Murdoch was the inventor of the first model locomotive, and the inventor of gas for lighting purposes; and yet he always kept himself in the background, for he was excessively modest. He was happiest when he could best promote the welfare of the great house of Boulton and Watt. Indeed he was a man whose memory ought to be held in the highest regard by all true engineers and mechanics.

The sight which I obtained of the vast series of workshops of this celebrated establishment -- filled with evidences of the mechanical genius of these master minds -- made me feel that I was indeed on classic ground in regard to everything connected with steam-engine machinery. Some of the engines designed by Watt -- the prototypes of the powerful condensing engines of the present day -- were still performing their daily quota of work. There was "Old Bess," a sort of experimental engine, upon which Watt had tried many adaptations and alterations, for the purpose of suiting it for pumping water from coal mines. There was also the engine with the sun-and-planet motion, an invention of William Murdoch's. Both of these engines were still at work.

I went through the workshops, where I was specially interested by seeing the action of the machine tools. There I observed Murdoch's admirable system of transmitting power from one central engine to other small vacuum engines attached to the individual machines they were set to work. The power was communicated by pipes led from the central air or exhaust pump to small vacuum or atmospheric engines devoted to the driving of each separate machine, thus doing away with all shafting and leather belts, the required speed being kept up or modified at pleasure without in any way interfering with the other machines. - This vacuum method of transmitting power dates from the time of Papin; but until it received the masterly touch of Murdoch it remained a dead contrivance for more than a century.

I concluded my visits to the workshops of Birmingham by calling upon a little known but very ingenious man, whose work I had seen before I left Edinburgh, in a beautifully constructed foot turning-lathe made by John Drain. I was so much impressed with the exquisite design, execution, and completeness of the lathe, that I made it one of my chief objects to find out John Drain's workshop. It was with some difficulty that I found him. He was little known in Birmingham. His workshops were very small; they consisted of only one or two rooms. His exquisite lathes were not much in demand. They found their way chiefly to distant parts of the country, where they were highly esteemed.

I found that he had some exquisitely finished lathes completed and in hand for engraving the steel plates for printing bank notes. They were provided with the means of producing such intricate ornamental patterns as to defy the utmost skill of the forger. Perkins had done a good deal in the same way; but Drain's exquisite mechanism enabled his engraving lathes to surpass anything that had before been attempted in the same line. I believe that Drain's earnest attention to his work, in which he had little or no assistance, undermined his health, and arrested the career of one who, had he lived, would have attained the highest position in his profession. I shall never forget the rare treat which his fine mechanism afforded me. Its prominent quality was absolute truth and accuracy in every part.

Having now had enough of the Black Country and of Birmingham workshops, I proceeded towards London. There were no more manufacturing districts to be visited. Everything now was to be green lanes, majestic trees, old mansions, venerable castles, and picturesque scenery. There is no way of seeing a country properly except on foot. By railway you whiz past and see nothing. Even by coach the best parts of the scenery are unseen. "Shank's naig" is the best of all methods, provided you have time. I had still some days to spare before the conclusion of my holiday. I therefore desired to see some of the beautiful scenery and objects of antiquarian interest before returning to work.

I made my way across country to Kenilworth. The weather was fine, and the walk was perfect. The wayside was bordered by grassy sward. Wide and irregular margins extended on each side of the road, and noble trees and untrinnned hedges, in their glowing autumnal tint, extended far and wide. Everything was in the most gloriously neglected and therefore highly picturesque condition. Here and there old farmhouses and labourers' cottages peeped up from amidst the trees and hedges -- worthy of the landscape painter's highest skill.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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