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En jätte med en idé

Året var 1803, William och Dorothy Wordsworth vandrade i Skottland tillsammans med Samuel Coleridge. Vid en gruvby såg de på avstånd vad som kanske var deras första syn av en ångdriven maskin:

When we drew nearar [writes Dorothy Wordsworth] we saw, coming out of the side of the building, a large machine or lever, in appearance like a great forge-hammer, as we supposed for raising water out of the mines. It heaved upwards once in half a minute with a slow motion, and seemed to rest to take breath at the bottom, its motion being accompanied with a sound between a grown and jike. There would have been something in this object very striking in any place, as it was impossible not to invest the machine with some faculty of intellect; it seemed to have made the first step from brute matter to life and purpose, showing its progress by great power. William made a remark to this effect, and Coleridge observed that it was like a giant with one idea.

Journals of Dorothy Wordsworth, 19 augusti 1803

(Coleridge verkar också ha gillat sin sägning, då han återanvände den för att beskriva sin kompis Thomas Clarkson som var helt upptagen av att avskaffa slaveriet.)