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JAMES HARGRAVES.

The period at which the cotton manufacture was first introduced into Great Britain is conjectured to have been in the early part of the seventeenth century, and there is reason to believe that Manchester was the first seat of the art. As a source of commercial profit, however, this species of trade remained long very insignificant-the only mechanical power employed in the fabrication of the yarn being the common one-thread spinning wheel. Moreover, for the period of a century at least, the west or transverse threads of the web, only, were cotton, it having been found difficult, if not reckoned impossible, owing to the want of proper machinery, to manufacture cotton warp---that is, the longitudinal threads of the web-of sufficient strength; and in place of which, linen yarn, principally from Germany and Ireland, was substituted. The cotton manufacture was then wholly conducted on the system of cottage industry. Every weaver was a master manufacturer; his cottage was his factory, and himself the sole artisan. He provided himself with the west and warp as he best could, wove them into a web, and disposed of it at market to the highest bidder.

About 1760, merchants in England began to employ weavers to work up the prepared material, and the business of exporting cottons, both to the continent of Europe and to America, began to be carried on on a larger scale than formerly. As the demand for the manufactured article continued to increase, a greater and greater scarcity of west was experienced, till, at last, although there were fifty thousand spindles constantly at work in Lancashire alone, each occupying an individual spinner, they were found quite inadequate to supply the quantity of thread required. It may here be mentioned, that already the art of weaving had been considerably improved. The old plan, of throwing the shuttle containing the west, from side to side of the web, by the hand, was superseded, in 1738, by a person of the name of John Kay, a native of Bury in Lancashire, who invented a new method of casting the shuttle, by an extremely simple and effectual mechanical contrivance, wherein one hand of the weaver did the work of both. In 1760, Robert Kay of Bury, a son of John, invented the drop-box, a contrivance by means of which a weaver can at pleasure use any one of the three shuttles without stopping, and can thereby produce a fabric of various colors, almost with the same facility that he can weave a common calico.

While the art of weaving was thus considerably improved, the process of carding the cotton wool was yet clumsy and expensive. At length, this also was remedied. The first improvement on carding was made, as almost every improvement in the cotton manufacture has been, by a person in humble lifeJames Hargraves, a carpenter at Blackburn in Lancashire. This illiterate, but most ingenious and inventive person, adapted the stock-cards used in the woollen manufacture to the carding of cotton, and greatly improved them. In consequence, a workman was enabled to execute about double the work, and with greater ease, than by means of hand cards—the only instrument previously in use. Hargraves'inventions were soon suco

ucceeded by the cylindrical cards, or carding machine.

But the tedious and expensive method of spinning by the hand, was the grand obstacle in the way of the extension and improvement of the manufacture. Insurmountable, however, as this obstacle must, at first sight, have appeared, it was completely overcome by the unparalleled ingenuity, talent, and perseverance of a few self-taught individuals. Hargraves seems to have led the way in this career of discovery. In 1767, he had constructed a machine called a spinning-jenny, which enabled a spinner to spin eight threads with the same facility that one had been previously spun; and the machine was subsequently brought to such perfection as to enable a little girl to work no fewer than from eighty to one hundred and twenty spindles! There are few individuals to whom the manufacture of cotton is so largely indebted as Hargraves. It is true that his machine was of very inferior powers to those by which it was immediately followed. But it is not, perhaps, too much to say, that it was one great cause of their being introduced. No sooner had it been seen what a simple mechanical contrivance could effect, than the attention of the most ingenious individuals was immediately drawn to the subject; and the path was opened, by following which so many splendid inven. tions and discoveries have been made.

However much Hargraves' inventions may have tended to enrich others, to himself they were productive only of bankruptcy and ruin. The moment the intelligence transpired that he had invented a machine by which the spinning of cotton was greatly facilitated, an ignorant and infuriated mob, composed chiefly of persons engaged in that employment, broke into his house, and destroyed his machine; and some time after, when experience had completely demonstrated the superiority of the jenny, the mob again resorted to violence, and not only broke into Hargraves' house, but into the houses of most of those who had adopted his machines, which were everywhere proscribed.

In consequence of this persecution, Hargraves removed to Nottingham, where he took out a patent for his invention. But he was not, even there, allowed to continue in the peaceable enjoyment of his rights. His patent was invaded, and he found it necessary to apply to the courts for redress. A numerous association was in consequence formed to defeat his efforts; and being, owing to a want of success in an attempt to establish himself in business, unable to contend against the wealth and influence of the powerful combination arrayed against him, he was obliged to give up the unequal contest, and to submit to see himself robbed of the fruits of his ingenuity. He soon after fell into a state of extreme poverty, and, to the indelible disgrace of his age and country, was permitted to end his days in the workhouse at Nottingham, even after the merit of his invention had been universally acknowledged.

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