Cadwallader Colden.

Lives & portraits of public characters .. (Volume 3) online

. (page 2 of 13)
Online LibraryCadwallader ColdenLives & portraits of public characters .. (Volume 3) → online text (page 2 of 13)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


as the model to be studied, and was impressed with such
veneration for his instructor, that he persuaded some
friends to take him to the coffee-house frequented by
Dryden, and pleased himself with having seen him.

The earliest of Pope's productions is his " Ode on
Solitude," written before he was twelve, in which there
is nothing more than other forward boys have attained,
and which is not equal to Cowley's performances at the
same age.

His time was now wholly spent in readin'^ and writing.
As he read the Classics, he amused himself with trans-
lating them ; and at fourteen, made a version of the first
book of the '* Thebais," which, with some revision, he
afterwards published.

Next year he was desirous of opening to himself new
sources of knowledge, by making himself master of the
French and Italian languages, which, as he desired
nothing more than to read them, were by diligent appli-
cation easily accomplished.

He then returned to Binfield, where he tried all styles,
and many subjects. He wrote a comedy, a tragedy, an
epick poem, with panegyricks on all the princes in
Europe; and, as he confesses, ** thought himself the
greatest genius that ever was." Self-confidence is the
first requisite to great undertakings, and, it was the
felicity of Pope to rate himself at his real value.

From the age of seventeen, the life of Pope, as an
author, may be properly computed. He now wrote his
pastorals, which were shewn to the poets and criticks of
that time, and as they \YeIl deserved, were read with th«



ALEXANDER POPK.

greatest admiration. They were not, however, publittbed
till five years afterwards. Pope had now declared him-
self a poet ; and tbinkin|r himself entitled to poetical
conversation, began, at seventeen, to frequent "Will's, a
c-oftee-house, on the north side of Russell Street, Covent
Garden, where the wits of that time used to assemble,
and where Dryden had, when he lived, been accustomed
to preside.

In 1709, was written his " Essay on Criticism," a
work which displays such extent of comprehensiou, such
nicety of distinction, such acquaintance with mankind,
and such knowledge both of ancient and modern learning
as are not often attained by the maturest age and longest
experience.

Not long after this period, be produced the " Rape
of the Lock," the most airy, the most ingenious, and the
roost delightful of all his compositions, occasioned by a
frolic of gallantry, rather too familiar, in which Lord
Petre cut oif a lock of Mrs. Arabella Fermor's hair. This,
whether stealth or violence, was so much resented, that
the commerce of the two families before very friendly,
was interrupted. At its first appearance it was termed
by Addison " merum sal." Pope, however saw that it
was capable of improvement, and imparted the scheme
with which hii head was teeming to Addison, who told
liim that his work, as it stood, was " a delicious little
tiling," and gave him no encouragement to re-touch it.

Addison's counsel was happily rejected, and the " Rape
of the Lock," stands forward in the classes of literature,
as the most exquisite example of ludicrous poetry.

In the year 1713, he published •• Windsor Forest,"
of which part was written at sixteen, about the same
time as his Pastorals, and the latter part was added
afterwards. It is dedicated to Lord Lansdowne, who
was then high in reputation and influence among the
Tories ; and it is said, that the conclusion of the poem
gave great pain to Addison both as a poet and a politician.

It appears that about this time Pope had a strong in-
clination to unite the art of Painting with that of Poetry,



ALEXANDER POPli

and pat himself under the tuition of Jervas. He was near
sighted, and therefore not formed by nature for a painter:
be tried, however, how far he could advance, and some-
times persuaded his friends to sit. A picture of Better-
tow, supposed to be drawn by him, was in the possession
of Lord Mansfield, at Caen Wood. The same year pro-
duced a bolder attempt, by which profit was sought as well
as praise. The poems which he had hitherto written,
however they might have diffiused his name, had made
very little addition to his fortune. He therefore resolved
to try how far the favour of the public extended, by soli-
citing a subscription, to a version of the " Iliad" with
large notes. The greatness of the design, the popularity
of the author, and the attention of the literary world,
naturally raised such expectations of the future sale, that
the book-sellers made their offers with great eagerness i
but the highest bidder was Bernard Lintot, who became
proprietor on condition of supplying at his own expense
all the copies which were to be delivered to subscribers,
or presented to friends, and paying two hundred pounds
for every volume.

Pope having now emitted his proposals, and engaged
not only his own reputation but in some measure that of
his friends, who patronised his subscription, began to be
frightened at his own undertaking : and finding himtelf at
first embarrassed with difficulties, which retarded and op-
pressed him, he was for a time timorous and uneasy, had
his nights disturbed by dreams of long journeys through
unknown ways, and wished, as he said, " that somebody
would hang him."

His misery, however, was not of long continuance : he
grew by degrees more acquainted with Homer's ways and
expressions, practice increased his facility of versification,
and, in somewhat more than five years he completed his
version of the " Iliad," with the notes. He began it in
1713, his twenty-fifth year, and concluded it in 1718, his
thirtieth year.

By the success of this subscription Pope was relieved
from tijose pecuniary distresses, with which, notwiih&tand-



ing bit popalarity, he had hitherto struggled, and having
too much discretion to sqnander it away, he secured hiit
future life from want, by considerable annuties. The
" Iliad'' is certainly the uoblt st version pf poetry which
the world has ever seen, and it.s publication must be con-r
«idered as one of the great events in the annals of learning.
In the year 1715, having persuaded his father to sell
their estate at Binfield, he purchased for his life a
bouse at Twickenham, and removed thither with his far
tber and mother.

In 1717, his father died suddenly in bis 75th year*
baring passed twenty-nine years in privacy.

The publication of the " Iliad" was completed in 1720,
and the next year he published some select poems, of his
friend Dr. Parnell, with a very elegant dedication to the
flarl of Oxford.

Scon after the appearance of the " Iliad," resolving not
to let the general kindness cool, he published proposals
for a Translation of the Odyssey, in five volumes, which
he finished in 1725.

In the year 1728 he showed his satirical powers by
publishing the " Dunciad," one of his greatest and most
elaborate works.

In the year 1731, appeared a poem on " Taste," in
which he severely criticises the house, furniture, gardens
and entertainments of Timon, a man of great wealth and
little taste : By Timon he was universally supposed to
mean, and by the Earl of Burlington, to whom the poem
is addressed, was privately said to mean the Duke of Chan-
dos : a man too much delighted with pomp and show,
of a temper kind and beneficent.

In the following year he lost his mother. The filial piety
of Pope was in thehiohest degree amiable and exemplary.
Whatever was his pride, to them he was obedient, and
whatever his irritation, to them he was gentle.

In the year 1733 was published the first part of the
♦* Essay on Man," which he wrote at Lord Bolingbroke's,
Battersea : finding his diseases more oppressive and his
fital powers gradually declining, he no longer strained



ALEXANBER POPt.

bis faculties with any original composition, nor proposed
any other employment for his remaining life than the reri-
sal and correction of bis former works.

He now perceived himself, as he expresses it, " going
down the hill." He had for five years been afflicted with
an asthma, and other diseases which his physicians were
unable to relieve.

In May 1744, his death was approaching, and on the 6th
he was all day delirious, which he mentioned as a suffici-
ent hnrailiation of the vanity of man ; he afterwards com-
plained of seeing things as through a curtain, and in false
colours ; and one day, in the presence of Dodsley, asked
what arm it was that came out from the wall. He said
that his greatest inconvenience was inability to think.

He died on the evening of the thirtieth day of May,
1744, so placidly, that the attendants did not discern the
exact time of his death. He was buried at Twickenham,
near bis father and mother, where a monument has been
«rected to him by his commentator, the Bishop of
Gioacester.




JAMES WATT ESQ®



JAMES WATT, ESQ. F. R. S.

Was born at Greenock, in Scotland, A. D. 1735, where
be was carefully educated ; but having completed [I'm
grammatical studies and other important branches of
education, he was at sixteen apprenticed to learn the art
of an Instrument Maker, which consisted in the manufac-
ture and repair of instruments used in philosophical and
mechanical experiments, surgery, music, &c. ; an art
then confined to a limited sphere, and little encouraged.
Having completed the period of his probation, he repaired
to London, with anticipations both of improvement and
employment; but after a lapse of little more than a year,
he again sought his native country, where, on his ariival,
he added measuring and surveying land to his former
occupations. These, together, enabled him not only to
live respectably, but likewise to pursue a course of
mechanical experiments, which had previously been en-
gendered in his prolific mind. It was now a fortunate
incident gave that direction to the inventive powers of
Watt, in which his provident imagination afterwards
accomplished so much, and laid the foundation of his
future fame. The model of Newcomen's steam engine,
used in his lectures by the professor of natural philosophy
at the University of Glasgow, was sent to Watt to be
repaired ; penetrating instantaneously into the future, be
perceived the capability of its improvement, and the
great advantages to be derived from its general appli-
cation to machinery ; and although he continued to pur-
sue his trade, it being his only source of subsistence,
his genius ill brooked this restraint, but bent its whole
force on his favourite subject, the improvement of the
steam engine. This engine had bow been in use more
64.



JAMES ^VATT, ESQ.

than half a century, but very little had as yet been done
to perfect it. The first improvement which occurred to
"Watt, was the adoption of a tcocden cylinder instead of
a metal one ; and to this he was led by observing tliat tbe
jet of cold water conveyed into the piston, in order to
condense the steam, cooled it to such a degree, that the
steam introduced for the following stroke was wasted in
restoring the heat ; till this was remedied, it could not
exert its entire powers. Many physical difiicullies made
him abandon his first idea for a more fortunate one — that
of passing the steam into a separate condensing vessel,
and thereby never cooling the cylinder. Necessity made
him defer the application of his discovery ; united at this
period to an amiable companion, without fortune, his
first concern was the means of subsistence. His friends,
however, appreciated his invention, an>ongst whom was
Dr. Roebuck, a gentleman possessing an enlightened
understanding, as well as some property. He it was
who associated himself with Watt, at this critical mo-
ment, in order to further his discovery, and to bring it
to perfection. But their means soon exhausted, it was
again on the eve of being abandoned, when, in 1773,
Mr. Boulton, a gentleman of ample fortune, and very
considerable proficiency in the sciences, became ac-
quainted with, and saw the advantages of the invention.
He liberally reimbursed Dr. Roebuck, and having pre-
viously erected a manufactory at Soho, near Birmingham,
at a cost of £20,000, he took Mr. Watt with him to
reside at that place, whose wife, having borne him two
children, was then deceased. Watt was now possessed
of leisure and means to realize any invention he might
already be master of, or, by the exertion of his genius,
bring to light. He found the advantage of condensing
the steam under the piston in another vessel, but when
the piston descended, he imagined the cylinder to be
still cooled. His next important improvement was, to
shut the top of the cylinder, and instead of pressing the
piston down by the weight of the atmosphere, he applied
the force of steam, and restored the equilibrivm, by



JAMES WATT, ESQ.

Opening a conimunioation between the upper and lower
side ot the piston. All that was afterwards accomplished
by means of the reciprocating steam etiginut was only to
acquire perfection and easy management ; but there was
no departure from the iirst principle, nor did he ever
<lepress the piston with steam more than one-tenth
stronger than the atmosphere. What are now termed
h'ujh-preasnre engines, which have been productive of so
many accidents, he did not countenance.

Hy this last improvement, his engineers fell into an
error, which retarded the progress of the invention for
some years ; for, whenever the engine did not perform
well, they stuHed the piston with oakum, till it required
nearly the whole force of the steam to remove it into the
cylinder. This defect was remedied ; and Messrs. Boul-
ton and Watt at length offered their engine to the ]>ro-
prietors of mines, on the most advantageous terms. Ex-
periments were made by men in whom all parties could
confide, with Newcomen's old engine, and Watt's im-
proved one, in order to ascertain ihe value of the coals
saved by the latter. This was done by placing- a counter
over the top of the beam or leaver, to tell the number of
strokes ; and then estimating according to the size of the
cylinder. They were to receive but one-third of the
coals saved; but the great obstacle to the introduction of
their engine was, the incurring a fresh expense. This
they removed by taking the old in exchange, at a con-
siderable loss, and giving credit for the rest till the
advantage was felt. By the adoption of these liberal
means, they removed every difficulty ; but it was not
till the year 1778, that their engine began to be appre-
ciated. In 1779 Watt invented a method of copying
letters, which has been pretty generally adopted. In
1789, the Perriers, of Paris, applied to Messrs. Eoulton
and Watt for an improved steam engine, for the purpose
of supplying that city with water. It was made at
Birmingham, and sent to Chaillot to be put together,
where it still remains. This circumstance the French
have been at sume pains to conceal ; and M. Riche de



JXME-; WATT, Esa.

Prone^, an eminent mathematician, and chief of the schooi
for roads and bridges in that country, ingetiiouslj con-
trived to fdl the pages of a quarto volume with a des-
cription of the improved steam engine, invented bjr our
countryman, Watt, vyithout once naming him ; hut the
French will find it dilTicult to get any other nation, besides
themselves, to wink at such injustice. The steam engine,
as invented by >.'ewcomen, and improved by Watt, had
hitherto been employed only as a reciprocating power,
for drawing water; but the genius of Watt did not per-
mit him to stop tiiere, he was for converting the recipro-
cating power into a rotative one, and thereby to render
it of more general ntility. To this end, various inventions
were resorted to ; but it did not occur to him, so ready
is genius to imagine and encounter difficulties, that the
simple method of a crank, as used in the turning of the
old spinninnf wheel, might supply what he wanted to
discover. He indeed meant to employ tlie crank, but
wanted to make a further improvement by introducing a
second axle, with a fly-wheel and heavy side, which
should revolve twice daring the time tliat the engine
made one stroke ; intending that the heavy side, when
the piston was at the top, should be in the act of descend-
ing ; not considering, that the heavy fly was a reservoir
to preserve regular motion in the Hiachine. Watt, which
had been his usual custom from his first residence at
Birmingham, gave directions for a model to be made
according to this improvement, but as he never allowed
a new invention to interrupt the progress of one reduced
to actual practice, the consequence was, that which might
have been brought to light in one, was eight months in
hand ; and, in the interim, a workman employed on the
model communicated the invention to a Mr. Rickard,
who was unprincipled enough to take out a patent for it ;
and, worked by one of Newcomen's engines but with the
addition of this last discovery, a corn-mill was going on
■within a quarter of a mile of Watt, ere his model was
completed. The above circumstances being ascertained
by him, though he might easily have set aside the patent



JAMES WATT, ESQ.

obtained hy Mr. Rickard, neither he nor iiis partner
being fond of legal remedies, he chose to seek one in his
own brain. The only part of tlie last invention of any
moment, and for which a snbstitute was absolutely
necessary, was the crank \ and here, with snnie eiipense,
and a little ingenuity, he succeeded so well, that it i&
doubtful whetiier his substitute is not quite equal to the
crank. This invention of the rotative motion hy Watt,
not only prevented the shock at the beginning and end of
every stroke, by equalizing the motion, but rendered
steam tlie most maiiageable, as well as the most useful
of ail powers, since it might be supplied of any power
suited to the uses for which it might be required. Watt's
last great iirifrovement, which perfected his invention of
the rotative motion, was to give the power which com-
municated the rotative motion, and moved in a portion
of the circumference of a circle, an accurately perpendicu-'
lar direction. This was not too great for the astonish-
ingly pregnant imagination of Watt to accomplish ; and
he is said to have declared, that by what train of ideas he
compassed this admirable invention, he himself was
unable to communicate, so spontaneous were the powers
of his genius. With this last invention terminated the
most important of his labours. Soon after he settle;! at
Birmingham, he married a second wife, a Miss M'Gregor,
of Glasgow, a lady of considerable attainments, with
whom he enjoyed a long and well-spent life of conjugal
happiness, She bore him several children, but none of
them are now surviving. Having passed his 70th year,
about which period, his partner, Mr. Boulton, died, he
retired into private life, leaving tlie business to his own,
only surviving, and Mr. Boulton's son, by whom the
steam-engine manufactory is still conducted. Having
arrived at his 84th year, he sunk into the arms of his
Maker, (at his house at Heathfield, near Birmingham,
August the 25th, 1B19,) leaving behind him a name as
imperishable as the universe, and a reputation which
defies detraction. His genius was recognized by the
Royal Societies of London and Edinburgh, of both of



JAMES WATT, ESQ.

xv-bicli lie was made a member ; nor let be forgotten, that
iu 1808, when England and France were waf;ing; war
with uncommon inveteracy, like Sir Humphrey Davy, he
received the same honour from the National lostitute
of France.

A meeting was held at the Freemason's Tavern,
London, on the 18lh of June, 1824, for the purpose of
commencing a public subscription to defray the expenses
of a monument to the memory of Mr. Watt. Lord
Liverpool was in the chair, and a considerable sum was
instantly collected : a similar meeting has been held in
Manchester, in aid of the London Fnnd ; and, in Edin-
burgh also, a subscription is set on foot for a monument
to be erected in Scotland ; but as Mr. Cockburn, with
whom the idea originated, very properly observed at
the meeting : " I am clear that we should have an open
daylight monument to the memory of Mr. Watt, which
can be explored by all — that their hearts may be stirred,
and their ambition excited, by the contemplation of such
a tribute. The man whose mind I wish most to awaken
is that of the operative mechanic, who should be able to
view this structure as he is walking along the streets,
in the dress and with the implements of his calling."

The subcription in London would have been much
larger, had it been resolved to erect the monument in
some public situation, instead of its intended situation —
Westminster Abbey ; where, if you want to see it, you
must pay!

" They order these matters better in France."




•ILETIEK. 'S-OILIOSMETJ



ns'iedjtiff;SSJ$24i:/ (?e.vge Smefton 3.0ldSat7c}



OLIVER GOLDSMITH, M. B.

Son of the Rev. Charles Goldsmith, was born in Elpbiil»
in the county of RoscorBraon, in Ireland, iu the year 1729.
His father had four sons, of whom Oliver was the third.
After being well instructed in the classics at the school of
Mr. Hughes, he was admitted a sizer in Trinity College,
on the 11th of June, 1744. While resident there he
exhibited no signs of that genius which, in niaturer years,
raised his character so high. On the 27th of February,
1749, O. S. he obtained the degree of Bachelor of Arts.
Soon after, he turned his thoughts to the profession of
Physic, and studied in London and Edinburgh : while in
the latter city, his good nature involved him in difBculties,
by becoming security for one of bis fellow-students for a
considerable sum of money, which obliged him to leave
it : he proceeded to Sunderland, near Mewcastle, where
he arrived in the year 1754, and was arrested by one
Barclay, a tailor in Edinburgh, to whom he had given
security for his friend. By the goodness of two of his
fellow collegians, he was liberated from the bands of the
bailiff, and took his passage on board a Dutch ship for
Rotterdam, where, after a short stay, he proceeded to
Brussels. He then visited a great part of Flanders ;
and after passing some time at Strasbourg and Louvaia,
where he obtained the degree of Bachelor of Physic, he
accompanied an English gentleman to Geneva. He bad
now obtained some knowledge of the French language and
of music : be played tolerably well on the German flute ;
which, from amusement, became, at some times, the
means of his subsistence. His learning produced him
an hospitable reception at most of the religious bouse she
visited, and his music made bim welcome to the peasants
of Flanders and Germany.
While in Switzerland, Goldsmith assiduously cultivated
65.



OLIVER G0LDSR11TH.

liis poetical talenl. It was from hence he sent the first
sketch of his delightful epistle, The Traveller, to his
brother Henry, a clergyman in Ireland. Goldsmith;
being recommended as a travelling companion to a young
man who liad been left a considerable sum of money,
proceeded with his pupil to the south of France, where,
upon some disagreement, he received the small part of
his salary which was due ; and lituling himself once more
before the world, passed ihrongh many diiiicullies in
traversing the greater part of France. At length, his
curiosity being satisfied, he bent his course towards
England, and landed at Dover the latter end of the year
1758. His finances were so low on his return to England
that he with difliculty reached the metropolis ; his whole
stock of cash amounting to a few half-pence. He applied
to several apothecaries in hopes of being received in the
capacity of a journeyman, but his broad Irish accent and
the uncouthnessof his appearance occasioned him to meet
with sad repulses from t!:e medical tribe : at length, a
ciieniist near Fish Street Hill, struck with his forlorn
appearance and the simplicity of his manners, took him
into his laboratory, where he continued until he disco-
vered his old friend. Dr. Sleigh, was in London : by this
gentleman he was well received, and remained under his
roof for some time 5 hut unwilling to be a burthen to his
friend, he engaged himself as an assistant to the Rev.
Dr. Milner, in instructins: the young gentlemen at the
academy at Peckham, and acquitted himself greatly to
the Doctor's satisfaction ; but having obtained some
reputation by the criticisms he had published in the
Monthly Review, Mr. Griffin, the principal proprietor,
engaged him in the compilation of it ; and, resolving to
pursue the profession of writing, he returned to London,
and took lodgintrs, at the close of the year 1759, in


2 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

Online LibraryCadwallader ColdenLives & portraits of public characters .. (Volume 3) → online text (page 2 of 13)