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FTER Watt was restored to himself the first sub


ject which we find attracting him was the misfortunes of Roebuck, whose affairs were now in the hands of his creditors. "My heart bleeds for him," says Watt, "but I can do nothing to help him. I have "stuck by him, indeed, until I have hurt myself." Roebuck's affairs were far too vast to be affected by all that Watt had or could have borrowed. For the thousand pounds Watt had paid on Roebuck's account to secure the patent, he was still in debt to Black. This was subsequently paid, however, with interest, when Watt became prosperous.

We now bid farewell to Roebuck with genuine regret. He had proved himself a fine character throughout, just the kind of partner Watt needed. It was a great pity that he had to relinquish his interest in the patent, when, as we shall see, it would soon have saved him from bankruptcy and secured him a handsome competence. He must ever rank as one of the men almost indispensable to Watt in the development of his engine, and a dear, true friend.

The darkest hour comes before the dawn, and so it

proved here. As Roebuck retired, there appeared a star of hope of the first magnitude, in no less a person than the celebrated Matthew Boulton of Birmingham, of whom we must say a few words by way of introduction to our readers, for in all the world there was not his equal as a partner for Watt, who was ever fortunate in his friends. Of course Watt was sure to have friends, for he was through and through the devoted friend himself, and won the hearts of those worth winning. "If you wish to make a friend, be one," is the sure recipe.

Boulton was not only obviously the right man but he came from the right place, for Birmingham was the headquarters of mechanical industry. At this time, 1776, there was at last a good road to London. As late as 1747 the coach was advertised to run there in two days only "if the roads permit."

If skilled mechanics, Watt's greatest need, were to be found anywhere, it was here in the centre of mechanical skill, and especially was it in the celebrated works of Boulton, which had been bequeathed from worthy sire to worthy son, to be largely extended and more than ever preeminent.

Boulton left school early to engage in his father's business. When only seventeen years old, he had made several improvements in the manufacture of buttons, watch chains, and various trinkets, and had invented the inlaid steel buckles, which became so


It is stated that in that early day it was found necessary to export them in large quantities to France to be returned and sold in Britain as the latest productions of French skill and taste. It is well to get a glimpse of human nature as seen here. Fashion decides for a time with supreme indifference to quality. It is a question of the name.

At his father's death, the son inherited the business. Great credit belongs to him for unceasingly laboring to improve the quality of his products and especially to raise the artistic standard, then so low as to have already caused "Brummagem" to become a term of reproach. He not only selected the cleverest artisans, but he employed the best artists, Flaxman being one, to design the artistic articles produced. The natural result followed. Boulton's work soon gained high reputation. New and larger factories became necessary, and the celebrated Soho works arose in 1762. The spirit in which Boulton pursued business is revealed in a letter to his partner at Soho from London. "The prejudice that Birmingham hath so justly estab"lished against itself makes every fault conspicuous in "all articles that have the least pretensions to taste." It may interest American readers familiar with One Dollar watches, rendered possible by production upon a large scale, that it was one of Boulton's leading ideas in that early day that articles in common use could be produced much better and cheaper "if manufactured

"by the help of the best machinery upon a large "scale, and this could be successfully done in the "making of clocks and timepieces." He promptly erected the machinery and started this new branch of business. Both King and Queen received him cordially and became his patrons. Soho works soon became famous and one of the show places of the country; princes, philosophers, poets, authors and merchants from foreign lands visited them and were hospitably received by Boulton.

He was besieged with requests to take gentlemen apprentices into the works, hundreds of pounds sometimes being offered as premium, but he resolutely declined, preferring to employ boys whom he could train up as workmen. He replies to a gentleman applicant, "I have built and furnished a house for the "reception of one class of apprentices-fatherless children, parish apprentices, and hospital boys; and gen"tlemen's sons would probably find themselves out of "place in such companionship."


It is not to be inferred that Boulton grew up an uncultured man because he left school very early. On the contrary, he steadily educated himself, devoting much time to study, so that with his good looks, handsome presence, the manners of the gentleman born, and knowledge much beyond the average of that class, he had little difficulty in winning for his wife a lady of such position in the county as led to some opposi

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