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ENGLISH INDUSTRY.

CHAP. II.

CHAPTER II.

LEADERS OF INDUSTRY,-INVENTORS AND PRODUCERS.

"Rich are the diligent, who can command

Time, nature's stock! and could his hour-glass fall,

Would, as for seed of stars, stoop for the sand,

And, by incessant labor, gather all."-D'Avenant.

ONE of the most strongly marked features of the English people is their indomitable spirit of industry, standing out prominent and distinct in all their past history, and as strikingly characteristic of them now as at any former period. It is this spirit, displayed by the commons of England, which has laid the foundations and built up the industrial greatness of the empire, at home and in the colonies. This vigorous growth of the nation has been mainly the result of the free industrial energy of individuals; and it has been contingent upon the number of hands and minds from time to time actively employed within it, whether as cultivators of the soil, producers of articles of utility, contrivers of tools and machines, writers of books, or creators of works of art. And while this spirit of active industry has been the vital principle of the nation, it has also been its saving and remedial one, counteracting from time to time the effects of errors in our laws and imperfections in our constitu

tion.

The career of industry which the nation has pursued, has also proved its best education. As steady application

to work is the healthiest training for every individual, so is it the best discipline of a state. Honorable industry always travels the same road with enjoyment and duty; and progress is altogether impossible without it. The idle pass through life leaving as little trace of their existence as foam upon the water, or smoke upon the air; whereas the industrious stamp their character upon their age, and influence not only their own but all succeeding generations. Labor is the best test of the energies of men, and furnishes an admirable training for practical wisdom. Nor is a life of manual employment incompatible with high mental culture. Hugh Miller, than whom none knew better the strength and the weakness belonging to the lot of labor, stated the result of his experience to be, that work, even the hardest, is full of pleasure and materials for self-improvement. He held honest labor to be the best of teachers, and that the school of toil is the noblest of schools, - save only the Christian one, that it is a school in which the ability of being useful is imparted, the spirit of independence learnt, and the habit of persevering effort acquired. He was even of opinion that the training of the mechanic, by the exercise which it gives to his observant faculties, from his daily dealing with things actual and practical, and the close experience of life which he acquires, better fits him for picking his way through the journey of life, and is more favorable to his growth as a Man, emphatically speaking, than the training afforded by any other condition.

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The array of great names which we have already cursorily cited, of men springing from the ranks of the industrial classes, who have achieved distinction in various walks of life, in science, commerce, literature, and art,

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INVENTION OF THE STEAM-ENGINE. CHAP. II.

shows that at all events the difficulties interposed by poverty and labor are not insurmountable. As respects the great contrivances and inventions which have conferred so much power and wealth upon the nation, it is unquestionable that for the greater part of them we have been mainly indebted to men of the very humblest rank. Deduct what they have done in this particular line of action, and it will be found that very little indeed remains for other men to have accomplished. The names of many meritorious inventors have been forgotten; only the more distinguished - men who have marked an epoch in the history of invention—have been remembered; such, for instance, as those connected with the development of the gigantic powers of the steam-engine. Yet there are hundreds of ingenious but nameless workmen, who have from time to time added substantial improvements to that wonderful machine, and contributed greatly to the increase of its powers and the extension of its practical uses. There are, also, numerous minor inventions, - such, for instance, as the watch which we carry in our pocket, each important in its way, the history of which has been altogether lost; and though we have succeeded to the ample inheritance which the inventors have bequeathed to us, we know not the names of many of our

benefactors.

Though the invention of the working steam-enginethe king of machines-belongs, comparatively speaking, to our own epoch, the idea of it was born many centuries ago. Like other contrivances and discoveries, it was effected step by step, – one man transmitting the result of his labors, at the time apparently useless, to his successors, who took it up and carried it forward another stage, the sentinels of the great idea answering each other across

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the heads of many generations. The idea promulgated by Hero of Alexandria was never altogether lost; but, like the grain of wheat hid in the hand of the Egyptian mummy, it sprouted and grew vigorously when brought into the full light of modern science. The steam-engine was nothing, however, until it emerged from the state of theory, and was taken in hand by practical mechanics; and what a noble story of patient, laborious investigation, of difficulties encountered and overcome by heroic industry, does not that marvellous machine tell of! It is, indeed, in itself, a monument of the power of self-help in man. Grouped around it we find Savary, the Cornish miner; Newcomen, the Dartmouth blacksmith; Cawley, the glazier; Potter, the engine-boy; Smeaton, the engineer; and, towering above all, the laborious, patient, never-tiring James Watt, the mathematical instrumentmaker.

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Watt was one of the most industrious of men. Whatever subject came under his notice in the course of his business, immediately became to him an object of study; and the story of his life proves, what all experience confirms, that it is not the man of the greatest natural vigor and capacity who achieves the highest results, but he who employs his powers with the greatest industry and the most carefully disciplined skill, the skill that comes by labor, application, and experience. Many men in his time knew far more than Watt, but none labored so assiduously as he did to turn all that he did know to useful practical purposes. He was, above all things, most persevering in his pursuit of facts. He cultivated carefully that habit of active attention on which all the higher working qualities of the mind mainly depend. Indeed, Mr. Edgeworth entertained the opinion, that many of the

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CONDENSING STEAM-ENGINE.

СНАР. ІІ.

great differences of intellect which are found in men depend more upon the early cultivation of this habit of attention, than upon any great disparity between the powers of one individual and another.

Even when a boy, Watt found science in his toys. The quadrants lying about his father's carpenter's shop led him to the study of optics and astronomy; his ill health induced him to pry into the secrets of physiology; and his solitary walks through the country attracted him to the study of botany, history, and antiquarianism. While carrying on the business of a mathematical instrumentmaker, he received an order to build an organ; and, though without any ear for music, he undertook the study of harmonics, and successfully constructed the instrument. And, in like manner, when the little model of Newcomen's steam-engine, belonging to the University of Glasgow, was placed in his hands for repair, he forthwith set himself to learn all that was then known about heat, evaporation, and condensation, at the same time plodding his way in mechanics and the science of construction, - the results of which he at length embodied in the condensing steam-engine.

For ten years he went on contriving and inventing,— with little hope to cheer him,—with few friends to encourage him, struggling with difficulties, and earning but a slender living at his trade. Even when he had brought his engine into a practicable working condition, his difficulties seemed to be as far from an end as ever; and he could find no capitalist to join him in his great undertaking, and bring the invention to a successful practical issue. He went on, meanwhile, earning bread for his family by making and selling quadrants, making and mending fiddles, flutes, and other musical instruments;

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