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AFTER abstracting those schemes which may be considered as mere suggestions of speculative ca. price, or ingenious whim, if the field of improve ment appears of narrowed dimension, the soil, at least, is of a valuable and productive character. The elegant toys of Hero, the beautiful experiments of Porta and Decaus, the modifications of the Greek machine by the unknown Italian, the practical merit of the "water-commanding engine,” the ingenious ideas of Hautefeuille, and their masterly extension and developement by Papin, contain all the rudiments required for a perfect machine, waiting only to be touched by the wand of some mechanical magician, to form a structure of surpassing ingenuity, and semi-omnipotent power
The total neglect with which these individual schemes were regarded, is not the least extraordi. nary circumstance in the history of the steam-engine, and, above all, the oblivion which followed that of Lord Worcester, whose unconquerable persever
ance, at the lowest ebb of his fortune, found means to carry his splendid ideas into practice. It appears improbable, but that his mechanism, whatever it was, was forced upon the attention of many parties connected with the draining of mines : and from the character of the marquess it is equally remote from belief, that he would fetter the introduction of his invention into general use, by a high price asked for his permission to use it. The utter novelty of the nature and power of the agent, an ignorant and absurd idea of its danger, and the total want, probably, of any mechanical means, except that of mere strength of parts to guard against accidents, may have been the real causes of its neglect, and exclusion from practice.
Thirty years after Lord Worcester's death, a brilliant ray of improvement suddenly bursts into the history of the steam-engine, from the consummation of the labours of a Captain Thomas Savery, who had been silently employed in combining a mechanism, in which elastic vapour was the motive power.
Of the history of this distinguished man little is known. He is to be classed with those whose names alone survive, as connected with discovery or improvement, and to be mentioned with honour, only to heighten the regret, that of a man of whom we desire to know so much, we should know so little. From his pamphlet, on rowing ships," it appears that he was a person of substance, known to and patronised by individuals among the higher classes of his countrymen. A contemporary incidentally mentions his being a commissioner of sick and wounded seamen; a station, in his time, as it is now, of responsibility and honour, Other authors, deceived by
the title generally prefixed to his name, profess their surprise at a “seafaring man” being so well informed in mechanics. The inference of his being a nautical man is, however, liable to much doubt. In one of his publications he says, that, at an early period of his life, his attention was early directed to water-works; but he almost expressly says, that he never was a seaman: for speaking of introducing an invention of his into ships, he says, “I believe it may be made useful to ships, but I dare not meddle with that matter, and leave it to the judgment of those who are the best judges of maritime affairs."* He was, probably, the director or proprietor of a mine, and, as such, was known by the title which is even now appropriated to the same officer.
He is first presented to our observation as an author of a scheme for rowing ships in a calm, for which, after obtaining a patent, he in vain endeavoured to procure the patronage of government. “ The trial of my scheme was unjustly thwarted by one man's humour,” said Savery.
A regard to my duty, as well as place, will not permit me to give a biassed opinion,” said the umpire. “But I have tried it,” replied the projector, “on a small scale, and it answered completely.” “ So have we,” said the servants of government, and in our trial it failed completely.'t
* Miner's Friend, p. 32. t“I was necessitated to write my book; for after I had ra eked my brains to find out that which a great many have spent several years in vain in the pursuit of, when I had brought it to a draught on paper, and found it approved by those commonly reputed ingenious, and receiving applause, with promises of great reward from court, if the thing would answer the end for which I proposed it; after I had, with great charge, and several experiments, brought it to do beyond
In the pamphlet in which Savery appeals from their judgment to that of the public, he pays less what I ever promised or expected myself, at last one man's humour, and more than a humour, totally obstructed the use of my engine, to my no small loss; but it is the nature of some people to decry all inventions, how serviceable soever to the public, that are not the product of their own brains.”
He gave an account of it to secretary Trenchard. "A few days after the secretary told me that the king had seen my proposals, and that I need not fear, for that the king had promised me a very considerable reward, and that I must go to the lords of the admiralty to put it in practice; but that first I must make a model of it in a wherry, which I did, and found it to answer my expectations. Then I showed a draft of it to the lords of the admiralty, who all seemed to like it, and one amongst them was pleased to say, that it was the best proposal of the kind he ever saw: so I was referred from them to the commissioners of the navy, who all seemed to like it, but told me that the model must be surveyed by Mr. Dthe surveyor of the navy, whose opinion I asked'; but he was very, reserved, and said, that a wherry was too small a thing to show it in, there being no working at a capstan in a wherry; but he told me it was a thing of moment, and required some time to consider on; for should I,' said he,
give a rash judgment against it, I should injure you; or for it, the charge of putting it in practice must prove a loss to the king, and endanger my employ.'"
After four months' consideration, Dummer gave his opinion against Savery. It was neither a new nor a practicable inven tion, being similar to one used at Chatham, in 1682, which was abandoned, and he designated, though rather disingenuously, the capstan, and its trundle, as "clockwork;" and although Savery." exhibited his wherry on the Thames, and thousands of people were eye-witnesses, and all people seemed to like it, the public newspapers speaking very largely of it, yet all to no purpose.” (p. 18.) The inexorable lords of the admiralty
« so much altered, that, from commending the thing, they would not hear one word in its defence.” (p. 15.). Savery, notwithstanding, “ being informed, by Sir Martin Beekman, the greatest engineer in the Christian world, that the thing was good, got a noble lord to show a draught of it to the king a second time, who ordered me," says Savery, "again to the admiralty, who never ordered me in before them, but, after waiting two or three days, the doorkeeper told me, that my business lay before the navy. Upon which, next day, I désired a friend of mine to go with me to the navy-office, ibat
SAVERY AND DUMMER.
105 attention to the reasons urged against its novelty as well as practicability, than they were fairly he, being a man of extraordinary judgment, and no less repütation, might be an evidence to what discourse might happen: but coming to the navy-office we found the board was rose. However, in the hall I found Mr. D--; I asked him whether any thing was come before the board concerning my business.
No,' said he, 'not since the objections sent to the lords of the admiralty.;' on which he could not but fall into an argument. I asked him some questions in relation to his objections, and, in a very little time, we had a great puther about superam. bient air and water. I found that my sailor ran himself fast aground, as men commonly do when out of their knowledge; this, indeed, made ne pity him again, although I was willing to come at the plain truth of the matter, and asked him whether or no he could not bring one hundred and fifty men to work at this engine, he answered yes; then, said I, will they not have as much power to give a ship motion, as one hundred and fifty men would have on shore, at a bawser fastened to the ship; this he likewise answered in the affirmative. Then, said I, it will do more than oars, or any thing but a gale of wind, and fully answer my proposals. Well, said he, with a smile, and putting off his hat as taking leave, “We are all submission to the lords of the admiralty.'
“Not long after, a friend of mine met a commissioner of the navy, and my friend, being perfectly acquainted with my contrivance, asked the commissioner why it was not put in use by then ? The gentleman offered several objections, which were, by sound reason, fully answered by my friend, that he had only this hole to creep out at. “Sir,' said he, ' have we not a parcel of ingenious gentlemen at the board ?" • Yes,' said my friend, 'I hope so, or five hundred pounds per annum is paid them to a fine purpose.' 'Is not Mr. D- ' says the commissioner, 'one of them, and an ingenious man?', • I hope so,' continued
friend. "Then,' said he, “what have interloping people, that have no concern with us, to pretend to contrive or invent any thing for us?'”
Savery, whose bluntness, probably, was no recommenda-, tion to his application, has several fings at the “ boards,'. and his statement is wound up by a dexterous one at the con tents of courtly Dummer's wig. “Whoever is angry with truth for appearing in mean language, may, as well be angry with a wise and honest man for his plain hábit; for, indeed, it is as common for lies and nonsense to be disguised by a jin.gle of words, as a blockhead to be hid by abundance of peruke.” Navigation Improved, p. 33.