History of timekeeping devices

A paper on this subject was read by Professor Hamberger, in the year 1758, before the Society of Göttingen; but as the publication of the Transactions of the Society was interrupted, it was never printed. I however procured the manuscript from the professor's son, Secretary Hamberger, at Gotha, and I here insert it, corrected in a few places, where necessary, but without any other alteration 1040.

“Weidler 1041  and Chambers 1042  are, doubtless, both mistaken when they place the invention of automatous clocks about the end of the fifteenth or beginning of the sixteenth century. The latter says, ‘It is certain that the art of constructing clocks, such as those now in use, was first invented or at least revived in Germany about two hundred years ago.' The same account is given by Weidler, whom Chambers perhaps copied. But, however flattering this opinion may be to the ingenuity of the Germans, it is so apparently false in regard to the time, that one cannot assent to it; nor is it even probable in regard to the country, though it must be allowed that the art of clockmaking flourished very much in Germany, particularly at Nuremberg, about the beginning of the sixteenth century.

“As these two authors make the invention of clocks too modern, others, on the contrary, carry it back to a period too early. Without entering into any dissertation on the machines of Archimedes and Posidonius, which are said to have measured the hours of the day, I shall only observe that a certain writer pretends to have found mention made of a clock in the third century 1043. In support of this assertion he refers to the Acts of St. Sebastian, the martyr, where Chromatius, the governor of Rome, says, when about to be cured by him, ‘I have a glass chamber in which the whole learning and science of the stars is constructed mechanically, in making which my father Tarquinius is known to have expended more than two hundred pounds of gold.' St. Sebastian answers, ‘If you have made your choice to keep this whole, you destroy yourself.' To which Chromatius replies, ‘How so? do we employ any sacrificial rights in the construction of an almanac or ephemeris, when merely the courses of the months and years are distinguished numerically for every hour; and the full and new moon is, by means of certain calculations, foreshown by a motion of the fingers 1044.' This valuable machine, however, can hardly be called a clock; for if it had been an automaton, it would not have required to be moved with the fingers in order to show the time of full moon. If I understand the author's words properly, it was not calculated to point out the hours; but to exhibit the sun's course through the twelve signs of the zodiac, the motion of the rest of the planets, and their relative situation in every month, or at any period of the year. That the signs of the zodiac and the planets were represented on the machine, appears from what follows. St. Polycarp (the companion of St. Stephen) said, ‘There are the signs of the Lion, of Capricorn, Sagittarius, Scorpio and the Bull; in Aries the moon, in the Crab an hour, in Jupiter a star, in Mercury the tropics, in Venus Mars, and in all those monstrous demons is seen an art hostile to God 1045.' But whatever this machine might have been, it was of no use to others, or to posterity: it was broken to pieces by these saints, so that, even allowing it to have been a clock, the knowledge of it must have been then lost.

“We find also, that Bernardus Saccus 1046  ascribes the invention of clocks to Boëthius, in the fifth century; but Bernardus seems to have forgotten what he quoted a little before from Cassiodorus 1047 , respecting the clock of Boëthius, that it determined the hours guttis aquarum. It must, therefore, have been a water-clock, and not a clock moved by wheels and weights. The same Cassiodorus had provided his monks at the monastery of St. Andiol 1048 , in Languedoc, with machines of the like kind: ‘I am known,' says he, ‘to have constructed for you a time-piece which the light of the sun indexes; moreover another acting by water which marks the hours both day and night; as frequently upon some days there is no sunshine 1049.' We are to understand also, as alluding to such clocks, what is said by the writer of the life of St. Leobin, bishop of Chartrain, about the year 556 1050 , when he tells us, that to him (St. Leobin) was committed the duty of regulating the course of the hours and the vigils.

“I come now to the seventh century. In Du Cange's Glossary we find the word Index, which is explained to be the index or hand of a clock, or the small bell which announces the hours by its sound; and this opinion is adopted by Muratori 1051. Du Cange quotes in support of his assertion a monkish work called Regula Magistri, the author of which is not certainly known 1052 , but which Mabillon 1053  asserts to have been written before the year 700. The passages to which he refers are, ‘Cum advenisse divinam horam percussus in oratorio index monstraverit.' (When the index being struck in the oratory shall have shown that the hour for prayer had come.) ‘Cum sonuerit index ;' and ‘Cum ad opus divinum oratorii index sonaverit 1054 .' But Du Cange might have perceived, had he quoted the whole passage from the fifty-fifth chapter, that allusion is not here made to a clock; for it is said, not merely ‘cum sonuerit index,' but ‘cum sonuerit index ab Abbate percussus.' (When the index struck by the Abbot shall sound). It was a scilla  or skella, perhaps only a board; and Martene 1055  seems to understand the word index  in the true sense when he explains it the signal by which the brethren were called to divine service.

“That machine which was sent as a present to Charlemagne by the king of Persia, in the year 807, is supposed also to have been a clock like those used at present; and if we follow the Chronicon Turonense, one may easily fall into the same opinion: ‘The king of the Persians sent a time-piece in which the twelve hours were marked by the performance of a cymbal and of certain horsemen who at each hour went out through the windows, and on their return in the last hour of the day shut the windows as they marched back 1056.' The description of it however, to be found in Annales Francorum, ascribed to Eginhard, shows clearly that it was far different from our clocks. The author says, ‘Likewise a time-piece wonderfully constructed of brass with mechanical art, in which the course of the twelve hours was turned towards a clepsydra, with as many brass balls which fell down at the completion of the hour, and by their fall sounded a bell placed under them 1057.' It was evidently therefore a water-clock, furnished with some ingenious mechanism, but having nothing in common with our clocks.

“About the same period lived Pacificus, archdeacon of Verona, who is celebrated for having invented a clock 1058. His epitaph, besides relating other services which he did, says,—

Horologium nocturnum nullus ante viderat.
En invenit argumentum et primus fundaverat;
Horologioque carmen spheræ cœli optimum,
Plura alia graviaque prudens invenit.

Scipio Maffei endeavours to prove, that we are here to understand a clock moved by wheels and weights; but, in my opinion, his arguments are extremely weak. ‘This horologium,' says he, ‘the like of which had been never seen, and which was different from a sun-dial, because it showed the hours in the night-time, could not be a clepsydra or water-clock, for clocks of that kind were not only known to the ancients, but even to the inhabitants of Italy in latter times, so that it could have been nothing but a clock like ours.' But even if we allow, with this learned man, that water-clocks were known in Italy at that period, it cannot be denied that they were scarce, and used only by few, as may be evidently gathered from what is said of these machines by Cassiodorus. The greater part of the people might have been unacquainted with them at the above-mentioned time; and there is no necessity for adhering so closely to the words of the epitaph, ‘nullus ante viderat,' as Maffei has done. Besides, Maffei himself destroys the foundation on which he rests his opinion; for he relates that a horologium nocturnum  was sent to Pepin, king of France, by pope Stephen II. This appears from the pope's own letter; but Maffei is under a mistake respecting the name, for it was Paul, and not Stephen. The letter, which may be found in the Codex Carolinus 1059 , is dated in the year 756. Maffei thinks that this machine was of a construction different from that of a water-clock; but if it pointed out the hours in the day-time, as well as in the night, according to his supposition, there is no reason, as Muratori observes, why it should have been called horologium nocturnum. In my opinion, we ought here to understand a clepsydra, or water-clock, such as that used by Cassiodorus for the like purpose, and which Hildemar recommended in the ninth century to the monks, who were obliged to observe the hours. Hildemar says, ‘He who wishes to do this properly, must have horologium aquæ1060 .'

“That these water-clocks however were then scarce, as well as in the following centuries, we have reason to conclude from their being so little spoken of in the writings of those periods. In the ancient customs of the monastery of St. Viton, at Werden 1061 , written as is said in the tenth century, no mention of them occurs; and the monks regulated their prayers by the crowing of the cock; for it is said, ‘Cum lucem ales nunciaverit, dabuntur omnia signa in resurrectione Domini nostri,' &c. I find as little mention of them in the eleventh century, even in passages where they could not have been omitted, had they been known. Thus, in a little work by Pet. Damiani, De Perfectione Monachorum, where the author speaks of the significator horarum, he does not so much as allude to a clepsydra. That the reader may know what he means by significator horarum, I shall here quote his own words: ‘He could not find time for idle fables, nor hold long conversations, nor finally could he trouble himself about what was done by the laity, but always intent on the duties of his office, always provident, always anxious, he felt a desire to construct a voluble sphere that should never stop, should show the passage of the stars and the flight of time. He also had a custom of singing to himself whenever he wished to have a notion as to the quantity of time; that, whenever the brightness of the sun or the position of the stars was obscured by the weather he might form a certain time-measurer by the quantity of psalmody he had accomplished 1062.'

“Some ascribe the invention of our modern clocks to Gerbert, who, in the tenth century, was raised to the pontifical chair at Rome, under the name of Sylvester II., and who was reckoned to be the first mathematician and astronomer of his time 1063. This opinion however is supported only by mere conjecture, and appears to be false from the account of Dithmar, who says, ‘Gerbert, on being expelled from his country, sought the emperor Otho, and after a long conversation with him, made the time-piece in Magdeburg, constructing it correctly by taking as guide the polar star 1064.' No mention is made here of wheels or weights, and this horologium seems to have been a sun-dial, which Gerbert fixed up by observing the polar star. It appears, indeed, that Gerbert was acquainted with no other kind of horologia ; for those who speak of his book De Astrolabio, in which he explains the method of constructing dials for various latitudes, produce no further proofs 1065. Some, according to the testimony of Kircher, consider this horologium to have been a portable dial, which showed the hour when properly set by the help of a needle touched with a magnet; but even this opinion is not warranted by the words of Dithmar.

“The anonymous author of the Life of William, abbot of Hirshau 1066 , who lived in the eleventh century, and who was a very learned man for his time, says, ‘Naturale horologium ad exemplum cælestis hæmispherii excogitasse.' Though this passage is so short, that no idea can be formed from it of the construction of the machine, it is evident that it alludes neither to a sun-dial nor to a water-clock, but to some piece of mechanism which pointed out the hours and exhibited the motion of the earth and other planets. As more frequent mention of horologia  occurs afterwards, and as, in speaking of them, expressions are used which cannot be applied to sun-dials or water-clocks, I am induced to think that the invention of our clocks belongs to this period. In the Constitutiones Hirsaugienses, or Gengebacenses, of the same William, it is said of the sacristan, ‘eum horologium dirigere et ordinare.' In the like manner Bernardus Monachus, a writer of the same century, says, in the Ordo Cluniacensis, ‘apocrisiarium horologium dirigere et diligentius temperare.' The same author, in the Ancient Customs, &c. of the Monastery of St. Victor, at Paris, written also about the same time, says that the registrar (matricularius ), the sacrist's companion, ought ‘horas canonicas nocte et die ad divinum celebrandum custodire, signa pulsare, horologium temperare.'

“The unequal hours then in use rendered this regulating of the horologia  necessary. The days and the nights consisted of twelve hours each; but were sometimes shorter and sometimes longer. The reason of this is explained in the sixty-fourth chapter of the before-mentioned Customs, where it is said, ‘From the solstice of summer to the solstice of winter, the time-piece is regulated thus: as much as that space of night which precedes the matins gradually increases according to the increments of the nights through the several months, it, slowly increasing, makes that space in the winter solstice which is before matins to that which follows, twice. On the contrary, from the winter solstice to that of spring it is thus regulated: it decreases that space which it had got in advance according to the decrease of the nights through the several months, until scarcely decreasing, it at length in the summer solstice passes over in the same time that space which is before matins and that which follows 1067.' Such was the regulating of the horologia, and I much doubt whether it could be applied to water-clocks.

“These horologia  not only pointed out the hours by an index, but emitted also a sound. This we learn from Primaria Instituta Canonicorum Præmonstratensium 1068 , where it is ordered that the sacristan should regulate the horologium  and make it sound before matins to awaken him. I dare not however venture thence to infer, that these machines announced the number of the hour by their sound, as they seem only to have given an alarm at the time of getting up from bed. I have indeed never yet found a passage where it is mentioned that the number of the hour was expressed by them; and when we read of their emitting a sound, we are to understand that it was for the purpose of wakening the sacristan to morning-prayers. The expression ‘horologium cecidit,' which occurs frequently in the before-quoted writers, I consider as allusive to this sounding of the machine. Du Cange, in my opinion, under the word horologium, conceives wrongly the expression ‘de ponderibus in imum delapsis,' because the machine was then at rest, and could rouse neither the sacristan nor any one else whose business it was to beat the scilla.

“I shall now produce other testimony which will serve further to confirm what I have here said of the origin of clocks. Calmet, in his Commentary on the Regulæ S. Benedicti, quotes from a book on the usages of the Cistercians, three passages which I shall give as he has translated them, because I have not access at present to the original. ‘We read,' says he, ‘in chap. 21 of the first part of their Customs, compiled about the year 1120, that the bells will not be sounded for any service, not even for the clock, from the mass of Holy Thursday, to that of Holy Saturday; and in chap. 114, the sacristan is ordered to regulate the clock that it may strike and wake him during winter before matins or before the nocturns; and in chaps. 68 and 114, that when the brethren have risen too early the sacristan give notice to him who reads the last lesson to continue it until the clock strikes, or till signal be made to the reader to leave off 1069.'

“The use of these machines must have been continued from that period, for we find them mentioned in the thirteenth century, in the commentary of Bernardus Cassinensis (Bernard of Cassino) on the unpublished Regulæ S. Benedicti, from the eighth chapter of which Martene gives the following quotation: ‘But the eighth hour being already come, there was sufficient interval,—from the middle of the night, when he who had care of the clock rose to strike it and to light the lamps of the church which might have gone out on account of the length of the night, and to ring the bells in order to wake the sleeping brothers,—that he was able to get through half the eighth hour before the brothers had risen 1070.' It is said also in the Chronicon Mellicense, in Du Cange, ‘Some one, deputed by the superior who had the care of the striking clock, struck; and also carried light to all the cells 1071.'

“As all arts are at first imperfect, it is observed of these clocks that they sometimes deceived; and hence, in the Ordo Cluniacensis Bernardi Mon., the person who regulated the clock is ordered, in case it should go wrong, ‘ut notet in cereo, et in cursu stellarum vel etiam lunæ, ut fratres surgere faciat ad horam competentem.' The same admonition is given in the Constitutiones Hirsaugienses.

“From what has been said I think it is sufficiently apparent that clocks moved by wheels and weights began certainly to be used in the monasteries in Europe, about the eleventh century. I do not, however, think that Europe is entitled to the honour of this invention; but that it is rather to be ascribed to the Saracens, to whom we are indebted for most of the mathematical sciences. This conjecture is supported by the horologium, which, as Trithemius tells us, was sent by the sultan of Egypt, in the year 1232, to the emperor Frederic II. ‘In the same year,' says he, ‘the Saladin of Egypt sent by his ambassadors as a gift to the emperor Frederic a valuable machine of wonderful construction worth more than five thousand ducats. For it appeared to resemble internally a celestial globe in which figures of the sun, moon, and other planets formed with the greatest skill moved, being impelled by weights and wheels, so that performing their course in certain and fixed intervals they pointed out the hour night and day with infallible certainty; also the twelve signs of the zodiac with certain appropriate characters, moved with the firmament, contained within themselves the course of the planets 1072.'

“The writers of this century speak in such a manner of clocks that it appears they must, at that period, have been well-known. Gulielmus Alvernus, disputing against those who deny the existence of the soul, after producing various arguments, thus obviates one which might be used against him. ‘Neither,' says he, ‘do the motions of those clocks which are moved by water or weights give you uneasiness, both kinds of which move but for a short and moderate time, require frequent repair, the arranging of their parts, and the perfect skill of the astronomer who has a thorough knowledge of his art. But in the bodies of animals and vegetables the motive power is entirely internal, which moderates and regulates the movements of their parts and renders it in all ways perfect 1073.' And Dante, the Italian poet, says 1074 ,

E come cerchi in tempra d' orivoli
Si giran, si che 'l primo, a chi pon mente
Quieto pare, e l' ultimo che voli, &c.

“In the fourteenth century mention is made of the machine of Richard de Wallingford, which has been hitherto considered as the oldest clock known. The description of it I shall give in the words of Leland: ‘Being chosen superior of the monastery, as he was now enabled by his ample fortune, he resolved to show by means of some glorious work a miracle not only of genius, but also of excelling knowledge. He therefore with great labour, with greater expense and with the utmost art, constructed such a clock as, in my opinion, exists nowhere else in Europe; whether we observe the course of the sun and moon, or the fixed stars, again, whether we consider the ebb and flow of the tide, or the lines together with the figures and demonstrations various almost to infinity: and when he had brought to perfection this work so worthy of eternity, he drew up rules for it, as he was the first man of his age in mathematical learning, which he published in this book, lest so excellent a machine should fall into disrepute through the mistakes of the monks, or should become silent from the law of its structure being unknown 1075.' This machine, if I remember right, was called by the inventor Albion (all by one).

“Clocks hitherto had been, as it were, shut up in monasteries; but they now began to be employed for the common use and convenience of cities, though no instance of this is to be found before the above period. Hubert, prince of Carrara, caused the first clock ever publicly erected, to be put up at Padua, as we are told by Peter Paul Vergerius: ‘He caused to be built at the top of the tower, a clock, in which, during day and night, the four-and-twenty hours pointed themselves out 1076.' It is said to have been made by James Dondi, whose family afterwards got the name of Horologio 1077 . In remembrance of this circumstance the following verses were inscribed on his tombstone:—

Quin procul excelsæ monitus de vertice turris
Tempus, et instabiles numero quod colligis horas,
Inventum cognosce meum, gratissime lector.

“John Dondi, son of the former, acquired no less fame by a clock which he constructed also, and which is thus described: ‘In which was the firmament and all the planetary globes, so that the movements of all the stars were comprised as in the heavens; it shows the days appointed for festivals and many other things wonderful to be seen: so great was the admirable construction of this clock, that after his death no one knew how to correct it, nor to assign the suitable weights. At length a skilful artist from France, attracted by the fame of this clock, came to Pavia, and employed many days in arranging the wheels, which he succeeded in putting together in proper order, and gave it the right motion 1078.'

“We are informed by the Chronica Miscella Bononiensis, that the first clock at Bologna was fixed up in the year 1356: ‘On the 8th day of April the great bell of the tower, which was in the palace called della Biada, belonging to Giovanni, lord of Bologna, was removed; and was conveyed into the Corte del Capitano, and was drawn up and placed on the tower del Capitano on Holy Wednesday; and this was the first clock which the state of Bologna ever possessed, and it began to strike on the 19th of May, which Messer Giovanni caused it to do 1079.'

“Some time after the year 1364, Charles V., surnamed the Wise, king of France, caused a large clock to be placed in the tower of his palace, by Henry de Wyck 1080 , whom he invited from Germany, because there was then at Paris no artist of that kind, and to whom he allowed a salary of six sols per day, with free lodging in the tower.

“Towards the end of the century, about the year 1370, Strasburg also had a clock, a description of which is given by Conrad Dasypodius 1081.

“Courtray, about the same period, was celebrated for its clock, which was carried away by the duke of Burgundy, in the year 1382. This circumstance is thus related by Froissart, a contemporary writer: ‘The duke of Burgundy took away a clock (which struck the hours), one of the best to be found, either here or beyond the sea: and he caused this clock to be taken to pieces and placed upon carriages and the bell also. This clock was conveyed to the town of Dijon in Burgundy; and was there put together again and set up; and there it strikes the four-and-twenty hours in the course of day and night 1082.'

“We are told by Lehmann 1083 , that a public clock was put up at Spire in the year 1395. ‘That year,' says he, ‘the clock was erected on the Altburg gate. The bell for calling the people together to divine worship was cast by a bell-founder from Strasburg.—The works of the clock cost fifty-one florins.'

“The greater part however of the principal cities of Europe were at this period without striking clocks, which could not be procured but at a great expense. Of this we have an instance in the city of Auxerre. In the year 1483, the magistrates resolved to cause a clock to be constructed; but as it would cost a larger sum of money than they thought they had a right to dispose of by their own authority, they applied to Charles VIII. to request leave to employ a certain part of the public funds for that purpose.

“The great clock in the church of the Virgin Mary at Nuremberg was erected in the year 1462.

“A public clock was put up at Venice in the year 1497 1084.

“In the same century an excellent clock, which is described in a letter of Politian 1085  to Francis Casa, in the year 1484, was constructed by one Lorenzo, a Florentine, for Cosmo I. of Medici.

“Towards the end of this century clocks began to be in use among private persons. This appears from a letter of Ambrosius Camaldulensis to Nicolaus, a learned man of Florence: ‘When I received your letter I immediately made ready your clock, and should have sent it had any one been at hand to have taken it. I have caused it to be cleaned, for it was full of dust, and thus as it could not go freely it was retarded; and because it could not thus run correctly, I gave it to that illustrious youth Angelo, who is most skilful in these things 1086.'

“About this period also, mention is made of watches. Among the Italian poems of Gaspar Visconti, there is a sonnet with the following title: ‘Si fanno certi orologii piccioli e portativi, che non poco di artificio sempre lavorano, mostrando le ore, e molti corsi de pianeti, e le feste, sonando quando il tempo lo ricerca. Questo sonetto è facto in persona de uno inamorato, che, guardando uno delli predicti orologii, compara se stesso a quello, &c.'1087

“It appears, therefore, that Doppelmayer is mistaken when he says that watches were invented by Peter Hele, at Nuremberg, in the sixteenth century; and that because they were shaped like an egg, they were called Nuremberg animated eggs. I. Cocleus, in his Description of Germany, speaking of this Hele, says, ‘This young man has performed works which the most skilful mathematicians may admire. For he makes small watches of steel with numerous wheels, which, as they move without any weight, both point out and strike forty hours, even though they are contained in the bosom or in the pocket 1088.'”


1040  The author says that the principal writers on this subject are Alexander, a monk of the order of St. Benedict; Paute, his countryman; and our Derham.

1041  Histor. Astron.

1042  Encyclopædia, art. Clock.

1043  Bona De Div. Psalmod. cap. 3. s. 2.

1044  Act. SS. cap. 16. 20 Jan. p. 273. Chrom. “Habeo cubiculum holovitrum, in quo omnis disciplina stellarum ac mathesis mechanica est arte constructa, in cujus fabrica pater meus Tarquinius amplius quam ducenta pondo auri dignoscitur expendisse.” St. Sebast. “Si hoc tu integrum habere volueris, te ipsum frangis.” Chrom. “Quid enim? Mathesis aut ephemeris aliquo sacrificiorum usu coluntur, cum tantum eis mensium et annorum cursus certo numero per horarum spatia distinguuntur; et lunaris globi plenitudo, vel diminutio, digitorum motu, rationis magisterio, et calculi computatione praevidetur?”

1045  “Illic signa Leonis, et Capricorni, et Sagittarii, et Scorpionis, et Tauri sunt; illic in Ariete Luna, in Cancro hora, in Jove stella, in Mercurio tropica, in Venere Mars, et in omnibus istis monstruosis daemonibus ars Deo inimica cognoscitur.”

1046  Hist. Ticin. lib. vii. c. 17.

1047  Var. lib. i. in fine.

1048  In the original, Monasterium Vivariense.—Trans.

1049  “Horologium vobis unum, quod solis claritas indicet, praeparasse cognoscor; alterum vero aquatile, quod die noctuque horarum iugiter indicat quantitatem; quia frequenter nonnullis diebus solis claritas abesse cognoscitur.”—De Institut. Div. Litter. c. 29.

1050  Mabil. Annales St. O. B. sec. i. p. 123.

1051  Antiq. Med. Ævi, Diss. 24, p. 392.

1052  Lucæ Holstenii Codex Regularum. Paris, 1663, p. 172.

1053  Annales.

1054  Capp. 54, 55. 95.

1055  Index Onomasticus ad tom. iv. De Antiq. Eccl. Rit.

1056  Martene, Coll. ampl. tom. v. p. 960. “Misit rex Persarum—horologium, in quo XII horarum cursus cognoscebantur, cymbalo ibi personante et equitibus, qui per singulas horas per fenestras exibant, et in ultima hora diei redeuntes, in regressione sua fenestras apertas claudebant.”

1057  Ad a. 807. Calmet, Hist. de Lorraine, vol. i. p. 582. “Nec non et horologium, ex aurichalco arte mechanica mirifice compositum, in quo duodecim horarum cursus ad clepsydram vertebatur, cum totidem æreis pilulis, quæ ad completionem horarum decidebant, et casu suo subjectum sibi cymbalum tinnire faciebant.”

1058  Panuvini Antiq. Veron. lib. vi. p. 153. Scip. Maffei Degli Scrittori Veronesi, p. 32. Muratori, Ant. Ital. Med. Ævi, Diss. 24. p. 392.

1059  Bouquet, Recueil des Historiens de la Gaule, tom. v. p. 513.

1060  See Martene De Ritib. Eccl. tom. iv. p. 5.

1061  Martene, tom. iv. p. 853.

1062  “Non fabulis vacet, non longa cum aliquo misceat, non denique, quid a secularibus agatur, inquirat; sed commissæ sibi curæ semper intentus, semper providus, semperque sollicitus, volubilis sphæræ necessitatem, quiescere nescientem, siderum transitum, et elabentis temporis meditetur semper excursum. Porro psallendi sibi faciat consuetudinem, si discernendi horas quotidianam habere desiderat notionem; ut, quandocunque solis claritas, sive stellarum varietas nubium densitate non cernitur, illic in quantitate psalmodiæ, quam tenuerit, quoddam sibi velut horologium metiatur.”

1063  Journal des Sçavans, 1734, p. 773.

1064  Chron. lib. vi. p. 83. Franc. 1580. fol. “Gerbertus, a finibus suis expulsus, Ottonem petiit imperatorem, et cum eo diu conversatus, in Magdaburg horologium fecit, illud recte constituens, considerata per fistulam quadam stella nautarum duce.”

1065  Le Beuf. Rec. de div. écrits, &c. vol. ii. p. 89.

1066  Published by Car. Stengelius. Aug. Vind. 1611, p. 1.

1067  “Ab æstivali solstitio usque ad solstitium hiemale sic horologium temperetur, quatenus illud noctis spatium, quod matutinas præcedat, per singulos menses secundum incrementa noctium aliquantulum crescat, donec paulatim crescendo tandem in hiemali solstitio spatium illud, quod est ante matutinas, ad illud quod sequitur, duplum fiat. Similiter per contrarium ab hiemali solstitio usque ad æstivale solstitium sic temperetur, quatenus spatium, quod præcedit, secundum noctium decrementum per singulos menses decrescat, donec paulatim decrescendo, tandem in solstitio æstivali spatium, quod est ante matutinas, et quod post sequitur, æquale fiat.”

1068  Diss. ii. c. 8. ap. Martene De Ant. Rit. tom. iii. p. 909.

1069  “On lit, au chap. 21 de la première partie de leurs Usages, compilez vers l'an 1120, qu'on ne fera sonner les cloches pour aucun exercice, pas même pour l'Horloge, dépuis la messe du Jeudi saint jusqu'à celle du Samedi saint; et au chap. 114, il est ordonné au sacristain de regler l'Horloge, en sorte qu'elle sonne, et qu'elle l'éveille pendant l'hyver avant matines, ou avant les nocturnes; et au chap. 68 et 114, que quand on s'est levé trop tôt, le sacristain avertît celui qui lit la dernière leçon, de la prolonger jusqu'à ce que l'Horloge sonne, ou qu'on fasse signe au lecteur de cesser.”

1070  Rit. Ant. tom. iv. p. 5. “Facta autem jam hora octava, modicum erit amplius de media nocte quando surrexerit,horologio excitante, qui habet horologium custodire, et accensis lucernis ecclesiæ, quæ poterant propter prolixitatem noctis fuisse obscuratæ, ac pulsatis campanis ad dormientium fratrum excitationem, potuit transire dimidia octavæ horæ antequam surrexerint fratres.”

1071  Cap. 774. “Excitabit aliquis a superiore deputatus, qui horologium excitatorium  habeat; ad omnes quoque cellas lumen deferat.”

1072  “Eodem anno, Saladinus Egyptiorum Frederico imperatori dono misit per suos oratores tentorium pretiosum, mirabili arte compositum, cujus pretii æstimatio quinque ducatorum millium procul valorem excessit. Nam ad similitudinem sphærarum cælestium intrinsecus videbatur constructum, in quo imagines solis, lunæ, ac reliquorum planetarum artificiosissime compositæ movebantur ponderibus et rotis incitatæ; ita videlicet, quod, cursum suum certis ac debitis spatiis peragentes, horas tam noctis quam diei infallibili demonstratione designabant; imagines quoque xii signorum zodiaci certis distinctionibus suis motæ cum firmamento cursum in se planetarum continebant.”

1073  De Anima, c. i. p. 7, 72. “Nec te conturbant, inquit, motus horologiorum, qui per aquam fiunt et pondera, quæ quidem ad breve tempus et modicum fiunt, et indigent renovatione frequenti, et aptatione instrumentorum suorum, atque operatione forinsecus, astrologi videlicet qui peritiam habet hujus artificii. In corporibus vero animalium vel etiam vegetabilium totum intus est, intra ea scilicet, quod motus eorum atque partium suarum moderatur, et regit, ac modis omnibus perficit.”

1074  Parad. cant. xxiv. ver. 13.

1075  “Electus in monasterii præsidem—cum jam per amplas licebat fortunas, voluit illustri aliquo opere non modo ingenii, verum etiam eruditionis ac artis excellentis miraculum ostendere. Ergo talem horologii fabricam magno labore, majore sumtu, arte vero maxima compegit, qualem non habet tota, mea opinione, Europa secundam; sive quis cursum solis ac lunæ, seu fixa sidera notet, sive iterum maris incrementa et decrementa, seu lineas una cum figuris ac demonstrationibus ad infinitum pene variis consideret: cumque opus æternitate dignissimum ad umbilicum perduxisset, canones, ut erat in mathesi omnium sui temporis facile primus, edito in hoc libro scripsit, ne tam insignis machina errore monachorum vilesceret, aut incognito structuræ ordine sileret.”—See Tanneri Biblioth. Brit. Hibern. p. 629.

1076  In Vit. Princip. Carrar. ap. Murator. tom. xvi. p. 171. “Horologium, quo per diem et noctem quatuor et viginti horarum spatia sponte sua designarentur, in summa turri constituendum curavit.”

1077  See Scardeonius De Antiq. Urbis Patavii, lib. ii. class. 9, p. 205, ed. Basil, 1560, fol. and the authors which he quotes.

1078  “In quo erat firmamentum, et omnium planetarum sphæræ, ut sic siderum omnium motus, veluti in cœlo, comprehendantur; festa edicta in dies monstrat, plurimaque alia oculis stupenda; tantaque fuit ejus horologii admiranda congeries, ut usque modo post ejus relictam lucem corrigere, et pondera convenientia assignare sciverit astrologus nemo. Verum de Francia nuper astrologus et fabricator magnus, fama horologii tanti ductus, Papiam venit, plurimisque diebus in rotas congregandas elaboravit; tandemque actum est, ut in unum, eo quo decebat ordine, composuerit, motumque ut decet dederit.”—These are the words of Mich. Savanarola in Comm. de Laud. Patav. in Muratori, vol. xxiv. col. 1164.

1079  In Muratori, tom. xviii. p. 444. “A di 8 di Aprile fu tolta via la campana grossa della torre, ch' era nel palazzo di Messer Giovanni signor di Bologna, il qual palazzo dicevasi della Biada; e fu menata nella Corte del Capitano, e tirata e posta sulla Torre del Capitano nel Mercoledi Santo; e questo fu l' orologio, il quale fu il primo, che avesse mai il Commune di Bologna, e si commincio a sonare a di 19 di Maggio, il quale lo fece fare Messer Giovanni.”

1080  Moreri, Diction. art. Horloge du Palais.

1081  In the account of the astronomical clock at Strasburg, to be found in lac. von Königshovens Elsass und Strasb. Chronik. p. 574.

1082  “Le duc de Bourgogne fit oster un horloge (qui sonnoit les heures), l'un des plus beaux qu'on seust trouver deçà ne delà la mer: et celui horloge fit tout mettre, par membres et pieces, sur chars, et la cloche aussi. Lequel horloge fut amené et charroyé en la ville de Digeon en Bourgogne, et fut là remis et assis: et y sonne les heures vingt-quatre, entre jour et nui.”—Vol. ii. c. 128, p. 229.

1083  Lib. vii. c. 69, towards the end.

1084  Thes. Ital. iii. p. 3, p. 308.

1085  Politiani Op. 1533, 8vo, p. 121.

1086  “Horologium tuum mox, ut tuas accepi literas, paravi, misissemque, si fuisset præsto qui afferret. Ipsam mundari feci, nam erat pulvere obsitum, atque ideo, ne libere posset incedere. retardabatur. Et quia ne sic quidem recte currebat, Angelo illi illustri adolescenti harum rerum peritissimo dedi.”

1087  This sonnet I shall here transcribe from A. Saxii Hist. Litterario-typographica Mediolan.:—

Hò certa occulta forza in la secreta
Parte del cor, qual sempre si lavora
De sera a sera, e d'una a l'altra aurora,
Che non spero la mente aver mai quieta.
Legger ben mi potria ogni discreta
Vista nel fronte, ove amor colora
D'affanno e di dolore il punto e l'ora,
E la cagion, che riposar mi vieta.
L'umil squilletta sona il pio lamento,
Che spesso mando al cielo, e la fortuna,
Per disfogar cridando il fier tormento.
De le feste annual non ne mostro una,
Ma pianeti iracondi, e di spavento,
Eclipsati col sole, e con la luna.

Dominico Maria Manni, in his book De Florentinis Inventis, chap. 29, calls the artist Lorenzo a Vulparia, and says that he was a native of Florence.

1088  Added to his Comm. in Pomp. Melam, cap. de Noriberga. “Eum juvenem adhuc admodum, opera efficere, quæ vel doctissimi admirentur mathematici. Nam ex ferro parva fabricat horologia plurimis digesta rotulis, quæ, quocunque vertantur, absque ullo pondere, et monstrant et pulsant xl horas, etiam si in sinu marsupiove contineantur.”

The term Horologia  occurs very early in different parts of Europe; but as this word, in old times, signified dials as well as clocks, nothing decisive can be inferred from it, unless it can be shown by concomitant circumstances or expressions, that it relates to a clock rather than a dial. Dante seems to be the first author who hath introduced the mention of an orologio  that struck the hour, and which consequently cannot be a dial, in the following lines:—

Indi come horologio che ne chiami,
Nel hora che la sposa d'Idio surge,
Amattinar lo sposo, perche l'ami 1090.

Dante was born in 1265, and died in 1321, aged fifty-seven; striking-clocks therefore could not have been very uncommon in Italy, at the latter end of the thirteenth century or the beginning of the fourteenth.

But the use of clocks was not confined to Italy at this period; for we had an artist in England about the same time, who furnished the famous clock-house near Westminster Hall, with a clock to be heard by the courts of law, out of a fine imposed on the Chief Justice of the King's Bench, in the sixteenth year of Edward I., or in 1288 1091. Blackstone in his Commentaries has observed, that this punishment of Radulphus de Hengham is first taken notice of in the Year Book 1092 , during the reign of Richard III., where indeed no mention is made of a clock being thus paid for; but if the circumstances stated in the report of this case are considered, it was highly unnecessary, and perhaps improper, to have alluded to this application of the Chief Justice's fine.

It appears by the Year Book, that Richard III. had closeted the judges in the Inner  Star Chamber, to take their opinions upon three points of law; the second of which was, “Whether a justice of the peace, who had enrolled an indictment, which had been negatived by the grand-jury, amongst the true bills, might be punished for this abuse of his office.” On this question a diversity of opinion arose amongst the judges, some of whom supposed that a magistrate could not be prosecuted for what he might have done, whilst others contended that he might, and cited the case of Hengham, who was fined eight hundred marks for making an alteration in a record, by which a poor defendant was to pay only six shillings and eightpence, instead of thirteen shillings and fourpence. Thus far the answer of the judges to the question was strictly proper; but the application of the fine to build a clock-house was not the least material 1093 ; besides, that it was probably a most notorious fact to every student, upon his first attending Westminster-hall, as we find judge Southcote, so much later, in the early part of queen Elizabeth's reign, not only mentioning the tradition, but that the clock still continued there, which had been furnished out of the Chief Justice's fine 1094. Sir Edward Coke likewise adds, that the eight hundred marks were actually entered on the roll, so that it is highly probable he had himself seen the record 1095.

But we have remaining to this day some degree of evidence, not only of the existence of such a clock, but that it is of the antiquity already ascribed to it, viz. the reign of Edward I. On the side of New Palace-yard, which is opposite to Westminster-hall, and in the second pediment of the new buildings from the Thames, a dial is inserted with this remarkable motto upon it, “Discite justitiam moniti,” which seems most clearly to relate to the fine imposed on Radulphus de Hengham being applied to the paying for a clock. But it may be said that this inscription is on a dial and not upon a clock; which though it appears upon the first stating it to be a most material objection, yet I conceive it may receive the following satisfactory answer. The original clock of Edward the First's reign was probably a very indifferent one, but from its great antiquity, and the tradition attending it, was still permitted to remain till the time of queen Elizabeth, according to the authorities already cited. After this, being quite decayed, a dial might have been substituted and placed upon the same clock-house, borrowing its very singular motto; which whether originally applied in the time of Edward I. or in later reigns, most plainly alludes to Hengham's punishment for altering a record. It should also be mentioned that this dial seems to have been placed exactly where the clock-house stood according to Strype 1096.

Mr. Norris, secretary to the Society of Antiquaries, hath been likewise so obliging as to refer me to the following instance of a very ancient clock in the same century: Anno 1292, novum orologium magnum in ecclesia (Cantuariensi), pretium 30l.1097 .

I shall now produce a proof, that not only clocks but watches were made in the beginning of the fourteenth century. Seven or eight years ago, some labourers were employed at Bruce Castle, in Fifeshire, where they found a watch, together with some coin, both of which they disposed of to a shopkeeper of St. Andrews, who sent the watch to his brother in London, considering it as a curious piece of antiquity. The outer case is silver, raised in rather a handsome pattern over a ground of blue enamel; and I think I can distinguish a cypher of R. B. at each corner of the enchased work. On the dial-plate is written Robertus B. Rex Scotorum, and over it is a convex transparent horn, instead of the glasses which we use at present. Now Robertus B. Rex Scotorum  can be no other king of Scotland than Robert Bruce, who began his reign in 1305, and died in 1328; for the Christian name of Baliol, who succeeded him, was Edward; nor can Robertus B. be applied to any later Scottish king. This very singular watch is not of a larger size than those which are now in common use; at which I was much surprised till I had seen several of the sixteenth century in the collection of Sir Ashton Lever and Mr. Ingham Forster, which were considerably smaller.

As I mean to deduce the progress of the art of clock-making in a regular chronological series, the next mention I find of horologia  is in Rymer's Fœdera, where there is a protection of Edward III., in the year 1368, to three Dutchmen, who were Orlogiers. The title of this protection is, “De horologiorum artificio exercendo;” and I hope to have sufficiently proved that there was no necessity of procuring mere dial-makers at this time.

Clock-makers however were really wanted at this period of the fourteenth century, as may be inferred from the following lines of Chaucer, when he speaks of a cock's crowing:—

Full sikerer was his crowing in his loge,
As is a clock, or any abbey orloge 1098 :

by which, as I conceive at least, our old poet means to say, that the crowing was as certain as a bell  or abbey-clock 1099 . For though we at present ask so often, “What is it o'clock?” meaning the time-measurer, yet I should rather suppose, that in the fourteenth century the term clock  was often applied to a bell  which was rung at certain periods, determined by an hour-glass or a sun-dial. Nor have I been able to stumble upon any passage which alludes to a clock, by that name, earlier than the thirteenth year of the reign of Henry VIII.1100  The abbey orloge (or clock) however must have been not uncommon when Chaucer wrote these lines; and from clocks beginning to be in use we might have had occasion for more artificers in this branch, though it should seem that we had Englishmen, who pretended at least to understand it, because the protection of Edward III. above-cited, directs that the persons to whom it was granted, should not be molested whilst they were thus employed.

I now pass on to a famous astronomical clock, made by one of our countrymen in the reign of Richard II., the account of which I have extracted from Leland. Richard of Wallingford was son of a smith, who lived at that town, and who, from his learning and ingenuity, became abbot of St. Albans. Leland, speaking of him, says, “Cum jam per amplas licebat fortunas, voluit illustri aliquo opere, non modo ingenii, verum etiam eruditionis, ac artis excellentis, miraculum ostendere. Ergo talem horologii  fabricam magno labore, majore sumtu, arte vero maxima, compegit, qualem non habet tota Europa, mea opinione, secundam, sive quis cursum solis ac lunæ, seu fixa sidera notet, sive iterum maris incrementa et decrementa 1101.” Richard of Wallingford wrote also a treatise on this clock, “Ne tam insignis machina vilesceret errore monachorum, aut incognito structuræ ordine silesceret.” From what hath been above stated, it appears that this astronomical clock continued to go in Leland's time, who was born at the latter end of Henry VII.'s reign, and who speaks of a tradition, that this famous piece of mechanism was called Albion  by the inventor.

Having thus endeavoured to prove that clocks were made in England from the time of Edward I. to that of Richard II., it is not essential to my principal purpose to deduce them lower through the successive reigns; but when I have shortly stated what I happened to have found with regard to this useful invention in other parts of Europe, I shall attempt to show why they were not more common in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.

The citation from Dante, which I have before relied upon, shows that they were not unknown in Italy during that period; and M. Falconet, in Mémoires de Litterature, informs us, that a James Dondi, in the fourteenth century, assumed from a clock made by him for the tower of a palace, the name of Horologius, which was afterwards borne by his descendants.

In France, or what is now so called, Froissart mentions, that during the year 1332, Philip the Hardy, duke of Burgundy, removed from Courtray to his capital at Dijon a famous clock which struck the hours, and was remarkable for its mechanism 1102. The great clock at Paris was put up in the year 1370, during the reign of Charles V., having been made by Charles de Wic 1103  a German. Carpentier, in his supplement to Du Cange, cites a decision of the parliament of Paris in the year 1413, in which Henry Bye, one of the parties, is styled Gubernator Horologii palatii nostri Parisiis 1104 . About the same time also the clock at Montargis was made, with the following inscription:—

Charles le Quint (sc. de France)
Me fit par Jean de Jouvence.

The last word seems to be the name of a Frenchman.

Though I have not happened to meet with any mention of very early clocks in Germany, yet from the great clock at Paris in 1370 being the work of De Wic, as also from the protection granted by Edward III. to three clock-makers from Delft, it should seem that this part of Europe 1105  was not without this useful invention; and the same may be inferred with regard to Spain from the old saying, “Estar como un relox 1106.”

Having now produced instances of several clocks, and even a watch, which were made in different parts of the fourteenth century, as also having endeavoured to prove that they were not excessively uncommon even in the thirteenth, it may be thought necessary that I should account for their not being more generally used during those periods, as in their present state at least they are so very convenient. For this it should seem that many reasons may be assigned.

In the infancy of this new piece of mechanism, they were probably of a very imperfect construction, perhaps never went tolerably, and were soon deranged, whilst there was no one within a reasonable distance to put them in order. To this day the most musical people have seldom a harpsichord in their house, if the tuner cannot be procured from the neighbourhood. We find therefore that Henry VI. of England, and Charles V. of France, appointed clock-makers, with a stipend, to keep the Westminster and Paris clocks in order.

It need scarcely be observed also, that, as the artists were so few, their work must have been charged accordingly, and that kings only could be the purchasers of what was rather an expensive toy than of any considerable use. And it may perhaps be said, that they continued in a great measure to be no better than toys till the middle of the seventeenth century. Add to this, that in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, there was so little commerce, intercourse, or society, that an hour-glass, or the sun, was very sufficient for the common purposes, which are now more accurately settled by clocks of modern construction. Dials and hour-glasses likewise wanted no mending.

Having now finished what hath occurred to me with regard to the first introduction of clocks, I shall conclude by a few particulars, which I have been enabled to pick up, in relation to those more portable measurers of time, called watches, the earliest of which, except that of Robert Bruce, king of Scotland, seems to be one in Sir Ashton Lever's most valuable museum, the date upon which is 1541 1107.

Derham, in his Artificial Clock-maker 1108 , published in 1714, mentions a watch of Henry VIII. which was still in order; and Dr. Demainbray informs me, that he hath heard both Sir Isaac Newton and Demoivre speak of this watch 1109. The emperor Charles V., Henry's contemporary, was so much pleased with these time-measurers, that he used to sit after his dinner with several of them on the table, his bottle being in the centre 1110 ; and when he retired to the monastery of St. Just, he continued still to amuse himself with keeping them in order, which is said to have produced a reflection from him on the absurdity of his attempt to regulate the motions of the different powers of Europe.

Some of the watches used at this time seem to have been strikers; at least we find in the Memoirs of Literature, that such watches having been stolen both from Charles V. and Lewis XI. whilst they were in a crowd, the thief was detected by their striking the hour 1111. In most of the more ancient watches, of which I have seen several in the collection of Sir Ashton Lever and Mr. Ingham Forster, catgut supplied the place of a chain 1112 , whilst they were commonly of a smaller size than we use at present, and often of an oval form 1113.

From these and probably many other imperfections, they were not in any degree of general request till the latter end of queen Elizabeth's reign. Accordingly in Shakspeare's Twelfth Night, Malvolio says, “I frown the while, and perchance wind up my watch, or play with some rich jewel.” Again, in the first edition of Harrington's Orlando Furioso, printed in 1591, the author is represented with what seems to be a watch, though the engraving is by no means distinct, on which is written “Il tempo passa 1114.”

In the third year of James I., a watch was found upon Guy Fawkes, which he and Percy had bought the day before, “to try conclusions for the long and short burning of the touch-wood, with which he had prepared to give fire to the train of powder 1115.”

In 1631, Charles I. incorporated the clock-makers; and the charter prohibits clockswatches, and alarms, from being imported; which sufficiently proves that they were now more commonly used, as well as that we had artists of our own who were expert in this branch of business.

About the middle of the seventeenth century, Huygens made his great improvement in clock-work, which produced many others from our own countrymen 1116 ; the latest of which was the introduction of repeating watches, in the time of Charles II., who, as I have been informed by the late lord Bathurst, sent one of the first of these new inventions to Lewis XIV. The former of these kings was very curious with regard to these time-measurers; and I have been told by an old person of the trade, that watchmakers, particularly East, used to attend whilst he was playing at the Mall; a watch being often the stake.

But we have a much more curious anecdote of royal attention to watches in Dr. Derham's Artificial Clock-maker (p. 107). Barlow had procured a patent, in concert with the Lord Chief Justice Allebone, for repeaters ; but Quare making one at the same time upon ideas he had entertained before the patent was granted, James II. tried both, and giving the preference to Quare's, it was notified in the gazette. In the succeeding reign, the reputation of the English work in this branch was such, that in the year 1698, an act passed, obliging the makers to put their names on watches, lest discreditable ones might be sold abroad for English 1117.

Letter on the pretended Watch of King Robert Bruce 1118

You will remember that I formerly mentioned something to you in reference to the observations made by the Hon. Daines Barrington, on the earliest introduction of clocks, published in the Annual Register for 1779, under the article Antiquities, p. 133. According to your desire, I will communicate what circumstances come within my personal knowledge, about a watch that corresponds very much to one described by him as once the property of king Robert Bruce. I must be indulged, although in some particulars I cannot speak with absolute certainty, as so much time hath elapsed since the transaction I am going to relate.

Being early fond of anything ancient or uncommon, I used to purchase pieces of old coin from a goldsmith who wrought privately in Glasgow, and sometimes went about as a hawker. Having often asked him from the curiosity of a boy, if he had ever been at the castle of Clackmannan, or heard of any antiquities being found there, he told me that he had purchased from Mrs. Bruce, who is the only survivor of that ancient family in the direct line, an old watch, which was found in the castle, and had an inscription, bearing, that it belonged to king Robert Bruce. I immediately asked a sight of it; but he told me it was not at hand. He fixed a time for showing me this invaluable curiosity; but even then it could not be seen. My avidity produced many anxious calls, although by that time I began to suspect he meant to play upon me, especially as I did not think it altogether credible that Mrs. Bruce would sell such a relict of her family if she had ever had it in her possession. At length I was favoured with a sight of it. The watch, as far as I can recollect, almost entirely answered the one described. It had a ground of blue enamel. It had a horn above the dial-plate instead of a glass. The inscription was on the plate. But whether it was Robertus B. or Robertus Bruce, I cannot remember. The watch was very small and neat, and ran only, to the best of my knowledge, little more than twelve hours, at least not a complete day. The Hon. Mr. Barrington does not mention anything about this circumstance. It is about twelve years since I saw it. Whether there be any castle in Fife properly called Bruce castle, I know not; but the castle of Clackmannan hath always been the residence of the eldest branch of the family; and although the town in which it stands now gives name to a small county, yet in former times, and still in common language, that whole district receives the name of Fife, as distinguishing it from the county on the other side of the firths of Forth and Tay. The first thing that occurred to me about the watch itself, was in regard to the inscription. Observing that all the coins of king Robert's age bore Saxon characters, I could not believe the inscription to be genuine, because the characters were not properly Saxon, but a kind of rugged Roman, or rather Italic characters, like those commonly engraved, but evidently done very coarsely, to favour the imposition. He valued it at 1 l. 10 s., but I would have nothing to do with it. The first time I had an opportunity of seeing Mrs. Bruce of Clackmannan, after this, I asked her if such a watch had ever been found. She told me that she never so much as heard of any such thing. This confirmed the justness of my suspicion.

I paid no further regard to this story till about seven years ago, when I received a letter from a friend, informing me, that a brother of his in London, who had a taste for antiquity, had desired him, if possible, to procure some intelligence from Glasgow about a watch, said to be king Robert Bruce's, which had thence found its way to London, and was there making a great noise among the antiquaries. I then applied to my former goldsmith, who was then in a more respectable way, and mentioned the old story. He immediately fell a-laughing, and told me, that he did it merely for a piece of diversion, and thought the story would take with me, as I had been often asking about the place. He said that it was an old watch brought from America; that, to get some sport with my credulity, he had engraved the inscription upon it in a rough, antiquated-like form; that he had afterwards sold it for two guineas; he had learned that it was next sold for five, and had never more heard of it.

However early the invention of clocks might be, I am greatly mistaken if any authentic documents can be produced of the art of making pocket-watches being discovered so early as the beginning of the fourteenth century. Lord Kaimes, somewhere in his Sketches of Man, asserts, that the first watch was made in Germany, so far as I can remember, near the close of the fifteenth century 1119. If any watch had been made so early as R. Bruce's time, it is most likely the inscription would have been in Saxon characters, as not only the money both of Scotland and England, but of Germany, in that age, bears a character either Saxon, or greatly resembling it.

Whatever ardour one feels for anything that bears the genuine marks of antiquity, it is certainly a debt he owes to those who have the same taste, to contribute anything in his power that may prevent impositions, to which antiquaries are abundantly subject, through the low humour or avarice of others; or that may tend to confirm a fact by proper comparison and minute investigation of circumstances. Besides, this is of greater moment than settling the genuineness of a coin, or many other things of the same nature, because it involves in it the date of a very important discovery. It doth not merely refer to the history of an individual, or even of one nation, but to the history of man. It respects the progress of the arts; and an anachronism here is of considerable importance, because, being established upon a supposed fact, it becomes a precedent for writers in future ages.

[The time and place at which watches were first made similar to those now in use, are not positively determined. The first step towards its accomplishment must have consisted in making a mainspring the source of motion instead of a weight 1120. The invention of the fusee speedily followed the mainspring, and without it the former would be useless, in consequence of its tension varying according to the size of its coil. In the time of Elizabeth a watch was a very different kind of instrument to one of the present day. As regards size, it closely resembled one of our common dessert-plates. Before Dr. Hooke's improvement, the performance of watches was so very irregular that they were considered as serving only to give the time for a few hours, and this in rather a random kind of way. The invention by Dr. Hooke of a spiral spring applied to the arbor of the balance, by which means effects were produced on its vibrations similar to the action of gravity on the pendulum of a clock, was perhaps of more importance than any improvement which has been subsequently made. Watches were common in France before 1544, as in that year the corporation of master clockmakers in Paris had a statute enacted to ensure to themselves the exclusive privilege of making and causing to be made clocks and watches, large or small, within the precincts of that city. The anchor-escapement was invented by Clement, a London clockmaker, in 1680. Previously to 1790, two kinds of watches were made, the vertical and the horizontal. The former was first used in clocks, then in watches. The horizontal was invented in 1724, by George Graham, F.R.S. (an apprentice of the renowned Tompion), to whom we are indebted for two of the most valuable improvements in clocks which have ever been made, viz. the dead-beat, or Graham escapement 1121 , as it is called, and the mercurial compensation pendulum. The best proof that can be adduced of the importance of these inventions is, that they still continue to be employed in all their early simplicity, in the construction of the best astronomical clocks of the present day. Graham's horizontal escapement is still extensively employed in the Swiss and Geneva watches, but in the better sort of those of English manufacture, it has been superseded by the duplex, and recently by the lever, which is nothing more than the application of Graham's dead-beat escapement to the watch, though patents have been taken out by various persons who have claimed the invention. The most remarkable inventions of this period were those of Harrison, consisting of his gridiron pendulum, the going fusee, the compensation curb, and the remontoir escapement. In 1736, he appears to have completed his longitude watch, and received from the Royal Society their gold medal; he ultimately received the government reward of £20,000, together with other sums from the Board of Longitude and the Honourable East India Company. Notwithstanding his application of the compensation curb to the watch, it was still a subject of inquiry, and by many persons it was thought that the expansion and contraction of the metal, of which the spring is composed, was the source of variation in the equality of its motion under changes of temperature; but the consideration that the change of rate in the clock, with a seconds pendulum, in passing from the winter to the summer temperature, amounted only to about twenty seconds, while that of the watch exceeded six minutes and a half under similar circumstances, led careful observers to infer that some other cause must be assigned for the anomaly, and the loss of elasticity of the balance-spring by heat began to be suspected, as appears by the following passage in the Prize Essay of Daniel Bernoulli, read before the French Academy:—“I must not omit (said this celebrated geometrician) a circumstance which may be prejudicial to balance watches; it is, that experimental philosophers pretend to have remarked that certain changes of elastic force uniformly follow changes of temperature. If that be the case, the spring can never uniformly govern the balance.” That which Bernoulli only conjectured, was in 1773 established as a matter of certainty, and the amount in loss of time due to each of the three conjointly operating causes determined by Berthoud to be,—loss by expansion of the balance, 62 seconds; loss by elongation of the balance-spring, 19 seconds; and loss by the diminution of the spring's elastic force by heat, 312 seconds, by an increase of 60° of heat of Fahrenheit's scale. We have previously observed that Harrison's compensation curb was inefficient, as besides other defects, it interfered too much with the isochronism of the balance-spring, as the inventor himself was candid enough to confess that the balance, balance-spring, and compensation curb, were not contemporaneously affected by changes of temperature, since small pieces of metal were sooner affected than large, and those in motion before those at rest. Whence he was led to conclude, that if the provision for heat and cold could properly reside in the balance itself, as was the case with his gridiron pendulum clocks, the time-piece might be made much more perfect. This ingenuous observation is the more to Harrison's credit, as it was certainly his interest to conceal such a suggestion, being at that time a candidate for the government reward. The complexity of Harrison's timekeeper and the high price, £400, demanded by Kendall to make them after that model, still left the timekeeper to be discovered that would come within the means of purchase of private individuals: for admirably as Harrison had succeeded in the construction of those which had procured him his reward, and great as were the talents of his assistant Larcum Kendall, yet for practical purposes, there needed an instrument of greater simplicity, and to John Arnold we are indebted for its invention.

Arnold is also celebrated for the manufacture of the smallest repeating-watch ever known: it was made for his majesty George III., to whom it was presented on his birthday, the 4th of June 1764. Although less than six-tenths of an inch in diameter, it was perfect in all its parts, repeated the hours, quarters and half-quarters, and contained the first ruby cylinder ever made. Indeed so novel was the construction of this little specimen of mechanical skill, that he was forced not only to form the design and execute the work himself, but also to manufacture the greater part of the tools employed in its construction. It is minutely described in Rees's Cyclopædia, and also in the Sporting Magazine of that time, in which latter work it is correctly stated to be of the size of a silver twopence, and its weight that of a sixpence. The King was so much pleased with this rare specimen of mechanical skill, that he presented Mr. Arnold with 500 guineas; and the Emperor of Russia afterwards offered Mr. Arnold 1000 guineas for a duplicate of it, which he declined.

Arnold's model, though destined to perform the same office as Harrison's, was entirely different in its construction, and was as simple as his predecessor's was complex. By progressive stages of improvement, it was brought by the inventor himself to so high a point of perfection, that it continues to be the model followed in the construction of the best chronometers of the present day. The instruments upon which Arnold experimented are now in the possession of his successor, Mr. C. Frodsham, and show the gradual progress of advancement made in the escapement, &c., until he arrived at that beautiful, yet simple, detached escapement, which is still followed, and known under the name of the Arnold escapement. He was the first watchmaker who introduced jewelling into watches and clocks, and in 1771 he applied ruby pallets to the two clocks of the Royal Society by Graham and Smeaton, and likewise to the transit clock by Graham at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich. In 1776 Arnold achieved what was unquestionably his greatest work, viz. the invention of the cylindrical spring and compensation balance, and their application in the chronometer, which is the name that Arnold then first employed to designate his timekeepers. This ingenious and valuable discovery introduced a new æra in chronometry. Each part of the machine under the new arrangement performed unchecked the office assigned to it. The escapement was completely detached, except at the moment of discharge and giving impulse; the balance-spring, no longer interfered with in corrections for temperature (as formerly) by the compensating curb, became a free agent and the generator of motion, in which state only it is capable of being perfectly isochronized; the balance, by its expansion and contraction, varied its inertia according to the varied tension of the balance-spring by its increased or diminished elastic force in changes of temperature, while the office of the main-spring was reduced to that of a simple maintaining power. This beautiful discovery, together with the law of isochronism and other important improvements in the modification of the compensation balance, procured for him and his son John Roger Arnold the reward from government of the sum of £3000. The accuracy with which chronometers  keep time is truly astonishing: in 1830 two chronometers constructed by Mr. Charles Frodsham were submitted for public trial at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, for twelve months, and were observed daily. One of them made an extreme variation of 86-hundredth parts of a second, and the other of 57-hundredths only; but even this degree of accuracy, surprising as it is, is surpassed by the performance of his best astronomical  clocks. It is therefore highly honourable to the English artists, that by their ingenuity and skill they have accomplished the great object which had occupied the attention of the learned of Europe for nearly 300 years, namely, the means of discovering the longitude at sea. It is not a little singular that Sir Isaac Newton suggested the discovery of the longitude by the aid of an accurate timekeeper.

If we go back to the period of Philip III. of Spain, we shall then see the interest and importance attached to this great discovery. As early as 1598, this monarch offered a reward of 100,000 crowns to any person who should discover the means of finding the longitude of a ship at sea; but what was the opinion then entertained of the nature of the task to be accomplished by means of the balance-watches then in use, may be gathered from an expression of Morin, who wrote about the year 1630, and who in speaking to the Cardinal Richelieu of the difficulty of constructing an instrument which should keep time to the requisite degree of accuracy for that purpose, is reported to have said, “Id verò an ipsi dæmoni nescio, homini autem suscipere scio esse stultissimum 1122.”

We have not said much on the beautiful discovery of the law of isochronism, of the balance-spring, on which the higher adjustment of clocks and watches so entirely depend, as an elaborate essay on this subject by Charles Frodsham, F.R.A.S., is in the hands of the publisher, and will shortly be circulated.

Some very ingenious contrivances have within the last few years been effected in the application of the electric fluid as a source of motive power to clocks and chronometers, and they offer peculiar advantages in the great simplicity of the apparatus in which wheels are dispensed with, hence friction is reduced to a minimum. Their invention is a subject of dispute between Professor Wheatstone and Mr. Alexander Bain 1123. We shall briefly describe Mr. Bain's clock. His source of electricity is obtained by fixing galvanic plates in moist earth. The clock consists of a pendulum, the bob of which vibrates between the poles of two permanent magnets, the opposite poles of which face one another. A small platinum-ball is affixed to the upper part of a small brass stem, which is free for lateral motion, being fastened below to a light spindle carried by the upper part of the pendulum-rod. A wire coated with silk is attached to the lower end of the suspension-spring of the pendulum. It is led down the back of the rod (which is composed of wood) and then coiled longitudinally in many convolutions around the edge of the bob in a groove. It is then taken up the back of the rod and terminates in the bearings of the spindle. The pendulum is suspended from a metal bracket fixed to the back of the case, and to which one of the poles of the battery is attached. Two pins are fixed horizontally, parallel with the platinum-ball, leaving space for its lateral motions, and at such a distance that the ball alternately comes into contact with each pin, when the pendulum has reached the opposite extremity of its arc. The other pole of the battery is placed in contact with the metal bracket which supports one of the pins. As long as the platinum-ball rests on the pin projecting from the pin-bracket to which the second pole of the battery is attached, a constant current of electricity is established and passes through the earth, the plates and the wires. But when the pendulum is set in motion by being drawn on one side, the point of support of the rod carrying the platinum-ball is thus moved to the same side, hence the centre of gravity of the platinum-ball being removed beyond its base, it falls upon the opposite pin. This motion of the ball lets on and cuts off the flow of electricity, at or near the ends of the vibrations of the pendulum, so that the convoluted wire of the bob is alternately attracted and repelled by the magnets at the proper points of its vibrations, and thus a continual motion is kept up. Mr. Bain has also contrived arrangements by which a great number of clocks may be worked simultaneously or in rotation; as also by which ordinary clocks may be made to keep time. The latter are effected by transmitting a current of electricity once in every four hours from a regulating clock. As the details connected with these valuable contrivances can hardly be followed without figures, we must rest satisfied with referring the reader to Mr. Bain's work, before cited.]


1089  This article was written by the Hon. Daines Barrington. It is here given with the addition of Professor Beckmann's notes, which are distinguished by the initials of his name.

1090  Dante, Paradiso, c. x.

1091  Selden, in his preface to Hengham.

1092  Mic. 2 Ric. III.

1093  We find that this clock was considered, during the reign of Henry VI., to be of such consequence, that the king gave the keeping of it, with the appurtenances, to William Warby, dean of St. Stephens, together with the pay of sixpence per diem, to be received at the Exchequer. See Stow's London, vol. ii. p. 55. The clock at St. Mary's, Oxford, was also furnished in 1523, out of fines imposed on the students of the university.

1094  III. Inst. p. 72.

1095  IV. Inst. p. 255.

1096  p. 55, in his Additions to Stow. This clock-house continued in a ruined state till the year 1715.—Grose's Antiquarian Repertory, p. 280.

1097  Dart's Canterbury, Appendix, p. 3.

1098  Chaucer was born in 1328, and died in 1400.

1099  To the time of queen Elizabeth clocks were often called orologes :

He'll watch the horologe a double set,
If drink rock not his cradle.—Othello, act ii. sc. 3.

by which the double set of twelve hours on a clock is plainly alluded to, as not many more than twelve can be observed on a dial; and in the same tragedy this last time-measurer is called by its proper name:

More tedious than the dial eight score times.—Ibid. act iii. sc. 4.

The clock of Wells cathedral is also, to this day, called the horologe.

1100  See Dugdale's Origines Jurid. Lydgate, therefore, who wrote before the time of Henry VIII., says,

I will myself be your orologere
To-morrow early.—Prologue to the Storye of Thebes.

1101  Leland de Script. Brit. [The translation of this passage will be found at p. 350 .]

1102  Froissart, vol. ii. ch. 127.

1103  Falconet, Mémoires de Litt. vol. xx.

1104  See Carpentier, art. Horologiator.

1105  Mr. Peckett, an ingenious apothecary of Compton Street, Soho, hath shown me an astronomical clock which belonged to the late Mr. Ferguson, and which still continues to go. The workmanship on the outside is elegant, and it appears to have been made by a German in 1525, by the subjoined inscription in the Bohemian of the time:

Iar. da. macht. mich. Iacob. Zech.
Zu. Prag. ist. bar. da. man. zalt. 1525.

The above Englished:

Year. when. made. me. Jacob. Zech.
At. Prague. is. true. when. counted. 1525.

The diameter of the clock is nine inches three-fourths, and the height five inches.

[I have transposed the words, as I find them in the original; but war  seems to have stood in the place of bar, at least Barrington has translated it by is true, and we must read,

Da man zält 1525 jar
Da macht mich Iacob Zech zu Prag ist wahr.
—I. B.]

1106  I am also referred by the Rev. Mr. Bowle, F.S.A., to the following passage in the Abridged History of Spain, vol. i. p. 568: “The first clock seen in Spain was set up in the cathedral of Seville, 1400.”

1107  The oldest clock we have in England that is supposed to go tolerably, is of the preceding year, viz. 1540, the initial letters of the maker's name being N. O. It is in the palace at Hampton Court.—Derham's Artificial Clock-maker.

1108  A German translation of this book is added to Welper's Gnomick.—I. B.

1109  That distinguished antiquary Horace Walpole has in his possession a clock, which appears by the inscription to have been a present from Henry VIII. to Anne Boleyn. Poynet, bishop of Winchester, likewise gave an astronomical clock to the same king.—Godwyn de Præsul.

1110  Mémoires de Litt. vol. xx. See also Hardwicke's Collection of State Papers, vol. i. p. 53.

1111  Vol. xx.

1112  A clockmaker of this city (Göttingen) assured me that several watches which had catgut instead of a chain, were brought to him to be repaired. I. B. [Sir Richard Burton, of Sackets Hill, Isle of Thanet, has now in his possession an early silver watch, presumed to be of the time of queen Elizabeth, in which catgut is a substitute for chain.

A similar watch is also in the possession of Sir Thomas Dick Lauder, Bart., which formerly belonged to the unfortunate queen Mary, and descended to him from the Seton family. It is made of silver in the form of a death's head, with open work for the escape of sound, the other parts covered with emblematical engraving. It appears originally to have been constructed with catgut, but now has a chain. It goes extremely well, but requires winding-up every twenty-six hours to keep it accurately to time. Queen Mary bequeathed it to Mary Seton, February 7, 1587. An engraving with a very full description of this curious watch, will be found in Smith's Historical and Literary Curiosities, Lond. 1845, 4to, plate 96.—H. G. B.]

1113  Barrington says here, in a note, “Pancirollus informs us, that about the end of the fifteenth century watches were made no larger than an almond, by a man whose name was Mermecide.—Encyclop.” The first part of this assertion is to be found, indeed, in Pancirollus, edition of Frankfort, 1646, 4to, ii. p. 168; but Myrmecides was an ancient Greek artist, whose παραναλώματα, or uncommonly small pieces of mechanism, are spoken of by Cicero and Pliny. He is not mentioned by Pancirollus, but by Salmuth, p. 231. It is probable that this error may be in the Encyclopédie; at least Barrington refers to it as his authority.—I. B.

1114  Somner's Canterbury, Supplement, No. xiv. p. 36. See also, in an extract from archbishop Parker's will, made April 5th, 1575: “Do et lego fratri meo Ricardo episcopo Eliensi baculum meum de canna Indica, qui horologium  habet in summitate.” As likewise in the brief of his goods, &c., No. xiv. p. 39, a clock valued at 54 l. 4 s.

1115  Stow's Chron. p. 878; and Introduct. to Mr. Reuben Burrow's Almanac for 1778.

1116  More particularly Dr. Hook, Tompion, &c.

1117  The ninth and tenth of William III. ch. 28, s. 2.

1118  This letter, signed John Jamieson, and dated Forfar, August 20th, 1785, is taken from the Gentleman's Magazine, vol. ii. p. 688.

One of my literary friends in London, to whom I am indebted for much learned information, says in a letter which I received from him, “I had never believed the story of Robert Bruce's watch, mentioned in your translation of Barrington's History of Clocks, the more as Mr. Barrington is famous for being in the wrong; but in the Gentleman's Magazine there is a full account of the origin of this imposition.” As this error occurs in a paper which I have endeavoured to render more public by a translation, I consider myself bound to give a translation of this letter also.—B.

1119  The passage may be found, vol. i. p. 95, of the edition in quarto. Edinburgh, 1774: “Pocket-watches were brought there from Germany, an. 1577.” Home, or Lord Kaimes, however, was too celebrated or too artful a writer to produce proofs of his historical assertions.—B.

1120  This was first used early in the sixteenth century.

1121  A very detailed and learned pamphlet has just been written on this beautiful escapement by Benjamin L. Vulliamy, F.R.A.S., clock-maker to the Queen, entitled, ‘On the Construction and Theory of the Dead-Beat Escapement of Clocks.'

1122  “I know not what such an undertaking would be even to the devil himself, but to man it would, undoubtedly, be the height of folly.”

1123  The details of this dispute may be found in the “Applications of the Electric Fluid to the Useful Arts,” by Mr. Alexander Bain. Lond. 1843. Professor Wheatstone's clock, &c. is described in the Phil. Trans. for 1841.