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When the publishers asked me to write the Life of Watt, I declined, stating that my thoughts were upon other matters. This settled the question, as I supposed, but in this I was mistaken. Why shouldn't I write the Life of the maker of the steam-engine, out of which I had made fortune? Besides, I knew little of the history of the Steam Engine and of Watt himself, and the surest way to obtain knowledge was to comply with the publisher's highly complimentary request. In short, the subject would not down, and finally, I was compelled to write again, telling them that the idea haunted me, and if they still desired me to undertake it, I should do so with my heart in the task.
I now know about the steam-engine, and have also had revealed to me one of the finest characters that ever graced the earth. For all this I am deeply grateful to the publishers.
I am indebted to friends, Messrs. Angus Sinclair and Edward R. Cooper, for editing my notes upon Scientific and Mechanical points.
The result is this volume. If the public, in reading, have one tithe of the pleasure I have had in writing it, I shall be amply rewarded.