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But women, to sweet silent praises resigning
Pluck the moment's brief flowers as they wander along,
Man's cold heart doth never move
To the godlike power of love;
Tears, by others' tears confessed,
Harder his obdurate breast !
Breathes woman's fond soul, and as feelingly too:
power doth insolently trust;
Persia, crouching, bites the dust.
Combat spoilers wild and dread,
Where the charities have fled.
Calming down the fierce discord of hatred and pride;
All hopes, each emotion, they else had denied. -SCHILLER.
Sick at heart, and lank in purse,
I dragged my snake-like days along;
And gold is bliss—thus ran my song.
A treasure-crock I went to roll up;
And signed the bond that gave my soul up.
Magic circles then I drew,
And spake the incantation prayer.
But I fulfilled each godless duty;
I sank my spade to dig the booty.
Advancing swiftly through the darkling
Most luminously rare and sparkling.
Then brightlier flashed the heavenly flood,
A beauteous boy before me stood.
With richest wreaths his brows were crowned;
He stepped within the circle's bound.
And then I thought, This child so fair,
Hath surely scarce a demon's air!
Thus dost thou learn the manlier science;
And bid thy nightmare-cares defiance.
But, noonday tasks and evening pleasures,
Be these thy charm to conjure treasures !”
AMES WATT, the improver of the steamengine, was born at Greenock in Renfrewshire, Scotland, on the 19th of January 1736. He was the descendant of a family, the members of which, for several generations, had exhibited no small degree of ability. His great
grandfather was the proprietor and farmer of a small estate in Aberdeenshire; but, taking part in the insurrection headed by Montrose, he was killed in one of the battles then fought, and his little property was confiscated. This person's son, Thomas Watt, was but an infant at the time of his father's death. Left almost destitute by that event, he was taken care of by relations till he grew up, when, manifesting a decided taste for mathematical science, in which he had already attained great
proficiency, he removed to Greenock, and settled there as a teacher of navigation, surveying, and general mathematics. In this situation he acquired great reputation, and became one of the most respected and influential persons in the neighbourhood, filling for several years the office of baron bailie, or chief magistrate of the burgh of Crawford's Dike. He died in 1734, at the advanced age of ninety-two years, and was buried in the West Churchyard of Greenock, where, in the inscription on his tombstone, he is styled “professor of mathematics.” He had two sons, John and James; the elder of whom inherited his father's mathematical talent, and followed his profession, first at Ayr, and afterwards in Glasgow, where he also enjoyed a large business as a surveyor. Among his qualifications, was that of drawing with very great neatness and accuracy: He died in 1737, at the age of fifty years; and a chart of the course of the River Clyde which he left, was published a few years afterwards by his younger brother James. This James Watt, the father of the great engineer, had settled in his native town of Greenock, exercising his abilities not in the special occupation to which his father and elder brother had devoted themselves, but in the more general sphere of a merchant and public-spirited citizen. During a quarter of a century he held the offices of town-councillor and magistrate of Greenock; and in the discharge of these offices he was noted for his activity and zeal for improvement. It was only in consequence of his own refusal that he did not fill the chair of provost or chief magistrate in Greenock. His special occupations were those of a blockmaker and ship-chandler ; but in addition to these, he engaged in house and ship-building, and general trading. The failure of some of his commercial speculations deprived him, long before his death, of a great part of the fortune which he had acquired. He died in 1782, at the age of eighty-four, having for some years lived retired from business. His wife, Agnes Muirhead, the mother of the illustrious Watt, was of a very respectable family; of her disposition, and the character of her mind, we have no particular account.
The subject of our memoir was the elder of two sons, the only children of the Greenock merchant and his wife. The younger, who was named John, had resolved to follow his father's profession, but was drowned in 1763 on a voyage from Greenock to America, at the age of twenty-three years. James Watt, who was then in his twenty-seventh year, was thus left the only surviving son. WATT'S CHILDHOOD AND EDUCATION-SETTLES IN GLASGOW
AS A MATHEMATICAL INSTRUMENT-MAKER. Regarding Watt's childhood, and the course of his early education, we have not much information. From the extreme delicacy of his health when a child, he was able to attend the public school at Greenock only irregularly and at intervals; so that much
of his elementary instruction was received at home. His mother taught him reading, and his father writing and arithmetic; and in his confinement to the house, of which his almost constant indisposition was the cause, he acquired those habits of inquisitiveness and precocious reflection so often observed in feeble-bodied children. “A gentleman one day calling upon his father, observed the child bending over a marble hearth with a piece of coloured chalk in his hand. "Mr Watt,' said he, 'you ought to send that boy to school, and not allow him to trifle away his time at home.? 'Look how my child is employed before you condemn him, replied the father. The gentleman then observed that the child had drawn mathematical lines and circles on the hearth. He put various questions to the boy, and was astonished and gratified with the mixture of intelligence, quickness, and simplicity displayed in his answers : he was then trying to solve a problem in geo
In this way, not by means of regular lessons, but by incessant employment on some subject of interest or other, Watt, in early years, acquired much of that general information for which he was in after-life remarkable. His father having, as a means of amusement, presented him with a number of tools, such as are used in cabinet-work, he became exceedingly expert in handling them, and began to exhibit his mechanical taste in the fabrication of numerous toys, among which is mentioned a small electrical machine, with a bottle, probably, for a cylinder. An anecdote related of him when he was about fourteen
age, indicates the extreme restlessness and activity of his mind as a boy. Once having accompanied his mother on a visit to a friend in Glasgow, he was left behind on her return. The next time, however, that Mrs Watt came to Glasgow, her friend said to her, “You must take your son James home; I cannot stand the degree of excitement he keeps me in;
I am worn out for want of sleep. Every evening before ten o'clock, our usual hour of retiring to rest, he contrives to engage me in conversation, then begins some striking tale, and, whether humorous or pathetic, the interest is so overpowering, that the family all Listen to him with breathless attention, and hour after hour strikes unheeded.” This wonderful faculty of story-telling, which robbed the Glasgow lady of her sleep, Watt preserved throughout his life to a degree unparalleled perhaps except in Sir Walter Scott.
As he advanced into youth, Watt began to occupy himself with the sciences. The whole range of physics had attractions for him. In excursions in all directions from Greenock, and especially to the banks of Loch Lomond, he studied botany, entered eagerly into the geological speculations then beginning to awaken interest, and collected traditions and ballads—all with equal enthusiasm. At home, during his hours of less robust health, he
* Arago’s Life of Watt.