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Kay's Originals Vol. 2


Volume 9 Page 502
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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 317 " After much trouble, expense, and reiterated experiments, I have happily succeeded in completing a new weaving-loom, of which a working-model, with cloth in it, is presented to the Society for their inspection. It has, upon trial, succeeded beyond expectation-answers in every respect the purpose for which it is intended, and has met with the approbation of manufactivers of the fist respectability in the country. '' After many different attempts, I think I have brought my weaving-loom, which may be driven with water or steam, to such a state of perfection, as to prove its utility the more it is known and employed. " My first attempt was made in the year 1789.' I at that time entered a caveat for a patent, but relinquished the idea of obtaining one, and have since made many improvements upon my original plan. In 1796 a report in4 its favour waa made by the Chamber of Commerce and Manufactures at Glasgow ; and in the year 1798 a loom waa actually set at work, in Mr. J. Monteith's spinning-works at Pollockshaws, four miles from Glasgow, which answered the purpose 80 well, that a building was erected by Mr. Monteith for containing thirty looms, and aftemarda another to hold about two hundred. " The model now submitted is an improvement upon those constructed for Mr. Monteith." The power-loom thus appears to have occupied his attention for a number of years ; and as an instance of the enthusiasm with which he prosecuted his labours, he was on one occasion heard to say that "he had often wished some person would put him in jail, that he might have time to follow out his ideas undisturbed." Mr. Austin was awarded a silver medal by the Society of Arts, for his " various improvements in machinery ;I' but his invention, after all, is understood to have been chiefly valuable as the means of stimulating others to produce looms of greater utility. As indicated by his portrait, Mr. Austin was a heavy, corpulent man: but very energetic, and could perform some extraordinary gymnastic feats. On one occasion, when locked up in a jury case, by way of amusement, he seated himself on the ground, and holding up his feet with his hands, astonished his fellow-jurors by hobbling in this position round the room. He was a jolly, cheerful companion ; and, notwithstanding the failure of his scientific speculations, continued to maintain a philosophical cheerfulness of temper. He occupied a delightful cottage at the head of the Public Green, which was then a fashionable situation for villas. Judging from the appearance of the house, and the profusion of shrubbery and flowers with which the enclosure was adorned, any one would have pronounced Mr. Austin a man of taste and cultivated mind, independently of the reputation he had acquired by his mechanical and musical pursuits. Mr. Austin, we believe, began business an a manufacturer in Glasgow much abont the same time with Mr. Jam= Monteith, Mr. Robert Thomson, and the Messrs. M'Ilquham, all of whom either realised immense fortunes, or put their families in the way of doing 80. Mr. Austin was not so fortnnate, though a man of intelligence, tsste, and skill. While his plodding contemporaries were steadily pursuing their immediate interests, he was seldom without some abstraoting conceit, which for the time exclusively engaged his attention. In a print engraved by Sherwin, after a design by Rowlandson, called '* Smitbfield Sharpers," an excellent likeness of Mr. Austin is to be found in the jolly landlord, who is in the act of bringing in a bowl of punch. Boniface weam a cocked hat, and 80 did Mr. Austin at the time referred to. The reaemblance waa once pointed out to him in a jocular way by a friend. With characteristic good humour, Mr. Austin replied by exclaiming, '' 0, you buffer ! " meaning, no doubt, that it WBB unfair to place him in such company. The print, though rsre, is still occasionally to be met with. VOL. 11. 3c
Volume 9 Page 503
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