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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. Having 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,t 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 manu. facture 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.
1772, they entered into a combination, and raised an action to have the patent set aside, on the ground that Sir Richard Arkwright was not the original inventor. But the evidence brought forward at the trial was quite insufficient to support this allegation. A verdict was accordingly given in Sir R. A.'s favour; and he retained, without farther opposition of any sort, the exclusive enjoyment of the patent, until the expiration of the fourteen years.
The second patent taken out by Sir Richard Arkwright, in 1775, for additional inventions in the carding and preparation of the cotton for spinning, was not attempted to be disturbed for about six years. In 1781, however, it was contested by a powerful combination, consisting chiefly of the same persons who had attacked his former patent, and a verdict was obtained against him, not on the ground of prior invention, but on the ground that he had not given a sufficiently distinct description of the machinery in the specification. Sir Richard admitted that he had purposely expressed himself with some obscurity, in the view of preventing foreigners from pirating his inventions. On any other principle, indeed, his conduct would be inexplicable; for, as his inventions were fully known to hundreds of workmen in his own employment, and as he had sold the privilege of using them to great numbers of individuals in different parts of the country, it is impossible to suppose that he could either have expected or intended to conceal his inventions after the expiration of his patent. In consequence of the result of this trial, Sir Richard Arkwright and his partners prepared a Case, setting forth the value of the inventions, and the circumstances which had led to the indistinctness complained of in the specification, which they at one time intended to lay before Parliament, as the foundation of an application for an act for their relief. But this intention was subsequently abandoned : and in a new trial, which took place in the Court of Common Pleas, on the 17th of February 1785, Lord Loughborough, the presiding judge, having expressed himself favourably with respect to the sufficiency of the specification, a verdict was given for Sir Richard Arkwright.
In consequence of these conflicting verdicts, the whole matter was brought, by a writ of scire facias, before the Court of King's Bench, to have the validity of the patent finally settled. It is of importance to observe, that, on the two previous trials, no objection had been made to the patent on the ground of priority of invention, but solely on the ground of want of distinctness in the specification. But on this third trial, which took place before Mr Justice Buller and a special jury, on the 25th of June 1785, the patent was contested on both grounds-on
that of prior invention, as well as on that of imperfect specification. In support of the former, Highs or Hayes, the reed-maker at Bolton, was, for the first time, brought forward.
He stated, that he had invented a machine for spinning by rollers, previously to 1768; that he had employed the watchmaker, Kay, to whom we have already referred, to make a model of that machine; and Kay was brought forward to prove that he had communicated that model to Sir Richard Arkwright; and that that was the real source of all his pretended inventions. Having no idea that any attempt was to be made to overturn the patent on this new ground, Sir Richard's counsel were not prepared with evidence to repel this statement; but it was stated by Mr Sergeant Adair, on a motion for a new trial on the 10th of November of the same year, that he was furnished with affidavits contradicting, in the most pointed manner, the evidence that had been given by Kay and others, with respect to the originality of the invention. The Court, however, refused to grant a new trial, on the ground, that whatever might be the fact, as to the question of originality, the deficiency in the specification was enough to sustain the verdict.
But, independently altogether of the statements made on the motion for a new trial, the improbability of the story told by Highs and Kay seems glaring and obvious. Highs states in his evidence, that he had accused Arkwright of getting possession of his invention by means of Kay so early as 1769, or about that period. Where, then, it may be asked, was this Mr Highs in 1772, when the trial to set aside Sir Richard Arkwright's first patent took place ? and where was he at the two trials in 1781, and in February 1785? Living in Lancashire, associating with manufacturers, and in the habit, as he declares in his evidence, of making machines for them, he could not fail to be speedily informed with respect to the vast importance and value of the invention Sir Richard Arkwright had purloined from him. It is impossible but he must have been acquainted with the efforts that were making by the Lancashire manufacturers to set aside the patents: And is it to be supposed that if he had really been the inventor, he would have remained for sixTEEN years a passive spectator of what was going forward ? that he would have allowed Sir Richard Arkwright to accumulate a princely fortune by means of his inventions, while he remained in a state of poverty? or that he would have withheld his evidence when the manufacturers attempted to wrest from Sir R. A. what he had so unjustly appropriated? A single hint from Highs or Kay would, had their story been well founded, have sufficed to force Sir Richard Arkwright to give them a share of his profits, or would have furnished the manufacturers with the means they were so anxious to obtain, of procuring the immediate dissolution of the patents. But it has never been alleged that Sir Richard Arkwright took any sort of pains to conciliate these persons: on the contrary, he treated Highs with the most perfect indifference; and not only dismissed Kay from his service, but even threatened to prosecute him on a charge of felony! And can any one imagine for a moment that persons with so many and such overpowering temptations to speak out, and with no inducement of any sort to be silent, should have gone about for more than twice the period of a Pythagorean novitiate, with so important a secret closely pent up in their bosoms? We confess that such a supposition seems to us altogether absurd and incredible; and we believe our readers will agree with us in thinking that it is infinitely more consistent with probability to suppose that the story of Highs and Kay had been manufactured for the occasion, than that it was really true.
The improbability of the statements made on this subject by Guest, in his History of the Cotton Manufacture, appears still more obvious, from what has been already remarked, of his attributing to Highs the invention not only of the spinning frame, but also of
the jenny, which had been universally ascribed to Hargraves. But no weight can be attached to such rash and ill-considered statements. It would be next to a miracle, had two methods of spinning, both very ingenious, but radically different in their first principles, been invented nearly at the same time by the same individual.
It appears from a communication from Mr Charles Wyatt to his brother, in the Repertory of Arts for 1817, and which has been reprinted by Mr Kennedy, in an interesting article on the Rise and Progress of the Cotton Trade in the Manchester Memoirs, (2d Series, vol. III. p. 135,) as well as from the distinct reference to them in the Case printed by Sir Richard Arkwright and Company in 1782, that attempts had been made in the early part of last century to spin cotton by means of machinery. But these attempts proved ruinous to the parties by whom they were made; and all knowledge of the machinery by which they attempted to effect their purpose, has been long since lost. Mr Kennedy says he had seen a specimen of yarn spun about 1741, by the late Mr Wyatt of Birmingham; but he expresses his opinion that no competent judge would say that it was spun by a similar machine to that of Sir Richard Arkwright. It was not indeed alleged at either of the trials that took place with respect to the validity of Sir Richard's patent, nor has it ever been alleged since, that he had borrowed anything whatever from these remote attempts. If he was really indebted for