Page images

I accordingly waited on Sir Jacob, who ordered me to come to him again, five days after, at feven in the morning ; at which time he being engaged in bufiness, I waited at the office till evening, when he was pleased tó express himself to me in the following words: “Sir, I foppose you intend to throw air • into the wells of ships.” I answered, “ No; I

proposed to draw it out by means of fire.” Upon this he asked me,

“ if I knew how far I was to draw it out ?', I replied, Not fix inches : for, if I

could extract it never fo finall a distance, the in« cumbent air would press forward of course, and, “in so doing, cause a constant changé.” He admitted this. I then told him, that I waited upon him, by Sir Charles Wager's orders, in hopes that he would appoint a time for an experiment to be made of my scheme : to which he replied, “ that no experiment “ Mould be made, if he could binder it.”

Upon this disappointment, 1 petitioned the Lords of the Admiralty, and thereby obtained an order from them to the commissioners of the navy, to cause my experiment to be tried on board the Greenwich iman of war, then lying at Woolwich. I forthwith carried their Lordships order to Woolwich, and pursuant thereto, to the fatisfaction of myself, and all on board the Greenwich, I placed the pipes, and all things necessary for my experiment, except the foldering of two pipes; but, whilst the folder was hot, and the plumber in readiness to folder theiñ, a messenger from the builder of his Majesty's yard came to order the workmen alhore. [ thereupon repaired to the builder, who acquainted me, that I must apply to the Davy-board, to procure an order to have my experi


[ocr errors]

ment performed on board the hulk ať Woolwich. I instantly replied, that, all the proper preparations being already completed, except the foldering of two joints, which might be done in an hour's time, I defired it might be tried immediately. But to this he made answer, that I must apply to the navy-board, in order that they might procure an order from the Lords of the Admiralty for the trying it on the huik aforefaid. I thereupon told him, that I insisted on those two joints being foldered, that I might make my report to the Lords of the Admiralty, that I had faithfully executed their order : upon which, he assured me, they should be foldered that very night: but when I went on board the next day, to see if they were foldered, I found them just as I left them the day before.

Finding myself thus disappointed, I took a candle, and went down to the pipes, which were carried through deck, and laid under the beam, towards the well, about thirty feet in length from the copper ; and, as soon as I put the candle to the ends of the pipes, they immediately extinguished the flame: which fully convinced those on board of the great usefulness of my invention. But, to my extreme surprise, I no fooner came on shore, than I found, that the master afloat was sent from the King's yard, to take down my pipes, and plug up the holes: upon which, perceiving the obstructions my experiment would meet with, I determined to apply to fome gentlemen of the faculty of physic, that were proper judges of the usefulness of my scheine.

Being no ftranger to the character of Dr Mead physician to his Majesty, distinguished as much by his

humanity humanity as his abilities, I went directly to his house; shewed him Sir Charles's letter, and, by his appointment, the next morning came thither again, where I met the learned Martin Folkes, Esq; president of the royal society, whom the Doctor had desired to talk with me, together with himself, upon my proposal. They both expressed their approbation of it, and most readily offered to do whatever was in their power, to encourage an invention which they judged must be of great service to the public. Accordingly Dr Mead immediately waited on the Lords of the Admiralty, and represented to them in a strong manner, the advantage of such a contrivance : whereupon they were pleased to order, that it should be tried as soon as poffible, on board any of his Majesty's ships in the river.

Being now left at my own liberty, to chuse a pro. per place for my experiment, I fixed


the hulk at Deptford, because that was immovcable, and could not, like a ship, be sent away: and upon this I directly went to Deptford, in order to make the necessary preparations, I was soon acquainted there, that several of the workmen belonging to the King's yard were busily employed in trying the usefulness of another machine, industriously set on foot to supplant mine : but, after the strictest inquiry I have since been able to make, 1 cannot learn that they had any orders to that purpose from the Lords of the Admiralty.

This proceeding, together with the exceffive fhiness and caution of the gentlemen of the yard, led me to conclude, that my scheme, at last, would be fet aside, in spite of all the steps I could take to prevent it; and I was confirmed in this opinion, when I found the pipes were made of wood, between five and fix inches wide, in such an unworkmanlike manner, thai, to render them tight, I was forced to get size and paper from Deptford, to put over the joints; and that moreover many hands were employed in erecting wind-fails, in order to shew, that they could thereby procure as much air as my scheme would afford.

At length, in September 1741, the day appointed for the trial of the experiment came; when the Lords of the Admiralty, the Commissioners of the Navy, Dr Mead, Martin Folkes, Esq; and several other members of the royal society, being present on board the said hulk; Sir Jacob Ackworth was pleased to say, in the hearing of them all : “ I am sorry that

you are come to see the trial of such a foolish experiment, that I tried myself yesterday, and it woull not shake ą candle.”

To this I replied, “ It “ would be in good humour to-day, and the end of

every one of the pipes would blow out a candle." And accordingly, notwithstanding the forementioned obstructions, and that the tarpawlins were taken away, which I had ordered to be laid over the hatches, I was as good as my word ; and all the lords and gentlemen aforesaid, upon the trial of my experiment, expressed their approbation of the performance,

In November following I was fent for by the messenger to the Commissioners of the Navy, and by them, pursuant to an order from the Lords of the Admiralty, fent down to Portsmouth, to prepare the Norwich man of war according to my scheme; and, upon this occasion, Sir Charles Wager, in the presence of the Lords of the Admiralty, honoured me with


the following letier to Commissioner Hughes at Portlmouth.


SIR, Admiralty-fice, Nov. 24. 1741.
Send this by Mr Sutton, who has found out a way

to draw bad air out of clofe places, particularly from wells of ships, wbich you know are fometimes so bad, as to stife men before they can be drawn up ; as happened on board the Lynn, while I was at Helvoet-Sluys; one man being killed by it, and two narrowly escaped. This contrivance is approved by much wiser men than I am in such things; and therefore I desire you would let Mr Sutton have all the encouragement and affistance you can give him.

I take Mr Alleyn, your builder, to be an ingenious man; if you recommend Mr Sutton to his care, he will see that he meets with no obstruction or discouragement from any body, that may think themselves wiser. There is an order from this board to the navy, from whom you will have it, to have the Narwich, who is to go to the coast of Guinea, to be fitted according to Mr Sutton's scheme; which will be a very good experiment. I am,


Your humble servant,


This letter I carried down to Portsmouth, and delivered to Commissioner Hughes, who received me in a very friendly manner, and recommended me to Mr Alleyo the builder; who both of them (and indeed all


« PreviousContinue »