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Self Help by Samuel Smiles

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Transcribed by David Price, email ccx074@coventry.ac.uk



"The worth of a State, in the long run, is the worth of the
individuals composing it."--J. S. Mill.

"We put too much faith in systems, and look too little to men."--B.

"Heaven helps those who help themselves" is a well-tried maxim,
embodying in a small compass the results of vast human experience.
The spirit of self-help is the root of all genuine growth in the
individual; and, exhibited in the lives of many, it constitutes the
true source of national vigour and strength. Help from without is
often enfeebling in its effects, but help from within invariably
invigorates. Whatever is done FOR men or classes, to a certain
extent takes away the stimulus and necessity of doing for
themselves; and where men are subjected to over-guidance and over-
government, the inevitable tendency is to render them comparatively

Even the best institutions can give a man no active help. Perhaps
the most they can do is, to leave him free to develop himself and
improve his individual condition. But in all times men have been
prone to believe that their happiness and well-being were to be
secured by means of institutions rather than by their own conduct.
Hence the value of legislation as an agent in human advancement has
usually been much over-estimated. To constitute the millionth part
of a Legislature, by voting for one or two men once in three or
five years, however conscientiously this duty may be performed, can
exercise but little active influence upon any man's life and
character. Moreover, it is every day becoming more clearly
understood, that the function of Government is negative and
restrictive, rather than positive and active; being resolvable
principally into protection--protection of life, liberty, and
property. Laws, wisely administered, will secure men in the
enjoyment of the fruits of their labour, whether of mind or body,
at a comparatively small personal sacrifice; but no laws, however
stringent, can make the idle industrious, the thriftless provident,
or the drunken sober. Such reforms can only be effected by means
of individual action, economy, and self-denial; by better habits,
rather than by greater rights.

The Government of a nation itself is usually found to be but the
reflex of the individuals composing it. The Government that is
ahead of the people will inevitably be dragged down to their level,
as the Government that is behind them will in the long run be
dragged up. In the order of nature, the collective character of a
nation will as surely find its befitting results in its law and
government, as water finds its own level. The noble people will be
nobly ruled, and the ignorant and corrupt ignobly. Indeed all
experience serves to prove that the worth and strength of a State
depend far less upon the form of its institutions than upon the
character of its men. For the nation is only an aggregate of
individual conditions, and civilization itself is but a question of
the personal improvement of the men, women, and children of whom
society is composed.

National progress is the sum of individual industry, energy, and
uprightness, as national decay is of individual idleness,
selfishness, and vice. What we are accustomed to decry as great
social evils, will, for the most part, be found to be but the
outgrowth of man's own perverted life; and though we may endeavour
to cut them down and extirpate them by means of Law, they will only
spring up again with fresh luxuriance in some other form, unless
the conditions of personal life and character are radically
improved. If this view be correct, then it follows that the
highest patriotism and philanthropy consist, not so much in
altering laws and modifying institutions, as in helping and
stimulating men to elevate and improve themselves by their own free
and independent individual action.

It may be of comparatively little consequence how a man is governed
from without, whilst everything depends upon how he governs himself
from within. The greatest slave is not he who is ruled by a
despot, great though that evil be, but he who is the thrall of his
own moral ignorance, selfishness, and vice. Nations who are thus
enslaved at heart cannot be freed by any mere changes of masters or
of institutions; and so long as the fatal delusion prevails, that
liberty solely depends upon and consists in government, so long
will such changes, no matter at what cost they may be effected,
have as little practical and lasting result as the shifting of the
figures in a phantasmagoria. The solid foundations of liberty must
rest upon individual character; which is also the only sure
guarantee for social security and national progress. John Stuart
Mill truly observes that "even despotism does not produce its worst
effects so long as individuality exists under it; and whatever
crushes individuality IS despotism, by whatever name it be called."

Old fallacies as to human progress are constantly turning up. Some
call for Caesars, others for Nationalities, and others for Acts of
Parliament. We are to wait for Caesars, and when they are found,
"happy the people who recognise and follow them." {1} This
doctrine shortly means, everything FOR the people, nothing BY
them,--a doctrine which, if taken as a guide, must, by destroying
the free conscience of a community, speedily prepare the way for
any form of despotism. Caesarism is human idolatry in its worst
form--a worship of mere power, as degrading in its effects as the
worship of mere wealth would be. A far healthier doctrine to
inculcate among the nations would be that of Self-Help; and so soon
as it is thoroughly understood and carried into action, Caesarism
will be no more. The two principles are directly antagonistic; and
what Victor Hugo said of the Pen and the Sword alike applies to
them, "Ceci tuera cela." [This will kill that.]

The power of Nationalities and Acts of Parliament is also a
prevalent superstition. What William Dargan, one of Ireland's
truest patriots, said at the closing of the first Dublin Industrial
Exhibition, may well be quoted now. "To tell the truth," he said,
"I never heard the word independence mentioned that my own country
and my own fellow townsmen did not occur to my mind. I have heard
a great deal about the independence that we were to get from this,
that, and the other place, and of the great expectations we were to
have from persons from other countries coming amongst us. Whilst I
value as much as any man the great advantages that must result to
us from that intercourse, I have always been deeply impressed with
the feeling that our industrial independence is dependent upon
ourselves. I believe that with simple industry and careful
exactness in the utilization of our energies, we never had a fairer
chance nor a brighter prospect than the present. We have made a
step, but perseverance is the great agent of success; and if we but
go on zealously, I believe in my conscience that in a short period
we shall arrive at a position of equal comfort, of equal happiness,
and of equal independence, with that of any other people."

All nations have been made what they are by the thinking and the
working of many generations of men. Patient and persevering
labourers in all ranks and conditions of life, cultivators of the
soil and explorers of the mine, inventors and discoverers,
manufacturers, mechanics and artisans, poets, philosophers, and
politicians, all have contributed towards the grand result, one
generation building upon another's labours, and carrying them
forward to still higher stages. This constant succession of noble
workers--the artisans of civilisation--has served to create order
out of chaos in industry, science, and art; and the living race has
thus, in the course of nature, become the inheritor of the rich
estate provided by the skill and industry of our forefathers, which
is placed in our hands to cultivate, and to hand down, not only
unimpaired but improved, to our successors.

The spirit of self-help, as exhibited in the energetic action of
individuals, has in all times been a marked feature in the English
character, and furnishes the true measure of our power as a nation.
Rising above the heads of the mass, there were always to be found a
series of individuals distinguished beyond others, who commanded
the public homage. But our progress has also been owing to
multitudes of smaller and less known men. Though only the
generals' names may be remembered in the history of any great
campaign, it has been in a great measure through the individual
valour and heroism of the privates that victories have been won.
And life, too, is "a soldiers' battle,"--men in the ranks having in
all times been amongst the greatest of workers. Many are the lives
of men unwritten, which have nevertheless as powerfully influenced
civilisation and progress as the more fortunate Great whose names
are recorded in biography. Even the humblest person, who sets
before his fellows an example of industry, sobriety, and upright
honesty of purpose in life, has a present as well as a future
influence upon the well-being of his country; for his life and
character pass unconsciously into the lives of others, and
propagate good example for all time to come.

Daily experience shows that it is energetic individualism which
produces the most powerful effects upon the life and action of
others, and really constitutes the best practical education.
Schools, academies, and colleges, give but the merest beginnings of
culture in comparison with it. Far more influential is the life-
education daily given in our homes, in the streets, behind
counters, in workshops, at the loom and the plough, in counting-
houses and manufactories, and in the busy haunts of men. This is
that finishing instruction as members of society, which Schiller
designated "the education of the human race," consisting in action,
conduct, self-culture, self-control,--all that tends to discipline
a man truly, and fit him for the proper performance of the duties
and business of life,--a kind of education not to be learnt from
books, or acquired by any amount of mere literary training. With
his usual weight of words Bacon observes, that "Studies teach not
their own use; but that is a wisdom without them, and above them,
won by observation;" a remark that holds true of actual life, as
well as of the cultivation of the intellect itself. For all
experience serves to illustrate and enforce the lesson, that a man
perfects himself by work more than by reading,--that it is life
rather than literature, action rather than study, and character
rather than biography, which tend perpetually to renovate mankind.

Biographies of great, but especially of good men, are nevertheless
most instructive and useful, as helps, guides, and incentives to
others. Some of the best are almost equivalent to gospels--
teaching high living, high thinking, and energetic action for their
own and the world's good. The valuable examples which they furnish
of the power of self-help, of patient purpose, resolute working,
and steadfast integrity, issuing in the formation of truly noble
and manly character, exhibit in language not to be misunderstood,
what it is in the power of each to accomplish for himself; and
eloquently illustrate the efficacy of self-respect and self-
reliance in enabling men of even the humblest rank to work out for
themselves an honourable competency and a solid reputation.

Great men of science, literature, and art--apostles of great
thoughts and lords of the great heart--have belonged to no
exclusive class nor rank in life. They have come alike from
colleges, workshops, and farmhouses,--from the huts of poor men and
the mansions of the rich. Some of God's greatest apostles have
come from "the ranks." The poorest have sometimes taken the
highest places; nor have difficulties apparently the most
insuperable proved obstacles in their way. Those very
difficulties, in many instances, would ever seem to have been their
best helpers, by evoking their powers of labour and endurance, and
stimulating into life faculties which might otherwise have lain
dormant. The instances of obstacles thus surmounted, and of
triumphs thus achieved, are indeed so numerous, as almost to
justify the proverb that "with Will one can do anything." Take,
for instance, the remarkable fact, that from the barber's shop came
Jeremy Taylor, the most poetical of divines; Sir Richard Arkwright,
the inventor of the spinning-jenny and founder of the cotton
manufacture; Lord Tenterden, one of the most distinguished of Lord
Chief Justices; and Turner, the greatest among landscape painters.

No one knows to a certainty what Shakespeare was; but it is
unquestionable that he sprang from a humble rank. His father was a
butcher and grazier; and Shakespeare himself is supposed to have
been in early life a woolcomber; whilst others aver that he was an
usher in a school and afterwards a scrivener's clerk. He truly
seems to have been "not one, but all mankind's epitome." For such
is the accuracy of his sea phrases that a naval writer alleges that
he must have been a sailor; whilst a clergyman infers, from
internal evidence in his writings, that he was probably a parson's
clerk; and a distinguished judge of horse-flesh insists that he
must have been a horse-dealer. Shakespeare was certainly an actor,
and in the course of his life "played many parts," gathering his
wonderful stores of knowledge from a wide field of experience and
observation. In any event, he must have been a close student and a
hard worker; and to this day his writings continue to exercise a
powerful influence on the formation of English character.

The common class of day labourers has given us Brindley the
engineer, Cook the navigator, and Burns the poet. Masons and
bricklayers can boast of Ben Jonson, who worked at the building of
Lincoln's Inn, with a trowel in his hand and a book in his pocket,
Edwards and Telford the engineers, Hugh Miller the geologist, and
Allan Cunningham the writer and sculptor; whilst among
distinguished carpenters we find the names of Inigo Jones the
architect, Harrison the chronometer-maker, John Hunter the
physiologist, Romney and Opie the painters, Professor Lee the
Orientalist, and John Gibson the sculptor.

From the weaver class have sprung Simson the mathematician, Bacon
the sculptor, the two Milners, Adam Walker, John Foster, Wilson the
ornithologist, Dr. Livingstone the missionary traveller, and
Tannahill the poet. Shoemakers have given us Sir Cloudesley Shovel
the great Admiral, Sturgeon the electrician, Samuel Drew the
essayist, Gifford the editor of the 'Quarterly Review,' Bloomfield
the poet, and William Carey the missionary; whilst Morrison,
another laborious missionary, was a maker of shoe-lasts. Within
the last few years, a profound naturalist has been discovered in
the person of a shoemaker at Banff, named Thomas Edwards, who,
while maintaining himself by his trade, has devoted his leisure to
the study of natural science in all its branches, his researches in
connexion with the smaller crustaceae having been rewarded by the
discovery of a new species, to which the name of "Praniza
Edwardsii" has been given by naturalists.

Nor have tailors been undistinguished. John Stow, the historian,
worked at the trade during some part of his life. Jackson, the
painter, made clothes until he reached manhood. The brave Sir John
Hawkswood, who so greatly distinguished himself at Poictiers, and
was knighted by Edward III. for his valour, was in early life
apprenticed to a London tailor. Admiral Hobson, who broke the boom
at Vigo in 1702, belonged to the same calling. He was working as a
tailor's apprentice near Bonchurch, in the Isle of Wight, when the
news flew through the village that a squadron of men-of-war was
sailing off the island. He sprang from the shopboard, and ran down
with his comrades to the beach, to gaze upon the glorious sight.
The boy was suddenly inflamed with the ambition to be a sailor; and
springing into a boat, he rowed off to the squadron, gained the
admiral's ship, and was accepted as a volunteer. Years after, he
returned to his native village full of honours, and dined off bacon
and eggs in the cottage where he had worked as an apprentice. But
the greatest tailor of all is unquestionably Andrew Johnson, the
present President of the United States--a man of extraordinary
force of character and vigour of intellect. In his great speech at
Washington, when describing himself as having begun his political
career as an alderman, and run through all the branches of the
legislature, a voice in the crowd cried, "From a tailor up." It
was characteristic of Johnson to take the intended sarcasm in good
part, and even to turn it to account. "Some gentleman says I have
been a tailor. That does not disconcert me in the least; for when
I was a tailor I had the reputation of being a good one, and making
close fits; I was always punctual with my customers, and always did
good work."

Cardinal Wolsey, De Foe, Akenside, and Kirke White were the sons of
butchers; Bunyan was a tinker, and Joseph Lancaster a basket-maker.
Among the great names identified with the invention of the steam-
engine are those of Newcomen, Watt, and Stephenson; the first a
blacksmith, the second a maker of mathematical instruments, and the
third an engine-fireman. Huntingdon the preacher was originally a
coalheaver, and Bewick, the father of wood-engraving, a coalminer.
Dodsley was a footman, and Holcroft a groom. Baffin the navigator
began his seafaring career as a man before the mast, and Sir
Cloudesley Shovel as a cabin-boy. Herschel played the oboe in a
military band. Chantrey was a journeyman carver, Etty a journeyman
printer, and Sir Thomas Lawrence the son of a tavern-keeper.
Michael Faraday, the son of a blacksmith, was in early life
apprenticed to a bookbinder, and worked at that trade until he
reached his twenty-second year: he now occupies the very first
rank as a philosopher, excelling even his master, Sir Humphry Davy,
in the art of lucidly expounding the most difficult and abstruse
points in natural science.

Among those who have given the greatest impulse to the sublime
science of astronomy, we find Copernicus, the son of a Polish
baker; Kepler, the son of a German public-house keeper, and himself
the "garcon de cabaret;" d'Alembert, a foundling picked up one
winter's night on the steps of the church of St. Jean le Rond at
Paris, and brought up by the wife of a glazier; and Newton and
Laplace, the one the son of a small freeholder near Grantham, the
other the son of a poor peasant of Beaumont-en-Auge, near Honfleur.
Notwithstanding their comparatively adverse circumstances in early
life, these distinguished men achieved a solid and enduring
reputation by the exercise of their genius, which all the wealth in
the world could not have purchased. The very possession of wealth
might indeed have proved an obstacle greater even than the humble
means to which they were born. The father of Lagrange, the
astronomer and mathematician, held the office of Treasurer of War
at Turin; but having ruined himself by speculations, his family
were reduced to comparative poverty. To this circumstance Lagrange
was in after life accustomed partly to attribute his own fame and
happiness. "Had I been rich," said he, "I should probably not have
become a mathematician."

The sons of clergymen and ministers of religion generally, have
particularly distinguished themselves in our country's history.
Amongst them we find the names of Drake and Nelson, celebrated in
naval heroism; of Wollaston, Young, Playfair, and Bell, in science;
of Wren, Reynolds, Wilson, and Wilkie, in art; of Thurlow and
Campbell, in law; and of Addison, Thomson, Goldsmith, Coleridge,
and Tennyson, in literature. Lord Hardinge, Colonel Edwardes, and
Major Hodson, so honourably known in Indian warfare, were also the
sons of clergymen. Indeed, the empire of England in India was won
and held chiefly by men of the middle class--such as Clive, Warren
Hastings, and their successors--men for the most part bred in
factories and trained to habits of business.

Among the sons of attorneys we find Edmund Burke, Smeaton the
engineer, Scott and Wordsworth, and Lords Somers, Hardwick, and
Dunning. Sir William Blackstone was the posthumous son of a silk-
mercer. Lord Gifford's father was a grocer at Dover; Lord Denman's
a physician; judge Talfourd's a country brewer; and Lord Chief
Baron Pollock's a celebrated saddler at Charing Cross. Layard, the
discoverer of the monuments of Nineveh, was an articled clerk in a
London solicitor's office; and Sir William Armstrong, the inventor
of hydraulic machinery and of the Armstrong ordnance, was also
trained to the law and practised for some time as an attorney.
Milton was the son of a London scrivener, and Pope and Southey were
the sons of linendrapers. Professor Wilson was the son of a
Paisley manufacturer, and Lord Macaulay of an African merchant.
Keats was a druggist, and Sir Humphry Davy a country apothecary's
apprentice. Speaking of himself, Davy once said, "What I am I have
made myself: I say this without vanity, and in pure simplicity of
heart." Richard Owen, the Newton of Natural History, began life as
a midshipman, and did not enter upon the line of scientific
research in which he has since become so distinguished, until
comparatively late in life. He laid the foundations of his great
knowledge while occupied in cataloguing the magnificent museum
accumulated by the industry of John Hunter, a work which occupied
him at the College of Surgeons during a period of about ten years.

Foreign not less than English biography abounds in illustrations of
men who have glorified the lot of poverty by their labours and
their genius. In Art we find Claude, the son of a pastrycook;
Geefs, of a baker; Leopold Robert, of a watchmaker; and Haydn, of a
wheelwright; whilst Daguerre was a scene-painter at the Opera. The
father of Gregory VII. was a carpenter; of Sextus V., a shepherd;
and of Adrian VI., a poor bargeman. When a boy, Adrian, unable to
pay for a light by which to study, was accustomed to prepare his
lessons by the light of the lamps in the streets and the church
porches, exhibiting a degree of patience and industry which were
the certain forerunners of his future distinction. Of like humble
origin were Hauy, the mineralogist, who was the son of a weaver of
Saint-Just; Hautefeuille, the mechanician, of a baker at Orleans;
Joseph Fourier, the mathematician, of a tailor at Auxerre; Durand,
the architect, of a Paris shoemaker; and Gesner, the naturalist, of
a skinner or worker in hides, at Zurich. This last began his
career under all the disadvantages attendant on poverty, sickness,
and domestic calamity; none of which, however, were sufficient to
damp his courage or hinder his progress. His life was indeed an
eminent illustration of the truth of the saying, that those who
have most to do and are willing to work, will find the most time.
Pierre Ramus was another man of like character. He was the son of
poor parents in Picardy, and when a boy was employed to tend sheep.
But not liking the occupation he ran away to Paris. After
encountering much misery, he succeeded in entering the College of
Navarre as a servant. The situation, however, opened for him the
road to learning, and he shortly became one of the most
distinguished men of his time.

The chemist Vauquelin was the son of a peasant of Saint-Andre-
d'Herbetot, in the Calvados. When a boy at school, though poorly
clad, he was full of bright intelligence; and the master, who
taught him to read and write, when praising him for his diligence,
used to say, "Go on, my boy; work, study, Colin, and one day you
will go as well dressed as the parish churchwarden!" A country
apothecary who visited the school, admired the robust boy's arms,
and offered to take him into his laboratory to pound his drugs, to
which Vauquelin assented, in the hope of being able to continue his
lessons. But the apothecary would not permit him to spend any part
of his time in learning; and on ascertaining this, the youth
immediately determined to quit his service. He therefore left
Saint-Andre and took the road for Paris with his havresac on his
back. Arrived there, he searched for a place as apothecary's boy,
but could not find one. Worn out by fatigue and destitution,
Vauquelin fell ill, and in that state was taken to the hospital,
where he thought he should die. But better things were in store
for the poor boy. He recovered, and again proceeded in his search
of employment, which he at length found with an apothecary.
Shortly after, he became known to Fourcroy the eminent chemist, who
was so pleased with the youth that he made him his private
secretary; and many years after, on the death of that great
philosopher, Vauquelin succeeded him as Professor of Chemistry.
Finally, in 1829, the electors of the district of Calvados
appointed him their representative in the Chamber of Deputies, and
he re-entered in triumph the village which he had left so many
years before, so poor and so obscure.

England has no parallel instances to show, of promotions from the
ranks of the army to the highest military offices; which have been
so common in France since the first Revolution. "La carriere
ouverte aux talents" has there received many striking
illustrations, which would doubtless be matched among ourselves
were the road to promotion as open. Hoche, Humbert, and Pichegru,
began their respective careers as private soldiers. Hoche, while
in the King's army, was accustomed to embroider waistcoats to
enable him to earn money wherewith to purchase books on military
science. Humbert was a scapegrace when a youth; at sixteen he ran
away from home, and was by turns servant to a tradesman at Nancy, a
workman at Lyons, and a hawker of rabbit skins. In 1792, he
enlisted as a volunteer; and in a year he was general of brigade.
Kleber, Lefevre, Suchet, Victor, Lannes, Soult, Massena, St. Cyr,
D'Erlon, Murat, Augereau, Bessieres, and Ney, all rose from the
ranks. In some cases promotion was rapid, in others it was slow.
Saint Cyr, the son of a tanner of Toul, began life as an actor,
after which he enlisted in the Chasseurs, and was promoted to a
captaincy within a year. Victor, Duc de Belluno, enlisted in the
Artillery in 1781: during the events preceding the Revolution he
was discharged; but immediately on the outbreak of war he re-
enlisted, and in the course of a few months his intrepidity and
ability secured his promotion as Adjutant-Major and chief of
battalion. Murat, "le beau sabreur," was the son of a village
innkeeper in Perigord, where he looked after the horses. He first
enlisted in a regiment of Chasseurs, from which he was dismissed
for insubordination: but again enlisting, he shortly rose to the
rank of Colonel. Ney enlisted at eighteen in a hussar regiment,
and gradually advanced step by step: Kleber soon discovered his
merits, surnaming him "The Indefatigable," and promoted him to be
Adjutant-General when only twenty-five. On the other hand, Soult
{2} was six years from the date of his enlistment before he reached
the rank of sergeant. But Soult's advancement was rapid compared
with that of Massena, who served for fourteen years before he was
made sergeant; and though he afterwards rose successively, step by
step, to the grades of Colonel, General of Division, and Marshal,
he declared that the post of sergeant was the step which of all
others had cost him the most labour to win. Similar promotions
from the ranks, in the French army, have continued down to our own
day. Changarnier entered the King's bodyguard as a private in
1815. Marshal Bugeaud served four years in the ranks, after which
he was made an officer. Marshal Randon, the present French
Minister of War, began his military career as a drummer boy; and in
the portrait of him in the gallery at Versailles, his hand rests
upon a drum-head, the picture being thus painted at his own
request. Instances such as these inspire French soldiers with
enthusiasm for their service, as each private feels that he may
possibly carry the baton of a marshal in his knapsack.

The instances of men, in this and other countries, who, by dint of
persevering application and energy, have raised themselves from the
humblest ranks of industry to eminent positions of usefulness and
influence in society, are indeed so numerous that they have long
ceased to be regarded as exceptional. Looking at some of the more
remarkable, it might almost be said that early encounter with
difficulty and adverse circumstances was the necessary and
indispensable condition of success. The British House of Commons
has always contained a considerable number of such self-raised men-
-fitting representatives of the industrial character of the people;
and it is to the credit of our Legislature that they have been
welcomed and honoured there. When the late Joseph Brotherton,
member for Salford, in the course of the discussion on the Ten
Hours Bill, detailed with true pathos the hardships and fatigues to
which he had been subjected when working as a factory boy in a
cotton mill, and described the resolution which he had then formed,
that if ever it was in his power he would endeavour to ameliorate
the condition of that class, Sir James Graham rose immediately
after him, and declared, amidst the cheers of the House, that he
did not before know that Mr. Brotherton's origin had been so
humble, but that it rendered him more proud than he had ever before
been of the House of Commons, to think that a person risen from
that condition should be able to sit side by side, on equal terms,
with the hereditary gentry of the land.

The late Mr. Fox, member for Oldham, was accustomed to introduce
his recollections of past times with the words, "when I was working
as a weaver boy at Norwich;" and there are other members of
parliament, still living, whose origin has been equally humble.
Mr. Lindsay, the well-known ship owner, until recently member for
Sunderland, once told the simple story of his life to the electors
of Weymouth, in answer to an attack made upon him by his political
opponents. He had been left an orphan at fourteen, and when he
left Glasgow for Liverpool to push his way in the world, not being
able to pay the usual fare, the captain of the steamer agreed to
take his labour in exchange, and the boy worked his passage by
trimming the coals in the coal hole. At Liverpool he remained for
seven weeks before he could obtain employment, during which time he
lived in sheds and fared hardly; until at last he found shelter on
board a West Indiaman. He entered as a boy, and before he was
nineteen, by steady good conduct he had risen to the command of a
ship. At twenty-three he retired from the sea, and settled on
shore, after which his progress was rapid "he had prospered," he
said, "by steady industry, by constant work, and by ever keeping in
view the great principle of doing to others as you would be done

The career of Mr. William Jackson, of Birkenhead, the present
member for North Derbyshire, bears considerable resemblance to that
of Mr. Lindsay. His father, a surgeon at Lancaster, died, leaving
a family of eleven children, of whom William Jackson was the
seventh son. The elder boys had been well educated while the
father lived, but at his death the younger members had to shift for
themselves. William, when under twelve years old, was taken from
school, and put to hard work at a ship's side from six in the
morning till nine at night. His master falling ill, the boy was
taken into the counting-house, where he had more leisure. This
gave him an opportunity of reading, and having obtained access to a
set of the 'Encyclopaedia Britannica,' he read the volumes through
from A to Z, partly by day, but chiefly at night. He afterwards
put himself to a trade, was diligent, and succeeded in it. Now he
has ships sailing on almost every sea, and holds commercial
relations with nearly every country on the globe.

Among like men of the same class may be ranked the late Richard
Cobden, whose start in life was equally humble. The son of a small
farmer at Midhurst in Sussex, he was sent at an early age to London
and employed as a boy in a warehouse in the City. He was diligent,
well conducted, and eager for information. His master, a man of
the old school, warned him against too much reading; but the boy
went on in his own course, storing his mind with the wealth found
in books. He was promoted from one position of trust to another--
became a traveller for his house--secured a large connection, and
eventually started in business as a calico printer at Manchester.
Taking an interest in public questions, more especially in popular
education, his attention was gradually drawn to the subject of the
Corn Laws, to the repeal of which he may be said to have devoted
his fortune and his life. It may be mentioned as a curious fact
that the first speech he delivered in public was a total failure.
But he had great perseverance, application, and energy; and with
persistency and practice, he became at length one of the most
persuasive and effective of public speakers, extorting the
disinterested eulogy of even Sir Robert Peel himself. M. Drouyn de
Lhuys, the French Ambassador, has eloquently said of Mr. Cobden,
that he was "a living proof of what merit, perseverance, and labour
can accomplish; one of the most complete examples of those men who,
sprung from the humblest ranks of society, raise themselves to the
highest rank in public estimation by the effect of their own worth
and of their personal services; finally, one of the rarest examples
of the solid qualities inherent in the English character."

In all these cases, strenuous individual application was the price
paid for distinction; excellence of any sort being invariably
placed beyond the reach of indolence. It is the diligent hand and
head alone that maketh rich--in self-culture, growth in wisdom, and
in business. Even when men are born to wealth and high social
position, any solid reputation which they may individually achieve
can only be attained by energetic application; for though an
inheritance of acres may be bequeathed, an inheritance of knowledge
and wisdom cannot. The wealthy man may pay others for doing his
work for him, but it is impossible to get his thinking done for him
by another, or to purchase any kind of self-culture. Indeed, the
doctrine that excellence in any pursuit is only to be achieved by
laborious application, holds as true in the case of the man of
wealth as in that of Drew and Gifford, whose only school was a
cobbler's stall, or Hugh Miller, whose only college was a Cromarty
stone quarry.

Riches and ease, it is perfectly clear, are not necessary for man's
highest culture, else had not the world been so largely indebted in
all times to those who have sprung from the humbler ranks. An easy
and luxurious existence does not train men to effort or encounter
with difficulty; nor does it awaken that consciousness of power
which is so necessary for energetic and effective action in life.
Indeed, so far from poverty being a misfortune, it may, by vigorous
self-help, be converted even into a blessing; rousing a man to that
struggle with the world in which, though some may purchase ease by
degradation, the right-minded and true-hearted find strength,
confidence, and triumph. Bacon says, "Men seem neither to
understand their riches nor their strength: of the former they
believe greater things than they should; of the latter much less.
Self-reliance and self-denial will teach a man to drink out of his
own cistern, and eat his own sweet bread, and to learn and labour
truly to get his living, and carefully to expend the good things
committed to his trust."

Riches are so great a temptation to ease and self-indulgence, to
which men are by nature prone, that the glory is all the greater of
those who, born to ample fortunes, nevertheless take an active part
in the work of their generation--who "scorn delights and live
laborious days." It is to the honour of the wealthier ranks in
this country that they are not idlers; for they do their fair share
of the work of the state, and usually take more than their fair
share of its dangers. It was a fine thing said of a subaltern
officer in the Peninsular campaigns, observed trudging alone
through mud and mire by the side of his regiment, "There goes
15,000l. a year!" and in our own day, the bleak slopes of
Sebastopol and the burning soil of India have borne witness to the
like noble self-denial and devotion on the part of our gentler
classes; many a gallant and noble fellow, of rank and estate,
having risked his life, or lost it, in one or other of those fields
of action, in the service of his country.

Nor have the wealthier classes been undistinguished in the more
peaceful pursuits of philosophy and science. Take, for instance,
the great names of Bacon, the father of modern philosophy, and of
Worcester, Boyle, Cavendish, Talbot, and Rosse, in science. The
last named may be regarded as the great mechanic of the peerage; a
man who, if he had not been born a peer, would probably have taken
the highest rank as an inventor. So thorough is his knowledge of
smith-work that he is said to have been pressed on one occasion to
accept the foremanship of a large workshop, by a manufacturer to
whom his rank was unknown. The great Rosse telescope, of his own
fabrication, is certainly the most extraordinary instrument of the
kind that has yet been constructed.

But it is principally in the departments of politics and literature
that we find the most energetic labourers amongst our higher
classes. Success in these lines of action, as in all others, can
only be achieved through industry, practice, and study; and the
great Minister, or parliamentary leader, must necessarily be
amongst the very hardest of workers. Such was Palmerston; and such
are Derby and Russell, Disraeli and Gladstone. These men have had
the benefit of no Ten Hours Bill, but have often, during the busy
season of Parliament, worked "double shift," almost day and night.
One of the most illustrious of such workers in modern times was
unquestionably the late Sir Robert Peel. He possessed in an
extraordinary degree the power of continuous intellectual labour,
nor did he spare himself. His career, indeed, presented a
remarkable example of how much a man of comparatively moderate
powers can accomplish by means of assiduous application and
indefatigable industry. During the forty years that he held a seat
in Parliament, his labours were prodigious. He was a most
conscientious man, and whatever he undertook to do, he did
thoroughly. All his speeches bear evidence of his careful study of
everything that had been spoken or written on the subject under
consideration. He was elaborate almost to excess; and spared no
pains to adapt himself to the various capacities of his audience.
Withal, he possessed much practical sagacity, great strength of
purpose, and power to direct the issues of action with steady hand
and eye. In one respect he surpassed most men: his principles
broadened and enlarged with time; and age, instead of contracting,
only served to mellow and ripen his nature. To the last he
continued open to the reception of new views, and, though many
thought him cautious to excess, he did not allow himself to fall
into that indiscriminating admiration of the past, which is the
palsy of many minds similarly educated, and renders the old age of
many nothing but a pity.

The indefatigable industry of Lord Brougham has become almost
proverbial. His public labours have extended over a period of
upwards of sixty years, during which he has ranged over many
fields--of law, literature, politics, and science,--and achieved
distinction in them all. How he contrived it, has been to many a
mystery. Once, when Sir Samuel Romilly was requested to undertake
some new work, he excused himself by saying that he had no time;
"but," he added, "go with it to that fellow Brougham, he seems to
have time for everything." The secret of it was, that he never
left a minute unemployed; withal he possessed a constitution of
iron. When arrived at an age at which most men would have retired
from the world to enjoy their hard-earned leisure, perhaps to doze
away their time in an easy chair, Lord Brougham commenced and
prosecuted a series of elaborate investigations as to the laws of
Light, and he submitted the results to the most scientific
audiences that Paris and London could muster. About the same time,
he was passing through the press his admirable sketches of the 'Men
of Science and Literature of the Reign of George III.,' and taking
his full share of the law business and the political discussions in
the House of Lords. Sydney Smith once recommended him to confine
himself to only the transaction of so much business as three strong
men could get through. But such was Brougham's love of work--long
become a habit--that no amount of application seems to have been
too great for him; and such was his love of excellence, that it has
been said of him that if his station in life had been only that of
a shoe-black, he would never have rested satisfied until he had
become the best shoe-black in England.

Another hard-working man of the same class is Sir E. Bulwer Lytton.
Few writers have done more, or achieved higher distinction in
various walks--as a novelist, poet, dramatist, historian, essayist,
orator, and politician. He has worked his way step by step,
disdainful of ease, and animated throughout by the ardent desire to
excel. On the score of mere industry, there are few living English
writers who have written so much, and none that have produced so
much of high quality. The industry of Bulwer is entitled to all
the greater praise that it has been entirely self-imposed. To
hunt, and shoot, and live at ease,--to frequent the clubs and enjoy
the opera, with the variety of London visiting and sight-seeing
during the "season," and then off to the country mansion, with its
well-stocked preserves, and its thousand delightful out-door
pleasures,--to travel abroad, to Paris, Vienna, or Rome,--all this
is excessively attractive to a lover of pleasure and a man of
fortune, and by no means calculated to make him voluntarily
undertake continuous labour of any kind. Yet these pleasures, all
within his reach, Bulwer must, as compared with men born to similar
estate, have denied himself in assuming the position and pursuing
the career of a literary man. Like Byron, his first effort was
poetical ('Weeds and Wild Flowers'), and a failure. His second was
a novel ('Falkland'), and it proved a failure too. A man of weaker
nerve would have dropped authorship; but Bulwer had pluck and
perseverance; and he worked on, determined to succeed. He was
incessantly industrious, read extensively, and from failure went
courageously onwards to success. 'Pelham' followed 'Falkland'
within a year, and the remainder of Bulwer's literary life, now
extending over a period of thirty years, has been a succession of

Mr. Disraeli affords a similar instance of the power of industry
and application in working out an eminent public career. His first
achievements were, like Bulwer's, in literature; and he reached
success only through a succession of failures. His 'Wondrous Tale
of Alroy' and 'Revolutionary Epic' were laughed at, and regarded as
indications of literary lunacy. But he worked on in other
directions, and his 'Coningsby,' 'Sybil,' and 'Tancred,' proved the
sterling stuff of which he was made. As an orator too, his first
appearance in the House of Commons was a failure. It was spoken of
as "more screaming than an Adelphi farce." Though composed in a
grand and ambitious strain, every sentence was hailed with "loud
laughter." 'Hamlet' played as a comedy were nothing to it. But he
concluded with a sentence which embodied a prophecy. Writhing
under the laughter with which his studied eloquence had been
received, he exclaimed, "I have begun several times many things,
and have succeeded in them at last. I shall sit down now, but the
time will come when you will hear me." The time did come; and how
Disraeli succeeded in at length commanding the attention of the
first assembly of gentlemen in the world, affords a striking
illustration of what energy and determination will do; for Disraeli
earned his position by dint of patient industry. He did not, as
many young men do, having once failed, retire dejected, to mope and
whine in a corner, but diligently set himself to work. He
carefully unlearnt his faults, studied the character of his
audience, practised sedulously the art of speech, and industriously
filled his mind with the elements of parliamentary knowledge. He
worked patiently for success; and it came, but slowly: then the
House laughed with him, instead of at him. The recollection of his
early failure was effaced, and by general consent he was at length
admitted to be one of the most finished and effective of
parliamentary speakers.

Although much may be accomplished by means of individual industry
and energy, as these and other instances set forth in the following
pages serve to illustrate, it must at the same time be acknowledged
that the help which we derive from others in the journey of life is
of very great importance. The poet Wordsworth has well said that
"these two things, contradictory though they may seem, must go
together--manly dependence and manly independence, manly reliance
and manly self-reliance." From infancy to old age, all are more or
less indebted to others for nurture and culture; and the best and
strongest are usually found the readiest to acknowledge such help.
Take, for example, the career of the late Alexis de Tocqueville, a
man doubly well-born, for his father was a distinguished peer of
France, and his mother a grand-daughter of Malesherbes. Through
powerful family influence, he was appointed Judge Auditor at
Versailles when only twenty-one; but probably feeling that he had
not fairly won the position by merit, he determined to give it up
and owe his future advancement in life to himself alone. "A
foolish resolution," some will say; but De Tocqueville bravely
acted it out. He resigned his appointment, and made arrangements
to leave France for the purpose of travelling through the United
States, the results of which were published in his great book on
'Democracy in America.' His friend and travelling companion,
Gustave de Beaumont, has described his indefatigable industry
during this journey. "His nature," he says, "was wholly averse to
idleness, and whether he was travelling or resting, his mind was
always at work. . . . With Alexis, the most agreeable conversation
was that which was the most useful. The worst day was the lost
day, or the day ill spent; the least loss of time annoyed him."
Tocqueville himself wrote to a friend--"There is no time of life at
which one can wholly cease from action, for effort without one's
self, and still more effort within, is equally necessary, if not
more so, when we grow old, as it is in youth. I compare man in
this world to a traveller journeying without ceasing towards a
colder and colder region; the higher he goes, the faster he ought
to walk. The great malady of the soul is cold. And in resisting
this formidable evil, one needs not only to be sustained by the
action of a mind employed, but also by contact with one's fellows
in the business of life." {3}

Notwithstanding de Tocqueville's decided views as to the necessity
of exercising individual energy and self-dependence, no one could
be more ready than he was to recognise the value of that help and
support for which all men are indebted to others in a greater or
less degree. Thus, he often acknowledged, with gratitude, his
obligations to his friends De Kergorlay and Stofells,--to the
former for intellectual assistance, and to the latter for moral
support and sympathy. To De Kergorlay he wrote--"Thine is the only
soul in which I have confidence, and whose influence exercises a
genuine effect upon my own. Many others have influence upon the
details of my actions, but no one has so much influence as thou on
the origination of fundamental ideas, and of those principles which
are the rule of conduct." De Tocqueville was not less ready to
confess the great obligations which he owed to his wife, Marie, for
the preservation of that temper and frame of mind which enabled him
to prosecute his studies with success. He believed that a noble-
minded woman insensibly elevated the character of her husband,
while one of a grovelling nature as certainly tended to degrade it.

In fine, human character is moulded by a thousand subtle
influences; by example and precept; by life and literature; by
friends and neighbours; by the world we live in as well as by the
spirits of our forefathers, whose legacy of good words and deeds we
inherit. But great, unquestionably, though these influences are
acknowledged to be, it is nevertheless equally clear that men must
necessarily be the active agents of their own well-being and well-
doing; and that, however much the wise and the good may owe to
others, they themselves must in the very nature of things be their
own best helpers.


"Le travail et la Science sont desormais les maitres du monde."--De

"Deduct all that men of the humbler classes have done for England
in the way of inventions only, and see where she would have been
but for them."--Arthur Helps.

One of the most strongly-marked features of the English people is
their spirit of industry, standing out prominent and distinct in
their past history, and as strikingly characteristic of them now as
at any former period. It is this spirit, displayed by the commons
of England, which has laid the foundations and built up the
industrial greatness of the empire. This vigorous growth of the
nation has been mainly the result of the free energy of
individuals, and it has been contingent upon the number of hands
and minds from time to time actively employed within it, whether as
cultivators of the soil, producers of articles of utility,
contrivers of tools and machines, writers of books, or creators of
works of art. And while this spirit of active industry has been
the vital principle of the nation, it has also been its saving and
remedial one, counteracting from time to time the effects of errors
in our laws and imperfections in our constitution.

The career of industry which the nation has pursued, has also
proved its best education. As steady application to work is the
healthiest training for every individual, so is it the best
discipline of a state. Honourable industry travels the same road
with duty; and Providence has closely linked both with happiness.
The gods, says the poet, have placed labour and toil on the way
leading to the Elysian fields. Certain it is that no bread eaten
by man is so sweet as that earned by his own labour, whether bodily
or mental. By labour the earth has been subdued, and man redeemed
from barbarism; nor has a single step in civilization been made
without it. Labour is not only a necessity and a duty, but a
blessing: only the idler feels it to be a curse. The duty of work
is written on the thews and muscles of the limbs, the mechanism of
the hand, the nerves and lobes of the brain--the sum of whose
healthy action is satisfaction and enjoyment. In the school of
labour is taught the best practical wisdom; nor is a life of manual
employment, as we shall hereafter find, incompatible with high
mental culture.

Hugh Miller, than whom none knew better the strength and the
weakness belonging to the lot of labour, stated the result of his
experience to be, that Work, even the hardest, is full of pleasure
and materials for self-improvement. He held honest labour to be
the best of teachers, and that the school of toil is the noblest of
schools--save only the Christian one,--that it is a school in which
the ability of being useful is imparted, the spirit of independence
learnt, and the habit of persevering effort acquired. He was even
of opinion that the training of the mechanic,--by the exercise
which it gives to his observant faculties, from his daily dealing
with things actual and practical, and the close experience of life
which he acquires,--better fits him for picking his way along the
journey of life, and is more favourable to his growth as a Man,
emphatically speaking, than the training afforded by any other

The array of great names which we have already cursorily cited, of
men springing from the ranks of the industrial classes, who have
achieved distinction in various walks of life--in science,
commerce, literature, and art--shows that at all events the
difficulties interposed by poverty and labour are not
insurmountable. As respects the great contrivances and inventions
which have conferred so much power and wealth upon the nation, it
is unquestionable that for the greater part of them we have been
indebted to men of the humblest rank. Deduct what they have done
in this particular line of action, and it will be found that very
little indeed remains for other men to have accomplished.

Inventors have set in motion some of the greatest industries of the
world. To them society owes many of its chief necessaries,
comforts, and luxuries; and by their genius and labour daily life
has been rendered in all respects more easy as well as enjoyable.
Our food, our clothing, the furniture of our homes, the glass which
admits the light to our dwellings at the same time that it excludes
the cold, the gas which illuminates our streets, our means of
locomotion by land and by sea, the tools by which our various
articles of necessity and luxury are fabricated, have been the
result of the labour and ingenuity of many men and many minds.
Mankind at large are all the happier for such inventions, and are
every day reaping the benefit of them in an increase of individual
well-being as well as of public enjoyment.

Though the invention of the working steam-engine--the king of
machines--belongs, comparatively speaking, to our own epoch, the
idea of it was born many centuries ago. Like other contrivances
and discoveries, it was effected step by step--one man transmitting
the result of his labours, at the time apparently useless, to his
successors, who took it up and carried it forward another stage,--
the prosecution of the inquiry extending over many generations.
Thus the idea promulgated by Hero of Alexandria was never
altogether lost; but, like the grain of wheat hid in the hand of
the Egyptian mummy, it sprouted and again grew vigorously when
brought into the full light of modern science. The steam-engine
was nothing, however, until it emerged from the state of theory,
and was taken in hand by practical mechanics; and what a noble
story of patient, laborious investigation, of difficulties
encountered and overcome by heroic industry, does not that
marvellous machine tell of! It is indeed, in itself, a monument of
the power of self-help in man. Grouped around it we find Savary,
the military engineer; Newcomen, the Dartmouth blacksmith; Cawley,
the glazier; Potter, the engine-boy; Smeaton, the civil engineer;
and, towering above all, the laborious, patient, never-tiring James
Watt, the mathematical-instrument maker.

Watt was one of the most industrious of men; and the story of his
life proves, what all experience confirms, that it is not the man
of the greatest natural vigour and capacity who achieves the
highest results, but he who employs his powers with the greatest
industry and the most carefully disciplined skill--the skill that
comes by labour, application, and experience. Many men in his time
knew far more than Watt, but none laboured so assiduously as he did
to turn all that he did know to useful practical purposes. He was,
above all things, most persevering in the pursuit of facts. He
cultivated carefully that habit of active attention on which all
the higher working qualities of the mind mainly depend. Indeed,
Mr. Edgeworth entertained the opinion, that the difference of
intellect in men depends more upon the early cultivation of this
HABIT OF ATTENTION, than upon any great disparity between the
powers of one individual and another.

Even when a boy, Watt found science in his toys. The quadrants
lying about his father's carpenter's shop led him to the study of
optics and astronomy; his ill health induced him to pry into the
secrets of physiology; and his solitary walks through the country
attracted him to the study of botany and history. While carrying
on the business of a mathematical-instrument maker, he received an
order to build an organ; and, though without an ear for music, he
undertook the study of harmonics, and successfully constructed the
instrument. And, in like manner, when the little model of
Newcomen's steam-engine, belonging to the University of Glasgow,
was placed in his hands to repair, he forthwith set himself to
learn all that was then known about heat, evaporation, and
condensation,--at the same time plodding his way in mechanics and
the science of construction,--the results of which he at length
embodied in his condensing steam-engine.

For ten years he went on contriving and inventing--with little hope
to cheer him, and with few friends to encourage him. He went on,
meanwhile, earning bread for his family by making and selling
quadrants, making and mending fiddles, flutes, and musical
instruments; measuring mason-work, surveying roads, superintending
the construction of canals, or doing anything that turned up, and
offered a prospect of honest gain. At length, Watt found a fit
partner in another eminent leader of industry--Matthew Boulton, of
Birmingham; a skilful, energetic, and far-seeing man, who
vigorously undertook the enterprise of introducing the condensing-
engine into general use as a working power; and the success of both
is now matter of history. {5}

Many skilful inventors have from time to time added new power to
the steam-engine; and, by numerous modifications, rendered it
capable of being applied to nearly all the purposes of manufacture-
-driving machinery, impelling ships, grinding corn, printing books,
stamping money, hammering, planing, and turning iron; in short, of
performing every description of mechanical labour where power is
required. One of the most useful modifications in the engine was
that devised by Trevithick, and eventually perfected by George
Stephenson and his son, in the form of the railway locomotive, by
which social changes of immense importance have been brought about,
of even greater consequence, considered in their results on human
progress and civilization, than the condensing-engine of Watt.

One of the first grand results of Watt's invention,--which placed
an almost unlimited power at the command of the producing classes,-
-was the establishment of the cotton-manufacture. The person most
closely identified with the foundation of this great branch of
industry was unquestionably Sir Richard Arkwright, whose practical
energy and sagacity were perhaps even more remarkable than his
mechanical inventiveness. His originality as an inventor has
indeed been called in question, like that of Watt and Stephenson.
Arkwright probably stood in the same relation to the spinning-
machine that Watt did to the steam-engine and Stephenson to the
locomotive. He gathered together the scattered threads of
ingenuity which already existed, and wove them, after his own
design, into a new and original fabric. Though Lewis Paul, of
Birmingham, patented the invention of spinning by rollers thirty
years before Arkwright, the machines constructed by him were so
imperfect in their details, that they could not be profitably
worked, and the invention was practically a failure. Another
obscure mechanic, a reed-maker of Leigh, named Thomas Highs, is
also said to have invented the water-frame and spinning-jenny; but
they, too, proved unsuccessful.

When the demands of industry are found to press upon the resources
of inventors, the same idea is usually found floating about in many
minds;--such has been the case with the steam-engine, the safety-
lamp, the electric telegraph, and other inventions. Many ingenious
minds are found labouring in the throes of invention, until at
length the master mind, the strong practical man, steps forward,
and straightway delivers them of their idea, applies the principle
successfully, and the thing is done. Then there is a loud outcry
among all the smaller contrivers, who see themselves distanced in
the race; and hence men such as Watt, Stephenson, and Arkwright,
have usually to defend their reputation and their rights as
practical and successful inventors.

Richard Arkwright, like most of our great mechanicians, sprang from
the ranks. He was born in Preston in 1732. His parents were very
poor, and he was the youngest of thirteen children. He was never
at school: the only education he received he gave to himself; and
to the last he was only able to write with difficulty. When a boy,
he was apprenticed to a barber, and after learning the business, he
set up for himself in Bolton, where he occupied an underground
cellar, over which he put up the sign, "Come to the subterraneous
barber--he shaves for a penny." The other barbers found their
customers leaving them, and reduced their prices to his standard,
when Arkwright, determined to push his trade, announced his
determination to give "A clean shave for a halfpenny." After a few
years he quitted his cellar, and became an itinerant dealer in
hair. At that time wigs were worn, and wig-making formed an
important branch of the barbering business. Arkwright went about
buying hair for the wigs. He was accustomed to attend the hiring
fairs throughout Lancashire resorted to by young women, for the
purpose of securing their long tresses; and it is said that in
negotiations of this sort he was very successful. He also dealt in
a chemical hair dye, which he used adroitly, and thereby secured a
considerable trade. But he does not seem, notwithstanding his
pushing character, to have done more than earn a bare living.

The fashion of wig-wearing having undergone a change, distress fell
upon the wig-makers; and Arkwright, being of a mechanical turn, was
consequently induced to turn machine inventor or "conjurer," as the
pursuit was then popularly termed. Many attempts were made about
that time to invent a spinning-machine, and our barber determined
to launch his little bark on the sea of invention with the rest.
Like other self-taught men of the same bias, he had already been
devoting his spare time to the invention of a perpetual-motion
machine; and from that the transition to a spinning-machine was
easy. He followed his experiments so assiduously that he neglected
his business, lost the little money he had saved, and was reduced
to great poverty. His wife--for he had by this time married--was
impatient at what she conceived to be a wanton waste of time and
money, and in a moment of sudden wrath she seized upon and
destroyed his models, hoping thus to remove the cause of the family
privations. Arkwright was a stubborn and enthusiastic man, and he
was provoked beyond measure by this conduct of his wife, from whom
he immediately separated.

In travelling about the country, Arkwright had become acquainted
with a person named Kay, a clockmaker at Warrington, who assisted
him in constructing some of the parts of his perpetual-motion
machinery. It is supposed that he was informed by Kay of the
principle of spinning by rollers; but it is also said that the idea
was first suggested to him by accidentally observing a red-hot
piece of iron become elongated by passing between iron rollers.
However this may be, the idea at once took firm possession of his
mind, and he proceeded to devise the process by which it was to be
accomplished, Kay being able to tell him nothing on this point.
Arkwright now abandoned his business of hair collecting, and
devoted himself to the perfecting of his machine, a model of which,
constructed by Kay under his directions, he set up in the parlour
of the Free Grammar School at Preston. Being a burgess of the
town, he voted at the contested election at which General Burgoyne
was returned; but such was his poverty, and such the tattered state
of his dress, that a number of persons subscribed a sum sufficient
to have him put in a state fit to appear in the poll-room. The
exhibition of his machine in a town where so many workpeople lived
by the exercise of manual labour proved a dangerous experiment;
ominous growlings were heard outside the school-room from time to
time, and Arkwright,--remembering the fate of Kay, who was mobbed
and compelled to fly from Lancashire because of his invention of
the fly-shuttle, and of poor Hargreaves, whose spinning-jenny had
been pulled to pieces only a short time before by a Blackburn mob,-
-wisely determined on packing up his model and removing to a less
dangerous locality. He went accordingly to Nottingham, where he
applied to some of the local bankers for pecuniary assistance; and
the Messrs. Wright consented to advance him a sum of money on
condition of sharing in the profits of the invention. The machine,
however, not being perfected so soon as they had anticipated, the
bankers recommended Arkwright to apply to Messrs. Strutt and Need,
the former of whom was the ingenious inventor and patentee of the
stocking-frame. Mr. Strutt at once appreciated the merits of the
invention, and a partnership was entered into with Arkwright, whose
road to fortune was now clear. The patent was secured in the name
of "Richard Arkwright, of Nottingham, clockmaker," and it is a
circumstance worthy of note, that it was taken out in 1769, the
same year in which Watt secured the patent for his steam-engine. A
cotton-mill was first erected at Nottingham, driven by horses; and
another was shortly after built, on a much larger scale, at
Cromford, in Derbyshire, turned by a water-wheel, from which
circumstance the spinning-machine came to be called the water-

Arkwright's labours, however, were, comparatively speaking, only
begun. He had still to perfect all the working details of his
machine. It was in his hands the subject of constant modification
and improvement, until eventually it was rendered practicable and
profitable in an eminent degree. But success was only secured by
long and patient labour: for some years, indeed, the speculation
was disheartening and unprofitable, swallowing up a very large
amount of capital without any result. When success began to appear
more certain, then the Lancashire manufacturers fell upon
Arkwright's patent to pull it in pieces, as the Cornish miners fell
upon Boulton and Watt to rob them of the profits of their steam-
engine. Arkwright was even denounced as the enemy of the working
people; and a mill which he built near Chorley was destroyed by a
mob in the presence of a strong force of police and military. The
Lancashire men refused to buy his materials, though they were
confessedly the best in the market. Then they refused to pay
patent-right for the use of his machines, and combined to crush him
in the courts of law. To the disgust of right-minded people,
Arkwright's patent was upset. After the trial, when passing the
hotel at which his opponents were staying, one of them said, loud
enough to be heard by him, "Well, we've done the old shaver at
last;" to which he coolly replied, "Never mind, I've a razor left
that will shave you all." He established new mills in Lancashire,
Derbyshire, and at New Lanark, in Scotland. The mills at Cromford
also came into his hands at the expiry of his partnership with
Strutt, and the amount and the excellence of his products were
such, that in a short time he obtained so complete a control of the
trade, that the prices were fixed by him, and he governed the main
operations of the other cotton-spinners.

Arkwright was a man of great force of character, indomitable
courage, much worldly shrewdness, with a business faculty almost
amounting to genius. At one period his time was engrossed by
severe and continuous labour, occasioned by the organising and
conducting of his numerous manufactories, sometimes from four in
the morning till nine at night. At fifty years of age he set to
work to learn English grammar, and improve himself in writing and
orthography. After overcoming every obstacle, he had the
satisfaction of reaping the reward of his enterprise. Eighteen
years after he had constructed his first machine, he rose to such
estimation in Derbyshire that he was appointed High Sheriff of the
county, and shortly after George III. conferred upon him the honour
of knighthood. He died in 1792. Be it for good or for evil,
Arkwright was the founder in England of the modern factory system,
a branch of industry which has unquestionably proved a source of
immense wealth to individuals and to the nation.

All the other great branches of industry in Britain furnish like
examples of energetic men of business, the source of much benefit
to the neighbourhoods in which they have laboured, and of increased
power and wealth to the community at large. Amongst such might be
cited the Strutts of Belper; the Tennants of Glasgow; the Marshalls
and Gotts of Leeds; the Peels, Ashworths, Birleys, Fieldens,
Ashtons, Heywoods, and Ainsworths of South Lancashire, some of
whose descendants have since become distinguished in connection
with the political history of England. Such pre-eminently were the
Peels of South Lancashire.

The founder of the Peel family, about the middle of last century,
was a small yeoman, occupying the Hole House Farm, near Blackburn,
from which he afterwards removed to a house situated in Fish Lane
in that town. Robert Peel, as he advanced in life, saw a large
family of sons and daughters growing up about him; but the land
about Blackburn being somewhat barren, it did not appear to him
that agricultural pursuits offered a very encouraging prospect for
their industry. The place had, however, long been the seat of a
domestic manufacture--the fabric called "Blackburn greys,"
consisting of linen weft and cotton warp, being chiefly made in
that town and its neighbourhood. It was then customary--previous
to the introduction of the factory system--for industrious yeomen
with families to employ the time not occupied in the fields in
weaving at home; and Robert Peel accordingly began the domestic
trade of calico-making. He was honest, and made an honest article;
thrifty and hardworking, and his trade prospered. He was also
enterprising, and was one of the first to adopt the carding
cylinder, then recently invented.

But Robert Peel's attention was principally directed to the
PRINTING of calico--then a comparatively unknown art--and for some
time he carried on a series of experiments with the object of
printing by machinery. The experiments were secretly conducted in
his own house, the cloth being ironed for the purpose by one of the
women of the family. It was then customary, in such houses as the
Peels, to use pewter plates at dinner. Having sketched a figure or
pattern on one of the plates, the thought struck him that an
impression might be got from it in reverse, and printed on calico
with colour. In a cottage at the end of the farm-house lived a
woman who kept a calendering machine, and going into her cottage,
he put the plate with colour rubbed into the figured part and some
calico over it, through the machine, when it was found to leave a
satisfactory impression. Such is said to have been the origin of
roller printing on calico. Robert Peel shortly perfected his
process, and the first pattern he brought out was a parsley leaf;
hence he is spoken of in the neighbourhood of Blackburn to this day
as "Parsley Peel." The process of calico printing by what is
called the mule machine--that is, by means of a wooden cylinder in
relief, with an engraved copper cylinder--was afterwards brought to
perfection by one of his sons, the head of the firm of Messrs. Peel
and Co., of Church. Stimulated by his success, Robert Peel shortly
gave up farming, and removing to Brookside, a village about two
miles from Blackburn, he devoted himself exclusively to the
printing business. There, with the aid of his sons, who were as
energetic as himself, he successfully carried on the trade for
several years; and as the young men grew up towards manhood, the
concern branched out into various firms of Peels, each of which
became a centre of industrial activity and a source of remunerative
employment to large numbers of people.

From what can now be learnt of the character of the original and
untitled Robert Peel, he must have been a remarkable man--shrewd,
sagacious, and far-seeing. But little is known of him excepting
from traditions and the sons of those who knew him are fast passing
away. His son, Sir Robert, thus modestly spoke of him:- "My father
may be truly said to have been the founder of our family; and he so
accurately appreciated the importance of commercial wealth in a
national point of view, that he was often heard to say that the
gains to individuals were small compared with the national gains
arising from trade."

Sir Robert Peel, the first baronet and the second manufacturer of
the name, inherited all his father's enterprise, ability, and
industry. His position, at starting in life, was little above that
of an ordinary working man; for his father, though laying the
foundations of future prosperity, was still struggling with the
difficulties arising from insufficient capital. When Robert was
only twenty years of age, he determined to begin the business of
cotton-printing, which he had by this time learnt from his father,
on his own account. His uncle, James Haworth, and William Yates of
Blackburn, joined him in his enterprise; the whole capital which
they could raise amongst them amounting to only about 500l., the
principal part of which was supplied by William Yates. The father
of the latter was a householder in Blackburn, where he was well
known and much respected; and having saved money by his business,
he was willing to advance sufficient to give his son a start in the
lucrative trade of cotton-printing, then in its infancy. Robert
Peel, though comparatively a mere youth, supplied the practical
knowledge of the business; but it was said of him, and proved true,
that he "carried an old head on young shoulders." A ruined corn-
mill, with its adjoining fields, was purchased for a comparatively
small sum, near the then insignificant town of Bury, where the
works long after continued to be known as "The Ground;" and a few
wooden sheds having been run up, the firm commenced their cotton-
printing business in a very humble way in the year 1770, adding to
it that of cotton-spinning a few years later. The frugal style in
which the partners lived may be inferred from the following
incident in their early career. William Yates, being a married man
with a family, commenced housekeeping on a small scale, and, to
oblige Peel, who was single, he agreed to take him as a lodger.
The sum which the latter first paid for board and lodging was only
8s. a week; but Yates, considering this too little, insisted on the
weekly payment being increased a shilling, to which Peel at first
demurred, and a difference between the partners took place, which
was eventually compromised by the lodger paying an advance of
sixpence a week. William Yates's eldest child was a girl named
Ellen, and she very soon became an especial favourite with the
young lodger. On returning from his hard day's work at "The
Ground," he would take the little girl upon his knee, and say to
her, "Nelly, thou bonny little dear, wilt be my wife?" to which the
child would readily answer "Yes," as any child would do. "Then
I'll wait for thee, Nelly; I'll wed thee, and none else." And
Robert Peel did wait. As the girl grew in beauty towards
womanhood, his determination to wait for her was strengthened; and
after the lapse of ten years--years of close application to
business and rapidly increasing prosperity--Robert Peel married
Ellen Yates when she had completed her seventeenth year; and the
pretty child, whom her mother's lodger and father's partner had
nursed upon his knee, became Mrs. Peel, and eventually Lady Peel,
the mother of the future Prime Minister of England. Lady Peel was
a noble and beautiful woman, fitted to grace any station in life.
She possessed rare powers of mind, and was, on every emergency, the
high-souled and faithful counsellor of her husband. For many years
after their marriage, she acted as his amanuensis, conducting the
principal part of his business correspondence, for Mr. Peel himself
was an indifferent and almost unintelligible writer. She died in
1803, only three years after the Baronetcy had been conferred upon
her husband. It is said that London fashionable life--so unlike
what she had been accustomed to at home--proved injurious to her
health; and old Mr. Yates afterwards used to say, "if Robert hadn't
made our Nelly a 'Lady,' she might ha' been living yet."

The career of Yates, Peel, & Co., was throughout one of great and
uninterrupted prosperity. Sir Robert Peel himself was the soul of
the firm; to great energy and application uniting much practical
sagacity, and first-rate mercantile abilities--qualities in which
many of the early cotton-spinners were exceedingly deficient. He
was a man of iron mind and frame, and toiled unceasingly. In
short, he was to cotton printing what Arkwright was to cotton-
spinning, and his success was equally great. The excellence of the
articles produced by the firm secured the command of the market,
and the character of the firm stood pre-eminent in Lancashire.
Besides greatly benefiting Bury, the partnership planted similar
extensive works in the neighbourhood, on the Irwell and the Roch;
and it was cited to their honour, that, while they sought to raise
to the highest perfection the quality of their manufactures, they
also endeavoured, in all ways, to promote the well-being and
comfort of their workpeople; for whom they contrived to provide
remunerative employment even in the least prosperous times.

Sir Robert Peel readily appreciated the value of all new processes
and inventions; in illustration of which we may allude to his
adoption of the process for producing what is called RESIST WORK in
calico printing. This is accomplished by the use of a paste, or
resist, on such parts of the cloth as were intended to remain
white. The person who discovered the paste was a traveller for a
London house, who sold it to Mr. Peel for an inconsiderable sum.
It required the experience of a year or two to perfect the system
and make it practically useful; but the beauty of its effect, and
the extreme precision of outline in the pattern produced, at once
placed the Bury establishment at the head of all the factories for
calico printing in the country. Other firms, conducted with like
spirit, were established by members of the same family at Burnley,
Foxhill bank, and Altham, in Lancashire; Salley Abbey, in
Yorkshire; and afterwards at Burton-on-Trent, in Staffordshire;
these various establishments, whilst they brought wealth to their
proprietors, setting an example to the whole cotton trade, and
training up many of the most successful printers and manufacturers
in Lancashire.

Among other distinguished founders of industry, the Rev. William
Lee, inventor of the Stocking Frame, and John Heathcoat, inventor
of the Bobbin-net Machine, are worthy of notice, as men of great
mechanical skill and perseverance, through whose labours a vast
amount of remunerative employment has been provided for the
labouring population of Nottingham and the adjacent districts. The
accounts which have been preserved of the circumstances connected
with the invention of the Stocking Frame are very confused, and in
many respects contradictory, though there is no doubt as to the
name of the inventor. This was William Lee, born at Woodborough, a
village some seven miles from Nottingham, about the year 1563.
According to some accounts, he was the heir to a small freehold,
while according to others he was a poor scholar, {6} and had to
struggle with poverty from his earliest years. He entered as a
sizar at Christ College, Cambridge, in May, 1579, and subsequently
removed to St. John's, taking his degree of B.A. in 1582-3. It is
believed that he commenced M.A. in 1586; but on this point there
appears to be some confusion in the records of the University. The
statement usually made that he was expelled for marrying contrary
to the statutes, is incorrect, as he was never a Fellow of the
University, and therefore could not be prejudiced by taking such a

At the time when Lee invented the Stocking Frame he was officiating
as curate of Calverton, near Nottingham; and it is alleged by some
writers that the invention had its origin in disappointed
affection. The curate is said to have fallen deeply in love with a
young lady of the village, who failed to reciprocate his
affections; and when he visited her, she was accustomed to pay much
more attention to the process of knitting stockings and instructing
her pupils in the art, than to the addresses of her admirer. This
slight is said to have created in his mind such an aversion to
knitting by hand, that he formed the determination to invent a
machine that should supersede it and render it a gainless
employment. For three years he devoted himself to the prosecution
of the invention, sacrificing everything to his new idea. At the
prospect of success opened before him, he abandoned his curacy, and
devoted himself to the art of stocking making by machinery. This
is the version of the story given by Henson {7} on the authority of
an old stocking-maker, who died in Collins's Hospital, Nottingham,
aged ninety-two, and was apprenticed in the town during the reign
of Queen Anne. It is also given by Deering and Blackner as the
traditional account in the neighbourhood, and it is in some measure
borne out by the arms of the London Company of Frame-Work Knitters,
which consists of a stocking frame without the wood-work, with a
clergyman on one side and a woman on the other as supporters. {8}

Whatever may have been the actual facts as to the origin of the
invention of the Stocking Loom, there can be no doubt as to the
extraordinary mechanical genius displayed by its inventor. That a
clergyman living in a remote village, whose life had for the most
part been spent with books, should contrive a machine of such
delicate and complicated movements, and at once advance the art of
knitting from the tedious process of linking threads in a chain of
loops by three skewers in the fingers of a woman, to the beautiful
and rapid process of weaving by the stocking frame, was indeed an
astonishing achievement, which may be pronounced almost unequalled
in the history of mechanical invention. Lee's merit was all the
greater, as the handicraft arts were then in their infancy, and
little attention had as yet been given to the contrivance of
machinery for the purposes of manufacture. He was under the
necessity of extemporising the parts of his machine as he best
could, and adopting various expedients to overcome difficulties as
they arose. His tools were imperfect, and his materials imperfect;
and he had no skilled workmen to assist him. According to
tradition, the first frame he made was a twelve gauge, without lead
sinkers, and it was almost wholly of wood; the needles being also
stuck in bits of wood. One of Lee's principal difficulties
consisted in the formation of the stitch, for want of needle eyes;
but this he eventually overcame by forming eyes to the needles with
a three-square file. {9} At length, one difficulty after another
was successfully overcome, and after three years' labour the
machine was sufficiently complete to be fit for use. The quondam
curate, full of enthusiasm for his art, now began stocking weaving
in the village of Calverton, and he continued to work there for
several years, instructing his brother James and several of his
relations in the practice of the art.

Having brought his frame to a considerable degree of perfection,
and being desirous of securing the patronage of Queen Elizabeth,
whose partiality for knitted silk stockings was well known, Lee
proceeded to London to exhibit the loom before her Majesty. He
first showed it to several members of the court, among others to
Sir William (afterwards Lord) Hunsdon, whom he taught to work it
with success; and Lee was, through their instrumentality, at length
admitted to an interview with the Queen, and worked the machine in
her presence. Elizabeth, however, did not give him the
encouragement that he had expected; and she is said to have opposed
the invention on the ground that it was calculated to deprive a
large number of poor people of their employment of hand knitting.
Lee was no more successful in finding other patrons, and
considering himself and his invention treated with contempt, he
embraced the offer made to him by Sully, the sagacious minister of
Henry IV., to proceed to Rouen and instruct the operatives of that
town--then one of the most important manufacturing centres of
France--in the construction and use of the stocking-frame. Lee
accordingly transferred himself and his machines to France, in
1605, taking with him his brother and seven workmen. He met with a
cordial reception at Rouen, and was proceeding with the manufacture
of stockings on a large scale--having nine of his frames in full
work,--when unhappily ill fortune again overtook him. Henry IV.,
his protector, on whom he had relied for the rewards, honours, and
promised grant of privileges, which had induced Lee to settle in
France, was murdered by the fanatic Ravaillac; and the
encouragement and protection which had heretofore been extended to
him were at once withdrawn. To press his claims at court, Lee
proceeded to Paris; but being a protestant as well as a foreigner,
his representations were treated with neglect; and worn out with
vexation and grief, this distinguished inventor shortly after died
at Paris, in a state of extreme poverty and distress.

Lee's brother, with seven of the workmen, succeeded in escaping
from France with their frames, leaving two behind. On James Lee's
return to Nottinghamshire, he was joined by one Ashton, a miller of
Thoroton, who had been instructed in the art of frame-work knitting
by the inventor himself before he left England. These two, with
the workmen and their frames, began the stocking manufacture at
Thoroton, and carried it on with considerable success. The place
was favourably situated for the purpose, as the sheep pastured in
the neighbouring district of Sherwood yielded a kind of wool of the
longest staple. Ashton is said to have introduced the method of
making the frames with lead sinkers, which was a great improvement.
The number of looms employed in different parts of England
gradually increased; and the machine manufacture of stockings
eventually became an important branch of the national industry.

One of the most important modifications in the Stocking-Frame was
that which enabled it to be applied to the manufacture of lace on a
large scale. In 1777, two workmen, Frost and Holmes, were both
engaged in making point-net by means of the modifications they had
introduced in the stocking-frame; and in the course of about thirty
years, so rapid was the growth of this branch of production that
1500 point-net frames were at work, giving employment to upwards of
15,000 people. Owing, however, to the war, to change of fashion,
and to other circumstances, the Nottingham lace manufacture rapidly
fell off; and it continued in a decaying state until the invention
of the Bobbin-net Machine by John Heathcoat, late M.P. for
Tiverton, which had the effect of at once re-establishing the
manufacture on solid foundations.

John Heathcoat was the youngest son of a respectable small farmer
at Duffield, Derbyshire, where he was born in 1783. When at school
he made steady and rapid progress, but was early removed from it to
be apprenticed to a frame-smith near Loughborough. The boy soon
learnt to handle tools with dexterity, and he acquired a minute
knowledge of the parts of which the stocking-frame was composed, as
well as of the more intricate warp-machine. At his leisure he
studied how to introduce improvements in them, and his friend, Mr.
Bazley, M.P., states that as early as the age of sixteen, he
conceived the idea of inventing a machine by which lace might be
made similar to Buckingham or French lace, then all made by hand.
The first practical improvement he succeeded in introducing was in
the warp-frame, when, by means of an ingenious apparatus, he
succeeded in producing "mitts" of a lacy appearance, and it was
this success which determined him to pursue the study of mechanical
lace-making. The stocking-frame had already, in a modified form,
been applied to the manufacture of point-net lace, in which the
mesh was LOOPED as in a stocking, but the work was slight and
frail, and therefore unsatisfactory. Many ingenious Nottingham
mechanics had, during a long succession of years, been labouring at
the problem of inventing a machine by which the mesh of threads
should be TWISTED round each other on the formation of the net.
Some of these men died in poverty, some were driven insane, and all
alike failed in the object of their search. The old warp-machine
held its ground.

When a little over twenty-one years of age, Heathcoat went to
Nottingham, where he readily found employment, for which he soon
received the highest remuneration, as a setter-up of hosiery and
warp-frames, and was much respected for his talent for invention,
general intelligence, and the sound and sober principles that
governed his conduct. He also continued to pursue the subject on
which his mind had before been occupied, and laboured to compass
the contrivance of a twist traverse-net machine. He first studied
the art of making the Buckingham or pillow-lace by hand, with the
object of effecting the same motions by mechanical means. It was a
long and laborious task, requiring the exercise of great
perseverance and ingenuity. His master, Elliot, described him at
that time as inventive, patient, self-denying, and taciturn,
undaunted by failures and mistakes, full of resources and
expedients, and entertaining the most perfect confidence that his
application of mechanical principles would eventually be crowned
with success.

It is difficult to describe in words an invention so complicated as
the bobbin-net machine. It was, indeed, a mechanical pillow for
making lace, imitating in an ingenious manner the motions of the
lace-maker's fingers in intersecting or tying the meshes of the
lace upon her pillow. On analysing the component parts of a piece
of hand-made lace, Heathcoat was enabled to classify the threads
into longitudinal and diagonal. He began his experiments by fixing
common pack-threads lengthwise on a sort of frame for the warp, and
then passing the weft threads between them by common plyers,
delivering them to other plyers on the opposite side; then, after
giving them a sideways motion and twist, the threads were repassed
back between the next adjoining cords, the meshes being thus tied
in the same way as upon pillows by hand. He had then to contrive a
mechanism that should accomplish all these nice and delicate
movements, and to do this cost him no small amount of mental toil.
Long after he said, "The single difficulty of getting the diagonal
threads to twist in the allotted space was so great that if it had
now to be done, I should probably not attempt its accomplishment."
His next step was to provide thin metallic discs, to be used as
bobbins for conducting the threads backwards and forwards through
the warp. These discs, being arranged in carrier-frames placed on
each side of the warp, were moved by suitable machinery so as to
conduct the threads from side to side in forming the lace. He
eventually succeeded in working out his principle with
extraordinary skill and success; and, at the age of twenty-four, he
was enabled to secure his invention by a patent.

During this time his wife was kept in almost as great anxiety as
himself, for she well knew of his trials and difficulties while he
was striving to perfect his invention. Many years after they had
been successfully overcome, the conversation which took place one
eventful evening was vividly remembered. "Well," said the anxious
wife, "will it work?" "No," was the sad answer; "I have had to
take it all to pieces again." Though he could still speak
hopefully and cheerfully, his poor wife could restrain her feelings
no longer, but sat down and cried bitterly. She had, however, only
a few more weeks to wait, for success long laboured for and richly
deserved, came at last, and a proud and happy man was John
Heathcoat when he brought home the first narrow strip of bobbin-net
made by his machine, and placed it in the hands of his wife.

As in the case of nearly all inventions which have proved
productive, Heathcoat's rights as a patentee were disputed, and his
claims as an inventor called in question. On the supposed
invalidity of the patent, the lace-makers boldly adopted the
bobbin-net machine, and set the inventor at defiance. But other
patents were taken out for alleged improvements and adaptations;
and it was only when these new patentees fell out and went to law
with each other that Heathcoat's rights became established. One
lace-manufacturer having brought an action against another for an
alleged infringement of his patent, the jury brought in a verdict
for the defendant, in which the judge concurred, on the ground that
BOTH the machines in question were infringements of Heathcoat's
patent. It was on the occasion of this trial, "Boville v. Moore,"
that Sir John Copley (afterwards Lord Lyndhurst), who was retained
for the defence in the interest of Mr. Heathcoat, learnt to work
the bobbin-net machine in order that he might master the details of
the invention. On reading over his brief, he confessed that he did
not quite understand the merits of the case; but as it seemed to
him to be one of great importance, he offered to go down into the
country forthwith and study the machine until he understood it;
"and then," said he, "I will defend you to the best of my ability."
He accordingly put himself into that night's mail, and went down to
Nottingham to get up his case as perhaps counsel never got it up
before. Next morning the learned sergeant placed himself in a
lace-loom, and he did not leave it until he could deftly make a
piece of bobbin-net with his own hands, and thoroughly understood
the principle as well as the details of the machine. When the case
came on for trial, the learned sergeant was enabled to work the
model on the table with such case and skill, and to explain the
precise nature of the invention with such felicitous clearness, as
to astonish alike judge, jury, and spectators; and the thorough
conscientiousness and mastery with which he handled the case had no
doubt its influence upon the decision of the court.

After the trial was over, Mr. Heathcoat, on inquiry, found about
six hundred machines at work after his patent, and he proceeded to
levy royalty upon the owners of them, which amounted to a large
sum. But the profits realised by the manufacturers of lace were
very great, and the use of the machines rapidly extended; while the
price of the article was reduced from five pounds the square yard
to about five pence in the course of twenty-five years. During the
same period the average annual returns of the lace-trade have been
at least four millions sterling, and it gives remunerative
employment to about 150,000 workpeople.

To return to the personal history of Mr. Heathcoat. In 1809 we
find him established as a lace-manufacturer at Loughborough, in
Leicestershire. There he carried on a prosperous business for
several years, giving employment to a large number of operatives,
at wages varying from 5l. to 10l. a week. Notwithstanding the
great increase in the number of hands employed in lace-making
through the introduction of the new machines, it began to be
whispered about among the workpeople that they were superseding
labour, and an extensive conspiracy was formed for the purpose of
destroying them wherever found. As early as the year 1811 disputes
arose between the masters and men engaged in the stocking and lace
trades in the south-western parts of Nottinghamshire and the
adjacent parts of Derbyshire and Leicestershire, the result of
which was the assembly of a mob at Sutton, in Ashfield, who
proceeded in open day to break the stocking and lace-frames of the
manufacturers. Some of the ringleaders having been seized and
punished, the disaffected learnt caution; but the destruction of
the machines was nevertheless carried on secretly wherever a safe
opportunity presented itself. As the machines were of so delicate
a construction that a single blow of a hammer rendered them
useless, and as the manufacture was carried on for the most part in
detached buildings, often in private dwellings remote from towns,
the opportunities of destroying them were unusually easy. In the
neighbourhood of Nottingham, which was the focus of turbulence, the
machine-breakers organized themselves in regular bodies, and held
nocturnal meetings at which their plans were arranged. Probably
with the view of inspiring confidence, they gave out that they were
under the command of a leader named Ned Ludd, or General Ludd, and
hence their designation of Luddites. Under this organization
machine-breaking was carried on with great vigour during the winter
of 1811, occasioning great distress, and throwing large numbers of
workpeople out of employment. Meanwhile, the owners of the frames
proceeded to remove them from the villages and lone dwellings in
the country, and brought them into warehouses in the towns for
their better protection.

The Luddites seem to have been encouraged by the lenity of the
sentences pronounced on such of their confederates as had been
apprehended and tried; and, shortly after, the mania broke out
afresh, and rapidly extended over the northern and midland
manufacturing districts. The organization became more secret; an
oath was administered to the members binding them to obedience to
the orders issued by the heads of the confederacy; and the betrayal
of their designs was decreed to be death. All machines were doomed
by them to destruction, whether employed in the manufacture of
cloth, calico, or lace; and a reign of terror began which lasted
for years. In Yorkshire and Lancashire mills were boldly attacked
by armed rioters, and in many cases they were wrecked or burnt; so
that it became necessary to guard them by soldiers and yeomanry.
The masters themselves were doomed to death; many of them were
assaulted, and some were murdered. At length the law was
vigorously set in motion; numbers of the misguided Luddites were
apprehended; some were executed; and after several years' violent
commotion from this cause, the machine-breaking riots were at
length quelled.

Among the numerous manufacturers whose works were attacked by the
Luddites, was the inventor of the bobbin-net machine himself. One
bright sunny day, in the summer of 1816, a body of rioters entered
his factory at Loughborough with torches, and set fire to it,
destroying thirty-seven lace-machines, and above 10,000l. worth of
property. Ten of the men were apprehended for the felony, and
eight of them were executed. Mr. Heathcoat made a claim upon the
county for compensation, and it was resisted; but the Court of
Queen's Bench decided in his favour, and decreed that the county
must make good his loss of 10,000l. The magistrates sought to
couple with the payment of the damage the condition that Mr.
Heathcoat should expend the money in the county of Leicester; but
to this he would not assent, having already resolved on removing
his manufacture elsewhere. At Tiverton, in Devonshire, he found a
large building which had been formerly used as a woollen
manufactory; but the Tiverton cloth trade having fallen into decay,
the building remained unoccupied, and the town itself was generally
in a very poverty-stricken condition. Mr. Heathcoat bought the old
mill, renovated and enlarged it, and there recommenced the
manufacture of lace upon a larger scale than before; keeping in
full work as many as three hundred machines, and employing a large
number of artisans at good wages. Not only did he carry on the
manufacture of lace, but the various branches of business connected
with it--yarn-doubling, silk-spinning, net-making, and finishing.
He also established at Tiverton an iron-foundry and works for the
manufacture of agricultural implements, which proved of great
convenience to the district. It was a favourite idea of his that
steam power was capable of being applied to perform all the heavy
drudgery of life, and he laboured for a long time at the invention
of a steam-plough. In 1832 he so far completed his invention as to
be enabled to take out a patent for it; and Heathcoat's steam-
plough, though it has since been superseded by Fowler's, was
considered the best machine of the kind that had up to that time
been invented.

Mr. Heathcoat was a man of great natural gifts. He possessed a
sound understanding, quick perception, and a genius for business of
the highest order. With these he combined uprightness, honesty,
and integrity--qualities which are the true glory of human
character. Himself a diligent self-educator, he gave ready
encouragement to deserving youths in his employment, stimulating
their talents and fostering their energies. During his own busy
life, he contrived to save time to master French and Italian, of
which he acquired an accurate and grammatical knowledge. His mind
was largely stored with the results of a careful study of the best
literature, and there were few subjects on which he had not formed
for himself shrewd and accurate views. The two thousand workpeople
in his employment regarded him almost as a father, and he carefully
provided for their comfort and improvement. Prosperity did not
spoil him, as it does so many; nor close his heart against the
claims of the poor and struggling, who were always sure of his
sympathy and help. To provide for the education of the children of
his workpeople, he built schools for them at a cost of about 6000l.
He was also a man of singularly cheerful and buoyant disposition, a
favourite with men of all classes and most admired and beloved by
those who knew him best.

In 1831 the electors of Tiverton, of which town Mr. Heathcoat had
proved himself so genuine a benefactor, returned him to represent
them in Parliament, and he continued their member for nearly thirty
years. During a great part of that time he had Lord Palmerston for
his colleague, and the noble lord, on more than one public
occasion, expressed the high regard which he entertained for his
venerable friend. On retiring from the representation in 1859,
owing to advancing age and increasing infirmities, thirteen hundred
of his workmen presented him with a silver inkstand and gold pen,
in token of their esteem. He enjoyed his leisure for only two more
years, dying in January, 1861, at the age of seventy-seven, and
leaving behind him a character for probity, virtue, manliness, and
mechanical genius, of which his descendants may well be proud.

We next turn to a career of a very different kind, that of the
illustrious but unfortunate Jacquard, whose life also illustrates
in a remarkable manner the influence which ingenious men, even of
the humblest rank, may exercise upon the industry of a nation.
Jacquard was the son of a hard-working couple of Lyons, his father
being a weaver, and his mother a pattern reader. They were too
poor to give him any but the most meagre education. When he was of
age to learn a trade, his father placed him with a book-binder. An
old clerk, who made up the master's accounts, gave Jacquard some
lessons in mathematics. He very shortly began to display a
remarkable turn for mechanics, and some of his contrivances quite
astonished the old clerk, who advised Jacquard's father to put him
to some other trade, in which his peculiar abilities might have
better scope than in bookbinding. He was accordingly put
apprentice to a cutler; but was so badly treated by his master,
that he shortly afterwards left his employment, on which he was
placed with a type-founder.

His parents dying, Jacquard found himself in a measure compelled to
take to his father's two looms, and carry on the trade of a weaver.
He immediately proceeded to improve the looms, and became so
engrossed with his inventions that he forgot his work, and very
soon found himself at the end of his means. He then sold the looms
to pay his debts, at the same time that he took upon himself the
burden of supporting a wife. He became still poorer, and to
satisfy his creditors, he next sold his cottage. He tried to find
employment, but in vain, people believing him to be an idler,
occupied with mere dreams about his inventions. At length he
obtained employment with a line-maker of Bresse, whither he went,
his wife remaining at Lyons, earning a precarious living by making
straw bonnets.

We hear nothing further of Jacquard for some years, but in the
interval he seems to have prosecuted his improvement in the
drawloom for the better manufacture of figured fabrics; for, in
1790, he brought out his contrivance for selecting the warp
threads, which, when added to the loom, superseded the services of
a draw-boy. The adoption of this machine was slow but steady, and
in ten years after its introduction, 4000 of them were found at
work in Lyons. Jacquard's pursuits were rudely interrupted by the
Revolution, and, in 1792, we find him fighting in the ranks of the
Lyonnaise Volunteers against the Army of the Convention under the
command of Dubois Crance. The city was taken; Jacquard fled and
joined the Army of the Rhine, where he rose to the rank of
sergeant. He might have remained a soldier, but that, his only son
having been shot dead at his side, he deserted and returned to
Lyons to recover his wife. He found her in a garret still employed
at her old trade of straw-bonnet making. While living in
concealment with her, his mind reverted to the inventions over
which he had so long brooded in former years; but he had no means
wherewith to prosecute them. Jacquard found it necessary, however,
to emerge from his hiding-place and try to find some employment.
He succeeded in obtaining it with an intelligent manufacturer, and
while working by day he went on inventing by night. It had
occurred to him that great improvements might still be introduced
in looms for figured goods, and he incidentally mentioned the
subject one day to his master, regretting at the same time that his
limited means prevented him from carrying out his ideas. Happily
his master appreciated the value of the suggestions, and with
laudable generosity placed a sum of money at his disposal, that he
might prosecute the proposed improvements at his leisure.

In three months Jacquard had invented a loom to substitute
mechanical action for the irksome and toilsome labour of the
workman. The loom was exhibited at the Exposition of National
Industry at Paris in 1801, and obtained a bronze medal. Jacquard
was further honoured by a visit at Lyons from the Minister Carnot,
who desired to congratulate him in person on the success of his
invention. In the following year the Society of Arts in London
offered a prize for the invention of a machine for manufacturing
fishing-nets and boarding-netting for ships. Jacquard heard of
this, and while walking one day in the fields according to his
custom, he turned the subject over in his mind, and contrived the
plan of a machine for the purpose. His friend, the manufacturer,
again furnished him with the means of carrying out his idea, and in
three weeks Jacquard had completed his invention.

Jacquard's achievement having come to the knowledge of the Prefect
of the Department, he was summoned before that functionary, and, on
his explanation of the working of the machine, a report on the
subject was forwarded to the Emperor. The inventor was forthwith
summoned to Paris with his machine, and brought into the presence
of the Emperor, who received him with the consideration due to his
genius. The interview lasted two hours, during which Jacquard,
placed at his ease by the Emperor's affability, explained to him
the improvements which he proposed to make in the looms for weaving
figured goods. The result was, that he was provided with
apartments in the Conservatoire des Arts et Metiers, where he had
the use of the workshop during his stay, and was provided with a
suitable allowance for his maintenance.

Installed in the Conservatoire, Jacquard proceeded to complete the
details of his improved loom. He had the advantage of minutely
inspecting the various exquisite pieces of mechanism contained in
that great treasury of human ingenuity. Among the machines which
more particularly attracted his attention, and eventually set him
upon the track of his discovery, was a loom for weaving flowered
silk, made by Vaucanson the celebrated automaton-maker.

Vaucanson was a man of the highest order of constructive genius.
The inventive faculty was so strong in him that it may almost be
said to have amounted to a passion, and could not be restrained.
The saying that the poet is born, not made, applies with equal
force to the inventor, who, though indebted, like the other, to
culture and improved opportunities, nevertheless contrives and
constructs new combinations of machinery mainly to gratify his own
instinct. This was peculiarly the case with Vaucanson; for his
most elaborate works were not so much distinguished for their
utility as for the curious ingenuity which they displayed. While a
mere boy attending Sunday conversations with his mother, he amused
himself by watching, through the chinks of a partition wall, part
of the movements of a clock in the adjoining apartment. He
endeavoured to understand them, and by brooding over the subject,
after several months he discovered the principle of the escapement.

From that time the subject of mechanical invention took complete
possession of him. With some rude tools which he contrived, he
made a wooden clock that marked the hours with remarkable
exactness; while he made for a miniature chapel the figures of some
angels which waved their wings, and some priests that made several
ecclesiastical movements. With the view of executing some other
automata he had designed, he proceeded to study anatomy, music, and
mechanics, which occupied him for several years. The sight of the
Flute-player in the Gardens of the Tuileries inspired him with the
resolution to invent a similar figure that should PLAY; and after
several years' study and labour, though struggling with illness, he
succeeded in accomplishing his object. He next produced a
Flageolet-player, which was succeeded by a Duck--the most ingenious
of his contrivances,--which swam, dabbled, drank, and quacked like
a real duck. He next invented an asp, employed in the tragedy of
'Cleopatre,' which hissed and darted at the bosom of the actress.

Vaucanson, however, did not confine himself merely to the making of
automata. By reason of his ingenuity, Cardinal de Fleury appointed
him inspector of the silk manufactories of France; and he was no
sooner in office, than with his usual irrepressible instinct to
invent, he proceeded to introduce improvements in silk machinery.
One of these was his mill for thrown silk, which so excited the
anger of the Lyons operatives, who feared the loss of employment
through its means, that they pelted him with stones and had nearly
killed him. He nevertheless went on inventing, and next produced a
machine for weaving flowered silks, with a contrivance for giving a
dressing to the thread, so as to render that of each bobbin or
skein of an equal thickness.

When Vaucanson died in 1782, after a long illness, he bequeathed
his collection of machines to the Queen, who seems to have set but
small value on them, and they were shortly after dispersed. But
his machine for weaving flowered silks was happily preserved in the
Conservatoire des Arts et Metiers, and there Jacquard found it
among the many curious and interesting articles in the collection.
It proved of the utmost value to him, for it immediately set him on
the track of the principal modification which he introduced in his
improved loom.

One of the chief features of Vaucanson's machine was a pierced
cylinder which, according to the holes it presented when revolved,
regulated the movement of certain needles, and caused the threads
of the warp to deviate in such a manner as to produce a given
design, though only of a simple character. Jacquard seized upon
the suggestion with avidity, and, with the genius of the true
inventor, at once proceeded to improve upon it. At the end of a
month his weaving-machine was completed. To the cylinder of
Vancanson, he added an endless piece of pasteboard pierced with a
number of holes, through which the threads of the warp were
presented to the weaver; while another piece of mechanism indicated
to the workman the colour of the shuttle which he ought to throw.
Thus the drawboy and the reader of designs were both at once
superseded. The first use Jacquard made of his new loom was to
weave with it several yards of rich stuff which he presented to the
Empress Josephine. Napoleon was highly gratified with the result
of the inventor's labours, and ordered a number of the looms to be
constructed by the best workmen, after Jacquard's model, and
presented to him; after which he returned to Lyons.

There he experienced the frequent fate of inventors. He was
regarded by his townsmen as an enemy, and treated by them as Kay,
Hargreaves, and Arkwright had been in Lancashire. The workmen
looked upon the new loom as fatal to their trade, and feared lest
it should at once take the bread from their mouths. A tumultuous
meeting was held on the Place des Terreaux, when it was determined
to destroy the machines. This was however prevented by the
military. But Jacquard was denounced and hanged in effigy. The
'Conseil des prud'hommes' in vain endeavoured to allay the
excitement, and they were themselves denounced. At length, carried
away by the popular impulse, the prud'hommes, most of whom had been
workmen and sympathized with the class, had one of Jacquard's looms
carried off and publicly broken in pieces. Riots followed, in one
of which Jacquard was dragged along the quay by an infuriated mob
intending to drown him, but he was rescued.

The great value of the Jacquard loom, however, could not be denied,
and its success was only a question of time. Jacquard was urged by
some English silk manufacturers to pass over into England and
settle there. But notwithstanding the harsh and cruel treatment he
had received at the hands of his townspeople, his patriotism was
too strong to permit him to accept their offer. The English
manufacturers, however, adopted his loom. Then it was, and only
then, that Lyons, threatened to be beaten out of the field, adopted
it with eagerness; and before long the Jacquard machine was
employed in nearly all kinds of weaving. The result proved that
the fears of the workpeople had been entirely unfounded. Instead
of diminishing employment, the Jacquard loom increased it at least
tenfold. The number of persons occupied in the manufacture of
figured goods in Lyons, was stated by M. Leon Faucher to have been
60,000 in 1833; and that number has since been considerably

As for Jacquard himself, the rest of his life passed peacefully,
excepting that the workpeople who dragged him along the quay to
drown him were shortly after found eager to bear him in triumph
along the same route in celebration of his birthday. But his
modesty would not permit him to take part in such a demonstration.
The Municipal Council of Lyons proposed to him that he should
devote himself to improving his machine for the benefit of the
local industry, to which Jacquard agreed in consideration of a
moderate pension, the amount of which was fixed by himself. After
perfecting his invention accordingly, he retired at sixty to end
his days at Oullins, his father's native place. It was there that
he received, in 1820, the decoration of the Legion of Honour; and
it was there that he died and was buried in 1834. A statue was
erected to his memory, but his relatives remained in poverty; and
twenty years after his death, his two nieces were under the
necessity of selling for a few hundred francs the gold medal
bestowed upon their uncle by Louis XVIII. "Such," says a French
writer, "was the gratitude of the manufacturing interests of Lyons
to the man to whom it owes so large a portion of its splendour."

It would be easy to extend the martyrology of inventors, and to
cite the names of other equally distinguished men who have, without
any corresponding advantage to themselves, contributed to the
industrial progress of the age,--for it has too often happened that
genius has planted the tree, of which patient dulness has gathered
the fruit; but we will confine ourselves for the present to a brief
account of an inventor of comparatively recent date, by way of
illustration of the difficulties and privations which it is so
frequently the lot of mechanical genius to surmount. We allude to
Joshua Heilmann, the inventor of the Combing Machine.

Heilmann was born in 1796 at Mulhouse, the principal seat of the
Alsace cotton manufacture. His father was engaged in that
business; and Joshua entered his office at fifteen. He remained
there for two years, employing his spare time in mechanical
drawing. He afterwards spent two years in his uncle's banking-
house in Paris, prosecuting the study of mathematics in the
evenings. Some of his relatives having established a small cotton-
spinning factory at Mulhouse, young Heilmann was placed with
Messrs. Tissot and Rey, at Paris, to learn the practice of that
firm. At the same time he became a student at the Conservatoire
des Arts et Metiers, where he attended the lectures, and studied
the machines in the museum. He also took practical lessons in
turning from a toymaker. After some time, thus diligently
occupied, he returned to Alsace, to superintend the construction of
the machinery for the new factory at Vieux-Thann, which was shortly
finished and set to work. The operations of the manufactory were,

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