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Printed by R. & R. CLARK, Edinburgh. 


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 Maudsley of London, for the purpose 
of being inserted in Industrial Biography, or Ironworkers and 
Toolmaleers, 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 in- 

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 numerous 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 

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 in- 
telligently 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 
"VVilkie 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. Nasmy th'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 architec- 
ture, as well as of mechanics, given in the early part of the 

I might point out that Mr. Nasmyth's narrative has a 
strong bearing upon popular education ; not only as re- 
gards 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 

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 fairy-land 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 

viii PREFACE. 

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 in- 
struments, 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 science. 

A Chronological List of some of Mr. Nasmyth's contriv- 
ances 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 engin- 
eering world. 

The chapter relating to the origin of the Cuneiform Cha- 
racter, 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. S. S. 

LONDON, January 1883. 




Sentiment of Ancestry Origin of the name of Naesmyth Naesmyths of 
Posso Naesmyths of Netherton Battle of Bothwell Brig Estate confis- 
cated Elspeth Naesmyth Michael Naesmyth, builder and architect 
Fort at Inversnaid Naesmyth family tomb Former masters and men 
Michael Naesrnyth's son New Edinburgh Grandmother Naesmyth 
Uncle Michael . . . . . . Pages 1-17 



Born 1758 Grassmarket, Edinburgh Education 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 

Pages 18-48 


Sir James Hall Geology of Edinburgh Friends of the family Henry Rae- 
burn Evenings at home Society of artists "Caller Aou" Manage- 
ment 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 . I > ..... Pages 49-63 




Born 1808 Mary Peterkin The brilliaut red poppies Left-handed 
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 

Pages 64-78 



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 Mid- 
lothian " 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 

Pages 79-97 



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 Maudsley's 
factory . . . . . . . Pages 98-1 23 



Voyage to London with specimens of workmanship First walk through Lon- 
don Visit to Henry Maudsley The interview Exhibit my specimens 
Taken on as assistant The private workshop Maudsley'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 " . .. . . Pages 124-138 


Enter Maudsley's service Rudimentary screw generator The guide screw 
Interview with Faraday Rate of wages Economical living My cooking 
stove Make model of marine steam - engines My collar -nut cutting 
machine Maudsley's elements of high-class workmanship Flat filing 
Standard planes Maudsley's "Lord Chancellor" Maudsley's Visitors 
General Bentham Barton, Donkin, and Chantrey The Cundell Brothers 
* Walks round London Norman architecture . . Pages 139-154 



Coaching trip to Liverpool Coventry English scenery "The Rocket" 
The two Stephensons Opening of the railway William Fawcett Birk- 
enhead Walk back to London Patricroft Manchester Edward Tootal 
Sharp, Roberts, and Co. Manchester industry Coalbrookdale The 
Black Country Dudley Castle Wren's Nest Hill Birmingham Boul- 
ton and Watt William Murdoch John Drain Kenilworth Warwick 
Oxford Windsor London . . . . Pages 155-171 



Stamping machine improved Astronomical instruments A reflective tele- 
scope proposed Death of Maudsley Joshua Field "Talking books" 
Leave Maudsley 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 Ken- 
nedyGrant 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 . . . . . . Pages 172-198 



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 Foundry 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 . . . Pages 199-213 



Origin of mechanical instinct in Lancashire and Cheshire Hugo de Lupus 
The Peter Stubbs's files Worsley labourers Promotion from the ranks 

Free trade in ability Foremen lieutenants, Archie Torry, James Hutton, 

John Clerk, Thomas Crewdson Trades' Union interference A strike 
ordered Workmen 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 . . Pages 214-232 



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 
the steam hammer in operation A patent taken out First steam- 
hammer made in England Its general adoption Patent secured for 
United States . ..... Pages 233-251 



The French Minister of Marine at Paris Rouen Bayeux Cherbourg 
Brest Rochefort Indret M. Rosine Architecture of Nismes Mar- 
seilles 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 . . . . . . Pages 252-267 



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 
Trial against the old method Its general adoption Happy thoughts 
Testing of chain cables and anchors Causes of failure Punctiliousness of 
officials at royal dockyards Egyptian workmen employed Affiffi Lalli 
Letter from Faraday . . . ~ . . Pages 268-285 



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 Stockholm 
Visit to Upsala The iron mines of Dannemora To Gottenburg by 
steamer Motala Trollhatten Falls Swedish people Copenhagen 
Tycho Brahe Zealand and Holstein Holland, and return 

Pages 286-306 



Increased demand for self-acting tools Promotion of lads The Trades Union 
again Strike against Platt Brothers Edward Tootal's advice Friend- 
liness between engineering firms Small high-pressure engines Uses of 
waste steam Improvements in calico printing Improvements at.Wool- 
wich Arsenal Enlargement of workshops Improved machine tools The 
gun foundry and laboratories Orders for Spain and Eussia Rope factory 
machinery Russian Officers Grand Duke Constantino Lord Ellesmere's 
visitors Admiral Kornileff .... Pages 307-322 



Hobbies at home Drawing 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 Pico 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 BonallyD. 0. Hill . ..' . . Pages 323-350 




A reflecting telescope constructed Trunnion turn-table Sir David Brewster 
Edward Cowper's Lecture Cause of the sun's light Lord Murray 
SirT. Mitchell The Milky Way Countless suns Infusoria in Bridge- 
water Canal Rotary movements of heavenly bodies Geological Society 
meeting Dr. Vaughan Improvement of Small Arms Factory, Enfield 
Generosity of United States Government The Enfield Rifle. 

Pages 351-363 



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, Pens- 
hurst Planting and gardening The Crystal Palace Music Tools and 
telescopes The greenhouse .... Pages 364-377 



Astronomy Lecture on the moon Edinburgh Old friends Visit to the 
Continent Paris, Chartres, Nismes, Chamounix Art of photography Sir 
John Herschel Spots on the sun's surface W. 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 Wind- 
mill grinding of speculum The dial of life End of recollections 


Pages 440-450 
INDEX . . . . . . . Pages 451-456 


PORTRAIT OF JAMES NASMYTH. By G. Reid, R.S.A. Etched by Paul Rajon. 













NELSON'S MONUMENT ......... ,,45 


MURAL CROWN OF ST. GILES' . .... ,,74 


THE OLD TOLBOOTH, EDINBURGH . . . . . To face page 85 

EXPANSOMETER ' . ,, 120 

























Pago 121 

' . " 195 

To face page 216 
page 230 
i> 264 

To face page 270 

page 273 



To face page 300 
page 303 

To face page 323 

page 331 

,. 334 

To face page 344 




SUN SPOTS AND " WILLOW LEAF " OBJECTS . . . To face page 384 



DIAL OF LIFE ' .. . . . - ,,398 














DIAGRAM OF BLOWING FAN . .* . . . ,,427 







" THE ANTIQUARIAN " To face page 440 

















Page 67, line 17, for off, read over. 

87, 3, ,, Both well, Borthwick. 

119, 15, ,, stalks, stacks. 

298, 13, ,, minutes, ,, seconds. 

358. 20, ,, eternal, ,, infinite. 

367, 25, ,, anticipated, ,, superseded. 

422 and 423, ,, Matrass, ,, Mattress. 

The Scale placed under the cut of the Lunar Craters, on page 335, belongs 
to the Sun Spot illustration opposite page 384. 




OUE history begins long 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 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 perse- 
verance, or from the practice of the virtues of self-control 
and self-help. 

Sir Bernard Burke, in his Peerage and Baronetage, gives 
a faithful account of the ancestors from whom I am lineally 
descended. 1 " The family of Naesmyth," 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. 

1 Sir B. Burke's Peerage mid Barmietage. Ed. 1879. Pp. 885-6. 


The following is the family legend of the origin of the name 
of Naesmyth : 

In the troublous times which prevailed in Scotland be- 
fore 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 ances- 
tor 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 hammer- 
man, 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 dis- 
guised 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 sed marte, 

CHAP. I.] 



" 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 

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 Eoyal 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 Lang- 
side in 1568. He was banished, and his estates were seized 
by the Eegent 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 Eoyal 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 hert 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 another. 

Sir Michael Naesmyth, son of the Royal Falconer, suc- 
ceeded 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 Nae- 
smyth, 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 Clif- 


ton, 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, Eoman Catho- 
licism, into the country, and to enforce it at the point of the 

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 
Xaesmyths. Being Presbyterians, they held to their own 
faith. They were prevented from using their churches, 
and they accordingly met on the moors, or in unfrequented 
places for worship. 1 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 inter- 
necine war that followed. There were Naesmyths on both 
sides Xaesmyths for the King, and Naesmyths for the 

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 

1 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 property." 


troops, with a complete train of field artillery. What 
chance had the Covenanters against such a force ? Never- 
theless, they met at Bothwell Bridge, a few miles west of 

It is unnecessary to describe the action. 1 The Cove- 
nanters, 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, wander- 
ing 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 Hamil- 
ton, one of the trimmers of the time, had long coveted the 
possession of the lands, as Ahab had coveted Naboth's vine- 
yard. He took advantage of the conscription of the men 
engaged in the Bothwell Brig conflict, and had the lands 

1 See the account of a Covenanting Officer in the Appendix to the Scots 
Worthies. See also Sir Walter Scott's Old Mortality, where the battle of 
Bothwell Brig is described. 


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 
Eevolution 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 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 con- 
demned to be burnt 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 


[CHAP. i. 

and nobility. Their old castellated houses or towers were 
found too dark and dreary for modern uses. The draw- 
bridges 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 

1 The lower house, at the right hand corner of the engraving, with the 
three projecting gable ends, is the house in question. 

CHAP. I.] 


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 Grey- 
friars Churchyard, to the east of the flight of steps which 
forms the main approach to George Heriot's Hospital. 


The last work that Michael Xaesmyth 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 
Kob Eoy and his caterans within the Highland Border. A 
promise was given by the Government that during the pro- 
gress of the work a suitable force of soldiers should be quartered 
close at hand to protect the builder and his workmen. 


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 Govern- 
ment 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 overtaken 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 Eob Eoy and his desperate 
gang. The men, with the dirks of the Macgregors at their 
throats, begged hard for their lives. This was granted on con- 
dition 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 permit 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, 
certain death would meet them. 1 

Poor Michael never recovered from the cold which he 

1 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 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. 


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 ahle to devote him- 
self 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 own hearthstone. 

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. 

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. Grey- 
friars 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 cere- 
ments. 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. 


[CHAP. i. 

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 for shifting 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 em- 
ployers. Work was found for them in the dull seasons 
when trade was slack, and in summer they sometimes re- 
moved 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 away. Sudden change, scamp- 
ing, and shoddy have taken their place. 

My grandfather, Michael Naesmyth, succeeded to the 
business in 1751. He more than maintained the reputa- 
tion 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 the merely 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 the 
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 


namely, 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 joiner-work. 

It was always a holiday treat to my father, when a boy, 
to be permitted to go down to Leith to see the ships dis- 
charge their cargoes of timber. My grandfather had a wood- 
yard at Leith, where the timber selected by him was piled 
up to be seasoned and shrunk, before being worked into its 
various 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 career. 

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 con- 
ceptions of the brain through the fingers, and out at the end 
of the needle, the pencil, the pen, or 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 Alex- 
ander. 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 dis- 
turbed, 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, notwith- 
standing the earnest remonstrances of his father, accom- 
panied 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 
Eoyal Navy. He was made purser, and in this position he 
entered into 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 the rooms that were 
granted him with all manner of curiosities, which 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 always 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 inci- 
dents 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 



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 Grass- 
market 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 

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 over- 
head. 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 Wednes- 
day." The " whether or no " was meant, I presume, as a 
precaution to passengers, in case all the places on the coach 
might not be taken on Wednesday. 

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 





; .* N^> 



opposite the gallows stone, on the south side of the street, 
not far from my grandfather's door. 1 

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 
read his Bible, and to learn his Carritch. 2 

1 See Heart of Midlothian. * The Shorter Catechism. M 



[CHAP. n. 

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. The annexed 
illustration is from his own slight 
sepia drawing ; the Bibler's Seat is 
marked t. 

Not so daring, but much more mis- 
chievous, 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 Grassrnarket. 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. Eobertson. Dr. 
Erskine 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. 1 On one occasion, when my 
father was at play with the boys, 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 weel, 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 ir- 
reverent 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 

To return to my father's education. After he left 
" Mammy Smith's," he went for a short time to the original 

1 Dr. Erskine is well described by Scott in Guy Mannering, on the 
occasion when Pleydell and Mannering went to hear him preach a famous 


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 Eoyal 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 education. 

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 coach- 
builder 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 
he made great progress in his business. 

But, still further to improve himself in the art of draw- 
ing, 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 funfls 
was set apart by the Government for the encouragement 
of drawing, and also for the establishment of the .arts of 
linen weaving, carpet manufacture, and other industrial 

These arts had been 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, for the prosecution of 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 in Scotch apprentices, to 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 appren- 
tices 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 institu- 
tion 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 
Eunciman. 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 Buncirnan talked landscape." He went to Eome 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, Eunciman 
found them so satisfactory that he was at once admitted as 
a student. After his admission he began to study with in- 
tent eagerness. The young men who had been occupied by 
their business during the day could only attend in the 


evening. And so 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 Kaeburn, 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 that 
Eunciman 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. Eun- 
ciman for another subject. The quick-tempered man at 
once said, " I'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 Eunciman 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 be hung there for many years, and the story of 
its achievement became traditional in the school. 

During all this time my father continued in the employ- 
ment 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 Eamsay, 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 
struck 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 

It was, of course, a great delight to my father to be re- 
moved to London under such favourable auspices. Eamsay 
had a large connection as a portrait painter. His object in 
employing my father was that the latter should assist him 
in the execution of the subordinate parts, or dress portions, 
of portraits for the court, or of diplomatic personages. Xo 
more favourable opportunity for advancement could have 
presented itself. But it was entirely due to my father's 
perseverance and advancing skill as an artist the result of 
his steady application and labour. 

Eamsay was possessed of a very fine collection of draw- 
ings by the old masters, all of which were free for my father 
to study. Eamsay 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 Eam- 
say from time to time. Among them was his intimate friend 
Philip Eenegal an agreeable companion, and an excellent 
artist. Eenegal 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 Eamsay's death, and is now in my possession. 

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 arrangements with a sweetheart to take 
her to Eanelagh, 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 burned 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 dexter- 
ously 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 Eanelagh. 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 all such questions, 
and left the gardens without any one discovering his artistic 


My father remained in Allan Eamsay's service until the 
end of 17 78, 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 Eamsay's life. The 
artistic style of my father's portraits, and the excellent like- 
nesses of his sitters, soon obtained for him ample employ- 
ment. 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 Dalrneny Park, the seat of the 
Earl of Eosebery. 

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 improve- 


ment of the guns of 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 engage- 
ments 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 
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 also 
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 pre- 
pared 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 Edin- 
burgh. He was a friend of Taylor's, and Mr. Miller went 
to see the Symington model. In the course of his conversa- 
tion with the inventor, he informed the latter of his own 
project, and described the difficulty which 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 that Symington exhibited, pro- 
duced 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 

The boat was constructed on the double-hull or twin 
plan, so that the paddle should be used in the space between 
the hulls. 1 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 append a 
copy of a sketch made by my father of this, the first actual 
steamboat, with her remarkable crew. 

1 This steam twin boat was in fact the progenitor of the Castalia, con- 
structed about a hundred years later for the conveyance of passengers between 
Calais and Dover. 



[CHAP. ii. 

The persons on board consisted of Patrick Miller, William 
Symington, Sir William Monteith, Eobert Burns (the poet, 
then a tenant of Mr. Miller's), William Taylor, and Alex- 
ander 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. 

1 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. 


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 remem- 
bered that all that was afterwards done by Symington, 
Fulton, and Bell followed long after the performance of this 
ever-memorable achievement. 

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 steam- 
boat, 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. 1 

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 else- 
where, 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 

In those days an artist was scarcely considered to have 

1 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 overlooked by 
the Government. 


completed his education until he had studied the works of the 
great masters at Florence and Borne. My father left Eng- 
land 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 works of art 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 

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 Colin- 
ton, near Edinburgh. Her brother, the late Sir James 
Foulis, my uncle, succeeded to the ancient baronetcy of 
the family. 1 

My mother did not bring with her any fortune, so to 
speak, in the way of gold or acres ; but she brought some- 
thing far better into my father's home a sweetness of 

1 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 Ravel- 


disposition, and a large measure of common sense, which 
made her, in all respects, the devoted helpmate of her hus- 
band. 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 home. 

During the first year of my father's married life, when 
he lived in St. James' Square, he painted the well-known 
portrait of Eobert Burns the poet. Burns had been intro- 
duced 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. 1 A mezzotint 
engraving of it was afterwards published by William Walker, 
son-in-law of the famous Samuel Eeynolds. 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, nay father had many 
interesting walks with him in the neighbourhood of the 
romantic 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 

1 The portrait is now in the Royal Scottish Academy at Edinburgh. 


humorous conversation, made the miles very short as they 
strode along. Lockhart says, in his Life of JBurns, 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 Boslin 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 

Burns was so much struck with the beauty of the morn- 
ing 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 Eoslin 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 Eoslin. 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 Eoslin 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 his 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 Dilletanti 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 them were Henry 
Raeburn, Hugh Williams (the Grecian), Andrew Geddes, 
William Thomson, John Shetkay, William Nicholson, William 
Allan, Alexander Nasymth, 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. 1 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, espe- 
cially when seen from their mansion windows. His fine 
taste, and his love of natural scenery, gave him great advan- 
tages in this respect. He selected the finest sites for the 
new mansions, when they were erected in lieu of the old 

1 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 Kichard 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 dubbed him 
"Director-General of the Fine Arts for Scotland," a title which he compla- 
cently accepted. Besides showing off his pictures, Davie was an art critic, 
and wrote articles for the newspapers and magazines. Unfortunately, how- 
ever, 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. 


towers and crenellated castles. Or, lie 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 rem- 
nants of which were in too many instances carted away as 
material for new 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 forest. 1 

1 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 combina- 
tion 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. 



[CHAP. ir. 

My father modelled old castles, old trees, and suchlike 
objects as he wished to introduce into his landscapes. I 
append an illustration, which may perhaps give a slight idea 
of his artistic skill as a modeller. The one I specially refer 

to, he called " The Family Tree," as he required each 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 leaf- 
less 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 im- 
provements 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 re- 
lieve the grim barrenness of its appearance. But it was im- 
possible 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 on great days, 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. The cannon was loaded, 
and the cannisters 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 flourish- 
ing luxuriantly in all the recesses of the cliff. This was 
another instance of my father's happy faculty of resource- 

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." Edinburgh 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 sub- 
jects 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 per- 
sonages, that " if this went on any longer they would with- 
draw from him their employment." My father did not alter 
his course; it was right and honest. But he suffered neverthe- 
less. 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 Scotland." 

At the same time, when changing his branch of art, he 
opened a class in his own house for giving practical instruc- 
tion 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 com- 
modious 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. It extended from Stirling in the west to the 





Bass in the east. In fine summer evenings the sun was 
often seen setting behind Ben Lomond and the more con- 
spicuous 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 Eoberts himself a scene painter 
of the highest character said that his style was founded 
upon that of Nasmyth. 1 Stansfield was another of his 
friends. On one occasion Stansfield 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 Ms time and 
thought, especially when resting from the mental fatigue 
arising from a long sitting at his easel. It was his regular 
practice to stroll about where the building work was in 

1 David Roberts, R. A., in his Autobiography, gives the following recollec- 
tions 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 con- 
sisted 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 magnifi- 
cent 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." 


progress, or ne\v roads were being laid out, and watch the 
proceedings with keen interest. 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 to discuss the sub- 
ject 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 exten- 
sion of the city to his estate. The result was the construc- 
tion 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 Edin- 
burgh. The construction of the bridge was superintended 
by the late James Jardine, C.E. 1 

From the Dean Bridge another of my father's architec- 

1 Mr. Telford was afterwards called upon to widen the bridge. He threw 
)ut parapets on each side, but it did not improve the original design. 



[CHAP. n. 

tural 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 base- 
ment 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 nomin- 
ally 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 al- 
leged that he was the 
architect of the pre- 
sent inverted spy 
glass, called "Nelson's 

Then, with respect 
to my father's powers 
as a mechanic. This 
was an inherited fa- 
culty, and I leave my 
readers to infer from 
the following pages 
whether I have not 
had my fair share of 
this inheritance. Be- 



sides 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 
his 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 mechani- 
cal 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 appre- 
ciate the variety of objects connected with art and mechan- 
ism, to his workroom. His natural taste for order 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 work- 
room that I first began to handle mechanical tools. It was 
my primary technical school the very foreground of my life. 
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 con- 
vincing 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 append a fac-simile of Ms original 


drawings 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 origin- 
ated in a slight circumstance. One wet, wintry Sunday 
morning he went into his workroom. There was 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 the hot rivets in 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 Dean- 
ston in combination with William Fairbairn of Manchester ; 
and it was employed in riveting the plates used in the con- 
struction of the bridges over the Elver 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 employ- 
ment 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 after- 
times, 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 Kivet." 



ALTHOUGH Alexander Nasmyth had to a considerable 
extent lost his aristocratic connection as a portrait painter, 
yet many kind and generous friends gathered around 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. 

Daring 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 help to him. He 
executed the greater number of the illustrations to this 
beautiful work. The book when published had a consider- 
able 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 ob- 
server, 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 Hall 
was President of the Edinburgh Eoyal Society, and neces- 
sarily took an anxious interest in the discussion. 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 assist- 
ance 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 
Eoberts, Clarkson Stansfield, William Allan, Andrew Geddes, 


" Grecian " "Williams, Lizars the engraver, and the Eev. 
John Thomson of Duddingston. 

Henry Eaeburn was one of his most intimate friends 
and companions. He considered Eaeburn's broad and 
masterly style of portrait painting as an era in Scottish art. 
Eaeburn, with innate tact, discerned the character of his 
sitters, and he imported so much of their individuality into 
his portraits as to make them admirable likenesses in the 
highest sense. In connection with Eaeburn, 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 Scot- 
land, was appointed chairman at the dinner held to do 
honour to the great Scottish portrait painter. 

Eaeburn 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 ex- 
perience, 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 events 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 the 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 

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 bright- 
ness 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 


The supper usually followed, for my father would not 
allow his visitors to go away empty-mouthed. The supper 
did not amount to much. Rizard or Finnan haddies, 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 more 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 the scene of cheer- 
fulness. 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 1778; Barbara in 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 child 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. Be- 
cause 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 succes- 
sion. One of the most important branches of female educa- 
tion 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 himself. 

Edinburgh was at that time the resort of many county 
families. The war which raged abroad prevented them 
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 illus- 
trations. 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 inter- 
esting 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 indivi- 
duality 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 truly a universal one, especially in com- 
municating ideas which have reference to material forms. 
And yet it is in a great measure neglected in our modern 
system of so-called education. 

The language of the tongue is often used to disguise our 
thoughts, whereas the language of the pencil is clear and ex- 
plicit. 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 recol- 
lection of a tour, however varied, and you virtually make 
the journey over again with its picturesque and beautiful 

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, Craig- 
millar Castle, Hawthornden, Eoslin, 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 they were 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 recol- 
lection of both men and women. 

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 land- 
scape. 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 
the 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 land- 
scape that in some respects he neglected the ordinary routine 
of school education. He successfully accomplished the three 
K.'s, but after that his School was in the fields, in the face of 
nature. He was by no means a Eomantic 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 suchlike, 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 

Patrick removed to London in 1808, and exhibited at 
the Eoyal Academy in the following year. He made excur- 
sions to various parts of England, where he found subjects 


congenial to his ideas of rural beauty. The immediate 
neighbourhood of London, however, abounded 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 paintdble 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 collection. 

In some of these charming subjects glimpses of the 
distant capital may be observed, the dome of St. Paul's 
towering over all ; 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, Euysdael, and Wynants. These 
came home to him as representations of Nature as she is. 
They were more free from the traditional modes of represent- 
ing her. The works of Claude Lorraine and Eichard 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 en- 
closing it, and was not recovered. In fact, Patrick was 
very careless about all money transactions. 

In 1814 he made the acquaintance of Mr. Barnes, and 
accompanied him to Bure Cottage, Eingwood, near South- 
ampton, 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 Eoyal 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 


Patrick Nasmyth's admirable rendering of the finer 
portions of landscape nature attracted the attention of col- 
lectors, 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 re- 
quired 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 Eoberts and 
Clarkson Stansfield. He usually replied to their friendly 
remonstrances by laughingly pointing to his bursting port- 
folios of sketches, and saying, " There's lots of money in 


these banks to draw from." He thus warded off their 
earnest and often-repeated friendly 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 occa- 
sionally 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 sketch- 
ing 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 hap- 
pened 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 17th August 
1831, there had been 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. 



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 the corn, 
they rushed to the 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 inde- 
pendence 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 re- 
quires 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 

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 artis- 
tic 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 con- 
nection with this celebration, it was an established institu- 
tion 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 such- 
like ; 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 thus : 

I'll no bide till Saturday, 
But I'll awa' the 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 which 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 sur- 
prise 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 if. The steps were of stone. Fortun- 
ately, the servants were just coming in 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 contrivance ! 

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. Eecruits 
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 house- 
hold. 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 remem- 
ber 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 pro- 

Every victory was followed by the importation of large 
numbers of French prisoners. Many of these 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 along 
with the most choice objects of artistic skill. 

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 be- 
came 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 Amiens, which was proclaimed in 1814, 
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 Edin- 
burgh 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 Ira " and " The Marseillaise." The wild en- 
thusiasm 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 impres- 
sion on my mind that I can never forget. 

A year passed. Napoleon returned from Elba, and was 
rejoined by nearly all his old fighting-men. I well remem- 
ber, young as I was, an assembly of the inhabitants of Edin- 
burgh 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 handshaking 
the troops marched to the Castle, previous* to their early 
embarkation for the Low Countries on the following morning. 


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 Eegiment 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 Pirn's cavalry. 
The rest of the regiment was assailed by KeiMs furious 
cannonade, and suffered severely. The French were beaten 
back, and the remnant of the Forty-Second retired to Water- 
loo, 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 for- 
ward, 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 regi- 
ment 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 Piersliill, 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 effect- 
iveness 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 High- 
land 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 for- 
gotten. "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 hiU making bunches of the wild flowers. They 
ran after the butterflies and the bumbees, and made acquaint- 
ance 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, 
such as those of coppersmiths, tinsmiths, brassfounders, gold- 
beaters, and blacksmiths. Their shops were all gathered 
together in a busy group at the foot of the hill, in a place 
called Greenside. The workshops were open to the inspec- 
tion 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 manipula- 
tion of the men, their dexterous use of the hammer, the 
chisel, and the file ; and I imbibed many lessons which 
proved of use to me in my later years. 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 

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 to me by the warm summer breezes, made me 
long to see them as well as hear them. 

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 



[CHAP. iv. 

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 

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 
by its sudden and start- 
ling movement. The 
whole scene was almost 
as uncanny as the wit- 
ches' 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 piano- 
forte-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 to 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 per- 
formance, and comprehended the beating of the chimes 
which gave me so much pleasure when I heard them at a 

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 Edin- 
burgh 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 : and each 
were 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-humoured, 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 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, liliacs, 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 then 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 inven- 
tor 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 cleanli- 
ness even the cleanliness of cats. The kindly and gentle 

animal gives them all a lesson. 

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 treat- 
ment, which their innate feeling of independence causes 
them to resist. Cats have no doubt less personal attach- 
ments 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 culminat- 
ing 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, be- 
cause she had four black cats, and read her Bible through 
two pairs of spectacles ! 



BEFOEE 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 care- 
ful teacher. She initiated me into the depths of ABC, 
and by learning me to read she gave me the key to the 
greatest thoughts of the greatest thinkers who have ever 

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 repre- 
sented in these goody books. If so, they must have been 
the most tiresome and uninteresting vermin that can pos- 
sibly 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 that it is a 
very cowardly act 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 head- 
ache. 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 enter- 
tained 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 Saturday's 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 vet 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 pur- 
poses, 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 accom- 
plished, 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 in some longlooked- 
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 choice friends 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 herring on some extempore gridiron we 
had 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 Eobinson 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 negli- 
gence 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 separ- 
ate class-room. 

I began to learn the elementary rudiments of Latin 
grammar. But not having any natural aptitude for acquir- 
ing classic learning so called, I fear I made but little pro- 
gress 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 valu- 
able 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 these houses out 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 all the 
most remarkable of these 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 pro- DOORHEAD, FROM AS OLD 
jection 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 strengthen- 
ing of their houses, so as to resist the inroads of feudal 

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 orna- 
mentation 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 range of view up and down 
the Close. These gloomy-looking mansions were grim in a 
terrible sense, and they reminded one of the fearful trans- 
actions 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 Eecords) 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 Walter was easily dis- 
tinguished 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 plea- 
sure of accompanying him in his afternoon walks I could 
look at them and hear them in the conversations that took 

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 build- 
ings 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 Tol- 
booth in the High Street, a grand but gloomy old build- 
ing. 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. 

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 Mid- 
lothian, the condemned cell of the Tolbooth. 1 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. Eecognising my father, 
he stood by him, while both awaited the ponderous crash. 
Sir Walter was still The Great Unknown, but it was pretty 
well known who had given such an interest to the build- 
ing by his fascinating novel, The Heart of Midlothian, Sir 
Walter afterwards got the door and the key for his house at 

1 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 I " There 
was a loud guffaw throughout the audience. He addressed them as if they 
were a body of condemned malefactors. 


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, to endeavour 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, wrapped it in a newspaper, and put it 
in his pocket as a recollection of his first day in Edinburgh, 
and of the total 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 un- 
known 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. 1 

I had the pleasure of seeing Sir Walter 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. I took pleasure in rambling 
about the old castles near Edinburgh, many of them con- 

1 1 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 a 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 Reclhill to this day." 


nected with the times of Mary Queen of Scots. Craigmillar 
Castle was within a few miles of the city ; there was also 
Oighton Castle, and above all Bntfrwnn 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 ex- 
perienced while standing amidst the Coliseum of Borne. 

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 speci- 
mens of bronze and other coins of the Eoman emperors, 
usually duplicates from their own collection. These coins 
had the effect of promoting my knowledge of Eoman 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 fre- 
quently 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 scien- 
tific 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 pre- 
sent, Sir James Hall, President of the Eoyal Society; Francis 
Jeffrey, Editor of the Edinburgh Review; Walter Scott, still 
the Great Unknown ; and many other distinguished nota- 
bilities. 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 from 
each of them, 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 

^ 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 ungenial he took refuge amongst his 
lathes and tools, and then 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 im- 
planting in my mind the great fundamental principles on 
which the practice of engineering in its grandest forms is 
based. But I did not learn all this at once. It only came 
gradually, and by dint of constant repetition and inculca- 
tion. 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 became 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 with 
the heaviest diameter at the top. They could spin twice as 
long as the bought peeries. When at full speed they would 
" sleep," that is, turn round without a particle of 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 HiU 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. 1 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 Third's 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 Cross, throwing the glasses over 
their backs. 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 
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 drop of fire fell into the tinder-box, 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 main- 
tain 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 attach- 
ments 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. 
Xothing 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 admir- 
ably 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. He was distinguished not 
only by his ability but for his steadiness and sobriety. The 
men were for the most part promoted to their foremanship 
from the ranks, and had been brought up in the concern 
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 propor- 
tions 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 liis 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 the form of the wood 
patterns by which, the foundry-men or moulders reproduced 
their forms in cast iron, and the smiths by their craft 
realised the wrought - iron portions. These sons of Mr. 
"Watson were of that special class of workmen called mill- 
wrights 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 super- 
intendent of the boring machines. In those days the boring 
of a steam-engine cylinder was considered high, art in 
cxcelsis ! 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 hard- 
ening and tempering steel. It is, perhaps, not saying too 
much to assert that the successful practice of the mechanical 


arts, by means of which the civilised man rises above the 
savage condition, 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 agri- 
culture, 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 denned 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 degrees of heat 
to which it is subsequently subjected. It may thus be 
toughened by slightly reheating the hardened steel ; the re- 
softeiiing course is indicated by certain prismatic tints, which 
appear in a peculiar mode of succession on. its surface. 
The skilful artisan knows by experience the exact point at 
which it is necessary again to plunge it into cold water in 
order to realise the requisite toughness or hardness of the 
material required for his purposes. 

In all these matters, my early instructor, Johnie Syrne, 
gave me such information as proved of the greatest use to 
me in the after history 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 the memory. 

Tom Smith was another of my attached cronies. Our 
friendship began at the High School in 1818. A 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 Edin- 

CHAP, v.] TOM SMITH. 95 

burgh, 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 experi- 
ments, which were carried on in a chemical laboratory 
situated behind his father's house at the bottom of Leith 

We had a special means of communication. When any- 
thing 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 ; to take 
part 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 means 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 speci- 
mens 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 sul- 
phuric ether. We produced phosphorus from old 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 trouble- 
some 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 the youth 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! Every- 
thing 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, being led by such 
false evidence of constructive skill, to apprentice 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 
glove-wearing and 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 in all the materials and operations which the 
engineer has to deal with. No look 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 wear- 
ing 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. Yet kid gloves are 
now considered the genteel thing. 



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 beauti- 
fully perfect method of reasoning, as exhibited in the exact 
method of arriving at Q.E.D., to be one of the most satis- 
factory efforts and exercises of the human intellect. 

Besides visiting and taking part in the works at Patter- 
son'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 
nie. 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 objects, 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 ; and 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 a 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 workroom, 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 initi- 
ated into every variety of mechanical and chemical manipu- 
lation. 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 mani- 
pulation, 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. With- 
out 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 de- 
lightful excursions. For sometimes my father was accom- 
panied 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 Edin- 
burgh 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 vol- 
canic 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 Bibs," 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 Eock 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 con- 
sideration 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 Eamsden " 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 for- 
gotten, yet all such recollections were suppressed in the 
earnest desire to give 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 itself, 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 acknow- 
ledged 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 work- 
men thought that politics was the cause of their suffering. 
Eadical 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 Salisbury 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 
Eadical Eoad." 

Let me here mention one of the most memorable inci- 
dents 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 
extin<niish 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, which broke out about 10 P.M. All 
the fire-engines of Edinburgh and from the towns of the 
neighbouring country were collected round the fire, 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 tnem 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 Hall. 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 accomplished. 

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 New- 
haven 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 Cam- 
buskenneth 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 inter- 
ested 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-drawing- 
room of the governor's house. The exquisite decorations of 
this chapel were the first specimens of Gothic carving in oak 
that I had ever seen, and they seemed to put our modern 
carvings to shame. 1 The Great Hall, where the Scottish 
Parliament used to meet, was also very interesting as con- 
nected with the ancient history of the country. 

From Stirling we walked to Alloa, passing the picturesque 
cascades rushing down the clefts of the Ochils. We put up 
for the night at Clackmannan, a very decayed and melan- 
choly-looking village, though it possessed a fine specimen of 
the Scottish castellated tower. It is said that Eobert 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 

1 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. 


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 sub- 
divided 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 that 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 Alloa. 

Shortly after, I had the good fortune to make the 
acquaintance of Eobert 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 indus- 
trious 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 Eobert 
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 Eobert 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 Eoebuck, Watt, and 
Miller of Dalswinton. For there Eoebuck 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 impos- 
ing 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 the 
holes in the roof, and the dark, black, sraoky 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 frag- 
mentary 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 
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. 

Eemembering, 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 seven- 
teen 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' Institutions. 

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 movement. 

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 com- 
municated to me conversationally his original and masterly 
views on the great fundamental principles of Natural Philo- 
sophy 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 engineer. 

Having referred to the Edinburgh School of Arts, I feel 
it necessary to say something about the origin of that excel- 
lent institution. A committee of the most distinguished 
citizens of Edinburgh was formed for the purpose of insti- 
tuting 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 Milne, 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 
delivered are for the most part designed merely for a 
pleasant evening's amusement, it seems to me that we 
have departed greatly 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 a most able man. His 
clearness of exposition, his successful experiments, his care- 
ful analyses, and the easy 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 Mddry 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 associ- 
ation of amateur musicians, who gave there periodical 
concerts of vocal and instrumental music. The orchestra 
was converted into a noble lecture table, with accommoda- 


tion 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 right 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 

A library of scientific books was soon added to the insti- 
tution, 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 crowd of applicants awaiting the opening of the door on 
an evening library night. It was as thick 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 nights. 

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 even- 
ings which I spent there, in fitting myself for entering upon 
the practical work of my life. 

The successful establishment of the Edinburgh School of 
Arts had a considerable effect throughout the country. 
Similar institutions were established. Lectures were de- 
livered, 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 Eobert Bald, for 
the purpose of presenting it to the Alloa Mechanics' Insti- 
tute ; 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 work- 
shop and drawing occupations, my time did not hang 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 brass- 
works 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 taking a pure 
finished 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-seventh 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 dis- 
obeying his orders by rapping on the ceiling of his bedroom 
with a slight wooden rod of ten feet that he kept for mea- 
suring purposes. But I got over that difficulty by placing 
a bit of old carpet under my moulding boxes as a non-con- 
ductor 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 yer- 
self, laddie, by working so hard and so late." Yet she took 
a great pride in seeing me so busy and so happy. 


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 busi- 
ness 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 imme- 
diately 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 care- 
fully 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 

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 con- 
structed 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 strokes 
of ever}' 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. 
While there, 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 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, de- 
rived 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 agicultural 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 farm-yards. Orders came in rapidly, and 
before long the chimneys of Douglass's steam-engines were 
as familiar in the country round Edinburgh as corn sfca&s. 
All the large farms, especially in Midlothian and East 
Lothian, were supplied with his steam-engines. The busi- 
ness of George Douglass became very large ; and in course 
of time he was enabled to retire with a considerable 

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

I may here mention that one of my earliest attempts 
at original contrivance was an Expansometer an instru- 
ment 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 lengthening of 
the bar was measured by a multiplying index, as seen in the 



[CHAP. vi. 

annexed engraving. By this simple means 
the expansion of any material might be 
ascertained under various increments of 
heat, say from 60 to 212. It was simply 
a thermometer, the mass marking its own 
temperature. Dr. Brewster was so much 
pleased with the apparatus that he described 
it and figured it in the JEdinbwryh Philo- 
sophical Journal, of which he was then 

About the year 1827, when I was 
nineteen years old, the subject of steam 
carriages to run upon common roads occu- 
pied considerable attention. Several engin- 
eers 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 of carrying out 
their project. 

I accordingly set to work at once. I 
had the heavy parts of the engine and car- 
riage done at Anderson's foundry at Leith. 
There was in Anderson's employment a 
most able general mechanic named Eobert 



Maclaughlan, who had served his time at Carmichael's, 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 con- 
cerned 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 
Eoad, 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 Stephen- 
son 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 speeds. 

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 had 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 engi- 
neering, I proceeded no further. I broke up the steam- 
carriage and sold the two small high-pressure engines, pro- 
vided with a compact and strong boiler, for 67, a sum 
which more than defrayed all the expenses of the construc- 
tion 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 Edin- 
burgh, 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 were 
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 charge. 

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 war- 
ranted or not, it did so happen that I was attacked witli 
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 ex- 
cellent 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 en- 
gineers' tools. Some of their leading men had worked at 
Maudsley's machine shop in London, the fame of which had 
already reached Dundee, and Maudsley's system of em- 
ploying 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 Maudsley. 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 Maudsley'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. 



THE chief object of my ambition was now to be taken on at 
Henry Maudsley'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 

I was aware that my father had not the means of paying 
the large premium required for placing me as an apprentice 
at Maudsley's firm. I was also informed that Maudsley had 
ceased to take pupils. After experience, he found that the 
premium apprentices caused him much annoyance and irrita- 
tion. 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 speci- 
mens of my work and drawings, I might be able to satisfy 
Mr. Maudsley 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 result 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 Maudsley 
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 some- 
what 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 tan- 
gible 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 Nbre on Saturday afternoon, lifted up, 
as it were, by the tide, for it was almost a dead calm all the 

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 lifted 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, nearly opposite 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 con- 
venient for us to remove our luggage on that day. My father 
took me on shore, and we went to Eegent's Park. One of 
my sisters, who was visiting a friend in London, was living 
in that neighbourhood. My father so planned his route as 
to include many of the most remarkable streets and build- 
ings 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 luxu- 
riant growth of the trees and shrubs in the squares ; for 
spring was then in its first beauty. The loveliness of Eegent'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 my day-dreams 

We next proceeded over Westminster Bridge to call upon 
my brother Patrick. We found him surrounded by paint- 
ings from his beautiful sketches of 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 Agnes Place, Waterloo Eoad. The locality had 
a special attraction for me, as it was not far from that focus 
of interest Maudsley's factory. Our luggage was removed 
from the ship to the lodgings, and my ponderous cases, con- 
taining 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 Maudsley. 
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 Eoad, 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. Maudsley 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 Maudsley, " 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 pre- 
mium." This was a very painful blow to myself; for it 
seemed to put an end to my sanguine expectations. 

Mr. Maudsley knew that my father was interested in all 
matters relating to mechanical engineering, and he court- 
eously 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 beauti- 
ful machine tools, the silent smooth whirlof the machinery, 
the active movements of the men, the excellent quality of 
the work in progress, and the admirable order and manage- 
ment that pervaded the whole establishment, rendered me 
more tremblingly anxious than ever to obtain some employ- 
ment there, in however humble a capacity. 

Mr. Maudsley observed the intense interest which I and 
my father took in everything going on, and explained the 
movements of the machinery and the rationale of the pro- 
ceedings 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. Maudsley, " 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. Maudsley 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 to-morrow 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. Maudsley'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. Maudsley'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 clear- 
headedness and common -sense. They were very simple, 
and quite free from mere traditional forms and arrange- 
ments. 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 evi- 
dences 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 com- 
plete 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 explain- 
ing, step by step, the gradual progress of his teeming inven- 
tions and contrivances. The workshop was thus quite a 
historical museum of mechanism. It exhibited his char- 
acteristic qualities in construction. I afterwards found out 
that many of the contrivances preserved in his private work- 
shop 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 that had followed their general employ- 
ment in mechanical engineering. 

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 com- 


plexities, and make everything as simple as possible." Mr. 
Maudsley 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 ex- 
hibiting his force of character and intellect. His quaint 
remarks on my first visit to his workshop, and on subse- 
quent occasions, proved to me invaluable guides to " right 
thinking " in regard to all matters connected with mechanical 

Mr. Maudsley seemed at once to take me into his con- 
fidence. 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 con- 
versation. 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 charac- 
teristic 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. Maudsley 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 com- 
plex 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. Maudsley, who was the first to intro- 
duce 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 con- 
struction. Those who have had the good fortune to work 
under him, and have experienced the benefits of his prac- 
tice, have eagerly and ably followed him ; and thus his 
admirable system has become established throughout the 
mechanical world. 

Mr. Maudsley 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 1 
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 remark- 
able 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 Maudsley's the engineer. " 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 Eoyal Institution." "Well," said 
Brougham, " I will send you a letter of introduction." "We 
then parted. 

My father availed himself of the opportunity of intro- 
ducing 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 Eoberts, 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 entrte 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 introduc- 
tion 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 work- 
ing 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 Maudsley. 
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. Maudsley 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 Maudsley's 
own skilful handiwork. He also designed, for the most part, 
this wonderful and complete series of machines. Sir Samuel 
Bentham and Mr. Brunei had given the idea, and Maudsley 
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 a 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. Maudsley 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 founda- 
tion of his engineering fortunes. 

Mr. Maudsley next conducted us to the Eoyal 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 pro- 
cesses, however ingenious, and went direct to his point. 
" Simplicity " was his maxim in every mechanical contriv- 
ance. His master mind 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. Maudsley 
invited my father, my brother Patrick, and myself, to accom- 
pany him in his beautiful small steam yacht, The Endeav- 
our, from "Westminster to Eichmond 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. Maudsley'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. Maudsley 
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 Eichmond. 
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 Eichmond. 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 delighted 
me. 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 extend- 
ing 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 WestmiDster 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 man- 
sions of Cheyne Eow, on the other. Alas ! the march of 
improvement and the inevitable extension of the metro- 
polis 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 paintdble objects. Patrick's deft pencil was constantly 
at work, taking graphic notes of " glorious bits." Dilapi- 
dated 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 cozy 
villas, partially shrouded by glorious trees, with their bright 
velvety lawns sloping down towards the river ; not forget- 
ting the delicate streams of thin blue smoke rising lazily 
through the trees in the tranquil summer air, and remind- 
ing one of the hospitable preparations then in progress. 

We landed at Eichmond Bridge, and walked up past 
the quaint old-fashioned mansions which gave so distinct a 
character to Eichmond at that time. We then passed on 
to the celebrated Eichmond 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 land- 
scape around. The enjoyment of this glorious day then 
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 
seen in the distance. I need not speak of the entertain- 
ment, 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 boat, 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 Maudsley's works for 
the convenience of going and coming. We therefore looked 
about in the neighbourhood of Waterloo Eoad. 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 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 

138 "A CLEAN CROSSING!" [CHAP. vir. 

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. 



ON the morning of Monday, the 30th of May 1829, I 
commenced my regular attendance at Mr. Maudsley's work- 
shop. 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. Maudsley'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 thus 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 inclina- 
tion 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, 
where first class machinery is constructed. The production 
of perfect screws was one of Maudsley'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 Maudsley'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 Eoyal Institution. I was received most 
cordially by that noble-minded man, whose face beamed 
with goodness and kindness. After some pleasant conver- 
sation he said he would call upon me at Maudsley's, whom 
he knew very well. Not long after Faraday called, and 
found me working beside Maudsley 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 con- 
gratulated me on my special good fortune in having the 
inestimable advantage of being associated as assistant work- 
man with one of the greatest mechanical engineers of the 

Mr. Maudsley 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. Maudsley 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 sendee, 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 count- 
ing-house and had an interview with Mr. Young the cashier, 
a 'most worthy man. 1 Knowing as I did the great advan- 
tages of my situation, and having a very modest notion of 
nif 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 had obtained a situation, not 
to cost my father another shilling. I knew how many calls 
he had upon him, at the same time that he had his own 
numerous household to maintain. I therefore resolved, 
now that I had begun life on my own resources, to main- 
tain 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 lodging ; 
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. Maudsley 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 sucli apparatus to lecturers at Mechanics' Institu- 

1 I may mention that he was brother to Dr. Thomas Yeung, the celebrated 
natural philosopher. 




tions. 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. 

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 more 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 shil- 
lings, including the lamp. 
As it contributed in no 
small degree to enable 
me to carry out my re- 
solution, and as it may 
serve as a lesson to others 
who have an earnest 
desire to live economic- 
ally, 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. 1 It was partaken of witli a zest 
that, no" doubt, was a very important element in its savouri- 
ness. The whole cost of this capital dinner was about 4^d. 
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 fol- 
lowing 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. Maudsley. One 
of the first jobs that I undertook was in assisting him 
to make a beautiful small model of a pair of 200 horse- 
power 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 

1 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. 




specialities in their details and general structure. Mr. 
Maudsley 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, the engines 
might be regarded as a culmination of his constructive 

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 diffi- 
cult and tedious, but in some 
cases practically impossible. 

To get rid of the difficulty I 
suggested to Mr. Maudsley a 
contrivance of my own by means 
of which the most rigid exact- 
ness in size as well as form could 
be given to these hexagonal nuts. 
He readily granted his permis- 
sion. I constructed a special 

apparatus, Consisting Of a hard COLLAK-NUT CUTTING MACHINE. 

steel circular cutter to act as a circular file. When brought 
into operation in the production of those 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 



[CHAP. vin. 

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 m 
contriving this special tool, or in adapting it to the slide- 
rest of the lathe, to whose spindle end the file or cutter A 

was fixed. But 
the result was 
so satisfactory, 
both as regards 
the accuracy 
and rapidity of 
execution in 
c omparison 
with the usual 
process of hand 
filing, that Mr. 
Maudsley was 
greatly pleased 
with the ar- 
rangement 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. 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 guv'nor," as the workmen called Mr. 
Maudsley. He was going his round of inspection, and when 
there was any special work in hand he would call me up to 
him and explain any point in connection with it that was 
worthy of particular notice. I found this valuable privilege 
most instructive, as I obtained from the chief 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. Maudsley 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 ob- 
durate 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. Maudsley 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. Illustrating his often repeated maxim, " that there is 
a right way and a wrong way of doing everything," he would 


take the shortest and most direct cuts to accomplish his 
objects. 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. 

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. Maudsley, 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 per- 
fect 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 Maudsley 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 sur- 
faces 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 Maudsley'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 educat- 
ing the taste of his men towards first class workmanship. 

Maudsley'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 dimen- 
sions of the refined mechanism which he delighted to con- 
struct 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." 

This trustworthy " Companion of the Bench " consisted 
of a very substantial and inflexible bed or base of hard brass. 



[CHAP. vin. 

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 thou- 
sandth 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 

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 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 Maudsley's was exhibited at the Loan 
Collection at South Kensington in 1878. It is now trea- 
sured 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 in- 
strument, 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 inven- 
tor of the Micrometer an instrument that, when applied 
(as he first did it) to the eye-piece of the Telescope, has been 
the means of advancing the science of astronomy to its pre- 
sent high position. 1 

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 fore- 
men 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 Maudsley's private workshop. 
They often came to him to consult him on subjects with 
which he was specially acquainted. 

Among Mr. Maudsley's most frequent visitors were 
General Sir Samuel Bentham, Mr. Barton, director of the 
Eoyal Mint, Mr. Bryan Donkin, Mr. Faraday, and Mr. 
Chantrey, the sculptor. As Mr. Maudsley 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 
1 See Grant's History of Astronomy, p. 453. 


very often. He had been associated with Maudsley during 
the contrivance and construction of the block machinery. He 
was brother of the celebrated Jeremy Benthani, 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, Maudsley'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 Maudsley 
fight their battles over again, in recounting the difficulties, 
both official and mechanical, over which they had so glori- 
ously 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 steam-ships, 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 by 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. Maudsley's private workshop. 


Mr. Barton of the Eoyal Mint was quite a " crony " of 
Maudsley's. He called upon Mm often with respect to the 
improvements in stamping the current coin of the realm. 
Mr. Bryan Donkin was also associated with Maudsley 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 Maudsley 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. Maudsley entered con amore into the 
subject, and placed his skill and experience entirely at 
Chantrey's service. He constructed the requisite furnaces 
and cranes, and other apparatus, at Chantrey's studio ; and 
it may be enough to state that, when brought into opera- 
tion, 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 Forbe's'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, pos- 
sessed 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 brewing. 

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 such like interesting places of resort. When 
the weather was unfavourable my principal resort was West- 
minster 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 in 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 archi- 
tecture 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. Saviour's 
Church, near London Bridge, though 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 ear- 
nestness in its grave simplicity that has a peculiar influence 
upon the mind ; and I have little doubt but that this was 
felt and understood by those true architects who designed and 
built the noble cathedrals at Durham and elsewhere. 



IN the autumn of 1830 Mr. Maudsley went to Berlin for 
the purpose of superintending the erection of machinery at 
the Eoyal Mint there. He intended to be absent from Lon- 
don for about a month ; and he kindly permitted me to take 
a holiday during that period. 

I had been greatly interested by the descriptions in the 
newspapers of the locomotive competition at Eainhill, near 
Liverpool. I was, therefore, exceedingly anxious to see 
Stephenson's " Eocket," the engine that had won the prize. 
Taking with me letters of introduction from Mr. Maudsley 
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 Kecks," in 
Lad Lane, city, one of the most celebrated coach-offices in 
those days. 

The first part of the journey to Liverpool was very dis- 
mal. 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, how- 
ever, 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 the 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 brown, up hill and down hill, 
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 in- 

CHAP, ix.] "THE ROCKET." 157 

credible ! 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 future communications of the civilised world. 

I spent the entire day in watching the trial trips, in 
examining the railway works, and such portions of their 
details as I could obtain access to. About mid-day the 
" Eocket " 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 preserve. The 
line was opened on the loth of September, when the famous 
" Eocket " led the way in conducting the first train of pas- 
sengers 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. Maudsley 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 great pioneer in the 
substitution of the unerring accuracy of machine tools, for 
the often untrustworthy results of mere manual labour. 

I caunot resist referring to the personal appearance and 
manner of this excellent gentleman, William Fuwcett. His 
peculiar courteous manner, both in speech and action, re- 
minded me of " the grand old style " which I had observed in 
some of my father's oldest noble employers, and the representa- 
tions 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 Maudsley, 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 dig- 
nified 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 Birken- 
head then a very small collection of buildings and wan- 
dered 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 Eed 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 pros- 
pect. 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 pictur- 
esque line, on my return journey to London, I determined 
to walk, halting here or there by the way. The season of 
the year and the state of the weather were favourable for 
the 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 re- 
member, 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 that lay 
thereabouts. 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, in 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 a 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 that 
was 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. 
Maudsley 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 Ms 
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 ex- 
tensive 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 exe- 
cution of the details of the machines. 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 

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 intel- 
ligent and practical acquaintance with the technical minutias 
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 
to make. Their chief pride and ambition was to be at the 
head of a thoroughly well managed and prosperous establish- 
ment. And with this object, 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, car- 
ried 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 had always a spice of the antiquarian feeling in 
me. 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 witli 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 Coalbrook- 
dale, 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 Shifmal 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, pud- 
dling 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- 

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, 
dilapidated, black, and lifeless. The grass had been parched 
and killed by the vapours of sulphureous 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 tune, and remained there until it was 
late. When it became dark the scene was still more im- 
pressive. 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 ex- 
citing. 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 
sulphureous acid; while the grass is withered and the vegeta- 
tion 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 in- 
spect 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 roof 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 ear- 
rings, brooches, gold chains, rings, beads, and glass eyes for 
stuffed birds, dolls, and men. 

I was especially attracted by Soho, once the famous 
manufacturing establishment of Boulton and "Watt. Although 
this was not the birthplace of the condensing steam-engine, 1 
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 

1 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 of 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 made the one at Kinniel for Dr. Roebuck. 


magnificent invention. Not less interesting to my mind was 
the memory of that incomparable mechanic, William Mur- 
doch, 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 work- 
shops 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 every- 
thing 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 trans- 
mitting 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 atmo- 
spheric 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 beauti- 
fully 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 esteemed. 

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. Every- 
thing now was to be green lanes, majestic trees, old man- 


sions, 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 holi- 
day. 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 
untriinmed 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 build- 
ings 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 ha.d 
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 

170 WARWICK. [CHAP. ix. 

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 work- 
manship 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 sub- 
stantial 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 picturesque. 

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 archi- 
tectural 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 Liver- 
pool by coach, and I brought one sovereign back with me. 
Eather than break into it I walked all the way from Wind- 
sor to London without halting for refreshment. My entire 
expenditure during my three weeks' journey was thus seven 

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 enumerate. I 
brought back a book full of sketches ; for graphic memor- 
anda 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. 



MK. MAUDSLEY 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. Maudsley 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. Maudsley's return, a very interesting job 
was brought to him, in which he took even more than his 
usual interest. It was a machine that his friend Mr. Barton, 
of the Eoyal Mint, had obtained from France. It was in- 
tended 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 man- 
aged 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 Eoyal Mint, Mr. Barton found 
it absolutely necessary to place it in Maudsley's hands, in order 
to have its details thoroughly overhauled, and made as me- 
chanically 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, 
namely James Sherriff, one of our most skilful 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. Maudsley, 
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. Maudsley 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. Maudsley had next a pair of 2 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. Maudsley's latest improve- 
ments. 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. Maudsley 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 per- 
spective drawing of them as they stood all perfect in the 
erecting-shop. This was a piece of 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 an en- 
gineering 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. Maudsley 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 ma- 
chinery, or astronomical instruments. While at Berlin he 
went to see the Eoyal Observatory. He was naturally much 
interested by the fine instruments there the works of Rip- 
sold and Moritz, the pioneers of improved astronomical 
workmanship. The continental instrument makers were 
then far in advance of those of England. Mr. Maudsley 
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 was anxious to possess a powerful telescope of his 


own. His principal difficulty was in procuring a lens of con- 
siderable 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. Maudsley 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 dia- 
meter. 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 Maudsley. 

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 by this time possessed 
of the mechanism of steam power 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-dbility 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 arrange- 
ments 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 
drawings. Almost daily, persons of note came to consult 
with him about machinery. On these occasions the con- 
sultations took place either with reference to proposed new 
work, or as to the progress of orders then in hand. Occa- 
sionally, 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 are 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. 


17 s "TALKING BOOKS." [CHAP. x. 

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 succes- 
sive 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 contriv- 
ances, and which sometimes were developed into very im- 
portant results. I may add that Mr. Field kept these "talk- 
ing 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 with assistants' or journeymen's work. 
I intended to begin business for myself. 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 that 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 Maudsley 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 ; it was 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. 


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 prac- 
tical 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 com- 
pleting 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 enter- 
tained 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 that 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 pay- 
ments were 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 en- 
thusiastic 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 every- 
thing 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 
Eailway. 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 unfeel- 
ing 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 encountered 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 un- 
sparing 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 character ; they struck 
harder on the anvil; 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. Eoscoe, 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 Edin- 
burgh, and had during that time met with some kindness 
from my father. He expressed his remembrance of it to 


me with grateful effusion ; and added his personal introduc- 
tion, 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 intro- 
duced at Liverpool was John Cragg, a most 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. 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. 1 

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 unex- 
pectedly, he made me a very tempting offer to enter his 
works as his successor. He had already amassed a fortune, 

1 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 archi- 
tectural construction. Iron was afterwards largely introduced into mills, mill 
gearing, and buildings generally. 


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 I continued a most friendly 
intercourse with my intended patron, while he on his part 
took an almost paternal interest in my progress. 1 

After my visit to Liverpool I passed on to Manchester. 
I was fortunate in having introductions to some of the 
leading men there, such as John Kennedy, William Fair- 
bairn, the Grant Brothers, and lastly, that most admirable 
man, Benjamin Hick, engineer, of Bolton. To narrate in 
detail all the instances of warm and hospitable kindnesses 
which I received from men in Lancashire, even from the out- 
set 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 cor- 
dially 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 intro- 
duce 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 manufac- 
facturing establishments in and around Manchester met 
together at the Exchange between 1 2 and 1 ; and thus all 
were brought to a focus in a very convenient manner. 
1 Mr. Cragg died in 1853, aged 84. 


Mr. Chippendale first introduced me to Mr. John Ken- 
nedy, 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 ex- 
plained 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 near 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 stranger. 

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 Cherryble " of Dickens. I was taken to 
their counting-house in Cannon Street, where I was intro- 
duced to Daniel Grant. Although -business was at its full 
height he gave me a cordial reception. But, to save tune, 
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 pre- 
sent 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 sur- 
vival 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 to " keep my 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 

CHAP. X.] 



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 
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 my 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 

1 88 ARCHY TORRY. [CHAP. x. 

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 doors of my workshop, so that heavy castings or 
cases of machinery might be lifted up or let down with the 
utmost ease 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. 

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. 1 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 pon- 
derous 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 

1 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. 


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 everything was set to work. It was no doubt a very 
small order, but the piston was executed perfectly and satis- 
factorily. 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. Applegarth, 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 Man- 
chester, 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 Edin- 


burgh 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 em- 
ployers. 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 tried for 
simplicity and perfectness of workmanship. I was punctual 
in all my engagements. The business proved safe and pro- 
fitable. 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. T 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 defunct. 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 bare- 
foot, 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 Eobert 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 situa- 
tion. 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 Eamsbotham, 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 Eams- 
botham, 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 con- 
tributed to their wealth, they spared no expense in pro- 
viding 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 im- 
pression of the splendid position of the first Sir Eobert Peel's 
works at Nuttal. In course of time Sir Eobert 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 asso- 
ciated with everything that was admirable. They abounded 


in hospitality and generosity. In the course of many long 
years of industry, 1 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 1 
had brought my tools to Manchester, William invited me to 
join a gathering of his friends at Ramsbotham. 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 Eamsbotham, 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 resi- 
dence 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 recep- 
tion, 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, 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 surround- 
ing 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. 
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 

CHAP. X.] 



walk to Inverness ; and reached it just in time to catch the 
Caledonian Canal steamer. While passing down Loch Ness 
I visited the romantic Fall 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 greatlv 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. 
Applegarth of London, the mechanical engineer of the Times 
newspaper. 1 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 pre- 
mises, 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 the 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 Pittwesque of Paris. 
The Universities of Oxford and Cambridge also used Cow- 
per's machine in printing vast numbers of bibles and prayer- 

1 Mr. Kcenig'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 Cow- 
per'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 readers. 


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 occa- 
sions that I had the happy opportunity of becoming inti- 
mately acquainted with him; and this resulted in a firm 
friendship which continued until the close of his admir- 
able life. The clear and masterly way in which, by some 
happy special faculty, he could catch up the essential prin- 
ciples 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, Lon- 
don. 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. 



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 un- 
skilled 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. Ex- 
cept in the cases of the old skilled hands, the work was 
executed more carelessly than before. The workmen at- 
tended 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 natu- 
rally 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 unfail- 
ing 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, con- 
sequent 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. 

The massive castings on my floor were moved about from 
one part to another, when 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 vibra- 
tion 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 import- 
ance 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 occa- 
sionally; he admired the quality of my work, and the beauty 
of my self-acting machinery. More than that, he recom- 
mended 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 over- 
crowded 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 ; and 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 perpendicu- 
larly, 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 build- 
ing 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 busi- 
ness." 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 favour- 
ite 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 Eailway, 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 as 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 rental of Ifd. per square yard. 
This proposal was most favourable, as I obtained the advan- 
tage of a fee-simple purchase without having to sink capital 
in the land. All that I had to provide for was the annual 

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 favour- 
able. 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 Bridge- 
water Foundry was afterwards erected. 1 

I may mention briefly the advantages of the site. The 
Bridgewater Canal, which lay along one side of the foundry, 
communicated with every water-way 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 rail- 
way station was near at hand, and afforded every oppor- 
tunity for travelling to and from the works, while I was 
at the same time placed within twenty minutes of Man- 

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. 

1 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. 


Then, below the clay lay a bed of New Eed Sandstone rock r 
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 work- 
shops were soon ready for the reception of my machinery. 
I had a four horse-power 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 its 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 con- 
densing 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 Bridge- 
water Foundry. 




This was my first visit to Ireland. Being so near the 
Giant's Causeway, I took the opportunity, on my way home- 
wards, of visiting that object of high geologic interest, to- 
gether 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 

s "2*?$35 WFo&&ifaEj&ng5f&a*^!*&3&& ^ 


forest that had, at some inconceivably remote period, been 
destroyed by a vast out-belching now of molten lava from 
a deep-seated volcanic store underneath. 

I returned to Patricroft, and found the wooden work- 
shops 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 a quiet 
grassy field became the centre of a busy population. 

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 past the many pictur- 
esque old farmhouses and cottages which at that time pre- 
sented subjects of the most tempting kind for the pencil. 
Such quiet summer evening strolls afforded me the oppor- 
tunity for tranquil thought. Each day's transactions fur- 
nished abundant subjects for consideration. It was a 
happy period in my life. I was hopeful for the future, and 
everything had so far prospered with me. 


When I had got comfortably settled in my cozy 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 disposi- 
tion 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 cottage. 

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 intelli- 
gent and cultivated persons in Lancashire. The remem- 
brance of the delightful evenings I spent in their society 
will ever continue one of the 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 Eailway, 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 us into a cleft stick, he proposed 


so extravagant a rate, that we refused to use the wharf upon 
his terms. 

It happened, fortunately for us, 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 Bridge- 
water Estates. The canal was placed under the manage- 
ment of that excellent gentleman, James Loch, M.P. Lord 
Francis Egerton, on his next visit to "VYorsley 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. Be- 
cause of this latter circumstance, he offered us the use of 
the wharf free of rent. This was quite in accordance 
with his generous disposition in all matters. But as we 
desired the agreement to be put in a regular business- 
like form, we arranged with Mi. Loch to pay 5s. per an- 
num as a formal acknowledgment, and an agreement to 
this effect was accordingly drawn up and signed by both 

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 establish- 
ment 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. 1 

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 

1 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. 



[CHAP. xi. 

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. 

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 obviated. 

At the same tune 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 
scorice that invariably floats on the surface of the melted 
metal. This was formerly done by hand, and many acci- 
dents were the consequence. But now the clear flow of pure 
metal into the moulds was secured, while the scorice was 
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 improve- 

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 univer- 
sally adopted. The Society of Arts of Scotland, to whom I 
sent drawings and descriptions, did me the honour to pre- 
sent 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 " depart- 
ment 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 
niy 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 

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 in- 
quiries, 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 depart- 
ment, 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 straightforwardness 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. 



I HAD no difficulty in obtaining abundance of skilled work- 
men 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 cir- 
cumstance 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 1060. 

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 ex- 
ceedingly 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 the 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, princi- 
pally situated in the neighbouring counties of Cheshire and 

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 neigh- 
bourhood. 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 War- 
rington 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 cen- 
turies. Although the use of armour was discontinued, 
these 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, cele- 


brated 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 

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 num- 
bers, 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 arid 
commodious factory was erected, as shown in the annexed 

The village of Worsley, the headquarters of the Bridge- 
water Canal, supplied us with a valuable set of workmen. 
They were, in the first place, labourers ; but, like all Lan- 
cashire men, they were naturally possessed of a quick apti- 
tude 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 workmen might proceed towards 
their completion without any unnecessary delay. None but 
those who have had practical acquaintance with the import- 
ance 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, and they proved equally 
satisfactory 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 " selec- 
tion 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' apprentice- 
ship 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 manipula- 
tive 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 
the excellent helpers, in the shape of 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 engin- 
eering 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 in a position to give him employment. 
Shortly after my removal to Patricroft, and when every- 
thing 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 staff. 

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 mechan- 


ism. 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 tem- 
perament 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 organisa- 
tion ; he soon ceases to be a " hand," and becomes a " head," 
and such men generally rise from the employed to the 

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 recommenda- 
tions. 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 opera- 
tions. 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 appre- 
hending 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 discre- 
tion as to maintain the most perfect harmony in the work- 
shops. 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 pro- 
ductive 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 vice-regents 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 con- 
sider 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 accord- 
ingly requested to discharge the workmen whom we had 
promoted, in order to make room for members of the Trades' 

To have complied with this request would have altered 

CHAP, xii.] THE STRIKE ! 223 

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 of 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 Unionists. 

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 
his 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 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 circum- 
stances ? We could not find mechanics in the neighbour- 
hood ; 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 foundry- 
men. 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 the agent's principal diffi- 
culty lay in making the proper selection from amongst 

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 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 Liver- 
pool 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 
" dumbfoundered." 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 dis- 
persed throughout the workshops. 

We had no reason to regret the alterations which had 
been accomplished 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 the workmen who served us the 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 

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 em- 
ployed in mechanical structures. At the time that I refer 
to, the skilful workmen employed in the engineering estab- 
lishments 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 mechanical 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 Kennie, 
Cubit t, 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 an- 
other 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 some cases we 
could not very well refuse to take them. And yet they 
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 unbound. We endeavoured to check this 
disturbing element by agreeing 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, or at a month's notice from any time. 
By this means we secured more care and regularity on the 
part of the pupil apprentices. 

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 
them. They vied with each other in executing then- 
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 skill 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 as 
well as apprentice. The only bond of union between us was 
mutual interest. The best of them 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 Man- 
chester, 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. 

In 1838 he visited me again. I had removed to Patri- 
croft, 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 to witness 
the rapid progress which I had made since his first visit. 
He took his daily walk through the busy 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 Eobert 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 aifectionately took leave 
of Mm, 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 demonstra- 
tion 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 pro- 
fessional 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 land- 
scape with an autumnal evening effect. There was a pic- 
turesque cottage in the middle distance, a rustic bridge over 
a brook in the foreground, and an old labouring man, fol- 
lowed 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 upwards 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 Edin- 
burgh Castle stands. His grave is marked by a fine Eunic 
Cross, admirably sculptured by Khind of Edinburgh. 

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 Eamsay, of Gavin Hamilton, 
and the Euncimans, may be said to have been the last re- 
maining 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. 



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 know- 
ledge 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, occa- 
sions now and then occurred when bright beings moved 
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 estab- 
lish myself in business, and thereby to 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 


As we approached Barnsley I observed, in the remaining 
murky light of the evening, the blaze of some ironwork fur- 
naces 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 work- 
shop in Manchester to order some machine tools, that 
if 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 man- 

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 wel- 
come, 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 in- 
troduced 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 iron- 
works, 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 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 observa- 
tion. 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 

236 MY MAREIAGE. [CHAP. sin. 

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 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 encourag- 
ing prospect, and realising, in a substantial form, a return 
for the earnest exertions which I had made towards estab- 
lishing a home of my own. They expressed^ their concur- 
rence 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 

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 Man- 
chester 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 ; 
and when made, 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 Liver- 
pool and Manchester Eailway. 

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 open- 
ing 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 companies. 

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 satis- 
factory 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 satis- 
faction 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 alto- 
gether spontaneous, and proved extremely valuable in other 

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 produc- 
tion, 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 the Great Western steam- 
ship 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's order ; 
they were delivered and fitted to his entire approval, and 
the construction of the gigantic engines was soon in full 

An unexpected difficulty, however, was encountered with 
respect to the enormous wrought-iron intermediate paddle- 
shaft. It was required to be of a size and diameter the like 
of which had never been forged. Mr. Humphries applied to 
the largest firms 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 would 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 moments' 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 mere 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 adap- 
tations 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's letter narrating his unlooked- 
for difficulty, I had the whole contrivance, in all its ex- 
ecutant 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. 

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 an 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 anvil. 

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. 

Eude 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 arrange- 
ment 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 grati- 
fication 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 

But to return to my correspondence with the Great 
Western 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 Gfreat Britain might now be forged. Mr. Humphries 
was delighted with my design. He submitted it to Mr. 
Brunei, engineer - in - chief of the steamship ; to Mr. 
Guppy, the managing director; and to other persons in- 
terested in the undertaking, by all of whom it was 
heartily approved. I accordingly gave the Company per- 
mission to communicate my design to such forge pro- 
prietors 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, con- 
trived by Mr. Francis P. Smith, were so satisfactory that 
Mr. Brunei, 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 tune. A wide-spread depres- 
sion 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. But the sub- 
stance 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 recover- 
ing from its depression, they would probably adopt the .new 
power. 1 

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 establish- 
ments 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. 2 

In like manner I freely opened my Scheme Book to 
any foreign visitors. 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 draw- 

1 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 construc- 
tion was held in the very highest regard ; Messrs. Rushton and Eccersley, 
Bolton Ironworks ; Messrs. Howard and Ravenhill, Rotherhithe Ironworks, 
London; Messrs. Hawkes, Crashaw, and Company, Newcastle-upon-Tyne ; 
George Thorneycroft, Wolverhampton ; and others. 

* Some establishments in the same line of business were jealous of the 
visits 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 themselves. 


ing 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 Eoyal 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. 1 
I 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 l>y your 
steam hammer ! " 

Great was my surprise and pleasure at hearing this state- 
ment. I asked him how he had come to be acquainted 
with my steam hammer ? He then narrated the circum- 
stance 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 notes 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 

1 The particulars of this journey are referred to in a future Chapter. 


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 in- 
spection 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 every- 
thing 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 de- 
pression. The tide of financial prosperity of the Bridge- 
water 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 sub- 
stantial manner. In order to make the most effective 
demonstration of the powers and capabilities of my steam 
hammer, I constructed one of 30 cwt. 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 iron- 
founders 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, 1 or be instantly arrested in its 
descent midway. 

Hand-gear was the original system introduced in work- 
ing 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 theNasmyth 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 for- 
merly the case with the other system." 

1 This is no mere figure of speech. I have heard the teacups 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. 


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 Eushton 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 

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, to 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 controUable 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 fire-arms 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 ad- 
vanced the mechanical arts, especially with relation to 
machinery of the larger class, to an extent that is of in- 
calculable 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 Wash- 
ington. 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 com- 
mand my grateful remembrance. 



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 direct- 
ing officials as to the mechanical equipments of their 
respective workshops. 

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 instru- 
ments. 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 magni- 


ficent 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 Eouen for the supply of locomotives to the 
Havre, Eouen, and Paris Eailway. 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 Nor- 
man 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 Cher- 
bourg. 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 attlier 
des forges, and the workshops or atdiers des machines. 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 establish- 
ment to be the largest and most complete that I had seen. 

From Brest I went to Eochefort, 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. Eosine, a 
most able man. 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 intri- 
cate iron castings produced there. 

As M. Eosine 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 dis- 
tinct 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, 1 as well as to the nation whom he 
so faithfully served. 

1 The only man I ever met, to whom I might compare Eosine, was my 
lamented friend Francis Humphries, engineer of the Great Western Steam- 
ship Company. Both were men of the same type, though Rosine was several 
octaves higher in the compass and vividness of his intellect. 


On my way to Toulon I passed through Bordeaux, and 
by Avignon to Nismes. At the latter city I was delighted 
by the sight of the exquisite Eoman temple, the Maison 
Carrie. It is almost perfect. But the most interesting of 
the Eoman remains at Nismes is the magnificent Amphi- 
theatre. 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 in- 
feriority and defects of Modern Architecture is, that our 
designers are so anxious to display their taste in ornament- 
ation. They first design the exterior, and then fit the inte- 
riors of their buildings into it. The purpose of the building 
is thus regarded as a secondary consideration. In short, 
they utilise ornament instead of ornamenting utility a 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. . 

One thing I was especially struck with at Msmes the 
ease with which some thousands of people might issue, with- 
out 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 remark- 
able the care with which the huge blocks of magnesian 
limestone 1 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 Eoman chisel. Every individual 
chip is as crisp as on the day on which it was made ; even 

1 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. 


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 wnselected. Most probably it was the result 
of a job. 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 Eoman 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 remark- 
able city. From Marseilles I proceeded to Toulon, the last 
of the marine dockyards I had to visit. There was no rail- 
way 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'OHioulles. It was awfully impressive. The Pass 
appeared to consist of a mighty cleft between two mountains; 
made during 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 sud- 
denly 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 peculiar an 
arid aspect to this part of the coast. Facing the south, the 
sun's rays reflected from the bare surface of the rocks, places 
one at mid-day as if in the focus of a great burning mirror, 
and sends every one in quest of shade. This intense tem- 
perature has its due effect upon the workers in the dock- 
yard. I found the place far inferior to the others which I 
had visited. The heat seemed to engender a sort of list- 
lessness 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 muscles. 

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 machinery 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 para- 
phernalia unfortunately a characteristic of other establish- 
ments 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 Impe'riales, the Ercolana, 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'lf, 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 over- 
head. 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, I landed with the other 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 orna- 
mented. 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 to the principal apart- 
ments ; and inside the court, the pink daphnes and Tan- 
gerine orange trees, 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 palaces. 

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 associa- 
tions. 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 

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 tarnish. 

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 grati- 
fied with the performance. 

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 Cam- 
panile or Leaning Tower. What interested me most at the 
Cathedral was the fine bronze lamp suspended at the end 
of the nave, which initiated in the mind of Galileo the in- 
vention of the pendulum. Thousands had seen the lamp 
swinging before him, but he alone would know " the reason 
why." Then followed the discovery which paved the way 
for Newton's law of gravitation one of the grandest laws 
of the universe. 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 Ercolina 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 
overspread 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 ap- 
peared floating in the clear blue 
sky. But the heat of the sun 
shortly warmed the mist, and it 
floated away like a curtain. 

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 Baise, with its castles and temples 
and baths, dating from the days of the Eoman Eepublic. 
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 




[CHAP. xiv. 

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 up from the ruins of 
the buried city of Pompeii. Every spare hour that I could 
command; was occupied in visiting and revisiting this won- 
derful Museum. 

Herculaneum and Pompeii were also visited, but, more 
than all, the crater of Vesuvius. During my visit the moun- 
tain 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 make 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 a 
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 sulphur- 
eous 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, which may perhaps interest my 
readers. 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 sketch, 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 had converged towards its 
centre of gravity, and the arrestment of the momentum of the 
coalescing particles resulted in intense heat, and the molten 
lava of the volcano. 

This seems to me to be the true origin of volcanic heat. 
It 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, water- 
falls. The upheaving 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 remark- 
able. 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 ele- 
ment." But the heat presses forward the growth of vegeta- 
tion. To be there is like living in a hothouse ; and the 
soil is extraordinarily fertile. Hence the number of vine- 


yards 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 Eosina, 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 ten- 
pence), 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 ex- 
cursion to the crater of Vesuvius before I left, as well as 
visits to Herculaneum and Pompeii, which exceedingly in- 
terested 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 
\isited 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 own brain, the steam hammer, in full 
and efficient work. But this I have referred to in a pre- 
vious chapter. 



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 Eoyal 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 manu- 
facturing 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 Eussia. 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 Denison (brother of the late Speaker), 


and Captain Burgman, Eesident Engineer at Devonport 
Dockyard. They were well able to understand the power- 
ful 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. Eushton 
and Eccersley, 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 the gentlemen were 
entirely satisfied of its fitness for all classes of forgings for 
the naval service. They reported to the Admiralty accord- 
ingly, 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 after- 
noon 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 intro- 
duced 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, and flew to the ex- 
tremities 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 

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 (after- 
wards Earl of Pembroke), then Secretary to the Admiralty, 
and Sir George Colborn, 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, and the 
controllable application of the force of steam. 

This 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 Eoyal Dockyard forge departments 
with a complete equipment of steam hammers, with 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 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 security upon the soundness of 
the forging. 

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 Eoyal 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 length. 

Messrs. Baker ancl Sons were tlie 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 satisfac- 
torily." 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 

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 pene- 
trate. 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. 

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 circum- 
stance. 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 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 before- 
hand the various details performing their respective functions, 
as if they were in absolute material form and action. Unless 
this happy faculty exists db initio in the brain of the 



mechanical engineer, lie will have a hard and disappointing 
life before him. It is the early cultivation of the imagina- 
tion which gives the right flexibility to the thinking facul- 
ties. 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 driven. 


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. 1 No soil, that piles could pene- 
trate, could resist such effective agencies. 

There was a great deal of curiosity in the dockyard as to 
the action of the new machine. The pile-driving machine- 

chief feature of novelty of the pile-driving machine consists in the employ- 
ment 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 ABC. So that, besides the eighty blows per 
minute that the four-ton steam hammer energetically deals out on to the 
head of the pile from a four foot fall, the dead weight of the apparatus con- 
stantly 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 allow- 
ing 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 rebounds, and so 
aids most effectively in increasing the energy of the fall of the hammer-block 
C on the pile head. 


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 to- 
gether. 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 its 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 wit- 
nessed. 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 ap- 
proval 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 Grirnsby, 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 drive 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 forms if I may be allowed to say so 
a happy illustration of my " Definition of Engineering," 
the application of common sense to the icse 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 them- 
selves 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 con- 
sumed 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 living 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 Colburn, Mr. Sydney Herbert, and 
Captain Brandreth on a subject of considerable importance; 
namely, the proving of chain cables and anchors required for 
the Eoyal 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 be one of a 


committee to inquire into the subject. I felt much gratified 
by the invitation, and gladly accepted it. 

On discussing the subject with these gentlemen that 
evening, I found that Sir George Colburn 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 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 me- 
chanical 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/a^ at each suc- 
cessive 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 chains had been 
much more resisting than the first. The same class of de- 
monstrative 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 con- 
tinued 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 scoriae 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 Brand- 
reth, surveyor -general of the Admiralty land works, 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 re- 
commendations 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 acknow- 
ledged by the higher powers, were by a sort of passive 
resistance practically shelved. 

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 com- 
municating 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. JSTo 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 " l principle. 
No doubt the love of distinction, within reasonable limits, 
is a great social prime mover ; but at Devonport, with the 

1 "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. This is "the 
breest o' the laft." The same principle pervades society generally. 


splitting up into ranks and dignities even amongst the work- 
men, I found it simply amusing. 

I afterwards met with several veterans in the service of 
the Admiralty, who are well served by such conscientious 
and well-selected men. It is the schemers and the satel- 
lites 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 par- 
liamentary 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 bar- 
rage 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 deteriorate 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 under- 


stand 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 fore- 
men 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 of 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 intel- 
ligent 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 workshops. But 
such was the natural energy of Affiffi, that when he was set 
to work beside the slow, dilatory, and stupid native work- 
men, he became greatly irritated. The contrast between the 
active energetic movements which he had seen at the Bridge- 
water Foundry, and the ineffective, blundering, and untech- 
nical 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 Eedditch, 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 Fara- 
day, dated " Eoyal 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 intimat- 
ing how much pleasure it gave me to serve him in any respect. 
I cannot refrain from giving his answer. He said : 

" MY DEAR SIB 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 advan- 
tage 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 before- 
hand 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 Shake- 
speare 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 tempering 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 

" 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, pro- 
duce something else praiseworthy. Ever, my dear Nasmyth, yours 
most truly, M. FARADAY." 



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 Eailroad 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 condi- 
tions 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 ap- 
pearance 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 ram- 
parts 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. 

CHAP, xvi.] NUREMBERG. 287 

Everything has been carefully preserved, and many of the 
best houses are still inhabited by the families whose fore- 
fathers originally constructed them. But " progress " is be- 
ginning to affect Nuremberg. It is the centre of railways ; 
buildings are extending in all directions ; tram-cars are run- 
ning in the streets ; and before long the ditch will be filled 
up, the surrounding 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 church- 
yard 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 Sacraments- 
hduslein, 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 ad- 
mirable 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 
nothing 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 con- 
stantly 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, with the approval of the Government, 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 


materials. 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 last- 
ing. He gave me a very large order for "boilers, and for 
other 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. 

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 Edin- 
burgh, and delighted to enjoy cracks with me upon sub- 
jects 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 
Eussian 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 establish- 
ments at Alexandrosky and Colpenha, where about 3000 
operatives were employed. These establishments were ori- 
ginally 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 Puissian navy was manufactured at Alex- 
androsky 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 establish- 

Through him I had the happiness of being introduced 
to General Greg, son of the great admiral who shed such 


honour on the Kussian 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 intro- 
duced 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. In- 
deed, it is a perfect example of what so noble an establish- 
ment 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 many opportunities of enjoying. It was quite 
a picture to see the great pleasure, but 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 instru- 
ments were kept in their magnificent appropriate apart- 
ments, 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 Universe ! * 


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'ceil 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 
w r as 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 group- 
ing, 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 writ- 
ten 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 sign- 
boards 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. Peters- 
burg 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. 1 

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 sit- 
ting in my drosky with my roll of drawings resting on my 
thigh somewhat in the style of a command er-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 

1 "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 beauti- 
fully 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 compatible with the exquisite 
cleanliness and tidiness of the houses at Lubeck. 


on the level of my head a real royal salute. The person 
was no other than the Emperor Nicholas ! He fixed his 
peculiarly 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 poten- 
tates, 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 Eussian 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 Brunow. It was also accom- 
panied, 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 with his own eyes. 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 Eussian and other foreign Governments 
to adopt at an early date any mechanical improvement of 
ascertained utility, that I supplied steam hammers to the 
Eussian Government twelve months before our Admiralty 


availed themselves of its energetic action. But Athelstane 
the Unready has always been found dreadfully slow in 
peace, as well as in war. 

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 estab- 
lish 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 geni- 
ality. 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 employ- 
ment. 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 his business. 
I had rarely seen a more faithful and zealous set of work- 
men than these Eussian 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 attach- 
ment 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 every- 
thing that has yet been done in that beautiful fabric. The 
great dome is of iron overlaid with gold. This, as well as 


the Corinthian capitals of bronze, was manufactured at the 
foundry of the Bairds. The tympanum of the four great por- 
ticos consisted of colossal groups of alto-relievo figures, many 
of which were all but entirely detached from the background 
of the subject. 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 
artist. 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 Eus- 
sian workmen in this instance, I should say that Eussia has a 
grand future before it. 

Having satisfactorily completed all my business arrange- 
ments 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 sky and bright sunshine by day, 
and the light prolonged far into the night. Even in Sep- 
tember 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 along and past 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 exqui- 
site 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 Edin- 
burgh, Genoa, and Naples, I had never beheld so noble a 
city with such magnificent surroundings. 

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 
Eoss, 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 cliffs among the rocks. The 
most important result of my visit was an introduction to 
Baron Tarn, 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 with my own 
eyes this celebrated mine. The baron most willingly fur- 
nished me with letters of introduction to his managers, and 
I proceeded to Dannemora by way of Upsala. I was much 

CHAP. xvi.J OLD UPSALA. 297 

interested by this city, by its cathedral, containing the tomb 
of Gustavus 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 com- 
paratively modern 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 coun- 
try 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 down 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 

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 cath- 
edral 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 very necessary one. 

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 Daunemora Swedish. I was very thirsty and 
hungry, and wanted something to eat. How was I to com- 


municate 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 maatem I made a drawing of a 
table, with a dish of smoking meat upon it, a bottle and a 
glass, a knife and fork, a loaf, a salt-celler, 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 ex- 
cellent repast. I made use of my pencil in many other ways. 
I always found that a sketch was as useful as a sentence. 
Besides, it generally created a sympathy between me and 
my entertainers. 

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 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 rock 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 deep pit, with an unfathomable bottom. Ghost- 
like, 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. 

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 had time to pass away, and 
next morning the workmen were ready to begin their 
operations as before. 

The wonderfully rich iron ore extracted from this great 
mine is smelted in blast furnaces with wood charcoal. 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' ex- 
posure to a red heat, the iron is converted into splendid 
steel, which has given such a reputation to that great manu- 
facturing 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 forge. It was a most 
picturesque sight to see the forgemen at work with the tilt 
hammers under the glowing light of the furnaces. I in- 
spected 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 i< companion to the one 
I had made of Genoa from the harbour a few years before. 
I made it 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 ] Xirope. 

I left Stockholm for Gottenburg by steamer. This is 
one of the most picturesque routes in Sweden. First, we 
passed through the Millar 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 Maren Lake, and after- 
wards 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 Pioxeu and Boren, 


we found ourselves at Motala, near the entrance to the 
Wettern Lake. 

Motala is a place of great importance in the manufac- 
turing industry of Sweden. When I visited it the iron- 
foundry was in charge of my friend Mr. Caulson. I had 
known him several years before in London, and had the high- 
est opinion of his ability as a constructive engineer. He was 
surrounded at Motala with everything in the way of excel- 
lently arranged workshops, good machine tools, as well as 
abundant employment for them. Indeed, this is the largest 
ironfoundry 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 en- 
trance 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 Eiver. During 
that time an opportunity was afforded us for seeing the 
famous Trollhatten Falls a very fine piece of Nature's 

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 excel- 
lent. 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 new. 
With all their virtues the Swedes are a most self- 

helping people. 
They are hard-work - 
^" ing 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 know- 
ledge. 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 excel- 
lence. 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 Copen- 
hagen, and occupied myself for a few days in visiting the 
wonderful museums. There I saw, in the Northern Anti- 
quities 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 ; then the accumulations of. rude stone implements, 
kelts, arrow-heads, and such like ; then the articles of the 
Bronze Age, with war trumpets ; and then 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 Eosenburg 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 Eesartus say ?), armour, furniture, 
drinking vessels, and all manner of 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 was the 
pegs that marked the depths down to which the stalwart 
Dane was able to swig at one pull an enormous draught 
of wine. In some cases the name and date of the heavy 
drinker was engraved on the flagon to record his topical 

CHAP, xvi.] TYCHO BRAH& 305 

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 always most kind and civil ; and 
when they see any visitor interested in the collection, they 
take the greatest pleasure in going round with him and 
pointing out the beauty and rarity of the articles, imparting 
at the same time most interesting information. 

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 observa- 
tory at the top of the great Eound Tower, where he carried 
on his careful observations by instruments of his own making 
and design. 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 Eound Tower I could not but think of 
the footsteps of the great astronomer who has made it classic 

I left Copenhagen for Hamburg by coach. After pass- 
ing through the island of Zealand, I was ferried across to the 
island of Fyen, and after that 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 saw 
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 Eotterdam, 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 never still from morning till night. 



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 modelling and arrangements of 
parts. They were always ready for work, and never required 
a Saint Monday. 

As the Bridgewater Foundry had been so fortunate as to 
earn for itself a considerable reputation for mechanical con- 


trivances, 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 man- 
ner. 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 family. 

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 com- 
pliment 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 very little 
exertion of muscular force, but only observant attention. In 
this way the tool did all the working (for the thinking had 
before been embodied in it), and it turned out all manner 
of geometrical forms with the utmost correctness. This 
sort of training educated the perceptive faculties of the lads, 
and trained their ideas to perfect truth 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 acquired the efficiency of 
thoroughly practical mechanics was most surprising. 

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 irrita- 
tion 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, skulking, and other annoyances. 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 was 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 machine superintended. 
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 objec- 
tion 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 employers. 

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 super- 
intending 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 a 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 em- 
ployer would at once close his concern. The Union, never- 


theless, 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 want- 
ing food. After a few weeks the funds of the Amalgamated 
Society became so reduced that the men gradually retreated 
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 endea- 
voured 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 content- 
ment 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, show- 
ing 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 men- 
tioned. The full and steady influx of prosperity that had 
been the result of many years of interesting toil and cheer- 
ful 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 pro- 
cesses. 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 intercom- 
munication 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 
treasuring 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 museum, ruled over by an ever present Almighty 
Master, of whose perfect designs and works we are only 
as yet obtaining hasty and imperfect glimpses. 

But to return to my 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 Man- 
chester warehouses. They worked the " lifts," and also the 
pumps of the powerful hydraulic presses used in packing 
the bales. 

These little 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 apart- 
ments 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 lowest. 

I never lost sight of the importance of extending the 
use of my small steam-engine. It was the most convenient 
method of applying steam power to individual machines. 
Formerly, the power to drive a small machine was derived 
from a very complicated arrangement of shafting and gearing 
brought from a distant engine. But by my system I con- 
veyed 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 break-down 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 Ibs. 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. 1 

I adopted the same practice in working the refined and 
complex machines used in printing coloured patterns on 
calico. A great variety of colours have to be transferred 
by a combination of rollers each carrying its proper colour 
which is printed on the calico with the utmost exactness, so 
as to 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, and 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 

1 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 


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 

These difficulties were now entirely removed. When all 
was adjusted, the attendant of the print-machine had only to 
open slightly 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 the 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 obser- 
vation, 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 con- 
trol over it, to set it in motion and to regulate its speed 
without the slightest jerk or shock to its intricate median- 


ism. In this sense the arrangement was of great commercial 

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 work- 
shops 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 very 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 recom- 
mended 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 sug- 
gestion on this head. It was, that by a very small com- 
parative 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 require- 
ments, as well as surplus space for many years to come. In 
order to supply steam power to each of these beautiful work- 
shops, 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 con- 
struction, 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 
instrument 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 establish- 
ment 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 Eoyal Gun Foundry, and 
General Hardinge, head of the Eoyal Laboratories. 1 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 every- 
thing 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 dockyards and 
arsenals, led to further demands for similar machinery for 
foreign Governments. Foreign visitors 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 pro- 

1 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. . 


vided with facilities enough for constructing them for them- 
selves. At all events, one result of the improved working 
of the new machines at the Koyal Arsenal at Woolwich, was 
the receipt of large orders by our firm for the supply of 
foreign Governments. For instance, that of Spain employed 
us liberally, principally for the equipment of the royal dock- 
yards 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 

In 1849 we received an extensive order from the 
Eussian 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 Mcolaiev, 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 Eussian naval service. 
The design and organisation of this machinery in its 
minutest detail caused me to make 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 a difficulty, and 
therefore to be overcome. And in this lies a great deal of 
the pleasure of contriving and inventing. 

During the progress of the work I had the advantage of 
the frequent presence of an able Eussian 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 Eussian officers while at the 


Bridgewater Foundry. They were usually men of much 
ability, selected by the Eussian 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 Eussia. 

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 Heyden, and several other Eussian 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 
their eyes. The visits, for instance, of Eajah 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 Eussian 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 press- 



ing 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 



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 thoughts. 

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 draw- 
ing 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 

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 " Sunny - 
side," Massachusetts, where he lived. He said (17th Jan- 
uary 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, my 
dear sir, your truly obliged friend, WASHINGTON IRVING." 

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 

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, sug- 


gested to me ; especially when I directed my Telescope, 
even at random, on any portion of the clear sky, and con- 
sidered 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 served but to change this scene of inexpressible mag- 
nificence, which reached its climax when some such object 
as the " Cluster in Hercules " came into sight. The com- 
ponent 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 magnificence 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. 
Maudsley 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 obser- 
vatory 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, and profiting by his devotion 
to astronomical pursuits and his profound knowledge of the 
subject. 1 He had acquired much technical skill in the 
construction of reflecting telescopes, and the companionship 
between us was thus rendered very agreeable. There was 

1 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 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 
"Star field." 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 local 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 con- 
ceptions, and prepared by his own love of astronomy and practical acquaint- 
ance with astronomical observations, and with the construction of specula, 
to give them their full effect." With this fine instrument Mr. Lassell dis- 
covered 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 


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 Eeflecting 
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 the finest 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 Hue 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 astro- 
nomical observers. 

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 obser- 
vations 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 specu- 
lum 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 move 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 inter- 
cepted some object in the heavens which I wished to see. 
How eager and enthusiastic I was in those days ! Some- 
times 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 Patri- 
croft ! 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 
all along the canal, and also at Wolverhampton, which was 
the boatman's headquarters. He told the people at Patri- 
croft 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 midnight. 

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. It had 
been necessary to mount steps or ladders to get at the eye- 
piece, 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 gray-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 abso- 
lutely 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 pro- 
bably 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 surface 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 

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. Though only about one- 
eightieth part of the size 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 dis- 



[CHAP. xvin. 

persed 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 cen- 
tral 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, be- 
comes 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. 

It was in reference to this very interesting subject that 
I made a drawing of the great isolated volcanic mountain 
Pico, about 11,000 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. The hard 
stratified crust of the earth has 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, but 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 old earth, in 
an old apple, and in an old hand. 1 

While earnestly studying the details of the moon's sur- 
face, it was a source of great additional interest to me to 
endeavour to realise in the mind's eye the possible landscape 
effect of their marvellous elevations and depressions. Here 
my artistic 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 volcanoes, the craters, 

1 The shrunken hand on the other side is that of Mr. Nasmyth, photo- 
graphed by himself. ED. 


the cracks, the projections, the hollows in short, the light 
and shade of the moon's surface. One of the most promi- 
nent conditions of the awful grandeur of lunar scenery is the 
brilliant light of the sun, far transcending that which we 

experience upon the earth. It is enhanced by the contrast 

1 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 
05 a whole. By the action of gravity the former larger surface crushes down, 
as it were, the contracting interior ; and the superfluous matter, which be- 
longed 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. 




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 illumin- 
ated, while all in shade is dark. 


o Scoo loooo 2oooo 30000 


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 


Jay or night, no difference on the absolutely black aspect 
of the lunar heavens will appear. That aspect will be 
eternal there. No modification of the darkness of shadows 
in the moon can result from the illuminative effect, as in our 
case on the earth, from light reflected into shadows by the 
blue sky of our earthly day. 1 The intensity of the contrast 
between light and shade must lend another powerful aspect 
to the scenery of the moon, although deprived of all those 
charming effects which artists term " aerial perspective," by 
which relative distances are often rendered cognisable with 
such tender and exquisite beauty. But the absence of 
atmosphere on the moon causes the most distant objects to 
appear as near 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, necessarily limits very 
considerably the range of view. 

It is the combination of all these circumstances, which 
we know with absolute certainty must exist in the Moon, 
that leads to the contemplation of her marvellous surface. 
The subject, as revealed by the aid of powerful telescopes, 
presents one of the grandest and most deeply interesting 
subjects that can occupy the thoughts of man ; not only 
as regards the physical constitution and the peculiar struc- 
ture of her surface, as that of our nearest planetary neigh- 
bour, but 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 what business she 
transacts! She lifts hundreds of ships and barges, filled 

1 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 


with valuable cargoes, up our tidal rivers, to the commercial 
cities seated upon their banks. She performs a vast amount 
of mechanical drudgery. She is the most effective of all 
Tugs, though not of steam ; and now that we understand the 
convertibility and conservation of force, we may be able to 
use her Tide-producing functions through the agency of 
electricity. It is even possible that the Tides may yet light 
our streets and houses ! 

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. 
This adverse condition, from 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 inter- 
mission 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 night must reach as low as 250 degrees below 
the freezing point of water. These considerations, I think, 
conclusively prove that the existence of any form of life in 
the moon is utterly impossible. 

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, Eobinson, Taylor, 
Phillips, Brewster, Eosse, Fairbairn, Lassell, and a host of 
minor stars, who, although perhaps wanting in the bright- 
ness 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 con- 
tinue to shed their glory over the meetings of the Associa- 

How delightful was our visit to Edinburgh in 1850. 
It was " my own romantic town." I remembered its salient 
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 
hills of Corstorphine. The rock and Castle assumed a new 
aspect every time I looked at them. The long-drawn gar- 
dens 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 gleam- 
ing waters of the Firth, and the blue shadows among the 
hills of Fife. 

I remembered it all, from the days on 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 Asso- 
ciation. Many things had been changed many relatives and 
friends had departed and 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 the Duke of Argyll. 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 Eock. The excursion had been care- 
fully 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 vol- 
canic 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 Eobert Chambers. 1 
The object of this excursion was to visit the remarkable 
series of grooved and scratched rocks which had been dis- 
covered on the western edge of the cliff-like boundary of 
the Corstorphine Hills. 2 The glacial origin of these groov- 
ings on the rocks was then occupying the attention of 
geologists. It was a subject that Kobert Chambers had 
carefully studied, both in the Lowlands, in the Highlands, 
in Rhineland, 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 

1 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 char- 
acters 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 ;con- 
versation. Added to which, the wide range and accuracy of his information, 
acquired by his own industry and quick-witted penetration, caused the hours 
spent iii his society to remain among the brightest points in my memory. 

2 They had been first seen, some twenty years before, by Sir James Hall, 
one of the geologic lights of Edinburgh. 


removed especially from some of the most distinct evi- 
dences 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 own eyes and felt 
with his own 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 admir- 
able 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 Eev. Dr. Fleming, a shrewd and learned 
geologist. Like many others, he had encountered great 
difficulties in arriving at definite conclusions on this mys- 
terious subject. He concluded his remarks upon it by 
describing the influence it had in preventing his sleeping at 
night. He was so restless that his wife became seriously 
alarmed. " What's the matter wi' ye, John ? are ye ill ? " 
" Ou no," replied the doctor, " it's only that confounded 
Boulder 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 

t) Jr 

gave a viva voce account of my lunar researches at a crowded 
meeting of the Physical Section A. The novel and interest- 
ing subject appeared to give so much satisfaction to my 


audience that the Council of the Association desired 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 
Kooms 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 end. 

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 Inveraray. 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 Inveraray 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 beau- 
tiful and majestic scenery of the neighbourhood. 

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 en- 
veloped 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 tho 
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 dis- 
charge, 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 under- 
neath 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 dis- 
covery. 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. 1 

In the year following the meeting of the British Associa- 
tion 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. hammer-block. 

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 

1 I received the following reply from the Duke of Argyll, dated "Inver- 
aray, Nov. 19, 1850": 

"MY DEAR SIR Am I right in concluding, from the description which 
you \vere so kind as to send to me, that the lignite bed, with its super- 
incumbent 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 veiws 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. 

"I have been showing your drawing of 'Udolpho Castle' and 'The As- 
trologer'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, ARGYLL." 


this arrangement of the steam engine was 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 shaft of screw -propelled steamships of 
the largest kind. The comparatively small space it occu- 
pies, its compactness, its get-at-dbility 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. 1 The Commissioners, acting on the 
special recommendation of the jury, awarded me a medal 
for the construction of this form of steam-engine. 2 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 

1 Sir John Anderson, in his Report on the machine tools, textile, and 
other machinery exhibited at Vienna in 1873, makes the following observa- 
tions : " Perhaps the finest pair of marine engines yet 'produced by France, or 
any 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." 

2 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 dur- 


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 atten- 
tion, 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." 

These drawings 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 even- 
ing. 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 f her inquiries. The Prince Consort said that the 
drawings opened up quite a new question 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 pre- 
sence of Koyalty, 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 confor- 
mations 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." 1 

1 In his lecture on the " Geological Features of Edinburgh and its Neigh- 
bourhood," 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, 3d 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 was 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. 1 
Ever, H. 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 Eoberts, 
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 resi- 
dence, situated at the foot of the Pentland Hills. 2 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 toil- 
some walk we reached a favourite spot. It was a semi- 
circular 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 

1 James Ballantine, author of The Gaberlunzie 1 s Wallet. In August 1865 
Mr. Ballantine wrote to me saying: "If ever you are in Auld Reekie I 
should feel proud o 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!" 

3 The house was afterwards occupied by the lamented Professor Hodgson, 
the well-known Political Economist. 


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, Dun 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 5 
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 accom- 
paniments. 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 incar- 
nation 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. 0. 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 satis- 
factory 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 Edin- 



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. Oppo- 
site 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. 

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 con- 
venience 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 1 849, 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 observation 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 

" 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^ 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 beau- 
tiful, and will compensate for any imperfection in the optical arrange- 
ments 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 appa- 
ratus for grinding and polishing specula, invented by Mr. Lassell and 
constructed by yourself. I shall be glad to hear of your further pro- 
gress 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 for exhibition at a lecture at the 
Royal Institution, given by my old friend Edward Cowper, 
2 A 


whom I have already referred to. 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 that respect. His 
letter after the lecture was quite characteristic. 

" 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 ; or a sort of revolving platform, or something like a turn-table 
proper the gunner at the side of the carriage. Do you know any- 
thing 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 

" De La Rue was quite delighted. He said, ' Well, I congratulate 
you on a most splendid lecture I cannot call it anything else. 1 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 occa- 
sion to consider the causes of the sun's light. I observed 
the remarkable phenomena of the variable and sometimes 
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 remark- 
able 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 the 
solar sphere, a conclusion in which I doubt not all who have attent- 
ively pursued observations on the structure of the sun's surface will 

" 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 perfectly exhaustless. 

"Assuming, therefore, that the sun's light is the result of some 
peculiar action by which it brings forth into visible existence the ele- 
ment of light, which I conceive to be latent in, and diffused through- 
out 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 brill- 
iancy, 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. 1 

1 Dr. Siemens read a paper before the Royal Society in March 1882, on 
"A New Theory of the Sun." His views in some respects coincide 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 photo- 
sphere, and rendered back into space in the condition of products of com- 
bustion. 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 


Soon after my paper was read, Lord Murray of Hender- 
land, 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 re- 
course 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 valu- 
able 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 

probably have to double that pressure. Animal life, of which we had abund- 
ant traces in these ' measures, ' could not have existed under such condi- 
tions, and we are almost forced to the conclusion that the carbonic acid must 
have been derived from an external source." 


dark night. When I directed my 20 -inch reflecting tele- 
scope afmost at random to any part of the firmament, espe- 
cially 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, accord- 
ing to rational probability, and, I might even say, absolute 
certainty, a Sun 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 seen what a sub- 
lime aspect of nature 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 power- 
ful 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 olBBCL space with 
His Almighty Presence ! The human mind feels its perfect 
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 infu- 
soria 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 
mfmitesimally 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 inexpres- 
sible wonder at the transcendent range of Creative Power. 

Shortly after, I sent to the Eoyal Astronomical Society a 
paper on another equally wonderful subject, " The Eotatory 
Movements of the Celestial Bodies." 1 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 considera- 
tion 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 

1 "Suggestions respecting the Origin of the Rotatory Movements of the 
Celestial Bodies and the Spiral Forms of the Nebulae, as seen in Lord Rosse's 


not only result in the formation of a 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 diamet- 
rically opposite to each other, however slight the degree of deviation 
from the absolute diametrically opposite direction in which the con- 
verging particles coalesce at the focus of attraction, a twisting action 
would result, and Rotation ensue, which, once engendered, be its inten- 
sity ever so slight, from that instant forward the nucleus would con- 
tinue 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 nebulotis 
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 

" 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 rota- 
tory motion when a portion of it is permitted to escape from an aper- 
ture 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 very much impressed by an address of the 
llev. 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, 1 and you have 
directly the huge continental barrack -yard system all over 
England. And once get into the condition of a great con- 
tinental military power, and you get the arbitrary power ; 
you cramp down the people, and you unfit them from being 
what they ought to be FKEE ! And all the good influ- 
ences together at work in this country could not have 
secured us against this, but for that blessed separation 
between this Isle and the Continent." 

1 Tunnels were not thought of at that time. 


In 1853 I was appointed a member of the Small Arms 
Committee for the purpose of remodelling and, in fact, re- 
establishing the Small Arms Factory at Enfield. The won- 
derful 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 appointed. 

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 produc- 
tion 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 pre- 
vented my accompanying the members who were selected ; 
but as my friend John Anderson (now Sir John), acted as 
their guide, the committee had in him the most able and 
effective helper. He directed their attention to the most 
important and available details of that admirable establish- 
ment. 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 enthusias- 
tically delighted with the results of their inquiry. The 
committee immediately proceeded with the entire remodelling 
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 
most experienced workmen 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 its conversion to the breech-loader 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 intro- 
duced. These have rendered the Enfield Small Arms 
Factory one of the most perfect and best regulated estab- 
lishments in the kingdom. 



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 corre- 
spondence with my old friend David Eoberts, Eoyal Acade- 
mician, 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 


of a photograph of those wonderful drawings ? It may 
come to that." l 

But I had something else yet to do in my special voca- 
tion. 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 be- 
comes 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 

The manual and physical labour of the puddler is tedi- 
ous, 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 un- 
healthiness of the process, as well as the great loss of time 

1 It did indeed "come to that," for I shortly after learned the art of 
photography, chiefly for this special purpose. 


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 bring- 
ing 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 com- 
motion 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 1854. * 

My friend, Thomas Lever Rushton, proprietor of the 
Bolton Ironworks, was so much impressed with the sound- 
ness 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 

1 Specification of James Nasmyth Employment of steam in the process of 
puddling iron. May 4, 1854 ; No. 1001. 


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 com- 
mercial difficulty, Mr. Bessemer had secured his patent of 
the 17th 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 magni- 
ficently 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 inven- 
tion, that I initiated a new system, and led up 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 Manu- 
facture of Iron into Steel without Fuel" 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 iiTitiinipntirrl 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 pro- 
pounded. My words were not reported at the time, nor 
was Mr. Bessemer's paper printed by the Association, per- 
haps because it was thought of so little importance. 1 But 

1 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 
we was unknown) said, laughing, to a friend within his hearing, " Do you 


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 Chelten- 
ham 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 Eabbler 
is at work, producing iron of superior quality by the intro- 
duction 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 met with failures as well as successes, and at 
last recognised the decarburation of pig iron by atmospheric 
air. Sir Henry proceeds to say : 

" I prepared to try another experiment, in a crucible having no 
hole in 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 it, so as nearly to fill the crucible. A blast of air was to be 

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 non- 
sense ? " 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. 


forced down the pipe so as to rise up among the pieces of granular 
iron and partially decarburise them. The pipe could then be with- 
drawn, 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 
beloio 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 improve- 
ment, that the experiment on the granular pieces was at once aban- 
doned, and, as soon as I was well enough, I proceeded to try the ex- 
periment 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 Cheltenham. 

" 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 Mar- 
tin'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 never- 
theless 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 mal- 
leable 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 
2 B 


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 sign-board 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 abun- 
dant 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 cozie place, 

They close the day." l 

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 cozy 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. ISTasmyth'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 2 that 

1 "Letter to James Smith," 18th verse. 

2 The " Partner " here referred to, was my excellent friend Henry Garnett, 
Esq., of Wyre Side, near Lancaster. He had been my sleeping partner or 


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 Bridge- 
water 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 cozy place of refuge for the rest of my life. Accord- 
ingly, 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 par- 
ticular 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. E. Lee, 
the Eoyal 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 I 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 in- 
come, such as might hinder my enjoying the rest of my 
days in the active leisure which I desired. I had for some 
tune before my retirement been investing in consols, which 

" Co." for nearly twenty years, and the most perfect harmony always existed 
between us. 




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 

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 man- 
sion 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 rail- 
way 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 my- 
self took the greatest delight. 

From my hereditary regard for hammers two broken 
hammer-shafts being the crest of our family for hundreds of 

y ears 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 green- 
house was built, 120 feet long by 32 feet wide. Eoomy 
apartments were added to the house. The trees and 
shrubs planted about the grounds were carefully selected. 
The conifera 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 conifera, especially of the Lawson- 
iania 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 con- 
structive 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 tele- 
scopes, 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 

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 belong- 
ings of some departed kind heart are scattered far and wide. 
These touching relics of a long life, which had almost be- 
come part of himself, are " knocked down " to the highest 
bidder. It is indeed 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 
almost become 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 care- 
less 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. 



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 arith- 
metical 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 con- 
sidered the prime of life. But I had plenty of hobbies, per- 
haps 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 dis- 
coveries, 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 devia- 
tion 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 in- 
teresting 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 Edin- 
burgh 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 Eobert Chambers. We had a long 
"dander" 1 together through the Old Town, our talk being 
in broad Scotch. Pillans was one of the fine old Edin- 
burgh 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. 

1 Dander to saunter, to roam, to go from place to place. 


We had a delightful stroll through some of the most 
remarkable parts of the Old Town, with Eobert 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. 1 

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 countenances of the demonstrators, 
with the venerable Pillans eagerly listening for the Profes- 
sor 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 com- 
paratively 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 

1 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 Neigh- 


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 Bonian baths and that part of the building devoted to 
Eoman 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, 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 Mar- 
seilles. I have already described Nismes in my previous 
visit to France. I revisited the Roman amphitheatre, the 
Maison Quarre", 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 skil- 



ful fittin^ of its enormous blocks, makes a powerful impres- 
sion 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 photo- 
graphy. 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 deli- 
cate manipulation. I know of nothing equal to photo- 
graphy 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 en- 
deavouring 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 pre- 
pared. 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 produced. 

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 philoso- 
pher, 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 companion- 
able. 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 work- 
shop, and see me go through the various technical processes 
of casting, grinding, and polishing specula for reflecting tele- 
scopes. That \vas 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, some- 
times more than 100,000 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 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 Man- 
chester. 1 The results of my observations were of so novel 

1 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 vibra- 
tions, 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. 


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 dis- 

I received a letter from Sir John, dated Collingwood, 21st 
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 I 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 I 
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 atmo- 
sphere which the change of the spots indicate. 

u 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 yoiir 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 rny 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 unex- 



pected interpretation from the remarkable discovery of Mr. 
J. Xasmyth, who, from a series of observations made 
with a reflecting telescope of his own construction under 
very high magnifying powers, and under exceptional cir- 
cumstances of tranquillity and definition, has come to the 
conclusion that these pores are the polygonal interstices be- 
tween 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 Eue, Pritchard, and Stone in England, and M. Secchi 
in Eome." 

On the 25th of February 1864, I received a communi- 
cation from Mr. W. J. Stone, first assistant at the Eoyal 
Observatory, Greenwich. 

" The Astronomer-Royal," he says, " 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, 
2 C 



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 

The Astrouoiner-Eoyal, in his report to the Admiralty 
on my discovery, said : 

An examination of the Sun's surface with the South-East Equa- 
torial, under favourable circumstances, has convinced me of the accuracy 
of the description, which compares it with interlacing willow leaves or 
rice grains." 

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 1 
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 sub- 
stantial reality can no longer be doubted." l 

Sir John Herschel confirmed this information in a 
letter which I received from him in the following May. He 

1 Let me give another letter from my friend, dated the Observatory, 
Crauford, Middlesex, October 26, 1864. He said: "I am quite pleased 
to learn that you like the large photograph. The first given to any friend 
was destined for and sent to you. Iso 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 re- 
member 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, WAKREX DE LA RUE." 


said " that Mr. De la Eue and a foreign gentleman, Hugo 
Miiller, 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 indi- 
vidual 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 reflect- 
ing 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 imperfec- 
tions 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 there- 
fore 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 con- 
trived 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. 

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 radi- 
ating lines that diverge from the lunar volcanic craters. Sir 
John expressed his delight at witnessing my practical illus- 
tration 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. 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 out- 
stretched piece with his rule, measured its length and breadth, 
and verified its correctness. 1 I also exhibited to him a 

1 At a recent meeting of the Metropolitan Railway Company I ex- 
hibited 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 



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 

to understand what had been done in the way of conveyance. Mr. Mac- 
donald, of the Times, supplied me with one million type impressions, con- 
tained in sixty average columns of the Times newspaper. 


was hailed by many as of much value, as conveying a cor- 
rect idea of the relative magnitude of geological phenomena 
in comparison with that of the earth itself. 

On this subject Sir Thomas Mitchell, Survey or- General 
of Australia wrote to me at the time : " I will not obtrude 
upon you any 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 invi- 
tation with pleasure. We duly reached the Observatory, 
when Struve introduced me to the Father. Secchi gave me 
a most cordial and unlocked for welcome. " This," he said, 
" is a most extraordinary interview ; as I am at this moment 
making a representation of your willow-leaf shaped consti- 
tuents 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 representa- 
tion of your discovery as I see it, verified by the aid of my 
telescope." It appeared to Father Secchi so singular a cir- 
cumstance that I should come upon him in this sudden 
manner, while he was for the first time engaged in repre- 
senting 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 nine- 
tieth 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 Eobinson 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 occupa- 
tion. 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 mechani- 
cal 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 see- 
ing your most exquisite photographs from models of lunar mountains. 
I hope you will publish them. They will create qiiite an electric 
sensation. Would not one or two specimens of the apparently non- 
volcanic mountain ranges, bordering on the great plains, add to the 
interest 1 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 appre- 
ciating 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 dis- 
covery, 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 Car- 
penter, then of the Eoyal 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 18 74. 
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 geo- 
logical 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 Astro- 
norner-Boyal 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, PHILIP H. CALDERON." 

I now proceed to the Cardinal. I was present at one of 
the receptions of the President of the Royal Society at Bur- 
lington 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 suffi- 
ciently 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 illustra- 
tions 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 con- 
tempt (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 pro- 
gress. 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 Eecollections. I 
have endeavoured to give a brief resume of my life and 
labours. I hope they may prove interesting as well as use- 
ful 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 Eoyal. Academy. The 
Crystal Palace continues to attract a share of my atten- 
tion, 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 semi-circle 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 Tlie 
Tableland of Life is then reached. Ordinary observation 
shows that between thirty and fifty the full strength of body 



[CHAP. xxi. 

and mind is reached ; and at that period we energise our 
faculties to the utmost. 

Those who are blessed with good health and a sound 
constitution may prolong the period of energy to sixty or 
or even seventy ; but Nature's laws must be obeyed, and 
the period of decline begins, and usually goes on rapidly. 
Then comes Old Age ; and as we descend the semi-circle 
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 in- 
dividual age, every one may see how much of life is con- 
sumed, and what is left D. V. 
Here is my brief record : 













23. 1831. 

26. 1834. 

28. 1836. 

31. 1839. 

32. 1840 

34. 1842. 

35. 1843. 
37. 1845. 
48. 1856. 










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 r6sum6 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. 




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 water-way 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 ac- 
cordingly 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 

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 suit- 
able velocity by means of a small steam-engine placed in a tug- 
boat, to the stern of which a train of barges was attached. 

The steam-engine could thus warp its way along the chain, taking 
it up betAveen 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 ful- 
crum or resistance which the steam-engine on the tug-boat operated 
upon in thus warping its way along the chain j 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 con- 
veyed 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 Com- 
pany ; and I received a complimentary acknowledgment of them 
in writing. But such was the prejudice that existed, in conse- 
quence 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 
2 D 


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 Kendell, 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 operation. 

My contrivance consisted of an arrangement by means of 
which the metal bar or other solid substance, whose total expan- 
sion 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 50 of heat, as the 
normal temperature in each case. The apparatus was then heated 
up to say 200 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 sur- 
rounding it simply 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 expan- 
sion 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. The figure of this 
simple instrument will be found in the text (p. 120). My friend, 
Sir David Brewster, was so much pleased with the instru- 
ment 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 of the earliest mechauical 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 de- 
posited 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 arrange- 
ment into practice, I found the result to be in every way satisfac- 
tory. The active little steam-engine thenceforward 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 it 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 v 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 pro- 
ceeded with until it be 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 employment. 


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 acromatic spy-glass of 2 
inches diameter. The object-glass was made by the celebrated 
Eamsden. 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 tele- 
scope-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 sub- 
ject. I found, however, that the information given in books at 
least in the books to which I had access was meagre and unsatis- 
factory. Nevertheless I set to work Avith 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, 
1 5 parts of grain tin, and 1 part of white arsenic. These ingredi- 
ents, 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 look 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 brilliancy. 

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 castings. 

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 get 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 grind- 
ing 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 saw- 
dust, where the speculum is placed to cool as 
slowly as possible. 

The rationale of the strength of speculse 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 tipper 
stratum. Thus all risk of contractile tension, which is so danger- 
ously 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. Ey the employment of these simple and effect- 
ive 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 
Kue, 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 inex- 
pressibly 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-tele- 
scopes 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. Maudsley 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. Maudsley 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. Maudsley's great 

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 faith- 
fulness 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 arrange- 
ment 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 Hexagonal Collared Nuts or 
Bolt-Heads by means of a Revolving File or Cutter. 

This method is referred to, and drawings given, in the text, 
pp. 145-6. 

1829. An Investigation into the Origin and Mode of writing the 
Cuneiform Character. 

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 fre- 



quently-recurring processes in the construction of machinery. 
This is hest 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 structure. 

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. Maudsley's mortising machine, which he contrived 
for the Block machinery, although in- 
tended originally to operate upon wood, 
contained all the essential principles and 
details required for acting on metals. Mr. 
Richard Roberts, by some excellent modi- 
fications, enabled it to mortise or cut out 

Fig. 1. 

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 
framework was required, which was most costly in space as well 
as in money. 

In order to obviate this inconvenience, I designed an arrange- 
ment of a key -groove mortising machine. It was capable of 
operating upon wheels of any diameter, having no limit to its 
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 arrange- 
ment 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 

1836. An Instrument for finding and marking the Centres of Cylin- 
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 pro- 
cess 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 then 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-Pum.p Buckets, so as to lessen Friction and dispense 
urith Packing. 

The desire to make the pistons of steam-engines of 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 common-sense 
view of the subject, we find that in most cases the loss 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 hy 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-horse-power 
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 011 the upper side of the piston, not only serves as a 
frktionless packing, but also serves as a lubricant of the most 
appropriate kind. I have applied the same kind of piston to ordi- 
nary water-pumps, with similar excellent results. 

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 pro- 
duced, 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 above. 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 above illustrative 
figures 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 em- 
ployed. 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 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 " Xasmyth's Steam Arm." 

None but those who have had ample opportunities of watch- 
ing 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 
correctlv." 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. 

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 per- 
fection. 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, etc. 

This will be found described summarily in the next and final 




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 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 contriv- 
ance represented in the 
annexed illustration. 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 C. These wheels 
can pitch into a corres- 
ponding 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 slide-screw 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 C 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 engineers. 

2 E 


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 bear- 
ing proclaims its dangerous condition. In some cases the timber 
work is set on fire, which may result in serious destruction. 

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 axis. 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 Hocking 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 arms 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 technical matter of detail ; 
but its great practical value must be my excuse for mentioning it. 

1838. Invention of Safety Foundry Ladle. 
The safety foundry ladle is described in the text, p. 209. 


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 Eoads, 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 it will do' ; and be certain 
to send her below water in a few minutes." 

I published my description of the steam ram and its appar 
atus 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. 1 In June 1870, I received a letter from Sir E. J. 

1 The following is the letter of General Sir John Burgoyne : 


LONDON, 8th April 1862. 

" General Sir John Burgoyne presents his compliments to Mr. Nasmyth, 
and was much pleased to find, by Mr. Nasymth'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 revul- 
sion 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 cir- 
cumstances 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 acci- 


Eeed, containing the following extracts : " I was aware previously 
that plans had been proposed for constructing un armoured steam 
rams, but I was not acquainted with the fact that you had put 
forward so well-matured 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 iron-clad 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 Iron-clad, 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 details. 
Described in text, p. 245. 

1839. Invention of the Floating Mortar, or Torpedo Ram. 
For particulars and details, see Report of Torpedo Committee. 

dent or mismanagement, end on to a very substantial wharf wall in Kings- 
town 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." 



1839. A Double-faced fledge -shaped Sluice -Fake for Main Street 
Water --pipes. 

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 farther 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 en- 
trance pipe and that of the exit pipe attached to the valve case in 
the most effective manner. 


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 con- 
vey a clear idea of the construction. The wedge form of the 
double-faced valve is conspicuous as the characteristic feature of 
the arrangement. 


1839. A Hydraulic Vndni 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 pre- 
pared 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 strength 
being in the materials employed in its construction. 

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 -Mstasws in place of the cylinder and ram of the 
ordinary hydraulic press. The Hydraulic MatMNS consists of a 
water-tight vessel or flat bag formed of |-inch thick iron or steel 
plates securely riveted together ; its dimensions being 15 feet square 
by 3 feet deep, and having semicircular sides, which form enables 
the upper flat part of the Matrass 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 JferiMB 
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 avail- 



able surface of at least 144 square feet surface namely, that of 
the upper flat surface of the Mduws. 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 

As before stated, there may be many processes in the manu- 
facturing 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 ifetfeaas 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 
was required to be in action. 


1840. A Tapping Square, or instrument by which Perfect Ferticality 
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 

In executing an order for twenty locomotive engines for the 
Great Western Railway Company, there was necessarily a repeti- 
tion 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. 274. 



1843. A Universal Flexible Joint for Steam and 

The chief novelty in this swivel joint is the manner in which 

the packing of the joints 
is completely inclosed, and 
so rendering them perfectly 
and permanently water- 

1844. An Improvement 
in Blowing Fans and 
their Bearings. 

The principle on which 
Blowing Fans act, and to 
which they owe their effi- 
ciency, 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 re- 
quisite 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 prin- 
ciple, 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 com- 
partment 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- 

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 ventila- 
tion 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 lie Metalica, 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 ventilation. 

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 down- 
cast 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 coal-pits. 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 coal-mine 
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 

1845. An Improvement in the Links of Chain Cables. 

1845. An Improved Metlwd 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 heat- 
ing 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 exist- 
ence 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 malle- 
able 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 repre- 
sented in Fig. 3 ; the result of which is that 
I we thus provide an open door for the scoriae 
Fig. i. ] * 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 com- 
J pleted under the blows of the hammer or 
other compressing agency. Fig. 4 represents 
the final and perfect completion of the 
Avoiding, which is effected by this common- 
Fjg 3 - sense and simple means, that is, by giving 

the surfaces a convex form instead of a con- 
cave 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 

Fig. 4. 

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 cir- 
cumstances 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. 



1847. A Spherical-seated Direct-weighted Safety Falve. 

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 cor- 
responding conical seat, as seen at A in Fig. 1. As this guide 

Fig. 1. 

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 purpose. 

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 im- 
portant 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 Yalve 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 sur- 
faces 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 Yalve in action. After I had contrived 
and introduced this Safety Valve, its valuable properties were 
speedily acknowledged, and its employment has now become very 

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 
I 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 workshop. 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 0. This enabled it 
to cut sideways,f, as well as downwards, and thus to cut a slit or 
oblong hole. No labour, as such, was required ; but only the in- 
telligent 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 

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 adjust- 
able 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 

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 advertisement. 

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 on the next page. 

2 F 




1848. An Improved Mode of Punching large Holes in Plate Iron ly 
slightly skewing the Face of the Punch in the Punching 

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 pene- 
tration 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 malle- 
able iron. Knowing that my excellent friend John Hick 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 service. 


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 coup- 
ling 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 cake of 
iron, together with the punched-out disc, were then packed off to 
Faraday ; and great was his delight at 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 con- 
tract 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 "Skive" or Pulley for Rope Band 
Power Transmission. 



1848. A Turn-table "Trunion Vision" Reflecting Telescope. 
This is so arranged that the observer can direct the Tele- 
scope 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. 351. 

1850. A Double or Ambidexter Self-acting Turning -Lathe, with 
" Dead Cutters," 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 drawings. 

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. 365. 

1854. A reversible Rolling Mill mthout 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. 


This invention was first brought into use by Mr. Ramsbotham 
at the Crewe works of the London and North Western Kailway. 
It soon came into general use, especially for rolling long and heavy 
bars and plates. It enables the workmen to " see - saw " these 
ponderous objects, and pass them to and fro through the rolls 
with the utmost ease, to the great saving of heat, time, and 

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. C. Withington) house at 
Pendleton. As I was then Engineer to the Victor Emmanuel Railway, and 
had made a survey of the Mont Cenis for the purpose of the Tunnel, I con- 
sulted you as to the application of the machinery for that work. You sug- 
gested 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 discus- 
sion 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 Associa- 
tion 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 plates. 

"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 oppor- 
tunity, 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 occupa- 
tions 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 pro- 


jectiles 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 iny 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. 

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 en- 
deavoured 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 them- 
selves, 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 charac- 
ter 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 

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, affect- 
ing, as it has done, architectural structures and numerous habits 
and customs which have come down 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 ex- 
amples 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 ex- 
pressive 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 person- 
ages, 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 Eitualist 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. Fig. 1 is from a " rubbing " of one of the many small or 
" Household''' pyramids in the Louvre Collection at Paris ; while 
Fig. 2 is an attempt to illustrate in a graphic manner the deriva- 
tion of the form of the Pyramid and Obelisk from the Sun's Kays. 
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 mystifica- 
tions ; this was practised under the impression that the Sun, 
Moon, and planets, were near to the earth. The summits of moun- 
tains and "High Places" became "sacred," and were for this reason 
resorted to for the performance of the most important religious 

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 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-engrav- 
ing 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 communi- 
cates 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 <c 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 " sur- 
vivals " 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 

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. I was particularly im- 
pressed with the precision and simple 
beauty of these cuneiform inscrip- 
tions, 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 
Fig. i. inscriptions were composed. The 

triangular or three-sided indentation will be observed in the 
annexed 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. 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 tahlet of plastic clay in different 
positions and 
directions, would 
leave these cunei- 
form impressions 
in all their 
beautifully dis- 
tinct and char- 
acteristic 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 thou- 
sands of years, as fresh and distinct as if they had been produced 
but yesterday ! 

I was so fortunate as to have my conjectures confirmed with 
respect to the exact form of the 
instrument by which these remark- 
able characters are produced, by 
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, Fig . 3 . 

from which Fig. 3 is taken, after a photograph. 

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. 



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 pro- 
duced. The upper, flat, or 
third side of the stylus en- 
abled 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. 

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 char- 
acter may be observed. 
This is due to the in- 
scriber having held his 
stylus somewhat askew, 
as we do a pen in ordi- 
nary writing. 

Referring to my re- 
mark that the distinctive 
shape of the cuneiform 
character was essentially 
due to the use of plastic 
clay as the most suitable 
material for its produc- 
tion, 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 hricks, 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 cap- 
tives as task- work, and it ap- 
pears to me highly probable 
that " the tale " of the brick- 
maker or his task-master 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 cunei- Flg - 6- 

form character was produced (see 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 inscrip- 
tions, 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 inscrip- 
tion (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 impres- 

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 modi- 
fication 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, 

,X V *nir^ .^^^W[ minals > as illustrated in 
Fig. 8, each limb of the 
letters being in itself a 
perfect cuneiform ; and 
as such the terminal of 

each limb is at light angles to the axis, and not as now (in our 
modern capital letters) parallel to the line of inscription. 

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 Eoman, and eventually into the capital letters of our own 

fctaME^l As i<^\ | , alphabet. To give one 

" ^Tr^ M-P 1 ^stance, though many 

II Jl might be cited, take the 

<^ dLL capital letter T, and it will 

GREEK. ROMAN. MODERN, be found that it went from 

the Cuneiform into the 

Greek, then into the Eoman, 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. 

The letters AKHIKMNYX 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 primi- 
tive arrow-headed impression of the stylus in the moist clay, 
begun thousands of years ago. 

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 pro- 
ceeded 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 

This subject is all the more interesting, as the cuneiform element 
appears to have passed from the Greek inscriptional letters into 
those of the Eoman, 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 

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 annexed engraving. 
The mechanical principles inherent in this beautifully simple form 

2 Or 


of roller-seal, indicate a high order of ingenuity, \vell 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 Walter 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. 


ADMIRALTY Board, and steam hammer, 


Affiffi Lalli, 283 
Alphabet cuneiform, 448 
Ambidexter turning-lathe, 436 
Amphitheatre at Nismes, 255 
Ancestry, sentiment of, 1 ; tomb of, 11 
Anderson, Sir J., 249, 319, 345, 362. 
Antibilious stock, 372 
Apprentices' indentures, 124, 128, 227 
ArcJiemides 1 screw, 243 
Argyll, Duke of, 321, 339, 342, 394 
Arthur's Seat, 50, 101, 380 
Artists, 36 ; family of, 49, 51 ; friends, 


Assyrian roller seal, 450 
Aston, Mr., Q.C., on chilled shot, 438 
Astronomical Society, papers for, 355, 

Astronomy, study of, 101, 175 ; at St. 

Petersburg, 290 ; at "Fireside," 324 ; 

turn-table telescope, 351 ; wonders 

of, 357 
Athol, Duke of, 39 

BAIRDS of Posso, 3 

Bairds, St. Petersburg, 294 

Bakers, contractors, 271 

Bald, Robert, 107 

Bannockburn, chain-mail at, 109 

Barton of the Eoyal Mint, 151, 153, 172 

Bass Rock, 339 

Bayeux, tapestry at, 253 

Bennet, William, 248 

Bentham, Sir S., 134, 151 

Bernard's Well, St., 44 

Bessemer, Sir H., 367 

Bibler's Seat, 20 

Birkenhead, 158 

Birmingham, 166 

Black Country, 163 

Black Watch, entry of, to Edinburgh, 70 

Block -machinery, 134 

Blowing fans, 426 ; for coal-mines, 


Bothwell Brig, 6 
Bouchier, M., Paris, 245 
Boulder clay, 341 
Boulton and Watt, 166 
Bourdon, M., Creuzot, 245 
Bow-and-string bridges, 46 
Boxer, Captain, 319 
Brahe, Tycho, 305 
Brandreth, Captain, 271, 278 
Brass moulding, 115 
Brest arsenal, 253 
Brewster, Sir D., 52, 100, 120, 353, 

403, 408 

Brick, inscriptions in, 444 
Bridges, D. (note), 36 
Bridgewater Canal, 159, 202, 207 
Bridgewater Foundry, 203, 216, 307 
British Association meetings, 337, 367 
Brougham, Lord, 30, 133 
Burgoyne, Sir J., 419 
Burns, Robert, 33 

CADDIES, Edinburgh, 75 

Calderon, Philip H., R.A., 394 

Calton Hill, 71 

Canal traction, 400 

Carmichaels, Dundee, 123 

Carron Ironworks, 109 

Casting specula, 175, 326, 405 

Cast-iron structures, 183 

Castle, Edinburgh, 18 ; Bibler's seat, 20 



Cats, fondness for, 77 

Chain cables, 279, 429 

Chambers, Bobert, 340, 379 

Chantrey, sculptor, 153 

Chartres Cathedral, 381 

Cherbourg, 253 

Chilled cast-iron shot, 437 

Chime-bells, St. Giles's, 73 

Chippendale, Manchester, 184 

Chronological list of inventions, 400 

Chucking metal-work, 404 

Clerk of Eldin, 220 

Coalbrookdale, 162 

Cockburn, Lord, 348 

Colborn, Sir G., 270, 279 

Col d'Ollioulles, 256 

Collar-nut cutting machine, 145 

Colour-printing machines, 315 

Colquhoun, Colonel, 318 

Constantine, Grand Duke, 321 

Cooking apparatus, 143 

Copenhagen, museums, 304 

Cottar slot-cutting machine, 432 

Covenanters and civil war, 5 

Coventry, 155 

Cowper, Ebenezer, 189 ; Edward, 196, 


Cragg, J., 183 

Crater, Vesuvius, 262 ; lunar, 331 
Creuzot ironworks, 245, 345 
Crewdson, Thomas, 221 
Cundell Brothers, 153 
Cuneiform character, 444 
Curves, graceful, 413 
Cutting key-grooves, 409 ; cottar slots, 

Cylindrical rods, centres of, 411 

DALE Street, factory in, 187 

Dalswiuton, Miller of, 27 : first steam- 
boat of, 30 

Dannemora Iron Mine, 299 

Dawyk, Deil of, 4 

Dean Bridge, 43 

De la Rue, 327, 386 

Devon Ironworks, 106 

Devonport Dockyard, 269 

Dial of life, 397 

Dilletante Club, 35 

Douglass, George, 117, 179 

Drain, John, 168 

Drawing classes, 22 

Drawing, uses of, 57, 99, 323: me- 
chanical, 125 

Dudley Castle, 164 
Duncan, Viscount, 324 
Dunkeld, planting at, 39 
Durer, Albert, 287 

EDINBURGH, 6; New, 14; Castle, 18, 
68 ; scenery, 33, 58, 100, 338 ; club 
life, 35 ; 47 York Place, 41 ; New 
Town laid out, 43 ; volcanic origin of, 
50 ; old buildings, 83 ; Royal visit 
to, 102 ; great fire at, 103 ; School of 
Arts at, 111 ; revisited, 338, 378 

Egerton, Lord F., 208 

Egyptian workmen, 282 

Ellesmere, Earl of, 208, 321 ; Countess 
of, 371 

Enfield Small Arms Factory, 362 

Erskine Brothers, 21 

Exhibition of all nations, 344 

Expansometer, 119, 402 

FANS, blowing, 426 ; for coal mines, 427 

Faraday, Michael, 133, 141, 284, 434 

Fawcett, William, 157, 182 

Field, Joshua, 176 ; talking books, 178 

Files, Lancashire, 214 

Fir cone, the sacred, 443 

Fishwives, Edinburgh, 76 

Flexible joint, 426 

Foulis of Woodhall, 32 

Foundry (see Bridgewater) 

Foundry ladle, 210 ; work in Russia, 


Fox, Charles, 317, 435 
France, visits to, 245, 252, 380 
Free Trade in Ability, 218, 226 
French prisoners, Edinburgh, 68 

GARDENING, pleasures of, 374 
Garnett, H., partner, 371-372 
Gaskell, Holbrook, partner, 212 
Genoa, visit to, 258 
Geology, 205, 342, 361, 390 
Ghost at Patricroft, 329 
Giant's Causeway, 205, 343 
Giles's, St., Edinburgh, 73, 104 
Glass globe cracked, 390 
Gothic architecture, 49, 154, 169 
Grant Brothers, 185, 191, 193 
Graphic language, 57, 99 
Grassmarket, Edinburgh, 7, 18 
Great Britain steamship, 238 
Great Western Railway Company, 237 
Greg, General, 289 



Greyfriars churchyard, 11 ; family 
tombstone in, 12 

HALL, Sir J., 49, 64 

Hamilton, Duke of, 6 

Hammer (see Steam Hammer) 

Hammerfield, 373 

Hamoaze, shore at, 271 

Hartop, Mr., 234, 428 

Hastings, Sir T., 317 

Heart of Midlothian, 85 

Herbert, Mr. S., 270 

Herschel, Sir J., 326, 383, 387, 392; 

Miss, 387, 395 
Hick, Bolton, 207, 244, 434 
Hill, D. 0., 350 
Household management, 55 
Hugo de Lupus, 214 
Huguenots in Edinburgh, 22 
Humphreys (Dennison & Co.), 203, 251 
Humphries, Francis, 238 
Button, James, 219 
Hydraulic matrass press, 422 ; method 

of punching iron, 434 

INDRET, marine factory, 254 

Infusoria, Bridgewater Canal, 358 

Inventions and contrivances, 400 

Inversnaid Fort, 9 

Iron, "sow" and "pig," 107 

Iron steamboat, first, 31 

Irving, Washington, 324 

Italy, visits to, 258, 391 

Ivy screening, 291 

Izak Church, St. Petersburg, 294 

JOINT, flexible, 426 

KENILWORTH, ruins of, 169 
Kennedy, John, 185, 201 
Kensington Museum, 31 
Kornileff, Admiral, 320 
Kraflft, sculptor, 287 

LANCASHIRE files, 214 

Landscape painting, 40 ; beauty, 36, 

42, 59 

Laocoon, drawing of the, 24 
Lassell, William, 326, 393, 395, 408 
Leslie, Professor, 50, 111, 402 
Light, solar. 355 
Link-valve motion, 436 
Linnell, John, 84 
Liverpool, 155, 182 

Liverpool and Manchester Railway, 

156, 237 

Lloyd, Edward, 190 
Londonderry, 201, 204 
Lupus, Hugo de, 214 
Lyndhurst, Lord, 392 

MACLAREN, Charles, 379 

Manchester, 159, 184 

Manning, Cardinal, 394 

Marseilles, 256, 258 

Masters and men, 12, 199, 216, 308 

Matrass press, hydraulic, 422 

Maudsley, Henry, 123 ; his factory, 
127 ; private workshop, 130 ; uni- 
formity of screws, 131 ; block- 
machinery, 134 ; the Endeavour, 
135 ; screw-tackle, 139 ; philosophy 
of construction, 147; the Lord Chan- 
cellor, 149 ; friends, 151 ; return 
from Berlin, 172 ; proposed tele- 
scope, 174 ; death, 175 

Merrick,S. W., 251 

Microscope, investigations with, 358 

Milky Way, 325, 358 

Miller, Hugh, 50 (note) ; on boulder 
clay, 341, 347 (note) 

Miller, Patrick, Dalswinton, 27 ; ex- 
periments with ships, 28 ; orders the 
first steamboat, 29 ; assists Alex- 
ander Nasmyth, 31 

Mint, Royal, 135, 172 

Mitchell, Sir T., 357,391 

Mohammed Ali, 282 

Moon, observation of the, 330 ; lunar 
craters, 331, 335; drawings of, 337; 
lectures on, 341, 378 ; prize for 
drawings of, 346; work on "The 
Moon," 382, 388, 394 

Mortar, floating, 420 

Motala, Sweden, 302 

Mull, Island of, 342 

Murdoch, William, 135, 167 

NAESMYTH, family of, 1 ; origin of the 
name of, 2 ; Sir Michael of Posso, 
3 ; James of Dawick, 4 ; of Nether- 
ton, 5 ; Elspeth, burnt as a witch, 
7 ; Michael (1st), builder and archi- 
tect, 7 ; Michael (2d), 12 ; Michael 
(3d), 13 ; Michael (4th), purser, 16 

Naples, visit to, 261 

Nasmyth, Alexander, born, 18 ; educa- 
tion, 19 ; apprenticed to coachbuilder, 



22 ; pupil of drawing academy, 23 ; 
assistant to Allan Ramsay, 24 ; por- 
trait painter in Edinburgh, 27; assists 
Miller of Dalswinton, 28 ; visits 
Italy, 31 ; marriage, 32 ; paints 
portrait of Burns, 33 ; becomes land- 
scape painter, 40 ; architect, 43 ; 
bow-and-string bridges, 46; family 
gatherings, 52; his classes, 56 ; his 
workshop, 46, 65 ; his graphic lan- 
guage, 99; journey to Stirling, 105; 
visit to London, 125 ; paints Elgin 
and Castle Grant, 195; visits Man- 
chester and Bridgewater Foundry, 
228 ; death, 231 

Nasmyth, James, born, 64 ; left-handed, 
65; brother Patrick, 66 ; the French 
prisoners, 68; entry of the Black 
Watch, 70 ; the Calton Hill, 71 ; 
chimes of St. Giles', 73 ; marketing, 
75 ; school-days, 79 ; at High School, 
82; Sir W. Scott, 84; collecting 
period, 87 ; mechanical pursuits, 89 ; 
school friendships, 91 ; learns che- 
mistry, 95 ; learns drawing, 98 ; 
walks round Edinburgh, 100; George 
IV. 's visit, 102; great fires, 103; 
visit to Stirling, 105 ; model steam- 
engine, 110 ; School of Arts classes, 
112 ; University classes, 115 ; brass- 
moulding in bedroom, 115 ; makes 
a working steam engine, 117; ex- 
pansometer, 119; road steam-car- 
riage, 121 ; taken on as assistant at 
Maudsley's, 125 ; trip to Richmond, 
136 ; rudimentary screws, 139 ; 
cooking apparatus, 143 ; collar-nut 
cutting machine, 145 ; trip to Liver- 
pool and manufacturing districts, 
154 ; walk to London, 161 ; leaves 
Maudsleyand Field, 178 ; workshop 
at Edinburgh, 179; Liverpool re- 
visited, 182; Manchester, 184; takes 
factory flat, 187 ; first order, 188 ; 
trip to Castle Grant, 194 ; flat over- 
loaded, 200; takes land at Patri- 
croft, 202; Bridgewater Foundry 
begun, 203 ; residence near, 206 ; 
safety foundry ladle, 209 ; partner 
taken, 212; workshop lieutenants, 
218 ; the strike, 223 ; marriage, 236 ; 
invents steam-hammer, 240; first 
adopted in France, 246 ; patented, 
247, 251 ; visit to France and Italy, 

252-67 ; steam pile-driver invented 
and employed, 271 ; visit to Germany 
and Russia, 286 ; Dannemora, 298 ; 
work at Bridgewater Foundry, 307 ; 
Astronomical researches, 324; British 
Association at Edinburgh, 337 ; in- 
terview with the Queen and Prince 
Consort, 346 ; Trunnion turn-table 
telescope, 351 ; papers for Astro- 
nomical Society, 355, 359 ; member 
of Enfield Small Arms Committee, 
362 ; patent for puddling iron by 
steam, 365 ; correspondence with 
Bessemer, 367 ; retirement from 
business, 370 ; the Cottage in Kent, 
372; visits to Edinburgh and the Con- 
tinent, 378, 382 ; willow-leaf objects 
on sun's surface, 383 ; Sir John Her- 
schel at Hammerfield, 387 ; visit to 
Father Secchi, Rome, 391 ; publica- 
tion of "The Moon," 394; dial of 
life, 397 ; chronological list of inven- 
tions and contrivances, 400-450 

Nasmyth, Mrs., 32, 55; Misses, 54,57. 

Nasmyth, Patrick, 59 ; removes to 
London, 60 ; his works, 61 ; prices of, 
works. 62 ; his friends, and death, 63 

Nelson's Monument, 44 

Netherton, Nasmyths of, 5 ; estate 
confiscated, 6 

Nicholas, Emperor, 288, 292 

Nismes, architecture at, 255, 381 ; Pont 
du Gard, near, 382 

Norman architecture, 154, 169 

Nuremberg, 286 

Nut-cutting machine, 145, 409 

OXFORD, visit to, 170. 

PADDLE-SHAFT, Great Britain, 239 

Paris, visits to, 252, 381 

Parry, Sir E., 268 

Partners, 212, 371 

Patents, for steam hammer, 247, 251 ; 

steam pile-driver, 271 ; puddling iron 

by steam, 365 
Paterson, James, 91 
Patricroft, 159, 202 (see Bridgewater 


Peel, Sir R., works, 191 
Pencil drawing, 57, 99 
Petersburg, St., 288 
Photography, 382 



Pico, lunar mountain, 332 

Pile-driver, steam, 271, 274, 276 

Pillans, Professor, 379. 

Pisa, buildings at, 260 

Piston, safety, 412 

Planes, standard, 148 

Poker Club, 35 

Pont du Gard, 381 

Posso, Bairds of, 3 ; Nasmyths of, 3-5 

Prince Consort, interview with, 346 

Printing machine, 196 

Prisoners of war, 68 

Puddling iron, 365 

Punctiliousness at dockyards, 281 

Pyramid, sun-ray origin of, 440 

QUEEN, interview with, 346 

RAEBURN, Sir H., 51 

Eamsay, Allan, 24 

Ranisbotham, 193 

Ramsbotham, Mr. (Crewe), 437 

Eeed, Sir E. J., 419 

Reflecting telescopes, 175, 325, 351, 405 

Resourcefulness, faculty of, 25, 39 

Reversing action of slide lathe, 408 

Richmond, trip to, 136 

Road steam-carriage, 121 

Roberts, David, R.A., 42, 133, 364 

Roberts (Sharp, Roberts, and Co.), 160 

"Rocket," the, 155 

Rock-groovings, 340, 380 

Roller seal, Assyrian, 450 

Rolling mill, reversible, 436 

Rome, observatory at, 391 

Rope factory, Russia, 320 

Rosina, Naples, 266 

Rosine, M., Indret, 254 

Roslin Castle, 34 

Rotary, steam-engine, 180 ; movement 
of heavenly bodies, 359 ; mode of 
communicating rotary motion, 408 

Rouen, architecture at, 252 

Roy, Rob, at Inversnaid, 10 

Runciman, Alexander, 23 

Rushton and Eckersley, 250,269,366,434 

Russia, visit to, 288 ; serfs of, 294 ; 
rope factory, 320 

SAFETY Foundry Ladle, 209 
Safety valve, 431 
Saint Bernard's Well, 44 
Sampler, Mrs. Nasmyth's, 16 
Scheme book, 240, 244 

Schneider, M., Creuzot, 245, 345 

School of Arts, Edinburgh, 111 

Scott, Sir Walter, 84, 87 

Secchi, Father, Rome, 391 

Segmental work, turning, 424 

Self-adjusting bearings, 418 

Siemens on solar light, 356 

Sluice valve for water, 421 

Smith, F. P., and the screw, 243 

Smith, Tom, 94 

Society of Arts, Edinburgh, 120 

Spain, orders for, 320 

Speculum casting, 175, 326, 405 

Spots on sun, 383, 391 

Standard planes, 148 

Stanfield, Clarkson, 42, 133 

Stars and suns, 324 

Steam arm, Nasmyth's, 415 

Steamboat, the first, 29 

Steam-carriage for roads, 121 

Steam-engine, model of, 111 ; blast of, 

122 ; birthplace of, 166 ; small, 

313 ; for canal traction, 400 
Steam hammer, invented, 239 ; at 

Creuzot, 246 ; patent for, 247, 251 ; 

at Devonport, 269 ; in Russia, 293 ; 

at Great Exhibition, 344 
Steam hammer form of steam-engine, 

345, 434 
Steam ram, 419 
Steel, hardening of, 93 ; manufacture 

of, 300, 368 

Steen's rotary engine, 180 
Stephensons, the, 156, 237 
Stirling Castle, 105 
Stockholm, 295, 301 
Stone, W. J., astronomer, 385 
Stubbs, "P. S." Files, 214 
Strikes, 223, 310 
Struve, astronomer, 290 
Stylus, Assyrian, 446 
Sun, light of, 354; "willow -leaf 

objects " on, 383 ; sun-ray origin of 

Pyramids, 440 
Sunday rivet, 48 
Superheated steam, 403 
Sweden, visit to, 295 ; people of, 302 
Syme, John, 93 
Sympathy of activity, 118 

TALKING BOOKS, Mr. Field's, 178 
Tapping Square, 424 
Telescopes, 175 ; reflecting, 325,357,405 
Thrift boxes, 81 



Tides, the, 356 

Tolbooth, Old, 85 

Tomb, ancestral, 11 

Tootal, Edward, 160, 188, 311 

Torpedo ram, 420 

Torry, Archie, 180, 188, 218 

Toulon Dockyard, 256 

Trades' Unions, 218, 222, 310. 

Trafford, Squire, 202 

Trollhatten Falls, 302 

Trunnion turn-table telescope, 351 

Trustees' Academy, 22 

Tunnels, method of drilling, 437 

UNIONISTS, Trades', 218, 222, 310 
United States, 251, 362 
Upsala, 297 

VALVE, sluice, 421 ; safety, 431 

Veitch, Dawick, 4 

Vesuvius, 261 ; crater of, 263 

Volcanic action, 50, 100, 264 ; craters, 
263, 331, 335 

WARRINGTON Workmen, 215 

Warwick, 170 

Watt, James, 88, 166 

Welding of iron, 279, 429 

Westminster Abbey, 127, 154 

Whistler, Major, 288 

Wilkie, SirD., 51, 133, 232 

Willow-leaf objects on sun, 383, 391 

Wilson, General, 289 

Windmill on workshop, 397 

Windsor, 171 

Witch, Elspeth Naesmyth burnt as a, 


Woolwich, 176, 317 
Worsley labourers, 216 
Wren and Bennett, 187 
Wrinkles, indicating age, 333 
Wyon, Eoyal Mint, 173 


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