« PreviousContinue »
“ were secured. The fifth, though severely wounded, made “ his escape from the premises, over the top of the building, “ from which he fell, and got clear off. The course he took “ has been discovered by his loss of blood, but he has not yet “ been taken, though 50 guineas are offered for his appre“ hension. Four of the prisoners,” [the whole number taken],
are wounded, and Mr. Boulton's watchman was shot in the “ neck, but he is in a fair way of recovery. The four prisoners
were examined on Wednesday evening, and committed to “ Stafford gaol."
The robbery need scarcely have been mentioned here, but for the accidental circumstance of it having become known to Sir Walter Scott, and having furnished him with an incident of great pictorial effect in one of his most romantic scenes, that, viz., in Guy Mannering' between Meg Merrilies and Dirk Hatteraick in the cavern :-“During this dialogue, Meg
was heaping some flax loosely together. Before answering " to this question, she dropped a firebrand upon the flax, which “ had been previously steeped in some spirituous liquor, for it
instantly caught fire, and rose in a vivid pyramid of the “most brilliant light up to the very top of the vault,” &c. * Sir Walter's graphic description of the robbery is given in Allan Cunningham's Memoranda, published in Lockhart's Life of Scott;'1-“I like Boulton," continued Sir Walter; “ he is a brave man, and who can dislike the brave? He “ showed this on a remarkable occasion. He had engaged to “coin for some foreign prince a large quantity of gold. This “ was found out by some desperadoes, who resolved to rob the
premises, and, as a preliminary step, tried to bribe the porter. “ The porter was an honest fellow,-- he told Boulton that he was
offered a hundred pounds to be blind and deaf next night. “• Take the money,' was the answer, and I shall protect the
place.' Midnight came,—the gates opened as if by magic, “ —the interior doors, secured with patent locks, opened as of “ their own accord,—and three men with dark lanterns en“ tered and went straight to the gold. Boulton had prepared
* Vol. i. p. 655, Abbotsford Edition.
† Chap. liii.
“ some flax steeped in turpentine,-he dropt fire upon it, a “ sudden light filled all the place, and with his assistants “ he rushed forward on the robbers ;—the leader saw in a “ moment he was betrayed, turned on the porter, and shoot
ing him dead, burst through all obstruction, and with an “ ingot of gold in his hand, scaled the wall and escaped.” “That is quite a romance in robbing,' I said ; and I had
nearly said more, for the cavern scene and death of Meg “ Merrilies in
mind.” Sir Walter, although quite correct as to the main feature of the illumination of the scene of plunder and rescue, was slightly inaccurate in one particular; for the porter, or watchman, although shot in the neck, recovered, and lived long afterwards on a pension which was the reward of his fidelity to his employer. He was, however, removed from the neighbourhood of Birmingham, to be safe from the threatened resentment of other members of the same lawless gang which had been so largely decimated; and so strictly was his incognito obliged to be preserved, that we have heard that his place of concealment was not communicated even to his wife:
-a strong measure of domestic economy to which he must of course have been a consenting party. For three nights previously, the robbers had tried keys and examined the premises, “ which, by our wise law,” says Mr. Watt, “is no “ felony; and, had we apprehended them, they would soon “ have been let loose upon the public, and we could not have “rested in safety. We were, therefore, obliged to let them “ commit the robbery; and, on their coming out, fell upon " them with guns, pistols, bayonets, and cutlasses. *
young men were commanders-in-chief, and laid their plans
very well; but one of our guards came not soon enough “ to their station, by which the escape took place, though by “a way deemed impracticable.” Four of the thieves were taken. The fifth member of the marauding party was, as we learn from the proclamation of reward issued at the time, as well as from another part of Mr. Watt's letter just quoted, surnamed the “Little Devil," and had come from Manchester expressly to join what we may call the shooting-party;
he broke his arm, and was otherwise badly wounded and bleeding from his fall; but, although some slugs had passed through his hat, he was uninjured by shot. He was not apprehended for four or five months afterwards. All the five prisoners were tried at the next assizes at Stafford, and the four first secured were sentenced to death; "the Little “ Devil” was sentenced to be transported for seven years, possibly from having borne no active part in the murderous affray, and also, perhaps, in consideration of the suffering he had already undergone. In regard to the others, a point of law, as to how far the plate manufactory, which was within Mr. Boulton's grounds at Soho, but of course apart from his residence, came within the definition of a dwelling-house, and consequently, how far the offence committed was or was not a burglary, was reserved for the opinion of all the Judges; and we rather believe that the capital sentence was ultimately not carried out on any of the culprits.
We need scarcely observe, that during the last half-century the Soho works have been one of the principal sources,—(for a great portion of the time, indeed, the principal source),—of that vast supply of steam-power which the inventions of Watt have enabled this and other countries to obtain. At the public meeting in London on the 18th of June, 1824, at which a monument to Mr. Watt in Westminster Abbey was voted, the power which had been thus created at Soho was stated by the late Mr. Boulton to be, in round numbers, equivalent to that of one hundred thousand horses; and since that time, up to 1859, an addition of considerably more than the same amount has been made ; giving a total sum of power equivalent to upwards of two hundred thousand horses. We subjoin a return of the particulars, prepared from the most authentic records ; and as more than seven hundred men have been kept in full employment at the great establishment to which we refer, there seems no reason to apprehend any diminution in the future extent of its usefulness and prosperity.
“ MEMORANDUM.—Sono FOUNDRY, 16 March, 1854. “ The number and power of the engines made by Messrs. Boulton, Watt, " and Co., to the date January, 1824, were thus reckoned by the late Mr. " Boulton and Mr. Creighton, (one of his assistants at Soho) :
Power of living
horses required to do
the same work. “ 283 for pumping and blowing 11,247 x 4 44,988 “ 805 rotative.
12,618 X 3 = 37,854 “ 76 boat engines
2,080 X 3 = 6,240 “ 1,164
89,082 “ And between January, 1824, and January, 1854, the numbers are the following:
“ 34 for pumping and blowing 2,403 x 4 = 9,612
7,517 X 3 = 22,551
15,358 X 3 = 46,074
78,237 “ 1,605
" The first engine seems to have been made for Bedworth in 1776."
" ADDITIONAL MEMORANDUM.--3 February, 1859. “ Number and power of engines made by Messrs. James Watt and Co., “ between January, 1854, and January, 1859.
Power of living Engines.
horses required to do
the same work.
748 X 3 = 2,244
For the information of those of our readers who are not familiar with the reason of the difference between the nominal horse-power, and what may be called the real or effective horse-power of an engine, it may be mentioned, that an engine of a given number of nominal horse-power can, during a certain time, as e. g. from one to six hours, do the same amount of work as could be done by a like number of horses in the same time. But it can do more than this; for a living horse can, on an average, work effectively, day after day, only for about six hours out of the twenty-four, whereas the steam-engine can work for all the twenty-four hours. In order to ascertain the number of living horses, and therefore the real horse-power that would be required to do the same amount of work that is done by an engine of a given number of nominal horse-power, the nominal horse-power must thus be multiplied by four.
This, accordingly, is done in calculations of the effective power of pumping and blowing engines, where the application of the steam-power is direct. But in rotative engines, , whether on land or for boats, there is estimated to be a loss of power in the action by the crank, &c., as compared with the direct application in the other case, which is allowed for by multiplying the nominal power only by three.
For the same reason, doubtless, the horse-power in pumping and blowing-engines has always been calculated with an effective pressure of 9} lbs. on each square inch of the piston, while in rotative engines it is only taken at a reduced effective pressure of 7 lbs.; these numbers being to each other in the same proportion as four to three, or 3:4::7:9}. We are informed, on excellent authority, that “ this mode of calculation is that which was adopted by the original Watt, and is still followed at the Soho works.”
The continued success of the Soho steam-engine works, and the high character of all their manufactures, were unquestionably owing not only to the commanding talents of those who presided over them, but also to the abilities of various excellent assistants; such as were Southern, the two Creightons, P. Ewart, and Lawson, all of whom, in various responsible capacities, rendered energetic and valuable service.* But the foremost place in that honourable rank we
* We may say the same of Messrs. to each of whom, in acknowledgGilbert Hamilton and James Brown, ment of their great and long-tried