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opportunities which remain ; but even his attempt to give us "a full yet compendious and authentic biography of the great inventor," is in many respects disappointing. It is, of course, deficient in the requisites of circumstantiality and freshness. It has other faults, of bad arrangement, want of compression, want of taste, and a controversial fervour which borders on pugnacious animosity ; from all which elements we resolutely turn, to grasp and disentangle all that remains for a popular memoir of Watt, and a legible summary of his generative creations.

The family of Watt is first found in Aberdeenshire, and his great-grandfather, it is said, perished in one of the wars of Montrose ; but on which side engaged, Mr. Muirhead, with all his interest in ancestral traditions, has only succeeded in helping us to a dubious conjecture. Possibly he was a Covenanter; possibly not; but it is known that his property was confiscated, and that his orphan son, being in humble circumstances, settled near Greenock. Thomas Watt, was a teacher of navigation, or, as he is styled on his tombstone,“ teacher of the mathematics ;" so that James Watt's science may take its rise, physiologically, in the professional capacities of his grandfather. At this date Greenock was little more than a fishing hamlet, and Thomas Watt was so important among its petty magnates, that he was made chief magistrate, or “haillie of the barony,” and an elder of the parish and presbytery, as well as treasurer and clerk to the Kirk Session. In these capacities he repaired the church, widened the bridge, and adjusted

This son,

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the weights and measures of the burgh by his mathematical standards. He imposed fines for the pranks of the roysterers on Halloween-night, regulated the keeping of “ taim foules” and their scratchings in unlicensed gardens, discouraged the “sitting in and haunting taverns on Friday and Saturday nights,” and also the "guilt” of skippers in “ loosing their ships and taking them to seaward on the Sabbath-day.” The great feat of his administrative reign was his supposed discrimination in dealing with the complicated pretensions of a certain mountebank medicinevendor. To this worthy he forbade the attractions of zanies, saltatory lassies, and their demonstrative ropedancing, while he permitted him “to expose his drugs or medicines to public sale.” Thus, according to the meridian of Greenock, he deported himself like a discreet baillie, with a leaning towards the ingenious arts, till his death in 1734, "aged about ninety-five;" when he left two sons behind him, one of whom (John), after practising as a surveyor, died unmarried at the age of fifty, in 1737. This son is so far worth mentioning, that his brother James and his two nephews, one of whom was the immortal inventor, engraved and published, after his death, a survey which he made of the Course and Frith of the river Clyde, This survey, which was published in 1759-60, is naturally sought after, on account of the greater Watt's share in the engraving, and the Watt Club of Greenock have printed a reduced copy of it. James Watt, the father, who assisted in its first production, was a shipwright, a ship-chandler (supplying vessels with

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nautical apparatus, stores, and instruments), a builder, and a merchant, as he is termed, Scottice. He married one Agnes Muirhead, who enjoyed the privilege, so common among her countrymen, of high lineage, and exhibited some striking qualities of her own, which became the mother of a famous son. For those who like to observe how commonly such offspring are deduced from a superior matrix, we may cite the language of one of her contemporaries, who described her as braw, braw woman-none now to be seen like her." She had other children, of whom three died in infancy or early childhood, while one, John, was drowned at sea at the premature age of twenty-four. Mr. Muirhead has a wearisome page or two on her privileged descent from the Muirheads of Flodden Field, and of times long anterior; but those who prefer to look downward in the line of genealogy may regard her as the mother of her illustrious and only surviving child, and through him, if they so like to designate her, as the Grandmother of the steam-engine.

James Watt, that is the James, was born on the 19th day of January, 1736. His constitution was delicate, and his mental powers were precocious. There is a story of his having been observed, as a child of six years old, drawing mathematical lines and circles on the hearthstone, and of his so inducing the remark of a bystander that he was no common child." It is more certain that he was distinguished from an early age by his candour and truthfulness, for his father used to enlighten himself on any particular of his boyish quarrels by the appeal, “Let James speak;

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from him I always hear truth.” James also showed his constructive tastes equally early, experimenting on his playthings with a set of small carpenter's tools which his father had given him. Mr. Muirhead flourishes his biographical cudgel over the heads of two of James's comrades, who ascribed to him “a certain mental dulness,” and refers to the memoranda of his early years, drawn up by his cousin, for a clear refutation of these unappreciative youngsters. Thus his cousin, Mrs. Marion Campbell, describes his inventive capacity as a storyteller, and details an incident of his occupying himself with the steam of a teakettle, to which she probably attached more importance than was its due, from reverting to it when illustrated by her after-recollections. Out of this incident, reliable or not in the sense ascribed to it, M. Arago obtained an oratorical point for an éloge, which he delivered to his companions of the French Institute. What Frenchman could have resisted such an obvious temptation to a coup de théâtre ? Yet the story is at best the ground of a pleasing hypothesis. Watt may or may not have been occupied as a boy with the study of the condensation of steam while he was playing with the maternal teakettle, but it would be harsh to conclude that his mother inconsiderately reproved “ the mighty engineer” as he was making the preludes to his discoveries. The incident suggests a possibility, nothing more; though it has been made the foundation of a grave announcement, the subject of a pretty picture, and will ever remain a basis for suggestive speculation.

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During these early years Watt was sent to a commercial school, where he was provided with a fair outfit of Latin and with some elements of Greek ; but mathematics he studied with greater zest and with proportionate success, under one John Marr, a local mathematician. By the time he was fifteen, according to the testimony of his cousin, he had read twice, with great attention, Gravesande's “Elements of Natural Philosophy ;” and “while under his father's roof he went on with various chymical experiments, repeating them again and again, until satisfied of their accuracy from his own observations." He even made himself a small electrical machine about 1750-53,- no mean porformance at that date; since, according to Priestley's “ History of Electricity,” the Leyden phial itself was not invented till the years 1745-6.

At an early age we find him also suffering from that phenomenon of his long life which makes his use of it so remarkable—the continued and violent headaches which often affected his nervous system, and left him for days - even weeks, languid, de

· pressed, and fanciful.

“ He seldom rose early," says his cousin, "but accomplished more in a few hours' study than ordinary minds do in many days." By his health and temperament he was precluded from the manifestation of a free sanguine activity. "He was never in a hurry, and always had leisure to give to his friends, to poetry, romance, and the publications of the day." He read indiscriminately almost every new book he could procure ; and on

a friend entreating him to be more select in his choice, he replied,

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