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Plan of an Affociation for the Improvement of Chemical Arts in Great Britain.
To confer on the manufactures of Britain an indisputed fuperiority in all markets, they must be equally good at least, and be fold cheaper than those of other nations: But nothing tends fo much to diminish the expence of manufactures, as improvements in the chemical departments; with regard to which our knowledge is but yet in its infancy.
It chances, unfortunately for us, that most of the important chemical discoveries in arts have been made in foreign parts, and our manufacturers acquire a knowledge of them only in common with thofe of all other nations. We have, therefore, no fuperiority above others in this refpect; but in many cafes, the re
But if men of genius were encouraged to profecute difcoveries at home, and were certain of deriving a profit from these discoveries, proportioned to their real importance, we would foon find, that the people of Britain would not be behind any other nation, either in refpect to industry or ingenuity.
To call forth that induftry, then, let us fuppofe, for example, that all the bleachers in Britain, or as many of them as fhould choose to unite for that purpose, fhould join into one great society, and contribute annually to be diftributed by them in premiums to those who should communicate to this fociety any important chemical discovery respecting their own profeffion. The whole money subscribed, to be diftributed among the competitors, in proportion to the estimated value of each discovery, refpectively;-or in the other ways that shall be afterwards defcribed.
These premiums to be adjudged and apportioned by a committee of manufacturers, affifted by fome able
chemifts; every member of which committee fhall take an oath not to divulge any of the fecrets fubmitted to him as a judge in this cafe, farther than he shall be permitted to do by the difcoverer, or the manufacturers on whofe joint account he acts.
When this committee had made the neceffary experiments to afcertain the facts fubmitted to their cogniz ance, and had judged of the importance of each, in regard to their employers, and had afcertained the premium they thought proper to affign to each, they ought," before they came to any final determination, to fend at fealed note to each candidate, mentioning the precife fum they were willing to bestow on him for the difcovery. If, after this, the candidate made no objection, it should be underflood, that he acquiefced, and actu-t ally fold his difcovery to the affociation for the fum mentioned, making oath, at the fame time, that he had not communicated it to any other perfon, nor fhould communicate it, without the permiffion of the affociation. But if the difcoverer was diffatisfied with the fum offered, it should be in his power to retain his fecret, to withdraw it from that affociation, and to dif pofe of it, to the best account he could, to any other.
Could a committee be found, who would act, in this cafe, with candour and liberality, the affociates would thus obtain a great number of important new proceffes, every year, which they could retain among themselves for a certain time ;-and which would, of course, enable them to fell their goods, at foreign markets, cheaper than others. Thefe fecrets, no doubt, would in time take air: But the new ones, that this affociated body of artists would always be in poffeffion of, would give them a perpetual advantage over all their competitors. This method, I think preferable to patents for the difcoverers, as it would be lefs expenfive, lefs troublesome, and the returns more immediate. It would be greatly preferable to patents, in respect to the affociated manufacturers, as they would be freed froma
a great many troublesome restraints, that any patent article must engender. It would be greatly preferable as to the nation at large, becaufe every patent must be laid open to foreigners, who have nothing elfe to do than to get fome perfon in Britain to inspect the patent, on their account. Thus can foreigners be better benefited by any patent difcovery in Britain, than the people of this nation itself.
If bleachers, callicoe printers, dyers, smelters of metals, glafs-makers, foap-makers, and all others who are employed in chemical arts, were to form feparate affociations for this purpofe, and could they be brought to act with candour and liberality, it is impoffible to form an idea of the improvements that, might thus be made in a few in the manufactures of this counyears
In this sketch, I have confined myself to the chemicalarts, because, in that line, most remains to be done ;and because chemical proceffes can be more easily kept fecret than any others. But there are, no doubt, other: departments that might be improved by the fame
Before an inftitution of this nature could be carried into effect, a great many particulars would require to be adjusted, that I have not here mentioned. My object, in this difquifition, is merely to fuggeft a hint. that may be afterwards improved upon.
The above having been communicated to a friend before it was fent to the prefs, he infifted, that it would be proper to be a little more particular, were it only with regard to one branch, fo as the better to fhew the practicability of the scheme. In a general affociation among many manufacturers, faid he, it does not seem to be easy to fix upon any standard by which the amount of the contributions of each individual member. or company could be nearly proportioned to the benefits that each individual might derive from the fecret.
communicated to the whole. To obviate this difficulty, the following cafe may be confidered.
Let us confine ourselves, in the present inftance, to bleachers only. In that bufinefs, each affociated partner has only to give in a fair account of the number of yards he bleaches annually, (this, I believe, is done already, as to all cloth for fale), and let the contribution be made, at a certain rate, for every hundred yards manufactured. In this way, each perfon could contribute to the common fund, always in proportion to the actual extent of his bufinefs;-and in proportion to the actual extent of his business, he must also be benefited by every improvement the affociation acquireth right to.-Nothing, therefore, feems to be more fair than this mode of procedure, as both the expence of the contribution, and the benefit refulting from it, would be exactly proportioned to the quantity of bufinefs carried on by each of the affociated members. This may ferve as an example of what may be done in other cafes, which it is unneceffary farther to enlarge upon..
A detached Thought.
THE wifeft of those who live, is he who believes himfelf the nearest to death, and who regulates all his actions by that thought.
The moft fenfible, on the contrary, among thofe who make scientific researches, is he who believes himself the farthest from the goal, and who, whatever knowledge he may have acquired, whatever advances he may have made in his road, studies as if he yet knew nothing, and marches as if he were only yet beginning to make his first advances.
To Sir John Sinclair of Ulbfter. SINCLAIR! Thou phoenix of the frozen Thule ! O fhape thy courfe to Tweda's lovely stream, Whofe lucid, fparkling, gently flowing course, Winds like Iliffus through a land of fong: Not as of old, when like the Theban twins Her rival children tore each others breafts, And ftained her filver wave with kindred blood. But proudly glitt'ring through a happy land, The yellow harvests bend along her fields; The golden orchards glow with blushing fruits; Green are her paft'ral banks, white are her flocks, That fafely ftray, where barb'rous Edward rag'd And where the din of clashing arms was heard, We hear the carrols of the happy swains ; Free as their lords, and with the purring looms,Hark! hark the weaver's merry roundelay! The charming fong of Scotland's better day. 'Tis liberty, fweet liberty alone,
Can give a luftre to the northern fun.
"Come when the virgin gives the beauteous days,