BELL, Henry, Scottish engineer, the first successful applier of steam to the purposes of navigation in Europe: b. Torphichen, Linlith gowshire, 7 April 1767; d. Helensburgh, 14 Nov. 1830. He practised for several years, at Glasgow, the craft of a house carpenter, but in 1808 removed to Helensburgh, where he contin ued to prosecute his favorite task of mechanical scheming, without much regard to the ordinary affairs of the world, though he became proprie tor of baths there. The application of steam to navigation had already been attempted by Mr. Miller of Dalswinton (among others), who, in 1788, had a vessel constructed, propelled by a small engine and paddle-wheel, the scene of operations being a loch on his own property in Dumfriesshire. Some further experiments were made, yet the scheme had no practical result for several years. Henry Bell seems to have turned his attention to the subject before the end of the century, and in January 1812 produced the Cornet, a vessel 40 feet long, which was found in a great measure to answer the purpose contemplated. This vessel could make way against a head tide in the river at the rate of five miles an hour, and continued to ply on the Clyde for a number of years. It may be mentioned that Mr. Robert Fulton, an Amen ican engineer, had launched a boat upon this principle in 1807, and that it performed long voyages upon the Hudson River; but it has been proved that Fulton had derived assistance in the construction of his vessel from Bell, who must therefore be allowed the praise of having done, in his own country, what all other men, notwithstanding the superior advantages of skill and capital, had failed in doing. Bell
lived to see the bosom of the Clyde dotted far and wide by innumerable copies of his own invention; to know that steamboats promised to give a new turn to the art of general warfare; yet he reaped for himself little advantage. While mankind at large were enjoying the blessings which he had pointed out to them, he approached the confines of old age with the prospect of hardly the average comforts which• attended that stage of existence in the humbler walks of society. Touched by his condition, a number of benevolent individuals instituted a subscription in his behalf, and it is creditable to the good feeling of the citizens of Glasgow and other places that a considerable sum was raised. The trustees on the river Clyde also gave him an annuity of i100, which he enjoyed for several years, the half of which sum was continued to his widow. A monument was erected to his memory at Dunglass Point on the Clyde. See STEAM VESSELS.