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improvements in the cotton manufacture have been, by a person in humble life,-James Hargraves, a carpenter at Blackburn in Lancashire. This illiterate, but most ingenious and inventive person, adapted the stock-cards used in the woollen manufacture to the carding of cotton, and greatly improved them. In consequence, a workman was enabled to execute about double the work, and with greater ease, than by means of hand cards the only instrument previously in use. Hargraves' inventions were soon succeeded by the cylindrical cards, or carding engine. The inventor of this valuable machine is unknown, but it was first used by Mr Peel, the grandfather of the late Secretary for the Home Department. Mr Peel's carding engine was constructed, with the assistance of Hargraves, as early as 1762. Sir Richard Arkwright added, at a subsequent period, many improvements to the carding engine; and his apparatus for taking off the cotton from the cards, and giving continuity to the fleece, is the most perfect that can well be imagined.
But the tedious and expensive method of spinning by the hand, was the grand obstacle in the way of the extension and improvement of the manufacture. Insurmountable, however, as this obstacle must, at first sight, have appeared, it was completely overcome by the unparalleled ingenuity, talent, and perseverance of a few self-taught individuals. Hargraves, to whom we have already alluded, seems to have led the way in this career of discovery. In 1767, he had constructed a machine called a spinning-jenny, which enabled a spinner to spin eight threads with the same facility that one had been previously spun; and the machine was subsequently brought to such perfection as to enable a little girl to work no fewer than from eighty to one hundred and twenty spindles !
With the exception of Sir Richard Arkwright, perhaps, there is no individual to whom the manufactures of this country are so largely indebted as Hargraves. Never was the maximc'est le premier pas qui coute-more completely verified than on this occasion. It is true that his machine was of very inferior powers to those by which it was immediately followed. But it is not, perhaps, too much to say, that it was one great cause of their being introduced. No sooner had it been seen what a simple mechanical contrivance could effect, than the attention of the most ingenious individuals was immediately drawn to the subject; and the path was opened, by following which so many splendid inventions and discoveries have been made.
But however much Hargraves' inventions may have tended to enrich others, to himself they were productive only of bankruptcy and ruin. The moment the intelligence transpired that he had invented a machine by which the spinning of cot
ton was greatly facilitated, an ignorant and infuriated mob, composed chiefly of persons engaged in that employment, broke into his house, and destroyed his machine; and sometime after, when experience had completely demonstrated the superiority of the jenny, the mob again resorted to violence, and not only broke into Hargraves' house, but into the houses of most of those who had adopted his machines, which were everywhere proscribed. In consequence of this persecution, Hargraves removed to Nottingham, where he took out a patent for his invention. But he was not, even there, allowed to continue in the peaceable enjoyment of his rights. His patent was invaded, and he found it necessary to apply to the courts for redress. A numerous association was in consequence formed to defeat his efforts; and being, owing to a want of success in an attempt to establish himself in business, unable to contend against the wealth and influence of the powerful combination arrayed against him, he was obliged to give up the unequal contest, and to submit to see himself robbed of the fruits of his ingenuity. He soon after fell into a state of extreme poverty; and, to the indelible disgrace of his age and country, was permitted to end his days, even after the merit of his invention had been universally acknowledged, in the workhouse at Nottingham !*
The invention of the spinning-jenny has been ascribed by Mr Guest, in his very meagre, prejudiced, and superficial work on the History of the Cotton Manufacture,† to a person of the name of Highs, or Hayes, a reed-maker in Bolton. But he has not produced a tittle of evidence to show that Hargraves knew anything of Highs; and as he is admitted on all hands to have been the first who made the invention public, we do not see the shadow of a ground for attempting to deprive him of the honour of the discovery.
The jenny was applicable only to the spinning of cotton for weft, being unable to give to the yarn that degree of firmness and hardness which is required in the longitudinal threads or warp. But this deficiency was soon after supplied by the invention of the spinning frame-that wonderful piece of machinery which spins a vast number of threads of any degree of fineness and hardness, leaving to man merely to feed the machine with cotton, and to join the threads when they happen to break. It is
See the Case of Richard Arkwright and Company, in 1782. + Mr Baines has taken almost all his statements with respect to the history of the cotton manufacture from Guest-a circumstance that detracts considerably from the value of his work.
not difficult to understand the principle on which this machine is constructed, and the mode of its operation. It consists of two pairs of rollers, turned by means of machinery. The lower roller of each pair is furrowed, or fluted longitudinally, and the upper one is covered with leather, to make them take a hold of the cotton. If there were only one pair of rollers, it is clear that a carding of cotton, passed between them, would be drawn forward by the revolution of the rollers, but it would merely undergo a certain degree of compression from their action. No sooner, however, has the carding or roving, as it is technically termed, begun to pass through the first pair of rollers, than it is received by the second pair, which are made to revolve with (as the case may be) three, four, or five times the velocity of the first pair. By this admirable contrivance, the roving is drawn out into a thread of the desired degree of tenuity-a twist being given to it by the adaptation of the spindle and fly of the common flax-wheel to the machinery.
Such is the principle on which Sir Richard Arkwright constructed his famous spinning-frame. It is obvious that it is radically and completely different from the previous methods of spinning either by the common hand-wheel or distaff, or by the jenny, which is only a modification of the common wheel. Spinning by rollers was an entirely original idea; and it is difficult which to admire most-the profound and fortunate sagacity which led to so great a discovery, or the consummate skill and address by which it was so speedily perfected and reduced to practice.
The extraordinary individual to whom we are indebted for this great and signal invention, was born at Preston, in Lancashire, in 1732. He was the youngest of thirteen children, and was bred to the trade of a barber. But the res angusta domi could not repress the native vigour of his mind, or extinguish the desire he felt to emerge from his low situation. In the year 1760, he had established himself in Bolton-le-Moors, where he exchanged the trade of a barber for that of an itinerant hair merchant; and having discovered a valuable chemical process for dyeing hair, he was in consequence enabled to amass a little property. It is unfortunate that very little is known of the steps by which he was led to those inventions that raised him to affluence, and have immortalized his name. Residing in a district where a considerable manufacture of linen goods, and of linen and cotton mixed, was carried on, he had ample opportunities of becoming acquainted with the various processes that were then in use; and being endowed with a most original and inventive genius, and having sagacity to perceive what was likely to prove the most advantageous pursuit in which he could em
bark, his attention was naturally drawn to the improvement of the method of spinning practised in his neighbourhood. He stated that he accidentally derived the first hint of his great invention from seeing a red-hot iron bar elongated, by being made to pass between rollers;* and though there is no mechanical analogy between that operation and his process of spinning, it is not difficult to imagine, that by reflecting upon it, and placing the subject in different points of view, it might lead him to his invention. The precise era of the discovery is not known; but it is most probable, that the felicitous idea of spinning by rollers had occurred to his mind as early as the period when Hargraves was engaged in the invention of the jenny, or almost immediately after. Not being himself a practical mechanic, Arkwright employed a person of the name of John Kay, a watchmaker at Warrington, to whom we shall afterwards have to refer, to assist him in the preparation of the parts of his machine. ving made some progress towards the completion of his inventions, he applied, in 1767, to Mr Atherton, of Liverpool, for pecuniary assistance, to enable him to carry them into effect; but this gentleman declined embarking his property in what appeared so hazardous a speculation, though he is said to have sent him some workmen to assist in the construction of his machine; the first model of which was set up in the parlour of the house belonging to the Free Grammar School at Preston.
His inventions being at length brought into a pretty advanced state, Arkwright, accompanied by Kay, and a Mr Smalley, of Preston, removed to Nottingham, in 1768, in order to avoid the attacks of the same lawless rabble, that had driven Hargraves out of Lancashire. Here his operations were at first greatly fettered by a want of capital. But Mr Strutt, of Derby, a gentleman of great mechanical skill, and largely engaged in the stocking manufacture,+ having seen Arkwright's
* See the account of the life of Sir Richard Arkwright, in the article Derbyshire, in the Beauties of England and Wales,-Vol. iii. p. 518. The statements in this account are of the highest authority, inasmuch as we have reason to believe it was furnished by Mr Strutt, the son of Sir Richard Arkwright's first partner.
This was the justly-celebrated Mr Jedediah Strutt. He was the son of a farmer, and was born in 1726. His father paid little attention to his education; but, under every disadvantage, he acquired an extensive knowledge of science and literature. He was the first individual who succeeded in adapting the stocking-frame to the manufacture of ribbed stockings. The manufacture of these stockings, which he established at Derby, was conducted on a very large scale,-first by himself and his partner Mr Need, and subsequently by his sons, until about 1805, when they withdrew from this branch of business.
inventions, and satisfied himself of their extraordinary value, immediately entered, conjointly with his partner, Mr Need, into partnership with him. The command of the necessary funds being thus obtained, Sir Richard Arkwright erected his first mill, which was driven by horses, at Nottingham, and took out a patent for spinning by rollers, in 1769. But as the mode of working the machinery by horse-power was found too expensive, Sir Richard built a second factory, on a much larger scale, at Cromford, in Derbyshire, in 1771; the machinery of which was turned by a water wheel, after the manner of the famous silk mill erected by Sir Thomas Lombe. Having made several additional discoveries and improvements in the processes of carding, roving, and spinning, he took out a fresh patent for the whole in 1775;* and thus completed a series of machinery so various and complicated, yet so admirably combined, and well adapted to produce the intended effect, in its most perfect form, as to excite the astonishment and admiration of every one capable of appreciating the ingenuity displayed, and the difficulties overcome.
The vast importance of the discoveries, for which Sir Richard Arkwright had taken out patents, became very speedily known; and it is not surprising that every effort should have been made to have them set aside, and Sir Richard deprived of the profit and honour to be derived from them. But after a pretty attentive consideration of the various proceedings relative to this subject, we have no hesitation in saying, that we see no good grounds for crediting the statement made in the Court of King's Bench in 1785, and recently repeated by Mr Guest in his work on the Cotton Manufacture, which ascribes the invention of spinning by rollers to Highs or Hayes, from whom Arkwright is said to have learned it; and we shall now briefly state our reasons for holding this opinion.
Sir Richard Arkwright's first patent for spinning by rollers, which is by far the most important, or rather, indeed, the essential part of his inventions, was obtained, as we have previously stated, in 1769. The success which attended this method of spinning very soon excited the strongest desire, on the part of the Lancashire manufacturers, to participate in the advantages to be derived from so admirable an invention; and, in
* See the excellent article on the "Cotton Manufacture," in the Supplement to the Encyclopædia Britannica, (Vol. III. p. 393,) written by Mr Dugald Bannatyne, of Glasgow; the case of Richard Arkwright and Company, in 1782; the account of Sir Richard Arkwright in Aikin's Biographical Dictionary; the History, Gazetteer Lancashire, by Edward Baines, Vol. II. p. 484, &c.