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My Friend the Watch - The Atlantic

For two years I have had a most faithful, intimate, and useful friend, whom I have constantly worn next my heart. I do not know him for a Spiritualist, but by some mysterious sympathy he hears the incessant, ghostly foot-falls of Time, and repeats them accurately to my ear. While I wake he tells me how Time is passing. While I sleep he is still marking his steps, so that sometimes I have a feeling of awe, as if my mysterious friend were counting my own life away. Then again I am sure that in the faint, persistent monotone of his voice I hear the singing of the old mower's inevitable scythe. The Imagination contemplates this friend of mine with wonder. But Science sees him holding the hand of a captain in his ship at sea, or of a conductor in a train on shore, and honors in him the friend of civilization.

His native place is Waltham, in Massachusetts, and he invited me but a few days since to accompany him in a little visit thither. I cheerfully assented, and we took the cars in Boston, at the Worcester Depot, and after passing a range of unsavory back-yards and ill-favored houses, and winding beneath streets and by the side of kennels, we emerged upon the broad meadows and marshes from which rise in the distance the Roxbury and Brookline hills. The whole region is covered with bright, wooden houses. The villages have a pert, thrifty, contented air, which no suburbs in the world surpass. If the houses are very white and a village looks like a camp, it is because the instinct of the inhabitants assures them that they may strike their tents to-morrow and move Westward or elsewhere to a greater prosperity. In older countries the stained and ancient stone houses are symbols of the inflexible state of society to which they belong. The dwellers are anchored to that condition. There is no "Westward ho" for them. Like father, like son. The hod-carrier's son carries hods. Even the headsman's office is hereditary.

"Yes, yes," hummed my friend, in his patient, persistent monotone, "the American citizen is an aërial plant. He has no roots. There is no wrenching, when he changes place. If there were, how could he overrun the continent in time? He must carry lighter weight than Caesar's soldiers. What has he to do with old houses? His very inventions would make his house intolerable to him in twenty or thirty years."

"But we are going at this very moment to see your ancestral halls, are we not?" I modestly inquired.

"Yes," he replied; "but they are not ten years old, and every year changes them."

By this time we were gliding through the gardens of Brookline and Brighton, which have been afflicted of late years with the Mansard epidemic. It has swept the whole region. Scarcely a house has escaped. Even the newest are touched,—sometimes only upon the extremities or outbuildings, but more frequently they are covered all over with the Mansard.

"That affection of the house-top," whispered I to my friend, "was originally derived from the dome of the Invalides, and has raged now for a century and a half."

"Yes," replied my companion, gravely, "we are not very fastidious in our importations."

He went on murmuring to himself as usual. Then he resumed more audibly,—

"I suppose that most people, upon looking at me, would take me for a foreigner. But you know how peculiarly native American I am. I am indeed only a watch, and," added my modest friend, glancing at the gold chain which hung from my waistcoat button-hole to the pocket, "if you will pardon my melancholy joke, I am for putting Americans only upon guard."

This military expression suddenly sent my thoughts elsewhere; and for some time the rattling of the cars sounded in my ears like another rattling, and the gentle Charles River was to my eyes the historic Rapidan or Rappahannock.

"Don't you think," unobtrusively ticked my watch, "that the exhortation to encourage home-industry has a peculiar force just now? I mean nothing personal; and I hope you will not think me too forward or fast."

"I have never had reason to think so," I answered; "and I am so used to look upon your candid face to know exactly what the hour is, that I shall be very much obliged, if you will tell me the time of day in this matter also; unless, indeed, you should find the jar of the cars too much for you, and prefer to stop before you talk."

"If I stopped, I certainly could not talk," my watch answered; "and did you ever know me to stop on account of any jar?"

I hastened to exculpate myself from any intention of unkind insinuation, and my watch ticked steadily on.

"If your mill turns only by a stream that flows to you through your neighbor's grounds, your neighbor has your flour at his mercy. You can grind your grist when he chooses, not when you will."

I nodded. My watch ticked on,—

"When you live on a marsh where the tide may suddenly rise house-high without warning, if you are a wise man, you will keep a boat always moored at the door."

"I certainly will," responded I, with energy.

"Very well. Every nation lives on that marsh which is called War. While war is possible,—that is to say, in any year this side of the Millennium,—there is but one sure means of safety, and that is actual independence. At this moment England is the most striking illustration of this truth. She is the most instructive warning to us, because she is the least independent and the most hated nation in the world. England and France and the United States are the three great maritime powers. We all know how much love is lost just now between England and ourselves. How is it with her ancient enemy across the Channel? The answer is contained in the reported remark of Louis Napoleon: 'Why do the English try to provoke a war with me? They know, if I should declare war against England, that there is not an old woman in France who would not sell her last shift to furnish me with means to carry it on.' Great Britain is at this moment under the most enormous bonds to keep the peace. They are the bonds of vital dependence upon the rest of the world.—Shall I stop?" asked my watch.

"No, no; lose no time; go regularly on," answered I.

"Very well; while England sneers and rages at us, let us be warned by her. She lives by her looms; but her looms and her laborers are fed from abroad. Therefore she lies at the mercy of her enemies, and she takes care never to make friends. She snarls and shows her teeth at us. She sees us desperately fighting, and yet she can neither spring nor bite. It is the moment most favorable for her to strike, but she cannot improve it. She hopes and prays for the ruin of our government, seeing, that, if it falls from internal disease, and not from a foreign blow, her most threatening political and commercial rival is overthrown. And she does not shrink from those hopes and prayers, although she knows that the result she so ardently desires will be the establishment by military power of a huge slave-empire, a counter-civilization to that of Christianity. Fear of her life makes England false and timid. Her dependence upon other nations has compelled her to abdicate her position as the head of Saxon civilization, which is the gradual enlarging of liberty as the only permanent security of universal international prosperity and peace. Indeed, it is not denied that the tone of British opinion in regard to human slavery is radically changed. That change is the measure of the timidity and sophistication, the moral deterioration inevitably produced in any people by the consciousness of its dependence for the means of labor and life upon other nations. The crack of the plantation-whip scares Washington no longer, but it pierces the heart of Westminster with terror.

"See how utterly mean and mortifying is her attitude toward us. John Bull looks across the highway of the world into his neighbor's house. 'D' ye see,' he mutters, 'that man chastising his son in his house yonder? Let's play that they are not related, and ask him what he means by assaulting an innocent passenger.' Then he turns to the rest of the people in the street, who know exactly how virtuous and mild John Bull is in his own family-relations, who have watched his tender forbearance with his eldest son Erin, and his long-suffering suavity with his youngest son India, and says to them,—'To a moral citizen of the world it is very shocking to see such an insolent attack upon a peaceable person. That man is an intolerable bully. If he were smaller, I'd step over and kick him.'—Do you feel drowsy?" asked my watch.

"I was never more awake," I answered; "but you seem to me,—although, when I look at you and think of Waltham, it is the most natural thing in the world,—yet you do seem hard upon Old England, Mother England, spite of all."

"Ah!" ticked my American watch, "not even I would for a moment seem to be unjust to all that is manly and noble and friendly in England and among Englishmen. There are two nations there, as Disraeli had already said in one sense, when Gasparin said it in another. There is the sound old stock from which flowers the finest modern civilization. From that come the sweetness, the candor, the perception and sympathy of men like Mill and Cairnes and Bright. From that springs all the nobler thought of England. It is to that thought, to that spirit of lofty humanity and pure justice, that Garibaldi appeals in his address to the English people from his prison,—an appeal which seems utterly ludicrous, if you think of it as addressed to the historic John Bull, but which is perfectly intelligible and appropriate, if you remember that Sir Philip Sidney was an Englishman as well as George IV., and that John Stuart Mill is no less English than Lord Palmerston or Russell. It is with that spirit that American civilization is truly harmonious. But there is the other, merely trading, short-sighted, selfish spirit, which is typified by the coarse John Bull of the pictures, and which has touched almost to a frenzy of despair Carlyle in the "Latter-Day Pamphlets" and Tennyson in "Maud." That is the dominant England of the hour. That is the England which lives at the mercy of rivals. And that is the England which, consequently, with feverish haste, proclaims equal belligerence between the leaders of an insurrection for the extension and fortification of slavery and the nation which defends its existence against them. That is the England whose prime-minister alleges that a friendly power has authorized an insult, while at the very moment in which he speaks he carries in his pocket the express disclaimer of that power. That is the England which incessantly taunts and reviles and belies a kindred people, whose sole fault is that they were too slow to believe their brothers parricides, and who were credulous enough to suppose that England loved not only the profit, but the principle, of Liberty under Law."

"It is very sad; but it certainly seems so," said I.

"Seems, my dear friend? nay, it is," ticked my watch, persistently. "It is the inevitable penalty of national deterioration which any people must pay that in its haste to be rich forgets to secure its actual independence. Thus Richard Cobden, the most sagacious of English statesmen, is the most unflinching apostle of peace, because he knows that England has put it out of her power to go to war. I saw you reading his late argument against a blockade. Did you reflect that it was really an argument against war? 'How absurd,' he cries, 'that a commercial nation, which lives by imports and exports, paying for the one by the other, should, by shutting up ports in which it wishes to buy and sell, cut its own hands and feet off, and so bleed to death!' 'In a commercial nation,' says the orator, 'the system of blockade is mere suicide.'

"But a blockade may be clearly as effective a means of warfare as a cannonade. If you can cut off your enemy from all that he gives and all that he gets from without, you have taken the first great step in war. Unless he can supply himself, he must presently surrender or perish. For war is brute force. It is a process of terrible compulsion. 'Do this,' says War, 'or you shall burn, and starve, and hunger, and be shot, and die.'

"The point to be settled between the two combatants is, which can stand starving and shooting longest. If one of them depends for his food upon the sale to others of what he makes, and depends for what he makes upon what he can get from others, it is easy enough to see, that, if the other is self-supporting, his victory is sure, if he have only the means to cut off supplies. England is at the mercy of a skilful and effective blockade. No wonder her shrewdest statesman implores her to see it.

"'My dear John Bull,' says Cobden, 'an honorable member of your Parliament, a miller and grain-merchant, estimates that the food imported into England between September of last year and June of this year was equal to the sustenance of between three and four millions of people for a twelve-month; and his remark to me was, that, if that food had not been brought from America, all the money in Lombard Street could not have purchased it elsewhere, because elsewhere it did not exist.'

"That is the position of a nation with the hand of another upon its throat.—Do I tire you?" ticked my watch.

"Not at all. I am listening intently, and trying to see what you are coming to," I answered.

"We are coming, and very rapidly, to West Newton and the Waltham
Watch-Factory," ticked my companion.

"I hope so. It was where I understood you to invite me to go," said I.

"Courage, my friend! Before we get to the factory, let us understand the reason of it. Let me finish showing you why I have a national pride in my ancestral halls, and why I think that the American flag floats over that building as appropriately as over Fort Adams or Monroe."

"I have always trusted you implicitly," I answered.

"Well, then, England is a nation whose mill grinds at the will of a neighbor. Is it wonderful that so sagacious a statesman as Cobden says that the blockade is a terrible thing for a commercial people? Take the estimate of his authority, and imagine the supply of food from this country into England stopped, and the bumptious little island necklaced with Monitors to cut off the Continental supply. Do we not hold one of her hands with our grain, and the other with our cotton? The grain she gets, but the cotton is substantially stopped; what is the consequence? Listen to Mr. Cobden. The case, he says, 'is so grave, so alarming, and presents itself to those who reflect upon what may be the state of things six months hence in such a hideous aspect, that it is apt to beget thoughts of some violent remedy.' He computes that by Christmas the Government must come to the aid of the pauper operatives, of whom there are now seven hundred and fifty thousand, a number which will then have increased to nearly a million.

"Of all nations, then, the industrial example of England is to be avoided by every sensible people. She has been willing to wear chains, because they were gold. But the pre-Millennial nations must be able to stand alone; and we at this moment know more than ever that we must work out our own national salvation, not only without aid, which we had no reason to ask, but without sympathy, which we had every honorable right to expect. But, to be a truly independent people, we must practically prove our self-sufficiency; and at this moment patriotism shows itself not only in defending the nation against the Rebellion, but in the heartiest encouragement of every art and manufacture for which our opportunities and capacities fit us."

My watch here ticked so loudly and defiantly that I feared some neighboring passenger might have a Frodsham or Jurgensen in his pocket and feel insulted.

"A nation like ours," steadily ticked my watch, "seated upon a continent from sea to sea, with so propitious a variety of climate and with such imperial resources of every kind, if it brought all its powers to bear upon its productions and opportunities, would be absolutely invincible, because entirely independent. It need not, therefore, sit a cynic recluse on the Western sea. It need not, therefore, deny nor delay the dawn of the Millennial day, which the poet beheld, when

  'The war-drum throbbed no longer, and the
         battle-flags were furled,
  In the Parliament of man, the Federation
         of the world.'

"Tick, tick, tick," urged my watch. But I made no reply.

"Why, then," it continued, "do we consent to look longer to Europe for any of the essential conveniences of life? Why are our clothes not made of American cloth or of American silk? Why are our railroads not laid with American iron? Yes, and why,—pardon me, but we are very near Waltham,—why is our time not told by American watches? Tea and coffee, doubtless, we cannot grow, nor do lemons and bananas ripen in our sun. But has not the time come when every hearty American will say, 'All that I can get here which is good enough and cheap enough for the purpose, I will not look for elsewhere; and all that I can do to develop every resource and possibility, I will do with all my heart'?"

"I do not wish to dampen your enthusiasm," answered I, "but I remember a story of that friend of Southern liberty and author of the Fugitive-Slave Bill, Mason of Virginia. He appeared in the Senate during the Secession winter, in a suit of Southern-made clothes. The wool was grown and spun and woven in Virginia, and Mason wore it to show that Virginia unassisted could clothe her children. But a shrewder man than Mason quietly turned up the buttons on the Secession coat and showed upon them the stamp of a Connecticut factory."

"Have you ever found me unreasonable?" ticked my friend. "Have you ever seen even my hand tremble, as it pointed out to you so many hours in which you have been earnestly interested? I am not excited even by my own existence, and I claim nothing extravagant. There will always be some things that we may not be able to make advantageously. Absolute independence of the rest of the world is no more possible than desirable. But everything which tends to increase instead of diminishing a vital dependence is nationally dangerous. I think, if you will consider me attentively, you will agree that I ought to know that trade is everywhere controlled by positive laws; nor will any wise watch expect them to be long or willingly disregarded by the most enthusiastic patriotism. Knowing that, we do not need to go far to discover why so many important conveniences are still made for us by foreign hands. The immense and compact population of Europe compels a marvellous division of labor, whereby the detail of work is more perfected, and it also forces a low rate of wages, with which in a new country sparely peopled like ours the manufacture of the same wares can scarcely compete. This is the great practical difficulty; but it can be obviated in two ways. If a people assume that the fostering of its own manufactures is a cardinal necessity, it can secure that result either by the coarse process of compulsory duties upon all foreign importations, or by developing the ingenuity and skill which will so cheapen the manufacture itself as to make up the difference of outlay in wages.

"Then, if the work is as well done and as cheaply furnished"——ticked my watch, a little proudly and triumphantly.

"Then it needs only to be known, to be universally and heartily welcomed," said I. "Patriotism and the laws of trade will coincide, and there will be no excuse for depending longer upon the foreign supply."

"But the fact must be made known," ticked my watch, thoughtfully.

"It certainly must," I answered.

"Well, it is a fact that a man can get a better watch more cheaply, if he buys an American instead of a foreign one."

Friendship and gratitude inspired my reply.

"I will put my mouth to the 'Atlantic Trumpet,'—I mean 'Monthly,'—and blow a blast."

"That is not necessary; but as we are very near the station at West Newton where we leave the railroad, and as I have endeavored to show you the national importance of doing everything for ourselves that we reasonably can, you will probably interest your hearers more, if you give them a little description of your visit to my birthplace. Excuse me, but I have watched you pretty constantly for two years, and, if you will be governed by me, as you have generally been during that time, you will not undertake any very elaborate mechanical description, but say a few words merely of what you are going to see."

This sensible advice was but another proof of the accuracy of my watch.

While it was yet ticking, the train stopped at West Newton, and we stepped out upon the platform. The station nearest to the Watch-Factory is that at Waltham upon the Fitchburg Railroad; but by taking the Worcester cars to West Newton, you secure a pleasant drive of a mile or two across the country. If you can also secure, as my watch took care to do for me, the company of the resident manager of the factory, the drive is entirely pleasant and the talk full of value.

We import about five millions of dollars' worth of watches every year, mainly from England and Switzerland through France, and then pay about as much more to get them to go. Of course inquisitive Yankee ingenuity long ago asked the question, Why should we do it? If anything is to be made, why should not we make it better than anybody in the world? The answer was very evident,—because we could not compete with the skilled and poorly paid labor of Europe. But during the last war with England the question became as emphatic as it is now, and a practical answer was given in the excellent watches made at Worcester in Massachusetts, and at Hartford in Connecticut.

But these were merely prophetic protests. The best watches in use were Swiss. Four-fifths of the work in making them was done by hand in separate workshops, subject of course to the skill, temper, and conscience of the workmen. The various parts of each were then sent in to the finisher. Every watch was thus a separate and individual work. There could be no absolute precision in the parts of different watches even of the same general model; and only the best works of the best finishers were the best watches. The purchase of a watch became almost as uncertain as that of a horse, and many of the dealers might be called watch-jockeys as justly as horse-dealers horse-jockeys.

A.L. Dennison, of Maine, seems to have been the first who conceived American watch-making as a manufacture that could hold its own against European competition. It was clear enough that to put raw and well-paid American labor into the field against European skill and low wages, with no other protection than four per cent., which was then the tariff, was folly. But why not apply the same principle to making watches that Eli Whitney applied to making fire-arms, and put machinery to do the work of men, thereby saving wages and securing uniform excellence of work? There was no reason whatever, provided you could make the machinery. Mr. Dennison supplied the idea; who would supply the means of working it out? He was an enthusiast, of course,—visionary, probably; for in all inventors the imagination must be so powerful that it will sometimes disturb the conditions essential to the practical experiment; but he interested others until the necessary tools began to appear, and enough capital being willing to try the chances, the experiment of making American watches by machinery began in Roxbury in the year 1850. After various fortunes, the manufacture passed from the original hands into those of the present company, which is incorporated by the State of Massachusetts.

"Do you think," whispered I to my watch, as I listened to these facts, "that the experiment is still doubtful?"

My companion ticked so indignantly that my friend the manager evidently suspected what question I had asked, and he answered at once,—

"The experiment is already perfectly successful. We have had our critical moments, but"——

"But now," proudly ticked my watch, "now we have weathered the Cape Horn of adversity and doubt, and ride secure upon the deep Pacific sea of prosperity and certainty. You had better blow a note like that through your Atlantic Bugle. Set your tune high, and play it up loud and lively."

"It seems to me," answered I, "that the tune plays itself. There is no need of puffing at the instrument."

While my watch was thus pleasantly jesting, we had passed through a low pine wood and come out upon the banks of the Charles River. Just before us, upon the very edge of a river-basin, was a low two-story building full of windows, and beyond, over the trees, were spires. They were the steeples of Waltham, and the many-windowed building was the factory of the American Watch Company. It stands upon a private road opened by the Company in a domain of about seventy acres belonging to them. The building thus secures quiet and freedom from dust, which are essential conditions of so delicate and exquisite a manufacture.

The counting-room, which you enter first, is cheerful and elegant. A new building, which the Company is adding to the factory, will give them part of the ampler room the manufacture now demands; and within the last few months the Company has absorbed the machinery and labor of a rival company at Nashua, which was formed of some of the graduate workmen of Waltham, but which was not successful. Every room in the factory is full of light. The benches of polished cherry, the length of all of them together being about three-quarters of a mile, are ranged along the sides of the rooms, from the windows in which the prospect is rural and peaceful. There is a low hum, but no loud roar or jar in the building. There is no unpleasant smell, and all the processes are so neat and exquisite that an air of elegance pervades the whole.

The first impression, upon hearing that a watch is made by machinery, is, that it must be rather coarse and clumsy. No machine so cunning as the human hand, we are fond of saying. But, if you will look at this gauge, for instance, and then at any of these dainty and delicate machines upon the benches, miniature lathes of steel, and contrivances which combine the skill of innumerable exquisite fingers upon single points, you will feel at once, that, when the machinery itself is so almost poetic and sensitive, the result of its work must be correspondingly perfect.

My friend—not the watch, but the watchmaker—said quietly, "By your leave," and, pulling a single hair from my head, touched it to a fine gauge, which indicated exactly the thickness of the hair. It was a test of the twenty-five hundredth part of an inch. But there are also gauges graduated to the ten-thousandth part of an inch. Here is a workman making screws. Can you just see them? That hardly visible point exuding from the almost imperceptible hole is one of them. A hundred and fifty thousand of them make a pound. The wire costs a dollar; the screws are worth nine hundred and fifty dollars. The magic touch of the machine makes that wire nine hundred and fifty times more valuable. The operator sets them in regular rows upon a thin plate. When the plate is full, it is passed to another machine, which cuts the little groove upon the top of each,—and of course exactly in the same spot. Every one of those hundred and fifty thousand screws in every pound is accurately the same as every other, and any and all of them, in this pound or any pound, any one of the millions or ten millions of this size, will fit precisely every hole made for this sized screw in every plate of every watch made in the factory. They are kept in little glass phials, like those in which the homoeopathic doctors keep their pellets.

The fineness and variety of the machinery are so amazing, so beautiful,—there is such an exquisite combination of form and movement,—such sensitive teeth and fingers and wheels and points of steel,—such fairy knives of sapphire, with which King Oberon the first might have been beheaded, had he insisted upon levying dew-taxes upon primroses without the authority of his elves,—such smooth cylinders, and flying points so rapidly revolving that they seem perfectly still.—such dainty oscillations of parts with the air of intelligent consciousness of movement,—that a machinery so extensive in details, so complex, so harmonious, at length entirely magnetizes you with wonder and delight, and you are firmly persuaded that you behold the magnified parts of a huge brain in the very act of thinking out watches.

In various rooms, by various machines, the work of perfecting the parts from the first blank form cut out of Connecticut brass goes on. Shades of size are adjusted by the friction of whirring cylinders coated with diamond dust. A flying steel point touched with diamond paste pierces the heart of the "jewels." Wheels rimmed with brass wisps hum steadily, as they frost the plates with sparkling gold. Shaving of metal peel off, as other edges turn, so impalpably fine that five thousand must be laid side by side to make an inch. But there is no dust, no unseemly noise. All is cheerful and airy, the faces of the workers most of all. You pass on from point to point, from room to room. Every machine is a day's study and a life's admiration, if you could only tarry. No wonder the director says to me, as we move on, that his whole consciousness is possessed by the elaborate works he superintends.

He opens a door, while we speak, and you would not be in the least surprised, in the exalted condition to which the wonderful spectacle has brought you, to hear him say, "In this room we keep the Equator." In fact, as the door opens, and the gush of hot air breathes out upon your excited brain, it seems to you as if it undoubtedly were the back-door to—the Tropics. It is the dial-room, in which the enamel is set. The porcelain is made in London. It is reduced to a paste in this room, and fused upon thin copperplates at white heat. When cooled, it is ground off smoothly, then baked to acquire a smooth glaze. It is then ready for painting with the figures.

When all the pieces of the watch-movement are thus prepared, they are gathered in sets, and carried to the putting-up room, where each part is thoroughly tested and regulated. The pieces move in processions of boxes, each part by itself; and each watch, when put together, is as good as every other. In an old English lever-watch there are between eight and nine hundred pieces. In the American there are but about a hundred and twenty parts. My friend the director says, that, if you put a single American against a single European watch, the foreign may vary a second less in a certain time; but if you will put fifty or a hundred native against the same number of foreign watches, the native group will be uniformly more accurate. In the case of two watches of exactly the same excellence, the regulator of one may be adjusted to the precise point, while that of the other may imperceptibly vary from that point. But that is a chance. The true test is in a number.

"If now we add," ticked the faithful friend in my pocket, "that watch-movements of a similar grade without the cases are produced here at half the cost of the foreign, doesn't it seem to you that we have Lancashire and Warwickshire in England and Locle and La Chaux de Fond in Switzerland upon the hip?"

"It certainly does," I answered,—for what else could I say?

Five different sizes of watches are made at Waltham. The latest is the Lady's Watch, for which no parent or lover need longer go to Geneva. And the affectionate pride with which the manager took up one of the finest specimens of the work and turned it round for me to see was that of a parent showing a precious child.

While we strolled through every room, the workers were not less interesting to see than the work. There are now about three hundred and fifty of them, of whom nearly a third are women. Scarcely twenty are foreigners, and they are not employed upon the finest work. Of course, as the machinery is peculiar to this factory, the workers must be specially instructed. The foremen are not only overseers, but teachers; and I do not often feel myself to be in a more intelligent and valuable society than that which surrounded me, a wondering, staring, smiling, inquiring, utterly unskilful body in the ancestral halls of my tried friend and trusty counsellor, The American Watch.