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window in the Isle of Wight, were to make
out, by means of some wise aphis dwelling
under a vein in a leaf, the mathematical facts
of the Edinburgh and Perth Railway. When
we think of it, our minds reel under the
burden of this knowledge.

Somewhat in the same way, but less
eminently, we cannot but marvel at the perfection
that men have reached in recording the
passage of time. There are natural helps to this
which diminish the wonder: but still it is a
wonder of great magnitude. When we look
at the matter on one side, we see that time is
given out, as it were, from the magnitudes
and motions of the stars; and in that view, it
seems a deed almost beyond estimate, that
man should have caught this product, and
made it record its own lapse from moment to
moment. When we look at the other side, and
see how the sun presents man with a natural
clock, by simply shining where a shadow can
be cast, whether of a sapling or an Egyptian
pyramid, our wonder lessens to an endurable
degree. We know that, in fact, the sick man
measures his bitter hours by the sunshine or
shadow on the wall of his chamber; and the
shepherd in the wilds by the ellipse he has
drawn for the hours round the solitary tree;
and that the old Egyptians are said to have
learned much more than the time of day by
measuring the sharp line of shadow drawn
on the glaring sands of the desert, by the
mute and immovable Pyramid of Cheops,
under compulsion from the relentless sun,
which there never withdraws behind clouds
but by some rare caprice. Between the setting
of the sun and the rising of the moon, the
great dial may rest; but only then may it
refuse to show the hours. From making
dials, in imitation of these natural ones, to
making clocks, in which the circumstance of
the shadow is dropped altogether, is, however,
a long stride: and there is room for rational
admiration when we consider what a true
and lasting relation and accord man has
established between the jog of the wheels in
his pocket-watch and the spinning of the
planets in space; between the tick which
amuses the baby ear leaning against his
breast, and the harmonies of the stars in their
courses. This appears a great thing to us
when we meditate upon it in a walk, or when
the tick of the watch tells upon the ear in the
darkness of the night. But, to receive the
full impression, we should go into the
work-shop where scores of men and boys are busy
in making and arranging the materials,—the
hard, dead mineral materials,—which are to
give out something intangible, unutterable, as
real as themselves, yet purely ideal in its
connexion with us. That men by putting
together brass and steel, and a jewel or two,
and some engraved marks, should present to
us, as in a mirror, the simultaneous doings
of the stars in the sky, seems to raise the
work-room into a place of contemplation or
eloquent discourse.

Thus did it appear to us yesterday, when
we entered a fine range of rooms, where a
great number of men and boys were occupied
in the business of watch-making for the
Messrs. Rotherham. There was no resisting
the sense of the seriousness of their work in
comparison with that (though equally delicate
and intently pursued) by which baubles are
produced. There is something serious about
the whole business. It is a serious thing that
it is science and labour which gives its high
value to a watch, and not the costliness of the
material. A cable was put into our hands,
the steel of which was worth nothing that
could be specified; whereas, in its present
form, it was worth two shillings. Each link,
almost too small to be seen by the naked eye,
is composed of five parts, each of which is
made and placed for a purpose. The mere
metal of the whole interior of a watch is worth,
we were told, perhaps sixpence; whereas, the
labour and skill worked up in it raise its
value to many pounds. All is very quiet in
these large apartments, where scores of men
and boys are poring over their work. The
quadrangle of rooms has windows completely
round both sides. Under the windows a
counter extends, completely round also. Almost
every workman has a small magnifying glass,
which he fits to the right eye, for the finest
part of his work. Of course, the right eye
fails, sooner or later. One man was spoken
of as having worked for this house between
forty and fifty years; but this was a remarkable
case. The eye is usually worn out in a
much shorter time than that. Besides the
long rows of poring craftsmen here, we were
told that there were two hundred more in
their own homes, employed for the same firm.
Having heard of their house as the largest
watch manufactory in the inland counties, if
not in the kingdom, it was with great interest
that we received the details of the history and
extent of their business.

It appears that somewhere about 1783, one
Vale saw that there was an opening in
Coventry for the making of watches; and he
set up the business now conducted by the
Messrs. Rotherham. From that day to this,
great difficulty has arisen from the prejudice
against country-made watches. If there ever
was, as some say, good reason for this distrust
of Coventry watches, there is not now; yet
the difficulty exists, and occasions some curious
embarrassments. Ten years ago, the annual
production of watches by this firm was about
six thousand; it is now nearly nine thousand.
If we consider the durable character of a
watchthat a single one generally serves us
for a lifetimethis will be seen to be a large
production. But there seems to be no doubt
that the demand would be larger, but for the
prejudice against Coventry watches, which is
akin to that against Birmingham jewellery.
The dispute lately pending between a great
Coventry house and the Assay Office at
Birmingham, is a curious illustration of the way