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“ has every information on these heads which an artist can “ require. Nothing more is now to be done but to get rid of “ the air and elastic vapour, which cannot be removed by the “ means before employed. This Mr. Watt directs us to “ extract by a pump, worked by the engine, or otherwise, at “ the pleasure of the artist. To complete the invention of “ Mr. Watt, it was only necessary that this vapour should not “ be suffered to accumulate. The common mode of doing " this, is to suspend the pump to the working beam of the
engine. I presume it will not be disputed that the con“ denser and the pumps are tangible and vendible substances. “ As to the perfection of this part of the invention, I cannot “ demonstrate it to be equal to the perfection of the other
part, by the bare inspection of the specification. I must “ refer my adversary to the testimony of witnesses, and the “ evidence of the gauge annexed to the engine. From these “ he will learn, that the exhaustion is nearly equal to that of “ the air-pump, and, consequently, that all sensible resistance “ to the action of the piston is removed."*
4. That of the various substances specified to be employed instead of water, to render the piston or other parts of the engines air and steam-tight, viz. "oils, wax, resinous bodies, “ fat of animals, quicksilver, and other metals in their fluid
state,” only one, (the fat of animals), was useful and economical in practice; and quicksilver, in particular, by coffosion and amalgamation, would injure any parts of the engine that might happen to be made of brass, to which it might get access.
There was evidently nothing in this objection deserving notice; as it was pretty certain that if any one of the substances specified was both cheapest and best, (as was said to be the case with mutton suet), that would soon be adopted, to the exclusion of the rest. As for the argument from the quicksilver, all mechanics at all acquainted with their business knew very well that that metal ought not to be applied to any brass work; and the Chief Justice could not help obsery
* Appendix to .Mechanical Inventions of Watt,' No. VI. p. 232.
ing, that so mercurial an objection was scarcely to be considered as a subject for grave discussion.
5. That no annexed drawing or model of the new engine was lodged with the specification.
Unfortunately, the numerous piracies that were successfully practised, showed but too forcibly, that no drawing or model was requisite to enable counterfeits of the new engine to be made. The fact was, that either drawing or model was not only quite unnecessary, and, from the endless variety of forms in which the invention might be applied, quite useless; but it might really have injured the efficacy of the patent by limiting the extent of its application. For it must always be remembered, that the invention was not, as the infringers tried to represent it), of a new engine, but of a new method of saving fuel, by condensing the steam in a vessel apart from the cylinder. That separate condensation was the thing patented, in whatsoever form, or to whatsoever engine it might be applied; although the best mode of carrying out the principle, by valves, alternate communication, &c., was clearly pointed out, so as to be intelligible to all engineers or mechanics of ordinary capacity and education in their trade. “ We called," said Mr. Rous, "all the most eminent theorists, " and practical engineers of all descriptions, who swore that “ to construct the engine from this description was so per
fectly easy, that no man of tolerable skill in his profession “ could mistake." The allegation of the defendants on this head was also triumphantly refuted by the remarkable circumstance given in evidence by Professor Robison, which has been already cited ; * as well as by the fact, that “another “ engineer, who superintended twelve of Newcomen's engines “ in Yorkshire, under a misapprehension respecting the time " at which the patent would expire, had actually formed and “ prepared all the parts, which have since been used with com“ plete success." +
“I know,” adds Professor Robison, “ that it has been
* See pp. 394, 395, suprà.
“ repeatedly objected to this opinion of men of science con
cerning the sufficiency of the specification, that Mr. Watt's “ own accounts are in opposition to it. He had to encounter
many difficulties before he perfected his machine, even after obtaining his patent. I know this well. But this was
chiefly in subordinate parts of the undertaking. I firmly “ believe that the great principles were as perfect in his mind “ in a few hours, as they are at this day; and that the phy“sical parts of the problem were as completely solved by his “ first model, as they are now by his best engines. But when “Mr. Watt was engaged in bringing the contrivance to per“ fection, he wished to perfect every part. He who wished “ to make his engine not only the best, but the cheapest in " the world, he struggled long, in opposition to his own “ judgment, at Dr. Roebuck's instance, to perform the con“ densation without injection. He had a
He had a predilection for the “ wheel engine, and much time and labour were spent on it, “ while he was uncertain whether he should bring this, or the
reciprocating engine, first to the market. He had expe“ rience to acquire in great works, and in the practice of " several trades employed in such constructions. He had “ workmen to instruct, and to form; and to keep with him, " after they had acquired from him a little knowledge, and
were worth bribing away from him. But the chief cause of “the delay was that indelible trait in Mr. Watt's character, " that every new thing that came into his hands became a
subject of serious and systematic study, and terminated in some branch of science. How rarely do we meet with such
a conjunction of science and art --how precious when it is “found ;-how much then does it deserve to be cherished ! “ What advantages have been derived within these twenty
years from this fortunate union; how much then does it “ become our Courts to encourage and support it against the
unprincipled attacks of ignorant and greedy plagiarists, " who would deceive our men of property, ruin them by
expensive projects which terminate in disappointment, and “ thus discourage those who alone can by their capital give
any effectual aid to the energy and genius of this country! “ We boast of our Newton, and place him at the head of our
philosophers ;—our Boulton and Watt want only justice, “ and all Europe will place them at the head of our artists.”
The originality of the invention, and its great importance to the public, were at once established by the plaintiffs; and, indeed, were admitted by the defendants.
The very multitude of the infringers bore testimony to the value of the discovery; their occasional construction of tolerable engines on the new principle, proved the sufficiency of the specification; and their audacity was in proportion to the despair they felt of being able to rival, by honest means, the success of the inventor. The whole weight of the evidence was justly held to be in favour of the plaintiffs, on whose side were called men of the highest order of intelligence and of the greatest celebrity in physical science, as well as in the various departments of the arts :such as De Luc, Herschel, Ramsden, Robison, Cumming, Southern, and others, most of whom, as has already been mentioned, had also given evidence in the previous case against Bull.
Among the host of opponents who, having in the first place themselves infringed the patent, were disinterestedly desirous, for the benefit of the public, that its validity should be overthrown, one of the most forward, pertinacious, and loud, was Joseph Bramah. This person, very well known for his ingenuity in mechanical improvements in locks, his hydraulic press, and other useful contrivances, attended as a witness on behalf of the defendants in 1796; but having on that occasion been cut short, by the Judge, in an endeavour to lay before the Court what he calls “a few remarks,"—(they extend to ninety-one printed pages !),—he at last delivered them to the public in the form of a letter to the Chief Justice, remonstrating against the verdict which had been unhesitatingly found for the plaintiffs. In the outset of this epistle, Bramah states that he was, at the trial, “ much inca
pacitated by those alkalescent and morbific exhalations, “ever a consequence of large and close assemblies;" and the abrupt judicial syncope of his intended evidence he attributes, (no doubt justly enough), to the attention of the Court
having “ become flaccid through fatigue." Proceeding in this strain, he begs leave “to recapitulate in a comprehen“sible form the matter of that evidence, compounded,” (he says), “ with the whole substance which had occurred to his “ understanding!”
The specification of the separate condenser generally, is, this sage informs us, a “very abstruse and ambiguous con“cern;" and that of the steam-wheel, “ a complete jumble of “ incoherent, unconnected, absurd, and indigested ideas; so “ blended and coagulated with mystery, ambiguity, and impos“ sibility in practice, that it is a disgrace to the writer, and “would undoubtedly ruin any mechanic who might attempt to “ analyse it."
The principle of working engines by the alternate expansion and contraction of steam, (the expansive principle added to the separate condensation), he introduces thus :" And “ behold! what does he,” [Mr. Watt], " (by way of mislead“ ing), but propose what every man of chemical science must
reject, viz., to work engines by the partial expansion and “ condensation of steam !”
Bramah offers it as "a condensation of his own ideas dif“ fused through his letters," that “all kinds of condensers, " and even eduction-pipes, on the principle of Watt's engines, “ impede the working of the engine ;”—and “thinks that it “must be obvious to every one, as it had ever been to him, “ that Mr. Watt had really invented nothing but what would do “ more mischief than good to the public.”
The learned author of the pamphlet from which these quotations have been made, complains in it of having been called in Court, at the trial, “a fool, blockhead, shoemaker, and “ water-closet-maker.” If for the third of those epithets there were any foundation in fact, it would, indeed, rather appear that Mr. Bramah had too rashly disregarded the warning of the well-known Latin proverb, addressed to “criticising cobblers.” But the first and second terms of reproach we should be the last to apply to the author of so amusing a curiosity of literature as the pamphlet in question; furnishing as it does a specimen of the spirit and style in which the rights of the claim