind.
It was sad to see so many olive gardens burnt and destroyed;
the trees were as black as charcoal.  It is singular to see the numbers
of orange and olive growers who choose to live so near to the
"fiery element."  But the heat presses forward the growth of vegetation.
To be there is like living in a hothouse; and the soil is
extraordinarily fertile.  Hence the number of vineyards quite close to
the base of Vesuvius.  The cultivators endeavour to enclose their
gardens with hard masses of lava, so as to turn off the flow of the
molten streams in other directions; but the lava bursts through the
walls again and again, and the gardens are often utterly burnt up and
ruined.  Almost every field at the base of Vesuvius contains a neat
little oratory, with a statue of the Virgin and Child, to which the
cultivators repair in times of peril and calamity.  But chapel, statue,
and gardens are alike swept away by the tremendous descent of the
molten lava.

As the night was growing dark, I made my way from these riskful farms
to Rosina, a little village on the way back to Naples.  As I had had
nothing to eat or drink during this thirst-producing journey, I went
into a wine shop and asked for some refreshment.  The wine shop was a
sort of vault, with a door like that of a coach-house, but with a bench
and narrow table.  The good woman brought me a great green glass bottle
like a vitriol carboy!  It contained more than six gallons of wine,
and she left me with a big glass to satisfy my wants.  The wine was the
veritable Lachryma, Christi--a delightful light claret--for
producing which the vineyards at the base of Vesuvius are famous.
After some most glorious swigs from this generous and jovial carboy,
accompanied with some delightful fresh made bread, I felt myself up to
anything.  After washing down the dust that I had swallowed during the
day, I settled with my liberal landlady (indeed she was mightily
pleased with only tenpence), and started for Naples.

I had still an eight-mile walk before me, but that was nothing to my
vigorous powers at that time.  The moon had risen during my stay in
the wine house, and it shone with a bright clear light.  After a few
miles' walking I felt a little tired, for the day's exercise had been
rather toilsome.  A fine carriage passed me on the road with a most
tempting platform behind.  I hailed the driver, and was allowed to
mount.  I was soon bowling along the lava paved road, and in a short
time I arrived at Naples.  I made another excursion to the crater of
Vesuvius before I left, as well as visits to Herculaneum and Pompeii,
which exceedingly interested me.  But these I need not attempt to
relate.  I refer my readers to Murray's Guide Book, where both are
admirably described.

After completing my business affairs at Naples, and sowing the seeds
of several orders, which afterwards bore substantial results,
I left the city by the same line of steamers.  I passed again Civita
Vecchia, Leghorn, Genoa, and Marseilles.  On passing through the South
of France I visited the works of several of our employers, and carried
back with me many orders.  It was when at Creuzot that I saw the child
of my brain, the steam hammer, in full and efficient work.
But this I have referred to in a previous chapter.

CHAPTER 15.  Steam Hammer Pile-driver.

In 1840 I furnished Sir Edward Parry with a drawing of my steam hammer,
in the hope that I might induce him to recommend its adoption in the
Royal Dockyards.  Sir Edward was at that time the head director of the
steam marine of England.  That was after the celebrity he had acquired
through his Arctic voyages.  I was of opinion that the hammer might
prove exceedingly useful in forging anchors and large iron work in
those great establishments.  Sir Edward appeared to be much struck with
the simplicity and probable efficiency of the invention.
But the Admiralty Board were very averse to introducing new methods of
manufacturing into the dockyards.  Accordingly, my interview with
Sir Edward Parry, notwithstanding his good opinion, proved fruitless.

Time passed by.  I had furnished steam hammers to the principal
foundries in England.  I had sent them abroad, even to Russia.
At length it became known to the Lords of the Admiralty that a new
power in forging had been introduced.  This was in 1843, three years
after I had submitted my design to Sir Edward Parry.  The result was
that my Lords appointed a deputation of intelligent officers to visit
my foundry at Patricroft to see the new invention.  It consisted of
Captain Benison (brother of the late Speaker), and Captain Burgman,
Resident Engineer at Devonport Dockyard.  They were well able to
understand the powerful agency of the steam hammer for marine forge
work.  I gave them every opportunity for observing its action.
They were much pleased, and I may add astonished, at its range, power,
and docility.

Besides showing them my own steam hammer, I took the deputation to the
extensive works of Messrs.  Rushton and Eckersley, where they saw one
of my five-ton hammer-block steam hammers in full action.
It was hammering out some wrought-iron forgings of the largest class,
as well as working upon smaller forgings.  By exhibiting the wide range
of power of the steam hammer, these gentlemen were entirely satisfied
of its fitness for all classes of forgings for the naval service.
They reported to the Admiralty accordingly, and in a few days we
received an official letter, with an order for a steam hammer having
a 50 cwt.  hammer-block, together with the appropriate boiler,
crane, and forge furnace, so as to equip a complete forge shop at
Devonport Dockyard.  This was my first order from the Government for
a steam hammer.

When everything was ready, I set out for Devonport to see the hammer
and the other portions of the machinery carefully erected.
In about a fortnight it was ready for its first stroke.  As good luck
would have it, the Lords of the Admiralty were making their annual
visit of inspection to the dockyard that day.  They arrived too late in
the afternoon for a general inspection of the establishment; but they
asked the superintending admiral if there was anything of importance
which they might see before the day closed.  The admiral told them that
the most interesting novelty in the dockyard was the starting of
Nasmyth's steam hammer.  "Very well, they said, "let us go and see that".

I was there, with the two mechanics I had brought with me from
Patricroft to erect the steam hammer.  I took share and share alike in
the work.  The Lords were introduced to me, and I proceeded to show
them the hammer.  I passed it through its paces.  I made it break an
eggshell in a wine-glass without injuring the glass.  It was as neatly
effected by the two-and-a-half ton hammer as if it had been done by an
egg-spoon.  Then I had a great mass of white-hot iron swung out of the
furnace by a crane and placed upon the anvil block.  Down came the
hammer on it with ponderous blows.  My Lords scattered to the
extremities of the workshop, for the splashes and sparks of hot metal
flew about.  I went on with the hurtling blows of the hammer,
and kneaded the mass of iron as if it had been clay into its devised

After finishing off the forging, my Lords gathered round the hammer
again, when I explained to them the rationale of its working,
and the details of its construction.  They were greatly interested,
especially Mr. Sidney Herbert (afterwards Lord Herbert of Lea),
then Secretary to the Admiralty, and Sir George Cockburn,
a fine specimen of the old admiral.  Indeed, all the members of the
Board were more or less remarkable men.  They honoured me with their
careful attention, and expressed their admiration at the hammer's
wonderful range of power and delicacy of touch, in this new application
of the force of steam.

The afternoon was a most important one for me in more ways than one,
although I cannot venture to trouble my readers with the details.
It was followed, however, by an order to supply all the Royal Dockyard
forge departments with a complete equipment of steam hammers,
and all the requisite accessories.  These were supplied in due time,
and gave in every case the highest satisfaction.  The forgings were
found to be greatly better, and almost absurdly cheaper than those done
by the old bit by bit building-up process.  The danger of flaws was
entirely done away with; and, in the case of anchors, this was a
consideration of life and death to the seamen, who depend for their
safety upon the soundness of the forgings.

Besides my introduction to that admirable man, Mr. Sidney Herbert,
I had the happiness of being introduced to Captain Brandreth,
Director of Naval Works.  The whole of the buildings on shore,
including the dockyards, were under his control.  One of the most
important affairs that the Lords of the Admiralty had to attend to on
their visit to Devonport was to conclude the contract for constructing
the great docks at Keyham.  This was a large extension of the Devonport
Docks, intended for the accommodation of the great steamships of the
Royal Navy, as well as for an increase of the graving docks and
workshops for their repair.  An immense portion of the shore of the
Hamoaze had to be walled in so as to exclude the tide and enable the
space to be utilised for the above purposes.  To effect this a vast
amount of pile-driving was rendered necessary, in order to form a firm
foundation for the great outer dock wall, about a mile and a quarter in

Messrs. Baker and Sons were the contractors for this work.
They were present at the first start of my steam hammer at Devonport.
They were, like the others, much impressed by its vast power and
manageableness.  They had an interview with me as to its applicability
for driving piles for the immense dock, this being an important part of
their contract.  Happily, I had already given some attention to this
application of the powers of the steam hammer.  In fact, I had secured
a patent for it.  I had the drawings for the steam hammer pile-driving
machine with me.  I submitted them to Mr. Baker, and he saw its
importance in a moment.  "That," he 'said, "is the very thing that I
want to enable me to complete my contract satisfactorily."  Thousands of
enormous piles had to be driven down into the deep silt of the Shore;
and to have driven them down by the old system of pile-driving would
have occupied a long time, and would also have been very expensive.

The drawings were of course submitted to Captain Brandreth.
He was delighted with my design.  The steam pile-driver would be,
in his opinion, the prime agent for effecting the commencement of the
great work originated by himself.  At first the feat of damming out
such a high tide as that of the Hamoaze seemed very doubtful, because
the stiff slate silt was a treacherous and difficult material to
penetrate.  But now, he thought, the driving would be rendered
comparatively easy.  With Captain Brandreth's consent the contractors
ordered of me two of my steam hammer pile-drivers.  They were to be
capable of driving 18-inch square piles of 70 feet in length into the
silt of the Hamoaze.

[Image]  Space to be enclosed at the Hamoaze

This first order for my pile-driver was a source of great pleasure to me.
I had long contemplated this application of the power of the steam
hammer.  The machine had long been in full action in my "mind's eye,"
and now I was to see it in actual reality.  I wrote down to my partner
by that night's post informing him of the happy circumstance. The order
was for two grand steam hammer pile-drivers, each with four-ton
hammer-blocks.The wrought-iron guide case and the steam cylinder were
to weigh in all seven tons.  All this weight was to rest on the
shoulders of the pile.  The blows were to be about eighty in the
minute.  This, I thought, would prove thoroughly effective in rapidly
driving the piles down into the earth.

I have said that the steam pile-driver was in my mind's eye long before
I saw it in action.  It is one of the most delightful results of the
possession of the constructive faculty, that one can build up in the
mind mechanical structures and set them to work in imagination, and
observe beforehand the various details performing their respective
functions, as if they were in absolute material form and action.
Unless this happy faculty exists ab initio in the brain of the
mechanical engineer, he will have a hard and disappointing life before
him.  It is the early cultivation of the imagination which gives the
right flexibility to the thinking faculties.  Thus business, commerce,
and mechanics are all the better for a little healthy imagination.

So soon as I had returned home, I set to work and prepared the working
drawings of the steam pile-drivers.  They were soon completed, conveyed
to Devonport, and erected on the spot where they were to be used.
They were ready on the 3d of July 1845.  Some preliminary pile-driving
had been done in the usual way, in order to make a stage or elevated
way for my pile-driver to travel along the space where the permanent
piles were to be driven.  I arranged my machines so that they might
travel by their own locomotive powers along the whole length of the
coffer dam, and also that they should hoist up the great logs of Baltic
timber which formed the Piles into their proper places before being

The entire apparatus of the machine was erected on a strong timber
platform, and was placed on wheels, so that it might move along the
rails laid down upon the timber way.  The same boiler that supplied the
steam hammer part of the apparatus served to work the small steam-engine
fixed to the platform for its locomotion, and also to perform the duty
of rearing the next pile which had to be driven.  The steam was
conveyed to the hammer cylinder by the jointed pipe seen in the annexed
engraving.  The pipe accommodated itself to any elevation or descent of
the hammer.  The whole weight of the cylinder, hammer-block, and guide
box, supported by the shoulders of the pile, amounting to seven tons in
all, rested upon the shoulders of the pile as a "persuader;" and the
eighty blows per minute of the four-ton hammer came down with
tremendous energy upon the top of the pile head.  No soil, that piles
could penetrate, could resist such effective agencies.

[Image]  Diagram of the Steam Pile-Driver

Explanation of the Diagram of the Steam Pile-Driver.--The chief
feature of novelty of this pile-driving machine consists in the
employment of the direct action of the Steam Hammer as the blow giving
agent, and also in the manner in which the dead weight of the entire
apparatus, consisting of the hammer-block C, the steam cylinder A,
and its guide-case B, is employed to importantly aid the effect of the
rapid and energetic blows of the steam hammer.  These ponderous parts
rest on the shoulders of the pile H all the while it is being driven,
the pile in this respect being the only support of the apparatus A B C.
So that, besides the eighty blows per minute that the four-ton steam
hammer energetically deals out to the head of the pile from a four foot
fall the dead weight of the apparatus constantly acts as a most
effective "predisposer" to the sinking of the pile into the ground; the
hoisting chain D being let slack the while, so as to allow A B C to
"follow down" the pile H, while the eighty blows per minute are
incessantly showered on its head.  The upward stroke of the piston,
with its attached hammer-block C, is arrested at the proper height not
only by allowing the steam that raised it to escape, but as soon as the
piston passes the escape holes X X, the confined air above the piston
at O rebounds, and so aids most effectively in increasing the energy of
the fall of the hammer-block C on the pile head.

There was a great deal of curiosity in the dockyard as to the action of
the new machine.  The pile-driving machine-men gave me a good-natured
challenge to vie with them in driving down a pile.  They adopted the
old method, while I adopted the new one.  The resident managers sought
out two great pile logs of equal size and length--70 feet long and
18 inches square.  At a given signal we started together.
I let in the steam, and the hammer at once began to work. The four-ton
block showered down blows at the rate of eighty a minute;
and in the course of four and a half minutes my pile was driven down to
the required depth.  The men working at the ordinary machine had only
begun to drive.  It took them upwards of twelve hours to complete the
driving of their pile!

Such a saving of time in the performance of similar work--by steam
versus  manual labour--had never before been witnessed.
The energetic action of the steam hammer, sitting on the shoulders of
the pile high up aloft, and following it suddenly down, the rapidly
hammered blows keeping time with the flashing out of "the waste steam
at the end of each stroke, was indeed a remarkable sight.  When my pile
was driven, the hammer-block and guide case were speedily re-hoisted by
the small engine that did all the labouring and locomotive work of the
machine; the steam hammer portion of which was then lowered on to the
shoulders of the next pile in succession. Again it set to work.
At this the spectators crowding about in boats, pronounced their
approval in the usual British style of "three cheers!"
My new pile-driver was thus acknowledged as another triumphant proof of
the power of steam.

The whole of the piles for this great work were speedily driven in.
The wall was constructed, and the docks were completed in an unusually
short time.  The success of my pile-driver was followed by numerous
orders.  It was used for driving the immense piles required for the
High Level Bridge at Newcastle, the great Border Bridge at
Berwick-upon-tweed, the Docks at Tynemouth, the Docks at Birkenhead,
the Docks at Grimsby, the new Westminster Bridge, the great bridge at
Kief in Russia, the bridge at Petersburg, the forts at Cronstadt,
the Embarrage of the Nile, at Yokohama in Japan, and at other places.
It enabled a solid foundation to be laid for the enormous
superstructures erected over them, and thus contributed to the
permanence of many important undertakings.

The mechanical principles on which the efficiency of the steam
pile-driver chiefly depends are as simple as I believe they are
entirely novel and original.  The shoulder of the pile acts as the sole
supporter of the ponderous mass of the hammer-block, cylinder,
and guide-box.  This heavy weight acts as a predisposing agency to
force the pile down, while the momentum given by the repeated fall of
the hammer, at eighty blows the minute, brings the constant dead weight
into full action.  I am not aware of any other machine in which such a
combination of mechanical forces is employed.

Another very effective detail consisted in employing the waste steam in
the upper part of the cylinder for the purpose of acting as a buffer to
resist any undue length of the upward stroke of the piston.
But for this the cylinder covers might have been knocked off.
The elastic buffer of waste steam also acted as a help to the downward
blow of the hammer-block.  The simplicity and effectiveness of these
arrangements form--if I may be allowed to say so--a happy
illustration of my "Definition of Engineering," the application of
common sense in the use of materials.

The folding-up steam pipe with which the steam was conveyed from the
boiler to the cylinder at all heights, and the way in which the folding
joints accommodated themselves to the varying height of the cylinder,
was another of my happy thoughts.  In fact, this invention, like most
others, was the result of a succession of happy thoughts.
The machine in its entirety was the result of a number of common-sense
contrivances, such as I generally delight in.  At all events, this most
effective and novel machine was a special favourite with me.

I may mention, before concluding this branch of my subject,
that pile-driving had before been conducted on what I might term the
artillery or cannon-ball principle.  A small mass of iron was drawn
slowly up, and suddenly let down on the head of the pile at a high
velocity.  This was destructive, not impulsive action.  Sometimes the
pile was shivered into splinters, without driving it into the soil;
in many cases the head of the pile was shattered into matches, and this
in spite of a hoop of iron about it to keep the layers of wood
together.  Yet the whole was soon beat into a sort of brush.
Indeed, a great portion of the men's time was consumed in "reheading"
the piles.  On the contrary, I employed great mass and moderate
velocity. The fall of the steam hammer-block was only three or four
feet, but it went on at eighty blows the minute, and the soil into
which the pile was driven never had time to grip or thrust it up--
an impediment well known to ordinary pile-drivers.  At the end of the
driving by my steam hammer, the top of the pile was always found neat
and smooth, indeed more so than when the driving began.

I may again revert to my interview with the Lords of the Admiralty on
the occasion of my first meeting them at Devonport.  I was residing at
the hotel where they usually took up their quarters while making their
annual visitation of the dockyard.  I was honoured with an invitation
to confer with Sir George Cockburn, Mr. Sidney Herbert, and Captain
Brandreth on a subject of considerable importance; namely, the proving
of chain cables and anchors required for the Royal Navy.  The question
was mooted as to whether or not some permanent injury was done to both
by the test strains to which they were submitted before being put on
board ship.  This was a subject of vital importance.  The members of
the Board requested me to act as one of a committee to inquire into the
subject.  I felt much gratified by the invitation and gladly accepted

On discussing the subject with these gentlemen that evening, I found
that Sir George Cockburn entertained an ingenious theory in support of
his apprehensions as the effect of "over-proof" straining of cables and
anchors.  It was that they were originally in the condition of a strong
man who had to lift some heavy weight, requiring him to exert his
muscular strength to the utmost; and, although he might perform the
feat, it was at the cost of a permanent injury, and that he might never
be able to lift the same weight again.  This, however true it might be
with regard to flesh and bone structures, was scarcely true with
respect to mechanical agencies.  I proposed a simple experiment with
chain cables, which, it occurred to me, would show quite a different
result--namely, that the capability of resisting the severest
proof-strain would rise rather than fall at each successive proof of
the same chain cable.

To test the correctness of my supposition, we had a first-class chain
cable put into the proof machine,and subjected it to such a strain as
to break it again and again, until at last it was divided almost into
single links.  As I expected, the proof or breaking strain kept rising
and rising as each successive remaining portion of the cable was torn
asunder, thus showing that no injury to the natural tenacity of the
chain had resulted from the increased proofs to which it had been
subjected, and that the last broken links had been much more resisting
than the first.  The same class of demonstrative experiments was made
with anchors, and other wrought-iron work used in the service.
The Admiralty officers were much gratified with the result, as removing
a groundless but very natural apprehension, heightened, no doubt,
by the suggestions that had been made to the Admiralty, that their
standard proof strain was not only too high in itself, but produced
permanent damage to what at the outset was of the toughest iron.
My system of continued proof-straining was, in fact, another
exemplification of the "Survival of the Fittest"!

A very interesting truth came out in the course of our experiments.
It was that the chief cause of failure in the links of chain cables
arose, not so much from their want of tenacity, or from the quality of
the iron, but from some defective welding in the making of the links.
To get at this truth, many excellent cables as received from the
contractors, as well as veteran ones that had held great ships riding
at anchor in terrible gales, were pulled asunder link by link by an
intentional destructive strain by the proving machine.
An exact account was taken of the nature of the fracture of each.
The result was that in eight cases out of ten, the fracture was found
to result from a defectively welded part of the chain-link.
The practically trained eye could see the scoria which indicates the
defective welding.  Though long unseen, it was betrayed at once when
the link was torn open by the proof strain.

My services on this committee proved a source of great enjoyment to me.
I had frequent occasion to visit the dockyards and workshops,
accompanied by Captain Brandreth, surveyor-general of the Admiralty
landworks,Mr. Thomas Lloyd, engineer-in-chief of the Admiralty, and
Mr. Jeremiah Owen, chief of the metal material required in the
equipment of the navy I was requested to suggest any improvement in the
workshops that I thought would add to the efficiency of the department;
and I trust that my recommendations proved of practical good to the
service.  At the same time, I have reason to know that many of the
recommendations of the committee, though cordially acknowledged by the
higher powers, were by a sort of passive resistance practically

I was much amused, when I first went to Devonport dockyard, to notice
the punctilious observance of forms and ceremonies with respect to the
various positions of officials--from the admiral-superintendent down
the official grades of dignity, to the foremen of departments,
and so on.  I did not care for all this panjandrum of punctiliousness,
but was, I hope, civil and chatty with everybody.  I had a good word
for the man as well as for the foreman.  I received some kind and
good-natured hints as to the relative official superiority that
prevailed in the departments, and made out a scale or list of the
various strata accordingly.  This gamut of eminence was of use to me in
my dealings with dockyard officials.  I was enabled to mind my p's and
q's in communicating with them.

The first Sunday that I spent at Devonport I went to the dockyard
church--the church appointed for officials and men employed by the
Government.  The seats were appointed in the order of rank,
employments, and rate of pay.  The rows of seats were all marked with
the class of employers that were expected to sit in them.  Labourers
were near the door.  The others were in successive rows forward,
until the pew of the "Admiral Superintendent," next the Altar rails,
was reached.  I took my seat among the "artificers," being of that
order. On coming out of church the master-attendant, next in dignity to
the admiral-superintendent, came up to me to say how distressed he was
to see me "among the artificers," and begged me in future to use his
seat.  No doubt this was kindly intended, and I thanked him for his
courtesy.  Nevertheless I kept to my class of artificers.
I did not like the "breest o' the laft'"*
The breest o' the laft is the seat of dignity. The best places in
churches are occupied by "superior" people. In Scotland the chief men
--the Provosts, Bailies, and Councillors--have a seat appropriated to
them in the front part of the gallery, generally opposite the minister.
That is "the breest o' the laft."
The same principle pervades society generally.
principle.  No doubt the love of distinction, within reasonable limits,
is a great social prime mover; but at Devonport, with the splitting up
into ranks, even amongst workmen, I found it simply amusing, especially
when introduced into a church.

I afterwards met with several veterans in the service of the Admiralty,
who are well served by such experienced and well-selected men.
It is the schemers and the satellites who haunt the contractors that
are the vermin of dockyards.  I gave them all a very wide berth.
But worst of all are the men who get their employment through
parliamentary influence.  They are a detestable set.  They always have
some "grievance" to pester people about.  I hope things are better now.

I may add, with respect to the steam hammer pile-driving machines,
that I received an order for two of them from Mohammed Ali, the Pasha
of Egypt.  These were required for driving the piles in that great work
--the barrage of the Nile near Cairo.  The good services of these
machines so pleased the Pasha that he requested us to receive three
selected Arab men into our works.  He asked that they should have the
opportunity of observing the machinery processes and the system of
management of an English engineering factory.  The object of the Pasha
was that the men should return to Egypt and there establish an engine
manufactory, so as to render him in a measure independent of foreign
help.  For British workmen, when imported into Egypt, had a great
tendency to degenerate when removed from the wholesome stimulus to
exertion in competition with their fellows.

My firm had no objection to the introduction of the Arab workmen.
Accordingly, one day we received a visit from an excellent Egyptian
officer, Edim Bey, accompanied by his secretary Rushdi Effendi,
who spoke English fluently.  He thus made our interview with the Bey
easy and agreeable.  He conveyed to us, in the most courteous manner,
the wishes of the Pasha; and the three workmen were at once received.
Every opportunity was given them to observe and understand the works
going forward.  They were intelligent-looking young men, about
twenty-five years of age.  One of them was especially bright looking,
quick in the expression of his eyes, and active in his manner,
His name was Affiffi Lalli; the names of the others I forget.

These young men were placed under charge of the foremen of the
departments that each fancied to be most to his taste.  Affiffi was
placed in the fitting department, in which skilful manipulation was
required.  He exhibited remarkable aptitude, and was soon able to hold
his own alongside of our best workmen.  Another was set to the turning
department, and did fairly well.  The third was placed in the foundry,
where he soon became efficient in moulding and casting brass and iron
work.  He lent a hand all round, and picked up a real practical
knowledge of the various work in his department.  During their sojourn
in our works they became friendly with their colleagues; and in fact
became quite favourites with the men, who were always willing to help
them.  But Affiffi Lalli was regarded as the genius of the trio.
He showed a marked and intelligent aptitude for acquiring technical
skill in all the branches of our business.

After remaining with us for about four years they were ready to return
to Cairo, and show what they had learned in practical and technical
mechanical knowledge during their stay in England.  The three Arab
workmen were placed in their suitable departments in the Pasha's work
shops.  But such was the natural energy of Affiffi, that when he was
set to work beside the slow, dilatory, and stupid native workmen,
he became greatly irritated.  The contrast between the active energetic
movements which he had seen at the Bridgewater Foundry and the
ineffective, blundering, and untechnical work of his fellows was such
that he could not stand it any longer.  So one fine day he disappeared
from the works, took refuge on board a British steamer, and at the risk
of his neck made his way back to the Bridgewater Foundry!

As we were reluctant to take back a man who had escaped from the
Pasha's employment--excellent workman though he was--we declined to
employ him.  But I gave Affiffi a note of introduction to Boulton and
Watt of Soho, Birmingham, and there he was employed.  He afterwards
passed into other firms, and having employed his skill in making some
needle machinery at Redditch, he settled down there.  He married a
Warwickshire lass, and had a family--half Arab, half English--
and has now a thriving foundry and engineer workshop of his own.
This little narrative shows that the Arab has still much of the
wonderful energy and skill that once made the Moors masters of a large
part of South-Western Europe.

We had many visitors at the foundry--from London,
from the manufacturing districts, and from foreign countries.
One day a young gentleman presented a letter from Michael Faraday,
dated "Royal Institution, 29th May 1847," requesting me to pay him some
attention and show him round the works.  I did so with all my heart,
and wrote to Mr. Faraday intimating how much pleasure it gave me to
serve him in any respect.  I cannot refrain from giving his answer.
He said:

"MY DEAR SIR--That you should both show kindness to the bearer of my
letter, and prove that you did so with pleasure by writing me a letter
in return, was indeed more than I ought or could have expected;
but it was very gratifying and pleasant to my mind.  I only wish that
the circumstances of my life were such as to enable me to take
advantage of such goodwill on your part, and to be more in your company
and conversation than is at present possible.

"I could imagine great pleasure from such a condition of things;
but though our desires, and even our hopes at times spread out
beforehand over a large extent, it is wonderful how, as the future
becomes the present, the circumstances that surround us limit the
sphere to which our real life is circumscribed If ever I come your way
I hope to see your face; and the hope is pleasant, though the reality
may never arrive.

"You tell me of the glorious work of your pile-driver, and it must be
indeed a great pleasure to witness the result.  Is it not Shakespeare
who says, 'The pleasure we delight in physics pain'?  In all your
fatigue and labour you must have this pleasure in abundance, and a most
delightful and healthy enjoyment it is.  I shall rejoice to see some
day a blow of the driver and a tap of the hammer.

"You speak of some experiments on hardening and tempering steel in
which we can help you.  I hope when you do come to town you will let us
have the pleasure of doing so.  Our apparatus, such as it is, shall be
entirely at your service.  I made, a long while ago, a few such
experiments on steel wire, but could eliminate no distinct or peculiar
results.  You will know how to look at things, and at your hand I
should expect much.

"Here we are just lecturing away, and I am too tired to attempt
anything, much less to do anything just now; but the goodwill of such
men as you is a great stimulus, and will, I trust even with me,
produce something else praiseworthy.

Ever, my dear Nasmyth, yours most truly,   M. FARADAY."

CHAPTER 16.  Nuremberg--St. Petersburg--Dannemora.

In the autumn of 1842 I had occasion to make a journey to Nuremberg in
company with my partner Mr. Gaskell.  We had been invited to a
conference with the directors of the Nuremberg and Munich Railroad as
to the supply of locomotives for working their line.  As this was
rather an important and extensive transaction, we thought it better not
to trust to correspondence, but to see the directors on the spot.
We found that there were several riskful conditions attached to the
proposed contract, which we considered it imprudent to agree to.
We had afterwards good reason to feel satisfied that we had not yielded
to the very tempting commercial blandishments that were offered to us,
but that we refrained from undertaking an order that required so many
important modifications.

Nevertheless, I was exceedingly delighted with the appearance of the
city of Nuremberg.  It carries one back to the mediaeval times!
The architecture, even of the ordinary houses, is excellent.
St. Lawrence, St. Sebald's, and the Frauenkirche, are splendid specimens
of Gothic design.  The city is surrounded by old walls and turrets,
by ramparts and bastions, enclosed by a ditch faced with masonry.
Very few cities have so well escaped the storm of war and sieges in the
Middle Ages, and even in modern times.  Everything has been carefully
preserved, and many of the best houses are still inhabited by the
families whose forefathers originally constructed them.  But "progress"
is beginning to affect Nuremberg.  It is the centre of railways;
buildings are extending in all directions; tram-cars are running in the
streets; and before long, I fear, the ditch will be filled up,
the surrounding picturesque walls and towers demolished, and the city
thrown open to the surrounding country.

I visited the house of Albert Durer, one of the greatest artists who
ever lived.  He was a man of universal genius--a painter, sculptor,
engraver, mathematician, and engineer.  He was to Germany what Leonardo
da Vinci was to Italy.  His house is wonderfully preserved.
You see his entrance hall, his exhibition room, his bedroom,
his studio, and the opening into which his wife--that veritable Xantippe
--thrust the food that was to sustain him during his solitary hours of
labour.  I saw his grave, too, in the old churchyard beyond the
Thiergarten gate.  I saw the bronze plate commemorating the day of his
death.  "Emigravit 8 idus Aprilis 1528."  "Emigravit" only, for the true
artist never dies.  Hans Sachs's grave is there too--the great
Reformation poet of Luther's time.

Adam Krafft must have been a great sculptor, though his name is little
known out of Nuremberg.  Perhaps his finest work is in St. Lawrence
Cathedral--the Sacramentshauslein, or the repository for the sacred
wafer--a graceful tapering stone spire of florid Gothic open work,
more than sixty feet high, which stands at the opening of the right
transept.  Its construction and decoration occupied the sculptor and
his two apprentices no less than five years; and all that he received
for his hard labour and skilful work was 770 gulden, or about #80
sterling.  No wonder that he died in the deepest distress.
St. Sebald's and the Frauenkirche also contain numerous specimens of
his admirable work.

In the course of the following year (1843) it was necessary for me to
make a journey to St. Petersburg.  My object was to endeavour to
obtain an order for a portion of the locomotives required for working
the line between that city and Moscow.  The railway had been
constructed under the engineership of Major Whistler, father of the
well-known artist; and it was shortly about to be opened.  It appeared
that the Emperor Nicholas was desirous of securing a home supply of
locomotives, and that, like a wise monarch, he wished to employ his own
subjects rather than foreigners in producing them.  No one could object
to this.

The English locomotive manufacturers were not aware of the Emperor's
intention.  When I arrived in the city I expected an order for
locomotives.  The representatives of the principal English firms were
there like myself; they, too, expected a share of the order.
It so happened that at the table d'hote dinner I sat near a very
intelligent American, with whom I soon became intimate.  He told me
that he was very well acquainted with Major Whistler, and offered to
introduce me to him.  By all means!  There is no thing like friendly
feelings in matters of business.

The Major gave me a frank and cordial reception, and informed me of the
position of affairs.  The Emperor, he said, was desirous of training a
class of Russian mechanics to supply not only the locomotives but to
keep them constantly in repair.  He could not solely depend upon
foreign artisans for the latter purpose.  The locomotives must be made
in Russia.  The Emperor had given up the extensive premises of the
Imperial China Manufactory, which were to be devoted to the manufacture
of engines.

The Major appointed Messrs.  Eastwick, Harrison, and Wynants, to supply
the entire mechanical plant of the railway.  I saw that it would be of
no use to apply for any order for locomotives; but I offered to do all
that I could to supply the necessary details.  In the course of a few
days I was introduced to Joseph Harrison, the chief mechanic of the
firm; and I then entered into a friendship which proved long and
lasting.  He gave me a large order for boilers, and for detail parts of
the Moscow engines--all of which helped him forward in the completion
of the locomotives.  We also supplied many of our special machine tools,
without which engines could not then be very satisfactorily made or
kept in repair.  In this way I was in all respects highly remunerated
for my journey.

The enjoyment of my visit to St. Petersburg was much enhanced by
frequent visits to my much valued friend General Alexander Wilson.
He was a native of Edinburgh, and delighted to enjoy cracks with me
upon subjects of mutual interest.  His sister, who kept house for him,
joined in our conversation.  She had been married to the Emperor Paul's
physician, who was also a Scotsman, and was able to narrate many
terrible events in relation to Russian Court affairs.  The General had
worked his way upwards, like the rest of us.  During the principal part
of his life he had superintended the great mechanical establishments at
Alexandrosky and Colpenha, where about 3000 operatives were employed.
These establishments were originally founded by the Empress Catherine
for the purpose of creating a native manufacturing population capable
of carrying on textile and mechanical works of all kinds.
The sail-cloth for the Russian navy was manufactured at Alexandrosky by
excellent machinery.  Cotton fabrics were also manufactured, as well as
playing cards, which were a Crown monopoly.  The great establishment at
Colpenha consisted of a foundry, a machine manufactory, and a mint--
where the copper money of the empire was coined.  General Wilson was
the directing chief officer of all these establishments.

Through him I had the happiness of being introduced to General Greg,
son of the great admiral who shed such honour on the Russian flag
during the reign of the Empress Catherine.  He was then well advanced
in years, but full of keen intelligence and devoted to astronomical
pursuits.  He was in a great measure the founder of the Imperial
Observatory at Pulkowa, situated on an appropriate eminence about eight
miles from St. Petersburg.  The observatory was furnished under his
directions with the most magnificent astronomical instruments.
I had the honour to be introduced by him to the elder Struve, whose
astronomical labours procured him a well-earned reputation throughout
Europe.  I had the rare happiness of spending some nights with Struve,
when he showed me the wonderful capabilities of his fine instruments.
The observatory is quite imperial in its arrangement and management,
and was supported in the most liberal manner by the Emperor Nicholas.
Indeed, it is a perfect example of what so noble an establishment
should be.

Struve most kindly invited me to come whenever the state of the weather
permitted him to show forth the wonderful perfection of his
instruments,--a rare chance, which I seized every opportunity of
enjoying.  It was quite a picture to see the keen interest and intense
enjoyment with which the profound astronomer would seat himself at his
instrument and pick out some exquisite test objects, such as the double
stars in Virgo, Cygnus, or Ursa Major.  The beautiful order and
neatness with which the instruments were kept in their magnificent
appropriate apartments, each having its appropriate observer proceeding
quietly with his allotted special work, with nothing to break the
silence but the "tick, tack!" of the sidereal clock--this was indeed
a most impressive sight!  And the kindly companionable manner of the
great master of the establishment was in all respects in harmony with
the astronomical work which he conducted in this great Temple of the

Through my friendship with General Wilson I was enabled to extend my
acquaintance with many of my countrymen who had been long settled at
St. Petersburg in connection with commercial affairs.  I enjoyed their
kind hospitality, and soon found myself quite at home amongst them.
I remained in the city for about two months.  During that time I was
constantly about.  The shops, the streets, the houses, the museums,
were objects of great interest.  The view of the magnificent buildings
along the sides of the quay is very imposing.  Looking from the front
of the statue of Peter the Great you observe the long facade of the
Admiralty, the column of Alexander, the Winter Palace, and other public
buildings.  The Neva flows in front of them in a massive volume of pure
water.  On an island opposite stands the citadel.  The whole presents a
coup d'oeil of unexampled architectural magnificence.

I was much interested by the shops and their signboards. The latter
were fixed all over the fronts of the shops, and contained a
delineation of the goods sold within. There was no necessity for
reading.  The pictorial portraits told their own tale.
They were admirable specimens of what is called still-life pictures;
not only as regards the drawing and colouring of each object, but with
respect to the grouping, which was in most cases artistic and natural.
Two reasons were given me for this style of artistic sign-painting:
one was that many of the people could not read the written words
defining the articles sold within; and the other was that the severe
and long-continued frosts of the St. Petersburg winter rendered large
shop windows impossible for the proper display of the goods.
Hence the small shop-windows to keep out the cold, and the large
painted signboards to display the articles sold inside.

I was also greatly pleased with the manner in which the Russians employ
ivy in screening their windows during summer.  Ivy is a beautiful
plant, and is capable of forming a most elegant window-screen.
Nothing can be more beautiful than to look through green leaves.
Nearly every window of the ground flat of the houses in St. Petersburg
is thus screened.  The neat manner in which the ivy plants are trained
over ornamental forms of cane is quite a study in its way.  And though
the ivy is very common, yet a common thing, being a thing of beauty,
may be a "joy for ever."  In the finer and most important mansions,
the sides of the flight of wide steps that lead up to the reception
rooms were beautifully decorated by oleander plants, growing in great
vigour, with their fine flowers as fresh as if in a carefully-kept
conservatory.  Other plants of an ornamental kind were mixed with the
oleander, but the latter appeared to be the favourite.*
While passing through Lubeck on my way out to St. Petersburg I was much
struck with the taste for flower-plants displayed by the people of that
old-world city.  The inner side of the lower house windows were all
beautifully decorated with flowers, which were evidently well cared
for.  Some of the windows were almost made up with flowers.
Perhaps the long-continued winter of these parts has caused the people
to study and practise within-door culture with such marked success.
It is a most elegant pursuit, and should be cultivated everywhere.
It is thoroughly in character with the exquisite cleanliness and
tidiness of the houses at Lubeck.

About the end of my visit I was about to call upon one of my customers
with reference to my machine tools; for though I pursued pleasure at
occasional times, I never lost sight of business.  It was a very dull
day, and the streets about the Winter Palace were almost deserted.
I was sitting in my drosky with my roll of drawings resting on my thigh
--somewhat in the style of a commander-in-chief as represented in the
old pictures--when I noticed a drosky coming out of the gates of the
Winter Palace.  I observed that it contained a noble-looking officer in
a blue military cloak sitting behind his drosky driver.  My driver
instantly took off his hat, and I, quickly following his example,
took off my hat and bowed gracefully, keeping my extended hand on the
level of my head--a real royal salute.  The person was no other than
the Emperor Nicholas!  He fixed his pecuniarily fine eyes upon me and
gave me one of the grandest military salutes, accompanied, as I thought,
with a kindly smile from his magnificent eyes as he passed close by me.

As I had been lunching with a Dutch engineer about half an hour before,
and had a glass or two of champagne, this may have had something to do
with my daring to give the Emperor, in his own capital, what I was
afterwards told was not a bow but a brotherly recognition between
potentates, and only by royal usage allowed to be so given,--namely,
swaying off the hat at arm's length level with the head, so as to infer
royal equality, or something of that sort. When I narrated to some
Russian friends what I had done, they told me that I need not be
surprised if I received a visit from the chief of police next morning
for my daring to salute the Emperor in such a style.  But the Emperor
was doubtless more amused than offended, and I never received the
expected visit.

To anticipate a little.  Soon afterwards the Emperor sent me a present
of a magnificent diamond ring through his ambassador in England--
Baron Brunnow.  It was also accompanied, as the Baron informed me,
with the Emperor's most gracious thanks for the manner in which my
steam hammer had driven the piles for his new forts at Cronstadt, which
he had seen in full action.  The steam-hammer pile-driver had also been
used for driving the piles of the great bridge at Kieff.
I next received an order for one of my largest steam hammers for the
Imperial Arsenal, and it was followed by many more.  It is a singular
fact, as showing the readiness of the Russian and other foreign
Governments to adopt at an early date any mechanical improvement of
ascertained utility, that I supplied steam hammers to the Russian
Government twelve months before our Admiralty availed themselves of its
energetic action.  The French were the first to adopt the invention;
thanks to the insight of M. Bourdon, who had the opportunity of
recognising its importance.

Before I leave this part of my subject, I must not omit to mention my
friend Mr. Francis Baird, the zealous son of Sir Charles Baird.
The latter was among the first to establish iron foundries and engine
works at St. Petersburg.  At the time of my visit he was far advanced
in years, and unable to attend personally to the very large business
which he had established.  But he was nevertheless full of geniality.
He greatly enjoyed the long conversations which he had with me about
his friends in Scotland, many of whom I knew.   He also told me about
the persons in his employment.  He said that the workmen were all
serfs, or the sons of serfs.  The Empress Catherine had given them to
him for the purpose of being trained in his engine foundry, and in his
sugar refinery, which was another part of the business.  I had rarely
seen a more faithful and zealous set of workmen than these Russian
serfs.  They were able and skilful, and attached to their employers by
some deeper and stronger tie than that of mere money wages.
Indeed, they were treated by Sir Charles Baird and his son with the
kindest and most paternal care, and they duly repaid their attachment
by their zeal in his service and the excellent quality of their work.

The most important business in hand at the time of my visit to the
foundry was the moulding and casting of the magnificent bronze capitals
of the grand portico of the Izak Church.  This building is one of the
finest in St. Petersburg.  It is of grand proportions,--simple,
noble, and massive.  It is built upon a forest of piles.  The walls of
the interior are covered with marble.  The malachite columns for the
screen are fifty feet high, and exceed everything that has yet been
done in that beautiful mineral.  The great dome is of iron covered
with gilt copper.  This, as well as the Corinthian capitals of bronze,
was manufactured at the foundry of the Bairds.  The tympanum of the
four great porticos consisted of colossal groups of alto-relievo
figures, many of which were all but entirely detached from the
background.  It was a kind of foundry work of the highest order,
all the details and processes requiring the greatest care.
To my surprise every one engaged in this gigantic and refined metal
work was a serf.  The full-sized plaster models which they used in
moulding were executed by a resident French sculptor.  He was a true
artist, and of the highest order.  But to see the skilful manner in
which these native workmen, drawn from the staff of the Bairds'
ordinary foundry workers, performed their duties, was truly surprising.
It would make our best bronze statuary founders wince to be asked to
execute such work.  Judging from what I saw of the Russian workmen in
this instance, I should say that Russia has a grand future before it.

Having satisfactorily completed all my business arrangements in
St. Petersburg, I prepared to set out homewards.  But as I had some
business to transact at Stockholm and Copenhagen I resolved to visit
those cities.  I left St. Petersburg for Stockholm by a small steamer,
which touched at Helsingfors and Abo, both in Finland.  The weather was
beautiful.  Clear blue shy and bright sunshine by day, and the light
prolonged far into the night.  Even in September the duration of the
sunshine is so great and the night so short that the air has scarcely
time to cool till it gets heated again by the bright morning rays.
Even at twelve at night the sun dips but a little beneath the bright
horizon on the north.  The night is so bright in the Abo latitude that
one can read the smallest print.

Nothing can be more beautiful than the charming scenery we passed
through in our tortuous voyage to Stockholm.  We threaded between the
granite islands which crowd the shores of the Baltic.  They are covered
with pines, which descend to the water's edge.  We swept them with our
paddle-boxes, and dipped their bright green fronds into the perfectly
clear sea.  For about two days our course lay through those beautiful
small islands.  It seemed like a voyage through fairyland.
And it continued in this exquisite tranquil way until we reached that
crowning feature of all--the magnificent city of Stockholm, sleeping,
as it were, on the waters of the Malar Lake, and surrounded by noble
mountains clad with pines.  With the exception of Edinburgh, Genoa,
and Naples, I had never beheld so noble a city with such magnificent

I spent but a short time in Stockholm, but quite sufficient to enable
me to see much that was grandly beautiful in its neighbourhood.
Lakes, rocks, and noble trees abounded, and exquisite residences peeped
out through the woods, giving evidences of high civilisation. Elegance
of taste and perfect domestic arrangements supplied every form of
rational comfort and enjoyment.  My old friend Sir John Ross, of Arctic
celebrity, was settled at Stockholm as chief consul for Her Majesty.
He introduced me to several of the leading English merchants, from whom
I received much kind attention.  Mr. Erskine invited me to spend a day
or two at his beautiful villa in the neighbourhood.  It was situated on
the side of a mountain, and overlooked a lake that reminded me very
much of Loch Katrine.  Fine timber grew about, in almost inaccessible
places, on the tops of precipices, and in shelves and clefts among the
rocks.  The most important result of my visit was an introduction to
Baron Tam, the proprietor and chief director of the great Dannemora
Iron Mine.

I was at once diverted for a time from my voyage to Copenhagen.
I was most desirous of seeing in person this celebrated mine.
The baron most willingly furnished me with several letters of
introduction to his managers, and I proceeded to Dannemora by way of
Upsala.  I was much interested by this city, by its cathedral,
containing the tomb of Gustavas Vasa, and by its many historical
associations.  But I was still more impressed by Old Upsala, about
three miles distant.  This is a place of great antiquity.  It is only a
little hamlet now, though at one time it must have been the centre of a
large population.  The old granite church was probably at one time a
pagan temple.  Outside, and apart from it, is a wooden bell-tower,
erected in comparatively modem times.   In a wooden box inside the
church is a wooden painted god, a most unlikely figure to worship.
And yet the Swedes in remote parts of the country carefully preserve
their antique wooden gods.

The great sacrifices to Odin were made at Old Upsala.
Outside the church, in a row, are three great mounds of earth, erected
in commemoration of Odin, Thor, and Freia--hence our Wednesday,
Thursday, and Friday.  These mounds, of about 60 feet high and 232 feet
in diameter, were in former times used as burying-places for the great
and valiant.  I went into a cottage near the tumuli, and drank a bumper
of mead to the memory of Thor from a very antique wooden vessel.
I made an especial reverential obeisance to Thor, because I had a great
respect for him as being the great Hammerman, and one of our craft,--
the Scandinavian Vulcan.

I drove back to Upsala, and remained there for the night.
It is a sleepy silent place.  The only sound I heard was the voice of
the watchman calling out the small hours of the morning from his
station on the summit of the cathedral tower.  As the place is for the
most part built of wood, this precaution in the shape of a watchman who
can see all points of the city is a necessary one in case of fire.

Next morning I hired a small sort of gig of a very primitive
construction, with a boy for driver.  His duty was to carry me to the
next post-house, and there leave me to be carried forward by another
similar conveyance.  But the pony No.  2 was about a mile off, occupied
in drawing a plough, so that I had to wait until the job was over.
In about an hour or so I was again under weigh.  And so on da capo,
until about six in the evening, when I found myself within sight of the
great mine.  The post-house where I was set down was an inn, though
without a signboard.  The landlady was a bright, cheery, jolly woman.
She could not speak a word of English, nor I a word of Dannemora
Swedish.  I was very thirsty and hungry, and wanted something to eat.
How was I to communicate my wishes to the landlady?  I resorted,
as I often did, to the universal language of the pencil.  I took out my
sketch-book, and in a few seconds made a sketch of a table, with a dish
of smoking meat upon it, a bottle and a glass, a knife and fork,
a loaf, a saltcellar, and a corkscrew.  She looked at the drawing and
gave a hearty laugh.  She nodded pleasantly, showing that she clearly
understood what I wanted.  She asked me for the sketch, and went into
the back garden to show it to her husband, who inspected it with great
delight.  I went out and looked about the place, which was very
picturesque.  After a short time, the landlady came to the door and
beckoned me in, and I found spread out on the table everything that I
desired--a broiled chicken, smoking hot from the gridiron, a bottle
of capital home-brewed ale, and all the et ceteras of an excellent
repast.  I made use of my pencil in many ways.  I always found that a
sketch was more useful than a blundering sentence.  Besides,
it generally created a sympathy between me and my entertainers.

[Image]  The order for dinner

My visit to the Dannemora Mine at Osterby was one of peculiar interest.
I may in the first place say that the immense collection of iron ore at
that point has been the result of the upheaval of a vast volume of
molten igneous ore, which has been injected into the rock, or deposited
in masses under the crust of the earth.  In some cases the quarried ore
yields from 50 to 70, and even as much as 90 per cent of iron.
The Dannemora Mine is a vast quarry open to the sky. When you come near
it the place looks like a vast deep pit, with an unfathomable bottom.
Ghostlike, weird-looking pinnacles of rocks stand out from its profound
depths; but beyond these you see nothing but wreaths of smoke curling
up from below.  The tortuous chasm in the earth, caused by the quarries
beneath, is about half a mile long, and about a thousand feet wide.

[Image]  Dannemora iron mine.  After a drawing by James Nasmyth.

The first process of the workmen in the quarries below is devoted to
breaking into small fragments the great masses of ore scattered about
by the previous night's explosions.  These are sent to the surface in
great tubs attached to wire ropes, which are drawn up by gins worked by
horses.  Other miners are engaged in boring blast holes in the ore,
which displays itself in great wide veins in the granite sides of the
vast chasm.  These blast holes are charged with gunpowder, each with a
match attached.  At the end of the day the greater number of the miners
are drawn up in the cages or tubs, while a few are left below to light
the slow-burning matches attached to about a hundred charged bore
holes.  The rest of the miners are drawn up, and then begins the
tremendous bombardment.  I watched the progress of it from a stage
projecting over the wild-looking yawning gulph.  It was grand to hear
the succession of explosions that filled the bottom of the mine far
beneath me.  Then the volumes of smoke, through the surface of which
masses of rock were sometimes sent whirling up into the clear blue sky,
and fell back again into the pit below.  Such an infernal cannonade I
have never witnessed.  In some respects it reminded me of the crater of
Vesuvius, from which such dense clouds of steam and smoke and fire are
thrown up.  In the course of the night, the suffocating smoke and
sulphureous gases has time to pass away, and next morning the workmen
were ready to begin their operations as before.

The ore extracted from this great mine is smelted in blast furnaces
with wood charcoal, and forged into bars.  The charcoal is, of course,
entirely free from sulphur.  When sent to Sheffield the iron is placed
in fire-brick troughs closely surrounded by powdered charcoal.
After a few days' exposure to red heat, the iron is converted into
splendid steel, which has given such a reputation to that great
manufacturing town.  It is also the steel from which the firm of Stubbs
and Company, of Warrington (to which I have already  referred),
produce their famous P.S.  files.

After the explosions had ceased at the mine, I went with one of the
managers to see the great Bar forge.  It was a picturesque sight to see
the forgemen at work with the tilt hammers under the glowing light of
the furnaces.  I inspected the machinery and forge works throughout,
and had thus the opportunity of seeing the whole proceeding, from the
blasting and quarrying of the ore in the mine, the forging and rolling
of the worked iron into their proper lengths, down to the final stamp
or "mark" driven in by the blow of the tilt hammer at the end of each
bar.  Having now thoroughly examined everything connected with this
celebrated iron mine, I prepared to set out for Stockholm in the same
way as I had come.  To prepare the landlord for my setting out,
I again resorted to my pencil.  I made a drawing of the little gig and
pony, with the sun rising, and the hour at which I wished to start.
He understood it in a moment, and next morning the trap was at the door
at the specified time.

Before I left Stockholm I made a careful and elaborate panoramic sketch
of the city, as a companion to the one I had made of Genoa from the
harbour a year before.  I made this one from the summit of the King's
Park, which is the favourite pleasure-ground of the people.
I was ferried across in a little paddle-wheel boat, worked by
Dalecarlian women in their peculiar costumes.  The King's Park,
or Djurgard, is doubly beautiful, not only from its panoramic view of
the city, the Malar Lake, and the arm of the Baltic, which comes up to
the Skeppsbron Quay, but also from the magnificent oak trees with which
it is studded.  These noble trees, as foreground objects, are perfect
pictures.  The masses of rock are grand, and the drives are beautifully
kept.  No wonder that the Swedes are so proud of this beautiful park,
for it is the finest in Europe.

I left Stockholm for Gottenburg by steamer.  This is one of the most
picturesque routes in Sweden.  First, we passed through the Malar Lake
--one of the most beautiful pieces of water in the world.  It contains
no less than fourteen hundred islands, mostly covered with wood.
Of course we did not see one twentieth part of the lake; we only
steamed along its eastern shore for about twenty miles on our way to
Sodertelye, where the Gotha Canal begins.  We then reached the small
Maran Lake, and afterwards an arm of the Baltic.  We passed numberless
islands and rocks and reached the Slatbacken Fiord, which we entered.
Beautiful scenery surrounds the entrance to the fiord.  In the morning,
after rising up the locks between Mariehop and Wenneberga, and passing
through Lakes Roxen and Boren, we found ourselves at Motala, near the
entrance to the Wettern Lake.

Motala is a place of great importance in the manufacturing industry of
Sweden.  When I visited it, the iron-foundry was in charge of
Mr. Caulson, a native of the country.  I had known him some years
before in London, and had the highest opinion of his ability as a
constructive engineer.  He was surrounded at Motala with everything in
the way of excellently arranged workshops, good machine tools,
as well as abundant employment for them.  Indeed, this is the largest
iron-foundry in Sweden, where iron steamers, steam-engines, and rolling
mills are made.  From its central position it has a great future before it.

The steamer crosses the lake to Carlsborg, at the entrance to the fiord
and canal that leads to Lakes Wiken and Wenern.  The latter is an
immense lake--in fact, an inland sea.  During a great part of the
time we were out of sight of land.  At length we reached Wenersborg,
and passed down the Charles Canal.  A considerable time is required to
enable the steamer to pass from lock to lock--nine locks in all--
down to the level of the Gotha River.  During that time an opportunity
was afforded us for seeing the famous Trollhatten Falls--a very fine
piece of Nature's workmanship.

[Image] Part of Trollhatten Falls

Before leaving the subject of Sweden, I feel that I must say a word or
two about the Swedish people.  I admired them exceedingly.
They are tall, fair, good-looking.  They are among the most civil and
obliging people that I have ever met.  I never encountered a rude word
or a rude look from them.  In their homes they are simple and natural.
I liked the pleasing softness of their voices, so sweet and musical--
"a most excellent thing in woman."  There was a natural gentleness in
their deportment.  All classes, even the poorest, partook of it.
Their domestic habits are excellent.  They are fond of their homes;
and, above all things, they are clean and tidy.  They strew the floors
of their ground apartments with spruce pine twigs, which form a natural
carpet as well as give out a sweet balsamic perfume.  These are swept
away every morning and replaced with fresh material.

With their many virtues, the Swedes are a most self-helping people.
They are hard-working and honest, true and straightforward.
In matters of commerce they are men of their word.  They are
clear-headed, honest-minded, and keen in their desire for knowledge.
Their natural simple common sense enables them to clear away all
parasitical and traditional rubbish from their minds, and to stand
before us as men of the highest excellence.  All happiness and
prosperity to dear old Sweden!

I set out from Gottenburg to Helsingborg, along the shores of the
Kattegat.  From Helsingborg I crossed the Sound by a small steamer to
Elsinore, famous for its connection with Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.
The old dreary looking castle still stands there.  From Elsinore I went
to Copenhagen, and occupied myself for a few days in visiting the
wonderful museums.  There I saw, in the Northern Antiquities
Collection, the unwritten history of civilisation in the stone, bronze,
and iron tools which have brought the world to what it is now.
This museum is perfectly unrivalled.  I saw there the first section of
kitchen-middens--that is, the refuse of oyster shells, fish-bones,
and other stuff thrown out by the ancient inhabitants of the country
after their meals; together with accumulations of rude stone
implements, kelts, arrow-heads, and such like.
Then there were the articles of the Bronze Age, with war trumpets;
the articles of the early Iron Age, which also contain some remarkable
golden war horns.  These are followed by the middle Iron Age,
and then by the later Iron Age.  This part of the collection is superb.
But it is impossible for me to describe the wonders of the museum.

I was greatly interested too by the collection of articles at the
Rosenburg Castle.  This is the only museum at Copenhagen which is not
free; but the price charged is very small.  It contains an extraordinary
collection of royal clothes (what would Sartor Resartus say?), armour,
furniture, drinking vessels, and all manner of personal antiquities
connected with the Kings of Denmark.

I was especially interested by the collection of royal drinking
vessels, from the earliest, made of wood, down to the latest,
grand gold and silver flagons.  What most amused me in respect to these
boozing implements were the pegs that marked the depths down to which
the stalwart Dane was able to swig at a pull one enormous draught of
wine.  In some cases the name and date of the achievement of the heavy
drinker was engraved on the flagon to record his feat.
"Take him a peg down" was the ordinary saying, and the words have
become a proverb amongst ourselves.  For we unquestionably have derived
a great deal of our drinking capabilities from our ancestors the Danes.
The whole of the museums at Copenhagen are excellent.

Besides those I have mentioned, are the Ethnographic Museum--the best
of its kind; the Museum of Coins, the most complete I have seen;
the Thorwaldsen Museum; the Mineralogical Museum; the Zoological
Museum, and many more.  The custodians are most kind and civil; and
when they see any visitor interested in the collection, they take a
special pleasure in going round with him and pointing out the beauty
and rarity of the articles, imparting at the same time most interesting
information.  I wish those melancholy taciturn "staff-in-hand"
attendant custodians of our British Museums could or would follow their
example, and thus aid the chief object of these costly institutions.

Holding the memory of Tycho Brahe in the highest regard as one of the
great pioneers of astronomy, I was much interested by a contemporary
portrait of him in the Town Hall; but still more so by the remains of
his observatory at the top of the great Round Tower, where he carried
on his careful observations by instruments of his own design and
construction.  These, with many additions, he afterwards transported to
the island of Hveen, where the remains of his castle and observatory
are still to be seen; While I was mounting the Round Tower I could not
but think of the footsteps of the great astronomer who has made it
classic ground.

I left Copenhagen for Hamburg by coach.  After passing through the
island of Zealand, I was ferried across to the island of Fyen, and
after that I proceeded along the mainland of Sleswick and Holstein.
I was much pleased with what I saw of the people of these provinces.
Their farmhouses and cottages were wonderfully clean and neat.
The women were all engaged in scrubbing and polishing.  I believe I saw
more brass in the shape of bright door-knockers during my journey than
I had seen in all England.  Even the brass and iron hoops round the
milk pails, by constant scrubbing, looked like gold and silver.
Every window had its neat dimity curtains edged with snow-white
trimming.  The very flower-pots were painted red, to fetch up their
brightness to the general standard.  I never saw a more cheerful and
happy-looking people than those whom I observed between Copenhagen and
Hamburg.  They seemed to me to be very like the people of England--
especially in the northern and eastern parts--in their oval faces,
their bright blue eyes, and their light and golden hair, as well as
their active minds and bodies, which enable them to do their work with
hearty cheerful energy.

I went from Hamburg to Amsterdam by steamer; and after doing a few
days' business I went to take a peep at the fine collections of
pictures there, as well as at the Hague.  Then I proceeded to
Rotterdam, and took ship for England by the Batavian steamer.
I reached home safely after my prolonged tour.  Everything was going on
well at the Bridgewater Foundry.  The seeds which I had sown in the
northern countries of Europe were already springing up plentifully in
orders for machine tools; and the clang of the hammer and the whirl of
the lathes and planing machines were working cheerily on from morning
till night.

CHAPTER 17.  More about Bridgewater Foundry--Woolwich Arsenal.

The rapid extension of railways and steam navigation, both at home and
abroad, occasioned a largely increased demand for machinery of all
kinds.  Our order-book was always full; and every mechanical workshop
felt the impulse of expanding trade.  There was an increased demand for
skilled mechanical labour--a demand that was far in excess of the
supply.  Employers began to outbid each other, and wages rapidly rose.
At the same time the disposition to steady exertion on the part of the
workmen began to decline.

This state of affairs had its usual effect.  It increased the demand
for self-acting tools, by which the employers might increase the
productiveness of their factories without having resort to the costly
and untrustworthy method of meeting the demand by increasing the number
of their workmen.  Machine tools were found to be of much greater
advantage.  They displaced hand-dexterity and muscular force.
They were unfailing in their action.  They could not possibly go wrong
in planing and turning, because they were regulated by perfect
self-acting arrangements.  They were always ready for work, and never
required a Holiday or a Saint Monday.

As the Bridgewater Foundry had been so fortunate as to earn for itself
a considerable reputation for mechanical contrivances, the workshops
were always busy.  They were crowded with machine tools in full action,
and exhibited to all comers their effectiveness in the most
satisfactory manner, Every facility was afforded to those who desired
to see them at work; and every machine and machine tool that was turned
out became in the hands of its employers the progenitor of a numerous

Indeed, on many occasions I had the gratification of seeing my
mechanical notions adopted by rival or competitive machine
constructors, often without acknowledgment; though, notwithstanding
this point of honour, there was room enough for all.  Though the parent
features were easily recognisable, I esteemed such plagiarisms as a
sort of left-handed compliment to their author.  I also regarded them
as a proof that I had hit the mark in so arranging my mechanical
combinations as to cause their general adoption, and many of them
remain unaltered to this day.

The machine tools when in action did not require a skilled workman to
guide or watch them.  All that was necessary to superintend them was a
well-selected labourer.  The self-acting machine tools already
possessed the requisite ability to plane, to turn, to polish, and to
execute the work when firmly placed in situ.  The work merely required
to be shifted from time to time, and carefully fixed for another action
of the machine.

Besides selecting clever labourers, I made an extensive use of active
handy boys to superintend the smaller class of self-acting machine
tools.  To do this required little exertion of muscular force,
but only observant attention.  The machine tools did all the working
(for the thinking had been embodied in them beforehand), and they
turned out all manner of geometrical forms with the utmost correctness.
This sort of training educated the faculties of the lads, and trained
their ideas to the perception of exactness of form, at the same time
that it gave them an intimate acquaintance with the nature of the
materials employed in mechanical structures.  The rapidity with which
they thus acquired the efficiency of thoroughly practical mechanics was

As the lads grew in strength they were promoted to the higher classes
of work.  We gave to the foreman of each department the right to
recommend to a special rise of wages any lad who showed an extra
intelligent earnestness and assiduity in superintending his machine.
This produced an active spirit of emulation, which not only advanced
their efficiency but relieved the foreman from a source of irritation
in the discharge of his duties.  I have already referred to the subject
in a former portion of this narrative; but it cannot be too strongly
urged upon the attention of proprietors of mechanical works.
Besides making first-rate workmen, this method prevents the lads from
getting into habits of workshop dishonesty, i.e.  "skulking," and other

My system of non-binding of apprentices was the "perfect cure,"
if I may so speak.  All that existed between us was mutual satisfaction
with each other, and that alone proved from first to last in every
respect a perfect bond.

So completely were the workmen in attendance on self-acting machines
relieved from the necessity of labour, that many of the employers,
to keep the men from falling asleep, allowed them to attend to other
machines within their powers of superintendence.  This kept them fully
awake.  The workmen cheerfully acquiesced in this arrangement,
as a relief from tedium, and especially when a shilling extra was added
to their wages for each additional machine.  All went well for a time,
for men as well as masters.  But now came the difficulty.
The system was opposed to the rules of the Trades' Union.
Their committee held that setting one man to superintend more than one
machine was keeping out of employment some other man who ought to be
employed.  And yet, at the time that the objection was made, such
persons were not to be had.  The increased demand for skilled labour
had employed every spare workman.

Nevertheless the system, in the eyes of the Union, "must be put down."
The demand was made that every machine must have a Union man to
superintend it, and that he must be paid the full Union regulation
wages.  All labourers and lads were to be discharged, and Union men
employed in their places.  As the times were good, and the workshops
were full of orders, it was thought by the Union that the time had come
to put the matter to the test.  The campaign was opened by the
organisation of a powerful body, entitled "The Amalgamated Society of
Mechanical Engineers."  It included every class of workmen employed in
the trade--ironfounders, turners, fitters, erectors, pattern-makers,
and such like.  All were invited to make common cause against the

In order to make a conspicuous demonstration of their power,
the Council of the Union first attacked the extensive firm of
Platt Brothers, Oldham.  The Council sent them a mandate to discharge
all their labourers or other "illegal hands" from their works--all who
were employed in superintending their vast assortment of machinery--
and to fill their places with "legal mechanics" at the then regulation
wages.  The plan of the Union was to attack the employers one by one--
to call out the hands of one particular workshop until the employers
were subdued and obeyed the commands of the Union; and then to attack
another employer in the same way.  The sagacity of this policy very
much resembled that of the ostrich, which hides its head in hole and
thinks it is concealed.  The employers knew the drift of the policy,
and took steps to circumvent it.

A mutual defence association was formed, and a decree was issued that,
unless the demand of the Council against Platt's factory was withdrawn
by a certain day, every employer would at once close his concern.
The Union, nevertheless, stuck to their guns--but only for a time.
A strike took place.  The works of some of the most extensive employers
of labour were closed.  Everything was paralysed for a time;
the men went about with their hands in their pockets, while the women
and children at home were wanting food.  After a few weeks the funds of
the Amalgamated Society became so reduced that the men gradually
retired from the contest.  Meanwhile, such concerns as contrived to
keep their workmen in full employment--of whom we were one made use
of the occasion to act on the healthy system of what I have termed
"Free trade in ability."  We added, so far as we could, to the number of
intelligent labourers, advanced them to the places which the Unionist
workmen had left at the order of their Council, and thus  kept our men
on full wages until the strike was over.  This was the last contest I
had with Trades' Unions.  One of the results was that I largely
increased the number of self-acting machines, and gave a still greater
amount of employment to my unbound apprentices. I placed myself in an
almost impregnable position, and showed that I could conduct my
business with full activity and increasing prosperity, and at the same
time maintain good-feeling between employed and employer.

Another important point was this,--that I always took care to make my
foremen comfortable, and consequently loyal.  A great part of a man's
success in business consists in his knowledge of character.
It is not so much what he himself does, as what he knows his heads of
departments can do.  He must know them intimately, take cognisance of
the leading points of their character, pick and choose from them,
and set them to the work which they can most satisfactorily
superintend.  Edward Tootal, of Manchester, said to me long before,
"Never give your men cause to look over the hedge."  He meant that I
should never give them any reason for looking for work elsewhere.
It was a wise saying, and I long remembered it.  I always endeavoured
to make my men and foremen as satisfied as possible with their work,
as well as with their remuneration.

I never had any cause to regret that I had struck out an independent
course in managing the Bridgewater Foundry.  The works were always
busy.  A cheerful sort of contentment and activity pervaded the entire
establishment.  Our order-book continued to be filled with the most
satisfactory class of entries.  The railway trucks in the yard,
and the canal barges at the wharf, presented a busy scene,--
showing the influx of raw material and the output of finished work.
This happy state of affairs went on in its regular course without any
special incident worthy of being mentioned.  The full and steady influx
of prosperity that had been the result of many years of interesting
toil and cheerful exertion, had caused the place to assume the aspect
of a smoothly working self-acting machine.

Being blessed with a sound constitution, I was enabled to perform all
my duties with hearty active good-will.  And as I had occasional
journeys to make in connection with our affairs and interests,
these formed a very interesting variety in the ordinary course of my
daily work.  The intimate and friendly intercourse which I was so
fortunate as to cultivate with the heads of the principal engineering
firms of my time, kept me well posted up in all that was new and
advanced in the way of improvements in mechanical processes.  I had at
the same time many pleasant opportunities of making suggestions as to
further improvements, some of which took root and yielded results of no
small importance.  These visits to my friends were always acceptable,
if I might judge from the hearty tone of welcome with which I was
generally received.

I do not know what may be the case in other classes of businesses or
professions, but as regards engineer mechanists and metal workers
generally, there is an earnest and frank intercommunication of ideas--
an interchange of thoughts and suggestions--which has always been a
source of the highest pleasure to me, and which I have usually found
thoroughly reciprocated.  The subjects with which engineers have to
deal are of a wide range, and jealousy in intercommunication is almost
entirely shut out.  Many of my friends were special "characters."
For the most part they had made their own way in the world,
like myself.  I found among them a great deal of quaint humour.
Their talk was quite unconventional; and yet their remarks were well
worth being treasured up in the memory as things to be thought about
and pondered over.  Sometimes they gave the key to the comprehension of
some of the grandest functions in Nature, and an insight into the
operation of those invariable laws which regulate the universe.
For all Nature is, as it were, a grand workshop, ruled over by an ever
present Almighty Master,--of whose perfect designs and works we are
as yet only permitted to obtain hasty and imperfect glimpses.

To return to my own humbler progress.  From an early period of my
efforts as a mechanical engineer, I had been impressed with the great
advantages that would result from the employment of small high-pressure
steam-engines of a simple and compact construction. These, I thought,
might suit the limited means and accommodation of small factories and
workshops where motive power was required.  The highly satisfactory
results which followed the employment of steam-engines of this class,
such as I supplied shortly after beginning business in Manchester,
led to a constantly increasing demand for them.  They were used for
hoisting in and out the weighty bales of goods from the lofty
Manchester warehouses.  They worked the "lifts," and also the pumps of
the powerful hydraulic presses used in packing the bales.

These small engines were found of service in a variety of ways.
When placed in the lower parts of the building the waste steam was
utilised in warming the various apartments of the house. The steam was
conveyed in iron pipes, and thus obviated the risk of fire which
attended the use of stoves and open fire-grates. I remember being much
pleased with seeing a neat arrangement of a "hot-closet" heated by the
waste steam conveyed from the bottom of the building.  This was used
for holding the dinners and teas of the minor clerks and workpeople.
Another enclosed place, heated by waste steam, was used for drying wet
clothes and jackets during rainy weather.  Much attention was paid by
the employers to their workpeople in these respects. The former
exhibited a great deal of kindly thoughtfulness. But men and master
were alike.  It was a source of the greatest pleasure to me,
when looking round the warehouses and factories, to see the intelligent
steady energy that pervaded every department, from the highest to the

I never lost sight of the importance of extending the use of my small
steam-engine system.  It was the most convenient method of applying
steam power to individual machines.  Formerly, the power to drive a
machine was derived from a very complicated arrangement of shafting and
gearing brought from a distant engine.  But by my system I conveyed the
power to the machine by means of a steam pipe, which enabled the engine
to which it was attached to be driven either fast or slow, or to be
stopped or started, just as occasion required.  It might be run while
all the other machines were at rest; or, in the event of a breakdown of
the main engine of the factory, the small engine might still be kept
going or even assist in the repairs of the large one.

An important feature in this mode of conveying power by means of piping
--in place of gearing and shifting belts and belt pulleys--was the ease
with which the steam could be conveyed into intricate parts of the
building.  The pipes which I used were of wrought-iron, similar to
those used in conveying gas.  They could be curved to suit any
peculiarity of the situation; and when the pipes were lapped with felt,
or enclosed in wooden troughs filled with sawdust, the loss of heat by
radiation was reduced to a minimum.  The loss of power was certainly
much less than in the friction of a long and perhaps tortuous line of
shafting.  With steam of 50 lbs. to the inch, a pipe of one-inch bore
will convey sufficient steam to give forth five horse-power at a
distance of two or three hundred feet from the boiler.*
In the case of rambling premises, such as iron shipbuilding yards,
the conveyance of steam by well-protected pipes put underground for the
purpose of driving engines to work punching and plate-shearing machines
(which have to be near at hand when the work is required), has very
great practical advantages.

I adopted the same practice in working the refined and complex machines
used in printing coloured patterns on calico.  A great variety of
colours has to be transferred by a combination of rollers--each carrying
its proper colour; these are printed on the calico with the utmost
exactness, and result in the complete pattern.  My system of having a
separate engine to give motion to these colour-printing machines was
found to be of great service, and its value was recognised by its
speedy and almost universal adoption. Every connection with the main
shaft, with its gearing and belts and pulleys--by which colour-printing
had before been accomplished--was entirely done away with, because each
machine had its own special engine.  The former practice had led to
much waste, and the printing was often confused and badly done.
The power was conveyed from a great central steam-engine; the printing
machines were ranged by the side of a long gallery, and by means of a
"clutch" each machine was started at once into action.

The result of this was a considerable shock to the machine,
and an interference with the relative adjustments of the six or
eight colour rollers, which were often jerked out of their exact
relative adjustment.  Then the machines had to be stopped and the
rollers readjusted, and sometimes many yards of calico had been spoiled
before this could be done.

These difficulties were now entirely removed.  When all was adjusted,
the attendant of the print-machine had only to open gradually the steam
admission valve of his engine, and allow it to work the machine gently
at its first off-go; and when all was seen to be acting in perfect
concert, to open the valve further and allow the machine to go at full
speed.  The same practice was adopted in slowing off the machine,
so as to allow the attendant to scrutinise the pattern and the position
of the work, or in stopping the machine altogether.  So satisfactory
were the results of the application of this mode of driving calico
printing machines, that it was adopted for the like processes as
applied to other textile fabrics; and it is now, I believe, universally
applied at home as well as abroad.  I may also add that the waste
steam, as it issued from the engine after performing its mechanical
duty there, was utilised in a most effective manner by heating a series
of steam-tight cylinders, over which the printed cloth travelled as it
issued from the printing machine, when it was speedily and effectively
dried.  In these various improvements in calico printing I was most
ably seconded by Mr. Joseph Lese, of Manchester, whose practical
acquaintance with all that related to that department of industry
rendered him of the greatest service.  There was no "Invention,"
so to speak, in this almost obvious application of the steam-engine to
calico-printing.  It required merely the faculty of observation, and
the application of means to ends.  The main feature of the system,
it will be observed, was in enabling the superintendent of each machine
to have perfect control over it,--to set it in motion and to regulate
its speed without the slightest jerk or shock to its intricate
mechanism.  In this sense the arrangement was of great commercial value.

I had another opportunity of introducing my small engine system into
the Government Arsenal at Woolwich.  In 1847 the attention of the Board
of Ordnance was, directed to the inadequacy of the equipment of the
workshops there.  The mechanical arrangements, the machine tools,
and other appliances, were found insufficient for the economical
production of the apparatus of modern warfare.  The Board did me the
honour to call upon me to advise with them, and also with the heads of
departments at the arsenal.  Sir Thomas Hastings, then head of the
Ordnance, requested me to accompany him at the first inspection.
I made a careful survey of all the workshops, and although the
machinery was very interesting as examples of the old and primitive
methods of producing war material, I found that it was better fitted
for a Museum of Technical Antiquity than for practical use in these
days of rapid mechanical progress.  Everything was certainly far behind
the arrangements which I had observed in foreign arsenals.
The immediate result of my inspection of the workshops and the
processes conducted within them was, that I recommended the
introduction of machine tools specially adapted to economise labour,
as well as to perfect the rapid production of war material.
In this I was heartily supported by the heads of the various departments.
After several conferences with them, as well as with Sir Thomas Hastings,
it was arranged that a large extension of the workshop space should be
provided.  I was so fortunate as to make a happy suggestion on this
head.  It was, that by a very small comparative outlay nearly double
the workshop area might be provided--by covering in with light iron
roofs the long wide roadway spaces that divided the parallel ranges of
workshops from each other.

This plan was at once adopted.  Messrs. Fox and Henderson,
the well-known railway roofing contractors, were entrusted with the
order; and in a very short time the arsenal was provided with a noble
set of light and airy workshops, giving ample accommodation for present
requirements, as well as surplus space for many years to come.
In order to supply steam power to each of these beautiful workshops,
and for working the various machines placed within them, I reverted to
my favourite system of small separate steam-engines.  This was adopted,
and the costly ranges of shafting that would otherwise have been
necessary were entirely dispensed with.

A series of machine tools of the most improved modern construction,
specially adapted for the various classes of work carried on in the
arsenal, together with improved ranges of smiths' forge hearths,
blown by an air blast supplied by fans of the best construction, and a
suitable supply of small hand steam hammers, completed the arrangements;
and quite a new era in the forge work of the arsenal was begun.
I showed the managers and the workmen the docile powers of the steam
hammer, in producing in a few minutes, by the aid of dies, many forms
in wrought-iron that had heretofore occupied hours of the most skilful
smiths, and that, too, in much more perfect truth and exactitude.
Both masters and men were delighted with the result:  and as such
precise and often complex forms of wrought-iron work were frequently
required by hundreds at a time for the equipment of naval gun carriages
and other purposes, it was seen that the steam hammer must henceforward
operate as a powerful auxiliary in the productions of the arsenal.

In the introduction of all these improvements I received the frank and
cordial encouragement of the chief officers of the Board of Ordnance
and Admiralty.  My suggestions were zealously carried out by
Colonel J. N. Colquhoun, then head of the chief mechanical department
of the Ordnance works at Woolwich.  He was one of the most clear-headed
and intelligent men I have ever met with.  He had in a special degree
that happy power of inspiring his zeal and energy into all who worked
under his superintendence, whether foremen or workmen. A wonderfully
sympathetic effect is produced when the directing head of the
establishment is possessed of the valuable faculty of cheerful and
well-directed energy.  It works like an electric thrill, and soon
pervades the whole department.  I may also mention General Dundas,
director of the Royal Gun-Factory, and General Hardinge, head of the
Royal Laboratories.*
The term "Laboratory" may appear an odd word to use in connection with
machinery and mechanical operations.  Yet its original signification
was quite appropriate, inasmuch as it related to the preparation of
explosive substances, such as shells, rockets, fusees, cartridges,
and percussion caps, where chemistry was as much concerned as mechanism
in producing the required results.

This latter department included all processes connected with explosives.
It was superintended by Captain Boxer, an officer of the highest talent
and energy, who brought everything under his control to the highest
pitch of excellence.  I must also add a most important person,
my old and much esteemed friend John Anderson, then general director of
the Machinery of the arsenal.  He was an admirable mechanic, a man of
clear practical good sense and judgment, and he eventually raised
himself to the highest position in the public service.

The satisfactory performance of the machinery which had been supplied
to the workshops of the royal dock yards and arsenals, led to further
demands for similar machinery for foreign Governments.  Foreign visitor
were allowed freely to inspect all that had been done whatever may be
said of the wisdom of this proceeding it is certainly true that no
mechanical improvement can long be kept secret nowadays. Everything is
published and illustrated in our engineering journals. And if the
foreigners had not been allowed to obtain their new machines from
England, they were provided with facilities enough for constructing
them for themselves.  At all events, one result of the improved working
of the new machines at the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich, was the receipt
of large orders for our firm for the supply of foreign Governments.
For instance, that of Spain employed us liberally, principally tor the
equipment of the royal dockyards of Ferrol and Cartagena.
These orders came to us through Messrs. Zuluatta Brothers,
who conducted their proceedings with us in a prompt and business-like
way for many years.  Through the same firm we obtained orders to
furnish machinery for the Spanish royal dockyard at Havana.

In 1849 we received an extensive order from the Russian Government.
This was transmitted to us through the Imperial Consulate in London.
The machinery was required for the equipment of a very extensive rope
factory at the naval arsenal of Nicolaiev, on the Black Sea This order
included all the machinery requisite for the factory, from the heckling
of the hemp to the twisting of the largest ropes and cables required in
the Russian naval service.  The design and organisation of this machinery
in its minutest detail caused me to made a special study of the art of
rope-making.  It was a comparatively new subject to me; but I found it
full of interest.  It was difficulty, and therefore to be overcome.
And in this lies a great deal of the pleasure of contriving and

During the progress of the work I had the advantage of the frequent
presence of an able Russian officer, Captain Putchkraskey,
whose intelligent supervision was a source of much satisfaction.
We had also occasional visits from Admiral Kornileff, a man of the
highest order of intelligence.  He was not only able to appreciate our
exertions to execute the order in first-rate style, but to enter into
all the special details and contrivances of the work while in progress.
I had often occasion to meet Russian officers while at the Bridgewater
Foundry.  They were usually men of much ability, selected by the
Russian Government to act as their agents abroad, in order to keep them
well posted up in all that had a bearing upon their own interests.
They certainly reflected the highest credit on their Government,
as proving their careful selection of the best men to advance the
interests of Russia.

During the visit of the Grand Duke Constantine to England about that
time, he resided for some days with the Earl of Ellesmere at
Worsley Hall, about a mile and a half from Bridgewater Foundry.
We were favoured with several visits from the Grand Duke, accompanied
by Baron Brunnow, Admiral Hoyden, and several other Russian officials.
They came by Lord Ellesmere's beautiful barge, which drew up alongside
our wharf, where the party landed and entered the works. The Grand Duke
carefully inspected the whole place, and expressed himself as greatly
pleased with the complete mastery which man had obtained over obdurate
materials, through the unfailing agency of mechanical substitutes for
manual dexterity and muscular force.

I was invited to meet this distinguished party at Worsley Hall on more
than one occasion, and was much pleased with the frank and intelligent
conversation of the Grand Duke, in his reference to what he had seen in
his visits to our works.  It was always a source of high pleasure to me
to receive visits from Lord Ellesmere, as he was generally accompanied
by men of distinction who were well able to appreciate the importance
of what had been displayed before them.  The visits, for instance,
of Rajah Brooke, the Earl of Elgin, the Duke of Argyll, Chevalier Bunsen,
and Count Flahault, stand out bright in my memory.

But to return to my rope-making machinery.  It was finished to the
satisfaction of the Russian officers.  It was sent off by ship to the
Black Sea in July 1851, and fitted up at Nicolaiev shortly after.
I received a kind and pressing invitation from Admiral Kornileff to
accompany him on the first trip of a magnificent steamer which had been
constructed in England under his supervision.  His object was, not only
that I might have a pleasant voyage in his company, but that I might
see my machinery in full action at Nicolaiev, and also that I might
make a personal survey of the arsenal workshops at Sebastopol.
It would, no doubt, have been a delightful trip, but it was not to be.
The unfortunate disruption occurred between our Government and that of
Russia, which culminated in the disastrous Crimean War.
One of the first victims was Admiral Kornileff.  He was killed by one
of our first shots while engaged in placing some guns for the defence
of the entrance to the harbour of Sebastopol.

CHAPTER 18.  Astronomical pursuits.

Let me turn for a time from the Foundry, the whirr of the self-acting
tools, and the sound of the steam hammers, to my quieter pursuits at home.
There I had much tranquil enjoyment in the company of my dear wife.
I had many hobbies.  Drawing was as familiar to me as language.
Indeed, it was often my method of speaking.  It has always been the way
in which I have illustrated my thoughts.  In the course of my journeys
at home and abroad I made many drawings of places and objects, which
were always full of interest, to me at least; and they never ceased to
bring up a store of happy remembrances.

Now and then I drew upon my fancy, and with pen and ink I conjured up
"The Castle of Udolpho," " A Bit of Old England," "The Fairies are Out,"
and "Everybody for Ever."  The last is crowded with thousands of figures
and heads, so that it is almost impossible to condense the drawing into
a small compass.  To these I added "The Alchemist," "Old Mortality,"
"Robinson Crusoe," and a bit of English scenery, which I called
"Gathering Sticks."  I need not say with how much pleasure I executed
these drawings in my evening hours.  They were not "published," but I
drew them with lithographic ink, and had them printed by Mr. Maclure.
I afterwards made presents of the series to some of my most intimate

[Image]  The Antiquarian.  By James Nasmyth (Facsimile)

In remembrance of the great pleasure which I had derived from the
perusal of Washington Irving's fascinating works, I sent him a copy of
my sketches.  His answer was charming and characteristic.
His letter was dated " Sunnyside," Massachusetts, where he lived.
He said (17th January 1859):

DEAR SIR--Accept my most sincere and hearty thanks for the exquisite
fancy sketches which you have had the kindness to send me, and for the
expressions of esteem and regard in the letter which accompanied them.
It is indeed a heartfelt gratification to me to think that I have been
able by any exercise of my pen to awaken such warm and delicate
sympathies, and to call forth such testimonials of pleasure and
approbation from a person of your cultivated taste and intellectual
elevation.  With high respect and regard, I remain, nay dear sir,
your truly obliged friend, Washington Irving."

[Image]  The Fairies.  By James Nasmyth.  (Facsimile)

Viscount Duncan, afterwards Earl Camperdown, also acknowledged receipt
of the drawings in a characteristic letter.  He said: --"We are quite
delighted with them, especially with 'The Fairies,' which a lady to
whom I showed them very nearly stole, as she declared that it quite
realised her dreams of fairyland.  I am only surprised that amidst your
numerous avocations you have found time to execute such detailed works
of art; and I shall have much pleasure in being reminded as I look at
the drawings that the same hand and head that executed them invented
the steam hammer, and many other gigantic pieces of machinery which
will tend to immortalise the Anglo-saxon race."

But my most favourite pursuit, after my daily exertions at the Foundry,
was Astronomy.  There were frequently clear nights when the glorious
objects in the Heavens were seen in most attractive beauty and brilliancy.

I cannot find words to express the thoughts which the impressive
grandeur of the Stars, seen in the silence of the night, suggested to
me; especially when I directed my Telescope, even at random,
on any portion of the clear sky, and considered that each Star of the
multitude it revealed to me, was a SUN! the centre of a system!
Myriads of such stars, invisible to the unassisted eye, were rendered
perfectly distinct by the aid of the telescope.  The magnificence of
the sight was vastly increased when the telescope was directed to any
portion of the Milky Way.  It revealed such countless multitudes of
stars that I had only to sit before the eyepiece, and behold the
endless procession of these glorious objects pass before me.
The motion of the earth assisted in changing this scene of
inexpressible magnificence, which reached its climax when some object
such as the "Cluster in Hercules" came into sight.  The component stars
are so crowded together there as to give the cluster the appearance of
a gray spot; but when examined with a telescope of large aperture,
it becomes resolved into such myriads of stars as to defy all attempts
to count them.  Nothing can convey to the mind, in so awful and
impressive a manner, the magnificent and infinite extent of Creation,
and the inconceivable power of its Creator!

I had already a slight acquaintance with Astronomy.  My father had
implanted in me the first germs.  He was a great admirer of that
sublimest of sciences.  I had obtained a sufficient amount of technical
knowledge to construct in 1827 a small but very effective reflecting
telescope of six inches diameter.  Three years later I initiated
Mr. Maudslay into the art and mystery of making a reflecting telescope.
I then made a speculum of ten inches diameter, and but for the unhappy
circumstance of his death in 1831, it would have been mounted in his
proposed observatory at Norwood.  After I had settled down at Fireside,
Patricroft, I desired to possess a telescope of considerable power in
order to enjoy the tranquil pleasure of surveying the heavens in their
impressive grandeur at night.

As I had all the means and appliances for casting specula at the
factory, I soon had the felicity of embodying all my former
self-acquired skill in this fine art by producing a very perfect
casting of a ten-inch diameter speculum.  The alloy consisted of
fifteen parts of pure tin and thirty-two parts of pure copper,
with one part of arsenic.  It was cast with perfect soundness, and was
ground and polished by a machine which I contrived for the purpose.
The speculum was so brilliant that when my friend William Lassell saw it,
he said "it made his mouth water."  It was about this time (1840) that I
had the great happiness of becoming acquainted with Mr. Lassell,*
Mr. Lassell was a man of superb powers.  Like many others who have done
so much for astronomy, he started as an amateur. He was first
apprenticed to a merchant at Liverpool.  He then began business as a
brewer.  Eventually he devoted himself to astronomy and astronomical
mechanics.  When in his twenty-first year he began constructing
reflecting telescopes for himself.  He proceeded to make a Newtonian of
nine inches aperture, which he erected in an observatory at his
residence near Liverpool, happily named "Starfield."
With this instrument he worked diligently, and detected the sixth star
in the trapezium of Orion.  In 1844 he conceived the bold idea of
constructing a reflector of two feet aperture, and twenty feet focal
length, to be mounted equatorially.  Sir John Herschel, in mentioning
Mr. Lassell's work, did me the honour of saying "that in Mr Nasmyth he
was fortunate to find a mechanist capable of executing in the highest
perfection all his conceptions, and prepared by his own love of
astronomy and practical acquaintance with astronomical observations,
and with the construction of specula, to give them their full effect."
With this fine instrument Mr. Lassell discovered the satellite of
Neptune.  He also discovered the eighth satellite of Saturn, of extreme
minuteness, as well as two additional satellites of Uranus.
But perhaps his best work was done at Malta with a much larger
telescope, four feet in aperture, and thirty-seven feet focus, erected
there in 1861.  He remained at Malta for three years, and published a
catalogue of 600 new nebulae, which will be found in the Memoirs of the
Royal Astronomical Society.  One of his curious sayings was,
"I have had a great deal to do with opticians,
some of them--like Cooke of York--are really opticians;
but the greater number of them are merely shopticians!"
and profiting by his devotion to astronomical pursuits and his profound
knowledge of the subject.  He had acquired much technical skill in the
construction of reflecting telescopes, and the companionship between us
was thus rendered very agreeable.  There was an intimate exchange of
opinions on the subject, and my friendship with him continued during
forty successive years.  I was perhaps a little ahead of him in certain
respects.  I had more practical knowledge of casting, for I had begun
when a boy in my bedroom at Edinburgh.  In course of time I contrived
many practical "dodges" (if I may use such a word), and could nimbly
vault over difficulties of a special kind which had hitherto formed a
barrier in the way of amateur speculum makers when fighting their way
to a home-made telescope.  I may mention that I know of no mechanical
pursuit in connection with science, that offers such an opportunity for
practising the technical arts, as that of constructing from first to
last a complete Newtonian or Gregorian Reflecting Telescope.
Such an enterprise brings before the amateur a succession of the most
interesting and instructive mechanical arts, and obliges the
experimenter to exercise the faculty of delicate manipulation.
If I were asked what course of practice was the best to instil a true
taste for refined mechanical work, I should say, set to and make for
yourself from first to last a reflecting telescope with a metallic
speculum.  Buy nothing but the raw material, and work your way to the
possession of a telescope by means of your own individual labour and
skill.  If you do your work with the care, intelligence, and patience
that is necessary, you will find a glorious reward in the enhanced
enjoyment of a night with the heavens--all the result of your own
ingenuity and handiwork.  It will prove a source of abundant pleasure
and of infinite enjoyment for the rest of your life.

I well remember the visit I received from my dear friend Warren de la Rue
in the year 1840.  I was executing some work for him with respect to a
new process which he had contrived for the production of white lead.
I was then busy with the casting of my thirteen-inch speculum.
He watched my proceedings with earnest interest and most careful
attention.  He told me many years after, that it was the sight of my
special process of casting a sound speculum that in a manner caused him
to turn his thoughts to practical astronomy, a subject in which he has
exhibited such noble devotion as well as masterly skill.  Soon after
his visit I had the honour of casting for him a thirteen-inch speculum,
which he afterwards ground and polished by a method of his own.
He mounted it in an equatorial instrument of such surpassing excellence
as enabled him, aided by his devotion and pure love of the subject,
to record a series of observations and results which will hand his name
down to posterity as one of the most faithful and patient of
astronomical observers.

[Image]  Fireside, Patricroft.  After a drawing by James Nasmyth

But to return to my own little work at Patricroft.  I mounted my
ten-inch home-made reflecting telescope, and began my survey of the
heavens.  Need I say with what exquisite delight the harmony of their
splendour filled me.  I began as a learner, and my learning grew with
experience.  There were the prominent stars, the planets, the Milky Way
--with thousands of far-off suns--to be seen.  My observations were
at first merely general; by degrees they became particular.
I was not satisfied with enjoying these sights myself;
I made my friends and neighbours sharers in my pleasure;
and some of them enjoyed the wonders of the heavens as much as I did.

In my early use of the telescope I had fitted the speculum into a light
square tube of deal to which the eye-piece was attached, so as to have
all the essential parts of the telescope combined together in the most
simple and portable form.  I had often to remove it from place to place
in my small garden at the side of the Bridgewater Canal, in order to
get it clear of the trees and branches which intercepted some object in
the heavens which I wished to see.  How eager and enthusiastic I was in
those days!  Sometimes I got out of bed in the clear small hours of the
morning, and went down to the garden in my night-shirt.  I would take
the telescope in my arms and plant it in some suitable spot, where I
might get a peep at some special planet or star then above the horizon.

It became bruited about that a ghost was seen at Patricroft!
A barge was silently gliding along the canal near midnight,
when the boatman suddenly saw a figure in white.
"It moved among the trees with a coffin in its arms!"
The apparition was so sudden and strange that he immediately concluded
that it was a ghost.  The weird sight was reported at the stations
along the canal, and also at Wolverhampton, which was the boatman's
headquarters.  He told the people at Patricroft on his return journey
what he had seen, and great was the excitement produced.  The place was
haunted:  there was no doubt about it!  After all, the rumour was
founded on fact, for the ghost was merely myself in my night-shirt,
and the coffin was my telescope, which I was quietly shifting from one
place to another in order to get a clearer sight of the heavens at

My ambition expanded.  I now resolved to construct a reflecting
telescope of considerably greater power than that which I possessed.
I made one of twenty inches diameter, and mounted it on a very simple
plan, thus removing many of the inconveniences and even personal risks
that attend the use of such instruments.  (For illustration of the plan
of mounting a large telescope, see p. 338) It had been necessary to
mount steps or ladders to get at the eyepiece, especially when the
objects to be observed were at a high elevation above the horizon.
I now prepared to do some special work with this instrument.
In 1842 I began my systematic researches upon the Moon.  I carefully
and minutely scrutinised the marvellous details of its surface,
a pursuit which I continued for many years, and still continue with
ardour until this day.  My method was as follows: --

I availed myself of every favourable opportunity for carrying on the
investigation.  I made careful drawings with black and white chalk on
large sheets of grey-tinted paper, of such selected portions of the
Moon as embodied the most characteristic and instructive features of
her wonderful surface.  I was thus enabled to graphically represent the
details with due fidelity as to form, as well as with regard to the
striking effect of the original in its masses of light and shade.
I thus educated my eye for the special object by systematic and careful
observation, and at the same time practised my hand in no less careful
delineation of all that was so distinctly presented to me by the
telescope--at the side of which my sheet of paper was handily fixed.
I became in a manner familiar with the vast variety of those distinct
manifestations of volcanic action, which at some inconceivably remote
period had produced these wonderful features and details of the moon's
surface.  So far as could be observed, there was an entire absence of
any agency of change, so that their formation must have remained
absolutely intact since the original cosmical heat of the moon had
passed rapidly into space.  The surface, with all its wondrous details,
presents the same aspect as it did probably millions of ages ago.

This consideration vastly enhances the deep interest with which we look
upon the moon and its volcanic details.  It is totally without an
atmosphere, or of a vapour envelope, such as the earth possesses,
and which must have contributed to the conservation of the cosmical
heat of the latter orb.  The moon is of relatively small mass,
and is consequently inferior in heat-retaining power.  It must thus
have parted with its original stock of cosmical heat with such rapidity
as to bring about the final termination of those surface changes which
give it so peculiar an aspect.  In the case of the earth the internal
heat still continues in operation, though in a vastly reduced degree of
activity.  Again in the case of the moon, the total absence of water as
well as atmosphere has removed from it all those denudative activities
which, in the earth, have acted so powerfully in effecting changes of
its surfaces as well as in the distribution of its materials.
Hence the appearance of the wonderful details of the moon's surface
presents us with objects of inconceivably remote antiquity.

[Image]  General structure of Lunar craters.

Another striking characteristic of the moon's surface is the enormous
magnitude of its volcanic crater formations.  In comparison with these,
the greatest on the surface of the earth are reduced to insignificance.
Paradoxical as the statement may at first appear, the magnitude of the
remains of the primitive volcanic energy in the moon is simply due to
the smallness of its mass.  Being only about one-eightieth part of the
bulk of the earth, the force of gravity on the moon's surface is only
about one-sixth.  And as eruptive force is quite independent,
as a force, of the law of gravitation, and as it acted with its full
energy on matter, which in the moon is little heavier than cork,
it was dispersed in divergent flight from the vent of the volcanoes,
free from any atmospheric resistance, and thus secured an enormously
wider dispersion of the ejected scoriae.  Hence the building up of
those enormous ring-formed craters which are seen in such vast numbers
on the moon's surface--some of them being no less than a hundred
miles in diameter, with which those of Etna and Vesuvius are the merest
molehills in comparison.

I may mention, in passing, that the frequency of a central cone within
these ring-shaped lunar craters supplies us with one of the most
distinct and unquestionable evidences of the true nature and mode of
the formation of volcanoes.

They are the result of the expiring energy of the volcanic discharge,
which, when near its termination, not having sufficient energy to eject
the matter far from its vent, becomes deposited around it, and thus
builds up the central cone as a sort of monument to commemorate its
expiring efforts.  In this way it recalls the exact features of our own
terrestrial craters, though the latter are infinitely smaller in
comparison.  When we consider how volcanoes are formed--
by the ejection and exudation of material from beneath the solid crust--
it will be seen how the lunar eminences are formed; that is, by the
forcible projection of fluid molten matter through cracks or vents,
through which it makes its way to the surface.

[Image]  Pico, an isolated Lunar Mountain 8000 feet high.

It was in reference to this very interesting subject that I made a
drawing of the great isolated volcanic mountain Pico, about 8000 feet
this illustration exhibits a class of volcanic formations that may be
seen on many portions of the moon's surface.  They are what I would
term exudative volcanic mountains, the results of a comparatively
gentle discharge of volcanic matter, which has resulted in heaped up
eminences; a vast group of which were displayed in the illustration,
some of them being upwards of 20,000 feet high.

It exhibits a very different appearance from that of our mountain
ranges, which are for the most part the result of a tangential action.
In the case of the earth, the hard stratified crust had to adapt itself
to the shrunken diameter of the once much hotter globe. This tangential
action is illustrated in our own persons, when age causes the body to
shrink in bulk, while the skin, which does not shrink to the same
extent, has to accommodate itself to the shrunken interior, and so
forms wrinkles--the wrinkles of age.  This theory opens up a chapter
in geology and physiology well worthy of consideration.  It may alike
be seen in the structure of the surface of the earth, in an old apple,
and in an old hand.*
The shrunken hand on the other side is that of Mr. Nasmyth,
photographed by himself.  According to The Psychonomy of the Hand,
by R.  Beamish, F.R.S., author of The Life of Sir M. I. Brunel,
it exhibits a thoroughly mechanical hand, as well as the hand of a
delicate manipulator; illustrating that remarkable expression in the
Book of Job, that "in the hand of all the sons of men God places marks,
that all the sons of men may know their own works."--ED.

[Image]  Shrunken Apple and Hand.*
These illustrations serve to illustrate one of the most potent of
geological agencies which has given the earth's surface its grandest
characteristics.  I mean the elevation of mountain ranges through the
contraction of the globe as a whole.  By the action of gravity the
former larger surface crushes down, as it were, the contracting
interior; and the superfluous matter, which belonged to a bigger globe,
arranges itself by tangential displacement, and accommodates itself to
the altered or decreased size of the globe. Hence our mountain ranges,
which though apparently enormous when seen near at hand are merely the
wrinkles on the face of the earth.

While earnestly studying the details of the moon's surface, it was a
source of great additional interest to me to endeavour to realise in
the mind's eye the possible landscape effect of its marvellous
elevations and depressions.  Here my artisic faculty came into
operation.  I endeavoured to illustrate the landscape.  scenery of the
Moon, in like manner as we illustrate the landscape scenery of the
Earth.  The telescope revealed to me distinctly the volcanic craters,
the cracks, and the ranges of mountains--by means of the light and
shade on the moon's surface.  One of the most prominent conditions of
the awful grandeur of lunar scenery is the brilliant light of the sun,
far transcending that which we experience upon the earth--enhanced by
the contrast with the jet-black background of the lunar heavens,--
the result of the total absence of atmosphere.  One portion of the
moon, on which the sun is shining, is brilliantly illuminated,
while all in shade is dark.

While the disc of the sun appears a vast electric light of overpowering
rayless brilliancy, every star and planet in the black vault of the
lunar heavens is shining with steady brightness at all times;
as, whether the Sun be present or absent during the long fourteen days'
length of the lunar day or night, no difference on the absolutely black
aspect of the lunar heavens can appear.  That aspect must be eternal
there.  No modification*
a small degree of illumination is, however, given to some portions of
the Moon's surface by the Earth-shine, when the earth is in such a
position with regard to the Moon, as to reflect some light on to it,
as the Moon does to the earth.
of the darkness of shadows in the Moon can result from the illuminative
effect, as in our case in the earth, from light reflected into shadows
by the blue sky of our earthly day The intensity of the contrast
between light and shade must thus lend another awful aspect to the
scenery of the Moon, while deprived of all those charming effects which
artists term "aerial perspective," by which relative distances are
rendered cognisable with such tender and exquisite beauty.  The absence
of atmosphere on the Moon causes the most distant objects to appear as
close as the nearest; while the comparatively rapid curvature of the
moon, owing to its being a globe only one-fourth the diameter of the
earth, must necessarily limit very considerably the range of view.

[Image]  Lunar Mountains and Extinct Volcanic Craters

It is the combination of all these circumstances, which we know with
absolute certainty must exist in the Moon, that gives to the
contemplation of her marvellous surface, as revealed by the aid of
powerful telescopes,--one of the grandest and most deeply interesting
subjects that can occupy our thoughts; especially when we regard the
physical constitution and the peculiar structure of her surface,
as that of our nearest planetary neighbour, and also as our serviceable
attendant by night.

Then there are the Tides, so useful to man, preserving the sanitary
condition of the river mouths and tide-swept shores.
We must be grateful for the Moon's existence on that account alone.
She is the grand scavenger and practical sanitary commissioner of the
earth. Then consider the work she does!  She moves hundreds of ships and
barges, filled with valuable cargoes, up our tidal rivers,
to the commercial cities on their banks.  She thus performs a vast
amount of daily and nightly mechanical drudgery.  She is the most
effective of all Tugs; and now that we understand the convertibility
and conservation of force, we may be able to use her Tide-producing
powers through the agency of electricity for mechanical purposes.
It is even possible that the Tides may yet light our streets and
It is not quite a century since London was in part supplied with water
by the Moon, through employing the tidal action by the waters at
Old London Bridge, where the tide mills worked the water-supplying pumps.

Is the moon inhabited?  It seems to me that the entire absence of
atmosphere and water forbids the supposition--at least of any form of
life with which we are acquainted.  Add to this adverse condition,
the fact of the moon's day being equal to fourteen of our days;
the sun shining with much more brilliancy of effect in the moon than on
the earth, where atmosphere and moisture act as an important agent in
modifying its scorching rays; whilst no such agency exists in the moon.
The sun shines there without intermission for fourteen days and nights.
During that time the heat must accumulate to almost the melting point
of lead; while, on the other hand, the absence of the sun for an equal
period must be followed by a period of intense cold, such as we have no
experience of, even in the Arctic regions.  The highest authorities
state that the cold during the Moon's long night must reach as low as
250 degrees below the freezing point of water.  These considerations,
I think, reasonably suggest that the existence of any form of life in
the Moon is in the highest degree improbable.

The first occasion on which I exhibited my series of drawings of the
Moon, together with a map six feet in diameter of its entire visible
surface, was at the meeting of the British Association at Edinburgh in
1850.  I always looked forward to these meetings with great pleasure,
and attended them with supreme interest.  My dear wife always
accompanied me.  It was our scientific holiday.  It was also our
holiday of friendship.  We met many of our old friends, and made many
new friends.  Alas, how many of them have departed!  Herschel, Faraday,
Robinson, Taylor, Phillips, Brewster, Rosse, Fairbairn, Lassell,
and a host of minor stars, who, although perhaps wanting in the
brightness or magnitude of those I have named, made good amends by the
warmth of their cheerful rays.  We saw the younger lights emerging
above the horizon:  the men who still continue to shed their glory over
the meetings of the Association.

How delightful was our visit to Edinburgh in 1850. It was
"mine own romantic town."  I remembered its striking features so well.
There was the broad mass of the Old Town, with its endless diversity of
light and shade.  There was the grand old fortress, with its towers and
turrets and black portholes.  Towards evening the distant glories of
the departing sun threw forward, in dark outline, the wooded hill of
Corstorphine.  The rock and Castle assumed a new aspect every time I
looked at them.  The long-drawn gardens filling the valley between the
Old Town and the New, and the thickly-wooded scars of the Castle rock,
were a charm of landscape and a charm of art.  Arthur's Seat, like a
lion at rest, seemed perfect witchcraft.  And from the streets in the
New Town, or from Calton Hill, what singular glances of beauty were
observed in the distance--the gleaming waters of the Firth,
and the blue shadows among the hills of Fife.

I remembered it all, from the days in which I sat, as a child, beside
the lassies watching the "claes" on the Calton Hill and hearing the
chimes of St. Giles's tinkling across the Nor' Loch from the Old Town;
the walks, when a boy, in the picturesque country round Edinburgh,
with my father and his scientific and artistic friends; my days at the
High School, and then my evenings at the School of Arts; my castings of
brass in my bedroom, and the technical training I enjoyed in the
workshop of my old schoolfellow; my roadway locomotive and its success;
and finally, the making of my tools and machines intended for Manchester,
at the foundry of my dear old friend Douglass.  It all came back to me
like a dream.  And now, after some twenty years, I had returned to
Edinburgh on a visit to the British Association.  Many things had been
changed--many relatives and friends had departed--but still Edinburgh
remained to me as fascinating as ever.

The excursions formed our principal source of enjoyment during these
scientific gatherings.  The season was then at its happiest.
Nature was in her most enjoyable condition, and the excursionists were
usually in their holiday mood.  The meeting of the British Association
at Edinburgh was presided over by Sir David Brewster.  The geologists
visited the remarkable displays of volcanic phenomena with which the
neighbourhood of Edinburgh singularly abounds.  Indeed, Edinburgh owes
much of its picturesque beauty to volcanoes and earthquake upheavings.
Our excursions culminated in a visit to the Bass Rock. The excursion
had been carefully planned, and was successfully carried out.
The day was beautiful, and the party was of the choicest.
After reaching the little cove of Canty Bay, overlooked by the gigantic
ruins of Tantallon Castle, we were ferried across to the Bass;
through a few miles of that capricious sea, the Firth of Forth, near to
where it joins the German Ocean.  We were piloted by that fine old
British tar, Admiral Malcolm, while the commissariat was superintended
by General Pasley.

We were safely landed on that magnificent sea-girt volcanic rock--
the Bass.  After inspecting the ruins of what was once a castellated
State prison, where the Covenanters were immured for conscience' sake,
we wandered up the hill towards the summit.  There we were treated
to a short lecture by Professor Owen on the Solan Goose,
which was illustrated by the clouds of geese flying over us.
They freely exhibited their habits on land as well as in mid-air,
and skimmed the dizzy crags with graceful and apparently effortless
motions. The vast variety of seafowl screamed their utmost,
and gave a wonderfully illustrative chorus to the lecture.
It was a most impressive scene.  We were high above the deep blue sea of
the German Ocean, the waves of which leapt up as if they would sweep us
away into the depths below.

Another of our delightful excursions was made under the guidance of my
old and dear friend Robert Chambers.*
I cannot pass over the mention of Robert Chambers's name without adding
that I was on terms of the most friendly intimacy with him from a very
early period of his life to its termination in 1871.
I remember when he made his first venture in business in Leith Walk.
By virtue of his industry, ability, and energy, he became a prosperous
man.  I had the happiness of enjoying his delightful and instructive
society on many occasions. We had rare cracks on all subjects, but
especially respecting old places and old characters whom we had known
at Edinburgh.  His natural aptitude to catch up the salient and most
humorous points of character, with the quaint manner in which he could
describe them, gave a vast charm to his company and conversation.
Added to which, the wide range and accuracy of his information,
acquired by his own industry and quick-witted penetration, caused the
hours spent in his society to remain among the brightest points in my

The object of this excursion was to visit the remarkable series of
grooved and scratched rocks which had been discovered*
They had been first seen, some twenty years before, by Sir James Hall,
one of the geologic lights of Edinburgh.
on the western edge of the cliff-like boundary of Corstorphine Hill.
The glacial origin of these groovings on the rocks was then occupying
the attention of geologists.  It was a subject that Robert Chambers had
carefully studied, in the Lowlands, in the Highlands, in Rhine-land,
in Switzerland, and in Norway.  He had also published his Ancient Sea
Margins and his Tracings of the North of Europe in illustration of his
views.   He was now enabled to show us these groovings and scratchings
on the rocks near Edinburgh.  In order to render the records more
accessible, he had the heather and mossy turf carefully removed--
especially from some of the most distinct evidences of glacial
rock-grooving.  Thus no time was lost, and we immediately saw the
unquestionable markings.  Such visits as these are a thousand times
more instructive and interesting than long papers read at scientific
meetings.  They afford the best opportunity for interchange of ideas,
and directly produce an emphatic result; for one cannot cavil about
what he has seen with his eyes and felt with his hands.

We returned to the city in time to be present at a most interesting
lecture by Hugh Miller on the Boulder Clay.
He illustrated it by some scratched boulders which he had collected
in the neighbourhood of Edinburgh.  He brought the subject before his
audience in his own clear and admirable viva voce style.
The Duke of Argyll was in the chair, and a very animated discussion
took place on this novel and difficult subject.
It was humorously brought to a conclusion by the Rev. Dr. Fleming,
a shrewd and learned geologist.  Like many others, he had encountered
great difficulties in arriving at definite conclusions on this
mysterious subject.  He concluded his remarks upon it by describing the
influence it had in preventing his sleeping at night.
He was so restless on one occasion that his wife became seriously alarmed.
"What's the matter wi' ye, John? are ye ill?" "On no," replied the doctor,
"it's only that confounded Bounder Clay!"  This domestic anecdote
brought down the house, and the meeting terminated in a loud and hearty

I, too, contributed my little quota of information to the members of
the British Association.  I had brought with me from Lancashire a
considerable number of my large graphic illustrations of the details of
the Moon's surface.  I gave a viva voce account of my lunar researches
at a crowded meeting of the Physical Section A.  The novel and
interesting subject appeared to give so much satisfaction to the
audience that the Council of the Association requested me to repeat the
account at one of the special evenings, when the members of all the
various sections were generally present.  It was quite a new thing for
me to appear as a public lecturer; but I consented.  The large hall of
the Assembly Rooms in George Street was crowded with an attentive
audience.  The Duke of Argyll was in the chair.  It is a difficult
thing to give a public lecture especially to a scientific audience.
To see a large number of faces turned up, waiting for the words of the
lecturer, is a somewhat appalling sight.  But the novelty of the
subject and the graphic illustrations helped me very much.  I was quite
full of the Moon.  The words came almost unsought; and I believe the
lecture went off very well, and terminated with "great applause."
And thus the meeting of the British Association at Edinburgh came to an

This, however, was not the end of our visit to Scotland.
I was strongly urged by the Duke of Argyll to pay him a visit at his
castle at Inverary.  I had frequently before had the happiness of
meeting the Duke and Duchess at the Earl of Ellesmere's mansion at
Worsley Hall He had made us promise that if we ever came to Scotland we
were not to fail to pay him a visit.  It was accordingly arranged at
Edinburgh that we should carry out our promise, and spend some days
with him at Inverary before our return home.  We were most cordially
welcomed at the castle, and enjoyed our visit exceedingly.  We had the
pleasure of seeing the splendid scenery of the Western Highlands the
mountains round the head of Loch Fyne, Loch Awe, and the magnificent
hoary-headed Ben Cruachan, requiring a base of more than twenty miles
to support him,--besides the beautiful and majestic scenery of the

But my chief interest was in the specimens of high geological interest
which the Duke showed me.  He had discovered them in the Island of Mull,
in a bed of clay shale, under a volcanic basaltic cliff over eighty feet
high, facing the Atlantic Ocean.  He found in this bed many beautifully
perfect impressions of forest tree leaves, chiefly of the plane-tree
class.  They appeared to have been enveloped in the muddy bottom of a
lake, which had been sealed up by the belching forth from the bowels of
the earth of molten volcanic basaltic lava, and which indeed formed the
chief material of the Island of Mull.  This basaltic cliff now fronts
the Atlantic, and resists its waves like a rock of iron.  To see all
the delicate veins and stalklets, and exact forms of what had once been
the green fresh foliage of a remotely primeval forest, thus brought to
light again, as preserved in their clay envelope, after they had lain
for ages and ages under what must have been the molten outburst of some
tremendous volcanic discharge, and which now formed the rock-bound
coast of Mull, filled one's mind with an idea of the inconceivable
length of time that must have passed since the production of these
Wonderful geological phenomena.

I felt all the more special interest in these specimens, as I had many
years before, on my return visit from Londonderry, availed myself of
the nearness of the Giant's Causeway to make a careful examination of
the marvellous volcanic columns in that neighbourhood. Having scrambled
up to a great height, I found a thick band of hematitic clay underneath
the upper bed of basalt, which was about sixty feet thick.  In this
clay I detected a rich deposit of completely charred branches of what
had once been a forest tree.  The bed had been burst through by the
outburst of molten basalt, and converted the branches into charcoal.
I dug out some of the specimens, and afterwards distributed them
amongst my geological friends.  The Duke was interested by my account,
which so clearly confirmed his own discovery.  On a subsequent occasion
I revisited the Giant's Causeway in company with my dear wife.
I again scrambled up to the hematitic bed of clay under the basaltic cliff,
and dug out a sufficient quantity of the charred branches, which I sent
to the Duke, in confirmation of his theory as to the origin of the
leaf-beds at Mull.*

I received the following reply from the Duke of Argyll dated "Inverary,
Nov. 19, 1850": --

"MY DEAR SIR--Am I right in concluding, from the description which;
you were so kind as to send to me, that the lignite bed, with its
superincumbent basalts, lies above those particular columnar basalts
which form the far-famed Giant's Causeway?  I see from your sketch that
basalts of great thickness, and in some views beautifully columnar,
do underlie the lignite bed; but I am not quite sure that these
columnar basalts are those precisely which are called the Causeway.
I had never heard before that the Giant's Causeway rested on chalk,
which all the basalts in your sketch do.

[Image] The Astrologers Tower--A Day Dream.  By James Nasmyth.

"I have been showing your drawing of 'Udolpho Castle' and
'The Astrologer's Tower' to the Duchess of Sutherland, who is enchanted
with the beauty of the architectural details, and wishes she had seen
them before Dunrobin was finished; for hints might  have been taken
from bits of your work. --Very truly yours,


In the year following the meeting of the British Association at
Edinburgh, the great Exhibition of all nations at London took place.
The Commissioners appointed for carrying out this noble enterprise had
made special visits to Manchester and the surrounding manufacturing
districts for the purpose of organising local committees, so that the
machinery and productions of each might be adequately represented in
the World's Great Industrial Exhibition.  The Commissioners were met
with enthusiasm; and nearly every manufacturer was found ready to
display the results of his industry.  The local engineers and tool-makers
were put upon their mettle, and each endeavoured to do his best.  Like
others, our firm contributed specimens of our special machine tools,
and a fair average specimen of the steam hammer, with a 30 cwt.

I also sent one of my very simple and compact steam-engines, in the
design of which I had embodied the form of my steam hammer--placing the
crank where the anvil of the hammer usually stands.  The simplicity and
grace of this arrangement of the steam-engine were much admired.
Its merits were acknowledged in a way most gratifying to me,
by its rapid adoption by engineers of every class, especially by marine
engineers.  It has been adopted for driving the shafts of
screw-propelled steamships of the largest kind.  The comparatively
small space it occupies, its compactness, its get-at-ability of parts,
and the action of gravity on the piston, which, working vertically,
and having no undue action in causing wearing of the cylinder on one
side (which was the case with horizontal engines), has now brought my
Steam Hammer Engine into almost universal use*
Sir John Anderson, in his Report on the machine tools, textile, and
other machinery exhibited at Vienna in 1873, makes the following
observations: --"Perhaps the finest pair of marine engines yet produced
by France, or any other country, were those exhibited by Schneider and
Company, the leading firm in France.  These engines were not large,
but were perfect in many respects; yet comparatively few of those who
were struck with admiration seemed to know that the original of this
style of construction came from the same mind as the Steam Hammer.
Nasmyth's Infant Hercules was the forerunner of all the steam hammer
engines that have yet been made from that type, which is now being so
extensively employed for working the screw propeller of steam vessels."

The Commissioners, acting on the special recommendation of the jury,
awarded me a medal for the construction of this form of steam-engine*
The Council of the Exhibition thus describe the engine in the awards: --
"Nasmyth, J., Patricroft, Manchester, a small portable direct-acting
steam-engine.  The cylinder is fixed, vertical and inverted, the crank
being placed beneath it, and the piston working downwards.
The sides of the frame which support the cylinder serve as guides,
and the bearings of the crank-shaft and fly-wheel are firmly fixed in
the bed-plate of the engine.  The arrangement is compact and economical,
and the workmanship practically good and durable."
(See illustration of the design, page 424.)
as it was merely a judicious arrangement of the parts, and not, in any
correct sense of the term, an invention, I took out no patent for it,
and left it free to work its own way into general adoption.
It has since been used for high as well as low-pressure steam--
an arrangement which has come into much favour on account of the great
economy of fuel which results from using it.

A Council Medal was also awarded to me for the Steam Hammer.
But perhaps what pleased me most was the Prize Medal which I received
for my special hobby--the drawings of the Moon's surface.  I sent a
collection of these, with a map, to the Exhibition.  They attracted
considerable attention, not only because of their novelty, but because
of the accurate and artistic style of their execution.  The Jurors, in
making the award, gave the following description of them:  "Mr. Nasmyth
exhibits a well-delineated map of the Moon on a large scale, which is
drawn with great accuracy, the irregularities upon the surface being
shown with much force and spirit; also separate and enlarged
representations of certain portions of the Moon as seen through a
powerful telescope:  they are all good in detail, and very effective."

My drawings of the Moon attracted the special notice of the Prince
Consort.  Shortly after the closing of the Exhibition, in October 1851,
the Queen and the Prince made a visit to Manchester and Liverpool,
during which time they were the guests of the Earl of Ellesmere at
Worsley Hall.  Finding that I lived near at hand, the Prince expressed
his desire to the Earl that I should exhibit to Her Majesty some of my
graphic lunar studies.

On receiving a note to that effect from the Countess of Ellesmere,
I sent a selection of my drawings to the Hall, and proceeded there in
the evening.  I had then the honour of showing them to the Queen and
the Prince, and explaining them in detail.  Her Majesty took a deep
interest in the subject, and was most earnest in her inquiries.
The Prince Consort' said that the drawings opened up quite a new
subject to him, which he had not before had the opportunity of
considering.  It was as much as I could do to answer the numerous keen
and incisive questions which he put to me.  They were all so distinct
and cogent.  Their object was, of course, to draw from me the necessary
explanations on this rather recondite subject.  I believe, however,
that notwithstanding the presence of Royalty, I was enabled to place
all the most striking and important features of the Moon's surface in a
clear and satisfactory manner before Her Majesty and the Prince,

I find that the Queen in her Diary alludes in the most gratifying
manner to the evening's interview.  In the Life of the Prince Consort
(vol. ii. p. 398), Sir Theodore Martin thus mentions the subject: --
"The evening was enlivened by the presence of Mr. Nasmyth, the inventor
of the steam hammer, who had extensive works at Patricroft.
He exhibited and explained the map and drawings in which he had
embodied the results of his investigations of the conformations of the
surface of the Moon.  The Queen in her Diary dwells at considerable
length on the results of Mr. Nasmyth's inquiries.  The charm of his
manner, in which the simplicity, modesty, and enthusiasm of genius are
all strikingly combined, are warmly dwelt upon.  Mr. Nasmyth belongs to
a family of painters, and would have won fame for himself as an artist
--for his landscapes are as true to Nature as his compositions are
full of fancy and feeling--had not science and mechanical invention
claimed him for their own.  His drawings were submitted on this
occasion.  and their beauty was generally admired.*
In his lecture on the "Geological Features of Edinburgh and its
Neighbourhood," in the following year, Hugh Miller, speaking of the
Castle Rock, observed: --"The underlying strata, though geologically
and in their original position several hundred feet higher than those
which underlie the Castle esplanade, are now, with respect to the
actual level, nearly 200 feet lower.  In a lecture on what may be
termed the geology of the Moon, delivered in the October of last year
before Her Majesty and Prince Albert by Mr. Nasmyth, he referred to
certain appearances on the surface of that satellite that seemed to be
the results, in some very ancient time, of the sudden falling in of
portions of an unsupported crust, or a retreating nucleus of molten
matter; and took occasion to suggest that some of the great slips and
shifts on the surface of our own planet, with their huge downcasts, may
have had a similar origin.  The suggestion is at once bold and ingenious."

The next time I visited Edinburgh was in the autumn of 1853.
Lord Cockburn, an old friend, having heard that I was sojourning in the
city, sent me the following letter, dated "Bonally, 3rd September,"
inviting me to call a meeting of the Faithful:

"MY DEAR Sir--Instead of being sketching, as I thought, in Switzerland,
I was told yesterday that you were in Auld Reekie.  Then why not come
out here next Thursday, or Friday, or Saturday, and let us have a
Hill Day?  I suppose I need not write to summon the Faithful, because
not having been in Edinburgh except once for above a month, I don't
know where the Faithful are.  But you must know their haunts, and it
can't give you much trouble to speak to them.  I should like to see
Lauder here.  And don't forget the Gaberlunzie.--Ever,

James Ballantine, author of The Gaberlunzie's Wallet.  In August 1865
Mr. Ballantine wrote to me saying:  "If ever you are in Auld Reekie I
should feel proud of a call from you.  I have not forgotten the
delightful day we spent together many years ago at Bonny Bonally with
the eagle-eyed Henry Cockburn!"

The meeting came off.  I collected a number of special friends about
me, and I took my wife to the meeting of the Faithful.  There were
present David Roberts, Clarkson Stanfield, Louis and Carl Haag,
Sir George Harvey, James Ballantine, and D. O. Hill--all artists.
We made our way to Bonny Bonally, a charming residence, situated at the
foot of the Pentland Hills.*
The house was afterwards occupied by the lamented Professor Hodgson,
the well-known Political Economist.
The day was perfect--in all respects "equal to bespoke."  With that most
genial of men, Lord Cockburn, for our guide, we wandered far up the
Pentland Hills.  After a rather toilsome walk we reached a favourite
spot.  It was a semicircular hollow in the hillside, scooped out by the
sheep for shelter.  It was carpeted and cushioned with a deep bed of
wild thyme, redolent of the very essence of rural fragrance.

We sat down in a semicircle, our guide in the middle.  He said in his
quaint peculiar way, "Here endeth the first lesson."  After gathering
our breath, and settling ourselves to enjoy our well-earned rest,
we sat in silence for a time.  The gentle breeze blew past us, and we
inhaled the fragrant air.  It was enough for a time to look on, for the
glorious old city was before us, with its towers, and spires, and lofty
buildings between us and the distance.  On one side Arthur's Seat, and
on the other the Castle, the crown of the city.  The view extended far
and wide--on to the waters of the Forth and the blue hills of Fife.
The view is splendidly described by "Delta": --

 "Traced like a map, the landscape lies
 In cultured beauty, stretching wide:
 Here Pentland's green acclivities,--
 There ocean, with its swelling tide,--
 There Arthur's Seat and gleaming through
 Thy Southern wing, Dull Edin blue!
 While, in the Orient, Lammer's daughters,--
 A distant giant range, are seen;
 North Berwick Law, with cone of green,
 And Bass amid the waters."

Then we began to crack, our host leading the way with his humorous
observations.  After taking our fill of rest and talk, we wended our
way down again, with the "wimplin' burn" by our side, fresh from the
pure springs of the hill, whispering its welcome to us.

We had earned a good appetite for dinner, which was shortly laid before us.
The bill of fare was national, and included a haggis:

 "Fair fa' your honest sonsie face,
 Great chieftain o' the puddin' race!
 Weel are ye wordy o'a grace
 As lang's my arm!"

The haggis was admirably compounded and cooked, and was served forth by
our genial host with all appropriate accompaniments.  But the most
enjoyable was the conversation of Lord Cockburn, who was a master of
the art--quick ready, humorous, and full of wit.  At last, the day
came to a close, and we wended our way towards the city.

Let me, however, before concluding, say a few words in reference to my
dear departed friend David Oswald Hill.  His name calls up many
recollections of happy hours spent in his company.  He was, in all
respects, the incarnation of geniality.  His lively sense of humour,
combined with a romantic and poetic constitution of mind, and his fine
sense of the beautiful in Nature and art, together with his kindly and
genial feeling, made him, all in all, a most agreeable friend and
companion.  "D. O. Hill," as he was generally called, was much attached
to my father.  He was a very frequent visitor at our Edinburgh
fireside, and was ever ready to join in our extemporised walks and
jaunts, when he would overflow with his kindly sympathy and humour.
He was a skilful draughtsman, and possessed a truly poetic feeling for
art.  His designs for pictures were always attractive, from the fine
feeling exhibited in their composition and arrangement. But somehow,
when he came to handle the brush, the result was not always
satisfactory--a defect not uncommon with artists.  Altogether,
he was a delightful companion and a staunch friend, and his death made
a sad blank in the artistic society of Edinburgh.

CHAPTER 19.  More about Astronomy.

Astronomy, instead of merely being an amusement, became my chief study.
It occupied many of my leisure hours.  Desirous of having the advantage
of a Reflecting Telescope of large aperture, I constructed one of
twenty-inches diameter.  In order to avoid the personal risk and
inconvenience of having to mount to the eye-piece by a ladder,
I furnished the telescope tube with trunnions, like a cannon, with one
of the trunnions hollow so as to admit of the eye-piece.  Opposite to
it a plain diagonal mirror was placed, to transmit the image to the
eye.  The whole was mounted on a turn-table, having a seat opposite to
the eye-piece, as will be seen in the engraving on the other side.

[Image]  "Trunnion Vision" Reflecting telescope of 20-inch diameter
         mounted on a turn-table.

The observer, when seated, could direct the telescope to any part of
the heavens without moving from his seat.  Although this arrangement
occasioned some loss of light, that objection was more than compensated
by the great convenience which it afforded for the prosecution of the
special class of observations in which I was engaged namely, that of
the Sun, Moon, and Planets.

I wrote to my old friend Sir David Brewster, then living at St. Andrews,
in 1849, about this improvement and he duly congratulated me upon my
devotion to astronomical science.  In his letter to me he brought to
mind many precious memories.

"I recollect," he said, "with much pleasure the many happy hours that I
spent in your father's house; and ever since I first saw you in your
little workshop at Edinburgh,--then laying the foundation of your
future fortunes,--I have felt a deep interest in your success, and
rejoiced at your progress to wealth and reputation.

"I have perused with much pleasure the account you have sent me of your
plan of shortening and moving large telescopes, and I shall state to
you the opinion which I have formed of it.  If you will look into the
article 'Optics' in the Edinburgh Encyclopedia (vol. xv. p. 643),
you will find an account of what has been previously done to reduce by
one-half the length of reflecting telescopes.  The advantage of
substituting, as you propose, a convex for a plane mirror arises from
two causes that a spherical surface is more easily executed than a
plane one; and that the spherical aberration of the larger speculum,
if it be spherical, will be diminished by the opposite aberration of
the convex one.  This advantage, however, will disappear if the plane
mirror of the old construction is accurately plane; and in your case,
if the large speculum is parabolic and the small one elliptical in
their curvature.

"The only objection to your construction is the loss of light;
first of one-fourth of the whole incident light by obstruction, and
then one-half of the remainder by reflection from the convex mirror,
thus reducing 100 rays of incident light to 37 1/2 before the pencil is
thrown out of the tube by a prism or a third reflector.  This loss of
light, it is true, may be compensated by an additional inch or two to
the margin of the large speculum; but still it is the best part of the
large speculum that is made unproductive by the eclipse of it by the
convex speculum.  "With regard to the mechanical contrivance which you
propose for working the instrument, I think it is singularly ingenious
and beautiful, and will compensate for any imperfection in the optical
arrangements which are rendered necessary for its adoption.
The application of the railway turn-table is very happy, and not less
so is the extraction of the image through the hollow trunnions.

"I am much obliged to you for the beautiful drawing of the apparatus
for grinding and polishing specula, invented by Mr. Lassell and
constructed by yourself.  I shall be glad to hear of your further
progress in the construction of your telescope; and I trust that I
shall have the pleasure of meeting you and Mr. Lassell at the
Birmingham meeting of the British Association.

In the course of the same year (1849) I sent a model of my Trunnion
turn-table telescope for exhibition at a lecture at the Royal
Institution, given by my old friend Edward Cowper.  In the model I had
placed a neat little figure of the observer, but the head had
unfortunately been broken off during its carriage to London.
Mrs. Nasmyth had made the wearing apparel; but Edward Cowper wrote to
her, before the lecture, that he had put "Sir Fireside Brick" all to
rights in respect of his garb.  His letter after the lecture was quite

"The lecture," he said, "went off very well last night.
All the models performed their duty, and were duly applauded for doing so.
My new equatorial was approved of by astronomers and by instrument-makers.
The last gun I fired was a howitzer, but mounted swivel-gun fashion;
on a sort of revolving platform, or something like a turn-table proper
--the gunner at the side of the carriage.  Do you know anything of the
kind?  Bang!  Invented by one Nasmyth.  Bang!  The observer is sitting at
ease; the stars are brought down to you instead of your creeping up a
scaffolding after the stars.  Well, the folks came to the table after
the lecture, and 'The Nasmyth Telescope' kept banging away for a
quarter of an hour, and was admired by everybody.  The loss of light
was not much insisted on, but it was said that you ran the risk of
error of form in three surfaces instead of two.  I see that Sir J. South
states that Lord Rosse would increase the light of his telescope from
five to seven by adopting Herschel's plan.

"De La Rue was quite delighted.  He said, 'Well, I congratulate you on
a most splendid lecture--I cannot call it anything else.' My father,
who takes very little interest in these things, said, 'Well, Edward has
made me understand more about telescopes than I ever did in my life.'
The theatre was full, gallery and all.  They were very attentive,
and I never felt more comfortable in a lecture.  I am happy to say that,
having administered a dose of cement to Mrs. Nasmyth's friend,
Sir Fireside Brick of Green Lanes, he is now in a convalescent state.
The lecture is to be repeated in another fortnight.  With many thanks
for your kind assistance, yours very sincerely,


In the course of my astronomical inquiries I had occasion to consider
the causes of the sun's light.  I observed the remarkable phenomena of
the variable and some times transitory brightness of the stars.  In
connection with geology, there was the evidence of an arctic or glacial
climate in regions where such cannot now naturally exist; thus giving
evidence of the existence of a condition of climate, for the
explanation of which we look in vain for any at present known cause.
I wrote a paper on the subject, which I sent to the Astronomical
Society.  It was read in May 1851.  In that paper I wrote as follows:

"A course of observations on the solar spots, and on the remarkable
features which from time to time appear on the sun's surface, which I
have examined with considerable assiduity for several years, had in the
first place led me to entertain the following conclusion:  namely, that
whatever be the nature of solar light, its main source appears to
result from an action induced on the exterior surface of solar
sphere,-- a conclusion in which I doubt not all who have attentively
pursued observations on the structure of the sun's surface will agree.

"Impressed with the correctness of this conclusion, I was led to
consider whether we might not reasonably consider the true source of
the latent element of light to reside, not in the solar orb, but in
space itself; and that the grand function and duty of the sun was to
act as an agent for bringing forth into vivid existence its due portion
of the illuminating or luciferous element, which element I suppose to
be diffused throughout the boundless regions of space, and which in
that case must be exhaustless.

Assuming, therefore, that the sun's light is the result of some
peculiar action by which it brings forth into visible existence the
element of light, which I conceive to be latent in, and diffused
throughout space, we have but to imagine the existence of a very
probable condition, namely, the unequal diffusion of this
light-yielding element, to catch a glimpse of a reason why our sun may,
in common with his solar brotherhood, in some portions of his vast
stellar orbit, have passed, and may yet have to pass, through regions
of space, in which the light-yielding element may either abound or be
deficient, and so cause him to beam forth with increased splendour,
or fade in brilliancy, just in proportion to the richness or poverty of
this supposed light-yielding element as may occur in those regions of
space through which our sun, in common with every stellar orb,
has passed, is now passing, or is destined to pass, in following up
their mighty orbits.

"Once admit that this light-yielding element resides in space, and that
it is not equally diffused, we may then catch a glimpse of the cause of
the variable and transitory brightness of stars,and more especially of
those which have been known to beam forth with such extraordinary
splendour, and have again so mysteriously faded away; many instances of
which abound in historical record.

"Finally, in reference to such a state of change having come over our
sun, as indicated by the existence of a glacial period, as is now
placed beyond doubt by geological research, it appears to me no very
wild stretch of analogy to suppose that in such former periods of the
earth's history our sun may have passed through portions of his stellar
orbit in which the light-yielding element was deficient, and in which
case his brilliancy would have suffered the while, and an arctic
climate in consequence spread from the poles towards the equator,
and thus leave the record of such a condition in glacial handwriting on
the everlasting walls of our mountain ravines, of which there is such
abundant and unquestionable evidence.  As before said, it is the
existence of such facts as we have in stars of transitory brightness,
and the above named evidence of an arctic climate existing in what are
now genial climates, that renders some adequate cause to be looked for.
I have accordingly hazarded the preceding remarks as suggestive of a
cause, in the hope that the subject may receive that attention which
its deep interest entitles it to obtain.

"This view of the source of light, as respects the existence of the
luciferous element throughout space, accords with the Mosaic account of
creation, in so far as that light is described as having been created
in the first instance before the sun was called forth."
Dr Siemens read a paper before the Royal Society in March 1882,
on "A New Theory of the Sun".  His views in many respects coincided
with mine.*
Interstellar space, according to Dr. Siemens, is filled with
attenuated matter, consisting of highly rarefied gaseous bodies--
including hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, carbon, and aqueous vapour;
that these gaseous compounds are capable of being dissociated by
radiant solar energy while in a state of extreme attenuation; and that
the vapours so dissociated are drawn towards the sun in consequence of
solar rotation, are flashed into flame in the photosphere, and rendered
back into space in the condition of products of combustion.
With respect to the influence of the sun's light on geology, Dr. Siemens
says: "The effect of this continuous outpour of solar materials could
not be without very important influences as regards the geological
conditions of our earth.  Geologists have long acknowledged the
difficulty of accounting for the amount of carbonic acid that must have
been in our atmosphere at one time or another in order to form with
lime those enormous beds of dolomite and limestone of which the crust
of our earth is in great measure composed.  It has been calculated that
if this carbonic acid had been at one and the same time in our
atmosphere it would have caused an elastic pressure fifty times that of
our present atmosphere; and if we add the carbonic acid that must have
been absorbed in vegetation in order to form our coal-beds we should
probably have to double that pressure.  Animal life, of which we had
abundant traces in these 'measures,' could not have existed under such
conditions, we are almost forced to the conclusion that the carbonic
acid must have been derived from an external source."

Soon after my paper was read, Lord Murray of Henderland, an old friend,
then a Judge on the Scottish Bench, wrote to me as follows: --"I shall
be much obliged to you for a copy, if you have a spare one, of your
printed note on Light.  It is expressed with great clearness and
brevity.  If you wish to have a quotation for it, you may have recourse
to the blind Milton, who has expressed your views in his address to
Light: --

 "'Hail, holy Light! offspring of heaven first-born
 Or of the Eternal co-eternal beam
 May I express thee unblamed? since God is light,
 And never but in unapproached light
 Dwelt from eternity--dwelt then in thee,
 Bright effluence of bright essence increate!"'

About the same time Sir Thomas Mitchell, Surveyor General of Australia,
communicated his notions on the subject.  "My dear Sir," he wrote,
"Your kind and valuable communications are as welcome to me as the
sun's light, and I now thank you most gratefully for the last, with its
two enclosures.  These, and especially your views as to the source of
light, afford me new scope for satisfactory thinking--a sort of
treasure one can always carry about, and, unlike other treasures,
is most valuable in the solitude of a desert.  The beauty of your
theory as to the nature of the source of light is, that it rather
supports all preconceived notions respecting the soul, heaven, and an
immortal state."

I still continued the study of astronomy.  The sun, moon, and planets
yielded to me an inexhaustible source of delight.  I gazed at them with
increasing wonder and awe.  Among the glorious objects which the
telescope reveals, the most impressive is that of the starry heavens in
a clear dark night.  When I directed my 20-inch reflecting telescope
almost at random to any part of the firmament, especially to any
portion of the Milky Way, the sight of myriads of stars brought into
view within the field of the eye-piece was overpoweringly sublime.

When it is considered that every one of these stars which so
bewilderingly crowd the field of vision is, according to rational
probability, and, I might even say, absolute certainty, are Suns as
vast in magnitude as that which gives light to our globe, and yet
situated so inconceivably deep in the abyss of space as to appear
minute points of light even to the most powerful telescope, it will be
felt what a sublime subject appears before us.  Turn the telescope to
any part of the heavens, it is the same.

Let us suppose ourselves perched upon the farthest star which we are
enabled to see by the aid of the most powerful telescope.  There, too,
we should see countless myriads of Suns, rolling along in their
appointed orbits, and thus on and on throughout eternity.  What an idea
of the limitless extent of Creative Power--filling up infinite space
with the evidences of His Almighty Presence!  The human mind feels its
utter impotency in endeavouring to grasp such a subject.

I also turned my attention to the microscope.  In 1851 I examined, by
the aid of this instrument, the infusoria in the Bridgewater Canal.
I found twenty-seven of them, of the most varied form, colour,
and movements.  This was almost as remarkable a revelation as the
mighty phenomena of the heavens.  I found these living things moving
about in the minutest drop of water.  The sight of the wonderful range
of creative power--from the myriads of suns revealed by the
telescope, to the myriads of moving organisms revealed by the
microscope--filled me with unutterably devout wonder and awe.

Moreover, it seemed to me to confer a glory even upon the instruments
of human skill, which elevated man to the Unseen and the Divine.
When we examine the most minute organisms, we find clear evidence in
their voluntary powers of motion that these creatures possess a will,
and that such Will must be conveyed by a nervous system of an
infinitesimally minute description.  When we follow out such a train of
thought, and contrast the myriads of suns and planets at one extreme,
with the myriads of minute organised atoms at the other, we cannot but
feel inexpressible wonder at the transcendent range of Creative Power.

Shortly after, I sent to the Royal Astronomical Society a paper on
another equally wonderful subject, "The Rotatory Movements of the
Celestial Bodies.  As the paper is not very long, and as I endeavoured
to illustrate my ideas in a familiar manner, I may here give it entire:

"What first set me thinking on this subject was the endeavour to get at
the reason of why water in a basin acquires a rotatory motion when a
portion of it is allowed to escape through a hole in the bottom.
Every well-trained philosophical judgment is accustomed to observe
illustrations of the most sublime phenomena of creation in the most
minute and familiar operations of the Creator's laws, one of the most
characteristic features of which consists in the absolute and wonderful
integrity maintained in their action whatsoever be the range as to
magnitude or distance of the objects on which they operate.

"For instance, the minute particles of dew which whiten the grass-blade
in early morn are moulded into spheres by the identical law which gives
to the mighty sun its globular form!

"Let us pass from the rotation of water in a basin to the consideration
of the particles of a nebulous mass just summoned into existence by the
fiat of the Creator--the law of gravitation coexisting.  "The first
moment of the existence of such a nebulous mass would be inaugurated by
the election of a centre of gravity, and, instantly after, every
particle throughout the entire mass of such nebulae would tend to and
converge towards that centre of gravity.

"Now let us consider what would be the result of this.  It appears to
me that the inevitable consequence of the convergence of the particles
towards the centre of gravity of such a nebulous mass would not only
result in the formation of nucleus, but by reason of the physical
impossibility that all the converging particles should arrive at the
focus of convergence in directions perfectly radial and diametrically
opposite to each other, however slight the degree of deviation from the
absolute diametrically opposite direction in which the converging
particles coalesce at the focus of attraction, a twisting action would
result, and Rotation ensue, which, once engendered, be its intensity
ever so slight, from that instant forward the nucleus would continue to
revolve, and all the particles which its attraction would subsequently
cause to coalesce with it, would do so in directions tangential to its
surface, and not diametrically towards its centre.

"In due course of time the entire of the remaining nebulous mass would
become affected with rotation from the more rapidly moving centre, and
would assume what appears to me to be their inherent normal condition,
namely, spirality, as the prevailing character of their structure;
and as that is actually the aspect which may be said to characterise the
majority of those marvellous nebulae, as revealed to us by Lord Rosse's
magnificent telescope, I am strongly impressed with the conviction that
such reasons as I have assigned have been the cause of their spiral
aspect and arrangement.

"And by following up the same train of reasoning, it appears to me that
we may catch a glimpse of the primeval cause of the rotation of every
body throughout the regions of space, whether they be nebulae, stars,
double stars, or planetary systems.

"The primary cause of rotation which I have endeavoured to describe in
the preceding remarks is essentially cosmical, and is the direct and
immediate offspring of the action of gravitation on matter in a
diffused, nebulous, and, as such, highly mobile condition.

"It will be obvious that in the case of a nebulous mass, whose matter
is unequally distributed, that in such a case several sub-centres of
gravity would be elected, that is to say, each patch of nebulous matter
would have its own centre of gravity; but these in their turn
subordinate to that of the common centre of gravity of the whole
system, about which all such outlaying parts would revolve.
Each of the portions above alluded to would either be attracted by the
superior mass, and pass in towards it as a wisp of nebulous matter,
or else establish perfect individual and distinct rotation within
itself, and finally revolve about the great common centre of gravity of
the whole.

"Bearing this in mind, and referring to some of the figures of the
marvellous spiral nebulae which Lord Rosse's telescope has revealed to
us, I shall now bring these suggestions to a conclusion.
I have avoided expanding them to the extent I feel the subject to be
worthy and capable of; but I trust such as I have offered will be
sufficient to convey a pretty clear idea of my views on this sublime
subject, which I trust may receive the careful consideration its nature
entitles it to.  Let any one carefully reflect on the reason why water
assumes a rotatory motion when a portion of it is permitted to escape
from an aperture in the bottom of the circular vessel containing it;
if they will do so in the right spirit, I am fain to think they will
arrive at the same conclusion as the contemplation of this familiar
phenomenon has brought me to.


I was present at a meeting of the Geological Society at Manchester in
1853, in the discussions of which I took part.

I was much impressed by an address of the Rev. Dr. Vaughan
(then Principal of the Independent College at Manchester), which is as
interesting now as it was then.  After referring to the influence which
geological changes had produced upon the condition of nations, and the
moral results which oceans, mountains, islands, and continents have had
upon the social history of man, he went on to say:  "Is not this island
of ours indebted to these great causes?  Oh, that blessed geological
accident that broke up a strait between Calais and Dover!  It looks but
a little thing; it was a matter to take place; but how mighty the moral
results upon the condition and history of this country, and, through
this country's influence, upon humanity!  Bridge over the space between,
and you have directly the huge continental barrack-yard system all over
England.  And once get into the condition of a great continental
military power, and you get the arbitrary power; you cramp down the
people, and you unfit them from being what they ought to be--FREE And
all the good influences together at work in this country could not have
secured us against this, but for that blessed separation between this
Isle and the Continent."

In 1853 I was appointed a member of the Small Arms Committee for the
purpose of re-modelling and, in fact, re-establishing the Small Arms
Factory at Enfield.  The wonderful success of the needle gun in the war
between Prussia and Denmark in 1848 occasioned some alarm amongst our
military authorities as to the state of affairs at home.  The Duke of
Wellington to the last proclaimed the sufficiency of "Brown Bess" as a
weapon of offence and defence; but matters could no longer be deferred.
The United States Government, though possessing only a very small
standing army, had established at Springfield a small arms factory,
where, by the use of machine tools specially designed to execute with
the most unerring precision all the details of muskets and rifles,
they were enabled to dispense with mere manual dexterity, and to
produce arms to any amount.  It was finally determined to improve the
musketry and rifle systems of the English army.  The Government
resolved to introduce the American system, by which Arms might be
produced much more perfectly, and at a great diminution of cost.
It was under such circumstances that the Small Arms Committee was

Colonel Colt had brought to England some striking examples of the
admirable machine tools used at Springfield, and he established a
manufactory at Pimlico for the production of his well-known revolvers.
The committee resolved to make a personal visit to the United States
Factory at Springfield.  My own business engagements at home prevented
me accompanying the members who were selected; but as my friend John
Anderson (now Sir John), acted as their guide, the committee had in him
a most able and effective helper.  He directed their attention to the
most important and available details of that admirable establishment.
The United States Government acted most liberally in allowing the
committee to obtain every information on the subject; and the heads of
the various departments, who were intelligent and zealous, rendered
them every attention and civility.

The members of the mission returned home enthusiastically delighted
with the results of their inquiry.The committee immediately proceeded
with the entire re-modelling of the Small Arms Factory at Enfield.
The workshops were equipped with a complete series of special machine
tools, chiefly obtained from the Springfield factory.
The United States Government also permitted several of their best and
workman and superintendents to take service under the English Government.
Such was the origin of the Enfield rifle.  The weapon came as near to
absolute perfection as possible, It was perfect in action, durable and
excellent in every respect even in it's conversion to the breechloader
it is still one of the best weapons.  It is impossible to give too much
praise to Sir John Anderson and Colonel Dixon for the untiring and
intelligent zeal with which they carried out the plans, as well as for
the numerous improvements which they introduced.  These have rendered
the Enfield Small Arms Factory one of the most perfect and best
regulated establishments in the kingdom.

CHAPTER 20.  Retirement from Business.

I had been for some time contemplating the possibility of retiring
altogether from business.  I had got enough of the world's goods, and
was willing to make way for younger men.  But I found it difficult to
break loose from old associations.  Like the retired tallow-chandler,
I might wish to go back "on melting days."  I had some correspondence
with my old friend David Roberts, Royal Academician, on the subject.
He wrote to me on the 2d June 1853, and said:

"I rejoice to learn, from the healthy tone that breathes throughout
your epistle, that you are as happy as every one who knows you wishes
you to be, and as prosperous as you deserve.  Knowing, also, as I do,
your feeling for art and all that tends to raise and dignify man,
I most sincerely congratulate you on the prospect of your being able to
retire, in the full vigour of manhood, to follow out that sublime
pursuit, in comparison with which the painter's art is but a faint
glimmering.  'The Landscape of other worlds' you alone have sketched
for us, and enlightened us on that with which the ancient world but
gazed upon and worshipped in the symbol of Astarte, Isis, and Diana.
We are matter-of-fact now, and have outlived childhood.  What say you
to a photograph of those wonderful drawings?  It may come to that."*
It did indeed "come to that," for I shortly after learned the art of
photography, chiefly for this special purpose.

But I had something else yet to do in my special vocation.
In 1854 I took out a patent for puddling iron by means of steam.
Many of my readers may not know that cast-iron is converted into
malleable iron by the process called puddling.  The iron, while in a
molten state, is violently stirred and agitated by a stiff iron rod,
having its end bent like a hoe or flattened hook, by which every
portion of the molten metal is exposed to the oxygen of the air,
and the supercharge of carbon which the cast iron contains is
thus "burnt out."  When this is effectually done the iron becomes
malleable and weldable.

This state of the iron is indicated by a general loss of fluidity,
accompanied by a tendency to gather together in globular masses.
The puddler, by his dexterous use of the end of the rabbling bar,
puts the masses together, and, in fact, welds the new-born particles of
malleable iron into puddle-balls of about three-quarters of a
hundredweight each.  These are successively removed from the pool of
the puddling furnace, and subjected to the energetic blows of the steam
hammer, which drives out all the scoriae lurking within the spongy
puddle-balls, and thus welds them into compact masses of malleable iron.
When reheated to a welding heat, they are rolled out into flat bars or
round rods, in a variety of sizes, so as to be suitable for the consumer.

The manual and physical labour of the puddler is tedious, fatiguing,
and unhealthy.  The process of puddling occupies about an hour's
violent labour, and only robust young men can stand the fatigue and
violent heat.  I had frequent opportunities of observing the labour and
unhealthiness of the process, as well as the great loss of time
required to bring it to a conclusion.  It occurred to me that much of
this could be avoided by employing some other means for getting rid of
the superfluous carbon, and bringing the molten cast-iron into a
malleable condition.

The method that occurred to me was the substitution of a small steam
pipe in the place of the puddler's rabbling bar.  By having the end of
this steam pipe bent downwards so as to reach the bottom of the pool,
and then to discharge a current of steam beneath the surface of the
molten cast iron, I thought that I should by this simple means supply a
most effective carbon-oxidating agent, at the same time that I produced
a powerful agitating action within the pool.  Thus the steam would be
decomposed and supply oxygen to the carbon of the cast-iron, while the
mechanical action of the rush of steam upwards would cause so violent a
commotion throughout the pool of melted iron as to exceed the utmost
efforts of the labour of the puddler.  All the gases would pass up the
chimney of the puddling furnace, and the puddler would not be subject
to their influence.  Such was the method specified in my patent of
Specification of James Nasmyth--Employment of steam in the process of
puddling iron.  May 4, 1854; No. 1001.

My friend, Thomas Lever Rushton, proprietor of the Bolton Ironworks,
was so much impressed with the soundness of the principle, as well as
with the great simplicity of carrying the invention into practical
effect, that he urged me to secure the patent, and he soon after gave
me the opportunity of trying the process at his works.  The results
were most encouraging.  There was a great saving of labour and time
compared with the old puddling process; and the malleable iron
produced was found to be of the highest order as regarded strength,
toughness, and purity.  My process was soon after adopted by several
iron manufacturers with equally favourable results.  Such, however,
was the energy of the steam, that unless the workmen were most careful
to regulate its force and the duration of its action, the waste of iron
by undue oxidation was such as in a great measure to neutralise its
commercial gain as regarded the superior value of the malleable iron
thus produced.

Before I had time or opportunity to remove this commercial difficulty,
Mr. Bessemer had secured his patent of the l7th of October, 1855.
By this patent he employed a blast of air to do the same work as I had
proposed to accomplish by means of a blast of steam, forced up beneath
the surface of the molten cast iron.  He added some other improvements,
with that happy fertility of invention which has always characterised
him.  The results were so magnificently successful as to totally
eclipse my process, and to cast it comparatively into the shade.
At the same time I may say that I was in a measure the pioneer of his
invention, that I initiated a new system, and led to one of the most
important improvements in the manufacture of iron and steel that has
ever been given to the world.

Mr. Bessemer brought the subject of his invention before the meeting of
the British Association at Cheltenham in the autumn of 1856.  There he
read his paper "On the Manufacture of Iron into Steel without Fuel."*
On the morning of the day on which the paper was to be read,
Mr. Bessemer was sitting at breakfast at his hotel, when an ironmaster
(to whom he was unknown) said, laughing, to a friend within his
hearing, "Do you know that there is somebody come down from London to
read us a paper on making steel from cast iron without fuel?  Did you
ever hear of such nonsense?" The title of the paper was perhaps a
misnomer, but the correctness of the principles on which the pig iron
was converted into malleable iron, as explained by the inventor,
was generally recognised, and there seemed every reason to anticipate
that the process would before long come into general use.

I was present on the occasion, and listened  to his statement with
mingled feelings of regret and enthusiasm--of regret, because I had
been so clearly superseded and excelled in my performances; and of
enthusiasm--because I could not but admire and honour the genius who
had given so great an  invention to the mechanical world.
I immediately took the opportunity of giving my assent to the
principles which he had propounded.  My words were not reported at the
time, nor was Mr. Bessemer's paper printed by the Association, perhaps
because it was thought of so little importance but, on applying to
Mr. (now Sir Henry) Bessemer, he was so kind as to give me the following
as his recollection of the words which I used on the occasion.

"I shall ever feel grateful," says Sir Henry, "for the noble way in
which you spoke at the meeting at Cheltenham of my invention.
If I remember rightly, you held up a piece of my malleable iron, saying
words to this effect:  'Here is a true British nugget!  Here is a new
process that promises to put an end to all puddling; and I may mention
that at this moment there are puddling furnaces in successful operation
where my patent hollow steam Rabbler is at work, producing iron of
superior quality by the introduction of jets of steam in the puddling
process.  I do not, however, lay any claim to this invention of
Mr. Bessemer; but I may fairly be entitled to say that I have advanced
along the road on which he has travelled so many miles, and has
effected such unexpected results that I do not hesitate to say that I
may go home from this meeting and tear up my patent, for my process of
puddling is assuredly superseded.'"

After giving an account of the true origin of his process, in which he
had met with failures as well as successes, but at last recognised the
decarburation of pig iron by atmospheric air, Sir Henry proceeds to

"I prepared to try another experiment, in a crucible having no hole the
the bottom, but which was provided with an iron pipe put through a hole
in the cover, and passing down nearly to the bottom of the crucible.
The small lumps and grains of iron were packed around fit, so as nearly
to fill the crucible.  A blast of air was to be forced down the pipe so
as to rise up among the pieces of granular iron and partially
decarburise them.  The pipe could then be withdrawn, and the fire urged
until the metal with its coat of oxyde was fused, and cast steel
thereby produced.

"While the blowing apparatus for this experiment was being fitted up,
I was taken with one of those short but painful illnesses to which I
was subject at that time.  I was confined to my bed, and it was then
that my mind, dwelling for hours together on the experiment about to be
made, suggested that instead of trying to decarburise the granulated
metal by forcing the air down the vertical pipe among the pieces of
iron, the air would act much more energetically and more rapidly if I
first melted the iron in the crucible, and forced the air down the pipe
below the surface of the fluid metal, and thus burn out the carbon and
silicum which it contained.

"This appeared so feasible, and in every way so great an improvement,
that the experiment on the granular pieces was at once abandoned, and,
as soon as I was well enough, I proceeded to try the experiment of
forcing the air under the fluid metal.  The result was marvellous.
Complete decarburation was effected in half an hour.  The heat produced
was immense, but, unfortunately more than half the metal was blown out
of the pot.  This led to the use of pots with large hollow perforated
covers, which effectually prevented the loss of metal.
These experiments continued from January to October 1855.  I have by me
on the mantelpiece at this moment, a small piece of rolled bar iron
which was rolled at Woolwich arsenal, and exhibited a year later at

"I then applied for a patent, but before preparing my provisional
specification (dated October 17, 1855), I searched for other patents to
ascertain whether anything of the sort had been done before.
I then found your patent for puddling with the steam rabble, and also
Martin's patent for the use of steam in gutters while molten iron was
being conveyed from the blast furnace to a finery, there to be refined
in the ordinary way prior to puddling.

"I then tried steam in my cast steel process, alone, and also mixed
with air.  I found that it cooled the metal very much, and of itself
could not be used, as it always produced solidification.
I was nevertheless advised to claim the use of steam as well as air in
my particular process (lest it might be used against me), at the same
time disclaiming its employment for any purpose except in the
production of fluid malleable iron or steel.  And I have no doubt it is
to this fact that I referred when speaking to you on the occasion you
mention.  I have deemed it best that the exact truth--so far as a
short history can give it--should be given at once to you, who are so
true and candid.  Had it not been for you and Martin I should probably
never have proposed the use of steam in my process, but the use of air
came by degrees, just in the way I have described."

It was thoroughly consistent with Mr. Bessemer's kindly feelings
towards me, that, after our meeting at Cheltenham, he made me an offer
of one-third share of the value of his patent.  This would have been
another fortune to me.  But I had already made money enough.
I was just then taking down my signboard and leaving business.
I did not need to plunge into any such tempting enterprise,
and I therefore thankfully declined the offer.

Many long years of pleasant toil and exertion had done their work.
A full momentum of prosperity had been given to my engineering business
at Patricroft.  My share in the financial results accumulated with
accelerated rapidity to an amount far beyond my most sanguine hopes.
But finding, from long continued and incessant mental efforts, that my
nervous system was beginning to become shaken, especially in regard to
an affection of the eyes, which in some respects damaged my sight,
I thought the time had arrived for me to retire from commercial life.

Some of my friends advised me to "slack off," and not to retire
entirely from Bridgewater Foundry.  But to do so was not in my nature.
I could not be indifferent to any concern in which I was engaged.
I must give my mind and heart to it as before.  I could not give half
to leisure, and half to business.  I therefore concluded that a final
decision was necessary.  Fortunately I possessed an abundant and
various stock of hobbies.  I held all these in reserve to fall back
upon.  They would furnish me with an almost inexhaustible source of
healthy employment.  They might give me occupation for mind and body as
long as I lived.  I bethought me of the lines of Burns:

 "Wi' steady aim some Fortune chase;
 Keen hope does ev'ry sinew brace;
 Thro' fair, thro' foul, they urge the race,
 And seize the prey:
 Then cannie, in some cosy place,
 They close the day."

It was no doubt a great sorrow for me and my dear wife to leave the
Home in which we had been so happy and prosperous for so many years.
It was a cosy little cottage at Patricroft.  We had named it "Fireside."
It was small, but suitable for our requirements.
We never needed to enlarge it, for we had no children to accommodate.
It was within five minutes' walk of the Foundry, and I was scarcely
ever out of reach of the Fireside, where we were both so happy.
It had been sanctified by our united love for thirteen years.
It was surrounded by a nice garden, planted with trees and shrubs.
Though close to the Bridgewater Canal, and a busy manufacturing
population was not far off, the cottage was perfectly quiet.
It was in this garden, when I was arranging the telescope at night,
that I had been detected by the passing boatman as "The Patricroft Ghost"

When we were about to leave Patricroft, the Countess of Ellesmere,
who, as well as the Earl, had always been our attached friends,
wrote to my wife as follows:  "I can well understand Mr. Nasmyth's
satisfaction at the emancipation he looks forward to in December next.
But I hope you do not expect us to share it! for what is so much
natural pleasure to you is a sad loss and privation to us.
I really don't know how we shall get on at Worsley without you.
You have nevertheless my most sincere and hearty good wishes that the
change may be as grateful to you both as anything in this world can be."

Yet we had to tear ourselves away from this abode of peace and
happiness.  I had given notice to my partner*
The "Partner" here referred to, was my excellent friend Henry Garnett,
Esq., of Wyre Side, near Lancaster.  He had been my sleeping partner or
"Co." for nearly twenty years, and the most perfect harmony always
existed between us.
that it was my intention to retire from business at the end of 1856.
The necessary arrangements were accordingly made for carrying on the
business after my retirement.  All was pleasantly and satisfactorily
settled several months before I finally left; and the character and
prosperity of the Bridgewater Foundry have been continued to the
present day.

But where was I to turn to for a settled home?  Many years before I had
seen a charming picture by my brother Patrick of "A Cottage in Kent"
It took such a hold of my memory and imagination that I never ceased to
entertain the longing and ambition to possess such a cottage as a cosy
place of refuge for the rest of my life. Accordingly, about six months
before my final retirement, I accompanied my wife in a visit to the
south.  In the first place we made a careful selection from the
advertisements in the Times of "desirable residences" in Kent.
One in particular appeared very tempting.  We set out to view it.
It seemed to embody all the conditions that we had pictured in our
imagination as necessary to fulfil the idea of our "Cottage in Kent."
It had been the property of F. R. Lee, the Royal Academician.
With a few alterations and additions it would entirely answer our
purpose.  So we bought the property.

I may mention that when I retired from business, and took out of it the
fortune that had accumulated during my twenty-two years of assiduous
attention and labour, I invested the bulk of it in Three per cent
Consols.  The rate of interest was not high, but it was nevertheless
secure.  High interest, as every one knows, means riskful security.
I desired to have no anxiety about the source of my income, such as
might hinder my enjoying the rest of my days in the active leisure
which I desired.  I had for some time before my retirement been
investing in consols, which my dear wife termed "the true antibilious
stock," and I have ever since had good reason to be satisfied with that
safe and tranquillising investment.  All who value the health-conserving
influence of the absence of financial worry will agree with me that
this antibilious stock is about the best.

The "Cottage in Kent" was beautiful, especially in its rural
surroundings.  The view from it was charming, and embodied all the
attractive elements of happy-looking English scenery.  The noble old
forest trees of Penshurst Park were close alongside, and the grand old
historic mansion of Penshurst Place was within a quarter of a mile's
distance from our house.  There were many other beautiful parks and
country residences in our neighbourhood; the railway station, which was
within thirty-five minutes' pleasant walk, enabling us to be within
reach of London, with its innumerable attractions, in little more than
an hour and a quarter.  Six acres of garden-ground at first surrounded
our cottage, but these were afterwards expanded to sixteen; and the
whole was made beautiful by the planting of trees and shrubs over the
grounds.  In all this my wife and myself took the greatest delight.

[Image]  Hammerfield, Penshurst.

From my hereditary regard for hammers--two broken hammer-shafts being
the crest of our family for hundreds of years--I named the place
Hammerfield; and so it remains to this day.   The improvements and
additions to the house and the grounds were considerable.  A greenhouse
was built, 120 feet long by 32 feet wide.  Roomy apartments were added
to the house.  The trees and shrubs planted about the grounds were
carefully selected.  The coniferae class were my special favourites.
I arranged them so that their natural variety of tints should form the
most pleasing contrasts.  In this respect I introduced the beech-tree
with the happiest effect.  It is bright green in spring, and in the
autumn it retains its beautiful ruddy-tinted leaves until the end of
winter, when they are again replaced by the new growth.

The warm tint of the beech contrasts beautifully with the bright green
of the coniferae, especially of the Lawsoniania and the Douglassi--
the latter being one of the finest accessions to our list of conifers.
It is graceful in form, and perfectly hardy.  I also interspersed with
these several birch-trees, whose slender and graceful habit of growth
forms so fine a contrast to the dense foliage of the conifers.
To thus paint, as it were, with trees, is a high source of pleasure in
gardening.  Among my various enjoyments this has been about the greatest.

During the time that the alterations and enlargements were in progress
we rented a house for six months at Sydenham, close to the beautiful
grounds of the Crystal Palace.  This was a most happy episode in our
lives, for, besides the great attractions of the place, both inside and
out, there were the admirable orchestral daily concerts, at which we
were constant attendants.  We had the pleasure of listening to the
noble compositions of the great masters of music, the perfectly trained
band being led by Herr Manns, who throws so much of his fine natural
taste and enthusiastic spirit into the productions as to give them
every possible charm.

From a very early period of my life I have derived the highest
enjoyment from listening to music, especially to melody, which is to me
the most pleasing form of composition.  When I have the opportunity of
listening to such kind of music, it yields me enjoyment that transcends
all others.  It suggests ideas, and brings vividly before the mind's
eye scenes that move the imagination.  This is, to me, the highest
order of excellence in musical composition.  I used long ago, and still
continue, to whistle a bit, especially when engaged in some pleasant
occupation.  I can draw from my mental repository a vast number of airs
and certain bits of compositions that I had once heard.  I possess that
important qualification for a musician--"a good ear;" and I always
worked most successfully at a mechanical drawing when I was engaged in
whistling some favourite air.  The dual occupation of the brain had
always the best results in the quick development of the constructive
faculty.  And even in circumstances where whistling is not allowed I
can think airs, and enjoy them almost as much as when they are
distinctly audible.  This power of the brain, I am fain to believe,
indicates the natural existence of the true musical faculty.  But I had
been so busy during the course of my life that I had never any
opportunity of learning the practical use of any musical instrument.
And here I must leave this interesting subject.

So soon as I was in due possession of my house, I had speedily
transported thither all my art treasures--my telescopes, my home
stock of tools, the instruments of my own construction, made from the
very beginning of my career as a mechanic, and associated with the most
interesting and active parts of my life.  I lovingly treasured them,
and gave them an honoured place in the workshop which I added to my
residence.  There they are now, and I often spend a busy and delightful
hour in handling my tools.  It is curious how the mere sight of such
objects brings back to the memory bygone incidents and recollections.
Friends long dead seem to start up while looking at them.  You almost
feel as if you could converse with the departed.  I do not know of
anything so touchingly powerful in vividly bringing back the treasured
incidents and memories of one's life as the sight of such humble
objects.  Every one has, no doubt, a treasured store of such material
records of a well-remembered portion of his past life. These strike,
as it were, the keynote to thoughts that bring back in vivid form the
most cherished remembrances of our lives.  On many occasions I have
seen at sale rooms long treasured hoards of such objects thrown
together in a heap as mere rubbish.  And yet these had been to some the
sources of many pleasant thoughts and recollections, But the last final
break-up has come, and the personal belongings of some departed kind
heart are scattered far and wide.  These touching relics of a long
life, which had almost become part of himself, are "knocked down" to
the lowest class of bidders.  It is a sad sight to witness the uncared
for dispersion of such objects--objects that had been lovingly stored
up as the most valued of personal treasures. I could have wished that,
as was the practice in remote antiquity, such touching relics were
buried with the dead, as their most fitting repository.  Then they
might have left some record, instead of being desecrated by the harpies
who wait at sales for such "job lots."

Behold us, then, settled down at Hammerfield for life.  We had plenty
to do.  My workshop was fully equipped.  My hobbies were there,
and I could work them to my heart's content.  The walls of our various
rooms were soon hung with pictures, and other works of art, suggestive
of many pleasant associations of former days.  Our library book-case
was crowded with old friends, in the shape of books that had been read
and re-read many times, until they had become almost part of ourselves.
Old Lancashire friends made their way to us when "up in town,"
and expressed themselves delighted with our pleasant house and its
beautiful surroundings.

The continuous planting of the shrubs and trees gave us great pleasure.
Those already planted had grown luxuriantly, fed by the fertile soil
and the pure air.  Indeed, in course of time they required the
judicious use of the axe in order to allow the fittest to survive and
grow at their own free will.  Trees contrive to manage their own
affairs without the necessity of much labour or interference.
The "survival of the fittest" prevails here as elsewhere.  It is always
a pleasure to watch them.  There are many ordinary old-fashioned
roadside flowering plants which I esteem for their vigorous beauty,
and I enjoy seeing them assume the careless grace of Nature.

The greenhouse is also a source of pleasure, especially to my dear
wife.  It is full of flowers of all kinds, of which she is devotedly
fond.  They supply her with subjects for her brush or her needle.
She both paints them and works them by her needle in beautiful forms
and groups.  This is one of her many favourite hobbies.  All this is
suitable to our fireside employments, and makes the days and the
evenings pass pleasantly away.

CHAPTER 21.  Active leisure.

When James Watt retired from business towards the close of his useful
and admirable life, he spoke to his friends of occupying himself with
"ingenious trifles," and of turning "some of his idle thoughts" upon
the invention of an arithmetical machine and a machine for copying
sculpture.  These and other useful works occupied his attention for
many years.

It was the same with myself.  I had good health (which Watt had not)
and abundant energy.  When I retired from business I was only
forty-eight years old, which may be considered the prime of life.
But I had plenty of hobbies, perhaps the chief of which was Astronomy.
No sooner had I settled at Hammerfield than I had my telescopes brought
out and mounted.  The fine clear skies with which we were favoured,
furnished me with abundant opportunities for the use of my instruments.
I began again my investigations on the Sun and the Moon, and made some
original discoveries, of which more anon.

Early in the year 1858 I received a pressing invitation from the
Council of the Edinburgh Philosophical Society to give a lecture before
their members on the Structure of the Lunar Surface.  As the subject
was a favourite one with me, and as I had continued my investigations
and increased my store of drawings since I had last appeared before an
Edinburgh audience, I cheerfully complied with their request.
I accordingly gave my lecture before a crowded meeting in the
Queen Street Lecture Hall.

The audience appeared to be so earnestly interested by the subject that
I offered to appear before them on two successive evenings and give any
viva voce explanations about the drawings which those present might
desire.  This deviation from the formality of a regular lecture was
attended with the happiest results.  Edinburgh always supplies a
highly-intelligent audience, and the cleverest and brightest were ready
with their questions.  I was thus enabled to elucidate the lecture and
to expand many of the most interesting points connected with the moon's
surface, such as might formerly have appeared obscure.  These questioning
lectures gave the highest satisfaction.  They satisfied myself as well
as the audience, who went away filled with the most graphic information
I could give them on the subject.

But not the least interesting part of my visit to Edinburgh on this
occasion was the renewed intercourse which I enjoyed with many of my
old friends.  Among these were my venerable friend Professor Pillans,
Charles Maclaren (editor of the Scotsman), and Robert Chambers.
We had a long  dander together through the Old Town, our talk being in
broad Scotch.  Pillans was one of the fine old Edinburgh Liberals,
who stuck to his principles through good report and through evil.
In his position as Rector of the High School, he had given rare
evidence of his excellence as a classical scholar.  He was afterwards
promoted to be a Professor in the University.  He had as his pupils
some of the most excellent men of my time.  Amongst his intimate
friends were Sydney Smith, Brougham, Jeffrey, Cockburn--men who gave
so special a character to the Edinburgh society of that time.

We had a delightful stroll through some of the most remarkable parts of
the Old Town, with Robert Chambers as our guide.  We next mounted
Arthur's Seat to observe some of the manifestations of volcanic action,
which had given such a remarkable structure to the mountain.
On this subject, Charles Maclaren was one of the best living expounders.
He was an admirable geologist, and had closely observed the features of
volcanic action round his native city.  Robert Chambers then took us to
see the glacial grooved rocks on another part of the mountain.
On this subject he was a master.  It was a vast treat to me to see
those distinct evidences of actions so remotely separated in point of
geological time--in respect to which even a million of years is a
humble approximate unit*
"It is to our ever-dropping climate, with its hundred and fifty-two days
of annual rain, that we owe our vegetable mould with its rich and
beauteous mantle of sward and foliage.  And next, stripping from off
the landscape its sands and gravels, we see its underlying boulder-clays,
dingy and gray, and here presenting their vast ice-borne stones,
and there its iceberg pavements.  And these clays in turn stripped away,
the bare rocks appear, various in colour and uneven in surface,
but everywhere grooved and polished, from the sea level and beneath it,
to the height of more than a thousand feet, by evidently the same agent
that careered along the pavements and transported the great stones.

HUGH MILLER'S Geological Features of Edinburgh and its Neighbourhood.

What a fine subject for a picture the group would have made! with the
great volcanic summit of the mountain behind, the noble romantic city
in the near distance, and the animated intelligent countenaces of the
demonstrators, with the venerable Pillans eagerly listening--for the
Professor was then in his eighty-eighth year.  I had the happiness of
receiving a visit from him at Hammerfield in the following year.
He was still hale and active; and although I was comparatively a boy to
him, he was as bright and clear-headed as he had been forty years before.

In the course of the same year I accompanied my wife and my sister
Charlotte on a visit to the Continent.  It was their first sojourn in
foreign parts.  I was able, in some respects, to act as their guide.
Our visit to Paris was most agreeable.  During the three weeks we were
there, we visited the Louvre, the Luxembourg, Versailles, and the parts
round about.  We made many visits to the Hotel Cluny, and inspected its
most interesting contents, as well as the Roman baths and that part of
the building devoted to Roman antiquities.  We were especially
delighted with the apartments of the Archbishop of Paris, now hung with
fine old tapestry and provided with authentic specimens of mediaeval
furniture.  The quaint old cabinets were beautiful studies; and many
artists were at work painting them in oil. Everything was in harmony.
When the sun shone in through the windows in long beams of coloured
light, illuminating portions of the antique furniture, the pictures
were perfect.  We were much interested also by the chapel in which
Mary Queen of Scots was married to the Dauphin. It is still in complete
preservation.  The Gothic details of the chapel are quite a study;
and the whole of these and the contents of this interesting Museum form
a school of art of the best kind.

From Paris we paid a visit to Chartres, which contains one of the most
magnificent cathedrals in France.  Its dimensions are vast,
its proportions are elegant, and its painted glass is unequalled.
Nothing can be more beautiful than its three rose-windows.  But I am
not writing a guide-book, and I must forbear.  After a few days more at
Paris we proceeded south, and visited Lyons, Avignon, and Nismes, on
our way to Marseilles.  I have already described Nismes in my previous
visit to France.  I revisited the Roman amphitheatre, the Maison Quarree,
that perfect Roman temple, which, standing as it does in an open
square, is seen to full advantage.  We also went to see the magnificent
Roman aqueduct at Pont du Gard.  The sight of the noble structure well
repays a visit.  It consists of three tiers of arches.  Its magnitude,
the skilful fitting of its enormous blocks, makes a powerful impression
on the mind.  It has stood there, in that solitary wooded valley,
for upwards of sixteen centuries; and it is still as well fitted for
conveying its aqueduct of water as ever.  I have seen nothing to
compare with it, even at Rome.  It throws all our architectural buildings
into the shade.  On our way back from Marseilles to Paris we visited
Grenoble and its surrounding beautiful Alpine scenery.
Then to Chambery, and afterwards to Chamounix, where we obtained a
splendid view of Mont Blanc.  We returned home by way of Geneva and
Paris, vastly delighted with our most enjoyable journey.

I return to another of my hobbies.  I had an earnest desire to acquire
the art and mystery of practical photography.  I bought the necessary
apparatus, together with the chemicals; and before long I became an
expert in the use of the positive and negative collodion process,
including the printing from negatives, in all the details of that
wonderful and delightful art.  To any one who has some artistic taste,
photography, both in its interesting processes and glorious results,
becomes a most attractive and almost engrossing pursuit.  It is a
delightful means of educating the eye for artistic feeling, as well as
of educating the hands in delicate manipulation.  I know of nothing
equal to photography as a means of advancing one's knowledge in these
respects.  I had long meditated a work "On the Moon," and it was for
this purpose more especially that I was earnest in endeavouring to
acquire the necessary practical skill.  I was soon enabled to obtain
photographic copies of the elaborate models of parts of the moon's,
surface, which I had long before prepared.  These copies were hailed by
the highest authorities in this special department of astronomical
research as the best examples of the moon's surface which had yet been

In reference to this subject, as well as to my researches into the
structure of the sun's surface, I had the inestimable happiness of
securing the friendship of that noble philosopher, Sir John Herschel.
His visits to me, and my visits to him, have left in my memory the most
cherished and happy recollections.  Of all the scientific men I have
had the happiness of meeting, Sir John stands supremely at the head of
the list.  He combined profound knowledge with perfect humility.
He was simple, earnest, and companionable, He was entirely free from
assumptions of superiority, and, still learning, would listen
attentively to the humblest student.  He was ready to counsel and
instruct, as well as to receive information.  He would sit down in my
workshop, and see me go through the various technical processes of
casting, grinding, and polishing specula for reflecting telescopes.
That was a pleasure to him, and a vast treat to me.

I had been busily occupied for some time in making careful investigations
into the dark spots upon the Sun's surface.  These spots are of
extraordinary dimensions, sometimes more than 10,000 miles in diameter.
Our world might be dropped into them.  I observed that the spots were
sometimes bridged over by a streak of light, formed of
willow-leaf-shaped objects.  They were apparently possessed of
voluntary motion, and moved from one side of the spot to the other.
These flakes were evidently the immediate sources of the solar light
and heat.  I wrote a paper on the subject, which I sent to the Literary
and Philosophical Society of Manchester.*
Memoirs of the Literary and Philosophical Society of Manchester,
3d series, vol. i. p. 407.  My first discovery of the "Willow-leaf"
objects on the Sun's surface was made in June 1860.I afterwards
obtained several glimpses of them from time to time.But the occasions
are very rare when the bright sun can be seen in a tranquil atmosphere
free from vibrations, and when the delicate objects on its surface can
be clearly defined.  It was not until the 5th of June 1864 that I
obtained the finest sight of the Sun's spots and the Willow-leaf objects;
it was then that I made a careful drawing of them, from which the
annexed faithful engraving has been produced.  Indeed I never had a
better sight of this extraordinary aspect of the Sun than on that day.

The results of my observations were of so novel a character that
astronomers for some time hesitated to accept them as facts.
Yet Sir John Herschel, the chief of astronomers, declared them to be
"a most wonderful discovery"

[Image]  Group of sun spots as seen by James Nasmyth, 5th June 1864.

I received a letter from Sir John, dated Collingwood, 2lst of May 1861,
in which he said:

"I am very much obliged to you for your note, and by the sight of your
drawings, which Mr. Maclaren was so kind as to bring over here the
other day.  I suppose there can be no doubt as to the reality of the
willow-leaved flakes, and in that case they certainly are the most
marvellous phenomena that have yet turned up--had almost said in all
Nature--certainly in all Astronomy.

"What can they be?  Are they huge phosphorised fishes?  If so, what
monsters!  Or are they crystals? a kind of igneous snow-flakes?
floating in a fluid of their own, or very nearly their own, specific
gravity?  Some kind of solidity or coherence they must have, or they
would not retain their shape in the violent movements of the atmosphere
which the change of the spots indicate.

"I observe that in the bridges all their axes have an approximate
parallelism, and that in the penumbra they are dispersed, radiating
from the inside and the outside of the spot, giving rise to that
striated appearance which is familiar to all observers of the spots.

"I am very glad that you have pitched your tent in this part of the
world, and I only wish it were a little nearer.  You will anyhow have
the advantage at Penshurst of a much clearer atmosphere than in the
north; but here, nearer the coast, I think we are still better off.
"Mr. Maclaren holds out the prospect of our meeting you at Pachley at
no distant period, and I hope you will find your way ere long to
Collingwood.  I have no instruments or astronomical apparatus to show
you, but a remarkably pretty country, which is beginning to put on
(rather late) its gala dress of spring?'

Sir John afterwards requested my permission to insert in his
Outlines of Astronomy, of which a new edition was about to appear, a
representation of "the willow-leaved structure of the Sun's surface,"
--which had been published in the Manchester transactions,--to which
I gladly gave my assent.  Sir John thus expresses himself on the
subject: --"The curious appearance of the 'pores' of the Sun's surface
has lately received a most singular and unexpected interpretation from
the remarkable discovery of Mr. J. Nasmyth, who, from a series of
observations made with a reflecting telescope of his own construction
under very high magnifying powers, and under exceptional circumstances
of tranquillity and definition, has come to the conclusion that these
pores are the polygonal interstices between certain luminous objects of
an exceedingly definite shape and general uniformity of size,
whose form (at least as seen in projection in the central portions of
the disc) is that of the oblong leaves of a willow tree.  These cover
the whole disc of the Sun (except in the space occupied by spots) in
countless millions, and lie crossing each other in every imaginable
direction....  This most astonishing revelation has been confirmed to a
certain considerable extent, and with some modifications as to the form
of the objects, their exact uniformity of size and resemblance of
figure, by Messrs.  De la Rue, Pritchard and Stone in England,
and M. Secchi in Rome."

On the 25th of February 1864, I received a communication from
Mr. E. J. Stone, first assistant at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich.

The Astronomer-Royal, he said, "has placed in my hands your letter of
February 20.  Your discovery of the 'willow leaves' on the Solar
photosphere having been brought forward at one of the late meetings of
the Royal Astronomical Society, my attention was attracted to the
subject.  At my request, the Astronomer-Royal ordered of Mr. J. Simms a
reflecting eye-piece for our great equatorial.  The eye-piece was
completed about the end of January last, and at the first good
opportunity I turned the telescope on the Sun.

"I may state that my impression was, and it appears to have been the
impression of several of the assistants here, that the willow leaves
stand out dark against the luminous photosphere.  On looking at the
Sun, I was at once struck with the apparent resolvability of its
mottled appearance.  The whole disc of the Sun, so far as I examined
it, appeared to be covered over with relatively bright rice-like
particles, and the mottled appearance seemed to be produced by the
interlacing of these particles.

"I could not observe any particular arrangement of the particles, but
they appeared to be more numerous in some parts than in others.
I have used the word 'rice-like' merely to convey a rough impression of
their form.  I have seen them on two occasions since, but not so well
as on the first day, when the definition was exceedingly good.

"on the first day that I saw them I called Mr Dunkin's attention to
them.  He appears to have seen them.  He says, however, that he should
not have noticed them if his attention had not been called to them."

The Astronomer Royal, in his report to the Admiralty on my discovery,

"an examination of the Sun's surface with the South-East Equatorial,
under favourable circumstances, has convinced me of the accuracy of the
description, which compares it with interlacing willow leaves or rice

In March 1864 I received a letter from my friend De la Rue, dated from
his observatory at Cranford, Middlesex, in which he said:  "I like good
honest doubting.  Before I had seen with my own eyes your willow
leaves, I doubted their real existence, but I did not doubt your having
seen what you had drawn.  But when I actually saw them for the first
time, I could not restrain the exclamation, ' Why, here are Nasmyth's
willow leaves! ' It requires a very fine state of the atmosphere to
permit of their being seen, as I have seen them on three or four
occasions, when their substantial reality can no longer be doubted."*
Let me give another letter from my friend, dated the Observatory,
Cranford, Middlesex, October 26, 1864.  He said:-
"I am quite pleased to learn that you like the large photograph.
The first given to my friend was destined for and sent to you.
No one has so great a claim on the fruit of my labours; for you
inoculated me with the love of star-gazing, and gave me invaluable aid
and advice in figuring specula.  I daresay you may remember the first
occasion on which I saw a reflecting telescope, which was then being
tried on the sun in a pattern loft at Patricroft.  You may also recall
the volumes you wrote in answer to my troublesome questions.
Yours very sincerely WARREN DE LA RUE."

Sir John Herschel confirmed this information in a letter which I
received from him in the following May.  He said "that Mr. De la Rue
and a foreign gentleman, Hugo Muller, had been very successful in
seeing and delineating the 'willow leaves' They are represented by
Mr. M. as packed together on the edge of a spot, and appear rather like
a bunch of bristles or thorns.  In other respects the individual forms
agree very well with your delineations."  Another observer had
discovered a marvellous resemblance between the solar spots and the
hollows left by the breaking and subsidence of bubbles, which rise when
oil varnish, which has moisture in it, is boiled, and the streaky
channels are left by the retiring liquid.  "I cannot help," adds
Sir John, "fancying a bare possibility of some upward outbreak,
followed by a retreat of some gaseous matter, or some dilated portion
of the general atmosphere struggling upwards, and at the same time
expanding outwards.  I can conceive of an up-surge of some highly
compressed matter, which relieved of pressure, will dilate laterally
and upwards to an enormous extent (as Poullett Scrope supposes of his
lavas full of compressed gases and steam), producing the spots, and,
in that case, the furrows might equally well arise in the origination
as in the closing in of a spot."

I had the honour and happiness of receiving a visit from Sir John
Herschel at my house at Hammerfield in the summer of 1864.
He was accompanied by his daughter.  They spent several days with us.
The weather was most enjoyable.  I had much conversation with Sir John
as to the Sun spots and willow-leaf-shaped objects on the Sun's
surface, as well as about my drawings of the Moon.  I exhibited to him
my apparatus for obtaining sound castings of specula for reflecting
telescopes.  I compounded the alloy, melted it, and cast a 10-inch
speculum on my peculiar common-sense system.  I introduced the molten
alloy, chilled it in a metal mould, by which every chance of flaws and
imperfections is obviated.  I also showed him the action and results of
my machine, by which I obtained the most exquisite polish and figure
for the speculum.  Sir John was in the highest degree cognisant of the
importance of these details, as contributing to the final excellent
result.  It was therefore with great pleasure that I could exhibit
these practical details before so competent a judge.

We had a great set-to one day in blowing iridescent soap bubbles from a
mixture of soap and glycerine.  Some of the bubbles were of about
fifteen inches diameter.  By carefully covering them with a bell glass,
we kept them for about thirty-six hours, while they went through their
changes of brilliant colour, ending in deep blue.  I contrived this
method of preserving them by placing a dish of water below, within the
covering bell glass, by means of which the dampness of the air
prevented evaporation of the bubble.  This dodge of mine vastly
delighted Sir John, as it allowed him to watch the exquisite series of
iridescent tints at his tranquil leisure.

[Image]  From a photograph of the Moon, exhibiting the bright radial

[Image]  Glass globe cracked by internal pressure, in illustration of
         the cause of the bright radial lines seen on the moon.

I had also the pleasure of showing him my experiment of cracking a
glass globe filled with water and hermetically sealed.  The water was
then slightly expanded, on which the glass cracked.  This was my method
of explaining the nature of the action which, at some previous period
of the cosmical history of the Moon, had produced those bright
radiating lines that diverge from the lunar volcanic craters.
Sir John expressed his delight at witnessing my practical illustration
of this hitherto unexplained subject, and he considered it quite
conclusive.   I also produced my enlarged drawings of the Moon's
surface, which I had made at the side of my telescope.  These greatly
pleased him and he earnestly urged me to publish them, accompanied with
a descriptive account of the conclusions I had arrived at.
I then determined to proceed with the preparations which I had already
made for my long contemplated work.

Among the many things that I showed Sir John while at Hammerfield, was
a piece of white calico on which I had got printed  one million spots.
At a recent meeting of the Metropolitan Railway Company
I exhibited one million of letters, in order to show the number of
passengers (thirty-seven millions) that had been conveyed during the
previous twelve months.  This number was so vast that my method only
helped the meeting to understand what had been done in the way of
conveyance.  Mr. Macdonald of the Times, supplied me with one million
type impressions, contained in sixty average columns of the Times

This was for the purpose of exhibiting one million in visible form.
In astronomical subjects a million is a sort of unit, and it occurred
to me to show what a million really is.  Sir John was delighted and
astonished at the sight.  He went carefully over the outstretched piece
with his rule, measured its length and breath, and verified its

I also exhibited to him a diagram, which I had distributed amongst the
geologists at the meeting of the British Association at Ipswich in
1851, showing a portion of the earth's curve, to the scale of one-tenth
of an inch to a mile.  I set out the height of Mont Blanc, Etna, and
also the depth of the deepest mine, as showing the almost incredible
minimum of knowledge we possess about even the merest surface of the
globe.  This diagram was hailed by many as of much value, as conveying
a correct idea of the relative magnitude of geological phenomena in
comparison with that of the earth itself:

On this subject Sir Thomas Mitchell, Surveyor-General of Australia,
wrote to me at the time:  "I will not obtrude upon you my crude notions
of my own, but merely say that you could not have sent the 'Geological
Standard Scale' to one who better deserved it, if the claim in such
favour is, as I suppose, to be estimated by the amount of the time of
one whole life, applied to the survey of great mountain ranges, and
coasts, rivers, etc.  By this long practice of mine, you may know how
appreciable this satisfactory standard scale is to your humble servant.

In the winter of 1865 I visited Italy.  While at Rome, in April, I had
the pleasure of meeting Otto W. von Struve, the celebrated Russian
astronomer.  He invited me to accompany him on a visit to Father Secchi
at his fine observatory of the Collegio Romano.  I accepted the
invitation with pleasure.  We duly reached the Observatory when Struve
introduced me to the Father.  Secchi gave me a most cordial and
unlooked-for welcome.  "This," he said, "is a most extraordinary
interview; as I am at this moment making a representation of your
willow-leaf-shaped constituents of the Solar surface!"  He then pointed
to a large black board, which he had daubed over with glue and was
sprinkling over ( when we came in) with rice grains "That," said he,
"is what I feel to be a most excellent representation of your discovery
as I see it, verified by the aid of my telescope."  It appeared to
Father Secchi so singular a circumstance that I should come upon him in
this sudden manner, while he was for the first time engaged in
representing what I had (on the spur of the moment when first seeing
them) described as willow-leaf-shaped objects.  I thought that his
representation of them, by scattering rice grains over his glue-covered
black board, was apt and admirable; and so did Otto Struve.
This chance meeting with these two admirable astronomers was one of the
little bits of romance in my life.

I returned to England shortly after.  Among our visitors at Hammerfield
was Lord Lyndhurst.  He was in his ninetieth year when he paid a visit
to Tunbridge Wells.  Charles Greville, Secretary to the Privy Council,
wrote to me, saying that his Lordship complained much of the want of
society, and asked me to call upon him.  I did so, and found him
cheerful and happy.

I afterwards sent him a present of some of my drawings.  He answered:
"A thousand thanks for the charming etchings.  I am especially
interested in Robinson Crusoe.  He looks very comfortable, but I can't
see his bed, which troubles me.  The election ('Everybody for ever!')
is wonderful.  I should not like to be there.  I hope we shall go to
you again one of these days, and have another peep into that wonderful

To return to Sir John Herschel, We returned his visit at his house at
Collingwood, near Hawkhurst.  I found him in the garden, down upon his
knees, collecting crocus bulbs for next year's planting.  Like myself,
he loved gardening, and was never tired of it.  I mention this as an
instance of his simple zeal in entering practically into all that
interested him.  At home he was the happy father and lover of his
family.  One of his favourite pastimes, when surrounded by his children
in the evening, was telling them stories.  He was most happy and
entertaining in this tranquil occupation.  His masterly intellect could
grasp the world and all its visible contents, and yet descend to
entertain his children with extemporised tales.  He possessed
information of the most varied kind, which he communicated with perfect
simplicity and artlessness!  His profound astronomical knowledge was
combined with a rich store of mechanical and manipulative faculty,
which enabled him to take a keen interest in all the technical arts
which so materially aid in the progress of science.  I shall never
forget the happy days that he spent with me in my workshop.  His visits
have left in my mind the most cherished recollections.  Our friendly
intercourse continued unbroken to the day of his death.  The following
is the last letter I received from him:

COLLINGWOOD, March 10, 1871.
"MY DEAR SIR--A great many thanks for the opportunity of seeing your
most exquisite photographs from models of lunar mountains.  I hope you
will publish them.  They will create quite an electric sensation.
Would not one or two specimens of the apparently nonvolcanic mountain
ranges, bordering on the great plains, add to the interest?   Excuse my
writing more, as I pen this lying on my back in bed, to which a fierce
attack of bronchitis condemns me.  With best regards to Mrs. Nasmyth,
believe me yours very truly,


Scientific knowledge seems to travel slowly, It was not until the year
1875, more than fourteen years after my discovery of the willow-leaved
bridges over the Sun's spots that I understood they had been accepted
in America.  I learned this from my dear friend William Lassell.
His letter was as follows: --"I see the Americans are appreciating
your solar observations.  A communication I have lately received from
the Alleghany Observatory remarks 'that he (Mr. Nasmyth) appears to
have been the first to distinctly call attention to the singular
individuality of the minute components of the photosphere; and this
seems in fairness to entitle him to the credit of an important
discovery, with which his name should remain associated.'"

I proceeded to do that which Sir John Herschel had so earnestly
recommended, that is, to write out my observations on the Moon.
It was a very serious matter, for I had never written a book before.
It occupied me many years, though I had the kind assistance of my
friend James Carpenter, then of the Royal Observatory, Greenwich.
The volcanoes and craters, and general landscape scenery of the Moon,
had to be photographed and engraved, and this caused great labour.

At length the book, entitled The Moon, considered as a Planet, a World,
and a Satellite, appeared in November 1874.  It was received with much
favour and passed into a second edition.  A courteous and kind review
of the book appeared in the Edinburgh; and the notices in other
periodicals were equally favourable.  I dedicated the volume to the
Duke of Argyll, because I had been so long associated with him in
geological affairs, and also because of the deep friendship which I
entertained for his Grace.  I presented the volume to him as well as to
many other of my astronomical friends.  I might quote their answers at
great length, from the Astronomer-Royal downwards.  But I will quote
two--one from a Royal Academician and another from a Cardinal.
The first was from Philip H. Calderon.  He said:

"Let me thank you many times for your kind letter, and for your
glorious book.  It arrived at twelve to-day, and there has been no
painting since.  Once having taken it up, attracted by the
illustrations, I could not put it down again.  I forgot everything;
and, indeed, I have been up in the Moon.  As soon as these few words of
thanks are given, I am going up into the Moon again.  What a comfort it
is to read a scientific work which is quite clear, and what a gift it
is to write thus!

"The photographs took my breath away.  I could not understand how you
did them, and your explanation of how you built the models from your
drawings only changed the wonder into admiration.  Only an artist could
have said what you say about the education of the eye and of the hand.
You may well understand how it went home to me.  Ever gratefully yours,


I now proceed to the Cardinal.  I was present at one of the receptions
of the President of the Royal Society at Burlington House, when I was
introduced to Cardinal Manning as "The Steam Hammer!"  After a cordial
reception he suddenly said, "But are you not also the Man in the Moon?"
Yes, your Eminence.  I have written a book about the Moon, and I shall
be glad if you will accept a copy of it?"  "By all means," he said,
"and I thank you for the offer very much."  I accordingly sent the copy,
and received the following answer:

"MY DEAR MR.NASMYTH--When I asked you to send me your book on the
Moon, I had no idea of its bulk and value, and I feel ashamed of my
importunity, yet more than half delighted at my sturdy begging.

"I thank you for it very sincerely.  My life is one of endless work,
leaving me few moments for reading.  But such books as yours refresh me
like a clover field.

"I hope I may have an opportunity of renewing our conversation.
Believe me always truly yours, HENRY, CARDINAL MANNING."

I may also mention that I received a charming letter from Miss Herschel,
the daughter of the late Astronomer.

"Is it possible," she said, "that this beautiful book is destined by
you as a gift to my most unworthy self?  I do not know, indeed, how
 sufficiently to thank you, or even to express my delight in being
possessed of so exquisite and valuable a work, made so valuable, too,
by the most kind inscription on the first page!  I fear I shall be very
very far from understanding the theories developed in the book, though
we have been endeavouring to gather some faint notion of them from the
reviews we have seen; but it will be of the greatest interest for us to
try and follow them under your guidance, and with the help of these
perfectly enchanting photographs, which, I think, one could never be
tired of looking at.

"How well I remember the original photographs, and the oil painting
which you sent for dear papa's inspection, and which he did so enjoy!
and also the experiment with the glass globe, in which he was so
interested, at your own house.  We cannot but think how he would have
appreciated your researches, and what pleasure this lovely book would
have given him.  Indeed, I shall treasure it especially as a
remembrance of that visit, which is so completely connected in my
thoughts with him, as well as with your cordial kindness, as a precious
souvenir, of which let me once more offer you my heartfelt thanks.
I remain, my dear sir, yours very truly and gratefully,


I cannot refrain from adding the communication I received from my dear
old friend William Lassell.  "I do not know," he said,
"how sufficiently to thank you for your most kind letter, and the
superb present which almost immediately followed it.  My pleasure was
greatly enhanced by the consideration of how far this splendid work
must add to your fame and gratify the scientific world.
The illustrations are magnificent, and I am persuaded that no book has
ever been published before which gives so faithful, accurate,
and comprehensive a picture of the surface of the Moon.  The work must
have cost you much time, thought, and labour, and I doubt not you will
now receive a gratifying, if not an adequate reward."

After reading the book Mr. Lassell again wrote to me.  "I am indebted
to your beautiful book, "he said, "for a deeper interest in the Moon
than I ever felt before....  I see many of your pictures have been
taken when the Moon was waning, which tells me of many a shivering
exposure you must have had in the early mornings,...  I was sorry to
find from your letter that you had a severe cold, which made you very
unwell.  I hope you have ere this perfectly recovered.  I suppose
maladies of this kind must be expected to take rather severe hold of us
now, as we are both past the meridian of life.  I am, however,
very thankful for the measure of health I enjoy, and the pleasure
mechanical pursuits give me.  I fully sympathise with you in the
contempt (shall I say?) which you feel for the taste of so many people
who find their chief pleasure in 'killing something,' and how often
their pleasures are fatal!  Two distinguished men killed only the other
day in hunting.  For my part I would rather take to the bicycle and do
my seventeen miles within the hour."

He proceeds:  "I have no doubt your windmill is very nicely contrived,
and has afforded you much pleasure in constructing it.
The only drawback to it is, that in this variable climate it is apt to
strike work, and in the midst of a job of polishing I fear no increase
of wages would induce it to complete its task!  If water were plentiful,
you might make it pump up a quantity when the wind served, to be used
as a motive power when you chose."

This reference alludes to a windmill which I erected on the top of my
workshop, to drive the apparatus below.  It was the mirror of a
reflecting telescope which was in progress.  The windmill went on night
and day, and polished the speculum while I slept.  In the small hours
of the morning I keeked through the corner of the window blinds and saw
it hard at work.  I prefer, however, a small steam-engine, which works
much more regularly.

It is time to come to an end of my Recollections.  I have endeavoured
to give a brief resume of my life and labours.  I hope they may prove
interesting as well as useful to others.  Thanks to a good constitution
and a frame invigorated by work, I continue to lead, with my dear wife,
a happy life.  I still take a deep interest in mechanics, in astronomy,
and in art.  It is a pleasure to me to run up to London and enjoy the
collections at the National Gallery, South Kensington, and the Royal
Academy.  The Crystal Palace continues to attract a share of my
attention, though, since the fire, it has been greatly altered.
I miss, too, many of the dear accustomed faces of the old friends we
used to meet there.  Still we visit it, and leave to memory the filling
up of what is gone.  All things change, and we with them.
The following Dial of Life gives a brief summary of my career.
It shows the brevity of life, and indicates the tale that is soon told.
The first part of the semicircle includes the passage from infancy to
boyhood and manhood.  While that period lasts, time seems to pass very
slowly.  We long to be men, and doing men's work.  What I have called
The Tableland of Life is then reached.  Ordinary observation shows that
between thirty and fifty the full strength of body and mind is reached;
and at that period we energise our faculties to the utmost.

[Image]  The Dial of Life

Those who are blessed with good health and a sound constitution may
prolong the period of energy to sixty or even seventy; but Nature's
laws must be obeyed, and the period of decline begins, and goes on with
accelerated rapidity.  Then comes Old Age; and as we descend the
semicircle towards eighty, we find that the remnant of life becomes
vague and cloudy.  By shading off, as I have done, the portion of the
area of the diagram according to the individual age, every one may see
how much of life is consumed, and what is left--D.V..  Here is my
brief record:

--  1808.  BORN 19TH AUGUST.
32  1840.  MARRIAGE.

I have not in this list referred to my investigations in connection
with astronomy.  All this will be found referred to in the text.
It only remains for me to say that I append a resume of my inventions,
contrivances, and workshop "dodges," to give the reader a summary idea
of the Active Life of a working mechanic.  And with this I end my tale.


by James Nasmyth.

1825. A mode of applying Steam Power for the Traction of Canal Barges,
      without injury to the Canal Banks.

A CANAL having been formed to connect Edinburgh with the Forth and
Clyde Canal, and so to give a direct waterway communication between
Edinburgh and Glasgow, I heard much talk about the desirableness of
substituting Steam for Horse power as the means of moving the boats and
barges along the canal.  But, as the action of paddle wheels had been
found destructive to the canal banks, no scheme of that nature could be
entertained.  Although a tyro in such matters, I made an attempt to
solve the problem, and accordingly prepared drawings, with a
description of my design, for employing Steam power as the tractive
agency for trains of canal barges, in such a manner as to obviate all
risk of injury to the banks.


The scheme consisted in laying a chain along the bottom of the canal,
and of passing any part of its length between three grooved and notched
pulleys or rollers, made to revolve with suitable velocity by means of
a small steam-engine placed in a tug-boat, to the stern of which a
train of barges was attached.*
Had this simple means of "tugging" vessels through water-ways been
employed in our late attempts to ascend the rapids of the Nile, some
very important results might have issued from its adoption.
The steam-engine could thus warp its way along the chain, taking it up
between the rollers of the bow of the tug-boat, and dropping it into
the water at the stern, so as to leave the chain at the service of the
next following tug-boat with its attached train of barges.  By this
simple mode of employing the power of a steam-engine for canal boat
traction, all risk of injury to the banks would be avoided, as the
chain and not the water of the canal was the fulcrum or resistance
which the steam-engine on the tug-boat operated upon in thus warping
its way along the chain; and thus effectually, without slip or other
waste of power, dragging along the train of barges attached to the
stern of the steam-tug.  I had arranged for two separate chains,
so as to allow trains of barges to be conveyed along the canal in
opposite directions, without interfering with each other.

I submitted a complete set of drawings, and a full description of my
design in all its details, to the directors of the Canal Company;
and I received a complimentary acknowledgment of them in writing.  But
such was the prejudice that existed, in consequence of the injury to
the canal banks resulting from the use of paddle Wheels, that it
extended to the use of steam power in any form, as a substitute for
ordinary horse traction; and although I had taken every care to point
out the essential difference of my system (as above indicated) by which
all such objections were obviated, my design was at length courteously
declined, and the old system of horse traction continued.

In 1845 I had the pleasure to see this simple mode of moving vessels
along a definite course in most successful action at the ferry across
the Hamoaze at Devonport, in which my system of employing the power of
a steam-engine on board the ferry boat, to warp its way along a
submerged chain lying along the bottom of the channel from side to side
of the ferry, was most ably carried out by my late excellent friend,
James Rendell, Esq., C.E., and is still, I believe, in daily action,
giving every satisfaction.

1826. An Instrument for Measuring the Total and Comparative Expansion
      of all Solid Bodies.

My kind friend and patron, Professor Leslie, being engaged in some
investigations in which it was essential to know the exact comparative
total expansion in bulk of metals and other solid bodies, under the
same number of degrees of heat, mentioned the subject in the course of
conversation.  The instrument at that time in use was defective in
principle as well as in construction, and the results of its
application were untrustworthy.  As the Professor had done me the honour
to request me to assist him in his experiments, I had the happiness to
suggest an arrangement of apparatus which I thought might obviate the
sources of error; and, with his approval, I proceeded to put it in

My contrivance consisted of an arrangement by means of which the metal
bar or other solid substance, whose total expansion under a given
number of degrees of heat had to be measured, was in a manner itself
converted into a thermometer.  Absolutely equal bulks of each solid were
placed inside a metal tube or vessel, and surrounded with an exact
equal quantity of water at one and the same normal temperature.
A cap or cover, having a suitable length of thermometer tube attached
to it, was then screwed down, and the water of the index tube was
adjusted to the zero point of the scale attached to it, the whole being
at say 50deg of heat, as the normal temperature in each case.  The
apparatus was then heated up to say 200deg by immersion in water at
that temperature.  The expansion of the enclosed bar of metal or other
solid substance under experiment caused the water to rise above the
zero, and it was accordingly so indicated on the scale attached to the
cap tube.  In this way we had a thermometer whose bulb was for the time
being filled with the solid under investigation,--the water surrounding
it imply acting as the means by which the expansion of each solid under
trial was rendered visible, and its amount capable of being ascertained
and recorded with the utmost exactness, as the expansion of the water
was in every case the same, and also that of the instrument itself
which was "a constant quantity."

In this way we obtained the correct relative amount of expansion in
bulk of all the solid substances experimented upon.  That each bar of
metal or other solid substance was of absolutely equal bulk, was
readily ascertained by finding that each, when weighed in water,
lost the exact same weight.

[Image]  James Nasmyth's Expansometer, 1826.

My friend, Sir David Brewster, was so much pleased with the instrument
that he published a drawing and description of it in the Edinburgh
Philosophical Journal, of which he was then editor.

1827. A Method of increasing the Effectiveness of Steam by
      super-heating it on its Passage from the Boiler to the Engine.

One or the earliest mechanical contrivances which I made was for
preventing water, in a liquid form, from passing along with the steam
from the boiler to the cylinder of the steam-engine.
The first steam-engine I made was employed in grinding oil colours for
my father's use in his paintings.  When I set this engine to work for
the first time I was annoyed by slight jerks which now and then
disturbed the otherwise smooth and regular action of the machine.
After careful examination I found that these jerks were caused by the
small quantities of water that were occasionally carried along with the
current of the steam, and deposited in the cylinder, where it
accumulated above and below the piston, and thus produced the jerks.

In order to remove the cause of these irregularities, I placed a
considerable portion of the length of the pipe which conveyed the steam
from the boiler to the engine within the highly heated side flue of the
boiler, so that any portion of water in the liquid form which might
chance to pass along with the steam, might, ere it reached the
cylinder, traverse this highly-heated steam pipe, and, in doing so,
be converted into perfectly dry steam, and in that condition enter the
cylinder.  On carrying this simple arrangement into practice, I found
the result to be in every way satisfactory.  The active little
steam-engine thence-forward performed its work in the most smooth and
regular manner.

So far as I am aware, this early effort of mine at mechanical
contrivance was the first introduction of what has since been termed
"super-heated steam"--a system now extensively employed, and yielding
important results, especially in the case of marine steam-engines.
Without such means of supplying dry steam to the engines, the latter
are specially liable to "break-downs," resulting from water,
in the liquid form, passing into the cylinders along with the steam.

1828. A Method of "chucking" delicate Metal-work, in order that it may
      be turned with perfect truth

In fixing portions of work in the turning-lathe, one of the most
important points to attend to is, that while they are held with
sufficient firmness in order to be turned to the required form, they
should be free from any strain which might in any way distort them.
In strong and ponderous objects this can be easily accomplished by due
care on the part of an intelligent workman.  It is in operating by the
lathe on delicate and flexible objects that the utmost care is
requisite in the process of chucking, as they are easily strained out
of shape by fastening them by screws and bolts, or suchlike ordinary
means.  This is especially the case with disc-like objects.  As I had on
several occasions to operate in the lathe with this class of work I
contrived a method of chucking or holding them firm while receiving the
required turning process, which has in all cases proved most handy and

This method consisted of tinning three, or, if need be, more parts of
the work, and laying them down on a tinned face-plate or chuck,
which had been heated so as just to cause the solder to flow.  As soon
as the solder is cooled and set, the chuck with its attached work may
then be put in the lathe, and the work proceeded with until it is
completed.  By again heating the chuck, by laying upon it a piece of
red-hot iron, the work, however delicate, can be simply lifted off,
and will be found perfectly free from all distortion.

I have been the more particular in naming the use of three points of
attachment to the chuck or face-plate, as that number is naturally free
from any risk of distortion.  I have on so many occasions found the
great value of this simple yet most secure mode of fixing delicate work
in the lathe, that I feel sure that any one able to appreciate its
practical value will be highly pleased with the results of its

The same means can, in many cases, be employed in fixing delicate work
in the planing-machine.  All that is requisite is to have a clean-planed
wrought-iron or brass fixing-plate, to which the work in hand can be
attached at a few suitable parts with soft solder, as in the case of
the turning lathe above described.

1828. A Method of casting Specula for Reflecting Telescopes, so as to
      ensure perfect Freeness from Defects, at the same time enhancing
      the Brilliancy of the Alloy.

My father possessed a very excellent achromatic spy-glass of 2 inches
diameter.  The object-glass was made by the celebrated Ramsden.
When I was about fifteen I used it to gaze at the moon, planets, and
sun-spots.  Although this instrument revealed to me the general
characteristic details of these grand objects, my father gave me a
wonderful account of what he had seen of the moon's surface by means of
a powerful reflecting telescope of 12 inches diameter, made by Short--
that justly celebrated pioneer of telescope making.  It had been erected
in a temporary observatory on the Calton Hill, Edinburgh.  These
descriptions of my father's so fired me with the desire to obtain a
sight of the glorious objects in the heavens through a more powerful
instrument than the spy-glass, that I determined to try and make a
reflecting telescope which I hoped might in some degree satisfy my
ardent desires.

I accordingly searched for the requisite practical instruction in the
pages of the Encyclopedia Britannica, and in other books that professed
to give the necessary technical information on the subject.  I found,
however, that the information given in books--at least in the books
to which I had access was meagre and unsatisfactory.  Nevertheless I set
to work with all earnestness, and began by compounding the requisite
alloy for casting a speculum of 8 inches diameter.  This alloy consisted
of 32 parts of copper, 15 parts of grain tin, and 1 part of white arsenic.
These ingredients, when melted together, yielded a compound metal which
possessed a high degree of brilliancy.  Having made a wooden pattern for
my intended 8-inch diameter speculum, and moulded it in sand,
I cast this my first reflecting telescope speculum according to the
best book instructions.  I allowed my casting to cool in the mould in
the slowest possible manner; for such is the excessive brittleness of
this alloy (though composed of two of the toughest of metals) that in
any sudden change of temperature, or want of due delicacy in handling
it, it is very apt to give way, and a fracture more or less serious is
sure to result.  Even glass, brittle though it be, is strong in
comparison with speculum metal of the above proportions, though,
as I have said, it yields the most brilliant composition.

Notwithstanding the observance of all due care in respect of the
annealing of the casting by slow cooling, and the utmost care and
delicate handling of it in the process of grinding the surface into the
requisite curve and smoothness suitable to receive the final polish,--
I was on more than one occasion inexpressibly mortified by the sudden
disruption and breaking up of my speculum.  Thus many hours of anxious
care and labour proved of no avail.  I had to begin again and proceed
da capo.  I observed, however, that the surplus alloy that was left in
the crucible, after I had cast my speculum, when again melted and
poured out into a metal ingot mould, yielded a cake that, brittle
though it might be, was yet strong in comparison with that of the
speculum cast in the sand mould; and that it was also, judging from the
fragments chipped from it, possessed of even a higher degree of

The happy thought occurred to me of substituting an open metal mould
for the closed sand one.  I soon had the metal mould ready for casting.
It consisted of a base plate of cast iron, on the surface of which I
placed a ring or hoop of iron turned to fully the diameter of the
intended speculum, so as to anticipate the contraction of the alloy.
The result of the very first trial of this simple metal mould was most
satisfactory.  It yielded me a very perfect casting: and it passed
successively through the ordeal of the first rough grinding, and
eventually through the processes of polishing, until in the end it
exhibited a brilliancy that far exceeded that of the sand mould

The only remaining difficulty that I had to surmount was the risk of
defects in the surface of the speculum.  These sometimes result from the
first splash  of the melted metal as it is poured into the ring mould.
The globules sometimes got oxidised before they became incorporated
with the main body of the inflowing molten alloy: and dingy spots in
the otherwise brilliant alloy were thus produced.  I soon mastered this,
the only remaining source of defect, by a very simple arrangement.
In place of pouring the melted alloy direct into the ring mould, I
attached to the side of it what I termed a "pouring pocket;"
which communicated with an opening at the lower edge of the ring,
and by a self-acting arrangement by which the mould plate was slightly
tilted up, the influx of the molten alloy advanced in one unbroken
tide.  As soon as the entire surface of the mould plate was covered by
the alloy, its weight overcame that of my up-tilting counterpoise,
and allowed the entire apparatus to resume its exact level.  The
resulting speculum was, by these simple arrangements, absolutely
perfect in soundness.  It was a perfect casting, in all respects worthy
of the care and labour which I invested in its future grinding and
polishing, and enabled it to perform its glorious duties as the grand
essential part of a noble reflecting telescope!


A. Chill plate of cast iron turned to the curve of the speculum B.
Turned hoop of wrought iron with opening at O. C. Pouring pocket. D.
Counterpoise, By which the chill plate is tilted up The largest figure
in the engraving is the annealing tub of cast iron filled with sawdust,
where the speculum is placed to cool as slowly as possible.

The rationale of the strength of specula cast in this metal mould
system, as compared with the treacherous brittleness of those cast in
sand moulds, arises simply from the consolidation of the molten metal
pool taking place first at the lower surface, next the metal base of
the mould--the yet fluid alloy above satisfying the contractile
requirements of that immediately beneath it; and so on in succession,
until the last to consolidate is the top or upper stratum.
Thus all risk of contractile tension, which is so dangerously eminent
and inherent in the case of sand-mould castings, made of so exceedingly
brittle an alloy as that of speculum metal, is entirely avoided.
By the employment of these simple and effective improvements in the art
of casting the specula for reflecting telescopes, and also by the
contrivance and employment of mechanical means for grinding and
polishing them, I at length completed my first 8-inch diameter
speculum, and mounted it according to the Newtonian plan.  I was most
amply rewarded for all the anxious labour I had gone through in
preparing it, by the glorious views it yielded me of the wonderful
objects in the heavens at night.  My enjoyment was in no small degree
enhanced by the pleasure it gave to my father, and to many intimate
friends.  Amongst these was Sir David Brewster, who took a most lively
and special interest in all my labours on this subject.

In later years I resumed my telescope making enjoyments, as a
delightful and congenial relaxation from the ordinary run of my
business occupations.  I constructed several reflecting telescopes,
of sizes from 10-inch to 20-inch diameter specula.  I had also the
pleasure of assisting other astronomical friends, by casting and
grinding specula for them.  Among these I may mention my late dear
friend William Lassell, and my excellent friend Warren de la Rue,
both of whom have indelibly recorded their names in the annals of
astronomical science.  I know of no subject connected with the pursuit
of science which so abounds with exciting and delightful interest as
that of constructing reflecting telescopes.  It brings into play every
principle of constructive art, with the inexpressibly glorious reward
of a more intimate acquaintance with the sublime wonders of the
heavens, I communicated in full detail all my improvements in the art
of casting, grinding, and polishing the specula of reflecting
telescopes, to the Literary and Philosophical Society of Manchester,
illustrating my paper with many drawings.  But as my paper was of
considerable length, and as the illustrations would prove costly to
engrave, it was not published in the Society's Transactions.  They are
still, however, kept in the library for reference by those who take a
special interest in the subject.

1829. A Mode of transmitting Rotary Motion by means of a Flexible
      Shaft, formed of a Coiled Spiral Wire or Rod of Steel.

While assisting Mr. Maudslay in the execution of a special piece of
machinery, in which it became necessary to have some holes drilled in
rather inaccessible portions of the work in hand, and where the
employment of the ordinary drill was impossible, it occurred to me that
a flexible shaft, formed of a closely coiled spiral of steel wire,
might enable us to transmit the requisite rotary motion to a drill
attached to the end of this spiral shaft.  Mr. Maudslay was much pleased
with the notion, and I speedily put it in action by a close coiled
spiral wire of about two feet in length.

This was found to transmit the requisite rotary motion to the drill at
the end of the spiral with perfect and faithful efficiency.
The difficulty was got over, to Mr. Maudslay's great satisfaction.

So far as I am aware, such a mode of transmitting rotary motion was new
and original.  The device was useful, and proved of essential service in
other important applications.  By a suitably close coiled spiral steel
wire I have conveyed rotary motion quite round an obstacle, such as is
indicated in the annexed figure.


It has acted with perfect faithfulness from the winch handle at A to
the drill at B.  Any ingenious mechanic will be able to appreciate the
value of such a flexible shaft in many applications.  Four years ago I
saw the same arrangement in action at a dentist's operating-room, when
a drill was worked in the mouth of a patient to enable a decayed tooth
to be stopped.  It was said to be the last thing out in "Yankee notions."
It was merely a replica of my flexible drill of 1829.

1829. A Mode of cutting Square or Hexgonal Collares Nuts or Bolt-Heads
      by means of a Revolving File or Cutter.

This method is refrered to, and drawings given, in the text,
pp.  141, 142.

1829. A Investigation into the Origin and Mode of writing the Cuneiform

This will be found described in the next and final chapter

1836. A Machine for cutting the Key-Grooves in Metal Wheels and Belt
      Pulleys, of ANY Diameter.

The fastening of wheels and belt pulleys to shafts, so as to enable
them to transmit rotary motion, is one of the most frequently-recurring
processes in the construction of machinery.  This is best effected by
driving a slightly tapered iron or steel wedge, or "key" as it is
technically termed, into a corresponding recess, or flat part of the
shaft, so that the wheel and shaft thus become in effect one solid

The old mode of cutting such key-grooves in the eyes of wheels was
accomplished by the laborious and costly process of chipping and
filing.  Maudslay's mortising machine, which he contrived for the Block
machinery, although intended originally to operate upon wood, contained
all the essential principles and details required for acting on metals.
Mr. Richard Roberts, by some excellent modifications, enabled it to
mortise or cut out the key-grooves in metal wheels, and this method
soon came into general use.  This machine consisted of a vertical slide
bar, to the lower end of which was attached the steel mortising tool,
which received its requisite up and down motion from an adjustable
crank, through a suitable arrangement of the gearing.  The wheel to be
operated upon was fixed to a slide-table, and gradually advanced,
so as to cause the mortising tool to take successive cuts through the
depth of the eye of the wheel, until the mortise or key-groove had
attained its required depth.

The only drawback to this admirable machine was that its service was
limited in respect to admitting wheels whose half diameter did not
exceed the distance from the back of the jaw of the machine to the face
of the mortise tool; so that to give to this machine the requisite
rigidity and strength to resist the strain on the jaw, due to the
mortising of the key-grooves, in wheels of say 6 feet diameter,
a more massive and cumbrous frame work was required, which was most
costly in space as well as in money.

In order to obviate this inconvenience, I designed an arrangement of a
key-groove mortising machine.  It was capable of operating upon wheels
of any diameter, having no limit to it capacity in that respect.
It was, at the same time, possessed in respect of the principle on
which it was arranged, of the power of taking a much deeper cut,
there being an entire absence of any source of springing or elasticity
in its structure.  This not only enabled the machine to perform its work
with more rapidity, but also with more precision.  Besides, it occupied
much less space in the workshop, and did not cost above one-third of
the machines formerly in use.  It gave the highest satisfaction to those
who availed themselves of its effective Services.


A comparison of Fig. 1--which represents the general arrangement of
the machine in use previous to the introduction of mine--with that of
Fig. 2, may serve to convey some idea of their relative sizes.  Fig. 1
shows a limit to the admission of wheels exceeding 6 feet diameter,
Fig. 2 shows an unlimited capability in that respect.

1836. An Instrument for finding and marking the Centres of Cylindrical
      Rods or Bolts about to be turned on the Lathe.

One of the most numerous details in the structure of all classes of
machines is the bolts which serve to hold the various parts together.
As it is most important that each bolt fits perfectly the hole it
belongs to, it is requisite that each bolt should, by the process of
turning, be made perfectly cylindrical.  In preparing such bolts,
as they come from the forge, in order to undergo the process of
turning, they have to be "centred;" that is, each end has to receive a
hollow conical indent, which must agree with the axis of the bolt.
To find this in the usual mode, by trial and frequent error, is a most
tedious process, and consumes much valuable time of the workman as well
as his lathe.


In order to obviate the necessity for this costly process, I devised
the simple instrument, a drawing of which is annexed.  The use of this
enabled any boy to find and mark with absolute exactness and rapidity
the centres of each end of bolts, or suchlike  objects.  All that was
required was to place the body of the bolt in the V-shaped supports,
and to gently cause it to revolve, pressing it longitudinally against
the steel-pointed marker, which scratched a neat small circle in the
true centre or axis of the bolt.  This small circle had its centre
easily marked by the indent of a punch, and the work was thus ready for
the lathe.  This humble but really important process was accomplished
with ease, rapidity, and great economy.

1836. Improvement in Steam-Engine Pistons, and in Water and Air-Pump
      Buckets, so as to lessen Friction and dispense with Packing.

The desire to make the pistons of steam-engines and air-pump buckets of
condensing engines perfectly steam and water tight has led to the
contrivance of many complex and costly constructions for the purpose of
packing them.  When we take a commonsense view of the subject, we find
that in most cases the loss of power resulting from the extra friction
neutralises the expected saving.  This is especially the case with the
air-pump bucket of a condensing steam-engine, as it is in reality much
more a water than an air pump.  But when it is constructed with a deep
well-fitted bucket, entirely without packing, the loss sustained by
such an insignificant amount of leakage as may occur from the want of
packing is more than compensated by the saving of power resulting from
the total absence of friction.

The first condensing steam-engine to which I applied an air-pump
bucket, entirely without packing, was the forty horsepower engine,
which I constructed for the Bridgewater Foundry.  It answered its
purpose so well that, after twenty years' constant working,
the air-pump cover was taken off, out of curiosity, to examine the
bucket, when it was found in perfect order.  This system, in which I
dispensed with the packing for air-pump buckets of condensing
steam-engines, I have also applied to the pistons of the steam
cylinders, especially those of high-pressure engines of the smaller
vertical construction, the stroke of which is generally short and
rapid.  Provided the cylinder is bored true, and the piston is carefully
fitted, and of a considerable depth in proportion to its diameter,
such pistons will be found to perform perfectly all their functions,
and with a total absence of friction as a direct result of the absence
of packing.  By the aid of our improved machine tools, cylinders can now
be bored with such perfect accuracy, and the pistons be fitted to them
with such absolute exactness, that the small quantity of water which
the steam always deposits on the upper side of the piston, not only
serves as a frictionless packing, but also serves as a lubricant of the
most appropriate kind.  I have applied the same kind of piston to
ordinary water-pumps, with similar excellent results.  In most cases of
right packed pistons we spend a shilling--to save sixpence--
a not unfrequent result of "so-called" refined improvements.

1836. An instantaneous Mode of producing graceful Curves, suitable for
      designing Vases and other graceful objects in Pottery and Glass.

The mode referred to consists in giving a rapid "switch" motion to a
pencil upon a piece of paper, or a cardboard, or a smooth metal plate;
and then cutting out the curve so produced, and employing it as a
pattern or "template," to enable copies to be traced from it.
When placed at equal distances, and at equal angles on each side of a
central line, so as to secure perfect symmetry of form according to the
nature of the required design, the beauty of these "instantaneous"
curves, as I term them, arises from the entire absence of any sudden
variation in their course.  This is due to the momentum of the hand when
"switching" the pencil at a high velocity over the paper.
By such simple means was the beautiful curve produced, which is given
on the following page.  It was produced "in a twinkling," if I may use
the term to express the rapidity with which it was "switched."
The chief source of the gracefulness of these curves consists in the
almost imperceptible manner in which they pass in their course from one
degree of curvature into another.  I have had the pleasure of showing
this simple mode of producing graceful curves to several potters,
who have turned the idea to good account.  The illustrative figures on
the next page have all been drawn from "templates" whose curves were
"switched" in the manner of Fig. A.


1836. A Machine for planing the smaller or detail parts of Machinery,
      whether Flat or Cylindrical.

Although the introduction of the planing machine into the workshops of
mechanical engineers yielded results of the highest importance in
perfecting and economising the production of machinery generally, yet,
as the employment of these valuable machine tools was chiefly intended
to assist in the execution of the larger parts of machine manufacture,
a very considerable proportion of the detail parts still continued to
be executed by hand labour, in which the chisel and the file were the
chief instruments employed.  The results were consequently very
unsatisfactory, both as regards inaccuracy and costliness.


With the desire of rendering the valuable services of the Planing
Machine applicable to the smallest detail parts of machine manufacture,
I designed a simple and compact modification of it, such as should
enable any attentive lad to execute all the detail parts of the
machines in so unerring and perfect a manner as not only to rival the
hand work of the most skilful mechanic, but also at such a reduced cost
as to place the most active hand workman far into the background.
The contrivance I refer to is usually known as "Nasmyth's Steam Arm."
None but those who have had ample opportunities of watching the process
of executing the detail parts of machines, can form a correct idea of
the great amount of time that is practically wasted and unproductive,
even when highly-skilled and careful workmen are employed.  They have so
frequently to stop working, in order to examine the work in hand,
to use the straight edge, the square, or the calipers, to ascertain
whether they are "working correctly."  During that interval, the work is
making no progress: and the loss of time on this account is not less
than one-sixth of the working hours, and sometimes much more;
though all this lost time is fully paid for in wages.

[Image]  Apparatus for enabling the machine to execute segmented work

But by the employment of such a machine as I describe, even when placed
under the superintendence of well-selected intelligent lads, in whom
the faculty of good sight and nicety of handling is naturally in a high
state of perfection, any deficiency in their physical strength is amply
compensated by these self-acting machines.  The factory engine supplies
the labour or the element of Force, while the machines perform their
work with practical perfection.  The details of machinery are thus
turned out with geometrical accuracy, and are in the highest sense
fitted to perform their intended purposes.

1837. Solar Ray Origin of the form of the Egyptian Pyramids, Obelisks,

This will be found described summarily in the next and final chapter.

1837. Method of reversing the action of Slide Lathes.

In the employment of Slide Turning Lathes, it is of great advantage to
be able to reverse the motion of the Slide so as to enable the turning
tool to cut towards the Head of the Lathe or away from it, and also to
be able to arrest the motion of the Slide altogether, while all the
other functions of the lathe are continued in action.  All these objects
are attained by the simple contrivance represented in the annexed


It consists of a lever E, moving on a stud-pin S, attached to the back
of the head stock of the lathe T.  This lever carries two wheels of
equal diameter marked B and G.  These wheels can pitch into a
corresponding wheel A, fixed on the back end of the lay spindle.
When the handle of the lever E is depressed (as seen in the drawing)
the wheel B is in gear with wheel A.  while C is in gear with the
slidescrew wheel D, and so moves the slide (say from the Head Stock of
the lathe).  On the other hand, when the lever E is elevated in position
E", wheel B is taken out of gear with A, while G is put in gear with A,
and B is put in gear with D; and thus the Slide is caused to move
towards the Head Stock of the lathe.  Again, where it is desired to
arrest the motion of the Slide altogether, or for a time, as occasion
may require, the lever handle is put into the intermediate position E',
which entirely severs the communication between A and D, and so arrests
the motion of the slide.  This simple contrivance effectually served all
its purposes, and was adopted by many machine tool-makers and

1838. Self-adjusting Bearings for the Shafts of Machinery

A frequent cause of undue friction and heating of rapidly rotating
machinery arises from some inaccuracy or want of due parallelism
between the rotating shaft or spindle and its bearing.  This is
occasioned in most cases by some accidental change in the level of the
supports of the bearings.  Many of the bearings are situated in dark
places, and cannot be seen.  There are others that are difficult of
access--as in the case of bearings of screw-propeller shafts.
Serious mischief may result before the heating of the bearing proclaims
its dangerous condition.  In some cases the timber work is set on fire,
which may result in serious consequences.

In order to remove the cause of such serious mischief, I designed an
arrangement of bearing, which enabled it, and the shaft working in it,
to mutually accommodate themselves to each other under all
circumstances, and thus to avoid the danger of a want of due and mutual
parallelism in their respective axes.  This arrangement consisted in
giving to the exterior of the bearing a spherical form, so as, within
moderate limits, to allow it to accommodate itself to any such changes
in regard to mutual parallelism, as above referred to.  In other cases,
I employed what I may call Rocking centres, on which the Pedestal or
"Plumber Block" rested; and thus supplied a self-adjusting means for
obviating the evils resulting from any accidental change in the proper
relative position of the shaft and its bearing.  In all cases in which I
introduced this arrangement, the results were most satisfactory.

In the case of the bearings of Blowing Fans, in which the rate of
rotation is naturally excessive, a spherical resting-place for the
bearings enabled them to keep perfectly cool at the highest speed.
This was also the case in the driving apparatus for machine tools,
which is generally fixed at a considerable height above the machine.
These spherical or self-adjusting bearings were found of great service.
The apparatus, being generally out of convenient reach, is apt to get
out of order unless duly attended to.  But, whether or not, the saving
of friction is in itself a reason for the adoption of such bearings.
This may appear a trifling technical matter of detail; but its great
practical value must be my excuse for mentioning it.

1838. Invention of Safety Foundry Ladle.

The safety ladle is described in the text, p.  202.

1838. Invention of the Steam Ram

My invention was made at this early date, long before the attack by the
steam-ram Merrimac upon the Cumberland, and other ships, in Hampton Roads,
United States.  I brought my plans and drawings under the notice of the
Admiralty in 1845; but nothing was done for many years.  Much had been
accomplished in rendering our ships shot-proof by the application of
iron plates; but it appeared to me that not one of them could exist
above water after receiving on its side a single blow from an
iron-plated steam-ram of 2000 tons.  I said, in a letter to the Times,
"As the grand object of naval warfare is the destruction by the most
speedy mode of the ships of the enemy, why should we continue to
attempt to attain this object by making small holes in the hull of the
enemy when, by one single masterly crashing blow from a steam ram,
we can crush in the side of any armour-plated ship, and let the water
rush in through a hole, 'not perhaps as wide as a church door or as
deep as a well, but 'twill serve'; and be certain to send her below
water in a few minutes.*
In these days of armour-clad warships, when plates of enormous
thickness are relied on as invulnerable, our Naval Constructors appear
to forget that the actual structural strength of such ships depends on
the backing of the plates, which, be it ever so thick, would yield to
the cramming blow of a moderate-sized Ram.

I published my description of the steam ram and its apparatus in the
Times  of January 1853, and again addressed the Editor on the subject
in April 1862.  General Sir John Burgoyne took up the subject,
and addressed me in the note at the foot of this page.*
The following is the letter of General Sir John Burgoyne:


"General Sir John Burgoyne presents his compliments to Mr. Nasmyth,
and was much pleased to find, by Mr. Nasmyth's letter in the Times of
this day, certain impressions that he has held for some time confirmed
by so good an authority.  "A difficulty seems to be anticipated by many
that a steamer used as a ram with high velocity, if impelled upon a
heavy ship, would, by the revulsion of the sudden shock, be liable to
have much of her gear thrown entirely out of order, parts displaced,
and perhaps the boilers burst.  Some judgment, however, may be formed on
this point by a knowledge of whether such circumstances have occurred
on ships suddenly grounding; and even so, it may be a question whether
so great a velocity is necessary.  "An accident occurred some twenty
years ago, within Sir John Burgoyne's immediate cognisance, that has
led him particularly to consider the great power of a ship acting as a
ram.  A somewhat heavy steamer went, by accident or mismanagement, end
on to a very substantial wharf wall in Kingstown Harbour, Dublin Bay.
Though the force of the blow was greatly checked through the measures
taken for that purpose, and indeed so much so that the vessel itself
suffered no very material injury, yet several of the massive granite
stones of the facing were driven some inches in, showing the enormous
force used upon them.  "Superior speed will be very essential to the
successful action of the ram; but by the above circumstance we may
assume that even a moderate speed would enable great effects to be
produced, at least on any comparatively weak point of even ironclad
ships, such as the rudder."

In June 1870, I received a letter from Sir E. J. Reed, containing the
following extracts: --"I was aware previously that plans had been
proposed for constructing unarmoured steam rams, but I was not
acquainted with the fact that you had put forward so well-maturerd a
scheme at so early a date; and it has given me much pleasure to find
that such is the case.  It has been a cause both of pleasure and
surprise to me to find that so long ago you incorporated into a design
almost all the features which we now regard as essential to ramming
efficiency--twin screws and moderate dimensions for handiness,
numerous water-tight divisions for safety, and special strengthenings
at the bow.  Facts such as these deserve to be put on record....
Meanwhile accept my congratulations on the great skill and foresight
which your ram-design displays."

Collisions at sea unhappily afford ample evidence of the fatal
efficiency of the ramming principle.  Even ironclad ships have not been
able to withstand the destructive effect.  The Vanguard and the Kurfurst
 now lie at the bottom of the sea in consequence of an accidental
"end-on" ram from a heavy ship going at a moderate velocity.  High speed
in a Steam Ram is only desirable when the attempt is made to overtake
an enemy's ship; but not necessary for doing its destructive work.
A crash on the thick plates of the strongest Ironclad, from a Ram of
2000 tons at the speed of four miles an hour, would drive them inwards
with the most fatal results.

1839. Invention of the Steam Hammer, in its general principles and

Described in text, p.  231.

1839.  Invention of the Floating Mortar or Torpedo Ram.

For particulars and details, see Report of Torpedo Committee.

1839. A Double-faced Wedge-shaped Sluice-Valve for Main Street

The late Mr. Wicksteed, engineer of the East London Water Company,
having stated to me the inconvenience which had been experienced from
the defects in respect of water-tightness, as well as the difficulty of
opening and closing the valves of the main water-pipes in the streets,
I turned my attention to the subject.  The result was my contrivance of
a double-faced wedge-shaped sluice-valve, which combined the desirable
property of perfect water-tightness with ease of opening and closing
the valve.

This was effected by a screw which raised the valve from its bearings
at the first partial turn of the screw, after which there was no
further resistance or friction, except the trifling friction of the
screw in its nut on the upper part of the sluice-valve.  When screwed
down again, it closed simultaneously the end of the entrance pipe and
that of the exit pipe attached to the valve case in the most effective


Mr. Wicksteed was so much pleased with the simplicity and efficiency of
this valve that he had it applied to all the main pipes of his Company.
When its advantages became known, I received many orders from other
water companies, and the valves have since come into general use.
The prefixed figure will convey a clear idea of the construction.
The wedge form of the double-faced valve is conspicuous as the
characteristic feature of the arrangement.*
At a meeting of the Institution of Civil Engineers, May 23, 1883,
when various papers were read on Waterworks, Mr. H. I. Marten observed
in the course of the discussion: --"It has been stated in Mr. Gamble's
paper (on the waterworks of Port Elizabeth) that the sluice valves are
of the usual pattern.  The usual patterns of the present day are in
wonderful advance of those of thirty or forty years since.  The great
improvement originated with the introduction of 'the double-faced
sluice-cock.' This sluice-cock, which had now superseded every other
description, was the creation of Mr. James Nasmyth's inventive genius.
Mr. Marten said he well remembered the first reception of this useful
invention, as he happened at that time to be a pupil of Mr. Thomas
Wicksteed.  He was present when Mr. Wicksteed explained to Mr. Nasmyth
the want he had experienced of a sluice-cock for Waterworks purposes,
which should shut and remain perfectly tight against a pressure coming
from either side.  Mr. Marten had a lively recollection of the
instantaneous rapidity with which Mr. Nasmyth not only grasped but
provided for the requirement; so that almost by the time Mr. Wicksteed
had completed the statement of his want, Mr. Nasmyth had drawn upon the
back of an old letter a rough sketch of the first double-faced
sluice-cock; and in less than an hour had converted this rough sketch
into a full-sized working drawing; in the preparation of which it fell
to Mr. Marten's lot to have the honour to assist.  In his
'Autobiography' Mr. Nasmyth referred to the conversation with
Mr. Wicksteed, and introduced a print of the drawing made upon the
occasion.  The invention has been of the greatest use to the Waterworks
Engineer, especially in connection with the constant supply system, in
which it frequently happened that the pressure was sometimes against
one face of the sluice-cock, and sometimes against the other."--
See Proceedings and Discussions of the Institution of Civil Engineers,
1883, pp. 88, 89.

1839. A Hydraulic Mattress Press, capable of exerting a pressure of
      Twenty thousand tons.

Being under the impression that there are many processes in the
manufacturing arts, in which a perfectly controllable compressing power
of vast potency might be serviceable, I many years ago prepared a
design of an apparatus of a very simple and easily executed kind,
which would supply such a desideratum.  It was possessed of a range of
compressing or squeezing  power, which far surpassed anything of the
kind that had been invented.  As above said, it was perfectly
controllable; so as either to yield the most gentle pressure, or to
possess the power of compressing to upwards of twenty thousand tons;
the only limit to its power being in the materials employed in its

The principle of this enormously powerful compressing machine is
similar to that of the Hydraulic Press; the difference consisting
principally in the substitution of what I term a Hydraulic Mattress in
place of the cylinder and ram of the ordinary hydraulic press.
The Hydraulic Mattress consists of a square or circular water-tight
vessel or flat bag formed of 1/2-inch thick iron or steel plates
securely riveted together; its dimensions being, say 15 feet square by
3 feet deep, and having semicircular sides, which form enables the
upper flat part of the Mattress to rise say to the extent of 6 inches,
without any injury to the riveted joints, as such a rise or alteration
of the normal form of the semicircular sides would be perfectly
harmless, and not exceed their capability of returning to their normal
curve when the 6-inch rise was no longer necessary, and the elevating
pressure removed.


The action of this gigantic press is as follows.  The Mattress A A
having been filled with water, an additional quantity is supplied by a
force pump, capable of forcing in water with a pressure of one ton to
the square inch; thus acting on an available surface of at least 144
square feet surface--namely, that of the upper flat surface of the
Mattress.  It will be forced up by no less a pressure than twenty
thousand tons, and transfer that enormous pressure to any article that
is placed between the rising table of the press and the upper table.
When any object less thick than the normal space is required to receive
the pressure, the spare space must be filled with a suitable set of
iron flat blocks, so as to subject the article to be pressed to the
requisite power.

As before stated, there may be many processes in the manufacturing arts
in which such an enormous pressure may be useful; and this can be
accomplished with perfect ease and certainty.  I trust that this account
of the principles and construction of such a machine may suggest some
employment worthy of its powers.  In the general use of the Mattress
press, it would be best to supply the pressure water from an
accumulator, which should be kept constantly full by the action of
suitable pumps worked by a small steam-engine.  The great press would
require the high-pressure water only now and then; so that it would not
be necessary to wait for the small pump to supply the pressure water
when the Mattress was required to be in action.

1840. A Tapping Square, or instrument by which Perfect Verticality of
      the Tapping of Screwed Holes is insured.


The letter X shows how Screws are frequently made when tapped in the
old mode; the letter T as they are always made when the Tapping Square
is employed.

1840. A Mode of turning Segmental Work in the Ordinary Lathe

In executing an order for twenty locomotive engines for the Great
Western Railway Company, there was necessarily a repetition of detail
parts.  Many of them required the labour of the most skilful workmen,
as the parts referred to did not admit of their being executed by the
lathe or planing-machine in their ordinary mode of application.
But the cost of their execution by hand labour was so great, and the
risk of inaccuracy was so common (where extreme accuracy was essential),
that I had recourse to the aid of special mechanical contrivances and
machine tools for the purpose of getting over the difficulty.
The annexed illustration has reference to only one class of objects in
which I effected great saving in the production, as well as great
accuracy in the work.  It refers to a contrivance for producing by the
turning-lathe the eighty bands of the eccentrics for these twenty
engines.  Being of a segmental form, but with a projection at each
extremity, which rendered their production and finish impossible by the
ordinary lathe, I bethought me of applying what is termed the mangle
motion to the rim of a face plate of the lay, with so many pins in it
as to give the required course of segmental motion for the turning tool
to operate upon, between the projections C C in the illustration.


I availed myself of the limited to-and-fro horizontal motion of the
shaft of the mangle motion wheel, as it, at each end of the row of pegs
--in the face plate (when it passes from the exterior to the interior
range of them) in giving the feed motion to the tool in; the slide
rest, "turned" the segmental exterior of the eccentric hoops.
This it did perfectly, as the change of position of the small shaft
occurred at the exact time when the cut was at its termination,--that
being the correct moment to give the tool "the feed, or advance for the
taking of the next cut.  The saving, in respect to time, was 10 to 1 in
comparison with the same amount of work done by hand labour; while the
"truth" or correctness of the work done by this handy little
application of the turning-lathe was absolutely perfect I have been the
more particular in my allusion to this contrivance, as it is applicable
to any lathe, and can perform work which no lathe without it can
accomplish.  The unceasing industry of such machines is no small
addition to their attractions, in respect to the production of
unquestionably accurate work.

1843. Invention of the Steam Hammer Pile-driver.

Described in text, p. 261.

1843. A Universal Flexible Joint for Steam and Water-pipes.


The chief novelty in this swivel joint is the manner in which the
packing of the joints is completely enclosed, thereby rendering them
perfectly and permanently watertight.

1844. An Improvement in Blowing Fans and their Bearings.

The principle on which Blowing Fans act, and to which they owe their
efficiency, consists in their communicating Centrifugal action to the
air within them.

In order to obtain the maximum force of blast, with the minimum
expenditure of power, it is requisite so to form the outside rim of the
Fan-case as that each compartment formed by the space between the ends
of the blades of the Fan shall in its course of rotation possess an
equal facility of exit for the passage of the air it is discharging.
Thus, in a Fan with six blades, the space between the top of the blades
and the case of the Fan should increase in area in the progressive
ratios of 1-2-3-4-5-6.


If a Fan be constructed on this common-sense principle, we shall secure
the maximum of blast from the minimum of driving power.  And not only so;
but the humming sound--so disagreeable an accompaniment to the action
of the Fans (being caused by the successive sudden escape of the air
from each compartment as it comes opposite the space where it can
discharge its confined block of air)--will be avoided.  When the outer
case of a Fan is formed on the expanding or spiral principle,
as above described, all these important advantages will attend its use.
As the inward current of air rushes in at the circular openings on each
side of the Fan-case, and would thus oppose each other if there was a
free communication between them, this is effectually obviated by
forming the rotating portion of the fan by a disc of iron plate,
which prevents the opposite in-rushing currents from interfering with
each other, and at the same time supplies a most substantial means of
fastening the blades, as they are conveniently riveted to this central
disc.  On the whole, this arrangement of machinery supplies a most
effective "Noiseless Blowing Fan."

1845. A direct Action "Suction" Fan for the Ventilation of Coal-Mines.

The frequency of disastrous colliery explosions induced me to give my
attention to an improved method for ventilating coal mines.
The practice then was to employ a furnace, placed at the bottom of the
upcast shaft of the coal-pit, to produce the necessary ventilation.
This practice was highly riskful.  It was dangerous as well as
ineffective.  It was also liable to total destruction when an explosion
occurred, and the means of ventilation were thus lost when it was most
urgently required.  The ventilation of mines by a current of air forced
by a Fan into the workings, had been proposed by a German named George
Agricola, as far back as 1621.  The arrangement is found figured in his
work entitled De Re Metalicat, p. 162.  But in all cases in which this
system of forcing air through the workings and passages of a mine has
been tried, it has invariably been found unsuccessful as a means of

As all rotative Blowing Fans draw in the air at their centres,
and expel it at their circumference, it occurred to me that if we were
to make a communication between the upcast shaft of the mine and the
centre or suctional part of the Fan closing the top of the upcast
shaft, a Fan so arranged would draw out the foul air from the mine,
and allow the fresh air to descend by the downcast shaft,
and so traverse the workings.  And as a Suction Fan so placed would be
on the surface of the ground, and quite out of the way of any risk of
injury--being open to view and inspection at all times--we should
thus have an effective and trustworthy means for thorough ventilation.


Having communicated the design for my Direct Action Suction Fan for
coal-pit ventilation to the Earl Fitzwilliam, through his agent
Mr. Hartop, in 1850, his lordship was so much pleased with it that I
received an order for one of 14 feet diameter, for the purpose of
ventilating; one of his largest coalpits.  I arranged the steam-engine
which gave motion to the large Fan, so as to be a part of it;
and by placing the crank of the engine on the end of the Fan-shaft,
the engine transferred its power to it in the most simple and direct
manner.  The high satisfaction which this Ventilating Fan gave to the
Earl and to all connected with his coal-mines, led to my receiving
orders for several of them.

I took out no patent for the invention, but sent drawings and
descriptions to all whom I knew to be interested in coalmine ventilation.
I read a paper on the subject, and exhibited the necessary drawings, at
the meeting of the British Association at Ipswich in 1851.  These were
afterwards published in the Mining Journal.  The consequence is that
many of my Suction Ventilating Fans are now in successful action at
home and abroad.

1845. An improvement in the Links of Chain Cables.

1845. An Improved Method of Welding Iron.

One of the most important processes in connection with the production
of the details of machinery, and other purposes in which malleable iron
is employed, is that termed welding, namely, when more or less complex
forms are, so to speak, "built up" by the union of suitable portions of
malleable iron united and incorporated with each other in the process
of welding.  This consists in heating the parts which we desire to unite
to a white heat in a smith's forge fire, or in an air furnace, by means
of which that peculiar adhesive "wax-like" capability; of sticking
together is induced,--so that when the several parts are forcibly
pressed into close contact by blows of a hammer, their union is
rendered perfect.

But as the intense degree of heat which is requisite to induce this
adhesive quality is accompanied by the production of a molten oxide of
iron that clings tenaciously to the white-hot surfaces of the iron,
the union will not be complete unless every particle of the adhesing
molten scoriae is thoroughly discharged and driven out from between the
surfaces we desire to unite by welding.  If by any want of due care on
the part of the smith, the surfaces be concave or have hollows in them,
the scoriae will be sure to lurk in the recesses, and result in a
defective welding of a most treacherous nature.  Though the exterior may
display no evidence of the existence of this fertile cause of failure,
yet some undue or unexpected strain will rend and disclose the shut-up
scoriae, and probably end in some fatal break-down.  The annexed figures
will perhaps serve to render my remarks on this truly important subject
more clear to the reader.


Fig.1 represents an imperfectly prepared surface of two pieces of
malleable iron about to be welded.  The result of their concavity of
form is that the scoriae are almost certain to be shut up in the hollow
part,--as the pieces will unite first at the edges and thus include
the scoriae, which no amount of subsequent hammering will ever
dislodge.  They will remain lurking between, as seen in Fig.2.  Happily,
the means of obviating all such treacherous risks are as simple as they
are thoroughly effective.  All that has to be done to render their
occurrence next to impossible is to give to the surfaces we desire to
unite by welding a convex form as represented in Fig. 3; the result of
which is that we thus provide an open door for the scoriae to escape
from between the surfaces,--as these unite first in the centre, as
due to the convex form, and then the union proceeds outwards, until
every particle of scoriae is expelled, and the union is perfectly
completed under the blows of the hammer or other compressing agency.
Fig. 4 represents the final and perfect completion of the welding,
which is effected by this common-sense and simple means,--that is,
by giving the surfaces a convex form instead of a concave one.

When I was called by the Lords of the Admiralty in 1846 to serve on a
Committee, the object of which was to investigate the causes of failure
in the wrought-iron smith work of the navy, many sad instances came
before us of accidents which had been caused by defective welding,
especially in the vitally important articles of Anchors and Chain Cables.
In the case of the occasional failure of chain cables, the cause was
generally assigned to defective material; but circumstances led me to
the conclusion that it was a question of workmanship or maltreatment of
what I knew to be of excellent material.  I therefore instituted a
series of experiments which yielded conclusive evidence upon the
subject; and which proved that defective welding was the main and chief
cause of failure.  In order to prove this, several apparently excellent
cables were, by the aid of "the proving machine," pulled to pieces,
link by link, and a careful record was kept of the nature of the
fracture.  The result was, that out of every 100 links pulled asunder
80 cases clearly exhibited defective welding; while only 20 were broken
through the clear sound metal.  This yielded a very important lesson to
those specially concerned.

1845. Introduction of the V Anvil.

In connection with my Steam Hammer, when employed in forging great
cylindrical shafts, I introduced what I termed my V anvil.
Its employment has most importantly contributed to secure perfect
soundness in such class of forgings.

In the old system of forging cylindrical shafts, the bar was placed
upon a flat-faced anvil.  The effect of each blow of the hammer upon the
work was to knock the shaft into an oval form (see Fig. 1); and the
inevitable result of a succession of such blows was destruction of the
soundness of the centre or axis of the shaft.


In order to remedy this grave defect, arising from the employment of a
flat-faced anvil, I introduced my V anvil face (see Fig. 2), the effect
of which was, that the dispersive action of the blow of the hammer was
changed into a converging action, which ensured the perfect soundness
of the work; while the V or fork-like form of the angle face kept the
work steadily under the centre of the hammer, allowing the scale or
scoriae to fall into the apex or bottom of the V, which thus passed
away, leaving the faces of the angle quite clear.

This simple and common-sense improvement was eagerly and generally
adopted, and has been productive of most satisfactory and important

1847. A Spherical-seated Direct-weighted Safety Valve.

Having been on several occasions called to investigate the causes of
steam boiler explosions, my attention was naturally directed to the
condition of the Safety Valve.  I found the construction of them in many
cases to be defective in principle as well as in mechanical details;
resulting chiefly from the employment of a conical form in the valve,
which necessitated the use of a guide spindle to enable it to keep in
correct relative position to its corresponding conical seat, as seen at
A in Fig. 1.  As this guide spindle is always liable to be clogged with
the muddy deposit from the boiling water, which yields a very adhesive
encrustation, the result is a very riskful tendency to impede the free
action of the Safety Valve, and thereby prevent its serving its


With a view to remove all such causes of uncertainty in the action of
this vitally important part of a steam boiler I designed a Safety Valve,
having a spherical valve and corresponding seat, as seen in B C,
Fig. 2.  This form of Safety Valve had the important property of fitting
to its bearing-seat in all positions, requiring no other guide than its
own spherical seat to effect that essential purpose.  And as the weight
required to keep the valve closed until the exact desired maximum
pressure of steam has been attained, is directly attached to the under
side of the valve by the rod, the weight, by being inside the boiler,
is placed out of reach from any attempt to tamper with it.

The entire arrangement of this Safety Valve is quite simple.  It is free
from all Lever Joints and other parts which might become clogged;
and as there is always a slight pendulous motion in the weight by the
action of the water in the boiler, the spherical surfaces of the valve
and its seat are thus ever kept in perfect order.  As soon as the
desired pressure of steam has been reached, and the gravity of the
weight overcome, the valve rises from its seat, and gives perfectly
free egress to any farther accumulation of steam.  It is really quite a
treat, in its way, to observe this truly simple and effective Safety
Valve in action.  After I had contrived and introduced this Safety
Valve, its valuable properties were speedily acknowledged, and.  its
employment has now become very general.

1847. A Machine for cutting out Cottar Slots and Key-Groove Recesses in
      Parts of Machinery by a Traversing Drill.

One of the most tedious and costly processes in the execution of the
detail parts of machinery is the cutting out of Cottar Slots in piston
rods, connecting rods, and key recesses in shafts.  This operation used
to be performed by drilling a row of holes through the solid body of
the object, and then chipping away the intermediate metal between the
holes, and filing the rude slot, so produced, into its required form.
The whole operation, as thus conducted, was one of the most tedious and
irksome jobs that an engineer workman could be set to, and could only
be performed by those possessed of the highest skill.

What with broken chisels and files, and the tedious nature of the work,
it was a most severe task to the very best men, not to speak of the
heavy cost in wages.

In order to obviate all these disadvantages, I contrived an arrangement
of a drilling machine, with a specially formed drill, which at once
reduced the process to one of the easiest conducted in an engineer's


The.  "special" form of the Drill consisted in the removal of the centre
portion of its flat cutting face by making it with a notch O.
This enabled it to cut sideways, as well as downwards, and thus to cut
a slit or oblong hole.  No labour, as such, was required; but only the
intelligent superintendence of a lad to place the work in the machine,
and remove it for the next piece in its turn.  The machine did the
labour, and by its self-action did the work in the most perfect manner.

I may further mention that the arrangement of the machine consisted in
causing the object to traverse to and fro in a straight line, of any
required length, under the action of the drill.  The traversing action
was obtained by the employment of an adjustable crank, which gave the
requisite motion to a slide table, on which the work was fastened.
The "feed" downwards of the drill was effected by the crank at the
moment of its reversing the slide, as the drill reached the end of the
traverse; and, as there is a slight pause of the traverse at each end
of it, the "feed" for the next cutting taking place at that time,
the drill has the opportunity given to perfect its cut ere it commences
the next cutting traverse in succession.  This action continues in
regular course until the drill makes its way right through the piece of
work under its action; or can be arrested at any required depth
according to the requirements of the work.  Soap and water as a
lubricator continues to drop into the recess of the slot, and is always
in its right place to assist the cutting of the drill.

As before said, the entire function of this most effective machine tool
is self-acting.  It only required an intelligent lad or labourer to
attend to it; and, as there was ample time to spare, the
superintendence of two of these machines was quite within his ability.
The rates of the productive powers of this machine, as compared with
the former employment of hand labour, was at least ten to one;
to say nothing of the superior quality of the work executed.

Such were the manifold advantages of this machine, that its merits soon
became known and appreciated; and although I had taken out no patent
for it, we always had an abundance of orders, as it was its own best

1848. A Steam Hammer Form of Steam-Engine.


This engine is of great simplicity and get-at-ability of parts.
It is specially adapted for screw-propelled steamships, and many other
purposes.  It is now in very general use.  The outline is given above.

1848. Application of Hydraulic Power to the Punching of Large Holes in
      Iron Bars, and Plates of Great Thickness.

Dr. Faraday having applied to me to furnish him, for one of his
lectures at the Royal Institution, with some striking example of the
Power of Machinery in overcoming the resistance to penetration in the
case of some such material as cold malleable iron, it occurred to me to
apply the tranquil but vast power of a hydraulic press to punch out a
large hole in a thick cake of malleable iron.  Knowing that my excellent
friend John Rick had in his works at Bolton one of the most powerful
hydraulic presses then existing, contrived and constructed by his
ingenious father, the late Benjamin Hick, I proceeded to Bolton, and
explained Dr. Faraday's requirement, when, with his usual liberal zeal,
Mr. Hick at once placed the use of his great hydraulic press at my

Having had a suitable cake of steam-hammered malleable iron given to me
for the purpose in question, by my valued friend Thomas Lever Rushton
of the Bolton Ironworks, we soon had the cake of iron placed in the
great press.  It was 5 inches thick,18 inches long, and 15 inches wide.
Placing a cylindrical coupling box of cast-iron on the table of the
press, and then placing the thick cake of iron on it, and a short
cylindrical mass of iron (somewhat of the size and form of a Stilton
Cheese) on the iron cake, the coupling box acting as the Bolster of the
extemporised punching machine,--the press was then set to work.
We soon saw the Stilton Cheese-like punch begin to sink slowly and
quietly through the 5-inch thick cake of iron, as if it had been stiff
clay.  The only sound heard was when the punched-out mass dropped into
the recess of the coupling below.  Such a demonstration of tranquil but
almost resistless power of a hydraulic press had never, so far as we
were aware, been seen before.  The punched of iron, together with the
punched-out disc, were then packed off to Faraday; and great was his
delight in having his request so promptly complied with.  Great also was
the wonder of his audience when the punched plate was placed upon the
lecture table.  This feat of Benjamin Hick's great hydraulic press set
me a-thinking.  I conceived the idea that the application of hydraulic
press power might serve many similar purposes in dealing with ultra
thick plates or bar iron,--such as the punching out of holes,
and cutting thick bars and plates into definite shapes, as might be
required.  I suggested the subject to my friend Charles Fox, head of the
firm of Fox, Henderson, and Co. He had taken a large contract for a
chain bridge, the links of which were to be of thick flat iron bars,
with the ends broadened out for the link-pins to pass through.
He had described to me the trouble and cost they had occasioned him in
drilling the holes, and in cropping the rude-shaped ends of the bars
into the required form.  I advised him to try the use of the hydraulic
press as a punching-machine, and also as a cutting-machine to dress the
ends of the great links.  He did so in due time, and found the
suggestion of great service and value to him in this, and in other
cases of a similar kind.  The saving of cost was very great,
and the work was much more perfect than under the former system.

1848. An Alternately-pegged "Shive" or Pulley for Rope Band Power

1848. A Turn-table "Trunnion Vision" Reflecting Telescope.

This is so arranged that the observer can direct the Telescope and view
an object in any part of the heavens without moving from his seat,
which is attached to the turn-table.  For explanations, see text, p. 337.

1850. A Double or Ambidexter Self-acting Turning-Lathe,
      with "Dead Gutters," specially adapted for turning Bolts and
      suchlike detail Parts of Machinery.



      This is a very valuable tool.  It requires only one attendant.
It is especially useful as regards efficiency and economy.  It will be
sufficiently understood by mechanical engineers from the annexed

1852. A Solid-bar "Link-Valve Motion," especially valuable for the
      larger class of Marine Steam-Engines.

1854. Steam Puddling Patent.

This was the "pioneer" of the Bessemer process.  See Bessemer
correspondence, p. 354

1854. A Reversible Rolling Mill without Fly-wheel.

This Rolling Mill consists of two combined steam-engines, acting on
cranks at right angles, the reversing of the rolls being effected by
the link motion.  The requisite rolling power is obtained by suitable
wheel and pinion gear, so as to be entirely independent of the momentum
of a fly-wheel, which is entirely dispensed with.

I did not patent the invention.  As usual in such cases, I made no
secret of it, but sent sketches explanatory of the arrangement to many
professional friends interested in mechanical improvements.
It was adopted by many, especially for rolling long and heavy bars and
plates.  It enabled the workmen to "see-saw" these ponderous objects,
and pass them to and fro through the rolls with the utmost case,--
to the great saving of heat, time, and labour.  The invention was first
brought into use by Mr. Ramsbotham at the Crewe works of the London and
North-Western Railway.  On the 4th December 1866 I received the
following letter from him:

"DEAR SIR--I must crave your forgiveness for my great delay in
acknowledging the receipt of your kind letter of the 29th August,
in which you refer to the successful carrying out at these works of
your idea of a 'Reversible Rolling Mill without a Fly-wheel.'
It has long been to me a matter of astonishment that your idea has not
been reduced to practice years ago, particularly when it is considered
how well the arrangement is adapted to the rolling of Armour Plates, or
other work requiring a sustained effort, whilst it is at the same time
more effective than the ordinary mill arrangement for very light work.
So much is this latter true, that the men who are left to their own
choice in the matter, will reverse the mill rather than pass a light
sheet of 8 or 10 lbs.  weight over the upper roll.  This country is much
indebted to you for so valuable a suggestion; and now that it has been
brought to a successful issue, I have no doubt but it will be widely
acted upon.  I need not add that it will afford me much pleasure to show
you the mill, and also what we are doing generally, if you should at
any time visit Crewe.--
Believe me very faithfully yours, " J. RAMSBOTHAM."

I also communicated the invention to Mr. Thomas Gillott of the Farnley
Ironworks, Yorkshire, and received from him the following letter, dated
the 2d January 1877:

" DEAR SIR--I was much gratified to see by your letter in Engineering
 the interest you have shown with respect to the large Reversing Plate
Mill erected by me at these works, and drawn on the plan suggested by
you.  Allow me to thank you for the complimentary manner in which you
have mentioned my work.  Since the notice appeared, we have done a deal
of heavy work in this mill; and a plate large enough to shear 11' 0"
and 10' 2" and 1/2" thick has been rolled in five minutes.  The slab
went through the roll 17 times before being rolled to the width and
turned round, and 18 times after turning and of the full width;
making a total of 35 passes--the turning occupying 20 seconds.
When it is remembered how rapidly a thin plate cools, this performance
will sufficiently indicate the severe work this mill is capable of
doing; notwithstanding the many predictions that such large plates
could not be rolled without a fly-wheel.  As to repairs, none have been
required; so I cannot compare this with the Clutch systems.  In respect
of steam used, the direct acting engines compare favourably with an
expansion beam condensing engine doing similar but lighter work.
Should it ever be your wish to see this mill at work, I should be much
pleased to have the opportunity of showing it to you.--
I am, dear sir, your obedient servant,


1854. Drilling Tunnels through Hard Rock.

Besides these contrivances and methods of accomplishing mechanical
objects, I have on several occasions read papers, prepared drawings,
and given suggestions, out of which have come so-called "inventions"
made by others.  For instance, at the meeting of the British Association
in Liverpool in 1854, I read a paper and exhibited drawings before the
Mechanical Science Section, on my method of drilling tunnels through
hard rock.  The paper and drawings excited considerable interest among
the railway engineers who were present.  I afterwards met Mr. George
Newmann, C.E., who consulted me on the same subject.  Several years
after (21st April 1863) I received the following letter from him:

"DEAR Sir--Some few years ago, I had the pleasure of spending an
evening in your company at my relative's (Mr. G. Withington) house at
Pendleton.  As I was then Engineer to the Victor Emmanuel Railway, and
had made a survey of the Mout Cenis for the purpose of the Tunnel,
I consulted you as to the application of the machinery for that work.
You suggested the driving of drills in a manner similar to a piston-rod,
with other details.  On my return to Savoy, I communicated these ideas
to Mr. Bartlett, the contractor's agent, and I recommended him to get a
small trial machine made.  This he had done in a few months, and then he
claimed the whole idea as his own.  The system has since been carried
out (see Times, 4th April 1863) by compressed air instead of steam.
I call your attention to this, as you may contradict, if you think
proper, the assertion in the article above mentioned, that the idea
originated with Bartlett."

I did not, however, contradict the assertion.  I am glad that my
description and drawings proved in any way useful towards the
completion of that magnificent work, the seven-mile tunnel under
Mont Cenis.

1862.  Chilled Cast-iron Shot.

In like manner, I proposed the use of Chilled Cast-Iron Shot at a
meeting of the Mechanical Science Section of the British Association,
held at Cambridge in October 1862.  Up to that time hardened steel shot
had been used to penetrate thick iron plates, but the cost was
excessive, about #30 a ton.  I proposed that Chilled Cast-Iron should be
substituted; it was more simple and inexpensive.  Considerable
discussion took place on the subject; and Sir William Fairbairn,
who was President of the Section, said that "he would have experiments
made, and he hoped that before the next meeting of the Association, the
matter would be proved experimentally.  A brief report of the discussion
is given in the Times of the 7th October, and in the Athenaeum of the
18th October, 1862.  Before, however, the matter could be put to the
test of experiment, Major Palliser had taken out his Patent for the
invention of Chilled Cast-Iron Shot, in May 1863, for which he was
afterwards handsomely rewarded.

I do not wish to "grasp" at any man's inventions, but it is right to
claim my own, and to state the facts.  The discussion above mentioned
took place upon a paper read by J. Aston, Esq., Q.C., who thus refers
to the subject in his letter to me, dated the 7th January 1867:

"I perfectly remember the discussion which took place at the meeting of
the British Association at Cambridge in 1862, upon the material proper
to be used as projectiles.  The discussion arose after a paper had been
read by me in the Mechanical Section upon 'Rifled guns and projectiles
adapted for attacking armour plates.' The paper was, I think, printed
by the Association in their Report for 1862.  You spoke, I believe,
at some length on the occasion; and I recollect that you surprised and
much interested all who were present, by strenuously urging the use of
Chilled Cast-iron for shot and shell, intended for penetrating armour

"Having embraced all opportunities, and I had many at that time,
of ascertaining all that was done in the way of improving rifled
projectiles, I entertained a very strong opinion that experiments had
shown that ordinary cast-iron was, as compared with steel, of very
little value for shot and shell to be used against iron plates.
For that reason, I remember I took an opportunity, after the
termination of the discussion, in which you held your own against all
comers in favour of chilled cast-iron, of questioning you closely on
the subject, and you gave me, I admitted, good reason for the opinion
you expressed.  You also urged me to cause a trial to be made of chilled
cast-iron for shell, such as I had shown to the section, and which (in
hardened steel shot) had been fired by Mr. Whitworth through thick iron
plates.  This I had not an opportunity of doing.  Term began soon after,
and Temple occupations then took up all my time.  "There can be no doubt
whatever that any one who may claim to have been before you in teaching
the public the use of Chilled Cast Iron for projectiles intended to
penetrate iron plates, must give proof of having so done prior to your
vigorous advocacy of that material at the Cambridge Meeting in 1862.--
Yours very sincerely, "J.Aston."

In another letter Mr. Aston says--"It is quite right of you to assert
your claim to that which in fact belongs to you."  I did not, however,
assert my claim; and, with these observations and extracts, I leave the
matter, stating again the fact that my public communication of the
invention was made in October 1862; and that the patent for the
invention was taken out by Major Palliser in May 1863.

Mr Nasmyth's final comments on his inventions and contrivances.

I have only mentioned the more prominent of my inventions and
contrivances.  Had I described them fully I should have required another
volume.  I have the satisfaction to know that many of them have greatly
advanced the progress of the mechanical arts, though they may not be
acknowledged as mine.  I patented very few of my inventions.  The others
I sowed broadcast over the world of practical mechanics.  My reward is
in the knowledge that these "children of my brain" are doing, and will
continue to do, good service in time present and in time to come.

In mechanical structures and contrivances, I have always endeavoured to
attain the desired purpose by the employment of the Fewest Parts,
casting aside every detail not absolutely necessary, and guarding
carefully against the intrusion of mere traditional forms and
arrangements.  The latter are apt to insinuate themselves,
and to interfere with that simplicity and directness of action
which is in all cases so desirable a quality in mechanical structures.
PLAIN COMMON SENSE should be apparent in the general design,
as in the form and arrangement of the details; and a general character
of severe utility pervade the whole, accompanied with as much attention
to gracefulness of form as is consistent with the nature and purpose of
the structure.


Before I take my leave of the public, I wish to put on record my
speculations as to the origin of two subjects of remote antiquity, viz.
the Sun-ray origin of the Pyramids, and the origin of the Arrow-head
or Cuneiform Character.

First, with respect to the Sun-ray origin of the Egyptian Pyramids.

In pursuing a very favourite subject of inquiry, namely the origin of
forms, no portion of it appears to me to be invested with so deep an
interest as that of the Worship of the Sun, one of the most primitive
and sacred foundations of adorative religion,--affecting as it has
done, architectural structures and numerous habits and customs which
have come clown to us from remote antiquity, and which owe their origin
to its influence.

On many occasions, while beholding the sublime effects of the Sun's
Rays streaming down on the earth through openings in the clouds near
the horizon, I have been forcibly impressed with the analogy they
appear to suggest as to the form of the Pyramid, while the single
vertical ray suggests that of the Obelisk.

In following up this subject, I was fortunate enough to find what
appears to me a strong confirmation of my views, namely, that the
Pyramid, as such, was a sacred form.  I met with many examples of this
in the Egyptian Collection at the Louvre at Paris; especially in small
pyramids, which were probably the objects of household worship.
In one case I found a small pyramid, on the upper part of which
appeared the disc of the Sun, with pyramidal rays descending from it on
to figures in the Egyptian attitude of adoration.  This consists in the
hands held up before the eyes--an attitude expressive of the brightness
of the object adored.  It is associated with the brightness of the Sun,
and it still survives in the Salaam, which expresses profound reverence
and respect among Eastern nations.  It also survives in the disc of the
Sun, which has for ages been placed like a halo behind the heads of
sacred and exalted personages, as may be seen in Eastern and early
paintings, as well as in church windows at the present day.

This is also intimately connected with lighted lamps and candles, which
latter may often be met with in Continental churches, as well as in
English Ritualist Churches at the present day.  In Romish Continental
churches they are stuck on to pyramidal stands, and placed before
pictures and images of sacred personages.  All such lighted lamps or
candles are survivals of that most ancient form of worship,--
that of THE SUN!

The accompanying illustrations will serve in some degree to confirm the
correctness of my views as to this very.  interesting subject.

[Image]  Fig. 1 is from a "rubbing" of one of the many small or
         "Household" pyramids in the Louvre Collection at Paris;

[Image] while Fig. 2 is an attempt to illustrate in a graphic manner
        the derivation of the form of the Pyramid and Obelisk from the
        Sun's Rays.

In connection with the worship of the Sun and other heavenly bodies, as
practised in ancient times by Eastern nations, it may be mentioned that
their want of knowledge of the vast distances that separate them from
the earth led them to the belief that these bodies were so near as to
exert a direct influence upon man and his affairs.  Hence the origin of
Astrology, with all its accompanying mystifications; this was practised
under the impression that the Sun, Moon, and planets were near to the
earth.  The summits of mountains and "High Places" thus became "sacred,"
and were for this reason resorted to for the performance of the most
important religious ceremonies.

As the "High Places" could not be transported to the Temples,
the cone-bearing trees, which were naturally associated with these
elevated places, in a manner partook of their sacred character, and the
fruit of the trees became in a like manner sacred.  Hence the Fir Cone
became a portable emblem of their sacredness; and, accordingly in the
Assyrian Worship, so clearly represented to us in the Assyrian
Sculptures in our Museums, we find the Fir Cone being presented by the
priests towards the head of their kings as a high function of
Beatification.  So sacred was the Fir Cone, as the fruit of the sacred
tree, that the priest who presents it has a reticule-shaped bag in
which, no doubt, the sacred emblem was reverently deposited when not in
use for the performance of these high religious ceremonies.

The same emblem "survived" in the Greek worship.  I annex a tracing
from a wood engraving in Fellows's Researches in Asia Minor, 1852
(p. 175), showing the Fir Cone as the finial to the staff of office of
the Wine-god Bacchus.


To this day it is employed to stir the juice of the grape previous to
fermentation, and so sanctifying it by contact with the fruit of the
Sacred Tree.  This is still practised by the Greeks in Asia Minor and
in Greece, though introduced in times of remote antiquity.
The Fir Cone communicates to most of the Greek wines that peculiar
turpentine or resinous flavour which is found in them.  Although the
sanctification motive has departed, the resinous flavour is all that
survives of a once most sacred ceremony, as having so close a relation
to the worship of the Sun and the heavenly bodies.

In like manner, it appears to me highly probable that "The Christmas Tree"
with its lighted tapers, which is introduced at that sacred season for
the entertainment of our young people, is "a survival" of the worship
of the sacred tree and of the Sun.  The toys which are hung on the twigs
of the tree may also be "survivals" of the offerings which were usually
made to the Sun and the heavenly bodies.  If I am correct in my
conjecture on this subject, it throws a very interesting light on
what is considered as a mere agent for the amusement of children.

Next, with respect to the Cuneiform Character.  When I first went to
reside in London, in 1829, I often visited the British Museum.
It was the most instructive and interesting of all the public
institutions which I had yet seen.  I eagerly seized every opportunity
I could spare to spend as many hours as possible in wandering through
its extensive galleries, especially those which contained the Assyrian,
Egyptian, and Greek antiquities.  By careful and repeated examination
of the objects arranged in them, I acquired many ideas that afforded me
subjects for thought and reflection.

Amongst these objects, I was specially impressed and interested with
the so-called "Arrow-head" or "Cuneiform Inscriptions" in the Assyrian
Department.  These remarkable inscriptions were on large tablets of
burnt clay.  They formed the chief portion of the then comparatively
limited collection of Assyrian antiquities in the British Museum.

[Image] Fig 1.

I was particularly impressed with the precision and simple beauty of
these cuneiform inscriptions,--especially with the strikingly
distinctive nature of what I may term the fundamental or elementary
wedge-like form, of which the vast variety of letters or words of these
inscriptions were composed.  The triangular or three-sided indentation
will be observed in the above engraving (Fig. 1).  This elementary
form, placed in various positions with respect to each other, appeared
to be capable of yielding an infinite variety of letters and words,
as seen in Fig. 2.

[Image] Fig 2.

I may here mention that I entered upon this interesting subject with no
pretensions as a linguist, nor with any idea of investigating the
meaning of these remarkable inscriptions; but only as a Mechanic, to
ascertain the manner in which the striking characters were produced, so
as to convey words and ideas through their variety of combinations.
I soon perceived that the simple but distinctive characters shown in
the above representations were essentially connected with the
employment of plastic clay; this being the material most suitable for
their impression, by means of a three-sided instrument or stylus.
The angular extremity of this instrument, when depressed into the
surface of a tablet of plastic clay in different positions and
directions, would leave these cuneiform impressions in all their
beautifully distinct and characteristic forms.  And thus, after the
tablets had been subjected to fire and made into hard brick,
the impressions have come down to us, after the lapse of thousands of
years, as fresh and distinct as if they had been produced but

I was so fortunate as to have my conjectures confirmed with respect to
the exact form of the instrument by which these remarkable characters
are produced, observing, in what appeared to be a hastily-formed
inscription on the edge of a large brick, that the inscriber had
apparently used rather more pressure on his stylus than was requisite.
In consequence of which, the end of it had been so deeply depressed
into the soft clay as to leave an exact counterpart of its size and
form.  I secured a cast of this over-deep impression of the stylus,
from which Fig. 3 is taken, after a photograph.

[Image]  Fig 3.

In order further to illustrate the simple mode of producing
inscriptions on tablets of clay, I give in Fig. 4 a tablet inscription
produced by means of the stylus which is seen laid over the tablet.

[Image]  Fig 4.

The next illustration (Fig.5) is intended to convey an idea of the
manner in which the stylus was held and applied to the surface of the
clay when a cuneiform inscription was being produced.  The upper, flat,
or third side of the stylus enabled the inscriber to keep it in correct
relative position in respect to the tablet, yielding at the same time a
convenient flat surface upon which to rest the end of his finger when
indenting the angular end into the clay.

[Image]  Fig 5.

Refer back to Fig. 2, and it will be found that any variety in the
size of the cuneiform inscriptions may be produced by the same stylus,
by simply depressing the angular end of it to a greater or less depth
into the surface of the clay.  In many of the most elaborate
inscriptions, a certain lob-sidedness of the cuneiform character may be
observed.  This is due to the inscriber having held his stylus somewhat
askew, as we do a pen in ordinary writing.  Referring to my remark that
the distinctive shape of the cuneiform character was essentially due to
the use of plastic clay as the most suitable material for its
production, I think it highly probable that the origin of these
inscriptions took its rise not only from the facility with which the
characters could be indented on the material, but from the abundance of
plastic mud which forms the natural soil of the lands adjoining the
great Assyrian rivers.  This when made into bricks, became the chief
building material of the energetic people of Babylon and the other
great cities of the Tigris and Euphrates valleys.  The laborious work
of brickmaking was generally assigned to captives as taskwork, and it
appears to me highly probable that "the tale" of the brickmaker or his
taskmaster might be most readily marked by simply indenting the side of
the soft tale brick with the corner angle of a dry one; and that thus
the strikingly peculiar character of the cuneiform character was
produced (see Fig. 6).

[Image] Fig 6.

In course of time the elementary form was expanded into this most
beautifully simple mode of communicating ideas through the agency of
conventional signs or letters; being also especially suited for making
historical or other records on tablets of moist clay, which, when
"fired", became absolutely indestructible, so far as time is concerned.

This is abundantly proved by those marvellously perfect burnt clay
tablets, covered with exquisitely minute and perfect inscriptions,
which, after having remained hid in mounds of rubbish for thousands of
years, among the ruins of the Assyrian cities, are brought to light as
fresh and perfect as on the day on which they were executed.
These tablets now excite the wonder and admiration of all who are able
to appreciate the beauty of the inscriptions, as well as of those who
are speculatively curious as to the origin of written language.
This attempt to explain the probable origin of the cuneiform character
may to some appear fanciful.  But whether or not, it is certain that
this simple and impressive character can be readily produced by the
primitive means which I have ventured to suggest.  I give a cuneiform
inscription (Fig. 7), which I have produced by simply employing the
corner angle of an ordinary brick as the stylus for indenting the
inscription on the tablet of soft clay.  This might have been extended
to any length, in longer as well as minuter impressions.

[Image]  Fig 7.

As soon as the capability of the cuneiform impression was adopted as
the Assyrian character, it was in due time employed for inscriptions on
stone or other materials, such as marble or alabaster.  The chisel was
then substituted for the stylus; but the characters remained in a great
measure the same.  In some cases a slight modification was observable,
being naturally due to the change of material and the method of carving
it; but in most respects the departure from the clay prototype is very
slight, and the original is adhered to with remarkable integrity.

When examining some early Greek inscriptions in marble, in the British
Museum, in the year 1837, I was much interested to observe the
appearance of a cuneiform element in the limbs of several Greek
letters, especially in the terminals, as illustrated in Fig. 8,
each limb of the letter being in itself a perfect cuneiform;
and as such the terminal of each limb is at right angles to the axis,
and not as now (in our modern capital letters) parallel to the line of

[Image]  Fig 8.

This apparent presence of the cuneiform element in these early Greek
inscriptions suggests some very interesting historic causes which led
to their introduction, and so passed from the Greek into the Roman,
and eventually into the capital letters of our own alphabet.  To give
one instance,--though many might be cited,--take the capital letter T,
and it will be found that it went from the Cuneiform into the Greek,
then into the Roman, and lastly into our own letter, thus presenting a
remarkable instance of the survival of a form from remote antiquity
down to the present day.

[Image]  Fig 9.

The letters A K H I K M N Y X have the distinct remains of their
Babylonian origin in the top and bottom stroke, which is nothing more
nor less than a corruption of the original or primitive arrow-headed
impression of the stylus in the moist clay, begun thousands of years

In a lecture which I gave at the Royal Institution in London, in 1839,
and in another at the British Association at Cheltenham, in 1856,
I referred to this presence of the cuneiform element in the Greek
letters, illustrating the subject by actual casts from the inscriptions
themselves.  At Cheltenham the question gave rise to a most animated
and interesting discussion, in which Dr. Whewell and Sir Thomas
Phillips (the great antiquarian) took a prominent part.  I understood
that Sir Thomas Phillips assigned that the intermixture of cuneiform
with the Greek alphabet proceeded from the Samaritans, who were
originally an Assyrian colony.  I find that many Greek inscriptions
exhibit the cuneiform element in nearly all the letters composing them.
This is a subject well worthy of the attention of our antiquarian Greek
scholars, as pointing to an intimate intercourse with the Assyrians at
some remote age.  The distinctive character of the cuneiform in the
Greek inscriptional letters could not have arisen from chance.
Some intercommunication with the Assyrians must have taken place.

This subject is all the more interesting, as the cuneiform element
appears to have passed from the Greek inscriptional letters into those
of the Romans, and from thence into our own capital letters.
This affords a very remarkable instance of the "survival" of a form,
which, however naturally due to the plastic material in connection with
which it originated, nevertheless led to its use for ages after the
circumstances which led to its adoption had passed away.  This tendency
in mankind to cling to shapes and forms through mere traditional
influences is widely observable, especially in connection with
architectural forms, arrangements, and decorative details.  It offers a
subject of great interest to those who have a natural aptitude to
investigate what I may term the etymology of form, a subject of the
most attractive nature, especially to those who enjoy thinking and
reflecting upon what they have specially observed.

[Image]  Assyrian roller-seal.

Before concluding this subject I may mention that the Assyrians
employed a cylindrical roller-seal in order to produce impressions in a
wholesale way.  This is exemplified in the above engraving.
The mechanical principles inherent in this beautifully simple form of
roller-seal, indicate a high order of ingenuity, well worthy of the
originators of the arrow-headed character.  In fact it is the prototype
not only of the modern system of calico-printing but of the Waiter
Printing Press, by which the Times and many other newspapers are now
printed--a remarkable instance of the survival or restoration of a
very old method of impression.

[Image]  His Autograph and Thumb Mark.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "James Nasmyth, Engineer: An Autobiography" ***

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