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is the Recherches sur les Abeilles' of M. Huber, of Geneva, who had been reduced to a state of complete blindness, by gutta serena, at the age of seventeen. He was assisted in his observations by his wife, an admirable woman, who made it the business of her life to contrive the means of alleviating her husband's misfortune, and for whom, indeed, it has been said, he was indebted chiefly to his blindness; as although an attachment had existed between them previously, the lady's friends were so much opposed to the match, that she would probably have been induced to listen to the addresses of another suitor, had not Huber's helpless condition awakened a sympathy she could not resist, and determined her, at all hazards, to unite herself to him. Madame Ducrest, who, in her late Memoirs of the Empress Josephine, relates this anecdote, knew M. Huber and his wife; and nothing, she assures us, could exceed either the unwearied attention of the latter to every wish and feeling of her husband, or the happiness which, notwithstanding his blindness, he seemed in consequence to enjoy.
During the war, we are told, Madame Huber used to put her husband in possession of the movements of the armies by arranging squadrons of pins on a map, in such a manner as to represent the different bodies of troops. A method was also invented by which he was enabled to write; and his wife used to form plans of the towns they inhabited, in relief, for him to study by the touch. In short, so many ways did her affection find of gladdening his darkened existence, that he was wont to declare he should be miserable were he to cease to be blind. “I should not know,” said he,“ to what extent a person in my situation could be beloved; besides, to me my wife is always young, fresh, and pretty, which is no light matter. 1* * Memoires sur Josephine, tom. i.
Account of James Brindley: Canals.
JAMES BRINDLEY, the celebrated engineer, was en tirely self-taught in even the rudiments of mechanical science,-although, unfortunately, we are not in possession of any very minute details of the manner in which his powerful genius first found its way to the knowledge of those laws of nature of which it afterwards made so many admirable applications. born at Tunsted, in the parish of Wormhill, Derbyshire, in the year 1716; and all we know of the first seventeen years of his life, is, that his father having reduced himself to extreme poverty by his dissipated habits, he was allowed to grow up almost totally uneducated, and, from the time he was able to do any thing, was employed in the ordinary descriptions of country labour.
To the end of his life this great genius was barely able to read on any very pressing occasion; for, generally speaking, he would no more have thought of looking into a book for any information he wanted, than of seeking for it in the heart of a millstone: and his knowledge of the art of writing hardly extended farther than the accomplishment of signing his name. It is probable, that as he grew towards manhood, he began to feel himself created for higher things than driving a cart or following a plough; and we may even venture to conjecture, that the particular bias of his genius to
wards mechanical invention had already disclosed itself, when, at the age of seventeen, he bound himself apprentice to a person of the name of Bennet, a millwright, residing at Macclesfield, which was but a few miles from his native place. At all events, it is certain that he almost immediately displayed a wonderful natural aptitude for the profession he had chosen. “ In the early part of his apprenticeship, says the writer of his life in the · Biographia Britannica,' who was supplied with the materials of his article by Mr Henshall, Brindley's brother-in-law, “ he was frequently left by himself for whole weeks together, to execute works concerning which his master had given him no previous instructions. These works, therefore, he finished in his own way; and Mr Bennet was often astonished at the improvements his apprentice from time to time introduced into the millwright business, and earnestly questioned him from whom he had gained his knowledge. He had not been long at the trade, before the millers, wherever he had been employed, always chose him again in preference to the master, or any other workman; and before the expiration of his servitude, at which time Mr Bennet, who was advanced in years, grew unable to work, Mr Brindley, by his ingenuity and application, kept up the business with credit, and even supported the old man and his family in a comfortable manner.”
His master, indeed, from all that we hear of him, does not appear to have been very capable of teaching him much of any thing; and Brindley seems to have been left to pick up his knowledge of the business in the best way he could, by his own observation and sagacity. Bennet having been employed on one occasion, we are told, to build the machinery of a paper mill, which he had never seen in his life, took a journey to a distant part of the country expressly for the purpose of inspecting one which might serve him for a model. However, he had made his observations, it would seem, to very little purpose; for, having returned home and fallen to work, he could make nothing of the business at all, and was only bewildering himself, when a stranger, who understood something of such matters, happening one day to see what he was about, felt no scruple in remarking in the neighbourhood that the man was only throwing away his employer's money. The reports which in consequence got abroad soon reached the ears of Brindley, who had been employed on the machinery under the directions of his master. Having probably of himself begun ere this to suspect that all was not right, his suspicions were only confirmed by what he heard; but aware how unlikely it was that his master would be able to explain matters, or even to assist him in getting out of his difficulties, he did not apply to him. On the contrary, he said nothing to any one; but, waiting till the work of the week was over, set out by himself one Saturday evening to see the mill which his master had already visited. He accomplished his object, and was back to his work by Monday morning, having travelled the whole journey of fifty miles on foot. Perfectly master now of the construction of the mill, he found no difficulty in going on with his undertaking; and completed the machine, indeed, not only so as perfectly to satisfy the proprietor, but with several improvements on his model, of his own contrivance.
After remaining some years with Bennet, he set up in business for himself. With the reputation he had already acquired, his entire devotion to his profession, and the wonderful talent for mechanical invention, of which almost every piece of machinery he constructed gave evidence, he could not fail to succeed. But for some time, of course, he was known
only in the neighbourhood of the place where the lived. His connexions, however, gradually became more and more extensive; and at length he began to undertake engineering in all its branches. He distinguished himself greatly in 1752, by the erection of a water-engine for draining a coal-mine at Clifton in Lancashire. The great difficulty in this case was to obtain a supply of water for working the engine; this he brought through a tunnel of six hundred yards in length, cut in the solid rock. It would appear, however, that his genius was not yet quite appreciated as it deserved to be, even by those who employed him. He was in some sort an intruder into his present profession, for which he had not been regularly educated; and it was natural enough that, before his great powers had had an opportunity of showing themselves, and commanding the universal admiration of those best qualified to judge of them, he should have been conceived by many to be rather a merely clever workman in a few particular departments, than one who could be safely entrusted with the entire management and superintendence of a complicated design. In 1755 it was determined to erect a new silk-mill at Congleton, in Cheshire; and another person having been appointed to preside over the execution of the work, and to arrange the more intricate combinations, Brindley was engaged to fabricate the larger wheels and other coarser parts of the apparatus. It soon became manifest, however, in this instance, that the superintendant was unfit for his office; and the proprietors were obliged to apply to Brindley to remedy several blunders into which he had fallen, and give his advice as to how the work should be proceeded in. Still they did not deem it proper to dismiss their incapable projector; but, the pressing difficulty overcome, would have had him by whose ingenuity they had been enabled to