glasses over their shoulders. The boys fired off gunpowder, or threw squibs or crackers from morning till night. It was one of the greatest schoolboy events of the year. My little brass cannon and hand-guns were very busy during that day. They were fired until they became quite hot. These were the pre-lucifer days. The fire to light the powder at the touch-hole was obtained by the use of a flint, a steel, and a tinder-box. The flint was struck sharply on the steel; a spark of fire fell into the tinderbox, and the match of hemp string, soaked in saltpetre, was readily lit, and fired off the little guns.

I carried on quite a trade in forging beautiful little steels. I forged them out of old files, which proved excellent material for the purpose. I filed them up into neat and correct forms, and then hardened and tempered them, secundum artem, at the little furnace stove in my father's workroom, where of course there were also a suitable anvil, hammer, and tongs. I often made potent use of these steels in escaping from the ordeal of some severe task imposed upon me at school. The schoolmaster often deputed his authority to the monitors to hear us say our lessons. But when I slyly exhibited a beautiful steel the monitor could not maintain his grim sense of duty, and he often let me escape the ordeal of repeating some passage from a Latin school-book by obtaining possession of the article. I thus bought myself off. This system of bribery and corruption was no doubt shockingly improper, but as I was not naturally endowed with the taste for learning Latin and Greek, I continued my little diplomatic tricks until I left school.

As I have said, I did not learn much at the High School. My mind was never opened up by what was taught me there. It was a mere matter of rote and cram. I learnt by heart a number of Latin rules and phrases, but what I learnt soon slipped from my memory. My young mind was tormented by the tasks set before me. At the same time my hungry mind thirsted for knowledge of another kind.

There was one thing, however, that I did learn at the High School. That was the blessings and advantages of friendship. There were several of my schoolfellows of a like disposition with myself, with whom I formed attachments which ended only with life. I may mention two of them in particular -- Jemmy Patterson and Tom Smith. The former was the son of one of the largest iron founders in Edinburgh. He was kind, good, and intelligent. He and I were great cronies. He took me to his father's workshops. Nothing could have been more agreeable to my tastes. For there I saw how iron castings were made. Mill-work and steam-engines were repaired there, and I could see the way in which power was produced and communicated. To me it was a most instructive school of practical mechanics. Although I was only about thirteen at the time, I used to "lend a hand," in which hearty zeal made up for want of strength. I look back to these days, especially to the Saturday afternoons spent in the workshops of this admirably conducted iron foundry, as a most important part of my education as a mechanical engineer. I did not read about such things; for words were of little use. But I saw and handled, and thus all the ideas in connection with them became permanently rooted in my mind.

Each department of the iron foundry was superintended by an able and intelligent man, who was distinguished not only by his ability but for his steadiness and sobriety. The men were for the most part promoted to their fore-manship from the ranks, and had been brought up in the workshop from their boyhood. They possessed a strong individuality of character, and served their employer faithfully and loyally. One of these excellent men, with whom I was frequently brought into contact, was William Watson. He took special charge of all that related to the construction and repairs of steam-engines, water-wheels, and mill-work generally. He was a skilful designer and draughtsman, and an excellent pattern maker. His designs were drawn in a bold and distinct style, on large deal boards, and were passed into the hands of the mechanics to be translated by them into actual work. It was no small privilege to me to stand by, and now and then hold the end of the long straight edge, or by some humble but zealous genuine help of mine contribute to the progress of these substantial and most effective mechanical drawings. Watson explained to me, in the most common-sense manner, his reasons for the various forms, arrangements, and proportions of the details of his designs . He was an enthusiast on the subject of Euclid; and to see the beautiful problems applied by him in working out his excellent drawings was to me a lesson beyond all price.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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