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Glasgow to London-Return to

Glasgow

CHAPTER II

GLASGOW TO LONDON-RETURN TO GLASGOW

HROUGH Professor Muirhead, a kinsman of

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Watt's mother, he was introduced to many others of the faculty of the university, and, as usual, attracted their attention, especially that of Dr. Dick, Professor of natural philosophy, who strongly advised him to proceed to London, where he could receive better instruction than it was possible to obtain in Scotland at that time. The kind Professor, diviner of latent genius, went so far as to give him a personal introduction, which proved efficient. How true it is that the worthy, aspiring youth rarely goes unrecognised or unaided. Men with kind hearts, wise heads, and influence strong to aid, stand ready at every turn to take modest merit by the hand and give it the only aid needed, opportunity to speak, through results, for itself. So London was determined upon. Fortunately, a distant relative of the Watt family, a sea-captain, was about to set forth upon that then long and toilsome journey. They started from Glasgow June 7, 1755, on horseback, the journey taking twelve days.

The writer's parents often referred to the fact that when the leading linen manufacturer of Dunfermline

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was about to take the journey to London-the only man in the town then who ever did-special prayers were always said in church for his safety.

The member of Parliament in Watt's day from the extreme north of Scotland would have consumed nearly twice twelve days to reach Westminster. Today if the capital of the English-speaking race were in America, which Lord Roseberry says he is willing it should be, if thereby the union of our English-speaking race were secured, the members of the Great Council from Britain could reach Washington in seven days, the members from British Columbia and California, upon the Pacific, in five days, both land and sea routes soon to be much quickened.

Those sanguine prophets who predict the reunion of our race on both sides of the Atlantic can at least aver that in view of the union of Scotland and England, the element of time required to traverse distances to and from the capital is no obstacle, since the most distant points of the new empire, Britain in the east and British Columbia and California in the west, would be reached in less than one-third the time required to travel from the north of Scotland to London at the time of the union. Besides, the telegraph to-day binds the parts together, keeping all citizens informed, and stirring their hearts simultaneously thousands of miles apart -Glasgow to London, 1755, twelve days; 1905, eight hours. Thus under the genius Steam, tamed and

harnessed by Watt, the world shrinks into a neighborhood, giving some countenance to the dreamers who may perchance be proclaiming a coming reality. We may continue, therefore, to indulge the hope of the coming "parliament of man, the federation of the "world," or even the older and wider prophecy of Burns, that, "It's coming yet for a' that, when man "to man the world o'er, shall brithers be for a' that."

There comes to mind that jewel we owe to Plato, which surely ranks as one of the most precious of all our treasures: "We should lure ourselves as with "enchantments, for the hope is great and the "reward is noble." So with this enchanting dream, better than most realities, even if it be all a dream. Let the dreamers therefore dream on. The world, minus enchanting dreams, would be commonplace indeed, and let us remember this dream is only dreamable because Watt's steam engine is a reality.

After his twelve days on horseback, Watt arrived in London, a stranger in a strange land, unknowing and unknown. But the fates had been kind for, burdened with neither wealth nor rank, this poor would-be skilled mechanic was to have a fair chance by beginning at the bottom among his fellows, the sternest yet finest of all schools to call forth and strengthen inherent qualities, and impel a poor young man to put forth his utmost effort when launched upon the sea of life, where

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