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GEORGE III.—A STORY OF THE SPINNING-WHEEL
 WHILE Britain was fighting and losing a great colony,
another battle was being fought and won. This was a peaceful
battle—the battle of industries and inventions. To invent
really means to find out, and people were now finding out
all kinds of things which made living much more easy and
The two chief things which were found out about this time
were, first, how to spin cotton, wool, and linen by
machinery instead of by hand; second, how to use steam to
make this machinery work, and how to make it draw trains
along lines and carry ships over the sea.
Before spinning-frames were invented, women used to spin
with wheels in their own homes. But that was such slow work
that the weavers could not get enough yarn to keep their
looms going, and because of that they could not make as much
cloth as they might otherwise have done. They grumbled so
much about this that clever people began to wonder if it
would be possible to spin in some quicker way. Among these
clever people was a man called Richard Arkwright.
Richard Arkwright's father and mother were very poor and
they had a great many children—thirteen in all, and of
those thirteen Richard was the youngest. As Richard's father
and mother were so poor and had so
 many children they had no
money to spend in sending them to school, and in those days
there were no free schools. So Richard hardly knew how to
read or write. What he did know he taught himself with the
help of an uncle who was very kind to him.
When Richard grew up he became a barber. He rented a little
cellar and there he stuck up his red and white pole which is
the sign of a barber's shop. Then he waited for people to
come to have their hair cut and to be shaved.
But for some reason or other very few people came. Perhaps
it was because Richard's shop was little and dark and down
stairs. Perhaps it was because he was always thinking of
other things and so did not make a very good barber.
Whatever the reason was, few people came and Richard became
poorer and poorer.
At last he had a great idea. If people would not come to be
shaved for two pence, which was the usual price, why then he
would shave them for one penny, and in this way cut out all
the other barbers. So he wrote a big sign and pasted it over
his doorway. "Come to the Subterraneous Barber. He shaves
for a penny!!" Subterraneous means underground. It was not
long before some people saw this sign. "Hullo!" they said
"what is this? Shave for a penny? Well, there is no harm in
So they tried, and Richard's shop became the fashion. It was
crowded, while those of other barbers were empty.
"RICHARD'S SHOP SOON BECAME THE FASHION"
The other barbers were very angry. But what was to be done?
People were not likely to pay two pence, when they could be
shaved for one penny.
But at last the barbers all agreed that they, too, should
put up signs saying that they shaved for one penny. Richard,
however, did not want to lose all the trade
 which he had
gained. He wrote out a new sign, "Come to the Subterraneous
Barber. He shaves for a halfpenny!!" So he was still the
cheapest barber in the town. But shaving for a halfpenny
did not pay very well.
At this time nearly every one wore wigs. Even people who had
hair enough of their own cut it short and wore wigs of long
hair, tied behind with ribbon, as you can see in the
Arkwight found out how to dye hair different colours, so he
left off shaving, and travelled about the country buying
hair from people who were willing to sell it. Then he dyed
it to the fashionable colour, and made it into wigs for fine
gentlemen. This paid very much better than shaving people
for a halfpenny, and soon Arkwright's hair was known to be
the best in the country. He got on so well that he gave up
his little shop in the cellar and took a better one.
But Richard was not really interested in making wigs. What
he really liked was machinery, and he spent all his spare
time making models of a spinning-frame. He got a man called
Kay, who was a watchmaker, to help him, and Richard soon
became so interested in his machinery that he neglected his
business and became quite poor again.
Richard's wife, finding that they were growing poorer and
poorer, thought that this was all the fault of the models,
so one day she smashed them, hoping her husband would go
back to his wig-making. Richard was very grieved when he
found his beautiful models broken, but far from giving up,
he became even more determined to go on making models. He
was so poor by this time, and his clothes were in such rags
that he could not go out in the streets.
Richard got leave to set up his machine in a school
The house was in a quiet place surounded by a garden, so
that Arkwright and Kay could work in peace. This was very
necessary, for Richard Arkwright's wife was not the only
person who wished to smash models or even machinery itself.
The work-people were very ignorant, and they hated these new
inventions which they thought were going to take away their
work. They hated them so much that, when the new inventions
came into use, the work-people often broke into the
factories and wrecked the machines.
But even in his quiet garden, Richard was not quite safe,
for two old women who lived not far off could hear the
whirring and humming of the machinery. They were very
frightened at these new strange noises which they thought
must be made by evil spirits. They told people that the
sound was as if the wicked one was tuning his bagpipes while
Arkwright and Kay danced a jig. The people would have broken
into the house to see what really was there, but they were
too much afraid of the evil spirits.
At last Arkwright conquered all his difficulties. His
spinning-frame was a success and although his troubles did
not end for a long time, he at length made a great fortune
and died Sir Richard Arkwright. He not only made a great
fortune for himself, but he helped to make Britain wealthy.
After Arkwright's invention came into use, the looms could
make so much cloth that the merchants had enough not only to
supply Britain, but to sell to other countries. Britain
began to be called the workshop of the world, and a few
years later, a great Frenchman called us "a nation of
shopkeepers," a name of which we have no reason to be
Other men besides Arkwright invented spinning-frames, but I
have told you about Arkwright because
 his was the first
really successful frame, and the machines which are used
to-day are almost the same as those he invented.
Arkwright built mills and taught his work-people how to use
the machines, and from his time the great factories began to
grow up which now give work to so many people, and which
have made so many towns rich and famous. Arkwright's frames
were first worked by water, so that a factory could only be
built near a stream. But later, when Watt and Stephenson
discovered the power of steam, they were worked by steam.
When Watt and Stephenson made their engines and built
railways, when British steamships carrying British goods
sailed proudly over the seas, Britain was more than ever
mistress of the waves, and she was also the workshop and the
market of the world.