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of course, accommodated to the condition of an age but little advanced in civilisation and knowledge. Attempts, indeed, have been occasionally made to adapt them to a change of circumstances; but, generally speaking, they have been feeble and ineffectual, and have not been sustained by adequate endowments on the part of the nation. Institutions resting on individual or corporate responsibility have, lo a certain extent, supplied their defects and added to their number; bnt, unless our ancient colleges shall put forth their remaining strength, and, by combining the vigour of manhood with the respectability of age, shall recommend themelves to the patronage of the country, they will soon find themselves in the rear of younger and more active establishments. It is not required that they shall prostrate themselves before the equivocal wisdom of inexperienced commissioners. Additions and adaptations springing from themselves, aud fostered by the sovereign, are alone neccessary to give to the educated youth of the present day those instructions which will fit them for the numerous professions which have not been honoured with the appellation of learned. In such a change of system every class of the community is concerned. Thousands preserve their rights without the intervention of law; millions live and die without medical aid ; and too many, we fear, wend their way to another world without the aid of the village pastor, or the blessing of the venerable diocesan. But there is not a man, woman, or child, who has the powers of mastication, deglutition, and locomotion, who is not interested in the present rapid progress of the uselul arts, in the increasing anxiliaries to commercial enterprise, and in those magnificent undertakings which stimulate the industry, augment the resources, and exalt the character of the nation.
Having made these preliminary observations on the present state of civil engineering, we shall now proceed to give our readers some account of the life and labours of Mr Telford. The work placed at the head of this article, though entitled a 'Lise,' is more properly an account, partly historical and partly descriptive, of the various practical operations connected with the important public works which he planned and conducted. These works may be arranged under the heads of Civil Architecture, Bridge-Building, Road-Making, Inland Navigation, Drainage, the Construction of Docks, and the Improvement of Harbours; and, in order to render his great experience in these important objects generally useful, he has illustrated his descriptions with numerous drawings and plans, executed on such a large scale as to furnish, by admeasurement, the exact dimensions of every part of the object. To Mr Telford's narrative is sujoined a short supplement by Mr Rickman; containing some interesting biographical details, and an estimate, by no means exaggerated, of the moral and social character of his friend. This is followed by a long appendix of valuable documents, illustrative of the historical and descriptive details contained in the body of the volume. The whole work has been edited by Mr Rickman in a way most creditable to himself, and highly bonourable to the memory of Mr Telford.
In perusing the narrative wbich this celebrated engineer has given of his own labours, every page gives us reason to regret that it possesses in so slight a degree the character of an autobiography. Mr Telford's great modesty has prevented him from speaking of himself as he ought, and recording those personal incidents and adventures whose lights and shadows would have so agreeably diversified the otherwise technical outline of his useful and lengthened career. His acquaintance with persons the most exalted in rank and official station, gave him opportunities of witnessing the conduct of public men in matters where party influence could not greatly sway them; while his knowledge of the world, and the independence of his political opinions, would bave enabled him to execute many delineations of character with a discrimination and impartiality which we cannot expect from the ordinary moralist. We could have wished, too, to learn a little more of the private bistory of many of those great undertakings which our author conducted; to bave obtained a glimpse of the machinery by which they were thwarted or put in operation; and to have admired the tact, wbich we know he eminently possessed, of reconciling conflicting interests, and removing those selfish obstructions which often stand in the way of the greatest enterprises. In the absence, however, of such personal details, which we still hope may be collected from his correspondence, we shall endeavour, from our own sources of information, to supply some of the more palpable deficiencies which occur in the general narrative.
Thomas Telford was born in the parish of Westerkirk, in the district of Eskdale, and county of Dumfries, on the 9th of August 1757. His father, who was a shepherd, died when his child was only a few months old, and the charge of his education was thus devolved upon his mother, who watched over his infancy with parental tenderness. He attended the parish school of Westerkirk along with Sir John and Sir Pulteney Malcolm; assisting his unele as a shepherd's boy in the summer season, and spend ing his winter evenings in the perusal of a few books supplied from the scanty shelves of his village friends. His mother lived till 1794, so as to enjoy the elevation of her son 10 wealth and
station; and it deserves lo be especially recorded, that he framed all his letters to her in printed characters, in order that she might read them without the assistance of friends.
Mr Telford's early life was spent as a mason; and he acquired a competent knowledge of his profession in working at the numerous small bridges which span the mountain streams of the district, and at the farm-houses and parish-churches of the neighbourhood. Regarding himself as master of his art, such as it was practised in his native county, he repaired to Edinburgh in 1780, where the splendid improvements which had commenced in that city opened up to bim a new and extensive field for observalion. In our northern metropolis, where architecture was
appropriated to the purpose of magnificence as well as of uti‘lity," he found practical illustrations of various styles of architecture, from the rude features of the ancient Pictish castle, to the attempts at Roman architecture in Heriot's Hospital and Holyrood-House. His practical acquaintance with architectural drawing enabled him to carry home the results of his obseryations; and in returning to Eskdale he visited the justly celebrated abbey of Melrose, which, though, as he remarks, it will not bear a comparison with the first class of magnificent English cathedrals, yet in regard to elegance of design or perfection
of workmanship, it is not inferior to any in the most perfect era of Gothie architecture. After remaining another year in his native county, he gives the following interesting account of his introduction to a new sphere of professional occupation :
* In the year 1782, after having acquired the rudiments of my profession, I considered that my native country afforded few opportunities of exercising it to any extent, and therefore judged it advisable (like many of my countrymen) to proceed southward, where ivdustry might find more employment, and be better rewarded.
"With these views, I made my way direct to London, as the great mart for talents and ingenuity; and I was fortunate in getting employed at the quadrangle of Somerset Place buildings, where I acquired much practical information, both in the useful and ornamental branches of architecture; and, in the course of my two years' residence in London, I had an opportunity of examining the numerous public buildings of the metropolis of Great Britain, and I became known to Sir W. Chambers and Mr Robert Adam, the two most distinguished architects of that day; the former haughty and reserved, the latter affable and communicative; and a similar distinction of character pervaded their works, Sir William's being stiff and formal, those of Mr Adam playful and gay; and although from neither did I derive any direct advantage, yet so powerful is manner, that the latter left the most favourable impression, while the interviews with both convinced me that my safest plan was to endeavour to ce, if by slower degrees, yet by independent conduct.
The next step in my professional career was the superintendence of a house ordered to be built in Portsmouth dockyard, for the resident commissioner; it was of considerable magnitude (as in contemplation of future visits of the King), and involved some degree of responsibility. This house was designed by Samuel Wyat, one of a numerous family of architects ; he also built it by contract, and my superintendence afforded me experience in house-building of a higher class and on a greater scale than previously had been intrusted to me.
During the three years that I attended the building of the Commissioner's house, and of a new chapel for the dockyard, I had an opportu. nity of observing the various operations necessary in the foundations and construction of graving docks, wharf-walls, and similar works, which afterwards became my chief occupation.'-P. 19.
In 1787, when these works were completed, the late Sir William Pulteney, then member for Shrewsbury, and a Mr Johnstone of the family of Westerhall, in Mr Telford's native parish, invited him into Shropshire, to superintend some alterations in the Castle
Shrewsbury, which he wished to fit up as a temporary residence. Our author gladly embraced this proposal, and took up his quarters in the castle under the patronage of its wealthy but penurious owner. Whilst the repairs were in progress, a new gaol was ordered to be built by the county magistrates, on a plan furnished by a Shrewsbury builder, and the superintendence of the work was intrusted to Mr Telford. Previous to its commencement, however, the benevolent Mr Howard, who had furnished plans for the county gaols of Gloucester and Oxford, came to Shrewsbury, and pointed out to Mr Telford various improvements upon the plans which had been adopted; and when these were mentioned to the magistrates, he was empowered to make the requisite alterations, and the building thus improved was completed in 1793.
During the first years of our author's residence in Shrewsbury, an architectural accident occurred which deserves to be generally known. In 1788, one of the four pillars which support the tower of the church of St Cbad, was observed to crack in various places. This event occasioned general uneasiness, and Mr Telford was sent by his patron to inspect the state of the fabric. In his report to the vestry when assembled in the church, he stated, that the pillar of the lower had actually sunk so as to endanger the whole fabric, in consequence of graves having been dug in the loose soil close to its shallow foundations; that the church would speedily fall unless thoroughly repaired ; and that with this view the bells should be instantly removed, the tower taken down, and the shattered pillar restored and secured when relieved from the vast superincumbent weight. The vestry, however, having not yet discovered the skill and the honesty of the reporter, suspected that the Scottish architect had some interested views of his own, and raised their voices against so extensive a plan. Mr Telford immediately quitted the meeting with the warning, that if they 'wished to discuss any thing besides the alarming state of the • church, they had better adjourn to some other place where there was no danger of its falling on their heads.'
• The vestry then proceeded to direct a mason to cut away the injureil part of the pillar, in order to uuderbuild it; and on the second evening after commencing this infatuated attempt, the sexton was alarmed at the fall of lime-dust and mortar, when he attempted to raise the great hell for a knell on the decease of a parishioner. He left the church immediately; and the next morning (9th July 1788,) while the workmen were waiting at bis door for the church key, the clock struck four, and the vibrations produced by the motion of the chime barrel brought down the tower, which overwhelmed the nave of the church, demolishing all the pillars on the north side of it, and shattering tlie rest. It was now perceived that the walls and pillars of the church, as is seen in many such ancient structures, consisted of a mere outside coating of freestone, the interior being filled with a mass of rubbish which crumbled into dust. Among this, anii in the very heart of the pillars, were found stones rudely carved, which were evidently of Saxon sculpture, and had been ruins of the ancient church, thus applied in building the second church in the reign of Richard II.'-P. 26.
This event did not fail to add to Mr Telford's reputation, and he was afterwards regularly employed as the surveyor of public works for the extensive county of Shropshire. In this situation he acquired great experience in bridge-building; having superintended the erection of no fewer than forty small bridges, four of wbich were of iron; besides the two large bridges of Montford and Buildwas erected over the Severn. The bridge at Montford, built of red sandstone, consists of three elliptical arches, one of fifty-eight and two of fifty-five feet span; and, though thrown over a river subject to high floods, and having both its bed and its eastern bank of alluvial earth, it has proved a substantial edifice after more than forty years' exposure to the elements.
Previous to Mr Telford's arrival in Shropshire, the new and grand experiment of an iron bridge over the Severn had been made. John Wilkinson, the great iron-master, seems to have had the merit either of suggesting the use of this new material, or of having exerted himself in the erection of the new structure. The original design of this bridge, which was erected at the village of Brosely, in Coalbrookdale, was made by Mr Pritchard, a Shrewsbury architect, in 1775, and was completed in 1777. This remarkable structure consists of a seinicircular arch of a hundred feet span, the great ribs of which are composed of two pieces only. In consequence of the inability of an arch of this form to resist the pressure of the earth against the abutments, the