Obrázky na stránke



was strongly implanted in him, nor his own ina creasing infirmities, had any effect in damping the ardour of his enthusiasm : when other minds would have sunk under the neglect and distress of his situation, his appeared like a beam of the palm-tree, fabled by the ancient builders to spring upwards against its load with an energy, increasing as the burden was augmented.

The desire of being useful to his country, in the way which his experience pointed out was of all others the most effective, gained strength as his offers of service were rejected. Yet he solicited but for that cheapest of all patronage, the countenance only of men in power, to ensure a fair trial for his inventions: for notwithstanding his deep embarrassments, só sanguine was he of the practical value of his projects, that he offered to make all the experiments at his own expense. The passage is curious. “ Be pleased,” he says to parliament, to make use of me and my endeavours, to enrich them not myself; such being my onely request unto you, spare me not, in what your wisdoms shall find me useful, who do esteem myself, not onely by the act of the water - commanding engine (which so chearfully, you have past) sufficiently rewarded, but likewise with courage to do ten times more for the future ; and my debts being paid, and a competency to live according to my birth and quality settled, the rest I shall dedicate to the service of our king and countrey by your disposals ; and esteem me not the more, or rather any more, by what is past, but what's to come; professing really from my heart that my intentions are to outgo the six or seven hundred thousand pounds already sacrificed, if countenanced and encouraged by you ; ingenuously confessing




that the melancholy which hath lately seized upon me (the cause whereof none of you but may easily guess) hath, I dare say, retarded more advantage to the public service than modesty will permit me to atter, And, now revived by your promising favours, I shall infallibly be enabled thereunto, in the experiments extant and comprised under these heads, practicable with my directions, by the unparalleled workman Caspar Kaltoff's hand, who hath been these five-andthirty years as in a school under me employed, and still at my disposal, in a place by my great expenses made fit for public service, yet lately like to be taken from me, and consequently from the service of king and kingdom, without the least regard of above ten thousand pounds expended by me, and through my zele to the common good.”

The book to which he alludes as containing the “ heads” of his experiments, was published in 1663, under the title of “ A century of the names and scantlings of such inventions, as at present I can call to mind to have tried and perfected, which, my former notes being lost, I have, at the instance of a powerful friend, endeavoured, now in the year 1655, to set down in such a way, as may sufficiently instruct me to put any of them in practice."

The novelty of the greater number of the hundred propositions or descriptions of which this volume consists, and the wonderful nature of others, cast an air of improbability over the whole : the noble author was charged with describing many things which he wished were invented, ratherthan machines which he had actually constructed. And even those who have been warmest in praise of his genius, and have spoken in favourable terms of some of his “ scantlings,'!


KING CHARLES'S PATENT have found it necessary to enter their protest against others, in order to save their own consistency. *

Yet this collection of descriptions. bears internal marks of being what it professes to be, drawn up from actual trials of machines in existence. On an attentive examination of the general scope of his inventions, they will appear to have been suggested, the greater number, by the wants of his accidental situation ; and a small number by those of his station. To a statesman employed in highly confidential negotiations, the secrecy of his correspondence would be of the greatest importance; to a traveller the security of his locks; a soldier is mainly interested in his

*. Whatever credit may be attached to his assurances of having carried his contrivances into practice, and by which he sought to gain nothing, it is certain that there is no instance in English history of such unbounded confidence being placed in the honour of any individual, as was placed in the marquess by those who knew him well, and had observed him long in circumstances that mankind generally consider to be unfavourable to disinterestedness; everything appeared to tempt his vanity as well as try his integrity; yet on these points even his enemies have been silent. Lord Orford's statement may be taken, without a fear of its being partial to the marquess, as to the extent of this confidence. “It is certain that he and his father wasted immense sums in the king's cause, of all which merits and zeal his majesty was so sensible, that he gave the earl the most extraordinary patent that ever was granted; the chief powers of which were, to make him generalissimo of three armies, and admiral, with nomination of his officers; to enable him to raise money by selling of his majesty's woods, wardships, customs, and prerogatives; and to create by blank patents, to be filled up at Glamorgan's pleasure, from the rank of marquess to baronet. If any thing could justify the delegation of such authority, besides his majesty's having lost all authority when he conferred it, it was the promise with which the king concluded, of bestowing the Princess Elizabeth on Glamorgan's son. It was time to adopt him into his family when he had into his sovereignty." Walpole's Royal and Noble Authors, vol. iii. p. 96.


49 arms, at times in scaling a fortification, or transmitting intelligence in the dark; and the projector of a water - company could not fail of laying his ingenuity under contribution, to devise a mode of raising water above its level. These classes comprise the greater part of his hundred inventions, and when we learn that, for so long a period as thirty-five years, he employed an expert mechanic in his various projects, it is a matter of wonder that his inventions were not more numerous. And in fact, he says that they were so ; for he observes, “ that he has omitted many, and some of three sorts not willingly set down, lest ill be made thereof ;" but that such things were actually within his knowledge is quite clear, for he promises to “set them down in his own cipher, not to be concealed when duty or affection obliges him.” It is also very generally admitted, that not a few of his improbable things are trifles, while others usually conceded to him as conveying clear notions, are decidedly machines of importance ; and all are agreed, that since his book was published, many similar contrivances have been put in practice.

There is nothing therefore preposterous in the opinion, that all the inventions described in the “Century,” had been put by the noble mechanic to the test of experiment, of one, which is the subject of the sixty-eighth proposition, we have for. tunately very conclusive evidence of its having been actually erected, and this may be considered as that one the most obscurely hinted at, and described as capable of the most improbable performance of all his inventions. The announcement is as follows:

An admirable and most forcible way to drive up water by fire, not drawing or sucking it up


[blocks in formation]

ward, for that must be as the philosopher callethi it, infra sphæram activitatis, which is but at such a distance, but this way hath no bounder, if the vessels be strong enough; for I have taken a piece of a whole cannon, whereof the end was burst, and filled it three-quarters full, stopping and screwing up the broken end, as also the touch-hole, and making a constant fire under it; within twenty-four hours it burst, and made a great crack, so that having found a way to make my vessels so that they are strengthened by the force within them, and the one to fill after the other, have seen the water run like a constant fountain forty feet high ; one vessel of water rarefied by fire driveth up forty of cold water ; and a man that attends the work, is but to turn two cocks, that one vessel of water being consumed, another begins to force and refill with cold water, and so successively."'*

This description, although obscure, would give a mechanic a pretty clear notion of the rationale of this machine; yet that might be a rude contrivance compared with a modern steam-engine on any construction. It was reserved, however, for an ingenious correspondent in a provincial periodical,t to point out the connection between this description, and two others, forming the ninety-eighth and one hundredth propositions, and thus supplying from all the deficiencies in each.

“ An engine so contrived, that working the primum mobile forward or backward, upward or downward, circularly or corner-wise, to and fro, straight, upright, or downright, yet the pretended operation continueth and advanceth, none of the

* Century of Inventions, p. 52. London, $1663. + Glasgow Meeh, Mag. vol. ii. p. 316.

« PredošláPokračovať »