I made my way to the impressive ruins of Dudley Castle, the remnant of a very ancient stronghold, originally built by Dud, the Saxon. The castle is situated on a finely wooded hill; it is so extensive that it more resembles the ruins of a town than of a single building. You enter through a treble gateway, and see the remnants of the moat, the court, and the keep. Here are the central hall, the guard, rooms, and the chapel. It must have been a magnificent structure. In the Midlands it was known as the "Castle of the Woods" Now it is abandoned by its owners, and surrounded by the Black Country. It is undermined by collieries, and even penetrated by a canal. The castle walls sometimes tremble when a blast occurs in the bowels of the mountain beneath. The town of Dudley lies quite close to the castle, and was doubtless protected by it in ancient times.

The architectural remains are of various degrees of antiquity, and are well worthy of study, as embodying the successive periods which they represent. Their melancholy grandeur is rendered all the more impressive by the coal and iron works with which they are surrounded -- the olden type of buildings confronting the modern. The venerable trees struggle for existence under the destroying influence of sulphurous acid; while the grass is withered and the vegetation everywhere blighted. I sat down on an elevated part of the ruins, and looked down upon the extensive district, with its roaring and blazing furnaces, the smoke of which blackened the country as far as the eye could reach; and as I watched the decaying trees I thought of the price we had to pay for our vaunted supremacy in the manufacture of iron. We may fill our purses, but we pay a heavy price for it in the loss of picturesqueness and beauty. I left the castle with reluctance, and proceeded to inspect the limestone quarries in the neighbourhood. The limestone has long been worked out from underneath the castle; but not far from it is Wren's Nest Hill, a mountain of limestone. The wrens have left, but the quarries are there. The walk to the hill is along green lanes and over quiet fields. I entered one of the quarries opened out in the sloping precipice, and penetrated as far as the glimmer of sunlight enabled me to see my way. But the sound of the dripping of water from the root of the cave warned me that I was approaching some deep pool, into which a false step might plunge me. I therefore kept within the light of day. An occasional ray of the sun lit up the enormous rock pillars which the quarrymen had left to support the roof. It was a most impressive sight.

Having emerged from the subterranean cave, I proceeded on my way to Birmingham. I reached the town in the evening, and found most comfortable quarters. On the following day I visited some of the factories where processes were carried on in connection with the Birmingham trade. I saw the mills where sheet brass and copper were rolled for the purpose of being plated with silver. There was nothing in these processes of novel interest, though I picked up many practical hints. I could not fail to be attracted by the dexterous and rapid manipulation of the work in hand, even by boys and girls whose quick sight and nimble fingers were educated to a high degree of perfection. I could have spent a month profitably among the vast variety of small traders in metal, of which Birmingham is the headquarters. Even in what is called "the toy trade," I found a vast amount of skill displayed in the production of goldsmith work, in earrings, brooches, gold chains, rings, beads, and glass eyes for stuffed birds, dolls, and men.

I was especially attracted by Soho, once the famous manufacturing establishment of Boulton and Watt. Although this was not the birthplace[note: The birthplace of the condensing engine of Watt was the workshop in the Glasgow University, where he first contrived and used a separate condenser -- the true and vital element in Watt's invention. The condenser afterwards attained its true effective manhood at Soho The Newcomen engine was in fact a condensing engine, but as the condensation was effected inside the steam cylinder it was a very costly source of power in respect to steam. Watt's happy idea of condensing in a separate vessel removed the defect. This was first done in his experimental engine in the Glasgow University workshop, and before he had made the one at Kinniel for Dr. Roebuck.]

of the condensing steam-engine it was the place where it attained its full manhood of efficiency, and became the source and origin of English manufacturing power. Watt's engine has had a greater influence on the productive arts of mankind than any other that can be named. Boulton also was a thorough man of business, without whom, perhaps, Watt could never have made his way against the world, or perfected his magnificent invention. Not less interesting to my mind was the memory of that incomparable mechanic, William Murdoch, a man of indomitable energy, and Watt's right-hand man in the highest practical sense.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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