Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 12.djvu/145

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28. The success of the Newcomen engine naturally attracted the attention of mechanics, and of scientific men as well, to the possibility of making other applications of steam-power.

The greatest men of the time gave much attention to the subject; but, until James Watt began the work that has made him famous, nothing more was done than to improve the proportions and to slightly alter the details of the Newcomen and Cawley engine, even by such skillful engineers as Brindley and Smeaton.

Of the personal history of the earlier inventors and improvers of the steam-engine very little is known; but that of Watt has been fully traced.

29. This great man was born at Greenock, then a little Scotch fishing-village, but now a considerable and a busy town, which annually

PSM V12 D145 James Watt.jpg
James Watt.

launches upon the waters of the Clyde a fleet of steamships whose engines are probably, in the aggregate, far more powerful than were all the engines in the world at the date of Watt's birth—January 19, 1736.

He was a bright boy, but exceedingly delicate in health, and quite unable to attend school regularly, or to apply himself closely to either study or play.

His early education was given by his parents, who were respectable and intelligent people, and the tools borrowed from his father's carpenter's-bench served at once to amuse him and to give him a dexterity and familiarity with their use that must undoubtedly have been of inestimable value to him in after-life.

M. Arago, the eminent French philosopher, who wrote one of