Last Years

" Wind, sun and earth remain, the birds sing still, When we are old, are old . . ." RUPERT BROOBE.


WHEN he retired from business, Watt followed the fashion of the day and invested part of his earnings in land. The ideal of every successful manufacturer of that period was to become a country squire, a member of the landed aristocracy of England. Watt got to the point of buying an estate in Radnorshire, but although he paid it occasional visits, he never migrated to it. He remained true to Heathfield, his home near Soho, where he had lived since 1789) and settled down there to pass the remainder of his days in the old surroundings, among his old friends. He had no mind to vegetate in obscurity. He valued his release from the cares that vex a man of business, because it set him free to live as a man of science.

Many men suffer as they grow old from the consciousness of the slow, relentless advance of senility, the sense that physical strength and mental power, once robust, are cracking and crumbling into decrepitude. Watt's experience was exactly the reverse. All his life he had suffered the torments of ragged nerves and a sickly body, but, as old age approached, these troubles passed away. His temper became calm and serene, his health ceased to mar his pleasure in life, and his mental powers remained as keen as ever. Lord Brougham, who knew him in his years of retirement, expressed the opinion that " he never was more cheerful or enjoyed the pleasures of society more heartily than during this period."

But even Watt was not entirely free from the haunting fear that he was losing his grip of things. He first became seriously alarmed at the age of thirty-four when he fancied he was beginning to show traces of the ravages of time. In the early fifties he was sure of it. " Of all the evils of age," he wrote, " the loss of the few mental faculties one possessed in youth is the most grievous." P.S." Steam is only 1800 times the bulk of water. Beighton knew nothing of it." The snappy little postscript exempts him from his own generalization. At the age of seventy, or thereabouts, it is said that his doubts became so insistent that he determined to test his capacity for learning and remembering. He selected Anglo-Saxon as a good subject for his purpose, and was relieved to find that it presented no great difficulties. His ingenuity and his passion to create remained with him to the end, and he was actively engaged in the perfection of a complicated invention when he died.

This brief narrative, concerned, as it must be, chiefly with his supreme achievement, has scarcely done justice to the astonishing fertility of his mind and variety of his occupations. From his earliest days he showed an insatiable curiosity in every kind of art or craft with which he came into contact. He was never content not to understand. Everything must be examined. And he brought to the study a keen power of analysis and a wonderfully retentive memory. The result was that there was hardly any technique, even remotely connected with his profession, of which he was not a master in theory. When his advice was asked on any practical problem, he always seemed able at once to explain the best method yet devised for coping with it, and would probably go on to produce from the storehouse of his mind the roughly sketched plans of an entirely new and superior method of his own.

When he entered into partnership with Boulton, he found the task of keeping an orderly record of his business correspondence a very burdensome one. Any office under Boulton's control could be relied on to be up-todate in every detail of its equipment; but that did not satisfy Watt. He invented a " way of copying writing chemically." It was not a complicated machine, but he had taken great trouble to discover the best kind of ink and paper for the purpose, and to design the press, and he was proud of it. He took out a patent in 1780 and then hawked the machine round to business men, bankers and Members of Parliament. The bankers at first denounced it as a means to make forgery easy, but their fears were set at rest, and it had an extensive sale. For several years, while the engine was still unable to earn him a penny, the copying machine brought Watt in a steady and most welcome income.

A few years later we find him annoyed by " the abominable smoke which attends fire engines," and in particular by the furnace under the big boiler at Soho " that used to poison Mr. B's garden so much." Here was another problem on which to exercise his ingenuity, and in a couple of months he is writing to a friend, " I have accomplished the engine-fire without smoke, and I hope soon to show you it in practice." This, too, was patented. In the very same letter this indefatigable inventor goes on, " I have been turning some of my idle thoughts lately upon an arithmetical machine . . . (it was to multiply and divide figures of any magnitude) . . . I intend to make an attempt to make it; I say an attempt, for though the machine is exceedingly simple, yet I have learnt by experience that in mechanics many things fall out between the cup and the mouth." This particular thing " fell out "; it was never created. On another occ sion he was shown some lamps, devised by a man named Keir, with some kind of apparatus for keeping the wick constantly supplied with oil. They did not win his admiration. " I am sure they are clumsy, logger-headed things, topheavy, and liable to be overset " (he was a merciless critic of the inventions of others). But they did stimulate his imagination. " I have four plans for making lamps with the reservoir below, and the stem as tall as you please." They were the most amazing lamps ever seen, fitted with clock work, forcing-pumps " about the size of a quill," pistons, springs and, finally, as a crowning folly, a miniature propeller poised over the chimney and spun by the rising heated air, which worked an endless screw, which worked a crank, which worked a piston, which acted in a pump. But we must forgive him, for at that time he was piston-mad and engine-haunted.

This by no means exhausts the list. It includes a linen-drying machine, an artificial alabaster, a waterproofing process, a specificgravity measure and an " apparatus for extracting, washing and collecting of poisonous and medicinal airs." His last invention was a machine for copying sculpture. He had seen, during his visit to France, immediately after his withdrawal from business, an ingenious device for reproducing medals and works in bas-relief. As usually happened in his later years whenever he saw a machine that he had not invented himself, it appeared to him to be imperfect, a rough sketch that was only waiting for his genius to turn it into a work of art. He proposed to increase its accuracy and enlarge its scope. As soon as he got home he started his experiments, following the lines of his own machine for drawing in perspective. The apparatus was to be designed in such a way that when a blunt point was passed over the surfaces of the model, a drill cut identical surfaces in the block of material to be carved, altering the scale as desired.

It was an ideal hobby for his old age. Without occupation he would have been restless and miserable. He had hit on one that absorbed all his faculties and overtaxed none of them. The work was neither too heavy nor too delicate for his tired muscles. It brought no worries in the form of incompetent or unmanageable workmen, or ill-executed orders. He was his own workman and his own contractor. It involved no financial complications, and there was no one standing at his elbow urging him to hurry up and put his invention on the market. And yet it was not just an old man's harmless toy, which his friends, to humour him, pretended to admire; it was an elegant and ingenious piece of mechanism that fascinated every artist or engineer who visited it.

He had converted an attic over the kitchen at Heathfield into a workshop, and there he spent many happy hours absorbed in his mechanical experiments, surrounded by a delicious profusion of tools, screws, punches, compasses, scales, crucibles, gallipots, and, to make him independent of the household timetable, cooking utensils. In his garret he was master, and no one dared disturb him or question what he did, not even his wife. This was far from being the case in the rest of the house. The second Mrs. Watt was a tyrant with a relentless passion for order and regularity. She taught her pugs never to cross the hall without wiping their feet on the mat. She made a window through which she could spy on the servants in the kitchen. She confiscated her husband's snuff-box if she caught him taking a pinch, and she sternly rebuked him whenever he appeared with dirty hands or wearing his workman's apron. After she had retired to rest, the old servant, by her orders, entered the room where Watt was sitting, and, even if he had a guest with him, firmly and without apology or argument raked out the fire and removed the lights. " We must go," said Watt, and meekly led his friend up to bed in the dark. But the garret was outside Mrs. Watt's jurisdiction, and there the old man found at last the peace and leisure that he had longed for all his life.

Under these conditions he made good progress with his invention. In 1807 he was already getting models from London to copy, " small busts of Socrates and Aristotle, and a sleeping boy, sent by Turnerelli, the sculptor." He was working in alabaster, wood and ivory, and by 1812 he seemed to be very satisfied with the results. There was " a little figure of a boy lying down, and holding one arm, very successfully done; and another boy, about six inches high, naked, and holding out both his hands, his legs also being separate." But he had ambitions to work in marble. So on he went, making a little change here, trying a new experiment there, exactly as he had done with his first steam-engine, and in 18I4 he could report success. But even then he was not satisfied. His eightieth year found him still passing his days at work in his attic, and the last drawings he made of parts of the machine are dated April 1818 just sixteen months before his death.

His chief cause of sorrow in these years was the disappearance, one by one, of his old friends. Watt, sickly in childhood, nervous and painridden in middle life, outlived them all. Small had died long before, in 1775. The death of Roebuck in 1794 did not affect him deeply, as their friendship had never been very close. One day in December 1799 Dr. Black's servant came in and found his master sitting in his chair, with his plate on his knees, apparently asleep over his dinner. He crept quietly away and left him. Some time later he returned. The attitude was unchanged. He touched the hand that held the plate; it was cold. Black had long been ill, and his death was expected by his friends and wished for by himself, but for Watt it snapped a link with those early days of struggle and enthusiasm at Glasgow.

The principal friends of Watt's middle life are to be found among the members of the Lunar Society of Birmingham. Something has already been said of the spirit of inquiry and exploration that invaded intellectual circles in England in the last quarter of the eighteenth century. Philosophical Societies became as fashionable as Political Societies, and as indefatigable in the search for truth. It was an age of clubs and coteries. In these days, before the railways had sapped the vigour of the " Provinces " by drawing all talent to London, philosophers of the first rank found their friends and their colleagues among their neighbours, and the quality of the discussions of a local club might be as high as that found in the Royal Society itself. The Lunar Society was the creation of Boulton and Small, and it contained some of the most brilliant figures of the day. When Watt came to Birmingham he was eagerly welcomed as a valuable recruit, and before long he was on terms of close friendship with several of the members. The " Lunatics " met, when possible, once a month, choosing the time when the moon, being at the full, would light them on their way as they rode home at night. They discussed all the mysteries of nature and probed the secrets of earth, air and water. They certainly did not suffer from timidity. " If you are meek and humble," wrote Watt to Erasmus Darwin, " perhaps you may be told what light is made of, and also how to make it, and the theory proved both by synthesis and analysis." To which Dr. Darwin replied, that the " devil has played me a slippery trick, and, I fear, prevented me from coming to join the holy men at your house, by sending the measles with peripneumony amongst nine beautiful children of Lord Paget's.... As to material philosophy, I can tell you some secrets in return for yours; namely, that atmospheric air is composed of light, and the earth of water (and aqueous earth). That water is composed of aqueous gas, which is displaced from its earth by oil of vitriol."

Dr. Darwin, who was the grandfather of the famous naturalist, was the hub of this social wheel. He had a practice at Lichfield, and afterwards at Derby, and a reputation that extended throughout the Midlands and reached to London. He was a big, vigorous, rough, genial and despotic man, with an adventurous mind and a heart overflowing with kindness. He had many of the qualities that endeared Dr. Johnson to his contemporaries, but when the two met they found that there was no single subject on which they did not violently disagree, and they parted excellent enemies. Darwin was keenly interested in Watt's experiments, having himself indulged in speculation on the subject of locomotives, and his enthusiasm led him to give a place to the steam-engine in that " Economy of Vegetation " presented to the world under the title of " The Botanic Garden," in which he celebrated the achievements of science in rhymed couplets. The rhapsody ends with a prophetic vision that does credit to his imagination, if not to his poetic gifts:

" Soon shall thy arm, UNCONQUER D STEAM ! afar Drag the slow barge, or drive the rapid car; Or on wide-waving wings expanded bear The flying-chariot through the fields of air. Fair crews triumphant, leaning from above, Shall wave their fluttering kerchiefs as they move; Or warrior-bands alarm the gaping crowd, And armies shrink beneath the shadowy cloud."

Priestley was a brilliant and original chemist, an enthusiastic religious controversialist, and a champion of political liberty. He had moved from London to Birmingham in 1780 and he regarded this as " the happiest event in my life," because it brought him in touch with the group of scientists and philosophers who clustered round Boulton and Darwin, and of whom Watt was in his eyes the greatest. He left Birmingham hastily in 179I. In that year a mob attacked some friends of the French Revolution who held a dinner to celebrate the anniversary of the fall of the Bastille. Priestley had not been present, but he was generally regarded as the spokesman of rebels, and his house was sacked by the rioters. Three years later he left the country to pass the remainder of his life in exile in America, and the Lunar Society lost the most stimulating of its members. After this the group dwindled rapidly, and the vacant places were not filled by new recruits.

For Watt the first ten years of the new century brought the heaviest losses. In 1802 Darwin died, and Watt began to feel himself " as it were in danger of being left alone in the world." " He was almost my most ancient acquaintance and friend in England," he wrote, " I having been intimate with him for thirtyfour years.... It will be my pride, while I live, that I have enjoyed the friendship of such a man." Two years later he lost his younger son, Gregory; " a splendid striplingliterally the most beautiful youth I ever saw," said his friend Campbell, the poet. After a short and dazzling career, in which he showed something of his father's genius combined with abundant vitality and a gift for selfexpression, he developed consumption and slowly faded away. " I cannot weep," wrote Watt, " but I must ever lament his early fate." " He was a noble fellow, and would have been a great man. Oh ! there was no reason for his dying he ought not to have died," exclaimed his devoted friend, Humphry Davy, in a letter of bitter, passionate sorrow. A few months later Watt lost the last remaining friend of his youth, John Robison, and in 1809 the ally of his years of manhood, Matthew Boulton.

Yet he was not lonely. He did not rebel against the decrees of time. He accepted old age, and he found that it had its consolations. He was compensated for the lost intimacy of his contemporaries by his enjoyment of the admiration and respect paid him by his successors in the field. He was the Grand Old Man of British science, a revered master to those about him, to others an almost legendary figure, supreme among those giants of the past who had forged the modern world. He loved to sit and talk to a circle of enthusiastic young scientists, and to feel that they still came to him as to a great authority, hung on his lips and wondered at his amazing erudition. He never lectured them on topics of his own choice. He let them guide the discussion on to the subjects that interested them most, and " allowed his mind, like a great cyclopa dia. to be opened at any letter his associates chose to turn up." He could talk to the learned about their science, to the student about his problems, to the child about its toys, and fascinate them all alike. Walter Scott met him at a distinguished party at Edinburgh in 18I4 and was much impressed. " The alert, kind, benevolent old man had his attention alive to every ones question, his information at every one's command. His talents and fancy overflowed on every subject. One gentleman was a deep philologist; he talked with him on the origin of the alphabet as if he had been coeval with Cadmus; another, a celebrated criticyou would have said the old man had studied political economy and belles-lettres all his life; of science it is unnecessary to speakit was his own distinguished walk."

Naturally Watt was often consulted on engineering problems, and young inventors laid their ideas before him for his criticism. An engineer submitted designs for rotative motions. Watt thanked him, but remarked that none of them were " new to me, or useful in their present form." One " is not practicable as you have drawn it.... A more perfect application of that principle is contained in the specification of my patent in the year 1781" I do not by what I have said mean to discourage you from paying particular attention to the subject; your ideas are ingenious, and by further experience you may think upon better things." What could the poor man do after that ! Even more withering was his reply to Earl Stanhope, who had taken out a patent for steamships. " His Lordship has also applied to us for engines," wrote Watt, " but we believe we are not likely to agree with him, as he lays too much stress upon his own ingenuity."

There was, in fact, a trace of intellectual arrogance in Watt's character, which increased with time. He believed, and probably with truth, that he was at least the equal of any engineer alive. He had stood alone in his youth; he would admit no rivals in his old age. But he had never shown a petty anxiety about his reputation; he had never been secretive about his ideas for fear that others might make capital out of them. Robison said of him that " he was without the smallest wish to appropriate knowledge to himself; and one of his greatest delights was to set others on the same road to knowledge with himself. No man could be more distant from the jealous concealment of a tradesman." When he was shown the work of others, he was merciless, but not unfair in his criticism. If it was good he did not disparage it; he merely remarked quietly that he had had the same idea himself many years before, but had never worked it out in detail. Often this was perfectly true. Science is logical, and each new thought grows out of its predecessors. But Watt knew better than most that the man who " works it out in detail " is the true inventor.

It is in his attitude towards the problem of steam locomotion that he is most open to criticism. Watt believed that where he had toiled and succeeded, there was no room for improvement at the hands of others. His engine must not be tampered with. Still more obvious did it appear to him that where he had tried and failed, there was little chance that others would succeed. And he had studied the question of locomotive engines and deliberately laid it aside as incapable of satisfactory solution. That others should be so bold as to tackle it afresh, was an insult to his judgment.

To many of Watt's friends locomotion was the most exciting of the possibilities of steampower, and they constantly urged him to study it. This had been the substance of Robison's suggestion which first drew Watt's attention to the subject of engines. Dr. Small cunningly incited him by reporting the supposed successes of his rivals. "A linen-draper at London, one Moore, has taken out a patent for moving wheel-carriages by steam," he wrote in 1769. "This comes of thy delays." To which Watt replied, " If linendraper Moore does not use my engine to drive chaises, he can't drive them by steam. If he does, I will stop them. I suppose by the rapidity of his progress and puffing, he is too volatile to be dangerous. Let me know all you know of him.' Anxious curiosity peeps through the arrogant contempt of his language. But Moore was a quack and Watt's anxiety subsided. Small had to administer a few more pinpricks. In 1770 he wrote that he and Boulton were very anxious to devise an engine to drive canal boats, and an interesting correspondence followed on Watt suggesting the use of a screw in place of the usual paddle-wheels.

In his patent of 1784 Watt included the specification of an engine to drive a wheelcarriage, but it was little more than a preliminary sketch. In two long letters to Boulton he carefully criticised his own invention, and came to the conclusion that, unless things turned out better than he expected, " the machine will be clumsy and defective, and that it will cost much time to bring it to any tolerable degree of perfection; and that for me to interrupt the career of our business to bestow my attention on it would be imprudent. I even grudge the time I have taken to write these comments on it." Now to take out a patent that may block the path of other inventors when you have no intention of pursuing the subject yourself is a very questionable proceeding. And in this case the rival he feared was his own foreman and loyal friend, William Murdock, who was already pressing Boulton and Watt to take him into partnership for the manufacture of locomotives of his own design. The proposal was rejected, and two years later, hearing that Murdock wished to apply for a patent on his own, Watt wrote angrily to Boulton, asking him to make him give up his experiments. " I am extremely sorry that W. M. still busies himself with the steam-carriage. In one of my specifications I have secured it as well as words could do it, according to my ideas of it; . . . I have still the same opinion concerning it that I had; but to prevent as much as possible more fruitless argument about it, I have one of some size under hand, and am resolved to try if God will work a miracle in favour of these carriages." There is more in the same strain. What he says in effect is this: " I have reserved the field to myself and will allow no trespassers. I shall probably make some experiments, but I regard them as pure waste of time, and have practically no hopes of success." He was reluctant to embark on new problems of such complexity, but he was even more reluctant to allow any one else the chance of anticipating him. The policy was not a creditable one, and it failed. Before he died, the locomotive was well advanced along the road to success, but he had had no hand in its creation.

Watt's attitude towards steam navigation was similar, but the issue was somewhat different. In 1785 two Scotchmen, Patrick Miller and James Taylor, sat down to consider whether any power, other than man-power, could be used to drive paddle-wheels attached to ships. After much hesitation they voted for the steam-engine, and invited William Symington to make them one. The experiment was on the whole a success, and, anxious to enlarge the scope of their operations, they made advances to Boulton and Watt with a view to co-operation. Watt's attitude was haughty and frigid. He said that he regarded Symington's engines as an infringement of his patent, " but as we thought them so defective in mechanical contrivance as not to be likely to do us immediate injury, we thought it best to leave them to be judged by Dame Nature first, before we brought them into an earthly court." But he was unjust, for it was Symington who built the Charlotte Degas, the first steam boat to do practical service on this side of the l Atlantic. And yet, in a sense he was right For Symington's work was imperfect, and when Fulton built the Clermont in 18077 the next land mark in the history of steam navigation, he equipped it with an engine ordered from the Soho works, and from that time onwards shipbuilders figured ever more prominently among their customers.

Watt was perfectly right not to allow himself to be distracted from his main work until he had brought it to perfection. Locomotion presented special problems of great difficulty. He thought that any engine would be thrown out of action by the motion of a boat in rough water. He was convinced that for land transport a compact engine driven by high-pressure steam was essential, and he doubted the ability of the mechanics to make anything strong enough. These difficulties were genuine, but they proved not to be insurmountable. By the time work at Soho was running smoothly, he was too tired of business and all its worries to launch out into a new enterprise. He would have had to face once again the same old troublestrials wrecked by faulty workmanship, profits swallowed up in expenses, patent rights invaded by piratesand he had no mind to do it. He was a scientist by choice, and a manufacturer only by necessity, and in his old age he preferred to follow his inclinations. But he was wrong to discourage the experiments of others and to belittle their work. It is not surprising that he lacked the vision to see the great future that was in store for steam locomotion, but it is a pity that he allowed his action even for a moment to suggest comparisons with the dog in the manger.

But Watt's faults and failures were few as compared with his virtues and successes, and so it appeared to his contemporaries. His fame spread quickly among scientists and philosophers in all countries. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1785. The University of Glasgow honoured him with the degree of LL.D. in 1806. Two years later the Institute of France made him a corresponding member, and in 1814 paid him the very high tribute of choosing him as one of the eight Associes Etrangers of the Academie des Sciences. English society gradually awoke to the fact that it had been harbouring a man of genius, and the news penetrated finally even to the Government. He was offered a baronetcy, which he politely declined.

In the world of industry the fame of the Soho engines was widespread and unchallenged at the beginning of the nineteenth century. But if we were to measure the extent of the use of steampower in the British Isles at the date of Watt's death by the output of Soho, our conclusions would be very wide of the mark indeed. Even before the patent expired in 1800, engines were being produced outside Boulton's factory. There were the makers of Newcomen engines, there were others who, like Watt himself, had introduced their own improvements into the Newcomen model, and there were the pirates who exploited Watt's ideas without paying for them. After that date the field was thrown open and new manufacturers quickly appeared. More than this, Watt's model became in its turn an object for improvement by the ingenuity of other inventors, so that buyers could no longer feel certain that they would obtain the most upto-date pattern from Soho. Watt would have liked to believe that the Spirit of Mechanical Creation, working through his genius, made an engine, and saw that it was good, and rested. But it was not so.

Yet this does but increase the tribute that is due to Watt, by multiplying the value of his gift to the world. Fot it remains true that the gift was his, and he was not guilty of idle boasting when he wrote, three years before his death: " I have spent a long life in improving the arts and manufactures of the nation; my inventions at present, or lately, giving employment to the best part of a million of people, and having added many millions to the national riches, and therefore I have a natural right to rest in my extreme age."

The industrial importance of the invention is too obvious to require much comment. The new power spread rapidly through the mines, the metal industry, the waterworks, the cornmills, paper-mills and silk-mills, the breweries and dis tilleries. By 1820 it had captured the cotton industry, and it was clear that, before long, it would capture the woollen and worsted industries as well. The whole basis of our economic prosperity was changed. Production requires energy, and energy must be " fed." The first essential for production is the " food " of energy. To possess it in abundance gives security, to possess it in superabundance gives power, for it is a universal need. The " food " of energy produced by steam was coal, and in coal England had at that time an undoubted preeminence. The resulting superiority in production gave her a bargaining power in the markets of the world, which enabled her to view with equanimity the prospect of becoming dependent on foreign purchase for her food supply. In the eighteenth century no country felt safe unless it could produce enough food to satisfy the needs of its population. A nation's capacity for greatness was limited by its productivity in corn. And this was unfortunate for England, for by 1800 the limit appeared to have been reached, and there was no room for expansion. As Malthus pointed out, it was not easy even to stand still, since the growth of population tended to drag down the level of prosperity. The transformation of industry by the introduction of steam-power gave England a new lease of life. Her capacity for greatness seemed now to be limited only by her productivity in coal, and in consequence the road to economic prosperity was almost too fatally easy for the Victorians. Watt and his successors in the field of transport had laid the Malthusian bogey and created the specialised industrial State.

The social effects were equally striking, and almost entirely beneficial. The steam-engine certainly hastened the growth of capitalism, but it did not create " wage slavery." Unscrupulous employers were exploiting the labour of their workpeople in cottages, workshops and watermills before a single steam factory had been built. And they had more scope for it. Waterpower is intermittent. In a hard winter or a dry summer it might fail, the mills stopped work, and men, women, and children were reduced to destitution. To balance this risk the owner of a mill would, when water was plentiful, run his machinery continuously until the mill hands dropped from fatigue, rather than let it stand idle while his precious source of power flowed uselessly away. Steam is more reliable, and coal does not degenerate from disuse, therefore in the factories there was some hope of regulating the hours of work.

In a cotton-mill planted on some stream in the heart of the country the employees, largely children, were dependent on their employer not only for their conditions of work, but also for their conditions of life. They formed a little isolated colony of which he was autocrat. Often the buildings had not been designed as workshops. They were converted barns and cartsheds, dirty, dangerous and unventilated. The steam-engine brought the factories into the towns, where the employees had some degree of independence; it drew the wage-earners out of obscurity into the factories where pressure of public opinion and legislation could force the standard of the most backward up to the level of the most enlightened. For the engine and the heavy machinery that it drove, special accommodation was required, and new buildings were erected for the purpose which offered far healthier conditions of work than anything that had preceded them. The steamengine diminished the risk of accident in the mines and the suffering and loss of life at sea. It is true that new problems appeared, but they were solved; and, taking the general rate of social progress as our standard, we must admit that they were quickly solved. When the depression that followed the great wars passed away, it was not in the factories that the worst distress was found, but among the workers outside them.

On August 19th, 1819, Watt passed peacefully away at Heathfield, and was buried in Handsworth Church. The honour that had been paid to him during his life continued to be paid to his memory after his death. In 1824, as a result of a public meeting in London, a statue of him wasexecuted by Chantrey and placed in Westminster Abbey. In 1882 his name was given a permanent place in the vocabulary of science at the suggestion of C. W. Siemens, who, in his Presidential Address to the British Association, made the following proposal: " The other unit I would suggest adding to the list is that of power... It might be appropriately called a Watt, in honour of that master mind in mechanical science, James Watt." When the hundredth anniversary of his death came round in 1919, the Science Museum in South Kensington celebrated it by holding a Centenary Exhibition. For this purpose the Watt Collection which the Museum possesses was supplemented by extensive loans of models, drawings and letters. The permanent collection has recently been enriched, and in particular by the gift of the contents of the famous Heathfield garret, and the curious will now be able to see an exact reproduction of the retreat in which Watt spent the last peaceful years of his long life of service to science and to humanity.

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