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made of any portions of the machine are dated by him February and April
, 1818. But it does not appear that, in the last
year of his life, he did much more to or with it. It seems by that time to have been nearly or altogether perfect; and his failing strength probably unfitted him for and disinclined him to much exertion even in such old and loved pursuits. Then
“Came the blind Fury with th' abhorred shears,
“Phæbus replied, and touched my tingling ears.” The sculpture-machine,—the youngest of his mechanical offspring,—had always been a great favourite with its venerable progenitor; and it is not difficult to imagine the sort of charm he must have felt in thus “searching for beautiful “ forms into the heart of marbles, and bringing them out “ into full daylight.” The means required in order to such graceful elaboration,-not indeed unattended with difficulties, such as in other undertakings on a more gigantic scale he had been accustomed to meet and to overcome, but free alike from either anxiety or monotony,—gave occasion to many hours of quiet inventive meditation and moderate manual exercise, such as befitted the weight of his years, and did not interfere with the seclusion which he loved. His plastic performances were usually distributed among his intimate friends, with playful apologies for the imperfect skill of 80 young an artist; but some remained in his own possession, and judging from those we have seen, they display not only all the breadth and boldness of outline, but also the more intangible graces of animation and expression possessed by the models from which they were copied. The explanation of his not having made the operations of the machine more widely known at an earlier period is doubtless to be found in the principle he announces in one of his letters to Mr. Magellan, “I never “ choose to publish any thing which is not complete.” * And such completeness as he required went far beyond the ordinary requirements even of the greater number of other accurate and able men.
* 16th October, 1780.
Those who have witnessed with wonder the perfect truth of the numismatic and artistic fac-simile engravings which by similar glyptic machines a Bate and a Collas have in later days produced; or the economical multiplication of carvings of the most varied and intricate designs, which by the mechanical resources of the present age have been placed within the reach of nearly all who desire to possess them; or the still more admirable and elevated art by which the works of a Cheverton can boast of repeating those of a Canova, a Thorwaldsen, or a Chantrey; may feel interested in becoming acquainted with the results that in the earlier part of the present century were not only theoretically planned but practically attained by the sagacious thought and skilful hand of Watt.
Only one problem, indeed, seems now to remain for such means to achieve; that, viz. of at once copying from the living model, in materials of lapidary hardness. For hitherto, in the object to be copied, an inflexible surface has always been requisite, to enable the guiding-point of the machine to traverse it with firmness. But even this appears to be a difficulty which
in time be overcome; possibly by the power being applied solely to the cutting tools, but their direction being regulated by a guiding-point delicately moved over a soft surface, or even in air. It is, perhaps, neither to be expected nor desired that such a process, which, however exact, must still be entirely mechanical, should ever supersede the freedom of inspiration which breathes in the works of a Praxiteles or a Phidias ; any more than that the angelic grace of a Raphael or a Correggio, or the glorious colouring of a Titian or a Guido, should be eclipsed by the photographic results of the mere chemical action of light and a combination of optical media. But such mechanical and philosophical contrivances no doubt offer very many additional facilities to the study and attainment of the highest fictile and pictorial art; and certainly, as the means of encouraging and gratifying some measure of artistic taste in millions of human beings who must otherwise have been destitute of such innocent and rational enjoyment, their inventors deserve at once our respect and our gratitude.
The classical “garret” and all its mysterious contents,the Polyglyptic Parallel-Eidograph with its tools and models included, -have ever since been carefully preserved in the same order as when the hand and “eye of the master" were last withdrawn from them, and he crossed the threshold never to return to his work on earth. When last inspected by us, (in 1853), all things there seemed still to breathe of the spirit that once gave them life and energy; and only the presence of some reverend dust silently announced, that no profane hand, forgetful of the “religio loci," had been permitted to violate the sanctities of that magical retreat, or disturb the repose of the “wheels,” and “drills,” and “guiding-points," that have never since been moyed.
MR. WATT'S PURSUITS IN RETIREMENT - SECOND JOURNEY TO PARIS - PUR
CHASES OF LAND IN WALES – THE SNUFF-BOX EVENINGS AT HOME SHRIEVALTY OF STAFFORDSHIRE AND RADNORSHIRE — STUDY OF ANGLOSAXON POLITICAL SENTIMENTS ANECDOTES OF HIS SON JAMES CHARACTERISTICS OF MR. WATT'S CONVERSATION AND FRIENDLY COUNSELS — REVISAL OF ROBISON ON STEAM' EDGEWORTH'S PROPOSAL OF A TUNNEL ACROSS THE MENAI STRAIT.
Such were some of the mechanical recreations in which the aged engineer was wont to employ the moderate strength, and the unalterably inventive thoughts, which were still granted to him ; blending with them, when at home, the pleasures of horticulture, of happy social intercourse with his neighbours, of most various study, and even of novel-reading, —with him always a favourite department of literature !
About the middle of his life, he caused to be engraved on one of his seals, a human eye, with the motto “ OBSERVARE;" and to that significant device he ever remained true. When he occasionally visited London, he lost no opportunity of making himself practically acquainted with every new discovery or contrivance of merit, of which any report had reached him: on the ingenious wonders so abundantly exhibited in the shop-windows and warehouses of the metropolis, he gazed with all the delight of a child ; and it often happened that their owners, after leading him into conversation, and finding themselves far surpassed in knowledge of their own peculiar pursuits, felt as though they had “entertained an “ angel unawares.” The orbit of his movements, in short, always bright with his own light, was also marked, long after the period of his passage, by what M. Arago has so characteristically termed “luminous traces.”
Sometimes, during the last quarter of a century of his life, he gave to his journeys a somewhat wider geographical
“ We were
range. In 1802, when, during the peace of Amiens, the Continent was for a brief season opened to British travellers, he once more visited Paris; where he renewed his acquaintance with those of his former scientific friends whom time, and the crimes of the revolution, had spared.
very kindly received,” he writes to Professor Robison,* " by “ my old friends at Paris, M. Berthollet, M. Monge, and “ M. de la Place, now become Senators. M. Prony and “ M. Hassenfratz were also exceedingly attentive; the former
especially, and seems an exceeding good sort of a man, as “ well as a very able mathematician. He appeared to be sorry
that he had not taken more notice of me in his book on the steam-engine, and has offered to publish, in a suc
ceeding volume, anything I please to furnish him with on “ the subject. Many others were very kind. We passed five “ weeks there, and, had the weather been warmer, I should “ have wished to prolong my stay."
To the great men of science here named, and the Abbé Haüy, whom he elsewhere includes in the list, must be added another,-perhaps the most interesting of all,—Benjamin Delessert;-a name sacred to the cause of science, of art, and of philanthropy. See his interesting · Eloge Historique' by M. Flourens,f where it is said—“ Benjamin Delessert went to Birmingham. “ The genius of Mechanics there subdued to man one of the “strongest and most terrible powers of nature. He wit“ nessed the experiments of Watt. Each of these “ celebrated men,” [De Luc, Hutton, Dugald Stewart, Adam Smith], “ like the beneficent fairies dreamt of in our fore“ fathers' imagination, endowed Delessert with some parti“ cular gift. * Watt endowed him with a high degree “ of knowledge of the mechanical arts." In the pursuits of learning and taste, M. Delessert possessed, as all his friends will long remember, multiplied endowments of no less value than that which he thus received at the hand of James Watt. But it is still more worthy of notice, that his
* 26th April, 1803. t Hist. de l'Acad. des Sciences,' tome xxi. p. cxix.-cxliii.