From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.




he attacked the English policy in Egypt. In his poem on Wordsworth's Grave gave him considerable fame. His verse is careful, delicate and sure in workmanship, and is reflective in tone. His sonnets in The Purple East, are noteworthy, while The Year of Shame is a fotceful indictment of England's policy in the Orient.

Watson, William, an American scientist, was born in Nantucket, Mass., 1834. He was graduated at Harvard, 1857. In 1860-63 he gathered information which was used in 1864 in founding the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was professor of mechanical engineering and descriptive geometry in this institution during 1865-1873. He became secretary of the American Academy of Arts and Science iu 1884.

Watt, James. Everybody has heard the story of James Watt and his boyhood experiment of the lifting power of the ste^m under the iid of his mother's teakettle. What boy's heart has not swelled with indignation when reading of his good aunt's rebuke for the lad's idleness! Whether this story be true or not,no less a person than An-drew Carnegie says we ^should cherish _it among our most precious legends, along with the stories of Washington and his hatchet and Bruce and the spider, because it condenses an inspiring genius into an illuminating anecdote.

It is a beautiful picture, that of the home-life of James Watt, in the fishing-town and customs-port of Greenock, Scotland. Born there on the i9th of January, 1732, a delicate, sensitive lad whose life was preserved only by the most tenaer care, he was fortunate in having a father of means and importance, a comfortable, tranquil home and a mother who was known to the fisher-folk as "the beautiful leddy." Unable to attend school regularly because of ill-health, he followed his own inclinations in study and amusements. Long days were spent in rambling among the hills and lakes back of the town, developing strength and turning his thoughts toward botany, geology and water-power. He was no less interested in his father's shipbuilding yards and in the docks. He loved to sit in the wiixdow of the parlor fronting the harbor and watch the herring-boats come in and the big sailing vessels laden with tobacco from Virginia, riding at anchor in the broad estuary of the Clyde. Who could imagine that this fragile, dreaming boy was to transform his native town from a straggling village of thatched cottages into a big, bustling seaport with shipbuilding

yards that construct the Cunard and other famous lines of steamers?

From the age of 14 natural philosophy, chemistry and anatomy interested him intensely, and he lost no opportunity to put every statement made by books to the test in nature's great laboratory. In his father's shops he became so skiKul in the use of tools that the workmen said of him* "Wee Jamie hae a fortune in his fingers, an' anither in his heid." Because he could not always have tools to use, he set up a forge of his own and made and repaired tools for himself. The mathematical exactness and thoroughness of his work there were the foundations of his future inventions and fame. It was intended that the gifted boy should go to Glasgow University and be fitted for a professorship in physics. The Scotch people, perhaps, have a pro-iounder love and respect for learning, and will make greater sacrifices to get an education, than any other people on the globe. So, when the ambition of the Watt family for Jamie had to be put aside because of the loss of a vessel at sea and other financial misfortunes, the disappointment must have been bitter indeed. The lad went to London at 19 to learn the trade of scientific instrument-making—rulers, compasses, scales and such things, for which he showed talent. It took 12 days' hard riding on horseback to make the journey of 400 miles. Today the distance is covered in nine hours.

Within a year he was back in Glasgow, a competent workman, but poor and sick, with work so scarce that he was barely able to earn his bread. Repairing the astronomical instruments for the university led to his appointment as mathematical instrument-maker, with a shop in the college precincts. He was very little better off in the way of money than before, but the connection brought him the friendship of learned professors and the handling of complex instruments and machinery, every one of which involved the study of physical laws. For instance: the putting of a piano in order led him into acoustics. So James Watt's fingers were all the time educating his " heid."

So much reliance was placed upon his skill and his understanding of principles that a small model of a steam-pump was put into his hands for repair. The first thing Watt did was to make a thorough investigation of the whole subject of steam, including condensation and latent heat, to see why this pump, then used in British coal-mines, used so much steam and got so easily out of order. In a word, he set about the task, not of repairing, but of improving and developing a crude and wasteful contrivance. It took a year of close study. But let the inventor tell the story: "One Sunday morning when I had gone for a walk in the Green of Glasgow, the idea occurred to me that, as steam is