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does the mere annalist bestow upon these things in parallel with White Staves or Gold Sticks, or at least with the exact succession of Prime Ministers! Yet when no man of real genius succeeds to the helm, - when the spectacle is only of a crowd of mediocrities, distinguished from each other by nothing but their party badges, who throng and jostle for places, and shove off each other in turn, - can the philosopher doubt to which of these classes of events the greater weight is due? Or will posterity always lend a willing ear to the contests between the Noble Earl in the green riband and the Noble Marquis in the blue? The very year of which I now resume the narrative was distinguished by an event of more real importance than the rise or the resignation of Lord Bute. In 1763 an artisan of Staffordshire, Mr. Josiah Wedgwood, produced a new kind of cream-coioured earthenware, superior both in fineness and in durability to the French and Dutch. The tide of public taste immediately turned in its favour, the foreign earthenwares were neglected, and the home-made preferred. In the following years Mr. Wedgwood introduced many new kinds of porcelain of various colours and sizes. Until then the district called “the Potteries” had been of slight significance. But so much did this branch of industry grow and thrive that, according to Mr. Wedgwood's evidence before the House of Commons in 1785, there were then employed upon it in that district only from fifteen to twenty thousand persons. “And thus,” says the annalist of trade, “thus are “the meanest materials, the clay and flint stones under our “feet, converted into objects of the greatest utility and “beauty.” + -Still far more essential was the progress which the same period beheld in Lancashire and Yorkshire. At the beginning of the century the yearly exports of cotton goods did not much exceed in value 20,000l., while the yearly exports of woollen goods, now so inferior by comparison, amounted to 2,000,000l. In 1750 the cotton exports had risen to no
* Macpherson's History of Commerce, vol. iii. p. 381–383.
more than 45,000l. Towards 1766 Mr. Postlethwayte, in his “Universal Dictionary of Trade,” estimates the annual value manufactured of what were termed Manchester wares (made however at many other places beside Manchester) ató00,000l., of which one third went to foreign countries. These, he tells us, were sent on pack-horses to London, Bristol, Liverpool, and other ports for shipment. Up to that time it has been observed that the machines used in the cotton trade of England were nearly as simple as those of India. It was only that the loom was better constructed, and that cards for combing the cotton had been adopted from the woollen trade. * With woollens indeed the old form of the shuttle and lathe may still be noticed in Hogarth's first picture of “Industry and Idleness,” where the two apprentices are seen at their looms. But an era of great discoveries was now at hand. It came, as few discoveries have done, not from men of leisure and learning, but from the poor, the illiterate, the lowly. Sir Richard Arkwright had no advantages of birth or study. He was the thirteenth child of humble parents; he was by trade a barber. Happily for his country and for his descendants (now the heirs of millions of pounds sterling) he turned his strong clear mind to mechanical invention. He discovered, or at least he perfected, a machine for spinning by rollers. His first patent, for which funds were not obtained without much difficulty and solicitation, bears the date of 1769. The greatest improvements in that machine were afterwards effected by himself. In the ensuing year, namely 1770, another patent was granted to James Hargreaves, a poor weawer, the inventor of the Spinning Jinny. A further stride in advance was made by the discovery of the Mule; this also is due to a weaver of the common rank, - to Samuel Crompton. It was first completed in 1779, having cost its inventor nearly five years of experiment and toil, “wherein” — these are his own words in a letter to a friend—“every moment of time and power of “mind, as well as expense, which my other employment “would permit, were devoted to this one end.” + No human sagacity could have foreseen, none at leas did foresee, how strong the impulse, how wide the extension, which this era of discovery imparted to the cotton trade. Such words as twentyfold, thirtyfold, an hundredfold scarcely convey an adequate representation of the real fact. From Manchester as from their capital or centre, and along whole lines of country, mills were built and factories were formed; hamlets have swelled to villages, villages to towns, and towns to cities; and gathering strength with each successive year that gigantic system has still rolled onwards, until, as at present, we behold it give bread to many hundreds of thousands of our people, and clothing to the world. + This new manufacturing system, so honourable for its skill and enterprise, and so mighty in its commercial aspects, but far indeed from unmingled good, -in which the most deplorable poverty and ignorance have grown up side by side with enormous wealth, – might most aptly perhaps be reviewed in treating of these years when it received its last and greatest developments by the discovery and application of the steam engine. The early years of George the Third, however, may claim as more especially their own those new facilities for the transport of goods and raw materials, which nothing but steam could supersede, – that network of camals which, contributing in the highest degree to our commercial progress. formed in fact the transition state between the old high road and thomodern railway. Of the British internal navigation Francis, the third and last Duke of Bridgewater, has been surnamed the Father. He was born in 1736, and succeeded as a boy to his title and estates. For that very reason, perhaps, his education was very much neglected. To the last he appears to have known nothing of politics or books. No higher sayings are recorded of him, even in his later years, than that he preferred brown * Extract in Mr. Baines's History, p. 199,
* All these facts are derived from the seventh and part of the eighth chapters of Mr. Baines's History of the Cotton Trade, p. 84–115.
1763. THE DUKE OF BRIDGEWATER. 5
meats to white, and that the day which brought him moletters might be called a DIEs NoN. At the age of twenty-two he was deeply smitten with the charms of one of the two Gunning sisters — those far-famed beauties of their day. But this suit did not prosper. The lady preferred to him a more accomplished rival, Colonel Campbell, afterwards Duke of Argyle.* This early disappointment appears to have sunk deep into the mind of the shy and proud young man. All his relish for society was gone. He retired to his domain of Worsley, about seven miles from Manchester. There stood an antique manor house, black and white timbered, near the same spot on which more lately almost a palace has been reared. There the state of the property had already engaged the Duke's attention. The soil was rich in coal mines, but the coal lay useless within the earth from the difficulty and expense of the land carriage. A canal nearly straight to Manchester had been projected, but on further inquiry and reflection, with the ground before him, the Duke's idea was much extended; he engaged with ardour in a larger scheme, and to this and the like undertakings henceforth devoted his entire fortune and his whole remaining life. Happily for the Duke at this juncture he did not fall into the hands of knaves or false pretenders. He found at once in James Brindley a most able instrument to carry out his ends. Brindley was thirty years older than his patron. Born at the opposite extremity of the social scale, he was equally, or more than equally, neglected in his training. It has been said of him, probably with some exaggeration, that at least for many years he could not write, having only learnt how to sign his own name. Be this as it may, he had an inborn and intuitive genius for mechanical skill. When the canal * In the Quarterly Review (No. cxlvi. p. 301–318.) is contained a graceful and pleasing sketch of the Duke of Bridgewater's life, ascribed to the heir of his name and fortune, the present Earl of Ellesmere. The reviewer relies on a family tradition, that the Duke was not rejected, and himself broke off the match; a tradition supported by some MS. letters of later date which I have seen, but opposed to the contemporary evidence.
(Walpole to Conway, January 28., and Lord Chesterfield to his son, February 2, 1759.)
from Worsley on its extended scheme was intrusted to his making, he determined that it should be perfect of its kind, and wholly free from the usual obstruction of locks. For this purpose it was necessary to raise stupendous mounds of earth, and, maintaining an uniform level, convey the water straight across the valleys. With no great difficulty he completed his works as far as Barton, where the Irwell is navigable for large vessels. Here Brindley proposed to carry the canal over that river by an aqueduct of thirty-nine feet above the surface of the stream. To most men this appeared a wild and fantastic design. “Let the Duke,” said Brindley, “before he decides, consult another engineer.” Accordingly a gentleman eminent in the profession was brought to the spot. Brindley pointed out, high above, the place of his intended aqueduct, upon which the other gentleman drily said, “I have often heard of castles in the air, but I never “before was shown where any of them were to be erected!” It is greatly to the Duke of Bridgewater's credit that he stood firm against this sneer. The aqueduct was immediately begun, and was carried on with so much speed and so much success as to astonish all those who had so recently turned it into ridicule. * It should be noted that, besides this line of open navigation, Brindley was constructing other lines of subterranean canals, by which the main produce of the Worsley coal fields was brought out in boats. These most singular and skilful works have been gradually augmented as new pits were opened and old ones became exhausted. Their vast amount at present may justly excite surprise. In 1843 the total length of these navigable tunnels on the Duke's estate was upwards of forty-two miles, of which, however, only one third was in actual use. * The Duke, perceiving more and more the importance of inland navigation, extended his ideas to Liverpool. In 1762 he obtained another Act of Parliament for branching his canal to the tideway in the Mersey. This part of the canal
* Quarterly Review, No. cxlvi. p. 317.