Men of Invention and Industry/Preface
I offer this book as a continuation of the memoirs of men of invention and industry published some years ago in the 'Lives of Engineers,' 'Industrial Biography,' and 'Self-Help.'
The early chapters relate to the history of a very important branch of British industry--that of Shipbuilding. A later chapter, kindly prepared by Sir Edward J. Harland, of Belfast, relates to the origin and progress of shipbuilding in Ireland.
Many of the facts set forth in the Life and Inventions of William Murdock have already been published in my 'Lives of Boulton and Watt;" but these are now placed in a continuous narrative, and supplemented by other information, more particularly the correspondence between Watt and Murdock, communicated to me by the present representative of the family, Mr. Murdock, C.E, of Gilwern, near Abergavenny.
I have also endeavoured to give as accurate an account as possible of the Invention of the Steam-printing Press, and its application to the production of Newspapers and Books,--an invention certainly of great importance to the spread of knowledge, science, and literature, throughout the world.
The chapter on the "Industry of Ireland" will speak for itself. It occurred to me, on passing through Ireland last year, that much remained to be said on that subject; and, looking to the increasing means of the country, and the well-known industry of its people, it seems reasonable to expect, that with peace, security, energy, and diligent labour of head and hand, there is really a great future before Ireland.
The last chapter, on "Astronomers in Humble Life," consists for the most part of a series of Autobiographies. It may seem, at first sight, to have little to do with the leading object of the book; but it serves to show what a number of active, earnest, and able men are comparatively hidden throughout society, ready to turn their hands and heads to the improvement of their own characters, if not to the advancement of the general community of which they form a part.
In conclusion, I say to the reader, as Quarles said in the preface to his 'Emblems,' "I wish thee as much pleasure in the reading as I had in the writing." In fact, the last three chapters were in some measure the cause of the book being published in its present form.
London, November, 1884.