7 MARCH 1835, Page 19


THE productions by which nations removed from absolute bar- barism contrive to clothe themselves without resorting to the shift of our original parents, are four in number; two are animal sub- stances—wool, and silk ; two are vegetable—flax, and cotton. A good account cf the linen, cotton, silk, or woollen trades, must always possess interest for the curious inquirer. It would show the splendid results of human perseverance and ingenuity ; ex- hibit the beneficently useful effects of commerce when conducted in a spirit of perfect freedom ; prove the advantages which me- chanical operations derive from experimental science ; and de- monstrate in what way labour, and labour only, creates wealth, how the division or combination of labour increases its productive powers, what still further assistance is rendered by machinery, and how again the application of natural elements, so far from super- seding the employment of men, adds to their number by the extension of demand which follows cheapness of price. Philoso- phically written, the history of an extensive manufacture is poll- tidal economy taught by examples. The cotton trade not only combines all these points in the fullest.

degree, but it possesses peculiar sources of interest to Englishmen. Its improvement and expansion are " without parallel in the an- nals of industry :" all the discoveries which led to its improve- ment have originated in England. This country is the principal seat of the manufacture; its exercise gives bread to a million and a half of our people; one half of our exports consist of cotton goods ; and though at the first blush the trade seems ill-adapted to Britain from its dependence on other countries for the raw material, yet our natural advantages are really so great that it is questionable if any other nation will ever be able to compete with us.

The reader who wishes a distinct and copious account of a manu-

facture possessing such universal and national interest, will do Fell to possess himself of Mr. BAINES'S History. He will find in it a description of the various kinds of cotton plants, and of their wools ; with a sketch--slight indeed, but as ample as the mate- rials will permit—of the early spread and progress of the trade, and of its first establishment in the various European countries. There is also a most minute and interesting narrative, full of new informa- tion and living knowledge, regarding the inventions which have totally changed the character of the manufacture, intermingled with sketches of the men by whose inventive genius these gigantic changes were accomplished, and anecdotes of the difficulties they had to surmount and the hardships with which they had to struggle. Besides which, we have elaborate explanations of' the successive steps in the processes of spinning and weaving the cloth, and of the modes of bleaching and printing it, with an es- timate of the extent and value of the manufacture, and a view of the present condition of the classes engaged in it. To enter into all these points, would of course encroach far too much upon the space of a newspaper; but we will endeavour to convey some ge- neral idea of the successive stages of the manufacture, and of the principles on which the improvements have been founded. The leading processes which this fabric undergoes, from its ar-

rival in England as the raw material till its final departure from the factory, are seven. The first thing to be done is to clean the cotton wool ; the next is to comb the tangled fibres, and lay them parallel to each other; by the third, the short fibres are twisted into a thread ; the fourth process is to weave the threads or yarn into cloth; washing frees it from the dirt which it has con- tracted during its manufacture; bleaching removes the original colour of the cotton ; and finally, the printer impresses upon it

the many-coloured patterns which adapt it to the ornamental uses of dress or furniture. Till towards the middle of the last century, every one of these processes was performed by hand : now every one is executed by machinery ; man is merely an attendant upon mechanical power: and what are the results ?—" Sixty years since, our manufacturers consumed little more than three million pounds of raw cotton annually; the annual consumption is now two hundred and eighty million pounds. In 1750, the county of Lancaster, the chief seat of the trade, had a population of only 297,900: in 1S31, the number of its inhabitants had swelled to 1,336,834 ; and a similar increase has taken place in Lanarkshire, the principal seat of the manufacture in Scotland."

The first important invention, and which laid the foundation of all the subsequent improvements, was the spinning-machine, by which the fibres of the cotton-wool were twisted into thread. From the earliest origin of' the art down to this discovery, the cotton manufacture had made little progress, and no improve - ment. The Hindoos worked with the same implements and in the same manner as they did thousands of years ago : in Europe, the coarsest articles, the warp of which was formed by linen thread, could only be produced, and those in limited quantities; for every individual thread had to be spun singly and by hand, with a distaff and spindle. As one weaver—for the manufacture was then carried on in cottages—could use up much more yarn than many spinnerscould produce, there was always a difficulty in procuring the raw material. When the'supply which he could ob- tain from the females of his own family was exhausted, he had to quit his loom, traverse the neighbourhood, Hatter the caprices, bribe the vanity, and submit to the imposition or at least to the demands of the spinners, and was then not always able to procure a sufficiency of yarn. Any sudden demand increased the diffi- culty; and " the weavers were sometimes paid less for the weft than they paid the spinner ; but durst not complain, much less abate the spinner, lest their looms should be unemployed." This scarcity of raw material seemed likely to be more felt in 1738, by an improvement in throwing the shuttle ; though, perhaps owing to the circumstances already mentioned, it made little immediate pro- gress. It is clear that the disadvantages under which the weavers laboured were felt by all ; it is probable, though we find few traces of it in the volume, that many minds were turned towards the subject, with a view to remedy the evil. Be this as it may, the principle of the mode which ARKW1GHT successfully reduced to practice in 1769, or rather some few years afterwards, was dis- covered in 1738, by JOHN Wvarr or LEWIS PAUL (for though Mr. BAINES speaks with certainty as to Wrerr, we think his conclu- sion scarcely supported by the evidence). The object in view was to supersede the distaff and spindle, that could only produce one thread, by a machine that should spin several threads at once. The principle then discovered, and now so successfully adopted, was to wind the rovings, or tow, on a cylinder, and pass them through two or more pairs of rollers (the second pair revolving with greater swiftness than the first) to a spindle, which twisted the loose fibres into a thread. At first the moving power was a horse ; and the number of threads spun by the original machine of ARKWRIGHT was on‘four; so that, looking at the expense of a horse and man, no great saving could have been accomplished. The clue, however, was gained : the application of water power removed the objection of costliness ; further improvements were made in the machine; and finally, the advancement of the steam- engine by WATT gave an original moving power to any extent, and by lengthening the rollers any number of threads could be spun. The result is thus stated by Mr. FAREY, in his Treatise on the Steam-Engine. A steam-engine of 100 horse-power, which has the strthgth of 880 mem, gives a rapid motion to 50,000 spindles, for spinning fine cotton threads :. each

spindle forms a separate thread, and the whole number work together in an immense building, erected on purpose, and so adapted to receive the machines that no room is lost. Seven hundred and fifty people are sufficient to attend

all the operations of such a cotton mill; and by the assistance of the steam-en- gine they will he enabled to spin as much thread as 200,000 persons could do without machinery,—or one person can do as much as 266. The engine "elf only requires two men to attend it, and supply it with fuel. Each spindle in s mill will produce between two and a half and three hanks (of 840 yards each)

per day, which is upwards of a mile and a quarter of thread in twelve hours ; so that the 50,000 spindles will produce 62,500 miles of thread every day Of twelve hours, which is more than a sufficient length to go two and a half titan round the globe.

In converting the cotton fibres into thread, two processes were undergone. By the first, called roving, the short fleecy rolls of the cotton were made into thick threads, termed rovings; spin- ning converted these rovings into yarn. The original machines of ARKWItiCHT were only intended for spinning, but they were readily applicable to both processes, and thus obtained a great ad- vantage over HARGREAVES' spinning-jennies, which were adapted for spinning only. This invention, though of later discovery than the germ of spinning by rollers, was a year or two earlier reduced to practice. Its principle was to multiply the number of spindles; and " HARGREAVES is said to have received the original idea eif his machine from seeing a one-thread wheel everturned upon. the floor when both the wheel and the spindle continued to revolve. The spindle was thus thrown from a horizontal into an upright position ; and the thought seems to have struck him, that if a number of spindles were placed upright, and side by siee, se- veral threads might be spun at once. He contrived a frame, in one part of which he placed eight rovings in a row, and in another part a row of eight spindles." Thus, by these two inventions, the difficulty of procuring a sufficient supply of raw materials for the weaver was obviated: the d priori probability was that their wonderful powers might never be sufficiently developed, from a v aat of means to employ their products. This, in fact, seems to have been felt. In 1784, the Reverend Dr. CARTWRIGHT (brother of the celebrated Major) was at Man- chester; and the conversation turning on ARKWRIGHT'S spinning- machinery, a gentleman observed— That as soon as Arkwright's patent expiied, so many mills would be erected, and so much cotton spun, that hands never could be found to weave it. To this observation I replied, that Arkwright must then set his wits to work to in- vent a weaving-mill. This brought on a conversation on the subject, in which theMancliester gentlemen unanimously agreed that the thing was impr acticable; and, in defence of their opinion, they adduced arguments which I certainly was incompetent to answer, or even to comprehend, being totally ignorant of the subject, having never at that time seen a person weave. I controverted, however, the impracticability of the thing, by remarking, that there had lately been exhi- bited in London an automaton figure which played at chess. Now you will not assert, gentlemen, said I, that it is more difficult to construct a machine that shall weave, than one which shall make all the variety of moves which are re- quired in that complicated game. Some little time afterwards, a particular circumstance recalling this con- versation to my mind, it struck me that, as in plain weaving, according to the conception I then had of the business, there could only be three movements, which were to follow each other in succession, there would be little difficulty in producing and repeating them. Full of these ideas, I immediately employed a carpenter and smith to carry them into effect. As soon as the machine was finished, I got a weaver to put in the warp, which was of such materials as sail- cloth is usually made of. To my great delight, a piece of cloth, such as it was, was the produce. As I had never before turned my thoughts to any thing me- chanical, ether in theory or practice, nor had ever seen a loom at work, or knew any thing of its construction, you will readily suppose that my first loom was a most rude piece of machinery. The warp was placed perpendicularly, the reed fell with the weight of at least half a hundred weight, and the springs which threw the shuttle were strong enough to have thrown a Congreve rocket. In short, it required the strength of two powerful men to work the machine at a slow rate, and only a short time. Conceiving, in my great simplicity, that I bad accomplished all that was required, I then secured what I thought a most valuable property, by a patent, 4th of April 1785. This being done, I then condescended to see how other people wove; and you will guess my astonish- ment, when I compared their easy modes of operation with mine. Availing myself, however, of what I then saw, I made a loom, in its general principles nearly as they are now made. But it was not till the year 1787 that I com- pleted an invention, when I took out my last weaving patent August 1st of that year.

This machine was not, however, successfully worked; but many improvements were made upon it which rendered it available ; and in the mean time invention once stimulated was constantly on the alert. Mechanical science discovered machines forcleaning, carding, and combing cotton wool ; and CRONIPTON, improving upon HAR- GREAVES and ARKWRIGHT, was enabled by his mule to spin threads of the finest texture; whilst lie was in turn improved upon by others. Chemical science was applied to bleaching ; and a pro- cess which formerly occupied from six to eight months, was ren- dered capable of being performed in almost the same number of hours. Cylinder-printing in many cases superseded hand-printing with blocks; by which means " a piece of cloth may be printed or dried in one or two minutes, which by the old method would have required the application of the block 448 times. The saving of labour is therefore immense; one of the cylinder printing-ma- chines, attended by a man and a boy, is actually capable of pro- ducing as much work as could be turned out by one hundred block-printers and as many tear-boys."

There still remain unnoticed very many points of interest, either in the volume or suggested by its statements. Not the least im- portant of thes.! is the answer which the facts of the cotton trade furnish to those who trace every fall in the price of a commodity to a risein the value of gold, and hence proceed to measure the ex- tent of the "depreciation." But we must be chary of breaking fresh ground. To those who feel an interest in the subject, we can cordially recommend this volume. It is all but complete; and in saying this, we are not perfectly sure that it could be rendered more complete. The deficiency we allude to regards the descrip- tion of the processes, which are perhaps scarcely done so as fully to satisfy the mind. How far this is practicable for a general reader who may know nothing of the actual modes, or of any analogous to them, may be a question ; and perhaps the obser- vation of JOHNSON on "sounds in general" may be applied to the complex and delicate processes of a manufacture—that "words are unable to describe them."