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« idea nearer that rest I wish for than I was four years ago. “ However, I am resolved to do all I can to carry on this “ business, and if it does not thrive with me, I will lay aside « the burthen I cannot carry."

And again, in March, 1770;—“It is a damned thing for a “ man to have his all hanging by a single string. If I had “ wherewithal to pay the loss, I don't think I should so much “ fear a failure, but I cannot bear the thought of other people

becoming losers by my schemes, and I have the happy disposition of always painting the worst.”




In this state of matters, every employment that enabled Mr. Watt to earn an independent income, and served to relieve his mind, now too constantly occupied with anxious and uncomfortable thoughts, was doubly welcome; and he was gradually led more frequently to forsake the solitary vigils of his workshop in the city, for the active labours of his profession of a civil engineer. “Somehow or other," as he modestly expresses it, or, as we cannot doubt, from his ability and integrity having now become well known, the magistrates of Glasgow had for two or three years past employed him in various engineering works of importance. In 1769 he made a survey and estimate for a navigable canal from the collieries at Monkland in Lanarkshire to the city of Glasgow; which was carried out under his own directions and superintendence, to the great advantage of the public as well as of the parties to the undertaking.

“I somehow or other,” he says,* “ got into the good graces " of our present magistracy, who have employed me in

engineering for them, (as Mr. Smeaton terms it); among “ other things I have projected a canal to bring coals to the “ town ;—for though coal is everywhere hereabout in plenty, " and the very town stands upon it, yet measures have been “ taken by industrious people to monopolize it and raise its "price 50 per cent. within these ten years. Now this canal “is nine miles long, goes to a country full of level free coals “ of good quality, in the hands of many proprietors, who sell “ them at present at 6d. per cart of 7 cwt. at the pit. There “ is a valley from Glasgow to the place, but it has a rise of “ 266 feet perpendicular above our river; I therefore set that “ aside, and have found among the hills a passage, whereby a “ canal may come within a mile of the town without locks, “ from whence the coals can be brought on a waggon-way. “ This canal will cost 10,0001.— is proposed 16 feet wide at “ bottom, the boats 9 feet wide and 50 feet long, to draw “ 23 feet water.”

* To Dr. Small, 12 December, 1769.

Vanity also,” he adds,* “ bade me tell Glasgow people " they might be served as well at home as by strangers. The “ time has not been thrown away, for the vaguing + about " the country, and bodily fatigue, have given me health and spirits beyond what I commonly enjoy at this dreary season,

though they would still thole amends. Hire yourself to " somebody for a ploughman; it will cure ennui."

And, although “a determination that everything should yield to the engine,” led him to refuse going to London with the Bill for the Monkland Canal, yet, after the Act for it had been obtained, and he was asked to superintend the execution of the canal, he felt himself obliged not to refuse that request. “I had now a choice," he says, “ whether to go on with the experiments on the engine, the “ event of which was uncertain, or to embrace an honourable " and perhaps profitable employment, attended with less risk “ of want of success :—to carry into execution a canal pro“jected by myself with much trouble, or to leave it to some “other person that might not have entered into my views, “ and might have had an interest to expose my errors; (for everybody commits them in those cases.)

“ Many people here had conceived a much higher idea of “ my abilities than they merit ;-they had resolved to encou“rage a man that lived among them rather than a stranger. “ If I refused this offer I had little reason to expect such a


* To the same, 3 January, 1770. Vagor expeditus."-Xor,


* Would still bear amend

$ To Dr. Small, 9 September, 1770.


concurrence of favourable circumstances soon. Besides, I " have a wife and children, and saw myself growing gray “ without having any settled way of providing for them. “ There were also other circumstances that moved me not " less powerfully to accept the offer; which I did; though at " the same time I resolved not to drop the engine, but to “prosecute it the first time I could

spare. “ Nothing is more contrary to my disposition than bustling “and bargaining with mankind :-yet that is the life I now “ constantly lead. Use and exertion render it rather more “ tolerable than it was at first, but it is still disagreeable. "I am also in a constant fear that my want of experience may betray me into some scrape, or that I shall be imposed upon by the workmen, both which I take all the care my

nature allows of to prevent. I have been tolerably lucky “yet; I have cut some more than a mile of the canal, besides a most confounded gash in a hill, and made a bridge and some tunnels, for all which I think I am within the estimate, notwithstanding the soil has been of the very hardest, “ being a black or red clay engrained with stones. We are "out altogether 450.-of which about 501. for utensils : our “canal is four feet water and sixteen feet bottom. I have " for managing the canal 2001. per annum; I bestow upon it “ generally about three or four days in the week, during which “time I am commonly very busy, as I have above 150 men " at work, and only one overseer under me, beside the under“ takers, who are mere tyros, and require constant watching. “ The remainder of my time is taken up partly by head-aches " and other bad health, and partly by consultations on various

subjects, of which I can have more than I am able to answer, " and people pay me pretty well. In short, I want little but “ health and vigour to make money as fast as is fit.

“Now, Doctor, if you and your friend Hygeia can impart to me these blessings, I may be a rich and happy man: “otherwise, I can scarcely be either. I expect soon to have “ another touch at the engine.”

In December, 1770, he writes: “Notwithstanding the desperate weather I am almost constantly at the canal. It


“ costs me many a fit of chagrin; shows me many of my “ imperfections, &c.; but for all that, I find myself more

strong, more resolute, less lazy, less confused than I was “ when I began it. However, I have no abatement of my “ headaches, in quantity or quality. I found the other day," he soon afterwards adds, “upon considering my circumstances, that, supposing the engine to stand good for itself, I am able to

pay my

debts, and some little thing more; " so that I hope in time to be on a par with the world. But “I must say that my present life is a life of much vexation, “ besides bodily fatigue, of hunger, cold, wet feet, &c, which “I could not endure had I the least of the gout, the gravel, “or many other diseases. I don't know how it is, but I think my health rather better in these gloomy months of Decem“ ber and November than it was in summer. I have a hun“ dred men at work just now, finishing a great hill we have

wrought at this twelvemonth. The nastiness of our clay

grounds is at present inconceivable; the quantities of rain “ have been beyond measure.”

“ Our canal has not stopped, but is likely to do so, from our having expended the subscription of 10,0001. upon seven “ miles of the navigation, and having about two miles yet to “ make. We have, however, made a canal of four feet water “ for one of three feet subscribed to, and have also paid most “ abominably for our land.

“ I decline only being the manager, and not being engineer. “ I wrote you before how grievous that first part of the busi“ness was to me, and it daily becomes more so. Everything “ has been turned over upon me, and the necessary clerks

grudged to me; I am also indolent, and fearfully terrified “ to make bargains, and hate to settle accounts. Why there“ fore shall I continue a slave to a hateful employment, while

I can otherwise, by surveys and consultations, make nearly “ as much money with half the labour, and, I really think, “ with double the credit ? for a man is always disgraced by

taking upon him an employment he is unfit for. I have no

quality proper for this employment but honesty, which “ reproaches me for keeping it so long.

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