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Title: Stories of Invention - Told by Inventors and their Friends
Author: Hale, Edward E.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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  _Copyright, 1885_,

  University Press:


This little book closes a series of five volumes which I undertook some
years since, in the wish to teach boys and girls how to use for
themselves the treasures which they have close at hand in the Public
Libraries now so generally opened in the Northern States of America. The
librarians of these institutions are, without an exception, so far as I
know, eager to introduce to the young the books at their command. From
these gentlemen and ladies I have received many suggestions as the
series went forward, and I could name many of them who could have edited
or prepared such a series far more completely than I have done. But it
is not fair to expect them, in the rush of daily duty, to stop and tell
boys or girls what will be "nice books" for them to read. If they issue
frequent bulletins of information in this direction, as is done so
admirably by the librarians at Providence and at Hartford, they do more
than any one has a right to ask them for. Such bulletins must be
confined principally to helping young people read about the current
events of the day. In that case it will only be indirectly that they
send the young readers back into older literature, and make them
acquainted with the best work of earlier times.

I remember well a legend of the old Public Library at Dorchester, which
describes the messages sent to the hard-pressed librarian from the
outlying parts of the town on the afternoon of Saturday, which was the
only time when the Library was open.

"Mother wants a sermon book and another book." This was the call almost
regularly made by the messengers.

I think that many of the most accomplished librarians of to-day have
demands not very dissimilar, and that they will be glad of any
assistance that will give to either mother or messenger any hint as to
what this "other book" shall be.

It is indeed, of course, almost the first thing to be asked that boys
and girls shall learn to find out for themselves what they want, and to
rummage in catalogues, indexes, and encyclopædias for the books which
will best answer their necessities. Mr. Emerson's rule is, "Read in the
line of your genius." And the young man or maiden who can find out, in
early life, what the line of his or her genius is, has every reason to
be grateful to the teacher, or the event, or the book that has
discovered it. I have certainly hoped, in reading and writing for this
series, that there might be others of my young friends as sensible and
as bright as Fergus and Fanchon, who will be found to work out their own
salvation in these matters, and order their own books without troubling
too much that nice Miss Panizzi or that omniscient Mrs. Bodley who
manages the Library so well, and knows so well what every one in the
town has read, and what he has not read.

I had at first proposed to publish with each book a little bibliography
on the subjects referred to, telling particularly where were the
available editions and the prices at which they could be bought by young
collectors. But a little experiment showed that no such supplement could
be made, which should be of real use for most readers for whom these
books are made. The same list might be too full for those who have only
small libraries at command, and too brief for those who are fortunate
enough to use large ones. Indeed, I should like to say to such young
readers of mine as have the pluck and the sense to read a preface, that
the sooner they find out how to use the received guides in such
matters,--the very indexes and bibliographies which I should use in
making such a list for them,--why, the better will it be for them.

Such books as Poole's Index, Watt's and Brunet's Bibliographies, and the
New American Indexes, prepared with such care by the Librarians'
Association, are at hand in almost all the Public Libraries; and the
librarians will always be glad to encourage intelligent readers in the
use of them.

I should be sorry, in closing the series, not to bear my testimony to
the value of the Public Library system, still so new to us, in raising
the standard of thought and education. For thirty years I have had more
or less to do with classes of intelligent young people who have met for
study. I can say, therefore, that the habit of thought and the habit of
work of such young people now is different from what it was thirty years
ago. Of course it ought to be. You can say to a young learner now, "This
book says thus and so, but you must learn for yourself whether this
author is prejudiced or ill-informed, or not."

You can send him to the proper authorities. On almost any detail in
general history, if he live near one of the metropolitan libraries, you
can say to him, "If you choose to study a fortnight on this thing, you
will very likely know more about it than does any person in the world."
It is encouraging to young people to know that they can thus take
literature and history at first hand. It pleases them to know that "the
book" is not absolute. With such resources that has resulted which such
far-seeing men as Edward Everett and George Ticknor and Charles Coffin
Jewett hoped for,--the growth, namely, of a race of students who do not
take anything on trust. As Professor Agassiz was forever driving up his
pupils to habits of original observation in natural history, the Public
Library provokes and allures young students to like courage in original
research in matters of history and literature.

                                                         EDWARD E. HALE.

ROXBURY, April 1, 1885.


    I. INTRODUCTION                                            9

   II. ARCHIMEDES                                             20

  III. FRIAR BACON                                            36

         Of the Parents and Birth of Fryer Bacon, and
           how he addicted himself to Learning, 39. How
           Fryer Bacon made a Brazen Head to speak, by
           the which he would have walled England about
           with Brass, 41. How Fryer Bacon by his Art
           took a Town, when the King had lain before it
           three Months, without doing it any Hurt, 45.
           How Fryer Bacon burnt his Books of Magic
           and gave himself to the Study of Divinity
           only; and how he turned Anchorite, 49. How
           Virgilius was set to School, 53. Howe the
           Emperor asked Counsel of Virgilius, how the
           Night Runners and Ill Doers might be rid-out
           of the Streets, 55. How Virgilius made a
           Lamp that at all Times burned, 56.

   IV. BENVENUTO CELLINI                                      58

         Life of Benvenuto Cellini, 59. Benvenuto's
           Autobiography, 60.

    V. BERNARD PALISSY                                        82

         Bernard Palissy the Potter, 83.

    VI. BENJAMIN FRANKLIN                                     97

         Franklin's Method of Growing Better, 100.
           Musical Glasses, 112.


         Richard Lovell Edgeworth, 119. Edgeworth's
           Telegraph, 124. Mr. Edgeworth's Telegraph
           in Ireland, 127. Mr. Edgeworth's Machine,
           136. More of Mr. Edgeworth's Fancies, 140.
           Jack the Darter, 142. A One-wheeled Chaise,

  VIII. JAMES WATT                                           146

         The Newcomen Engine, 150. James Watt and
           the Steam-engine, 153. The Separate Condenser,
           161. Completing the Invention, 164.
           Watt makes his Model, 167.

    IX. ROBERT FULTON                                        172


         George Stephenson, 194.

    XI. ELI WHITNEY                                          219

         Eli Whitney, 222.

   XII. JAMES NASMYTH                                        237

         The Steam-hammer, 237. James Nasmyth, 239.

  XIII. SIR HENRY BESSEMER                                   259

         The Age of Steel, 259. Bessemer's Family, 261.
           Henry Bessemer, 264. Stamped Paper, 265.
           Gold Paint, 270. Bessemer Steel, 273.

   XIV. THE LAST MEETING                                     284

         Goodyear, 284.





There is, or is supposed to be, somewhere in Norfolk County in
Massachusetts, in the neighborhood of the city of Boston, a rambling old
house which in its day belonged to the Oliver family. I am afraid they
were most of them sad Tories in their time; and I am not sure but these
very windows could tell the story of one or another brick-bat thrown
through them, as one or another committee of the people requested one or
another Oliver, of the old times, to resign one or another royal
commission. But a very peaceful Rowland has taken the place of those
rebellious old Olivers.

This comfortable old house is now known to many young people as the home
of a somewhat garrulous old gentleman whom they call Uncle Fritz. His
real name is Frederick Ingham. He has had a checkered life, but it has
evidently been a happy one. Once he was in the regular United States
Navy. For a long time he was a preacher in the Sandemanian connection,
where they have no ordained ministers. In Garibaldi's time he was a
colonel in the patriot service in Italy. In our civil war he held a
command in the national volunteer navy; and his scientific skill and
passion for adventure called him at one time across "the Great American
Desert," and at another time across Siberia, in the business of
constructing telegraphs. In point of fact, he is not the relation of any
one of the five-and-twenty young people who call him Uncle Fritz. But he
pets them, and they pet him. They like to make him a regular visit once
a week, as the winter goes by. And the habit has grown up, of their
reading with him, quite regularly, on some subject selected at their
first meeting after they return from the country. Either at Lady
Oliver's house, as his winter home is called, or at Little Crastis,
where he spends his summers, those selections for reading have been
made, which have been published in a form similar to that of the book
which the reader holds in his hand.

The reader may or may not have seen these books,--so much the worse for
him if he have not,--but that omission of his may be easily repaired.
There are four of them: STORIES OF WAR told by Soldiers; STORIES OF THE
SEA told by Sailors; STORIES OF ADVENTURE told by Adventurers; STORIES
OF DISCOVERY told by Discoverers.

Since the regular meetings began, of which these books are the history,
the circle of visitors has changed more or less, as most circles will,
in five years. Some of those who met are now in another world. Some of
the boys have grown to be so much like men, that they are "subduing the
world," as Uncle Fritz would say, in their several places, and that they
write home, from other latitudes and longitudes, of the Discoveries and
Adventures in which they have themselves been leaders. But younger
sisters and brothers take the places of older brothers and sisters. The
club--for it really is one--is popular, Lady Oliver's house is large,
and Uncle Fritz is hospitable. He says himself that there is always room
for more; and Ellen Flaherty, or whoever else is the reigning queen in
the kitchen, never complains that the demand is too great for her

Last fall, when the young people made their first appearance, the week
before Thanksgiving day, after the new-comers had been presented to
Uncle Fritz, and a chair or two had been brought in from the dining-room
to make provision for the extra number of guests, it proved that, on the
way out, John Coram, who is Tom Coram's nephew, had been talking with
Helen, who is one of the old Boston Champernoons, about the change of
Boston since his uncle's early days.

"I told her," said he to Uncle Fritz, "that Mr. Allerton was called 'the
last of the merchants,' and he is dead now."

"That was a pet phrase of his," said Uncle Fritz. "He meant that his
house, with its immense resources, simply bought and sold. He was away
for many years once. When he returned, he found that the chief of his
affairs had made an investment, from motives of public spirit, in a
Western railroad. 'I thought we were merchants,' said the fine old man,
disapproving. As he turned over page after page of the account, he found
at last that the whole investment had been lost. 'I am glad of that,'
said he; 'you will remember now that we are merchants.'"

"But surely my father is a merchant," said Julius. "He calls himself a
merchant, he is put down as a merchant in the Directory, and he buys and
sells, if that makes a man a merchant."

"All that is true," said Uncle Fritz. "But your father also invests
money in railroads; so far he is engaged in transportation. He is a
stockholder and a director in the Hecla Woollen Mills at Bromwich; so
far he is a manufacturer. He told me, the other day, that he had been
encouraging my little friend Griffiths, who is experimenting in the
conservation of electric power; so far he is an inventor, or a patron of

"In substance, what Mr. Allerton meant when he said 'I thought we were
merchants,' was this: he meant that that firm simply bought from people
who wished to sell, and sold to people who wished to buy.

"The fact, that almost every man of enterprise in Massachusetts is now
to a certain extent a manufacturer, shows that a great change has come
over people here since the beginning of this century."

"Those were the days of Mr. Cleveland's adventures, and Mr. Forbes's,"
said Hugh.

He alluded to the trade in the Pacific, in which these gentlemen shared,
as may be read in STORIES OF ADVENTURE.

Uncle Fritz said, "Yes." He said that the patient love of Great Britain
for her colonies forbade us here from making so much as a hat or a
hob-nail while we were colonies, as it would gladly do again now. He
said that the New Englanders had a great deal of adventurous old Norse
blood in their veins, that they had plenty of ship-timber and tar. If
they could not make hob-nails they could make ships; and they made very
good ships before they had been in New England ten years.

Luckily for us, soon after the country became a country, near a hundred
years ago, the quarrels of Europe were such, that if an English ship
carried produce of the West Indies or China to Europe, France seized,
if she could, ship and cargo; if a French ship carried them, English
cruisers seized ship and cargo, if they could. So it happened that the
American ships and the American sailors, who were not at war with
England and were not at war with France, were able to carry the stores
which were wanted by all the world. The wars of Napoleon were thus a
steady bounty for the benefit of the commerce of America. When they were
well over, we had become so well trained to commerce here, that we could
build the best ships in the world; and we thought we had the best seamen
in the world,--certainly there were no better. Under such a stimulus,
and what followed it, our commerce, as measured by the tonnage of our
ships, was as large as that of any nation, and, if measured by the miles
sailed, was probably larger.

All this prosperity to merchants was broken up by the War of 1812,
between the United States and Great Britain. For two years and a half,
then, our intercourse with Europe was almost cut off; for the English
cruisers now captured our vessels whenever they could find them. At last
we had to make our own hob-nails, our guns, our cannon, our cotton
cloth, and our woollen cloth, if we meant to have any at all. The
farmers' wives and daughters had always had the traditions of spinning
and weaving.

When Colonel Ingham said this, Blanche nodded to Mary and Mary to

"That means," said the Colonel, "that you have brought dear old mother
Tucker's spinning-wheel downstairs, and have it in the corner behind
your piano, does it not?"

Blanche laughed, and said that was just what she meant.

"It does very well in 'Martha,'" said the Colonel. "And can you spin,

Blanche rather surprised him by saying that she could, and the Colonel
went on with his lecture. Fergus, who is very proud of Blanche, slipped
out of the room, but was back after a minute, and no one missed him.

Here in Massachusetts some of the most skilful merchants--Appletons,
Perkinses, and Lawrences--joined hand with brave inventors like Slater
and Treadwell, and sent out to England for skilful manufacturers like
Crompton and Boott; thus there sprung up the gigantic system of
manufacture, which seems to you children a thing of course. Oddly
enough, the Southern States, which had always hated New England and New
England commerce, and had done their best to destroy it when they had a
chance, were very eager to secure a home-market for Southern cotton; and
thus, for many years after the war, they kept up such high protective
duties that foreign goods were very dear in America, and the New England
manufacturers had all the better prices.

While Uncle Fritz was saying this in substance, Ransom, the old servant,
appeared with a spinning-wheel from Colonel Ingham's music-room. The
children had had it for some charades. Kate Fogarty, the seamstress of
the Colonel's household, followed, laughing, with a great hank of flax;
and when the Colonel stopped at the interruption, Fergus said,--

"I thought, Uncle Fritz, they would all like to see how well Blanche
spins; so I asked Ransom to bring in the wheel."

And Blanche sat down without any coaxing, and made her wheel fly very
prettily, and spun her linen thread as well as her great-grandmamma
would have done. Colonel Ingham was delighted; and so were all the
children, half of whom had never seen any hand-spinning before. All of
them had seen cotton and wool spun in factories; in fact, half of them
had eaten their daily bread that day, from the profit of the factories
that for ten hours of every day do such spinning.

"Now, you see," said the well-pleased Colonel, "Blanche spins that flax
exactly as her grandmother nine generations back spun it. She spins it
exactly as Mrs. Dudley spun it in the old house where Dr. Paterson's
church stands. It is strange enough, but for one hundred and fifty years
there seems to have been no passion for invention among the New
Englanders. Now they are called a most _inventive_ people, and that bad
word has been coined for them and such as they.

"But all this is of the last century. It was as soon as they were thrown
on their own resources that they began to invent. Eli Whitney, a
Worcester County boy, graduated at Yale College in 1791. He went to
Georgia at once, to be a tutor in a planter's family; but before he
arrived, the planter had another tutor. This was a fortunate chance for
the world; for poor Whitney, disappointed, went to spend the winter at
the house of Mrs. General Greene. One day, at dinner, some guests of
hers said that cotton could never be exported with profit unless a
machine could be made to separate the seeds from the 'wool.' 'If you
want anything invented,' said Mrs. Greene, 'ask my young friend Mr.
Whitney; he will invent anything for you.' Whitney had then never seen
cotton unmanufactured. But he went to work; and before he was one year
out of college, he had invented the cotton-gin, which created an
enormous product of cotton, and, in fact, changed the direction of the
commerce of the world.

"Well, you know about other inventions. Robert Fulton, who built the
first effective steamboat, was born in Pennsylvania the same year
Whitney was born in Massachusetts.

"Hector, you are fond of imaginary conversations: write one in which
Whitney and Fulton meet, when each is twenty-one; let Daniel Boone look
in on them, and prophesy to them the future of the country, and how much
it is to owe to them and to theirs."

"I think Blanche had better write it--in a ballad," said Hector,
laughing. "It shall be an old crone spinning; and as she turns her wheel
she shall describe the Ætna Factory at Watertown."

"There shall be a _refrain_," said Wallace,--

  "'Turn my wheel gayly;
  Spin, flax, spin.'"

"No," said Hatty; "the refrain shall be

  'Four per cent in six months,
  Eight per cent in twelve.'

We are to go to Europe if the Vesuvius Mills pay a dividend. But if they
_pass_, I believe I am to scrub floors in my vacation."

"Very well," said Uncle Fritz, recalling them to the subject they had
started on. "All this is enough to show you how it is that you, who are
all New Englanders, are no longer seafaring boys or girls, exclusively
or even principally. Your great-grandmother, Alice, saved the lives of
all the crew of a Bristol trader, by going out in her father's boat and
taking her through the crooked passage between the Brewsters. You would
be glad to do it, but I am afraid you cannot."

"I should rather encourage those who go to do it," said Alice, demurely,
repeating one of their familiar jokes.

"And your great-grandfather, Seth, is the Hunt who discovered Hunt's
Reef in the Philippines. I am afraid you cannot place it on the map."

"I know I cannot," said Seth, bravely.

"No," said the old gentleman. "But all the same the reef is there. I
came to an anchor in the 'Calypso,' waiting for a southwest wind, in
sight of the breakers over it. And I wish we had the pineapples the
black people sold us there.

"All the same the New Englanders are good for something. Ten years
hence, you boys will be doing what your fathers are doing,--subduing the
world, and making it to be more what God wants it to be. And you will
not work at arms' length, as they did, nor with your own muscles."

"We have Aladdin's lamp," said Mary, laughing.

"And his ring," said Susie. "I always liked the ring one better than the
lamp one, though he was not so strong."

"He is prettier in the pictures," said George.

"Yes," said the Colonel; "we have stronger Genii than Aladdin had, and
better machinery than Prince Camaralzaman."

"I heard some one say that Mr. Corliss had added twenty-seven per cent
to the working power of the world by his _cut-off_," said Fergus.

The Colonel said he believed that was true. And this was a good
illustration of what one persevering and intelligent man can do in
bringing in the larger life and nobler purpose of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Such a man makes men cease from _labor_, which is always irksome, and
_work_ with God. This is always ennobling.

"I am ashamed to say that I do not know what a _cut-off_ is," said
Alice, who, like Seth, had been trained to "confess ignorance."

"I was going to say so," said John Rodman.

"And I,--and I,--and I," said quite a little chorus.

"We must make up a party, the first pleasant day, and go and see the
stationary engine which pumps this water for us." So the Colonel met
their confessions.

"But does not all this indicate that we might spend a few days in
looking up inventions?"

"I think we ought to," said Hatty. "Certainly we ought, if the Vesuvius
pays. Imagine me at Manchester. Imagine John Bright taking me through
his own mill, and saying to me, 'This is the rover we like best, on the
whole. Do you use this in America?' Imagine me forced to reply that I do
not know a rover when I see one, and could not tell a 'slubber' from a

The others laughed, and confessed equal ignorance. "Only, John Bright
has no mills in Manchester, Hatty."

"Well, they are somewhere; and I must not eat the bread of the Vesuvius
slubbers, and not know something of the way in which slubbers came to

"Very well," said Uncle Fritz, as usual recalling the conversation to
sanity. "Whom shall we read about first?"

"Tubal Cain first," said Fergus. "He seems to have been the first of the

"It was not he who found out witty inventions," said Fanchon, in a mock

"I should begin with Archimedes," said Uncle Fritz.

"Excellent!" said Fergus; "and then may we not burn up old Fogarty's
barn with burning-glasses?"

The children dislike Fogarty, and his barn is an eyesore to them. It
stands just beyond the hedge of the Lady Oliver garden.

"I thank Archimedes every time I take a warm bath. Did he not invent hot

"What nonsense! He was killed by Caligula in one."

"You shall not talk such stuff.--Uncle Fritz, what books shall I bring

It would seem as if, perhaps, Uncle Fritz had led the conversation in
the direction it had taken. At least it proved that, all together on the
rolling book-rack which Mr. Perkins gave him, were the account of
Archimedes in the Cyclopædia Britannica, the account in the French
Universal Biography, the life in La Rousse's Cyclopædia, Plutarch's
Lives, and a volume of Livy in the Latin. From these together, Uncle
Fritz, and the boys and girls whom he selected, made out this little
history of Archimedes.



Archimedes was born in Syracuse in the year 287 B. C., and was killed
there in the year 212 B. C. He is said to have been a relation of Hiero,
King of Syracuse; but he seems to have held no formal office known to
the politicians. Like many other such men, however, from his time down
to Ericsson, he came to the front when he was needed, and served
Syracuse better than her speech-makers. While he was yet a young man, he
went to Alexandria to study; and he was there the pupil of Euclid, the
same Euclid whose Geometry is the basis of all the geometry of to-day.

While Archimedes is distinctly called, on very high authority, "the
first mathematician of antiquity," and while we have nine books which
are attributed to him, we do not have--and this is a great
misfortune--any ancient biography of him. He lived seventy-five years,
for most of that time probably in Syracuse itself; and it would be hard
to say how much Syracuse owed to his science. At the end of his life he
saved Syracuse from the Romans for three years, during a siege in which,
by his ingenuity, he kept back Marcellus and his army. At the end of
this siege he was killed by a Roman soldier when the Romans entered the

The books of his which we have are on the "Sphere and Cylinder," "The
Measure of the Circle," "Conoids and Spheroids," "On Spirals,"
"Equiponderants and Centres of Gravity," "The Quadrature of the
Parabola," "On Bodies floating in Liquids," "The Psammites," and "A
Collection of Lemmas." The books which are lost are "On the Crown of
Hiero;" "Cochleon, or Water-Screw;" "Helicon, or Endless Screw;"
"Trispaston, or Combination of Wheels and Axles;" "Machines employed at
the Siege of Syracuse;" "Burning Mirror;" "Machines moved by Air and
Water;" and "Material Sphere."

As to the story of the bath-tub, Uncle Fritz gave to Hector to read the
account as abridged in the "Cyclopædia Britannica."

"Hiero had set him to discover whether or not the gold which he had
given to an artist to work into a crown for him had been mixed with a
baser metal. Archimedes was puzzled by the problem, till one day, as he
was stepping into a bath, and observed the water running over, it
occurred to him that the excess of bulk occasioned by the introduction
of alloy could be measured by putting the crown and an equal weight of
gold separately into a vessel filled with water, and observing the
difference of overflow. He was so overjoyed when this happy thought
struck him that he ran home without his clothes, shouting, 'I have found
it, I have found it,'--[Greek: Eurêka, Eurêka.]

"This word has been chosen by the State of California for its motto."

To make the story out, it must be supposed that the crown was irregular
in shape, and that the precise object was to find how much metal, in
measurement, was used in its manufacture. Suppose three cubic inches of
gold were used, Archimedes knew how much this would cost. But if three
cubic inches of alloy were used, the king had been cheated. What the
overflow of the water taught was the precise cubic size of the various
ornaments of the crown. A silver crown or a lead crown would displace as
much water as a gold crown of the same shape and ornament. But neither
silver nor lead would weigh so much as if pure gold were used, and at
that time pure gold was by far the heaviest metal known.

Fergus, who is perhaps our best mathematician, pricked up his ears when
he heard there was a treatise on the relation of the Circle to the
Square. Like most of the intelligent boys who will read this book,
Fergus had tried his hand on the fascinating problem which deals with
that proportion. Younger readers will remember that it is treated in
"Swiss Family." Jack--or is it perhaps Ernest?--remembers there, that
for the ribbon which was to go round a hat the hat-maker allowed three
times the diameter of the hat, and a little more. This "little more" is
the delicate fraction over which Archimedes studied; and Fergus, after
him. Fergus knew the proportion as far as thirty-three figures in
decimals. These are 3.141,592,653,589,793,238,462,643,383,279,502. When
Uncle Fritz asked Fergus to repeat these, the boy did it promptly,
somewhat to the astonishment of the others. He had committed it to
memory by one of Mr. Gouraud's "analogies," which are always convenient
for persons who have mathematical formulas to remember.

When those of the young people who were interested in mathematics looked
at Archimedes's solution of the problem, they found it was the same as
that they had themselves tried at school. But he carried it so far as to
inscribe a circle between two polygons, each of ninety-six sides; and
his calculation is based on the relation between the two.

Taking the "Swiss Family Robinson" statement again, Archimedes shows
that the circumference of a circle exceeds three times its diameter by a
small fraction, which is less than 10/70 and greater than 10/71 and that
a circle is to its circumscribing square nearly as 11 to 14. Those who
wish to carry his calculations farther may be pleased to know that he
found the figures 7 to 22 expressed the relation more correctly than 1
to 3 does. Metius, another ancient mathematician, used the proportion
113 to 355. If you reduce that to decimals, you will find it correct to
the sixth decimal. Remember that Archimedes and Metius had not the
convenience of the Arabic or decimal notation. Imagine yourselves doing
Metius's sum in division when you have to divide CCCLV by CXIII.
Archimedes, in fact, used the Greek notation,--which was a little better
than the Roman, but had none of the facility of ours. For every _ten_,
from 20 to 90, they had a separate character, and for every _hundred_,
and for every _thousand_. The _thousands_ were the units with a mark
underneath. Thus [Greek: a] meant 1, and [Greek: ,a] meant 1,000. To
express 113, Archimedes would have written [Greek: rig]. To express 355,
he would have written [Greek: tne]; and the place which these signs had
in the order would not have affected their value, as they do with us.

We cannot tell how the greater part of Archimedes's life was spent. But
whether he were nominally in public office or not, it is clear enough
that he must have given great help to Syracuse and her rulers, as an
engineer, long before the war in which the Romans captured that great
city. At that time Syracuse was, according to Cicero, "the largest and
noblest of the Greek cities." It was in Sicily; but, having been built
by colonists from Greece, who still spoke the Greek language, Cicero
speaks of it among Greek cities, as he would have spoken of Thurii, or
Sybaris, or the cities of "Magna Græcia,"--"great Greece," as they
called the Greek settlements in southern Italy. In the Second Punic War
Syracuse took sides against Rome with the Carthaginians, though her old
king, Hiero, had been a firm ally of the Romans. The most interesting
accounts that we have of Archimedes are in Livy's account of this war,
and in Plutarch's Life of Marcellus, who carried it on on the Roman
side. Livy says of Archimedes that he was--

"A man of unrivalled skill in observing the heavens and the stars, but
more deserving of admiration as the inventor and constructor of warlike
engines and works, by means of which, with a very slight effort, he
turned to ridicule what the enemy effected with great difficulty.

"The wall, which ran along unequal eminences, most of which were high
and difficult of access, some low and open to approach along level
vales, was furnished by him with every kind of warlike engine, as seemed
suitable to each particular place. Marcellus attacked from the
quinqueremes [his large ships] the wall of the Achradina, which was
washed by the sea. From the other ships the archers and slingers and
light infantry, whose weapon is difficult to be thrown back by the
unskilful, allowed scarce any person to remain upon the wall unwounded.
These soldiers, as they required some range in aiming their missiles
upward, kept their ships at a distance from the wall. Eight more
quinqueremes joined together in pairs, the oars on their inner sides
being removed, so that side might be placed to side, and which thus
formed ships [of double width], and were worked by the outer oars,
carried turrets built up in stories, and other battering-engines.

"Against this naval armament Archimedes placed, on different parts of
the walls, engines of various dimensions. Against the ships which were
at a distance he discharged stones of immense weight; those which were
nearer he assailed with lighter and more numerous missiles. Lastly, in
order that his own men might heap their weapons upon the enemy without
receiving any wounds themselves, he perforated the wall from the top to
the bottom with a great number of loop-holes, about a cubit in diameter,
through which some with arrows, others with scorpions of moderate size,
assailed the enemies without being seen. He threw upon their sterns some
of the ships which came nearer to the walls, in order to get inside the
range of the engines, raising up their prows by means of an iron grapple
attached to a strong chain, by means of a _tolleno_ [or derrick], which
projected from the wall and overhung them, having a heavy counterpoise
of lead which forced the line to the ground. Then, the grapple being
suddenly disengaged, the ship, falling from the wall, was by these
means, to the utter consternation of the seamen, so dashed against the
water that even if it came back to its true position it took in a great
quantity of water."

"Fancy," cried Bedford, "one of their double quinqueremes, when she had
run bravely in under the shelter of the wall. Just as the men think they
can begin to work, up goes the prow, and they all are tumbled down into
the steerage. Up she goes, and fifty rowers are on each other in a pile;
when the old pile-driver claw lets go again, and down she comes, splash
into the sea. And then Archimedes pokes his head out through one of the
holes, and says in Greek, 'How do you like that, my friends?' I do not
wonder they were discouraged."

The bold cliff of the water front of Syracuse gave Archimedes a
particular advantage for defensive operations of this sort. They are
described in more detail in Plutarch's Life of Marcellus, who was the
Roman general employed against Syracuse, and who was held at bay by
Archimedes for three years.

Here is Plutarch's account:--

Marcellus, with sixty galleys, each with five rows of oars, furnished
with all sorts of arms and missiles, and a huge bridge of planks laid
upon eight ships chained together,[1] upon which was carried the engine
to cast stones and darts, assaulted the walls. He relied on the
abundance and magnificence of his preparations, and on his own previous
glory; all which, however, were, it would seem, but trifles for
Archimedes and his machines.

These machines he had designed and contrived, not as matters of any
importance, but as mere amusements in geometry,--in compliance with King
Hiero's desire and request, some little time before, that he should
reduce to practice some part of his admirable speculations in science,
and by accommodating the theoretic truth to sensation and ordinary use,
bring it more within the appreciation of people in general. Eudoxus and
Archytas had been the first originators of this far-famed and highly
prized art of mechanics, which they employed as an elegant illustration
of geometrical truths, and as a means of sustaining experimentally, to
the satisfaction of the senses, conclusions too intricate for proof by
words and diagrams. As, for example, to solve the problem so often
required in constructing geometrical figures, "Given the two extremes to
find the two mean lines of a proportion," both these mathematicians had
recourse to the aid of instruments, adapting to their purpose certain
curves and sections of lines. But what with Plato's indignation at it,
and his invectives against it as the mere corruption and annihilation of
the one good of geometry, which was thus shamefully turning its back
upon the unembodied objects of pure intelligence, to recur to sensation,
and to ask help (not to be obtained without base subservience and
depravation) from matter; so it was that mechanics came to be separated
from geometry, and when repudiated and neglected by philosophers, took
its place as a military art.

Archimedes, however, in writing to King Hiero, whose friend and near
relative he was, had stated that, given the force, any given weight
might be moved; and even boasted, we are told, relying on the strength
of demonstration, that if there were another earth, by going into it he
could move this.

Hiero being struck with amazement at this, and entreating him to make
good this assertion by actual experiment, and show some great weight
moved by a small engine, he fixed upon a ship of burden out of the
king's arsenal, which could not be drawn out of the dock without great
labor by many men. Loading her with many passengers and a full freight,
sitting himself the while far off, with no great endeavor, but only
holding the head of the pulley in his hand and drawing the cord by
degrees, he drew the ship in a straight line, as smoothly and evenly as
if she had been in the sea.

The king, astonished at this, and convinced of the power of the art,
prevailed upon Archimedes to make him engines accommodated to all the
purposes, offensive and defensive, of a siege. These the king himself
never made use of, because he spent almost all his life in a profound
quiet and the highest affluence. But the apparatus was, in a most
opportune time, ready at hand for the Syracusans, and with it also the
engineer himself.

When, therefore, the Romans assaulted the walls in two places at once,
fear and consternation stupefied the Syracusans, believing that nothing
was able to resist that violence and those forces. But when Archimedes
began to ply his engines, he at once shot against the land forces all
sorts of missile weapons, with immense masses of stone that came down
with incredible noise and violence, against which no man could stand;
for they knocked down those upon whom they fell in heaps, breaking all
their ranks and files. In the mean time huge poles thrust out from the
walls over the ships [these were the derricks, or _tollenos_, of Livy]
sunk some by the great weights which they let down from on high upon
them; others they lifted up into the air by an iron hand or beak like a
crane's beak, and when they had drawn them up by the prow, and set them
on end upon the poop, they plunged them to the bottom of the sea. Or
else the ships, drawn by engines within, and whirled about, were dashed
against the steep rocks that stood jutting out under the walls, with
great destruction of the soldiers that were aboard them. A ship was
frequently lifted up to a great height in the air (a dreadful thing to
behold), and was rolled to and fro and kept swinging, until the mariners
were all thrown out, when at length it was dashed against the rocks, or
let fall.

At the engine that Marcellus brought upon the bridge of ships,--which
was called _Sambuca_ from some resemblance it had to an instrument of
music of that name,--while it was as yet approaching the wall, there was
discharged a piece of a rock of ten talents' weight,[2] then a second
and a third, which, striking upon it with immense force and with a noise
like thunder, broke all its foundation to pieces, shook out all its
fastenings, and completely dislodged it from the bridge. So Marcellus,
doubtful what counsel to pursue, drew off his ships to a safer distance,
and sounded a retreat to his forces on land. They then took a resolution
of coming up under the walls, if it were possible, in the night;
thinking that as Archimedes used ropes stretched at length in playing
his engines, the soldiers would now be under the shot, and the darts
would, for want of sufficient distance to throw them, fly over their
heads without effect. But he, it appeared, had long before framed for
such occasion engines accommodated to any distance, and shorter weapons;
and had made numerous small openings in the walls, through which, with
engines of a shorter range, unexpected blows were inflicted on the
assailants. Thus, when they, who thought to deceive the defenders, came
close up to the walls, instantly a shower of darts and other missile
weapons was again cast upon them. And when stones came tumbling down
perpendicularly upon their heads, and, as it were, the whole wall shot
out arrows against them, they retired.

And now, again, as they were going off, arrows and darts of a longer
range inflicted a great slaughter among them, and their ships were
driven one against another, while they themselves were not able to
retaliate in any way. For Archimedes had provided and fixed most of his
engines immediately under the wall; whence the Romans, seeing that
infinite mischiefs overwhelmed them from no visible means, began to
think they were fighting with the gods.

Yet Marcellus escaped unhurt, and, deriding his own artificers and
engineers, "What," said he, "must we give up fighting with this
geometrical Briareus, who plays pitch and toss with our ships, and with
the multitude of darts which he showers at a single moment upon us,
really outdoes the hundred-handed giants of mythology?" And doubtless
the rest of the Syracusans were but the body of Archimedes's designs,
one soul moving and governing all; for, laying aside all other arms,
with his alone they infested the Romans and protected themselves. In
fine, when such terror had seized upon the Romans that if they did but
see a little rope or a piece of wood from the wall, instantly crying out
that there it was again, that Archimedes was about to let fly some
engine at them, they turned their backs and fled, Marcellus desisted
from conflicts and assaults, putting all his hope in a long siege. Yet
Archimedes possessed so high a spirit, so profound a soul, and such
treasures of scientific knowledge, that though these inventions had now
obtained him the renown of more than human sagacity, he yet would not
deign to leave behind him any commentary or writing on such subjects;
but, repudiating as sordid and ignoble the whole trade of engineering,
and every sort of art that lends itself to mere use and profit, he
placed his whole affection and ambition in those purer speculations
where there can be no reference to the vulgar needs of life,--studies
the superiority of which to all others is unquestioned, and in which the
only doubt can be whether the beauty and grandeur of the subjects
examined or the precision and cogency of the methods and means of proof
most deserve our admiration.

It is not possible to find in all geometry more difficult and intricate
questions, or more simple and lucid explanations. Some ascribe this to
his natural genius; while others think that incredible toil produced
these, to all appearance, easy and unlabored results. No amount of
investigation of yours would succeed in attaining the proof; and yet,
once seen, you immediately believe you would have discovered it,--by so
smooth and so rapid a path he leads you to the conclusion required. And
thus it ceases to be incredible that (as is commonly told of him) the
charm of his familiar and domestic science made him forget his food and
neglect his person to that degree that when he was occasionally carried
by absolute violence to bathe, or have his body anointed, he used to
trace geometrical figures in the ashes of the fire, and diagrams in the
oil on his body, being in a state of entire preoccupation, and, in the
truest sense, divine possession, with his love and delight in science.
His discoveries were numerous and admirable; but he is said to have
requested his friends and relations that when he was dead they would
place over his tomb a sphere containing a cylinder, inscribing it with
the ratio which the containing solid bears to the contained.

The boys were highly edified by this statement of the difficulty which
Archimedes's friends found in making him take a bath, and chaffed Jack,
who had asked if he were not the inventor of bath-tubs.

When the reading from Plutarch was over, Fergus asked if that were all,
and was disappointed that there was nothing about the setting of ships
on fire by mirrors. It is one of the old stories of the siege of
Syracuse, that he set fire to the Roman ships by concentrating on them
the heat of the sun from a number of mirrors. But this story is not in
Livy, nor is it in Plutarch, though, as has been seen, they were well
disposed to tell what they knew which was marvellous in his
achievements. It is told at length and in detail by Zonaras and
Tzetzes, two Greek writers of the twelfth century, who must have found
it in some ancient writers whose works we do not now have.

"Archimedes," says Zonaras,[3] "having received the rays of the sun on a
mirror, by the thickness and polish of which they were reflected and
united, kindled a flame in the air, and darted it with full violence
upon the ships, which were anchored within a certain distance, in such a
manner that they were burned to ashes."

The same writer says that Proclus, a celebrated "mathematician" of
Constantinople, in the sixth century, at the siege of Constantinople set
fire to the Thracian fleet by means of brass mirrors. Tzetzes is yet
more particular. He says that when the Roman galleys were within a
bow-shot of the city walls, Archimedes brought together hexagonal
specula (mirrors) with other smaller ones of twenty-four facets, and
caused them to be placed each at a proper distance; that he moved these
by means of hinges and plates of metal; that the hexagon was bisected by
the meridian of summer and winter; that it was placed opposite the sun;
and that a great fire was thus kindled, which consumed the ships.

Now, it is to be remembered that these are the accounts of writers who
were not so good mechanics as Archimedes. It should be remembered, also,
that in the conditions of war then, the distance at which ships would be
anchored in a little harbor like that of Syracuse was not great. By
"bow-shot" would be meant the distance at which a bow would do serious
damage. Doubtful as the story of Zonaras and Tzetzes seems, it received
unexpected confirmation in the year 1747 from a celebrated experiment
tried by the naturalist Buffon.

After encountering many difficulties, which he had foreseen with great
acuteness, and obviated with equal ingenuity, Buffon at length succeeded
in repeating Archimedes's performance. In the spring of 1747 he laid
before the French Academy a memoir which, in his collected works,
extends over upwards of eighty pages. In this paper he described himself
as in possession of an apparatus by means of which he could set fire to
planks at the distance of 200 and even 210 feet, and melt metals and
metallic minerals at distances varying from 25 to 40 feet. This
apparatus he describes as composed of 168 plain glasses, silvered on the
back, each six inches broad by eight inches long. These, he says, were
ranged in a large wooden frame, at intervals not exceeding the third of
an inch, so that, by means of an adjustment behind, each should be
movable in all directions independent of the rest; the spaces between
the glasses being further of use in allowing the operator to see from
behind the point on which it behooved the various disks to be converged.

In this last statement there is a parallel with that of Tzetzes, who
speaks of the division of Archimedes's mirrors.

At the present moment naturalists are paying great attention to plans
for the using of the heat of the sun. It is said that on any county in
the United States, twenty by thirty miles square, there is wasted as
much heat of the sun as would drive, if we knew how to use it, all the
steam-engines in the world.

Fergus asked Uncle Fritz if he believed that Archimedes threw seven
hundred pounds of stone from one of his machines. The largest modern
guns throw shot of one thousand pounds, and it is only quite recently
that any such shot have been used.

Uncle Fritz told him that in the museum at St. Germain-en-Laye he would
one day see a modern catapult, made by Colonel de Reffye from the design
of a Roman catapult on Trajan's Column. This is supposed to be of the
same pattern which is called an "Onager" in the Latin books. This
catapult throws, when it is tested, a shot of twenty-four pounds, or it
throws a sheaf of short arrows. In one catapult the power is gained by
twisting ox-hide very tightly, and suddenly releasing it. Another is a
very stout bow, worked with a small windlass. Of course this will give a
great power.

Seven hundred pounds, however, seems beyond the ability of any such
machines as this; but from his higher walls Archimedes could, of course,
have rolled such stones down on the decks of the ships below. And if he
were throwing other stones or leaden balls to a greater distance with
his _Onagers_, it may well be that Plutarch or Livy did not take very
accurate account of the particular engine which threw one stone or

Archimedes was killed by a Roman soldier, to the great grief of
Marcellus, when the Romans finally took Syracuse. The city fell through
drunkenness, which was, and is, the cause of more failure in the world
than anything else which can be named. Marcellus, in some conversations
about the exchange or redemption of a prisoner, observed a tower
somewhat detached from the wall, which was, as he thought, carelessly
guarded. Choosing the night of a feast of Diana, when the Syracusans
were wholly given up to wine and sport, he took the tower by surprise,
and from the tower seized the wall and made his way into the city. In
the sack of the city by the soldiers, which followed, Archimedes was
killed. The story is told in different ways. Plutarch says that he was
working out some problem by a diagram, and never noticed the incursion
of the Romans, nor that the city was taken. A soldier, unexpectedly
coming up to him in this transport of study and meditation, commanded
him to follow him to Marcellus; which he declining to do before he had
worked out his problem to a demonstration, the soldier, enraged, drew
his sword, and ran him through. "Others write that a Roman soldier,
running upon him with a drawn sword, offered to kill him, and that
Archimedes, looking back, earnestly besought him to hold his hand a
little while, that he might not leave what he was then at work upon
inconsequent and imperfect; but the soldier, not moved by his entreaty,
instantly killed him. Others, again, relate that as Archimedes was
carrying to Marcellus mathematical instruments, dials, spheres, and
angles by which the magnitude of the sun might be measured to the sight,
some soldiers, seeing him, and thinking that he carried gold in a
vessel, slew him.

"Certain it is, that his death was very afflicting to Marcellus, and
that Marcellus ever after regarded him that killed him as a murderer,
and that he sought for the kindred of Archimedes and honored them with
signal honors."

Archimedes, as has been said, had asked that his monument might be a
cylinder bearing a sphere, in commemoration of his discovery of the
proportion between a cylinder and a sphere of the same diameter. A
century and a half after, when Cicero was quæstor of Sicily, he found
this monument, neglected, forgotten, and covered with a rank growth of
thistles and other weeds.

"It was left," he says, "for one who came from Arpinas, to show to the
men of Syracuse where their greatest countryman lay buried."



"All the world seems to have known of Columbus's discoveries as soon as
he came home, but all the world did not know at once of Archimedes's
inventions; indeed, I should think the world did not know now what all
of them are."

Hester Van Brunt was saying this in the hall, as the girls laid off
their waterproofs, when they next met the Colonel.

"I think that may often be said of what we call Inventions and what we
call Discoveries," he said, "till quite recent times. When a man
invented a new process, it was supposed that if he could keep the
secret, it might be to him a very valuable secret. But when one
discovered an island or a continent, it was almost impossible to keep
the secret. They tried it sometimes, as you know. But there must be a
whole ship's crew who know something of the new-found land, and from
some of them the secret would leak out.

"But there has been many a process in the arts lost, because the man who
discovered the new quality in nature or invented the new method in
manufacture kept it secret, so that he might do better work than his
competitors. This went so far that boys were apprenticed to masters to
learn 'the secrets of their trades.'"

Fergus said that in old times inventors were not always treated very
kindly. If people thought they were sorcerers, or in league with the
Devil, they did not care much for the invention.

Uncle Fritz said they would find plenty of instances of the persecution
of inventors, even to quite a late date. It is impossible, of course, to
say how many good things were lost to the world by the pig-headedness
which discouraged new inventions. It is marvellous to think what
progress single men made, who had to begin almost at the beginning, and
learn for themselves what every intelligent boy or girl now finds ready
for him in the Cyclopædia. It is very clear that the same beginnings
were made again and again by some of the early inventors. Then, what
they learned had been almost forgotten. There was no careful record of
their experiments, or, if any, it was in one manuscript, and that was
not accessible to people trying to follow in their steps.

"I have laid out for you," said Uncle Fritz, "some of the early accounts
of Friar Bacon,--Roger Bacon. He is one of the most distinguished of the
early students of what we now call natural philosophy in England. It was
in one of the darkest centuries of the Dark Ages.

"But see what he did.

"There are to be found in his writings new and ingenious views of
Optics,--as, on the refraction of light, on the apparent magnitude of
objects, on the magnified appearance of the sun and moon when on the
horizon. He describes very exactly the nature and effects of concave and
convex lenses, and speaks of their application to the purposes of
reading and of viewing distant objects, both terrestrial and celestial;
and it is easy to prove from his writings that he was either the
inventor or the improver of the telescope. He also gives descriptions
of the camera obscura and of the burning-glass. He made, too, several
chemical discoveries. In one place he speaks of an inextinguishable
fire, which was probably a kind of phosphorus. In another he says that
an artificial fire could be prepared with saltpetre and other
ingredients which would burn at the greatest distance, and by means of
which thunder and lightning could be imitated. He says that a portion of
this mixture of the size of an inch, properly prepared, would destroy a
whole army, and even a city, with a tremendous explosion accompanied by
a brilliant light. In another place he says distinctly that thunder and
lightning could be imitated by means of saltpetre, sulphur, and
charcoal. As these are the ingredients of gunpowder, it is clear that he
had an adequate idea of its composition and its power. He was intimately
acquainted with geography and astronomy. He had discovered the errors of
the calendar and their causes, and in his proposals for correcting them
he approached very nearly to the truth. He made a corrected calendar, of
which there is a copy in the Bodleian Library in Oxford. In moral
philosophy, also, Roger Bacon has laid down some excellent precepts for
the conduct of life.[4]

"Now, if you had such a biography of such a man now, you would know that
without much difficulty you could find all his more important
observations in print. So soon as he thought them important, he would
communicate them to some society which would gladly publish them. In the
first place, he would be glad to have the credit of an improvement, an
invention, or a discovery. If the invention were likely to be
profitable, the nation would secure the profit to him if he fully
revealed the process. They would give him, by a 'patent,' the right to
the exclusive profit for a series of years. The nation thus puts an end
to the old temptation to secrecy, or tries to do so.

"But if you will read some of the queer passages from the old lives of
Bacon, you will see how very vague were the notions which the people of
his own time had of what he was doing."

Then Hester read some passages which Colonel Ingham had marked for her.


In most men's opinions he was born in the West part of _England_ and was
son to a wealthy Farmer, who put him to School to the Parson of the Town
where he was born: not with intent that he should turn Fryer (as he
did), but to get so much understanding, that he might manage the better
that wealth he was to leave him. But young _Bacon_ took his learning so
fast, that the Priest could not teach him any more, which made him
desire his Master that he would speak to his father to put him to
_Oxford_, that he might not lose that little learning that he had
gained: his Master was very willing so to do: and one day, meeting his
father, told him, that he had received a great blessing of God, in that
he had given him so wise and hopeful a Child as his son _Roger Bacon_
was (for so was he named) and wished him withal to doe his duty, and to
bring up so his Child, that he might shew his thankfulness to God, which
could not better be done than in making him a Scholar; for he found by
his sudden taking of his learning, that he was a child likely to prove a
very great Clerk: hereat old _Bacon_ was not well pleased (for he
desired to bring him up to Plough and to the Cart, as he himself was
brought) yet he for reverence sake to the Priest, shewed not his anger,
but kindly thanked him for his paines and counsel, yet desired him not
to speak any more concerning that matter, for he knew best what best
pleased himself, and that he would do: so broke they off their talk and

So soon as the old man came home, he called to his son for his books,
which when he had, he locked them up, and gave the Boy a Cart Whip in
place of them, saying to him: "Boy, I will have you no Priest, you shall
not be better learned than I, you can tell by the Almanack when it is
best sowing Wheat, when Barley, Peas and Beans: and when the best
libbing is, when to sell Grain and Cattle I will teach thee; for I have
all Fairs and Markets as perfect in my memory, as Sir _John_, our
Priest, has Mass without Book: take me this Whip, I will teach the use
of it. It will be more profitable to thee than this harsh Latin: make no
reply, but follow my counsel, or else by the Mass thou shalt feel the
smart hand of my anger." Young _Bacon_ thought this but hard dealing,
yet he would not reply, but within six or eight days he gave his Father
the slip, and went to a Cloister some twenty miles off, where he was
entertained, and so continued his Learning, and in small time came to be
so famous, that he was sent for to the University of Oxford, where he
long time studied, and grew so excellent in the secrets of Art and
Nature, that not England only, but all Christendom, admired him.


Fryer _Bacon_, reading one day of the many conquests of England,
bethought himself how he might keep it hereafter from the like
conquests, and so make himself famous hereafter to all posterity. This
(after great study) he found could be no way so well done as one; which
was to make a head of Brass, and if he could make this head to speak
(and hear it when it speaks) then might he be able to wall all England
about with Brass. To this purpose he got one Fryer _Bungy_ to assist
him, who was a great Scholar and a Magician, (but not to be compared to
Fryer _Bacon_), these two with great study and pains so framed a head of
Brass, that in the inward parts thereof there was all things like as in
a natural man's head: this being done, they were as far from perfection
of the work as they were before, for they knew not how to give those
parts that they had made motion, without which it was impossible that it
should speak: many books they read, but yet could not find out any hope
of what they sought, that at the last they concluded to raise a spirit,
and to know of him that which they could not attain to by their own
studies. To do this they prepared all things ready and went one Evening
to a wood thereby, and after many ceremonies used, they spake the words
of conjuration, which the Devil straight obeyed and appeared unto them,
asking what they would? "Know," said Fryer _Bacon_, "that we have made
an artificial head of Brass, which we would have to speak, to the
furtherance of which we have raised thee, and being raised, we will keep
thee here, unless thou tell to us the way and manner how to make this
Head to speak." The Devil told him that he had not that power of
himself: "Beginner of lies," said Fryer _Bacon_, "I know that thou
wouldst dissemble, and therefore tell it us quickly, or else we will
here bind thee to remain during our pleasures." At these threatenings
the Devil consented to do it, and told them, that with a continual fume
of the six hottest simples it should have motion, and in one month space
speak, the Time of the month or day he knew not: also he told them, that
if they heard it not before it had done speaking, all their labour
should be lost: they being satisfied, licensed the Spirit for to depart.

Then went these two learned Fryers home again, and prepared the Simples
ready, and made the fume, and with continual watching attended when this
Brazen-head would speak: thus watched they for three weeks without any
rest, so that they were so weary and sleepy, that they could not any
longer refrain from rest: then called Fryer _Bacon_ his man _Miles_, and
told him, that it was not unknown to him what pains Fryer _Bungy_ and
himself had taken for three weeks space, only to make, and to hear the
Brazen-head speak, which if they did not, then had they lost all their
labour, and all England had a great loss thereby: therefore he entreated
Miles that he would watch whilst that they slept, and call them if the
Head speake. "Fear not, good Master," said Miles, "I will not sleep, but
hearken and attend upon the head, and if it do chance to speak, I will
call you: therefore I pray take you both your rests and let me alone for
watching this head." After Fryer _Bacon_ had given him a great charge
the second time, Fryer _Bungy_ and he went to sleep, and _Miles_, alone
to watch the Brazen-head. _Miles_ to keep himself from sleeping, got a
Tabor and Pipe, and being merry disposed sang him many a merry Song;
and thus with his own Music and his Songs spent he his time, and kept
from sleeping at last. After some noise the Head spake these two words:
"_Time is_." Miles hearing it to speak no more, thought his Master would
be angry if he waked him for that, and therefore he let them both sleep,
and began to mock the Head in this manner: "Thou Brazen-faced Head, hath
my Master took all this pains about thee, and now dost thou requite him
with two words, _Time is_? had he watched with a Lawyer so long as he
hath watched with thee, he would have given him more, and better words
than thou hast yet. If thou canst speak no wiser, they shall sleep till
doom's day for me. _Time is_: I know _Time is_, and that thou shall
hear, good man Brazen face." And with this he sang him a song to his own
music as to times and seasons, and went on, "Do you tell us,
Copper-nose, when Time is? I hope we Scholars know our Times, when to
drink drunk, when to kiss our hostess, when to go on her score, and when
to pay it, that time comes seldom." After half an hour had passed, the
Head did speak again, two words, which were these: "_Time was_." _Miles_
respected these words as little as he did the former, and would not wake
them, but still scoffed at the Brazen head, that it had learned no
better words, and have such a Tutor as his Master: and in scorn of it
sung a Song to the tune of "A Rich Merchant man," beginning as follows:

  Time was when thou a kettle
    Wert filled with better matter:
  But Fryer _Bacon_ did thee spoil,
    When he thy sides did batter,

with more to the same purpose. "_Time was_," said he, "I know that,
Brazen face, without your telling, I know Time was, and I know what
things there was when Time was, and if you speak no wiser, no Master
shall be waked for me." Thus _Miles_ talked and sung till another half
hour was gone, then the Brazen head spake again these words, "_Time is
past_:" and therewith fell down, and presently followed a terrible
noise, with strange flashes of fire, so that _Miles_ was half dead with
fear. At this noise the two Fryers awaked, and wondered to see the whole
room so full of smoke, but that being vanished they might perceive the
Brazen head broken and lying on the ground: at this sight they grieved,
and called _Miles_ to know how this came. Miles half dead with fear,
said that it fell down of itself, and that with the noise and fire that
followed he was almost frighted out of his wits: Fryer _Bacon_ asked him
if he did not speak? "Yes," quoth _Miles_, "it spake, but to no purpose.
I'll have a Parrot speak better in that time than you have been teaching
this Brazen head." "Out on thee, villain," said Fryer _Bacon_, "thou
hast undone us both, hadst thou but called us when it did speak, all
England had been walled round about with Brass, to its glory, and our
eternal fames: what were the words it spake?" "Very few," said _Miles_,
"and those none of the wisest that I have heard neither: first he said,
'_Time is_.'" "Hadst thou called us then," said Fryer _Bacon_, "we had
been made for ever." "Then," said _Miles_, "half an hour after it spake
again and said '_Time was_.'" "And wouldst thou not call us then?" said
_Bungy_. "Alas!" said _Miles_, "I thought he would have told me some
long Tale, and then I purposed to have called you: then half an hour
after, he cried '_Time is past_,' and made such a noise, that he hath
waked you himself, methinks." At this Fryer _Bacon_ was in such a rage,
that he would have beaten his man, but he was restrained by _Bungy_:
but nevertheless for his punishment, he with his Art struck him dumb for
one whole month's space. Thus that great work of these learned Fryers
was overthrown (to their great griefs) by this simple fellow.


In those times when Fryer _Bacon_ did all his strange tricks, the Kings
of _England_ had a great part of _France_ which they held a long time,
till civil wars at home in this Land made them to lose it. It did chance
that the King of England (for some cause best known to himself) went
into _France_ with a great Army, where after many victories, he did
besiege a strong Town, and lay before it full three months, without
doing to the Town any great damage, but rather received the hurt
himself. This did so vex the King, that he sought to take it in any way,
either by policy or strength: to this intent he made Proclamation, that
whosoever could deliver this Town into his hand, he should have for his
pains ten thousand Crowns truly paid. This was proclaimed, but there was
none found that would undertake it: at length the news did come into
_England_ of this great reward that was promised. Fryer _Bacon_ hearing
of it, went into _France_, and being admitted to the King's presence, he
thus spake unto him: "Your Majesty I am sure hath not forgot your poor
servant _Bacon_, the love that you showed to me being last in your
presence, hath drawn me for to leave my Country and my Studies, to do
your Majesty service: I beseech your Grace, to command me so far as my
poor Art or life may do you pleasure." The King thanked him for his
love, but told him that he had now more need of Arms than Art, and
wanted brave Soldiers rather than learned Scholars. Fryer _Bacon_
answered, "Your Grace saith well; but let me (under correction) tell
you, that Art oftentimes doth these things that are impossible to Arms,
which I will make good in few examples. I will speak only of things
performed by Art and Nature, wherein there shall be nothing Magical: and
first by the figuration of Art, there may be made Instruments of
Navigation without men to row in them, as great ships, to brook the Sea,
only with one man to steer them, and they shall sail far more swiftly
than if they were full of men: Also Chariots that shall move with an
unspeakable force, without any living creature to stir them. Likewise,
an Instrument may be made to fly withal, if one sit in the midst of the
Instrument, and do turn an engine, by which the wings being Artificially
composed, may beat air after the manner of a flying Bird. By an
Instrument of three fingers high, and three fingers broad, a man may rid
himself and others from all Imprisonment: yea, such an Instrument may
easily be made, whereby a man may violently draw unto him a thousand
men, will they, nill they, or any other thing. By Art also an Instrument
may be made, wherewith men may walk in the bottom of the Sea or Rivers
without bodily danger: this _Alexander_ the Great used (as the Ethnic
philosopher reporteth) to the end he might behold the Secrets of the
Seas. But Physical Figurations are far more strange: for by that may be
framed Perspects and Looking-glasses, that one thing shall appear to be
many, as one man shall appear to be a whole Army, and one Sun or Moon
shall seem divers. Also perspects may be so framed, that things far off
shall seem most nigh unto us: with one of these did _Julius Cæsar_ from
the Sea coasts in _France_ marke and observe the situation of the
Castles in _England_. Bodies may also be so framed, that the greatest
things shall appear to be the least, the highest lowest, the most secret
to be the most manifest, and in such like sort the contrary. Thus did
_Socrates_ perceive, that the Dragon which did destroy the City and
Country adjoining with his noisome breath, and contagious influence, did
lurk in the dens between the Mountains: and thus may all things that are
done in Cities or Armies be discovered by the enemies. Again, in such
wise may bodies be framed, that venemous and infectious influences may
be brought whither a man will: In this did _Aristotle_ instruct
_Alexander_; through which instruction the poyson of a Basiliske, being
lifted up upon the wall of a City, the poyson was conveyed into the
City, to the destruction thereof: Also perspects may be made to deceive
the sight, as to make a man believe that he seeth great store of riches
when there is not any. But it appertaineth to a higher power of
Figuration, that beams should be brought and assembled by divers
flections and reflections in any distance that we will, to burne
anything that is opposite unto it, as is witnessed by those Perspects or
Glasses that burn before and behind. But the greatest and chiefest of
all figurations and things figured, is to describe the heavenly bodies,
according to their length and breadth in a corporal figure, wherein they
may corporally move with a daily motion. These things are worth a
kingdom to a wise man. These may suffise, my royal Lord, to shew what
Art can do: and these, with many things more, as strange, I am able by
Art to perform. Then take no thought for winning this Town, for by my
Art you shall (ere many days be past) have your desire."

The King all this while heard him with admiration: but hearing him now,
that he would undertake to win the Town, he burst out in these speeches:
"Most learned _Bacon_, do but what thou hast said, and I will give thee
what thou most desirest, either wealth or honour, choose what thou wilt,
and I will be as ready to perform, as I have been to promise."

"Your Majesty's love is all that I seek," said the Fryer, "let me have
that, and I have honour enough, for wealth, I have content, the wise
should seek no more: but to the purpose. Let your Pioneers raise up a
mount so high, (or rather higher), than the wall, and then you shall see
some probability of that which I have promised."

This Mount in two days was raised: then Fryer _Bacon_ went with the King
to the Top of it, and did with a perspect shew to him the Town, as
plainly as if he had been in it: at this the King did wonder, but Fryer
_Bacon_ told him, that he should wonder more, ere next day noon: against
which Time, he desired him to have his whole Army in readiness, for to
scale the wall upon a signal given by him, from the Mount. This the King
promised to do, and so returned to his Tent full of Joy, that he should
gain this strong Town. In the morning Fryer _Bacon_ went up to the Mount
and set his Glasses, and other Instruments up: in the meantime the King
ordered his Army, and stood in a readiness for to give the assaults:
when the signal was given which was the waving of a flag. Ere nine of
the clock Fryer _Bacon_ had burnt the State-house of the Town, with
other houses only by his Mathematical Glasses, which made the whole Town
in an uproar, for none did know how it came: whilst that they were
quenching of the same, Fryer _Bacon_ did wave his flag: upon which
signal given, the King set upon the Town, and took it with little or no
resistance. Thus through the Art of this learned man the King got this
strong Town, which he could not do with all his men without Fryer
_Bacon's_ help.


Now in a time when Fryer _Bacon_ kept his Chamber (having some great
grief) he fell into divers meditations: sometimes into the vanity of
Arts and Sciences: then would he condemn himself for studying of those
things that were so contrary to his Order and Soul's health; and would
say that Magic made a Man a Devil; sometimes would he meditate on
Divinity; then would he cry out upon himself for neglecting the study of
it, and for studying Magic: sometime would he meditate on the shortness
of man's life, then would he condemn himself for spending a time so
short, so ill as he had done his: so would he go from one thing to
another and in all condemn his former studies.

And that the world should know how truly he did repent his wicked life,
he caused to be made a great fire; and sending for many of his Friends,
Scholars, and others, he spake to them after this manner: "My good
Friends and fellow Students, it is not unknown unto you, how that
through my Art I have attained to that credit, that few men living ever
had. Of the wonders that I have done, all England can speak, both King
and Commons: I have unlocked the secret of Art and Nature, and let the
world see those things, that have layen hid since the death of Hermes,
that rare and profound Philosopher: My Studies have found the secrets of
the Stars; the Books that I have made of them, do serve for Precedents
to our greatest Doctors, so excellent hath my Judgement been therein. I
likewise have found out the secrets of Trees, Plants and Stones, with
their several uses; yet all this knowledge of mine I esteem so lightly,
that I wish that I were ignorant, and knew nothing: for the knowledge of
these things, (as I have truly found) serveth not to better a man in
goodness, but only to make him proud and think too well of himself. What
hath all my knowledge of nature's secrets gained me? Only this, the loss
of a better knowledge, the loss of divine Studies, which makes the
immortal part of man (his Soul) blessed. I have found, that my knowledge
has been a heavy burden, and has kept down my good thoughts: but I will
remove the cause which are these Books: which I do purpose here before
you all to burn." They all intreated him to spare the Books, because in
them there were those things that after-ages might receive great benefit
by. He would not hearken unto them but threw them all into the fire, and
in that flame burnt the greatest learning in the world. Then did he
dispose of all his goods; some part he gave to poor Scholars, and some
he gave to other poor folks: nothing he left for himself: then caused he
to be made in the Church-wall a Cell, where he locked himself in, and
there remained till his death. His time he spent in Prayer, Meditation
and such Divine Exercises, and did seek by all means to persuade men
from the study of Magic. Thus lived he some two years space in that
Cell, never coming forth: his meat and drink he received in at a window,
and at that window he did discourse with those that came to him; His
grave he digged with his own nails, and was laid there when he dyed.
Thus was the Life and Death of this famous Fryer, who lived the most
part of his life a Magician, and died a true penitent sinner and an

When Hester had finished reading, one of the boys said that if people
believed such things as that, he thought the wonder was that they made
any progress at all. Uncle Fritz said that in matters which make up what
we call science, they did not make much progress. The arts of the world
do not seem to have advanced much between the days of Solomon and those
of William the Conqueror.

"As you see," said Uncle Fritz, "an inventor was set down as a magician.
I think you can remember more instances."

Yes. Almost all the young people remember that in Marco Polo's day there
was a distinguished Venetian engineer with the armies of Genghis Khan,
whose wonderful successes gave rise, perhaps, to the story of
Aladdin.[5] The scene of his successes was Pekin; and it is to be
remembered that the story of Aladdin is not properly one of the Arabian
Nights, and that the scene is laid in China.

This led them to trying to match the wonders of Aladdin and of the
Arabian Nights by the wonders of modern invention; and they pleased
themselves by thinking of marvels they could show to unlearned nations
if they had the resources of Mr. Edison's laboratory.

"Aladdin rubbed his lamp," said Blanche. "You see, the lamp was his
electrical machine; and when he rubbed it, the lightnings went flying
hither and thither, and said, 'Here we are.'"

"That is all very fine," said Jack Withers; "but I stand by the Arabian
Nights, after all, and I think I shall, till Mr. Edison or the Taunton
locomotive shop will make for me some high-stepper on whose back I may
rise above the clouds, pass over the length and breadth of
Massachusetts, descend in the garden where Blanche is confined by the
hated mistress of a boarding-school in Walpole, and then, winning her
ready consent, can mount again with her, and before morning descend in
the garden of a beautiful cottage at Newport. We will spend six weeks in
playing tennis in the daytime, dancing in the Casino in the evenings,
and in sailing in Frank Shattuck's yacht between whiles. Then, and not
till then, would I admit that the Arabian Nights have been outdone by
modern science."

They all laughed at Jack's extravaganza, which is of a kind to which
they are beginning to be accustomed. But Mabel stuck to her text, and
said seriously, that Uncle Fred had said that what people now called
science sprung from the workshops of these very magicians. "The
magicians then had all the science there was. And if magic had not got a
bad name, should we not call the men of science magicians now?"

Uncle Fritz said yes to all her questions, but he said that they did not
cover the whole matter. The difference between a magician and a man of
science involves these habits: the magician keeps secret what he knows,
while the man of science discloses all he learns. Then the magician
affected to have spiritual power at command, while the man of science
only affects to use what he calls physical powers. Till either of them
tell us how to distinguish spiritual forces from physical forces, the
second distinction is of the less importance. But the other has made all
the difference in the world between the poor magic-men and the
science-men. For, as they had seen with Friar Bacon, the magic-men have
had their stories told by most ignorant people, seeing they did not
generally leave any records behind them; but the men of modern science,
having chosen to tell their own stories, have had them told, on the
whole, reasonably well, though generally stupidly.

"What a pity we have not Solomon's books of science!" said John Tolman.

"It is one of the greatest of pities that such books as those were not
kept. It seems as if people would have built on such foundations, and
that Science would have marched from step to step, instead of beginning
over and over again. But we do have Pliny's Natural History, as he chose
to call it. Far from building on that as a foundation, the Dark Ages
simply accepted it. And there are blunders or sheer lies in that book,
and in Aristotle's books, and Theophrastus's, and other such, which have
survived even to our day."

The children were peeping into the collection from which the Friar Bacon
stories had been read, and they lighted on these scraps about the
supposed life of Virgil. To the people of the Dark Ages Virgil was much
more a man of magic than a poet.


As Virgilius was born, then the town of Rome quaked and trembled: and in
his youth he was wise and subtle, and was put to school at Tolentin,
where he studied diligently, for he was of great understanding. Upon a
time the scholars had licence to go to play and sport them in the fields
after the usance of the old time; and there was also Virgilius thereby
also walking among the hills all about: it fortuned he spied a great
hole in the side of a great hill wherein he went so deep that he could
not see no more light, and then he went a little further therein, and
then he saw some light again, and then went he forth straight: and
within a little while after, he heard a voice that called, "Virgilius,
Virgilius;" and he looked about, and he could not see no body; then
Virgilius spake and asked, "Who calleth me?" Then heard he the voice
again, but he saw nobody: then said he, "Virgilius, see ye not that
little board lying beside you there, marked with that word?" Then
answered Virgilius, "I see that board well enough." The voice said, "Do
away that board, and let me out thereat." Then answered Virgilius to the
voice that was under the little board, and said, "Who art thou that
talkest me so!" Then answered the devil: "I am a devil, conjured out of
the body of a certain man, and banished till the day of judgement,
without I be delivered by the hands of men. Thus, Virgilius, I pray you
to deliver me out of this pain, and I shall shew unto thee many books of
necromancy, and how thou shalt come by it lightly and know the practise
therein, that no man in the science of necromancy shall pass thee; and
moreover I shall shew and inform you so that thou shalt have all thy
desire, whereby methinks it is a great gift for so little a doing, for
ye may also thus all your friends helpen, and make your enemies
unmighty." Through that great promise was Virgil tempted; he had the
fiend shew the books to him that he might have and occupy them at his
will. And so the fiend shewed him, and then Virgilius pulled open a
board, and there was a little hole, and thereat crawled the devil out
like an eel, and came and stood before Virgilius like a big man; thereat
Virgilius was astonished and marvelled greatly thereof that so great a
man might come out at so little a hole; then said Virgilius, "should ye
well pass into the hole that ye came out of?" "Yea, I shall well," said
the devil.--"I hold the best pledge that I have, ye shall not do it."
"Well," said the devil, "thereto I consent." And then the devil crawled
into the little hole again, and as he was therein, Virgilius covered the
hole again, and so was the devil beguiled, and might not there come out
again, but there abideth still therein. Then called the devil dreadfully
to Virgilius and said, "What have ye done?" Virgilius answered, "Abide
there still to your day appointed." And from thenceforth abideth he
there. And so Virgilius became very cunning in the practise of the black


The emperor had many complaints of the night runners and thieves, and
also of the great murdering of people in the night, in so much that the
emperor asked counsel of Virgilius, and said: "That he hath great
complaints of the thieves that runneth by night for they kill many men;
what counsel, Virgilius, is best to be done?" Then answered Virgilius to
the emperor, "Ye shall make a horse of copper and a copper man upon his
back, having in his hands a flail of iron, and that horse, ye shall so
bring afore the towne house, and ye shall let cry that a man from
henceforth at ten of the clock should ring a bell, and he that after the
bell was rung in the streets should be slain, no work thereof should be
done." And when this cry was made the ruffians set not a point, but kept
the streets as they did afore and would not let therefor; and as soon as
the bell was rung at ten of the clock, then leaped the horse of copper
with the copper man through the streets of Rome, insomuch that he left
not one street in Rome unsought; and as soon as he found any man or
woman in the street he slew them stalk dead, insomuch that he slew above
two hundred persons or more. And this seeing, the thieves and
night-runners how they might find a remedy therefor, thought in their
minds to make a drag with a ladder thereon; and as they would go out by
night they took their ladders with them, and when they heard the horse
come, then cast they the drag upon the houses, and so went up upon their
ladders to the top of the houses, so that the copper man might not touch
them; and so abide they still in their wicked doing. Then came they
again to the emperor and complained, and then the emperor asked counsel
of Virgilius; and Virgilius answered and said, "that then he must get
two copper hounds and set them of either side of the copper horse, and
let cry again that no body after the bell is rung should depart out of
their house that would live." But the night walkers cared not a point
for that cry; but when they heard the horse coming, with their ladders
climbed upon the houses, but the dogs leaped after and tore them all in
pieces; and thus the noise went through Rome, in so much that nobody
durst in the night go in the street, and thus all the night-walkers were


For profit of the common people, Virgilius on a great mighty marble
pillar, did make a bridge that came up to the palace, and so went
Virgilius well up the pillar out of the palace; that palace and pillar
stood in the midst of Rome; and upon this pillar made he a lamp of
glass that always burned without going out, and nobody might put it out;
and this lamp lightened over all the city of Rome from the one corner to
the other, and there was not so little a street but it gave such light
that it seemed two torches there had stand; and upon the walls of the
palace made he a metal man that held in his hand a metal bow that
pointed ever upon the lamp for to shoot it out; but always burned the
lamp and gave light over all Rome. And upon a time went the burgesses'
daughters to play in the palace and beheld the metal man; and one of
them asked in sport, why he shot not? And then she came to the man and
with her hand touched the bow, and then the bolt flew out, and brake the
lamp that Virgilius made; and it was wonder that the maiden went not out
of her mind for the great fear she had, and also the other burgesses'
daughters that were in her company, of the great stroke that it gave
when it hit the lamp, and when they saw the metal man so swiftly run his
way; and never after was he no more seen; and this foresaid lamp was
abiding burning after the death of Virgilius by the space of three
hundred years or more.

It is on the wrecks and ruins recorded in such fables as these that
modern science is builded.



"Now we will leave the fairy tales," said Uncle Fritz, "and begin on
modern times."

"Modern times means since 1492," said Alice,--"the only date in history
I am quite sure of, excepting 1866."

"Eighteen-hundred and sixty-six," said John Goodrich,--"the _Annus
Mirabilis_, celebrated for the birth of Miss Alice Francis and Mr. J.

"Hush, hush! Uncle Fritz wants to say something."

"We will leave the fairy tales," said poor chicken-pecked Uncle Fritz,
"and begin with Benvenuto Cellini. Who has seen any of his work?"

Several of the girls who had been in Europe remembered seeing gold and
silver work of Benvenuto Cellini's in the museums. Uncle Fritz told them
that the little hand-bell used on his own tea-table was modelled at
Chicopee, in Massachusetts, from a bell which was the design of
Benvenuto Cellini; and he sent for the bell that the children might see
how ingenious was the ornamentation, and how simply the different
designs were connected together.

He told Alice she might read first from Vasari's account of him.
Vasari's book, which the children now saw for the first time, is a very
entertaining one. Vasari was himself an artist, of the generation just
following Michael Angelo. He was, indeed, the contemporary of Raphael.
But he is remembered now, not for his pictures, nor for his work in
architecture, both of which were noted in his time, but for his lives of
the most excellent painters, sculptors, and architects, which was first
published in 1550. Benvenuto Cellini was born ten years before Vasari,
and here is a part of Vasari's life of him.


Benvenuto Cellini, citizen of Florence, born in 1500, at present a
sculptor, in his youth cultivated the goldsmith's business, and had no
equal in that branch. He set jewels, and adorned them with diminutive
figures, exquisitely formed, and some of them so curious and fanciful
that nothing finer or more beautiful can be conceived. At Rome he made
for Pope Clement VII. a button to be worn upon his pontifical habit,
fixing a diamond to it with the most exquisite art. He was employed to
make the stamps for the Roman mint, and there never have been seen finer
coins than those that were struck in Rome at that period.

After the death of Pope Clement, Benvenuto returned to Florence, where
he made stamps with the head of Duke Alessandro, for the mint,
wonderfully beautiful. Benvenuto, having at last devoted himself to
sculpture and casting statues, made in France many works, while he was
employed at the Court of King Francis I. He afterwards came back to his
native country, where he executed in metal the statue of Perseus, who
cut off Medusa's head. This work was brought to perfection with the
greatest art and diligence imaginable.

Though I might here enlarge on the productions of Benvenuto, who always
shewed himself a man of great spirit and vivacity, bold, active,
enterprising, and formidable to his enemies,--a man, in short, who knew
as well how to speak to princes as to exert himself in his art,--I shall
add nothing further, since he has written an account of his life and
works, and a treatise on goldsmith's work as well as on casting statues
and many other subjects, with more art and eloquence than it is possible
for me to imitate. I shall therefore content myself with this account of
his chief performances.

Benvenuto was quite proud of his own abilities as a writer. Very
fortunately for us he has left his own memoirs. Here is the


"It is a duty incumbent on upright and credible men of all ranks, who
have performed anything noble or praiseworthy, to record, in their own
writing, the events of their lives; yet they should not commence this
honorable task before they have passed their fortieth year. Such at
least is my opinion, now that I have completed my fifty-eighth year, and
am settled in Florence.

"Looking back on some delightful and happy events of my life, and on
many misfortunes so truly overwhelming that the appalling retrospect
makes me wonder how I reached this age, in vigor and prosperity, through
God's goodness, I have resolved to publish an account of my life.

"My grandfather, Andrea Cellini, was still living when I was about
three years of age, and he was then above a hundred. As they were one
day removing a water-pipe, a large scorpion, which they had not
perceived, came out of it. The scorpion descended upon the ground and
had got under a great bench, when I, seeing it, ran and caught it in my
hand. This scorpion was of such a size that whilst I held it in my
little hand, it put out its tail on one side, and on the other darted
its two mouths. I ran overjoyed to my grandfather, crying out,
'Grandfather, look at my pretty little crab!' The good old man, who knew
it to be a scorpion, was so frightened, and so apprehensive for my
safety, that he seemed ready to drop down dead, and begged me with great
eagerness to give the creature to him; but I grasped it the harder and
cried, for I did not choose to part with it. My father, who was in the
house, ran to us upon hearing the noise, and, happening just at that
instant to espy a pair of scissors, he laid hold of them, and, by
caressing and playing with me, he contrived to cut off the head and tail
of the scorpion. Then, finding I had received no harm from the venomous
reptile, he pronounced it a happy omen."

       *       *       *       *       *

His father taught him to play upon the flute, and wished him to devote
himself to music; but his own inclinations were different.

"Having attained the age of fifteen, I engaged myself, against my
father's inclinations, with a goldsmith named Antonio di Sandro, an
excellent artist and a very worthy man. My father would not have him
allow me any wages; for this reason, that since I voluntarily applied
myself to this art, I might have an opportunity to withdraw whenever I
thought proper. So great was my inclination to improve, that in a few
months I rivalled the most skilful journeyman in the business, and began
to reap some fruits from my labor. I continued, however, to play
sometimes, through complaisance to my father, either upon the flute or
the horn; and I constantly drew tears and deep sighs from him every time
he heard me. From a feeling of filial piety, I often gave him that
satisfaction, endeavoring to persuade him that it gave me also
particular pleasure.

"Once when I was staying at Pisa, my father wrote to me in every letter
exhorting me not to neglect my flute, in which he had taken so much
pains to instruct me. Upon this, I entirely lost all inclination to
return to him; and to such a degree did I hate that abominable flute,
that I thought myself in a sort of paradise in Pisa, where I never once
played upon that instrument."

       *       *       *       *       *

At the age of twenty-three (in 1523), Cellini went to Rome, where he did
much work for the Pope, Clement VII.

"About this time so dreadful an epidemic disease prevailed in Rome, that
several thousands died every day. Somewhat terrified at this calamity, I
began to indulge myself in certain recreations, as the fancy took me. On
holidays I amused myself with visiting the antiquities of that city, and
sometimes took their figures in wax; at other times, I made drawings of
them. As these antiquities are all ruinous edifices, where a number of
pigeons build their nests, I had a mind to divert myself among them with
my fowling-piece, and often returned home laden with pigeons of the
largest size. But I never chose to put more than a single ball into my
piece, and in this manner, being a good marksman, I procured a
considerable quantity of game. The fowling-piece was, both on the inside
and the outside, as bright as a looking-glass. I likewise made the
powder as fine as the minutest dust, and in the use of it I discovered
some of the most admirable secrets that ever were known till this time.
When I had charged my piece with a quantity of powder equal in weight to
the fifth part of the ball, it carried two hundred paces, point blank.

"While I was enjoying these pleasures, my spirits suddenly revived. I no
longer had my usual gloom, and I worked to more purpose than when my
attention was wholly engrossed by business; on the whole, my gun turned
rather to my advantage than the contrary.

"All Italy was now up in arms, and the Constable Bourbon, finding there
were no troops in Rome, eagerly advanced with his army towards that
capital. Upon the news of his approach, all the inhabitants took up
arms. I engaged fifty brave young men to serve under me, and we were
well paid and kindly treated.

"The army of the Duke of Bourbon having already appeared before the
walls of Rome, Alessandro del Bene requested that I would go with him to
oppose the enemy. I complied, and, taking one of the stoutest youths
with us,--we were afterwards joined by another,--we came up to the walls
of Campo Santo, and there descried that great army which was employing
every effort to enter the town at that part of the wall to which we had
approached. Many young men were slain without the walls, where they
fought with the utmost fury; there was a remarkably thick mist.

"Levelling my arquebuse where I saw the thickest crowd of the enemy, I
discharged it with a deliberate aim at a person who seemed to be lifted
above the rest; but the mist prevented me from distinguishing whether he
were on horseback or on foot. I then cautiously approached the walls,
and perceived that there was an extraordinary confusion among the
assailants, occasioned by our having shot the Duke of Bourbon; he was,
as I understood afterwards, that chief personage whom I saw raised above
the rest."

       *       *       *       *       *

The Pope was induced by an enemy of Benvenuto, the Cardinal Salviati, to
send for a rival goldsmith, Tobbia, to come to Rome. On his arrival both
were summoned into the Pope's presence.

"He then commanded each of us to draw a design for setting a unicorn's
horn, the most beautiful that ever was seen, which had cost 17,000
ducats. As the Pope proposed making a present of it to King Francis, he
chose to have it first richly adorned with gold; so he employed us to
draw the designs. When we had finished them we carried them to the Pope.
Tobbia's design was in the form of a candlestick; the horn was to enter
it like a candle, and at the bottom of the candlestick he had
represented four little unicorns' heads,--a most simple invention. As
soon as I saw it, I could not contain myself so as to avoid smiling at
the oddity of the conceit. The Pope, perceiving this, said, 'Let me see
that design of yours.' It was the single head of a unicorn, fitted to
receive the horn. I had made the most beautiful sort of head
conceivable, for I drew it partly in the form of a horse's head, and
partly in that of a hart's, adorned with the finest sort of wreaths and
other devices; so that no sooner was my design seen but the whole Court
gave it the preference."

       *       *       *       *       *

Benvenuto continued to make many beautiful things for Pope Clement VII.
up to the time of his death. That Pope was succeeded in the papal chair
by Cardinal Farnese (Paul III.), on the 13th of October, 1534.

"I had formed a resolution to set out for France, as well because I
perceived that the Pope's favor was withdrawn from me by means of
slanderers who misrepresented my services, as for fear that those of my
enemies who had most influence might still do me some greater injury.
For these reasons I was desirous to remove to some other country, and
see whether fortune would there prove more favorable to me. Leaving
Rome, I bent my course to Florence, whence I travelled on to Bologna,
Venice, and Padua."

He reached Paris, with two workmen whom he took with him from Rome,
"without meeting any ill accident, and travelling on in uninterrupted
mirth." But being dissatisfied with his reception there, he returned
instantly to Rome, where his fears were realized; for he was arrested by
order of the Pope, and made a prisoner in the Castle of St. Angelo.

"This was the first time I ever knew the inside of a prison, and I was
then in my thirty-seventh year. The constable of the Castle of St.
Angelo was a countryman of mine, a Florentine, named Signor Giorgio
Ugolini. This worthy gentleman behaved to me with the greatest
politeness, permitting me to walk freely about the castle on my parole
of honor, and for no other reason but because he saw the severity and
injustice of my treatment.

"Finding I had been treated with so much rigor in the affair, I began to
think seriously about my escape. I got my servants to bring me new thick
sheets, and did not send back the dirty ones. Upon their asking me for
them, I answered that I had given them away to some of the poor
soldiers. I pulled all the straw out of the tick of my bed, and burned
it; for I had a chimney in the room where I lay. I then cut those sheets
into a number of slips each about one third of a cubit in width; and
when I thought I had made a sufficient quantity to reach from the top to
the bottom of the lofty tower of the Castle of St. Angelo, I told my
servants that I had given away as much of my linen as I thought proper,
and desired they would take care to bring me clean sheets, adding that I
would constantly return the dirty ones.

"The constable of the castle had annually a certain disorder which
totally deprived him of his senses; and when the fit came upon him, he
was talkative to excess. Every year he had some different whim: one time
he fancied himself metamorphosed into a pitcher of oil; another time he
thought himself a frog, and began to leap as such; another time he
imagined he was dead, and it was found necessary to humor his conceit by
making a show of burying him; thus he had every year some new frenzy.
This year he fancied himself a bat, and when he went to take a walk, he
sometimes made just such a noise as bats do; he likewise used gestures
with his hands and body, as if he were going to fly. His physicians and
his old servants, who knew his disorder, procured him all the pleasures
and amusements they could think of, and as they found he delighted
greatly in my conversation, they frequently came to me to conduct me to
his apartment, where the poor man often detained me three or four hours
chatting with him.

"He asked me whether I had ever had a fancy to fly. I answered that I
had always been very ready to attempt such things as men found most
difficult; and that with regard to flying, as God had given me a body
admirably well calculated for running, I had even resolution enough to
attempt to fly. He then proposed to me to explain how I could contrive
it. I replied that when I attentively considered the several creatures
that fly, and thought of effecting by art what they do by the force of
nature, I did not find one so fit to imitate as the bat. As soon as the
poor man heard mention made of a bat, he cried out aloud, 'It is very
true! a bat is the thing.' He then addressed himself to me, and said,
'Benvenuto, if you had the opportunity, would you have the heart to make
an attempt to fly?' I answered that if he would give me leave, I had
courage enough to attempt to fly by means of a pair of wings waxed over.
He said thereupon, 'I should like to see you fly; but as the Pope has
enjoined me to watch over you with the utmost care, I am resolved to
keep you locked up with a hundred keys, that you may not slip out of my
hands.' I said, before all present, 'Confine me as close as you please,
I will contrive to make my escape, notwithstanding.'"

At night, with a pair of pincers which he had secured, he removed the
nails which fastened the plates of iron fixed upon the door, imitating
with wax the heads of the nails he took out, so that their absence need
not be seen.

"One holiday evening, the constable being very much disordered, he
scarce said anything else but that he was become a bat, and desired his
people that if Benvenuto should happen to escape, they should take no
notice of it, for he must soon catch me, as he should doubtless be
better able to fly by night than I; adding, 'Benvenuto is only a
counterfeit bat, but I am a bat in real earnest.'

"As I had formed a resolution to attempt my escape that night, I began
by praying fervently to Almighty God that it would please him to assist
me in the enterprise. Two hours before daybreak, I took the iron plates
from the door with great trouble. I at last forced the door, and having
taken with me my slips of linen, which I had rolled up in bundles with
the utmost care, I went out and got upon the right side of the tower,
and leaped upon two tiles of the roof with the greatest ease. I was in a
white doublet, and had on a pair of white half-hose, over which I wore a
pair of little light boots, that reached half-way up my legs, and in one
of these I put my dagger. I then took the end of one of my bundles of
long slips, which I had made out of the sheets of my bed, and fastened
it to one of the tiles of the roof that happened to jut out. Then
letting myself down gently, the whole weight of my body being sustained
by my arm, I reached the ground. It was not a moonlight night, but the
stars shone with resplendent lustre. When I had touched the ground, I
first contemplated the great height which I had descended with so much
courage, and then walked away in high joy, thinking I had recovered my
liberty. But I soon found myself mistaken, for the constable had caused
two pretty high walls to be erected on that side. I managed to fix a
long pole against the first wall, and by the strength of my arms to
climb to the top of it. I then fastened my other string of slips, and
descended down the steep wall.

"There was still another one; and in letting myself down, being unable
to hold out any longer, I fell, and, striking my head, became quite
insensible. I continued in that state about an hour and a half, as
nearly as I can guess. The day beginning to break, the cool breeze that
precedes the rising of the sun brought me to my senses; but I conceived
a strange notion that I had been beheaded, and was then in purgatory. I
recovered by degrees my strength and powers, and, perceiving that I had
got out of the castle, I soon recollected all that had befallen me. Upon
attempting to rise from the ground, I found that my right leg was
broken, three inches above the heel, which threw me into a terrible
consternation. Cutting with my dagger the part of my string of slips I
had left, I bandaged my leg as well as I could. I then crept on my hands
and knees towards the gate with my dagger in my hand, and effected my
egress. It was about five hundred paces from the place where I had had
my fall to the gate by which I entered the city. It was then broad
daylight. As I happened to meet with a water-carrier, who had loaded his
ass, and filled his vessels with water, I called to him, and begged he
would put me upon the beast's back, and carry me to the landing-place of
the steps of St. Peter's Church. I offered to give him a gold crown,
and, so saying, I clapped my hand upon my purse, which was very well
lined. The honest waterman instantly took me upon his back, and carried
me to the steps before St. Peter's Church, where I desired him to leave
me and run back to his ass.

"Whilst I was crawling along upon all four, one of the servants of
Cardinal Cornaro knew me, and, running immediately to his master's
apartment, awakened him out of his sleep, saying to him, 'My most
reverend Lord, here is your jeweller, Benvenuto, who has made his escape
out of the castle, and is crawling along upon all four, quite besmeared
with blood.' The cardinal, the moment he heard this, said to his
servants, 'Run, and bring him hither to my apartment upon your backs.'
When I came into his presence the good cardinal bade me fear nothing,
and immediately sent for an excellent surgeon, who set the bone,
bandaged my leg, and bled me. The cardinal then caused me to be put into
a private apartment, and went directly to the Vatican, in order to
intercede in my behalf with the Pope.

"Meanwhile the report of my escape made a great noise all over Rome; for
the long string of sheeting fastened to the top of the lofty tower of
the castle had excited attention, and the inhabitants ran in crowds to
behold the sight. By this time the frenzy of the constable had reached
its highest pitch; he wanted, in spite of all his servants, to fly from
the same tower himself, declaring there was but one way to retake me,
and that was to fly after me. He caused himself to be carried into the
presence of his Holiness, and began a terrible outcry, saying that I had
promised him, upon my honor, that I would not fly away, and had flown
away notwithstanding."

The Cardinal Cornaro, however, and others interceded for Benvenuto with
the Pope, on account of his courage, and the extraordinary efforts of
his ingenuity, which seemed to surpass human capacity. The Pope said he
had intended to keep him near his person, and to prevent him from
returning to France, adding, "I am concerned to hear of his sufferings,
however. Bid him take care of his health; and when he is thoroughly
recovered, it shall be my study to make him some amends for his past
troubles." He was visited by young and old, persons of all ranks.

After this, Benvenuto went once more to France, where he was received
with high consideration by Francis I., who gave him, for his home and
workshop in Paris, a large old castle called the Nesle, of a triangular
form, close to the walls of the city. Here, with workmen brought with
him from Italy, he began many great works.

"Being thus become a favorite of the king, I was universally admired. As
soon as I had received silver to make it of, I began to work on the
statue of Jupiter, and took into my service several journeymen. We
worked day and night with the utmost assiduity, insomuch that, having
finished Jupiter, Vulcan, and Mars in earth, and Jupiter being pretty
forward in silver, my shop began to make a grand show. Just about this
time the king made his appearance at Paris, and I went to pay my
respects to him. When his Majesty saw me, he called to me in high
spirits, and asked me whether I had anything curious to show him at my
shop, for he intended to call there. I told him of all I had done, and
he expressed an earnest desire to see my performances; and after dinner
that day, all the nobility belonging to the Court of France repaired to
my shop.

"I had just come home, and was beginning to work, when the king made his
appearance at my castle gate. Upon hearing the sound of so many hammers,
he commanded his retinue to be silent. All my people were at work, so
that the king came upon us quite unexpectedly. As he entered the saloon,
the first object he perceived was myself with a large piece of plate in
my hand, which was to make the body of Jupiter; another was employed on
the head, another again on the legs, so that the shop resounded with the
beating of hammers. His Majesty was highly pleased, and returned to his
palace, after having conferred so many favors on me that it would be
tedious to enumerate them.

"Having with the utmost diligence finished the beautiful statue of
Jupiter, with its gilt pedestal, I placed it upon a wooden socle, which
scarce made any appearance, and within that socle I fixed four little
globes of wood, which were more than half hidden in their sockets, and
so contrived that a little child could with the utmost ease move this
statue of Jupiter backwards and forwards, and turn it about. I took it
with me to Fontainebleau, where the King then resided. I was told to put
it in the gallery,--a place which might be called a corridor, about two
hundred paces long, adorned and enriched with pictures and pieces of
sculpture, amongst them some of the finest imitations of the antique
statues of Rome. Here also I introduced my Jupiter; and when I saw this
great display of the wonders of art, I said to myself, 'This is like
passing between the pikes of the enemy; Heaven protect me from all

"This figure of Jupiter had a thunderbolt in his right hand, and by his
attitude seemed to be just going to throw it; in his left I had placed a
globe, and amongst the flames I had with great dexterity put a piece of
white torch. On the approach of night I lighted the torch in the hand of
Jupiter; and as it was raised somewhat above his head, the light fell
upon the statue, and caused it to appear to much greater advantage than
it would otherwise have done. When I saw his Majesty enter with several
great lords and noblemen, I ordered my boy to push the statue before
him, and this motion, being made with admirable contrivance, caused it
to appear alive; thus the other figures in the gallery were left
somewhat behind, and the eyes of all the beholders were first struck
with my performance.

"The king immediately cried out: 'This is one of the finest productions
of art that ever was beheld. I, who take pleasure in such things and
understand them, could never have conceived a piece of work the
hundredth part so beautiful!'"

       *       *       *       *       *

Cellini, however, who was exacting and sensitive, became dissatisfied
with the treatment of the King of France; and, leaving his workmen at
his tower of the Nesle, he returned to Italy, and engaged in the service
of Cosmo de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, who assigned him a house to
work in.

His chief performance here was a bronze statue of Perseus for the fine
square before the Palazzo Vecchio. After many drawbacks, doubts, and

"I now took courage, resolving to depend on myself, and banished all
those thoughts which from time to time occasioned me great inquietude,
and made me sorely repent my ever having quitted France. I still
flattered myself that if I could but finish my statue of Perseus, all my
labors would be converted to delight, and meet with a glorious and happy

"This statue was intended to be of bronze, five ells in height, of one
piece, and hollow. I first formed my model of clay, more slender than
the statue was intended to be. I then baked it, and covered it with wax
of the thickness of a finger, which I modelled into the perfect form of
the statue. In order to effect in concave what the wax represented in
convex, I covered the wax with clay, and baked this second covering.
Thus, the wax dissolving, and escaping by fissures left open for the
purpose, I obtained, between the first model and the second covering, a
space for the introduction of the metal. In order to introduce the
bronze without moving the first model, I placed the model in a pit dug
under the furnace, and by means of pipes and apertures in the model
itself, I meant to introduce the liquid metal.

"After I had made its coat of earth, covered it well, and bound it
properly with irons, I began by means of a slow fire to draw off the
wax, which melted away by many vent-holes,--for the more of these are
made, the better the moulds are filled; and when I had entirely stripped
off the wax, I made a sort of fence round my Perseus, that is, round the
mould, of bricks, piling them one upon another, and leaving several
vacuities for the fire to exhale at. I next began gradually to put on
the wood, and kept a constant fire for two days and two nights, till,
the wax being quite off and the mould well baked, I began to dig a hole
to bury my mould in, and observed all those fine methods of proceeding
that are proscribed by our art. When I had completely dug my hole, I
took my mould, and by means of levers and strong cables directed it with
care, and suspended it a cubit above the level of the furnace, so that
it hung exactly in the middle of the hole. I then let it gently down to
the very bottom of the furnace, and placed it with all the care and
exactness I possibly could. After I had finished this part of my task I
began to make a covering of the very earth I had taken off; and in
proportion as I raised the earth, I made vents for it, of a sort of
tubes of baked earth, generally used for conduits, and other things of a
similar nature.

"I had caused my furnace to be filled with several pieces of brass and
bronze, and heaped them upon one another in the manner taught us by our
art, taking particular care to leave a passage for the flames, that the
metal might the sooner assume its color, and dissolve into a fluid.
Thus, with great alacrity, I excited my men to lay on the pine-wood,
which, because of the oiliness of the resinous matter that oozes from
the pine-tree and that my furnace was admirably well made, burned at
such a rate that I was continually obliged to run to and fro, which
greatly fatigued me. I, however, bore the hardship; but, to add to my
misfortune, the shop took fire, and we were all very much afraid that
the roof would fall in and crush us. From another quarter, that is, from
the garden, the sky poured in so much rain and wind that it cooled my

"Thus did I continue to struggle with these cross accidents for several
hours, and exerted myself to such a degree that my constitution, though
robust, could no longer bear such severe hardship, and I was suddenly
attacked by a most violent intermitting fever; in short, I was so ill
that I found myself under a necessity of lying down upon my bed. This
gave me great concern, but it was unavoidable. I thereupon addressed
myself to my assistants, who were about ten in number, saying to them:
'Be careful to observe the method which I have shown you, and use all
possible expedition; for the metal will soon be ready. You cannot
mistake; these two worthy men here will quickly make the orifices. With
two such directors you can certainly contrive to pour out the hot metal,
and I have no doubt but my mould will be filled completely. I find
myself extremely ill, and really believe that in a few hours this severe
disorder will put an end to my life.' Thus I left them in great sorrow,
and went to bed. I then ordered the maids to carry victuals and drink
into the shop for all the men, and told them I did not expect to live
till the next morning. In this manner did I continue for two hours in a
violent fever, which I every moment perceived to increase, and I was
incessantly crying out, 'I am dying, I am dying.'

"My housekeeper was one of the most sensible and affectionate women in
the world. She rebuked me for giving way to vain fears, and at the same
time attended me with the greatest kindness and care imaginable;
however, seeing me so very ill, and terrified to such a degree, she
could not contain herself, but shed a flood of tears, which she
endeavored to conceal from me. Whilst we were both in this deep
affliction, I perceived a man enter the room, who in his person appeared
to be as crooked and distorted as a great S, and began to express
himself in these terms, in a dismal and melancholy voice: 'Alas, poor
Benvenuto, your work is spoiled, and the misfortune admits of no

"No sooner had I heard the words uttered by this messenger of evil, but
I cried out so loud that my voice might be heard to the skies, and got
out of bed. I began immediately to dress, and, giving plenty of kicks
and cuffs to the maidservants and the boy as they offered to help me on
with my clothes, I complained bitterly in these terms: 'Oh, you envious
and treacherous wretches, this is a piece of villany contrived on
purpose; but I will sift it to the bottom, and before I die give such
proofs who I am as shall not fail to astonish the whole world.' Having
huddled on my clothes, I went, with a mind boding evil, to the shop,
where I found all those whom I had left so alert and in such high
spirits, standing in the utmost confusion and astonishment. I thereupon
addressed them thus: 'Listen, all of you, to what I am going to say; and
since you either would not or could not follow the method I pointed out,
obey me now that I am present. My work is before us; and let none of
you offer to oppose or contradict me, for such cases as this require
activity and not counsel.' Hereupon one of them had the assurance to say
to me, 'Look you, Benvenuto, you have undertaken a work which our art
cannot compass, and which is not to be effected by human power.'

"Hearing these words, I turned round in such a passion, and seemed so
bent upon mischief, that both he and all the rest unanimously cried out
to me, 'Give your orders, and we will all second you in whatever you
command; we will assist you as long as we have breath in our bodies.'
These kind and affectionate words they uttered, as I firmly believe, in
a persuasion that I was upon the point of expiring. I went directly to
examine the furnace, and saw all the metal in it concreted. I thereupon
ordered two of the helpers to step over the way to a butcher for a load
of young oak which had been above a year drying, which had been already
offered to me.

"Upon his bringing me the first bundles of it, I began to fill the
grate. This sort of oak makes a brisker fire than any other wood
whatever; but the wood of elder-trees and pine-trees is used in casting
artillery, because it makes a mild and gentle fire. As soon as the
concreted metal felt the power of this violent fire, it began to
brighten and glitter. In another quarter I made them hurry the tubes
with all possible expedition, and sent some of them to the roof of the
house to take care of the fire, which through the great violence of the
wind had acquired new force; and towards the garden I had caused some
tables with pieces of tapestry and old clothes to be placed in order to
shelter me from the rain. As soon as I had applied the proper remedy to
each evil, I with a loud voice cried out to my men to bestir themselves
and lend a helping hand; so that when they saw that the concreted metal
began to melt again, the whole body obeyed me with such zeal and
alacrity that every man did the work of three. Then I caused a mass of
pewter weighing about sixty pounds to be thrown upon the metal in the
furnace, which, with the other helps, as the brisk wood-fire, and
stirring it sometimes with iron and sometimes with long poles, soon
became completely dissolved. Finding that, contrary to the opinion of my
ignorant assistants, I had effected what seemed as difficult to raise as
the dead, I recovered my vigor to such a degree that I no longer
perceived whether I had any fever, nor had I the least apprehension of

"Suddenly a loud noise was heard, and a glittering of fire flashed
before our eyes, as if it had been the darting of a thunderbolt. Upon
the appearance of this extraordinary phenomenon terror seized upon all
present, and none more than myself. This tremendous noise being over, we
began to stare at each other, and perceived that the cover of the
furnace had burst and flown off, so that the bronze began to run.

"I immediately caused the mouths of my mould to be opened; but, finding
that the metal did not run with its usual velocity, and apprehending
that the cause of it was that the fusibility of the metal was injured by
the violence of the fire, I ordered all my dishes and porringers, which
were in number about two hundred, to be placed one by one before my
tubes, and part of them to be thrown into the furnace; upon which all
present perceived that my mould was filling: they now with joy and
alacrity assisted and obeyed me. I, for my part, was sometimes in one
place, sometimes in another, giving my directions and assisting my men,
before whom I offered up this prayer: 'O God, I address myself to thee.
I acknowledge in gratitude this mercy, that my mould has been filled. I
fall prostrate before thee, and with my whole heart return thanks to thy
divine majesty.'

"My prayer being over, I took a plate of meat which stood upon a little
bench, and ate with a great appetite. I then drank with all my
journeymen and assistants, and went joyful and in good health to bed;
for there were still two hours of night, and I rested as well as if I
had been troubled with no disorder.

"My good housekeeper, without my having given any orders, had provided a
good capon for my dinner. When I arose, which was not till about noon,
she accosted me in high spirits, and said merrily, 'Is this the man that
thought himself dying? It is my firm belief that the cuffs and kicks you
gave us last night when you were quite frantic and possessed, frightened
away your fever, which, apprehending you should fall upon it in the same
manner, took to flight.' So my whole poor family, having got over such
panics and hardships, without delay procured earthen vessels to supply
the place of the pewter dishes and porringers, and we all dined together
very cheerfully; indeed, I do not remember having ever in my life eaten
a meal with greater satisfaction or a better appetite. After dinner, all
those who had assisted me in my work came and congratulated me upon what
had happened, returned thanks to the Divine Being for having interposed
so mercifully in our behalf, and declared that they had in theory and
practice learnt such things as were judged impossible by other masters.
I thereupon thought it allowable to boast a little of my knowledge and
skill in this fine art, and, pulling out my purse, satisfied all my
workmen for their labor.

"Having left my work to cool during two days after it was cast, I began
gradually to uncover it. I first of all found the Medusa's head, which
had come out admirably by the assistance of the vents. I proceeded to
uncover the rest, and found that the other head--I mean that of
Perseus--was likewise come out perfectly well. I went on uncovering it
with great success, and found every part turn out to admiration, till I
reached the foot of the right leg, which supports the figure. I found
that not only the toes were wanting, but part of the foot itself, so
that there was almost one half deficient. This occasioned me some new
trouble; but I was not displeased at it, as I had expected this very

"It pleased God that as soon as ever my work, although still unfinished,
was seen by the populace, they set up so loud a shout of applause, that
I began to be somewhat comforted for the mortifications I had undergone;
and there were sonnets in my praise every day upon the gate, the
language of which was extremely elegant and poetical. The very day on
which I exhibited my work, there were above twenty sonnets set up,
containing the most hyperbolical praises of it. Even after I had covered
it again, every day a number of verses, with Latin odes and Greek poems,
were published on the occasion,--for it was then vacation at the
University of Pisa, and all the learned men and scholars belonging to
that place vied with each other in writing encomiums on my performance.
But what gave me the highest satisfaction was that even those of the
profession--I mean statuaries and painters--emulated each other in
commending me. In fact, I was so highly praised, and in so elegant a
style, that it afforded me some alleviation for my past mortification
and troubles, and I made all the haste I could to put the last hand to
my statue.

"At last, as it pleased the Almighty, I completely finished my work, and
on a Thursday morning exhibited it fully. Just before the break of day
so great a crowd gathered about it, that it is almost impossible for me
to give the reader an idea of their number; and they all seemed to vie
with each other who should praise it most. The duke stood at a lower
window of the palace, just over the gate, and, being half concealed
within side, heard all that was said concerning the work. After he had
listened several hours, he left the window highly pleased, and sent me
this message: 'Go to Benvenuto, and tell him from me that he has given
me higher satisfaction than I ever expected. Let him know at the same
time that I shall reward him in such a manner as will excite his

       *       *       *       *       *

The manuscript of Benvenuto's Life is not carried much farther. The
narrative breaks off abruptly in 1562, when Cellini was in the
sixty-second year of his age. He does not appear from this time to have
been engaged in any work of much importance. After the execution of his
grand achievement of the Perseus, the narrative of his life seems to
have been the most successful of all the labors of his declining years.

On the 15th day of February, 1570, this extraordinary man died. He was
buried, by his own direction, with great funeral pomp. A monk who had
been charged to compose the funeral sermon, in praise both of his life
and works and of his excellent moral qualities, mounted the pulpit and
delivered a discourse which was highly approved by the whole academy and
by the people. They struggled to enter the chapter, as well to see the
body of Benvenuto as to hear the commendation of his good qualities.



Two or three of the girls had dabbled a little in painting on porcelain,
and several of them had become interested in various sorts of pottery.
Mabel had been at Newburyport, on a visit with some friends who had a
potter's wheel of their own; and she had turned for herself, and had had
baked, some vases and dishes which she had brought home with her.

This tempted them all to make a party, in which several of the boys
joined, to go to the Art Museum and see the exquisite pottery there, of
different sorts, ancient and modern. There they met one of the gentlemen
of a large firm of dealers in keramics; and he asked them to go through
their magnificent establishment, and see the collection, which is one of
great beauty. It shows several of the finest styles of manufacture in
very choice specimens.

This prepared them to see Japanese work. And when Uncle Fritz heard of
this, he asked Professor Morse, of Salem, if he would show them his
marvellous collection of Japanese pottery. Professor Morse lived in
Japan under very favorable auspices, and he made there a wonderful
collection of the work of the very best artists. So five or six of the
young people went down to Salem, at his very kind invitation, and saw
there what is one of the finest collections in the world.

All this interested them in what now receives a great deal of attention,
the manufacture and ornament of pottery. The word _keramics_ is a word
recently added to the English language to express the art of making
pottery and of ornamenting it.

When Uncle Fritz found that they really wanted to know about such
things, he arranged that for one afternoon they should read about


Bernard Palissy was born, about 1510, in the little town of Biron, in
Périgord, France. He became not only a great artist, but a learned
physician, and a writer of merit.

Born of poor parents of the working-class, he had to learn some trade,
and early applied himself to working glass, not as a glazier, but
staining it and cutting it up in little bits, to be joined together with
lead for the colored windows so much used in churches. This was purely
mechanical work; but Bernard's ambition led him to study drawing and
color, that he might himself design and execute, in glass, scenes from
the Bible and lives of the saints, such as he saw done by his superiors.

When he was old enough, curious to see the world and learn new things,
he took a journey on foot through several provinces of France, by
observation thus supplying the defects of his early education, and
reaping a rich harvest of facts and ideas, which developed the qualities
of his intelligence.

It was at this time that the Renaissance in Art was making itself felt
throughout Europe. Francis I. of France encouraged all forms of good
work by his patronage; and wherever he went the young Palissy was
animated and inspired by the sight of beautiful things.

_Faience_, an elegant kind of pottery, attracted his attention. This
appeared first in the fourteenth century. The Arabs had long known the
art of making tiles of clay, enamelled and richly ornamented. They
brought it into Spain, as is shown in the decorations of the Alhambra at
Seville and elsewhere. Lucca della Robbia in Italy first brought the art
to perfection, by making figures and groups of figures in high relief,
of baked clay covered with shining enamel, white, tinted with various
colors. The kind of work called _majolica_ differed from the earlier
faience by some changes in the material used for the enamel. In the
middle of the sixteenth century remarkable historical paintings were
executed in faience, upon huge _plaques_. All the cities of Italy vied
with each other in producing wonders in this sort of work; it is from
one of them, Faenza, that it takes its name. The method of making the
enamel was a deep secret; but Bernard Palissy, with long patience and
after many failures, succeeded in discovering it,--or, rather, in
inventing for himself a new method, which in some respects excelled the

Palissy was the author of several essays, or "Discourses;" and from one
of these, written in quaint old French, we have his own account of his

He married and settled down in the year 1539 with a good income from his
intelligent industry. He had a pleasant little house in the country,
where, as he says, "I could rejoice in the sight of green hills, where
were feeding and gambolling lambs, sheep, and goats."

An incident, apparently slight, disturbed this placid domestic
happiness. He came across a cup of enamelled pottery, doubtless from
Italy. "This cup," he says, "was of such beauty, that, from the moment I
saw it, I entered into a dispute with myself as to how it could have
been made."

Enamel is nothing more than a kind of glaze colored with metallic acids,
and rendered opaque by the mixture of a certain quantity of tin. It is
usually spread upon metal, when only it is properly called enamel; but
this glaze can also be put upon earthenware. It makes vessels
water-tight, and gives them brilliancy of surface. To find out how to do
this was to make a revolution in the keramic art.

In France, in the sixteenth century, the only vessels, such as jugs or
vases, were made either of metal, wood, or coarse porous pottery,
through which water could penetrate; like the goulehs of the Arabs, or
the cantaras of the Moors, which are still used for fresh water to
advantage, since the evaporation of the drops keeps the water cold.

Many attempts had been made to imitate the beautiful and costly vases of
China; but no one succeeded until the potters of Italy found out how to
make faience. The discovery was hailed as a most valuable one. The
princes who owned the works guarded their secret with jealous care,--to
betray it would have been punished by death; so that Bernard Palissy had
no hope of being taught how it was done, even if he should go to the
places in Italy where the work was carried on.

"But," he says, "what others had found out, I might also discover; and
if I could once make myself master of the art of glazing, I felt sure I
could elevate pottery to a degree of perfection as yet unknown. What a
glory for my name, what a benefit to France, if I could establish this
industry here in my own land!"

He turned and turned the cup in his fingers, admiring the brilliant
surface. "Yes," he said at last; "it shall be so, for I choose! I have
already studied the subject. I will work still harder, and reach my aim
at last."

Exceptional determination of character was needed for such an object.
Palissy knew nothing about the component parts of enamels; he had never
even seen the process of baking clay, and he had to begin with the very
simplest investigations. To study the different kinds of earth and clay,
to acquire the arts of moulding and turning, and to gain some knowledge
of chemistry, all these were necessary. But he did not flinch, and
pursued his idea with indomitable perseverance.

"Moving only by chance," he says, "like a man groping in the dark, I
made a collection of all the different substances which seemed at all
likely to make enamel, and I pounded them up fine; then I bought earthen
pots, broke them into small bits, numbered these pieces, and spread over
each of them a different combination of materials. Now I had to have a
furnace in which to bake my experiments. I had no idea how furnaces were
usually made; so I invented one of my own, and set it up. But I had no
idea how much heat was required to melt enamels,--perhaps I heated my
furnace too much, perhaps not enough; sometimes my ingredients were all
burned up, sometimes they melted not at all; or else some were turned to
coal, while others remained undisturbed by the action of the fire."

Meanwhile the resources of the unlucky workman were fast diminishing;
for he had abandoned his usual work, by which he earned his living, and
kept making new furnaces, "with great expense and trouble, and a great
consumption of time and firewood."

This state of affairs much displeased his wife, who complained bitterly,
and tried to divert her husband from an occupation which earned for him
nothing but disappointment. The cheerful little household changed its
aspect; the children were no longer well-dressed, and the shabby
furniture and empty cupboards betrayed the decay which was falling upon
the family. The father saw with profound grief the wants of his
household; but success seemed ever so near to him, that he could not
bear to give it up. His hope at that time was but a mirage; and for long
afterwards, in this struggle between intelligence and the antagonism of
material things, ill fortune kept the upper hand.

One day, tired out by his failures, it occurred to him that a man
brought up to baking pottery would know how to bake his specimens better
than he could.

"I covered three or four hundred bits of broken vase with different
compounds, and sent them to a _fabrique_ about a mile and a half from my
house. The potters consented to put my patterns with their batch for the
oven. Full of impatience, I awaited the result of this experiment. I was
on hand when my specimens came out. I looked them anxiously all over;
not one was successful!

"The heat had not been strong enough, but I did not know this; I saw
only one more useless expense of money. One of the workmen came to me
and said, 'You will never make anything out of this; you had better go
back to your own business.'"

Palissy shook his head; he had still in his possession some few valuable
articles, souvenirs of happier days, which he could sell to renew his
experiments. In spite of the reproaches of his wife, he bought more
ingredients and more earthenware, and made new combinations.

Failure again! However, he would not be beaten. Some friends lent him a
little money; he sat up at night to make new mixtures of different
substances, all prepared with such care that he felt sure some of them
must be good. Then he carried them again to the potters, whom he urged
to the greatest care. They only shrugged their shoulders, and called him
"crack brain;" and when the batch was done, they brought the results to
Palissy with jeers. Some of the pieces were dirty white; others green,
red, or smoked by the fire; but all alike in being dull and worthless.

It was over. Discouragement took possession of Palissy. "I returned
home," he says, "full of confusion and sadness. Others might seek the
secret of enamels. I must set to work and earn money to pay my debts and
get bread for the family."

Most luckily for him at this time, a task was given him by government,
for which he was well suited, and which brought him good pay. The king,
Francis I., having had, like many another sovereign, some difficulty
with his faithful subjects in the matter of imposts, now found it
necessary to make a new regulation of taxes; and for this, among other
things, an inspection of the salt marshes on the coasts of France was
needed, in order to name the right sums for taxation, and a knowledge of
arithmetic was required as well. Palissy was appointed; and to the great
delight of his family, who thought that his mind would now be forever
diverted from the search for enamel, he set forth to explore the islands
and the shores of France. He drew admirable outlines of the forms of the
salt marshes, and wrote with eloquence upon the sublimity of the sea.

Ease and comfort came back. His task was ended; but debts were paid, and
plenty of money remained.

The first thing he saw on returning home, alas! was the cup,--his joy
and despair. "How beautiful it is! how brilliant!" he exclaimed; and
once more he threw himself into the pursuit of the elusive enamel.

It was easy to see that the so much admired faience of Italy was simply
common baked clay, covered with some substance glazed by heat, but so
composed as to adhere to the surface after it had cooled. But what
substance? He had tried all sorts of materials; why had none of them
melted? Palissy at length decided that the fault had been in using the
common potter's furnace. Since the materials were to be vitrified by the
process, they should be baked like glass. He broke up three dozen pots,
pounded up a great quantity of different ingredients, and spread them
with a brush on the fragments; then he carried them to the nearest
glass-works. He was allowed to superintend the baking himself; he put
the specimens in the oven, and passed the night attending the fire. In
the morning he took them out. "Oh, joy! Some of the compounds had begun
to melt; there was no perfect glaze, only a sign that I was on the right

It was, however, still a long and weary one. After two more years,
Palissy was still far from the discovery of enamelling, but during this
time he was acquiring much knowledge. From a simple workman he had
become a learned chemist. He says himself, "The mistakes I made in
combining my enamels taught me more than the things which came right of

There came a time, which he had once more resolved should be the last,
when he repaired to the glass-works, accompanied by a man loaded with
more than three hundred different patterns on bits of pottery. For four
hours Bernard gloomily watched the progress of baking. Suddenly he
started in surprise. Did his eyes deceive him? No! it was no illusion.
One of the pieces in the furnace was covered with a brilliant glazing,
white, polished, excellent. Palissy's joy was immense. "I thought I had
become a new creature," he says. "The enamel was found; France enriched
by a new discovery."

Palissy now hastened to undertake a whole vase. For many and large
pieces there was not room enough at his disposition in the ovens of the
glass-works. He did not worry about that, for he was quite sure he could
construct one of his own. He decided, too, at once to model and fashion
his own vases; for those which he bought of the potters, made of coarse
and heavy forms, no longer suited his ambition. He now designed forms,
turned and modelled them himself. Thus passed seven or eight months. At
last his vases were done, and he admired with pride the pure forms given
to the clay by his hands. But his money was giving out again, and his
furnace was not yet built. As he had nothing to pay for the work, he did
all the work himself,--went after bricks and brought them himself on his
back, and then built and plastered with his own hands. The neighbors
looked on in pity and ridicule. "Look," they said, "at Master Bernard!
He might live at his ease, and yet he makes a beast of burden of

Palissy minded their sarcasms not at all. His furnace was finished in
good time, and the first baking of the clay succeeded perfectly. Now the
pottery was to be covered with his new enamel. Time pressed, for in a
few days there would be no more bread in the house for his children. For
a long time he had been living on credit, but now the butcher and baker
refused to furnish anything more. All about him he saw only unfriendly
faces; every one treated him as a fool. "Let him die of hunger," they
said, "since he will not listen to reason."

His wife was the worst of all. She failed to see any heroism in the
obstinacy or perseverance of her husband,--no wonder, perhaps, with the
sight of her suffering children before her eyes. She went about reciting
her misfortunes to all the neighborhood, very unwisely, as she thus
ruined the credit of her husband, his last and only resource.

Palissy was already worn out by so much manual labor, to which he was
little accustomed; nevertheless, he worked by night, and all night long,
to pound up and prepare the materials for his white enamel, and to
spread it upon his vases. A report went abroad, caused by the sight of
his lamp constantly burning, that he was trying to coin counterfeit
money. He was suspected, despised, and avoided, and went about the
streets hanging his head because he had no answer to make to his

The moment which was to decide his life arrived. The vases were placed
in the furnace, and for six continuous days and nights he plied the
glowing fire with fuel. The heat was intolerable; but the enamel
resisted, nothing would melt, and he was forced to recognize that there
was too little of the glazing substance in the combination to vitrify
the others. He set to work to mix another compound, but his vases were
spoiled; he borrowed a few common ones from the pottery. During all this
delay he did not dare to let the fire go out, it would take so much wood
to start it again. Once more the newly covered pots were placed in the
intense furnace; in three or four hours the test would be completed.
Palissy perceived with terror that his fuel was giving out. He ran to
his garden, tore up fences, and cut down trees which he had planted
himself, and threw all these into the two yawning mouths of the furnace.
Not enough! He went into the house, and seized tables, chairs, and
bureaus; but the house was but poorly furnished, and contained but
little to feed the flames. Palissy returned. The rooms were empty, there
was absolutely nothing more to take; then he fell to pulling up the
planks of the floor. His wife, frightened to death, stood still and let
him go on. The neighbors ran in, at the sound of the axe, and said, "He
must be a fool!"

But soon pity changed to admiration. When Palissy took the vases from
the furnace, the common pots which all had seen before dull and coarse,
were of a clear pearly white, covered with brilliant polish.

So much emotion and fatigue had told upon the robust constitution of
Palissy. "I was," he says, "all used up and dried up on account of such
toil, and the heat of the furnace. It was more than a month since I had
had a dry shirt on my body, and I felt as if I had reached the door of
the sepulchre."

In spite of the success which he had now attained, our potter had by no
means reached the end of his misfortunes. He sold his vases, but could
not get much for them, as there were but a few, of poor shapes; for
those which he had modelled himself had all failed to take the enamel,
and the successful ones were only common things, bought on credit. The
small sum which he got by selling them was not enough by any means to
cover his expenses, pay his debts, and restore order to the house from
which pretty much everything was burned up for firewood in his furnace.

However, he was supported and happy in the thought of his success. He
said to himself: "Why be sad, when you have found what you were seeking
for? Go on working, and you will put your enemies to shame."

Once more he succeeded in borrowing a little money. He hired a man to
help him; and for want of funds, he paid this man by giving him all his
own good clothes, while he went himself in rags. The furnace he had made
was coming to pieces on account of the intense heat he had maintained in
it for six days and nights during his last experiment. He pulled it to
pieces with his own hands, working with fingers bleeding and bound up in
bandages. Then he fetched water, sand, lime, and stone, and built by
himself a new furnace, "without any help or any repose. A feverish
resolution doubled my strength, and made me capable of doing things
which I should have imagined impossible."

This time the oven heats admirably, the enamels appear to be melting.
Palissy goes to rest, and dreams of his new vases, which must bring
enough to pay all his debts; his impatient creditors come in the morning
to see the things taken from the furnace. Palissy receives them
joyfully; he would like to invite the whole town.

When the pieces came out of the oven, they were shining and beautiful;
but--always but!--an accident had deprived them of all value. Little
stones, which formed a part of the mortar with which the furnace was
built, had burst with the heat, and spattered the enamel all over with
sharp fragments cutting like a razor, entirely spoiling it of course.
Still, the vases were so lovely in form, and the glaze was so beautiful,
that several people offered to buy them if they could have them cheap.
This the proud potter would not bear. Seizing the vases, he dashed them
to the ground; then utterly worn out, he went into the house and threw
himself on the bed. His wife followed him, and covered him with
reproaches for thus wasting the chance of making a few francs for the
family. Soon he recovered his elasticity, reflecting "that a man who has
tumbled into a ditch has but one duty, and that is to try to get out of

He now set to work at his old business of painting upon glass, and after
several months had earned enough to start another batch of vases. Of
these, two or three were successful and sold to advantage; the rest were
spoiled by ashes which fell upon the enamel in the furnace while it was
soft. He therefore invented what he called a "lantern" of baked clay, to
put over the vases to protect them in baking. This expedient proved so
good that it is still used.

The enamel once discovered, it would be supposed that all trouble was
over; but it is not enough to invent a process,--to carry it out, all
sorts of little things have to be considered, the least of which, if not
attended to, may spoil all the rest. These multiplied accidents, with
all the privations and sufferings he had undergone, were attacking the
health of Palissy. He says in his simple style,--

"I was so used up in my person, that there was no shape or appearance of
curve on my arms or legs; my so-called legs, indeed, were but a straight
line, so that when I had gartered my stockings, as soon as I began to
walk, they were down on my heels."

His enamelled pottery now began to make a living for its inventor, but
so poor a living that many things were wanting,--for instance, a
suitable workshop. For five or six years he carried on the work in the
open air; either heat, rain, or cold spoiled many of his vases, while he
himself, exposed to the weather, "passed whole nights at the mercy of
rain and cold, without any aid, comfort, or companionship except that
of owls screeching on one side and dogs howling on the other.
Sometimes," he continues, "winds and tempests blew with such violence
inside and outside of my ovens, that I was obliged to leave, with a
total loss of all they contained. Several times when I had thus left
everything, without a dry rag upon me, on account of the rain, I came in
at midnight or daybreak without any light, staggering like a drunken
man, all broken down at the thought of my wasted toil; and then, all wet
and dirty as I was, I found in my bedroom the worst affliction of all,
which makes me wonder now why I was not consumed by grief." He means the
scolding and reproaches of his wife.

But the time came when his perseverance was rewarded, and his pottery
brought him the fame and money he deserved. He was able to make new
experiments, and add to the value of his discovery. Having obtained the
white enamel, he had the idea of tinting it with all sorts of colors,
which he did successfully. He then began to decorate his faience with
objects modelled from nature, such as animals, shells, leaves, and
branches. Lizards of a bright emerald color, with pointed heads and
slender tails, and snakes gliding between stones or curled upon a bank
of moss, crabs, frogs, and spiders, all of their natural colors, and
disposed in the midst of plants equally well imitated, are the
characteristic details of the work of Palissy.

These perfect imitations of Nature were taken actually from Nature
herself. Palissy prepared a group of real leaves and stones, putting the
little insects or animals he wished to represent in natural attitudes
amongst them. He fastened these reptiles, fishes, or insects in their
places by fine threads, and then made a mould of the whole in plaster of
Paris. When it was done, he removed the little animals from the mould
so carefully that he could use them over and over again.

Thus, after sixteen years passed in untiring energy, sixteen years of
anxiety and privation, the artist triumphed over all the obstacles
opposed to his genius. The humble potter, despised of all, became the
most important man in his town. His productions were sought for eagerly,
and his reputation established forever.

His life henceforth was not free from events, but these were not
connected with his invention. His fame came to the knowledge of the
queen mother Catherine de Médicis; for Francis I. was no longer living,
and Charles IX. had succeeded Francis II. upon the throne. He was
summoned to Court, and employed to build grottos, decorated with his
designs, by personages of distinction,--one especially for the queen
herself, which he describes in his Discourse of the "Jardin Delectable."

He was in Paris at the time of the terrible massacre of St. Bartholomew,
where, as he was a Huguenot, he would doubtless have perished but for
the protection of the queen, who helped him to escape with his family.

Later, however, in the midst of the troubles and terrors of the time, he
was thrown into the Bastille; and there he died, an old man of eighty



"We call the Americans a nation of inventors," said Fergus. "How long
has this been true?"

"That is a very curious question," said Uncle Fritz. "You remember we
were talking of it before. When I go back to think of the hundred and
fifty years before Bunker Hill, I think there must have been a great
many inglorious Miltons hidden away in the New England towns. Really,
the arts advanced very little between 1630 and 1775. Flint-locks had
come in, instead of match-locks. But, actually, the men at Bunker Hill
rested over the rail-fence old muskets which had been used in Queen
Anne's time; and to this day a 'Queen's arm' is a provincial phrase, in
New England, for one of these old weapons, not yet forgotten. That
inability to improve its own condition comes to a people which lets
another nation do its manufacturing for it. You see much the same thing
in Turkey and French Canada. Just as soon as they were thrown on their
own resources here, they began to invent."

"But," said Fergus, "there was certainly one great American inventor
before that time."

"You mean Franklin,--the greatest American yet, I suppose, if you mean
to measure greatness by intellectual power and intellectual achievement.
Yes; Franklin's great discovery, and the inventions which followed on
it, were made twenty-five years and more before Bunker Hill."

"What is the association between Franklin and Robinson Crusoe?" asked
Alice. "I never read of one but I think of the other."

Uncle Fritz's whole face beamed with approbation.

"You have started me upon one of my hobbies," said he; "but I must not
ride it too far. Franklin says himself that De Foe's 'Essay on Projects'
and Cotton Mather's 'Essay to do Good' were two books which perhaps gave
him a turn of thinking which had an influence on some of the events in
his after life. And you may notice how an 'Essay on Projects' might
start his passion for having things done better than in the ways he saw.
The books that he was brought up on and with were books of De Foe's own
time,--none of them more popular among reading people of Boston than De
Foe's own books, for De Foe was a great light among their friends in

"If Robinson Crusoe, on his second voyage, which was in the year 1718,
had run into Boston for supplies, as he thought of doing; and if old
Judge Sewall had asked him to dinner,--as he would have been likely to
do, for Robinson was a godly old gentleman then, of intelligence and
fortune,--if there had been by accident a vacant place at the table at
the last moment, Judge Sewall might have sent round to Franklin's father
to ask him to come in. For the elder Franklin, though only a
tallow-chandler,--and only Goodman Franklin, not _Mr._ Franklin,--was a
member of the church, well esteemed. He led the singing at the Old South
after Judge Sewall's voice broke down.

"Nay, when one remembers how much Sewall had to do with printing, one
might imagine that the boy Ben Franklin should wait at the door with a
proof-sheet, and even take off his boy's hat as Robinson Crusoe came

Here Bedford Long put in a remark:--

"There are things in Robinson Crusoe's accounts of his experiments in
making his pipkins, which ought to bring him into any book of American

"I never thought before," said Fergus, "that De Foe's experiences in
making tiles and tobacco-pipes and drain-pipes fitted him for all that
learned discussion of glazing, when Robinson Crusoe makes his pots and

"Good!" said Uncle Fritz; "that must be so.--Well, as you say, Alice,
there are whole sentences in that narrative which you could suppose
Franklin wrote, and in his works whole sentences which would fit in
closely with De Foe's writing. The style of the younger man very closely
resembles that of the older."

"And Franklin would have been very much pleased to hear you say so."

"He was forever inventing," said Uncle Fritz. "As I said, he was worried
unless things could be better done. If he was in a storm, he wanted to
still the waves. If the chimney smoked, he wanted to make a better
fireplace. If he heard a girl play the musical-glasses, he must have and
make a better set."

"And if the house was struck by lightning, he went out and put up a

"He had a little book by which people should make themselves better; for
he rightly considered that unless a man could do this, he could make no
other improvement of much account."

And when Uncle Fritz had said this, he found the passage, which he bade
John read to them.


"I made a little book in which I allotted a page for each of the
virtues. [He had classified the virtues and made a list of thirteen,
which will be named below.] I ruled each page with red ink, so as to
have seven columns, one for each day of the week, marking each column
with a letter for the day. I crossed these columns with thirteen red
lines, marking the beginning of each line with the first letter of one
of the virtues, on which line and in its proper column I might mark, by
a little black spot, every fault I found upon examination to have been
committed respecting that virtue upon that day. The thirteen virtues
11. TRANQUILLITY; 12. CHASTITY; 13. HUMILITY. Each of these appears, by
its full name or its initial, on every page of the book. But the full
name of one only appears on each page.

"My intention being to acquire the habitude of these virtues, I judged
it would be well not to distract my attention by attempting the whole at
once, but to fix it on one of them at a time, and when I should be
master of that, then to proceed to another,--and so on, till I should
have gone through the thirteen; and as the previous acquisition might
facilitate the acquisition of certain others, I arranged them with that
view. Temperance first, as it tends to procure that coolness and
clearness of head which is so necessary where constant vigilance has to
be kept up, and a guard maintained against the unremitting attraction of
ancient habits, and the force of perpetual temptations."[6] And so he
goes on to show how Temperance would prepare for Silence, Silence for
Order, Order for Resolution, and thus to the end.

Here is the first page of the book, with the marks for the first six of
the virtues.

  |           TEMPERANCE.          |
  |       EAT NOT TO DULNESS.      |
  |                                |
  |    | S.| M.| T.| W.|Th.| F.| S.|
  | T. |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |
  | S. | * | * |   | * |   | * |   |
  | O. | * | * | * |   | * | * | * |
  | R. |   |   | * |   |   | * |   |
  | F. |   | * |   |   | * |   |   |
  | I. |   |   | * |   |   |   |   |
  | S. |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |
  | J. |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |
  | M. |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |
  | C. |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |
  | T. |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |
  | C. |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |
  | H. |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |

"I determined to give a week's strict attention to each of the virtues
successively. Thus, in the first week my great guard was to avoid every
the least offence against _Temperance_, leaving the other virtues to
their ordinary chance, only marking every evening the faults of the
day. Thus, if in the first week I could keep my first line, marked T,
clear of spots, I supposed the habit of that virtue so much
strengthened, and its opposite weakened, that I might venture extending
my attention to include the next, and for the following week keep both
lines clear of spots. Proceeding thus to the last, I could go through a
course complete in thirteen weeks, and four courses in a year. And like
him who having a garden to weed does not attempt to eradicate all the
bad herbs at once, which would exceed his reach and his strength, but
works on one of the beds at a time, and, having accomplished the first,
proceeds to the second, so I should have, I hoped, the encouraging
pleasure of seeing on my pages the progress I made in virtue, by
clearing successively my lines of their spots, till in the end, by a
number of courses, I should be happy in viewing a clean book, after a
thirteen weeks' daily examination."

Uncle Fritz said that this plan of Franklin's had been quite a favorite
plan of different people at the end of the last century. Richard Lovell
Edgeworth, and Mr. Day, and a good many of the other reformers in
England, and many in France, really thought that if people only knew
what was right they would all begin and do it. They had to learn, by
their own experience or somebody's, that the difficulty was generally
deeper down.

There was a man, named Droz, who published a little book called "The Art
of being Happy," with tables on which every night you were to mark
yourself, as a school-mistress marks scholars at school, 10 for truth, 3
for temper, 5 for industry, 9 for frugality, and so on.[7]

"But in the long run," said Uncle Fritz, "there may be too much
self-examination. If you really look up and not down, and look forward
and not back, and loyally lend a hand, why, you can afford to look out
and not in, in general."

Fergus brought the talk back to the lightning-rod, and asked where was
the earliest hint of it.

The history seems to be this. In the year 1747 a gentleman named
Collinson sent to Franklin, from England or Scotland, one of the glass
tubes with which people were then trying electrical experiments.
Franklin was very much interested. He went on repeating the experiments
which had been made in England and on the Continent of Europe. With his
general love of society in such things, he had other glass tubes made,
and gave them to his friends.

He had one immense advantage over the wise men of England and France, in
the superior dryness of our air, which greatly favors such experiments.
Almost any one of the young Americans who will read this book has tried
the experiment of exciting electricity by shuffling across a Brussels
carpet on a dry floor, and then lighting the gas from a gas-jet by the
spark. But when you tell an Englishman in London that you have done
this, he thinks at first that you are making fun of him. For it is very
seldom that the air and the carpet and the floor are all dry enough for
the experiment to succeed in England. This difference of climate
accounts for the difficulty which the philosophers in England sometimes
found in repeating Dr. Franklin's experiments.

When it came to lightning and experiments about that, he had another
very great advantage; for we have many more thunder-storms than they
have. In the year 1752, when Mr. Watson was very eager to try the
lightning experiments in England, he seems to have had, in all the
summer, but two storms of thunder and lightning.

Franklin made his apparatus on a scale which now seems almost gigantic.
The "conductor" of an electrical machine such as you will generally see
in a college laboratory is seldom more than two feet long. Franklin's
conductor, which was hung by silk from the top of his room, was a
cylinder ten feet long and one foot in diameter, covered with gilt
paper. In his "Leyden battery" he used five glass jars, as big as large
water-pails,--they held nine gallons each. One night he had arranged to
kill a turkey by a shock from two of these. He received the shock
himself, by accident, and it almost killed him. He had a theory that if
turkeys were killed by electricity, the meat would perhaps be more

He acknowledges Mr. Collinson's present of the glass tube as early as
March 28, 1747. On the 11th of July he writes to Collinson that they
("we") had discovered the power of points to withdraw electricity
silently and continuously. On this discovery the lightning-rod is based.
He describes this quality, first observed by Mr. Hopkinson, in the
following letter:--

"The first is the wonderful effect of pointed bodies, both in _drawing
off_ and _throwing off_ the electrical fire.

"For example, place an iron shot, of three or four inches diameter, on
the mouth of a clean, dry glass bottle. By a fine silken thread from the
ceiling, right over the mouth of the bottle, suspend a small cork ball
about the bigness of a marble; the thread of such a length, as that the
cork ball may rest against the side of the shot. Electrify the shot, and
the ball will be repelled to the distance of four or five inches, more
or less, according to the quantity of electricity. When in this state,
if you present to the shot the point of a long, slender, sharp bodkin,
at six or eight inches distance, the repellency is instantly destroyed,
and the cork flies to the shot. A blunt body must be brought within an
inch and draw a spark, to produce the same effect. To prove that the
electrical fire is _drawn off_ by the point, if you take the blade of
the bodkin out of the wooden handle, and fix it in a stick of
sealing-wax, and then present it at the distance aforesaid, or if you
bring it very near, no such effect follows; but sliding one finger along
the wax till you touch the blade, the ball flies to the shot
immediately. If you present the point in the dark, you will see,
sometimes at a foot distance and more, a light gather upon it, like that
of a firefly or glow-worm; the less sharp the point, the nearer you must
bring it to observe the light; and at whatever distance you see the
light, you may draw off the electrical fire, and destroy the repellency.
If a cork ball so suspended be repelled by the tube, and a point be
presented quick to it, though at a considerable distance, it is
surprising to see how suddenly it flies back to the tube. Points of wood
will do near as well as those of iron, provided the wood is not dry; for
perfectly dry wood will no more conduct electricity than sealing-wax.

"To show that points will _throw off_ as well as _draw off_ the
electrical fire, lay a long, sharp needle upon the shot, and you cannot
electrize the shot so as to make it repel the cork ball. Or fix a needle
to the end of a suspended gun-barrel or iron rod, so as to point beyond
it like a little bayonet; and while it remains there, the gun-barrel or
rod cannot, by applying the tube to the other end, be electrized so as
to give a spark, the fire continually running out silently at the point.
In the dark you may see it make the same appearance as it does in the
case before mentioned."

The next summer, that of 1748, the experiments went so far, that in a
letter of Franklin's to Collinson he proposed the electrical
dinner-party, which was such a delight to Harry and Lucy:--

"Chagrined a little that we have been hitherto able to produce nothing
in this way of use to mankind, and the hot weather coming on when
electrical experiments are not so agreeable, it is proposed to put an
end to them for this season, somewhat humorously, in a party of pleasure
on the banks of the _Skuylkill_. Spirits, at the same time, are to be
fired by a spark sent from side to side through the river, without any
other conductor than the water; an experiment which we some time since
performed, to the amazement of many. A turkey is to be killed for our
dinner by the _electrical shock_, and roasted by the _electrical jack_,
before a fire kindled by the _electrified bottle_; when the healths of
all the famous electricians in England, Holland, France, and Germany are
to be drank in _electrified bumpers_, under the discharge of guns from
the _electrical battery_."

It was in a letter to Collinson of the next year, 1749,--as I suppose,
though it is not dated,--that the project of the lightning-rod first
appears. It is too long to copy. The paragraphs most important in this
view are the following:--

"42. An electrical spark, drawn from an irregular body at some distance,
is scarcely ever straight, but shows crooked and waving in the air. So
do the flashes of lightning, the clouds being very irregular bodies.

"43. As electrified clouds pass over a country, high hills and high
trees, lofty towers, spires, masts of ships, chimneys, &c., as so many
prominences and points, draw the electrical fire, and the whole cloud
discharges there.

"44. Dangerous, therefore, is it to take shelter under a tree during a
thunder-gust. It has been fatal to many, both men and beasts.

"45. It is safer to be in the open field for another reason. When the
clothes are wet, if a flash in its way to the ground should strike your
head, it may run in the water over the surface of your body; whereas, if
your clothes were dry, it would go through the body, because the blood
and other humors, containing so much water, are more ready conductors.

"Hence a wet rat cannot be killed by the exploding electrical bottle,
when a dry rat may."

In a letter of 1750, based upon observations made in 1749, Franklin said
distinctly, after describing some artificial lightning which he had

"If these things are so, may not the knowledge of this power of points
be of use to mankind, in preserving houses, churches, ships, &c., from
the stroke of lightning, by directing us to fix, on the highest parts of
these edifices, upright rods of iron made sharp as a needle, and gilded
to prevent rusting, and from the foot of those rods a wire down the
outside of the building into the ground, or down round one of the
shrouds of a ship, and down her side till it reaches the water? Would
not these pointed rods probably draw the electrical fire silently out of
a cloud before it came nigh enough to strike, and thereby secure us from
that most sudden and terrible mischief?

"To determine the question whether the clouds that contain lightning are
electrified or not, I would propose an experiment to be tried where it
may be done conveniently. On the top of some high tower or steeple,
place a kind of sentry-box, big enough to contain a man and an
electrical stand. From the middle of the stand let an iron rod rise and
pass bending out of the door and then upright twenty or thirty feet,
pointed very sharp at the end. If the electrical stand be kept clean and
dry, a man standing on it, when such clouds are passing low, might be
electrified and afford sparks, the rod drawing fire to him from a cloud.
If any danger to the man should be apprehended (though I think there
would be none), let him stand on the floor of his box, and now and then
bring near to the rod the loop of a wire that has one end fastened to
the leads, he holding it by a wax handle; so the sparks, if the rod is
electrified, will strike from the rod to the wire, and not affect him."

The Royal Society "did not think these papers worth printing"!

But, happily, Collinson printed them, and they went all over Europe. The
demonstration of the lightning theory, which he had wrought out by his
own experiments, was made in France, May 10, 1752; and in Philadelphia
by Franklin with the kite in the next month, before he had heard of the
success in France. Franklin's friend Dalibard tried the French
experiment. Here is his account of it, as he sent it to the French
Academy, as Roxana translated it for the young people:--

I have had perfect success in following out the course indicated by Mr.

I had set up at Marly-la-ville, situated six leagues from Paris, in a
fine plain at a very elevated level, a round rod of iron, about an inch
in diameter, forty feet long, and sharply pointed at its upper
extremity. To secure greater fineness at the point, I had it armed with
tempered steel, and then burnished, for want of gilding, so as to keep
it from rusting; beside that, this iron rod is bent near its lower end
into two acute but rounded angles; the first angle is two feet from the
lower end, and the second takes a contrary direction at three feet from
the first.

       *       *       *       *       *

Wednesday, the 10th of May, 1752, between two and three in the
afternoon, a man named Coiffier, an old dragoon, whom I had intrusted
with making the observations in my absence, having heard rather a loud
clap of thunder, hastened at once to the machine, took the phial with
the wire, presented the loop of the wire to the rod, saw a small bright
spark come from it, and heard it crackle. He then drew a second spark,
brighter than the first and with a louder sound! He called his
neighbors, and sent for the Prior. This gentleman hastened to the spot
as fast as he could: the parishioners, seeing the haste of their priest,
imagined that poor Coiffier had been killed by the thunder; the alarm
was spread in the village; the hail-storm which began did not prevent
the flock from following its shepherd. This honest priest approached the
machine, and, seeing that there was no danger, went to work himself and
drew strong sparks. The cloud from which the storm and hail came was no
more than a quarter of an hour in passing directly over our machine, and
only this one thunder-clap was heard. As soon as the cloud had passed,
and no more sparks were drawn from the iron rod, the Prior of Marly sent
off Monsieur Coiffier himself, to bring me the following letter, which
he wrote in haste:--

I can now inform you, Sir, of what you are looking for. The experiment
is completely successful. To-day, at twenty minutes past two, P. M., the
thunder rolled directly over Marly; the clap was rather loud. The
desire to oblige you, and my own curiosity, made me leave my arm-chair,
where I was occupied in reading. I went to Coiffier's, who had already
sent a child to me, whom I met on the way, to beg me to come. I
redoubled my speed through a torrent of hail. When I arrived at the
place where the bent rod was set up, I presented the wire, approaching
it several times toward the rod. At the distance of an inch and a half,
or about that, there came out of the rod a little column of bluish fire
smelling of sulphur, which struck the loop of the wire with an extreme
and rapid energy, and occasioned a sound like that which might be made
by striking on the rod with a key. I repeated the experiment at least
six times, in the space of about four minutes, in the presence of
several persons; and each experiment which I made lasted the space of a
_Pater_ and an _Ave_. I tried to go on; the action of the fire slackened
little by little. I went nearer, and drew nothing more but a few sparks,
and at last nothing appeared.

The thunder-clap which caused this event was followed by no other; it
all ended in a great quantity of hail. I was so occupied with what I saw
at the moment of the experiment, that, having been struck on the arm a
little above my elbow, I cannot say whether it was in touching the wire
or the rod, I was not even aware of the injury which the blow had given
me at the moment when I received it; but as the pain continued, on my
return home I uncovered my arm before Coiffier, and we perceived a
bruised mark winding round the arm, like what a wire would have made if
my bare flesh had been struck by it. As I was going back from Coiffier's
house, I met Monsieur le Vicaire, Monsieur de Milly, and the
schoolmaster, to whom I related what had just happened. They all three
declared that they smelt an odor of sulphur, which struck them more as
they approached me. I carried the same odor home with me, and my
servants noticed it without my having said anything to them about it.

This, Monsieur, is an account given in haste, but simple and true, which
I attest, and you may depend on my being ready to give evidence of this
event on every opportunity. Coiffier was the first who made the
experiment, and repeated it several times; it was only on account of
what he had seen that he sent to ask me to come. If other witnesses than
he and I are necessary, you will find them. Coiffier is in haste to set

I am, with respectful consideration, Monsieur,

                           Yours, &c.,
           [Signed]                            RAULET, _Prior of Marly_.

  MAY 10, 1752.

"I do not understand," said Uncle Fritz, "how it happened that no one
attempted the experiment before. Franklin had proposed it, very
distinctly, in 1750. His friend Dr. Stuber says that he was waiting for
the erection of a steeple in Philadelphia. You see, the Quakers, who had
founded this city, would have none; they derided what they called
'steeple-houses,' little foreseeing what advantage could be drawn from a

"Meanwhile, in 1750, in October, he did take a view of New York from the
'Dutch Church steeple,' which had been struck by lightning in the spring
of that year. And here he was able to confirm his theory, by seeing that
'wire is a good conductor of lightning, as it is of electricity.'"


While some of the children were reading these electrical passages,
others were turning over the next volume; and to their great delight,
they found a picture of the "Musical Glasses."

"I never had the slightest idea what musical glasses were," said Jack;
and he spouted from Goldsmith the passage from "The Vicar of Wakefield,"
where the fashionable ladies from London talked about "Shakspeare and
the musical glasses."

"Were they Dr. Franklin's musical glasses?"

"I never thought of that," said Uncle Fritz, well pleased; "but I think
it is so. John, look and see what year 'The Vicar of Wakefield' was
written in."

John turned to the Cyclopædia, and it proved that Goldsmith wrote that
book in 1766.

"And you see," said Uncle Fritz, "that it was in 1762 that Franklin made
his improvement, and that Mr. Puckeridge, the Irish gentleman, had
arranged his glasses before. I think you would find that the instrument
gradually worked its way into fashion,--slowly, as such things then did
in England,--and that Goldsmith knew about Dr. Franklin's modification.

"I do not now remember any other place where Goldsmith's life and his
touched. But they must have known a great many of the same people.
Franklin was all mixed up with the Grub Street people."

Meanwhile John was following up the matter in the Cyclopædia. But he did
not find "Armonica." Uncle Fritz bade him try in the "H" volume; and
there, sure enough, was "Harmonica," with quite a little history of the
invention. Mr. Puckeridge's fascinating name is there tamed down to
Pochrich, probably by some German translator. Dr. Franklin's instrument
is described, and the Cyclopædia man adds:--

"From the effect which it was supposed to have upon the nervous system,
it has been suggested that the fingers should not be allowed to come in
immediate contact with the glasses, but that the tones should be
produced by means of keys, as with a harpsichord. Such an instrument has
been made, and called the '_harpsichord harmonica_.' But these
experiments have not produced anything of much value. It is impossible
that the delicacy, the swell, and the continuation of the tone should be
carried to such perfection as in the simpler method. The harmonica,
however much it excels all other instruments in the delicacy and
duration of its tones, yet is confined to those of a soft and melancholy
character and to slow, solemn movements, and can hardly be combined to
advantage with other instruments. In accompanying the human voice it
throws it into the shade; and in concerts the other instruments lose in
effect, because so far inferior to it in tone. It is therefore best
enjoyed by itself, and may produce a charming effect in certain romantic

"'Romantic situations'! I should think so," said Mabel, laughing. "Is
not that like the dear German man that wrote this? I see myself lugging
my harmonica to the edge of the Kauterskill Falls."

"How do you know he was a German?" said Alice.

"Because, where John read 'the simpler method,' it says 'the
before-mentioned method.' No Englishman or American in his senses ever
said 'before-mentioned' if he could help himself."

"Do let us see how dear Dr. Franklin made his machine."

And the girls unfolded the old-fashioned picture, which is in the sixth
volume of Sparks's Franklin, and read his description of it as he wrote
it to Beccaria.

"Is it the Beccaria who did about capital punishment?" asked Fergus.

"No," Uncle Fritz said, "though they lived at the same time. They were
not brothers. The capital-punishment man was the Marquis _of_ Beccaria,
and that _of_ makes a great difference in Europe. This man 'did'
electricity, as you would say; and his name is plain Beccaria without
any _of_."

Then Mabel, commanding silence, at last read the letter to Beccaria. And
when she had done, Uncle Fritz said that he should think there might be
many a boy or girl who could not buy a piano or what he profanely called
a Yang-Yang,--by which he meant a reed organ,--who would like to make a
harmonica. The letter, in a part not copied here, tells how to tune the
glasses. And any one who lived near a glass-factory, and was on the
good-natured side of a good workman, could have the glasses made without
much expense.

_Letter of Franklin to J. B. Beccaria._

                                                  LONDON, July 13, 1762.

REVEREND SIR,--... Perhaps, however, it may be agreeable to you, as you
live in a musical country, to have an account of the new instrument
lately added here to the great number that charming science was already
possessed of. As it is an instrument that seems peculiarly adapted to
Italian music, especially that of the soft and plaintive kind, I will
endeavor to give you such a description of it, and of the manner of
constructing it, that you or any of your friends may be enabled to
imitate it, if you incline so to do, without being at the expense and
trouble I have been to bring it to its present perfection.

You have doubtless heard of the sweet tone that is drawn from a
drinking-glass by passing a wet finger round its brim. One Mr.
Puckeridge, a gentleman from Ireland, was the first who thought of
playing tunes formed of these tones. He collected a number of glasses of
different sizes, fixed them near each other on a table, tuned them by
putting into them water more or less, as each note required. The tones
were brought out by passing his finger round their brims. He was
unfortunately burned here, with his instrument, in a fire which consumed
the house he lived in. Mr. E. Delaval, a most ingenious member of our
Royal Society, made one in imitation of it, with a better form and
choice of glasses, which was the first I saw or heard. Being charmed by
the sweetness of its tones, and the music he produced from it, I wished
only to see the glasses disposed in a more convenient form, and brought
together in a narrower compass, so as to admit of a greater number of
tones, and all within reach of hand to a person sitting before the
instrument, which I accomplished, after various intermediate trials, and
less commodious forms, both of glasses and construction, in the
following manner.

The glasses are blown as nearly as possible in the form of hemispheres,
having each an open neck or socket in the middle. The thickness of the
glass near the brim about a tenth of an inch, or hardly quite so much,
but thicker as it comes nearer the neck, which in the largest glasses is
about an inch deep, and an inch and a half wide within, these dimensions
lessening as the glasses themselves diminish in size, except that the
neck of the smallest ought not to be shorter than half an inch. The
largest glass is nine inches diameter, and the smallest three inches.
Between these two are twenty-three different sizes, differing from each
other a quarter of an inch in diameter. To make a single instrument
there should be at least six glasses blown of each size; and out of this
number one may probably pick thirty-seven glasses (which are sufficient
for three octaves with all the semitones) that will be each either the
note one wants or a little sharper than that note, and all fitting so
well into each other as to taper pretty regularly from the largest to
the smallest. It is true there are not thirty-seven sizes, but it often
happens that two of the same size differ a note or half-note in tone, by
reason of a difference in thickness, and these may be placed one in the
other without sensibly hurting the regularity of the taper form.

The glasses being thus turned, you are to be provided with a case for
them, and a spindle on which they are to be fixed. My case is about
three feet long, eleven inches every way wide at the biggest end; for it
tapers all the way, to adapt it better to the conical figure of the set
of glasses. This case opens in the middle of its height, and the upper
part turns up by hinges fixed behind. The spindle, which is of hard
iron, lies horizontally from end to end of the box within, exactly in
the middle, and is made to turn on brass gudgeons at each end. It is
round, an inch in diameter at the thickest end, and tapering to a
quarter of an inch at the smallest. A square shank comes from its
thickest end through the box, on which shank a wheel is fixed by a
screw. This wheel serves as a fly to make the motion equable, when the
spindle with the glasses is turned by the foot like a spinning-wheel.
My wheel is of mahogany, eighteen inches diameter, and pretty thick, so
as to conceal near its circumference about twenty-five pounds of lead.
An ivory pin is fixed in the face of this wheel, and about four inches
from the axis. Over the neck of this pin is put the loop of the string
that comes up from the movable step to give it motion. The case stands
on a neat frame with four legs.

To fix the glasses on the spindle, a cork is first to be fitted in each
neck pretty tight, and projecting a little without the neck, that the
neck of one may not touch the inside of another when put together, for
that would make a jarring. These corks are to be perforated with holes
of different diameters, so as to suit that part of the spindle on which
they are to be fixed. When a glass is put on, by holding it stiffly
between both hands, while another turns the spindle, it may be gradually
brought to its place. But care must be taken that the hole be not too
small, lest, in forcing it up, the neck should split; nor too large,
lest the glass, not being firmly fixed, should turn or move on the
spindle, so as to touch or jar against its neighboring glass. The
glasses are thus placed one in another, the largest on the biggest end
of the spindle, which is to the left hand; the neck of this glass is
towards the wheel, and the next goes into it in the same position, only
about an inch of its brim appearing beyond the brim of the first; thus
proceeding, every glass when fixed shows about an inch of its brim (or
three quarters of an inch, or half an inch, as they grow smaller) beyond
the brim of the glass that contains it; and it is from these exposed
parts of each glass that the tone is drawn, by laying a finger upon one
of them as the spindle and glasses turn round.

My largest glass is G, a little below the reach of a common voice, and
my highest G, including three complete octaves. To distinguish the
glasses the more readily to the eye, I have painted the apparent parts
of the glasses withinside, every semitone white, and the other notes of
the octave with the seven prismatic colors,--viz., C, red; D, orange; E,
yellow; F, green; G, blue; A, indigo; B, purple; and C, red again,--so
that glasses of the same color (the white excepted) are always octaves
to each other.

This instrument is played upon by sitting before the middle of the set
of glasses, as before the keys of a harpsichord, turning them with the
foot, and wetting them now and then with a sponge and clean water. The
fingers should be first a little soaked in water, and quite free from
all greasiness; a little fine chalk upon them is sometimes useful, to
make them catch the glass and bring out the tone more readily. Both
hands are used, by which means different parts are played together.
Observe that the tones are best brought out when the glasses turn _from_
the ends of the fingers, not when they turn _to_ them.

The advantages of this instrument are, that its tones are incomparably
sweet, beyond those of any other; that they may be swelled and softened
at pleasure by stronger or weaker pressure of the finger, and continued
to any length; and that the instrument, being once well tuned, never
again wants tuning.

In honor of your musical language, I have borrowed from it the name of
this instrument, calling it the Armonica.

With great respect and esteem, I am, &c.,

                                                            B. FRANKLIN.




At the next meeting there was a slight deviation from the absolutely
expected. Bedford and Mabel desired to dispense with the regular order
of the day, and moved for permission to bring in a new inventor,
"invented by myself," said Mabel,--"entirely by myself, assisted by
Bedford. Nobody that I know of ever heard of him before. He is a new

"Who is he?" asked Horace, somewhat piqued that there should be any one
interesting of whom he had not heard even the name.

"What did he invent?" asked Emma.

"Did he write memoirs?" asked Fergus.

"Did you ever read 'Frank'?" asked Mabel, in what is known as the
Socratic method.

There was a slight stir at the mention of this little classic. Few
seemed to be able to answer in the affirmative.

"I have read 'Rollo,'" said Horace.

"I have read 'Frank,'" said Will Withers, "and 'Harry and Lucy,' and the
'Parents' Assistant,' and 'Sandford and Merton,' and 'Henry Milner.' In
fact, there are few of those books, all kindred volumes, which I have
not read. They have had an important effect upon my later life."

"Hinc illae lachrymae," in a low tone from Clem Waters.

For Colonel Ingham, the turn taken by the conversation had a peculiar
charm. He was of the generation before the rest, and what were to them
but ghostly ideals were to him glad memories of a happy past.

"Good!" said he. "'Frank' was, in a sense, the greatest book ever
written. Do you remember that part where Frank lifted up the skirts of
his coat when passing through the greenhouse?" he asked of Mabel.

"I should think I did," said Mabel and Will. As for Bedford, he had only
a vague recollection of it. The others considered the conversation to be
trembling upon the verge of insanity.

"Perhaps," said Florence, gently, "I might be allowed to suggest that
although you have heard of 'Frank' and those other persons mentioned, we
have not. I do not think that I ever heard of an inventor named
Frank,--did he have any other name?--and I am usually considered," she
went on modestly, "tolerably well informed. Therefore the present
conversation, though probably edifying in a high degree to those who
have read 'Frank,' or who have some interest in horticulture and
greenhouses, can hardly fail to be very stupid to those of us who have

"My dear child," said the Colonel, "you are right. Mabel and I, and Will
and Bedford here, are of the generation that is passing off the stage.
We look back to the things of our youth, hardly considering that there
are those to whom that period suggests Noah and his ark."

"But who is the inventor?" asked some one who thought that the
conversation was gradually leaving the trodden path.

"Oh, we had almost forgotten him," said Bedford.

"The inventor," said Mabel, producing two volumes from under her arm,
"is Mr. Richard Lovell Edgeworth, the father of Maria Edgeworth."

"What did he invent?" asked many of the company.

"He invented the telegraph."

"Well, I never knew that before."

"I thought Morse invented the telegraph."

"Didn't Dr. Franklin invent the telegraph?"

"I thought Edison--"

Other remarks were also made, showing a certain amount of incredulity.

"You mistake," said Bedford, placidly; "you are all of you under a
misapprehension. I think that you all of you allude to the electric
telegraph,--an invention of a later date than that of Mr. Edgeworth, and
one of more value, as far as practical affairs are concerned. No; Mr.
Edgeworth invented, or thinks he invented, the telegraph as it was used
in the eighteenth century and the early part of the nineteenth,
sometimes named the Semaphore. It wasn't a difficult invention, and I
don't believe it ever came to any very practical use as constructed by
Edgeworth, though French telegraphs were very useful."

"What kind of a telegraph was it?"

"Well, it was just the kind of a telegraph that the conductor of a
railroad train is when he waves his arms to the engineer to go ahead.
There's an account of it by Edgeworth in one of these books, with
pictures to it."

"But my chief interest about Edgeworth," said Mabel, "is in his memoirs,
which are written partly by himself and partly by his daughter. They are
really very amusing. He was married five times,--once with a door-key
when he was only fourteen."

This startling intelligence roused even Colonel Ingham to demand
particulars. Was he married to all five at once? to all of them when he
was only fourteen?

"No," admitted Mabel, with some regret; "he was married to them, all at
different times, and he was divorced from the one he married at fourteen
with the door-key."

"They were only married for fun," said Bedford. "It was all a joke. They
were at a wedding, and they thought it would be funny after the real
marriage to have a mock one. So they did, and married Edgeworth to a
girl who was there. It was a real marriage, for they were afterwards

"Well," said Sam Edmeston, "I shall be glad to hear about this
gentleman, I'm sure, though I never did hear of him before. But may I
ask why it was necessary to introduce him by means of an allusion to
'Frank' and other works which we have few of us ever read, though it is
very possible that we may some of us have heard of them?"

"I see why Mabel spoke first of 'Frank,'" said Colonel Ingham. "And I
think that she did very well to bring Edgeworth in as she has done. And
Edgeworth, though I had not thought of him before, is very fit to be one
of our inventors, not so much for his individual accomplishments, which
were little more than curious,--telegraph and all,--as for being a good
representative of his age. Those of you who know a little of the century
between 1750 and 1850 know that it was an age to which many of the
secrets of physical science were being opened for the first time.
Everybody was going back to Nature to see what he could learn from her.
This movement swept all over France and England. Every gentleman
dabbled in the sciences, and made his experiments and inventions.
Voltaire in France had a great laboratory made for him in which he
passed some years in chemical experiments. It was the age, too, of great
inventions,--of the application of physical forces to the life of man.
The invention of the steam-engine by Watt, and the applications of it to
the locomotive and the steamboat, came along toward the end of this
period, and marked the work of the greatest men. But every one could not
invent a steam-engine. So, by the hundreds of country gentlemen who
studied science, chemistry, and astronomy, and the rest, there were
constructed hundreds of orreries, globes, carriages, model-telegraphs,
and such things; and it is of these men that Edgeworth is the best, or
at least the most available, representative, on account of his very
interesting memoirs.

"Such books as 'Harry and Lucy' and 'Frank' are the mirror of this
movement. But to this is joined something more, which John Morley speaks
of in saying, 'An age touched by the spirit of hope turns naturally to
the education of the young.' Then people knew that their own times were
about as worthless as times could well be; but as they learned more,
they began to hope that things were improving, and that the children
might see better times than those in which the fathers lived. And as
physical science was to them an all-important factor in this approaching
millennium, they took pains to teach these things to the young. Any of
you who have read 'Frank' or 'Sandford and Merton' will see what I mean.
It was the hope that the children might be able to take the work where
the fathers left it, and carry it on. And the children did. But I do not
believe that any one of these eighteenth-century theorists had the first
or vaguest idea of the point to which his children and grandchildren
would carry his work.

"So much for Mr. Edgeworth from my point of view," concluded the
Colonel. "You will hear what he thought of himself from Bedford."



Bets of a rash or ingenious sort were in fashion in those days, and one
proposal of what was difficult and uncommon led to another. A famous
match was at that time pending at Newmarket between two horses that were
in every respect as nearly equal as possible. Lord March, one evening at
Ranelagh, expressed his regret to Sir Francis Delaval that he was not
able to attend Newmarket at the next meeting. "I am obliged," said he,
"to stay in London. I shall, however, be at the Turf Coffee House. I
shall station fleet horses on the road to bring me the earliest
intelligence of the event of the race, and shall manage my bets

I asked at what time in the evening he expected to know who was winner.
He said about nine in the evening. I asserted that I should be able to
name the winning horse at four o'clock in the afternoon. Lord March
heard my assertion with so much incredulity as to urge me to defend
myself; and at length I offered to lay five hundred pounds, that I would
in London name the winning horse at Newmarket at five o'clock in the
evening of the day when the great match in question was to be run. Sir
Francis, having looked at me for encouragement, offered to lay five
hundred pounds on my side; Lord Eglintoun did the same; Shaftoe and
somebody else took up their bets; and the next day we were to meet at
the Turf Coffee House, to put our bets in writing. After we went home, I
explained to Sir Francis Delaval the means that I proposed to use. I had
early been acquainted with Wilkins's "Secret and Swift Messenger;" I had
also read in Hooke's Works of a scheme of this sort, and I had
determined to employ a telegraph nearly resembling that which I have
since published. The machinery I knew could be prepared in a few days.

Sir Francis immediately perceived the feasibility of my scheme, and
indeed its certainty of success. It was summer-time; and by employing a
sufficient number of persons, we could place our machines so near as to
be almost out of the power of the weather. When we all met at the Turf
Coffee House, I offered to double my bet; so did Sir Francis. The
gentlemen on the opposite side were willing to accept my offer; but
before I would conclude my wager, I thought it fair to state to Lord
March that I did not depend upon the fleetness or strength of horses to
carry the desired intelligence, but upon other means, which I had, of
being informed in London which horse had actually won at Newmarket,
between the time when the race should be concluded and five o 'clock in
the evening. My opponents thanked me for my candor and declined the bet.
My friends blamed me extremely for giving up such an advantageous
speculation. None of them, except Sir Francis, knew the means which I
had intended to employ; and he kept them a profound secret, with a view
to use them afterwards for his own purposes. With that energy which
characterized everything in which he engaged, he immediately erected,
under my directions, an apparatus between his house and part of
Piccadilly,--an apparatus which was never suspected to be telegraphic.
I also set up a night telegraph between a house which Sir F. Delaval
occupied at Hampstead, and one to which I had access in Great Russell
Street, Bloomsbury. This nocturnal telegraph answered well, but was too
expensive for common use.

Upon my return home to Hare Hatch, I tried many experiments on different
modes of telegraphic communication. My object was to combine secrecy
with expedition. For this purpose I intended to employ windmills, which
might be erected for common economical uses, and which might at the same
time afford easy means of communication from place to place upon
extraordinary occasions. There is a windmill at Nettlebed, which can be
distinctly seen with a good glass from Assy Hill, between Maidenhead and
Henly, the highest ground in England south of the Trent. With the
assistance of Mr. Perrot, of Hare Hatch, I ascertained the
practicability of my scheme between these places, which are nearly
sixteen miles asunder.

I have had occasion to show my claim to the revival of this invention in
modern times, and in particular to prove that I had practised
telegraphic communication in the year 1767, long before it was ever
attempted in France. To establish these truths, I obtained from Mr.
Perrot, a Berkshire gentleman, who resided in the neighborhood of Hare
Hatch, and who was witness to my experiments, his testimony to the facts
which I have just related. I have his letter; and before its contents
were published in the Memoirs of the Irish Academy for the year 1796, I
showed it to Lord Charlemont, President of the Royal Irish Academy.



In August, 1794, my father made a trial of his telegraph between
Pakenham Hall and Edgeworth Town, a distance of twelve miles. He found
it to succeed beyond his expectations; and in November following he made
another trial of it at Collon, at Mr. Foster's, in the county of Louth.
The telegraphs were on two hills, at fifteen miles' distance from each
other. A communication of intelligence was made, and an answer received,
in the space of five minutes. Mr. Foster--my father's friend, and the
friend of everything useful to Ireland--was well convinced of the
advantage and security this country would derive from a system of quick
and certain communication; and, being satisfied of the sufficiency of
this telegraph, advised that a memorial on the subject should be drawn
up for Government. Accordingly, under his auspices, a memorial was
presented, in 1795, to Lord Camden, then Lord Lieutenant. His Excellency
glanced his eye over the paper, and said that he did not think such an
establishment necessary, but desired to reserve the matter for further
consideration. My father waited in Dublin for some time. The suspense
and doubt in which courtiers are obliged to live is very different from
that state of philosophical doubt which the wise recommend, and to which
they are willing to submit. My father's patience was soon exhausted. The
county in which he resided was then in a disturbed state; and he was
eager to return to his family, who required his protection. Besides, to
state things exactly as they were, his was not the sort of temper
suited to attendance upon the great.

The disturbances in the County of Longford were quieted for a time by
the military; but again, in the autumn of the ensuing year (September,
1796), rumors of an invasion prevailed, and spread with redoubled force
through Ireland, disturbing commerce, and alarming all ranks of
well-disposed subjects. My father wrote to Lord Carhampton, then
Commander-in-Chief, and to Mr. Pelham (now Lord Chichester), who was
then Secretary in Ireland, offering his services. The Secretary
requested Mr. Edgeworth would furnish him with a memorial. Aware of the
natural antipathy that public men feel at the sight of long memorials,
this was made short enough to give it a chance of being read.

(Presented, Oct. 6, 1796.)

Mr. Edgeworth will undertake to convey intelligence from Dublin to Cork,
and back to Dublin, by means of fourteen or fifteen different stations,
at the rate of one hundred pounds per annum for each station, as long as
Government shall think proper; and from Dublin to any other place, at
the same rate, in proportion to the distance: provided that when
Government chooses to discontinue the business, they shall pay one
year's contract over and above the current expense, as some compensation
for the prime cost of the apparatus, and the trouble of the first

In a letter of a single page, accompanying this memorial, it was stated,
that to establish a telegraphic corps of men sufficient to convey
intelligence to every part of the kingdom where it should be necessary,
stations tenable against a mob and against musketry might be effected
for the sum of _six or seven thousand pounds_. It was further observed,
that of course there must be a considerable difference between a partial
and a general plan of telegraphic communication; that Mr. Edgeworth was
perfectly willing to pursue either, or to adopt without reserve any
better plan that Government should approve. Thanks were returned, and
approbation expressed.

Nothing now appeared in suspense except the _mode_ of the establishment,
whether it should be civil or military. Meantime Mr. Pelham spoke of the
Duke of York's wish to have a reconnoitring telegraph, and observed that
Mr. Edgeworth's would be exactly what his Royal Highness wanted. Mr.
Edgeworth in a few days constructed a portable telegraph, and offered it
to Mr. Pelham. He accepted it, and at his request my brother Lovell
carried it to England, and presented it to the Duke from Mr. Pelham.

During the interval of my brother's absence in England, my father had no
doubt that arrangements were making for a telegraphic establishment
in Ireland. But the next time he went to the castle, he saw
signs of a change in the Secretary's countenance, who seemed much
hurried,--promised he would write,--wrote, and conveyed, in diplomatic
form, a final refusal. Mr. Pelham indeed endeavored to make it as civil
as he could, concluding his letter with these words:--

The utility of a telegraph may hereafter be considered greater; but I
trust that at all events those talents which have been directed to this
pursuit will be turned to some other object, and that the public will
have the benefit of that extraordinary activity and zeal which I have
witnessed on this occasion in some other institution which I am sure
that the ingenuity of the author will not require much time to suggest.

I have the honor to be, with great respect, &c,

                                                              T. PELHAM.

DUBLIN CASTLE, Nov. 17, 1796.

Of his offer to establish a communication from the coast of Cork to
Dublin, at _his own expense_, no notice was taken. "He had, as was known
to Government, expended £500 of his own money; as much more would have
erected a temporary establishment for a year to Cork. Thus the utility
of this invention might have been tried, and the most prudent government
upon earth could not have accused itself of extravagance in being
partner with a private gentleman in an experiment which had, with
inferior apparatus, and at four times the expense, been tried in France
and England, and approved." The most favorable supposition by which we
can account for the conduct of the Irish Government in this business is
that a superior influence in England forbade them to proceed. "It must,"
said my father, "be mortifying to a viceroy who comes over to Ireland
with enlarged views and benevolent intentions, to discover, when he
attempts to act for himself, that he is peremptorily checked; that a
circle is chalked round him, beyond which he cannot move."

No personal feelings of pique or disgust prevented my father from
renewing his efforts to be of service to his country. Two months after
the rejection of his telegraph, on Friday the 30th of December, 1796,
the French were on the Irish coasts. Of this he received intelligence
late at night. Immediately he sent a servant express to the Secretary,
with a letter offering to erect telegraphs, which he had in Dublin, on
any line that Government should direct, and proposing to bring his own
men with him; or to join the army with his portable telegraphs, to
reconnoitre. His servant was sent back with a note from the Secretary,
containing compliments and the promise of a speedy answer; no further
answer ever reached him. Upon this emergency he could, with the
assistance of his friends, have established an immediate communication
between Dublin and the coast, which should not have cost the country one
shilling. My father showed no mortification at the neglect with which he
was treated, but acknowledged that he felt much "concern in losing an
opportunity of saving an enormous expense to the public, and of
alleviating the anxiety and distress of thousands." A telegraph was most
earnestly wished for at this time by the best-informed people in
Ireland, as well as by those whose perceptions had suddenly quickened at
the view of immediate danger. Great distress, bankruptcies, and ruin to
many families, were the consequences of this attempted invasion. The
troops were harassed with contrary orders and forced marches, for want
of intelligence, and from that indecision which must always be the
consequence of insufficient information. Many days were spent in terror
and in fruitless wishes for the English fleet. One fact may mark the
hurry and confusion of the time; the cannon and the ball sent to Bantry
Bay were of different calibre. At last Ireland was providentially saved
by the change of wind, which prevented the enemy from effecting a
landing on her coast.

That the public will feel little interest in the danger of an invasion
of Ireland which might have happened in the last century; that it can be
of little consequence to the public to hear how or why, twenty years
ago, this or that man's telegraph was not established,--I am aware; and
I am sensible that few will care how cheaply it might have been
obtained, or will be greatly interested in hearing of generous offers
which were not accepted, and patriotic exertions which were not
permitted to be of any national utility. I know that as a biographer I
am expected to put private feelings out of the question; and this duty,
as far as human nature will permit, I hope I have performed.

The facts are stated from my own knowledge, and from a more detailed
account in his own "Letter to Lord Charlemont on the Telegraph,"--a
political pamphlet, uncommon at least for its temperate and good-humored

Though all his exertions to establish a telegraph in Ireland were at
this time unsuccessful, yet he persevered in the belief that in future
modes of telegraphic communication would be generally adopted; and
instead of his hopes being depressed, they were raised and expanded by
new consideration of the subject in a scientific light. In the sixth
volume of the "Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy," he published an
"Essay on the Art of Conveying Swift and Secret Intelligence," in which
he gives a comprehensive view of the uses to which the system may be
applied, and a description, with plates, of his own machinery. Accounts
of his apparatus and specimens of his vocabulary have been copied into
various popular publications, therefore it is sufficient here to refer
to them. The peculiar advantages of his machinery consist, in the first
place, in being as free from friction as possible, consequently in its
being easily moved, and not easily destroyed by use; in the next place,
on its being simple, consequently easy to make and to repair. The
superior advantage of his vocabulary arises from its being
undecipherable. This depends on his employing the numerical figures
instead of the alphabet. With a power of almost infinite change, and
consequently with defiance of detection, he applies the combination of
numerical figures to the words of a common dictionary, or to any length
of phrase in any given vocabulary. He was the first who made this
application of figures to telegraphic communication.

Much has been urged by various modern claimants for the honor of the
invention of the telegraph. In England the claims of Dr. Hooke and of
the Marquis of Worcester to the original idea are incontestable. But the
invention long lay dormant, till wakened into active service by the
French. Long before the French telegraph appeared, my father had tried
his first telegraphic experiments. As he mentions in his own narrative,
he tried the use of windmill sails in 1767 in Berkshire; and also a
nocturnal telegraph with lamps and illuminated letters, between London
and Hampstead. He refers for the confirmation of the facts to a letter
of Mr. Perrot's, a Berkshire gentleman who was with him at the time. The
original of this letter is now in my possession. It was shown in 1795 to
the President of the Royal Irish Academy. The following is a copy of

DEAR SIR,--I perfectly recollect having several conversations with you
in 1767 on the subject of a speedy and secret conveyance of
intelligence. I recollect your going up the hills to see how far and how
distinctly the arms (and the position of them) of Nettlebed Windmill
sails were to be discovered with ease.

As to the experiments from Highgate to London by means of lamps, I was
not present at the time, but I remember your mentioning the circumstance
to me in the same year. All these particulars were brought very strongly
to my memory when the French, some years ago, conveyed intelligence by
signals; and I then thought and declared that the merit of the invention
undoubtedly belonged to you. I am very glad that I have it in my power
to send you this confirmation, because I imagine there is no other
person now living who can bear witness to your observations in

I remain, dear Sir,

                       Your affectionate friend,
                                                        JAMES L. PERROT.

BATH, Dec. 9, 1795.

Claims of priority of invention are always listened to with doubt, or,
at best, with impatience. To those who bring the invention to
perfection, who actually adapt it to use, mankind are justly most
grateful, and to these, rather than to the original inventors, grant the
honors of a triumph. Sensible of this, the matter is urged no farther,
but left to the justice of posterity.

I am happy to state, however, one plain fact, which stands independent
of all controversy, that my father's was the _first_, and I believe the
only, telegraph which ever spoke across the Channel from Ireland to
Scotland. He was, as he says in his essay on this subject, "ambitious of
being the first person who should connect the islands more closely by
facilitating their mutual intercourse;" and on the 24th of August, 1794,
my brothers had the satisfaction of sending by my father's telegraph
four messages across the Channel, and of receiving immediate answers,
before a vast concourse of spectators.

_Edgeworth to Dr. Darwin._

                                           EDGEWORTHTOWN, Dec. 11, 1794.

I have been employed for two months in experiments upon a telegraph of
my own invention. I tried it partially twenty-six years ago. It differs
from the French in distinctness and expedition, as the intelligence is
not conveyed alphabetically....

I intended to detail my telegraphs (in the plural), but I find that I
have not room at present. If you think it worth while, you shall have
the whole scheme before you, which I know you will improve for me.
Suffice it, that by day, at eighteen or twenty miles' distance, I show,
by four pointers, isosceles triangles, twenty feet high, on four
imaginary circles, eight imaginary points, which correspond with the

  0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

So that seven thousand different combinations are formed, of four
figures each, which refer to a dictionary of words that are referred
to,--of lists of the navy, army, militia, lords, commons, geographical
and technical terms, &c, besides an alphabet. So that everything one
wishes may be transmitted with expedition.

By night, white lights are used.

_Dr. Darwin to Mr. Edgeworth._

                                                  DERBY, March 15, 1795.

DEAR SIR,--I beg your pardon for not immediately answering your last
favor, which was owing to the great influence the evil demon has at
present in all affairs on this earth. That is, I lost your letter, and
have in vain looked over some scores of papers, and cannot find it.
Secondly, having lost your letter, I daily hoped to find it
again--without success.

The telegraph you described I dare say would answer the purpose. It
would be like a giant wielding his long arms and talking with his
fingers; and those long arms might be covered with lamps in the night.
You would place four or six such gigantic figures in a line, so that
they should spell a whole word at once; and other such figures in sight
of each other, all round the coast of Ireland; and thus fortify
yourselves, instead of Friar Bacon's wall of brass round England, with
the brazen head, which spoke, "Time is! Time was! Time is past!"


Having slightly mentioned the contrivances made use of by the ancients
for conveying intelligence swiftly, and having pointed out some of the
various important uses to which this art may be applied, I shall
endeavor to give a clear view of my attempts on this subject.

Models of the French telegraph have been so often exhibited, and the
machine itself is so well known, that it is not necessary to describe it
minutely in this place. It is sufficient to say that it consists of a
tall pole, with three movable arms, which may be seen at a considerable
distance through telescopes; these arms may be set in as many different
positions as are requisite to express all the different letters of the
alphabet. By a successive combination of letters shown in this manner,
words and sentences are formed and intelligence communicated. No doubt
can be made of the utility of this machine, as it has been applied to
the most important purposes. It is obviously liable to mistakes, from
the number of changes requisite for each word, and from the velocity
with which it must be moved to convey intelligence with any tolerable

The name, however, which is well chosen, has become so familiar, that I
shall, with a slight alteration, adopt it for the apparatus which I am
going to describe. _Telegraph_ is a proper name for a machine which
describes at a distance. _Telelograph_, or contractedly _Tellograph_, is
a proper name for a machine that describes _words_ at a distance.

Dr. Hooke, to whom every mechanic philosopher must recur, has written an
essay upon the subject of conveying swift intelligence, in which he
proposes to use large wooden letters in succession. The siege of Vienna
turned his attention to the business. His method is more cumbrous than
the French telegraph, but far less liable to error.

I tried it before I had seen Hooke's work, in the year 1767 in London,
and I could distinctly read letters illuminated with lamps in Hampstead
Churchyard, from the house of Mr. Elers in Great Russell Street,
Bloomsbury, to whom I refer for date and circumstance. To him and to Mr.
E. Delaval, F.R.S., to Mr. Perrot, of Hare Hatch, and to Mr Woulfe the
chemist, I refer for the precedency which I claim in this invention. In
that year I invented the idea of my present tellograph, proposing to
make use of windmill sails instead of the hands or pointers which I now
employ. Mr. Perrot was so good as to accompany me more than once to a
hill near his house to observe with a telescope the windmill at
Nettlebed, which places are, I think, sixteen miles asunder. My
intention at that time was to convey not only a swift but an
unsuspected mode of intelligence. By means of common windmills this
might have been effected, before an account of the French telegraph was
made public.

My machinery consists of four triangular pointers or hands [each upon a
separate pedestal, ranged along in a row], each of which points like the
hand of a clock to different situations in the circles which they
describe. It is easy to distinguish whether a hand moving vertically
points perpendicularly downwards or upwards, horizontally to the right
or left, or to any of the four intermediate positions.

The eye can readily perceive the eight different positions in which one
of the pointers is represented [on the plate attached to the article in
the "Transactions," but here omitted]. Of these eight positions seven
only are employed to denote figures, the upright position of the hand or
pointer being reserved to represent o, or zero. The figures thus denoted
refer to a vocabulary in which all the words are numbered. Of the four
pointers, that which appears to the left hand of the observer represents
thousands; the others hundreds, tens, and units, in succession, as in
common numeration.

[By these means, as Mr. Edgeworth showed, numbers from 1 up to 7,777,
omitting those having a digit above 7, could be displayed to the distant
observer, who on referring to his vocabulary discovered that they meant
such expressions as it might seem convenient to transmit by this
excellent invention.]

Although the electric telegraphs have long since superseded telegraphs
of this class in public use, the young people of Colonel Ingham's class
took great pleasure in the next summer in using Mr. Edgeworth's
telegraph to communicate with each other, by plans easily made in their
different country homes.

It may interest the casual reader to know that the first words in the
first message transmitted on the telegraph between Scotland and Ireland,
alluded to above, were represented by the numbers 2,645, 2,331, 573,
1,113 244, 2,411, 6,336, which being interpreted are,--

  "Hark from basaltic rocks and giant walls,"

and so on with the other lines, seven in number. This is Mr. Edgeworth's
concise history of telegraphy before his time.

The art of conveying intelligence by sounds and signals is of the
highest antiquity. It was practised by Theseus in the Argonautic
expedition, by Agamemnon at the siege of Troy, and by Mardonius in the
time of Xerxes. It is mentioned frequently in Thucydides. It was used by
Tamerlane, who had probably never heard of the black sails of Theseus;
by the Moors in Spain; by the Welsh in Britain; by the Irish; and by the
Chinese on that famous wall by which they separated themselves from

       *       *       *       *       *

All this detail about Mr. Edgeworth's telegraph resulted in much search
in the older encyclopædias. Quite full accounts were found, by the young
people, of his system, and of the French system afterwards employed, and
worked in France until the electric telegraph made all such inventions

Before the next meeting, Bedford Long, who lived on Highland Street in
Roxbury, and Hugh, who lived on the side of Corey Hill, were able to
communicate with each other by semaphore; and at the next meeting they
arranged two farther stations, so that John, at Cambridge, and Jane
Fortescue, at Lexington, were in the series.

There being some half an hour left that afternoon, the children amused
themselves by looking up some other of Mr. Edgeworth's curious
experiments and vagaries.


During my residence at Hare Hatch another wager was proposed by me among
our acquaintance, the purport of which was that I undertook to find a
man who should, with the assistance of machinery, walk faster than any
other person that could be produced. The machinery which I intended to
employ was a huge hollow wheel, made very light, withinside of which, in
a barrel of six feet diameter, a man should walk. Whilst he stepped
thirty inches, the circumference of the large wheel, or rather wheels,
would revolve five feet on the ground; and as the machinery was to roll
on planks and on a plane somewhat inclined, when once the _vis inertiæ_
of the machine should be overcome, it would carry on the man within it
as fast as he could possibly walk. I had provided means of regulating
the motion, so that the wheel should not run away with its master. I had
the wheel made; and when it was so nearly completed as to require but a
few hours' work to finish it, I went to London for Lord Effingham, to
whom I had promised that he should be present at the first experiment
made with it. But the bulk and extraordinary appearance of my machine
had attracted the notice of the country neighborhood; and, taking
advantage of my absence, some idle curious persons went to the carpenter
I employed, who lived on Hare Hatch Common. From him they obtained the
great wheel which had been left by me in his care. It was not finished.
I had not yet furnished it with the means of stopping or moderating its
motion. A young lad got into it; his companions launched it on a path
which led gently down hill towards a very steep chalk-pit. This pit was
at such a distance as to be out of their thoughts when they set the
wheel in motion. On it ran. The lad withinside plied his legs with all
his might. The spectators, who at first stood still to behold the
operation, were soon alarmed by the shouts of their companion, who
perceived his danger. The vehicle became quite ungovernable; the
velocity increased as it ran down hill. Fortunately the boy contrived to
jump from his rolling prison before it reached the chalk-pit; but the
wheel went on with such velocity as to outstrip its pursuers, and,
rolling over the edge of the precipice, it was dashed to pieces.

The next day, when I came to look for my machine, intending to try it on
some planks which had been laid for it, I found, to my no small
disappointment, that the object of all my labors and my hopes was lying
at the bottom of a chalk-pit, broken into a thousand pieces. I could not
at that time afford to construct another wheel of this sort, and I
cannot therefore determine what might have been the success of my

As I am on the subject of carriages, I shall mention a sailing-carriage
that I tried on this common. The carriage was light, steady, and ran
with amazing velocity. One day, when I was preparing for a sail in it
with my friend and schoolfellow Mr. William Foster, my wheel-boat
escaped from its moorings just as we were going to step on board. With
the utmost difficulty I overtook it; and as I saw three or four
stage-coaches on the road, and feared that this sailing-chariot might
frighten their horses, I, at the hazard of my life, got into my carriage
while it was under full sail, and then, at a favorable part of the road,
I used the means I had of guiding it easily out of the way. But the
sense of the mischief which must have ensued if I had not succeeded in
getting into the machine at the proper place and stopping it at the
right moment was so strong as to deter me from trying any more
experiments on this carriage in such a dangerous place.

Such should never be attempted except on a large common, _at a distance
from a high_ road. It may not, however, be amiss to suggest that upon a
long extent of iron railway in an open country carriages properly
constructed might make profitable voyages, from time to time, with sails
instead of horses; for though a constant or regular intercourse could
not be thus carried on, yet goods of a certain sort, that are salable at
any time, might be stored till wind and weather were favorable.

When Bedford had read this passage, John Fordyce said he had travelled
hundreds of miles on the Western railways where Mr. Edgeworth's sails
could have been applied without a "stage-coach" to be afraid of them.


In one of my journeys from Hare Hatch to Birmingham, I accidentally met
with a person whom I, as a mechanic, had a curiosity to see. This was a
sailor, who had amused London with a singular exhibition of dexterity.
He was called _Jack the Darter_. He threw his darts, which consisted of
thin rods of deal of about half an inch in diameter and of a yard long,
to an amazing height and distance; for instance, he threw them over what
was then called the New Church in the Strand. Of this feat I had heard,
but I entertained some doubts upon the subject. I had inquired from my
friends where this man could be found, but had not been able to discover
him. As I was driving towards Birmingham in an open carriage of a
singular construction, I overtook a man who walked remarkably fast, but
who stopped as I passed him, and eyed my equipage with uncommon
curiosity. There was something in his manner that made me speak to him;
and from the sort of questions he asked about my carriage, I found that
he was a clever fellow. I soon learned that he had walked over the
greatest part of England, and that he was perfectly acquainted with
London. It came into my head to inquire whether he had ever seen the
exhibition about which I was so desirous to be informed.

"Lord! sir," said he, "I am myself Jack the Darter." He had a roll of
brown paper in his hand, which he unfolded, and soon produced a bundle
of the light deal sticks which he had the power of darting to such a
distance. He readily consented to gratify my curiosity; and after he had
thrown some of them to a prodigious height, I asked him to throw some of
them horizontally. At the first trial he threw one of them eighty yards
with great ease. I observed that he coiled a small string round the
stick, by which he gave it a rotary motion that preserved it from
altering its course; and at the same time it allowed the arm which threw
it time to exercise its whole force.

If anything be simply thrown from the hand, it is clear that it can
acquire no greater velocity than that of the hand that throws it; but if
the body that is thrown passes through a greater space than the hand,
whilst the hand continues to communicate motion to the body to be
impelled, the body will acquire a velocity nearly double to that of the
hand which throws it. The ancients were aware of this; and they wrapped
a thong of leather round their javelins, by which they could throw them
with additional violence. This invention did not, I believe, belong to
the Greeks; nor do I remember its being mentioned by Homer or Xenophon.
It was in use among the Romans, but at what time it was introduced or
laid aside I know not. Whoever is acquainted with the science of
projectiles will perceive that this invention is well worthy of their


After having satisfied my curiosity about Jack the Darter, I proceeded
to Birmingham. I mentioned that I travelled in a carriage of a singular
construction. It was a one-wheeled chaise, which I had had made for the
purpose of going conveniently in narrow roads. It was made fast by
shafts to the horse's sides, and was furnished with two weights or
counterpoises, that hung below the shafts. The seat was not more than
eight and twenty or thirty inches from the ground, in order to bring the
centre of gravity of the whole as low as possible. The footboard turned
upon hinges fastened to the shafts, so that when it met with any
obstacle it gave way, and my legs were warned to lift themselves up. In
going through water my legs were secured by leathers, which folded up
like the sides of bellows; by this means I was pretty safe from wet. On
my road to Birmingham I passed through Long Compton, in Warwickshire, on
a Sunday. The people were returning from church, and numbers stopped to
gaze at me. There is, or was, a shallow ford near the town, over which
there was a very narrow bridge for horse and foot passengers, but not
sufficiently wide for wagons or chaises. Towards this bridge I drove.
The people, not perceiving the structure of my one-wheeled vehicle,
called to me with great eagerness to warn me that the bridge was too
narrow for carriages. I had an excellent horse, which went so fast as to
give but little time for examination. The louder they called, the faster
I drove; and when I had passed the bridge, they shouted after me with
surprise. I got on to Shipstone upon Stone; but before I had dined there
I found that my fame had overtaken me. My carriage was put into a
coach-house, so that those who came from Long Compton, not seeing it,
did not recognize me. I therefore had an opportunity of hearing all the
exaggerations and strange conjectures which were made by those who
related my passage over the narrow bridge. There were posts on the
bridge, to prevent, as I suppose, more than one horseman from passing at
once. Some of the spectators asserted that my carriage had gone over
these posts; others said that it had not wheels, which was indeed
literally true; but they meant to say that it was without any wheel.
Some were sure that no carriage ever went so fast; and all agreed that
at the end of the bridge, where the floods had laid the road for some
way under water, my carriage swam on the surface of the water.



"Uncle Fritz," said Mabel Liddell, the next afternoon that our friends
had gathered together for a reading, "would it not be well for us all to
go down into the kitchen this afternoon, and watch the steam come out of
the kettle as Ellen makes tea for us?"

"Why should it be well, Mabel?" said Colonel Ingham. "For my part, I
should prefer to remain in my own room, more especially as I consider my
armchair to be more suited to the comfort of one already on the downward
path in life than is the kitchen table, where we should have to sit
should we invade the premises of our friends below."

"I was thinking," said Mabel, "of the manner in which James Watt when a
child invented the steam-engine, from observing the motion of the top of
the teakettle; and as we are to read about Watt this afternoon I thought
we might be in a more fit condition to understand his invention, and
might more fully comprehend his frame of mind while perfecting his great
work, should we also fix our eyes and minds on the top of the teakettle
in Ellen's kitchen."

"Mabel, my child," said Uncle Fritz, "you talk like a book, and a very
interesting one at that; but I think, as the youngest of us would say,
that you are just a little off in your remarks. And as I observe that
Clem, who is going to read this afternoon, desires to deliver a sermon
of which your conversation seems to be the text, I will request all to
listen to him before we consider seriously vacating this apartment,
however poor it may be,"--and he glanced fondly around at the
comfortable arrangements that everywhere pervaded the study,--"and seek
the regions below."

"I only wanted to say," began Clem, "that although Watt did on one
occasion (in his extreme youth) look at a teakettle with some interest,
he was not in the habit, at the time when he devoted most thought to the
steam-engine, of having a teakettle continually before him that he might
gain inspiration from observing the steam issue from its nose. And, as
Watt dispensed with this aid, I have no doubt that we may do so as well,
contenting ourselves with the results of the experiments in the
vaporization of water, which Ellen is now conducting in the form of tea.
Besides all this, however, I do want to say some things, before we read
aloud this afternoon (I hope this isn't really too much like a sermon),
about the steam-engine and the part that Watt had in perfecting it."

At this point the irrepressible Mabel was heard to whisper to Bedford,
who sat next her: "Wasn't it curious that the same mind which grasped
the immense capabilities of the steam-engine should have been able also
to construct such a delicate lyric as

  'How doth the little busy bee
  Improve each shining hour'?"

"Mabel," said Colonel Ingham, "you are absolutely unbearable. If you do
not keep in better order I shall be sorry that I dissuaded you from
descending to the kitchen. I see nothing incongruous myself in
indulging in mechanical experiments, and in throwing one's thoughts into
the form of verse,"--here the old gentleman colored slightly, as though
he recollected something of the sort,--"but it may be well to counteract
the impression your conversation may have made by stating that Isaac
Watts did not invent the steam-engine, nor did James Watt write the
beautiful words you have just quoted.--Now, Clem, I believe you have the

"Well," said Clem, "I only want the floor for a short time in order to
explain about Watt and the steam-engine, and how much he was the
inventor of it, before we begin to read.

"There are various points about the steam-engine which are really Watt's
invention,--the separate condenser, for instance,--but the idea of the
steam-engine was not original with him; that is, when he saw the steam
in the teakettle raise the lid and drop it again, he was not the first
to speculate on the power of steam."

"Are you going to read us that part in the book, Clem?" asked Bedford,
with some interest.

"Yes, if you like," said Clem. "I guess it tells about it in Mr.
Smiles's 'Life of Watt.'" So he began to overhaul the book he had
brought, and shortly discovered the anecdote referred to by Mabel with
such interest, and read it.

"On one occasion he [James Watt] was reproved by Mrs. Muirhead, his
aunt, for his indolence at the tea-table. 'James Watt,' said the worthy
lady, 'I never saw such an idle boy as you are. Take a book, or employ
yourself usefully; for the last hour you have not spoken one word, but
taken off the lid of that kettle and put it on again, holding now a cup
and now a silver spoon over the steam, watching how it rises from the
spout, catching and counting the drops it falls into.' In the view of M.
Arago, the little James before the teakettle, becomes the great
engineer, preparing the discoveries which were soon to immortalize him.
In our opinion, the judgment of the aunt was the truest. There is no
reason to suppose that the mind of the boy was occupied with
philosophical theories on the condensation of steam, which he compassed
with so much difficulty in his maturer years. This is more probably an
afterthought borrowed from his subsequent discoveries. Nothing is
commoner than for children to be amused with such phenomena in the same
way that they will form air-bubbles in a cup of tea, and watch them
sailing over the surface till they burst. The probability is that little
James was quite as idle as he seemed."

"That is very interesting," remarked Mabel. "Don't you think now, Uncle
Fritz, we had better go into the kitchen?" And she looked appealingly at
the old gentleman, who merely held up his finger for silence as Clem
continued his lecture.

"What I meant to say," Clem went on, "was that other people before Watt
had found out the power of steam, and had used it too. There was one
Hero of Alexandria, who lived about two thousand years ago, who used
steam for many interesting purposes, notably for animating various
figures that took part in the idolatrous worship of his time, and thus
in deceiving the common people. But his contrivances, though engines
which went by steam, would hardly be called steam-engines. Between Hero
of Alexandria, of 160 B. C., and the Marquis of Worcester, of 1650 A.
D., there does not seem to have been much doing in the way of inventing
the steam-engine. But the Marquis of Worcester in Charles II.'s time was
a great philosopher, and did nobody knows exactly what with steam. But
though he did great things, he did not produce a particularly capable
engine, though he seems to have known more about steam than anybody else
did at his time. After the Marquis of Worcester and before Watt, there
were three men who did much towards inventing and improving the
steam-engine. Their names were Savery, Papin, and Newcomen. I don't
propose to tell you about the inventions of each one; but it's well
enough to remember that each one did important service in getting the
steam-engine to the point where Watt took hold of it. As it was on
Newcomen's engine that Watt made his first serious experiments, I think
we should all like to know something about it."


Newcomen's engine may be thus briefly described: The steam was generated
in a separate boiler, as in Savery's engine, from which it was conveyed
into a vertical cylinder underneath a piston fitting it closely, but
movable upwards and downwards through its whole length. The piston was
fixed to a rod, which was attached by a joint or chain to the end of a
lever vibrating upon an axis, the other end being attached to a rod
working a pump. When the piston in the cylinder was raised, steam was
let into the vacated space through a tube fitted into the top of the
boiler, and mounted with a stopcock. The pump-rod at the further end of
the lever being thus depressed, cold water was applied to the sides of
the cylinder, on which the steam within it was condensed, a vacuum was
produced, and the external air, pressing upon the top of the piston,
forced it down into the empty cylinder. The pump-rod was thereby raised;
and, the operation of depressing it being repeated, a power was thus
produced which kept the pump continuously at work. Such, in a few words,
was the construction and action of Newcomen's first engine.[8]

While the engine was still in its trial state, a curious accident
occurred which led to a change in the mode of condensation, and proved
of essential importance in establishing Newcomen's engine as a practical
working power. The accident was this: in order to keep the cylinder as
free from air as possible, great pains were taken to prevent it passing
down by the side of the piston, which was carefully wrapped with cloth
or leather; and, still further to keep the cylinder air-tight, a
quantity of water was kept constantly on the upper side of the piston.
At one of the early trials the inventors were surprised to see the
engine make several strokes in unusually quick succession; and on
searching for the cause, they found it to consist in _a hole in the
piston_, which had let the cold water in a jet into the inside of the
cylinder, and thereby produced a rapid vacuum by the condensation of the
continued steam. A new light suddenly broke upon Newcomen. The idea of
condensing by injection of cold water directly into the cylinder,
instead of applying it on the outside, at once occurred to him; and he
proceeded to embody the expedient which had thus been accidentally
suggested as part of his machine. The result was the addition of the
injection pipe, through which, when the piston was raised and the
cylinder full of steam, a jet of cold water was thrown in, and, the
steam being suddenly condensed, the piston was at once driven down by
the pressure of the atmosphere.

An accident of a different kind shortly after led to the improvement of
Newcomen's engine in another respect. To keep it at work, one man was
required to attend the fire, and another to turn alternately the two
cocks, one admitting the steam into the cylinder, the other admitting
the jet of cold water to condense it. The turning of these cocks was
easy work, usually performed by a boy. It was, however, a very
monotonous duty, though requiring constant attention. To escape the
drudgery and obtain an interval for rest or perhaps for play, a boy
named Humphrey Potter, who turned the cocks, set himself to discover
some method of evading his task. He must have been an ingenious boy, as
is clear from the arrangement he contrived with this object. Observing
the alternate ascent and descent of the beam above his head, he
bethought him of applying the movement to the alternate raising and
lowering of the levers which governed the cocks. The result was the
contrivance of what he called the _scoggan_ (meaning presumably the
loafer or lazy boy), consisting of a catch worked by strings from the
beam of the engine. This arrangement, when tried, was found to answer
the purpose intended. The action of the engine was thus made automatic;
and the arrangement, though rude, not only enabled Potter to enjoy his
play, but it had the effect of improving the working power of the engine
itself; the number of strokes which it made being increased from six or
eight to fifteen or sixteen in the minute. This invention was afterward
greatly improved by Mr. Henry Beighton, of Newcastle-on-Tyne, who added
the plug-rod and hand-gear. He did away with the catches and strings of
the boy Potter's rude apparatus, and substituted a rod suspended from
the beam, which alternately opened and shut the tappets attached to the
steam and injection cocks.

Thus, step by step, Newcomen's engine grew in power and efficiency, and
became more and more complete as a self-acting machine. It will be
observed that, like all other inventions, it was not the product of any
one man's ingenuity, but of many. One contributed one improvement, and
another another. The essential features of the atmospheric engine were
not new. The piston and cylinder had been known as long ago as the time
of Hero. The expansive force of steam and the creation of a vacuum by
its condensation had been known to the Marquis of Worcester, Savery,
Papin, and many more. Newcomen merely combined in his machine the result
of their varied experience; and, assisted by the persons who worked with
him, down to the engine-boy Potter, he advanced the invention several
important stages; so that the steam-engine was no longer a toy or a
scientific curiosity, but had become a powerful machine capable of doing
useful work.


It was in the year 1759 that Robison[9] first called the attention of
his friend Watt to the subject of the steam-engine. Robison was then
only in his twentieth, and Watt in his twenty-third year. Robison's
idea was that the power of steam might be advantageously applied to the
driving of wheel-carriages; and he suggested that it would be the most
convenient for the purpose to place the cylinder with its open end
downwards to avoid the necessity of using a working-beam. Watt admits
that he was very ignorant of the steam-engine at the time; nevertheless,
he began making a model with two cylinders of tin plate, intending that
the pistons and their connecting-rods should act alternately on two
pinions attached to the axles of the carriage-wheels. But the model,
being slightly and inaccurately made, did not answer his expectations.
Other difficulties presented themselves, and the scheme was laid aside
because Robison left Glasgow to go to sea. Indeed, mechanical science
was not yet ripe for the locomotive. Robison's idea had, however,
dropped silently into the mind of his friend, where it grew from day to
day, slowly and at length fruitfully.

At his intervals of leisure and in the quiet of his evenings, Watt
continued to prosecute his various studies. He was shortly attracted by
the science of chemistry, then in its infancy. Dr. Black was at that
time occupied with the investigations which led to his discovery of the
theory of latent heat, and it is probable that his familiar
conversations with Watt on the subject induced the latter to enter upon
a series of experiments with the view of giving the theory some
practical direction. His attention again and again reverted to the
steam-engine, though he had not yet seen even a model of one. Steam was
as yet almost unknown in Scotland as a working power. The first engine
was erected at Elphinstone Colliery, in Stirlingshire, about the year
1750; and the second more than ten years later, at Govan Colliery, near
Glasgow, where it was known by the startling name of "The Firework."
This had not, however, been set up at the time Watt had begun to inquire
into the subject. But he found that the college possessed the model of a
Newcomen engine for the use of the Natural Philosophy class, which had
been sent to London for repair. On hearing of its existence, he
suggested to his friend Dr. Anderson, Professor of Natural Philosophy,
the propriety of getting back the model; and a sum of money was placed
by the Senatus at the professor's disposal, "to recover the steam-engine
from Mr. Sisson, instrument-maker in London."

In the mean time Watt sought to learn all that had been written on the
subject of the steam-engine. He ascertained from Desaguliers, Switzer,
and other writers, what had been accomplished by Savery, Newcomen,
Beighton, and others; and he went on with his own independent
experiments. His first apparatus was of the simplest possible kind. He
used common apothecaries' phials for his steam reservoirs, and canes
hollowed out for his steam-pipes. In 1761 he proceeded to experiment on
the force of steam by means of a small Papin's digester and a syringe.
The syringe was only the third of an inch in diameter, fitted with a
solid piston; and it was connected with the digester by a pipe furnished
with a stopcock, by which the steam was admitted or shut off at will. It
was also itself provided with a stopcock, enabling a communication to be
opened between the syringe and the outer air to permit the steam in the
syringe to escape. The apparatus, though rude, enabled the experimenter
to ascertain some important facts. When the steam in the digester was
raised and the cock turned, enabling it to rush against the lower side
of the piston, he found that the expansive force of the steam raised a
weight of fifteen pounds, with which the piston was loaded. Then on
turning on the cock and shutting off the connection with the digester at
the same time that a passage was opened to the air, the steam was
allowed to escape, when the weight upon the piston, being no longer
counteracted, immediately forced it to descend.

Watt saw that it would be easy to contrive that the cocks should be
turned by the machinery itself with perfect regularity. But there was an
objection to this method. Water is converted into vapor as soon as its
elasticity is sufficient to overcome the weight of the air which keeps
it down. Under the ordinary pressure of the atmosphere water acquires
this necessary elasticity at 212°; but as the steam in the digester was
prevented from escaping, it acquired increased heat, and by consequence
increased elasticity. Hence it was that the steam which issued from the
digester was not only able to support the piston and the air which
pressed upon its upper surface, but the additional load with which the
piston was weighted. With the imperfect mechanical construction,
however, of those days, there was a risk lest the boiler should be burst
by the steam, which was apt to force its way through the ill-made joints
of the machine. This, conjoined with the great expenditure of steam on
the high-pressure system, led Watt to abandon the plan; and the
exigencies of his business for a time prevented him from pursuing his

At length the Newcomen model arrived from London; and in 1763 the little
engine, which was destined to become so famous, was put into the hands
of Watt. The boiler was somewhat smaller than an ordinary teakettle. The
cylinder of the engine was only of two inches diameter and six inches
stroke. Watt at first regarded it as merely "a fine plaything." It was,
however, enough to set him upon a track of thinking which led to the
most important results. When he had repaired the model and set it to
work, he found that the boiler, though apparently large enough, could
not supply steam in sufficient quantity, and only a few strokes of the
piston could be obtained, when the engine stopped. The fire was urged by
blowing, and more steam was produced; but still it would not work
properly. Exactly at the point at which another man would have abandoned
the task in despair, the mind of Watt became thoroughly roused.
"Everything," says Professor Robison, "was to him the beginning of a new
and serious study; and I knew that he would not quit it till he had
either discovered its insignificance or had made something of it." Thus
it happened with the phenomena presented by the model of the
steam-engine. Watt referred to his books, and endeavored to ascertain
from them by what means he might remedy the defects which he found in
the model; but they could tell him nothing. He then proceeded with an
independent course of experiments, resolved to work out the problem for
himself. In the course of his inquiries he came upon a fact which, more
than any other, led his mind into the train of thought which at last
conducted him to the invention of which the results were destined to
prove so stupendous. This fact was the existence of latent heat.

In order to follow the track of investigation pursued by Watt, it is
necessary for a moment to revert to the action of the Newcomen
pumping-engine. A beam, moving upon a centre, had affixed to one end of
it a chain attached to the piston of the pump, and at the other a chain
attached to a piston that fitted into the steam-cylinder. It was by
driving this latter piston up and down the cylinder that the pump was
worked. To communicate the necessary movement to the piston, the steam
generated in a boiler was admitted to the bottom of the cylinder,
forcing out the air through a valve, where its pressure on the under
side of the piston counterbalanced the pressure of the atmosphere on its
upper side. The piston, thus placed between two equal forces, was drawn
up to the top of the cylinder by the greater weight of the pump-gear at
the opposite extremity of the beam. The steam, so far, only discharged
the office of the air it displaced; but if the air had been allowed to
remain, the piston once at the top of the cylinder could not have
returned, being pressed as much by the atmosphere underneath as by the
atmosphere above it. The steam, on the contrary, which was admitted by
the exclusion of air, _could be condensed_, and a vacuum created, by
injecting cold water through the bottom of the cylinder. The piston,
being now unsupported, was forced down by the pressure of the atmosphere
on its upper surface. When the piston reached the bottom, the steam was
again let in, and the process was repeated. Such was the engine in
ordinary use for pumping water at the time that Watt began his

Among his other experiments, he constructed a boiler which showed by
inspection the quantity of water evaporated in any given time, and the
quantity of steam used in every stroke of the engine. He was astonished
to discover that a _small_ quantity of water in the form of steam heated
a large quantity of cold water injected into the cylinder for the
purpose of cooling it; and upon further examination he ascertained that
steam heated six times its weight of cold water to 212°, which was the
temperature of the steam itself. "Being struck with this remarkable
fact," says Watt, "and not understanding the reason of it, I mentioned
it to my friend Dr. Black, who then explained to me his doctrine of
latent heat, which he had taught for some time before this period (the
summer of 1764); but having myself been occupied by the pursuits of
business, if I had heard of it I had not attended to it, when I thus
stumbled upon one of the material facts by which that beautiful theory
is supported."

When Watt found that water in its conversion into vapor became such a
reservoir of heat, he was more than ever bent on economizing it; for the
great waste of heat involving so heavy a consumption of fuel was felt to
be the principal obstacle to the extended employment of steam as a
motive power. He accordingly endeavored, with the same quantity of fuel,
at once to increase the production of steam and to diminish its waste.
He increased the heating surface of the boiler by making flues through
it; he even made his boiler of wood, as being a worse conductor of heat
than the brickwork which surrounds common furnaces; and he cased the
cylinders and all the conducting pipes in materials which conducted heat
very slowly. But none of these contrivances were effectual; for it
turned out that the chief expenditure of steam, and consequently of
fuel, in the Newcomen engine, was occasioned by the reheating of the
cylinder after the steam had been condensed, and the cylinder was
consequently cooled by the injection into it of the cold water. Nearly
four fifths of the whole steam employed was condensed on its first
admission, before the surplus could act upon the piston. Watt therefore
came to the conclusion that to make a perfect steam-engine it was
necessary that _the cylinder should be always as hot as the steam that
entered it_; but it was equally necessary that the steam should be
condensed when the piston descended, nay, that it should be cooled down
below 100°, or a considerable amount of vapor would be given off, which
would resist the descent of the piston, and diminish the power of the
engine. Thus the cylinder was never to be at a less temperature than
212°, and yet at each descent of the piston it was to be less than
100°,--conditions which, on the very face of them, seemed to be wholly

Though still occupied with his inquiries and experiments as to steam,
Watt did not neglect his proper business, but was constantly on the
look-out for improvements in instrument-making. A machine which he
invented for drawing in perspective proved a success; and he made a
considerable number of them to order, for customers in London as well as
abroad. He was also an indefatigable reader, and continued to extend his
knowledge of chemistry and mechanics by perusal of the best books on
these sciences.

Above all subjects, however, the improvement of the steam-engine
continued to keep the fastest hold upon his mind. He still brooded over
his experiments with the Newcomen model, but did not seem to make much
way in introducing any practical improvement in its mode of working. His
friend Robison says he struggled long to condense with sufficient
rapidity without injection, trying one experiment after another, finding
out what would _not_ do, and exhibiting many beautiful specimens of
ingenuity and fertility of resource. He continued, to use his own words,
"to grope in the dark, misled by many an _ignis fatuus_." It was a
favorite saying of his that "Nature has a weak side, if we can only find
it out;" and he went on groping and feeling for it, but as yet in vain.
At length light burst upon him, and all at once the problem over which
he had been brooding was solved.


One Sunday afternoon, in the spring of 1765, he went to take an
afternoon walk on the Green, then a quiet grassy meadow used as a
bleaching and grazing ground. On week days the Glasgow lasses came
thither with their largest kail-pots to boil their clothes in; and
sturdy queans might be seen, with coats kilted, trampling blankets in
their tubs. On Sundays the place was comparatively deserted; and hence
Watt, who lived close at hand, went there to take a quiet afternoon
stroll. His thoughts were as usual running on the subject of his
unsatisfactory experiments with the Newcomen engine, when the first idea
of the separate condenser suddenly flashed upon his mind. But the
notable discovery is best told in his own words, as related to Mr.
Robert Hart, many years after:--

"I had gone to take a walk on a fine Sabbath afternoon. I had entered
the Green by the gate at the foot of Charlotte Street, and had passed
the old washing-house. I was thinking upon the engine at the time, and
had gone as far as the herd's house, when the idea came into my mind
that as the steam was an elastic body, it would rush into a vacuum, and
if a communication were made between the cylinder and an exhausted
vessel, it would rush into it and might be then condensed without
cooling the cylinder. I then saw that I must get rid of the condensed
steam and the injection water if I used a jet, as in Newcomen's engine.
Two ways of doing this occurred to me. First, the water might be run off
by a descending pipe, if an off-let could be got at the depth of 35 or
36 feet, and any air might be extracted by a small pump. The second was
to make the pump large enough to extract both water and air." He
continued: "I had not walked farther than the Golf-house when the whole
thing was arranged in my mind."

Great and prolific ideas are almost always simple. What seems impossible
at the outset appears so obvious when it is effected, that we are prone
to marvel that it did not force itself at once upon the mind. Late in
life Watt, with his accustomed modesty, declared his belief that if he
had excelled, it had been by chance, and the neglect of others. To
Professor Jardine he said that when it was analyzed the invention would
not appear so great as it seemed to be. "In the state," said he, "in
which I found the steam-engine, it was no great effort of mind to
observe that the quantity of fuel necessary to make it work would
forever prevent its extensive utility. The next step in my progress was
equally easy,--to inquire what was the cause of the great consumption of
fuel: this, too, was readily suggested, viz., the waste of fuel which
was necessary to bring the whole cylinder, piston, and adjacent parts
from the coldness of water to the heat of steam, no fewer than from
fifteen to twenty times in a minute." The question then occurred, How
was this to be avoided or remedied? It was at this stage that the idea
of carrying on the condensation in a separate vessel flashed upon his
mind, and solved the difficulty.

Mankind has been more just to Watt than he was to himself. There was no
accident in the discovery. It had been the result of close and
continuous study; and the idea of the separate condenser was merely the
last step of a long journey, a step which could not have been taken
unless the road which led to it had been traversed. Dr. Black says,
"This capital improvement flashed upon his mind at once, and filled him
with rapture,"--a statement which, in spite of the unimpassioned nature
of Watt, we can readily believe.

On the morning following his Sunday afternoon's walk on Glasgow Green,
Watt was up betimes, making arrangements for a speedy trial of his new
plan. He borrowed from a college friend a large brass syringe, an inch
and a third in diameter, and ten inches long, of the kind used by
anatomists for injecting arteries with wax previous to dissection. The
body of the syringe served for a cylinder, the piston-rod passing
through a collar of leather in its cover. A pipe connected with the
boiler was inserted at both ends for the admission of steam, and at the
upper end was another pipe to convey the steam to the condenser. The
axis of the stem of the piston was drilled with a hole, fitted with a
valve at its lower end, to permit the water produced by the condensed
steam on first filling the cylinder to escape. The first condenser made
use of was an improvised cistern of tinned plate, provided with a pump
to get rid of the water formed by the condensation of the steam, both
the condensing-pipes and the air-pump being placed in a reservoir of
cold water.

"The steam-pipe," says Watt, "was adjusted to a small boiler. When the
steam was produced, it was admitted into the cylinder, and soon issued
through the perforation of the rod and at the valve of the condenser;
when it was judged that the air was expelled, the steam-cock was shut,
and the air-pump piston-rod was drawn up, which leaving the small pipes
of the condenser in a state of vacuum, the steam entered them, and was
condensed. The piston of the cylinder immediately rose, and lifted a
weight of about eighteen pounds, which was hung to the lower end of the
piston-rod. The exhaustion-cock was shut, the steam was re-admitted
into the cylinder, and the operation was repeated. The quantity of steam
consumed and the weights it could raise were observed, and, excepting
the non-application of the steam-case and external covering, the
invention was complete in so far as regarded the savings of steam and


But although the invention was complete in Watt's mind, it took him many
long and laborious years to work out the details of the engine. His
friend Robison, with whom his intimacy was maintained during these
interesting experiments, has given a graphic account of the difficulties
which he successively encountered and overcame. He relates that on his
return from the country, after the college vacation in 1765, he went to
have a chat with Watt and communicate to him some observations he had
made on Desaguliers' and Belidor's account of the steam-engine. He went
straight into the parlor, without ceremony, and found Watt sitting
before the fire looking at a little tin cistern which he had on his
knee. Robison immediately started the conversation about steam; his
mind, like Watt's, being occupied with the means of avoiding the
excessive waste of heat in the Newcomen engine. Watt all the while kept
looking into the fire, and after a time laid down the cistern at the
foot of his chair, saying nothing. It seems that Watt felt rather
nettled that Robison had communicated to a mechanic of the town a
contrivance which he had hit upon for turning the cocks of his engine.
When Robison therefore pressed his inquiry, Watt at length looked at him
and said briskly, "You need not fash yourself any more about that, man.
I have now made an engine that shall not waste a particle of steam. It
shall all be boiling hot,--ay, and hot water injected, if I please." He
then pushed the little tin cistern with his foot under the table.

Robison could learn no more of the new contrivance from Watt at that
time; but on the same evening he accidentally met a mutual acquaintance,
who, supposing he knew as usual the progress of Watt's experiments,
observed to him, "Well, have you seen Jamie Watt?" "Yes." "He'll be in
fine spirits now with his engine?" "Yes," said Robison, "very fine
spirits." "Gad!" said the other, "the separate condenser's the thing;
keep it but cold enough, and you may have a perfect vacuum, whatever be
the heat of the cylinder." This was Watt's secret, and the nature of the
contrivance was clear to Robison at once.

It will be observed that Watt had not made a secret of it to his other
friends. Indeed, Robison himself admitted that one of Watt's greatest
delights was to communicate the results of his experiments to others,
and set them upon the same road to knowledge with himself; and that no
one could display less of the small jealousy of the tradesman than he
did. To his intimate friend Dr. Black he communicated the progress made
by him at every stage. The Doctor kindly encouraged him in his
struggles, cheered him in his encounter with difficulty, and, what was
of still more practical value at the time, helped him with money to
enable him to prosecute his invention. Communicative though Watt was
disposed to be, he learnt reticence when he found himself exposed to the
depredations of the smaller fry of inventors. Robison says that had he
lived in Birmingham or London at the time, the probability is that some
one or other of the numerous harpies who live by sucking other people's
brains would have secured patents for his more important inventions, and
thereby deprived him of the benefits of his skill, science, and labor.
As yet, however, there were but few mechanics in Glasgow capable of
understanding or appreciating the steam-engine; and the intimate friends
to whom he freely spoke of his discovery were too honorable to take
advantage of his confidence. Shortly after Watt communicated to Robison
the different stages of his invention, and the results at which he had
arrived, much to the delight of his friend.

It will be remembered that in the Newcomen engine the steam was only
employed for the purpose of producing a vacuum, and that its working
power was in the down stroke, which was effected by the pressure of the
air upon the piston; hence it is now usual to call it the atmospheric
engine. Watt perceived that the air which followed the piston down the
cylinder would cool the latter, and that steam would be wasted by
reheating it. In order, therefore, to avoid this loss of heat, he
resolved to put an air-tight cover upon the cylinder, with a hole and
stuffing-box for the piston-rod to slide through, and to admit steam
above the piston, to act upon it instead of the atmosphere. When the
steam had done its duty in driving down the piston, a communication was
opened between the upper and lower part of the cylinder; and the same
steam, distributing itself equally in both compartments, sufficed to
restore equilibrium. The piston was now drawn up by the weight of the
pump-gear; the steam beneath it was then condensed in the separate
vessel so as to produce a vacuum, and a fresh jet of steam from the
boiler was let in above the piston, which forced it again to the bottom
of the cylinder. From an atmospheric engine it had thus become a true
steam-engine, and with much greater economy of steam than when the air
did half the duty. But it was not only important to keep the air from
flowing down the inside of the cylinder; the air which circulated within
cooled the metal and condensed a portion of the steam within; and this
Watt proposed to remedy by a second cylinder, surrounding the first,
with an interval between the two which was to be kept full of steam.

One by one these various contrivances were struck out, modified,
settled, and reduced to definite plans,--the separate condenser, the air
and water pumps, the use of fat and oil (instead of water, as in the
Newcomen engine) to keep the piston working in the cylinder air-tight,
and the enclosing of the cylinder itself within another to prevent the
loss of heat. These were all emanations from the first idea of inventing
an engine working by a piston, in which the cylinder should be
continually hot and perfectly dry. "When once," says Watt, "the idea of
separate condensation was started, all these improvements followed as
corollaries in quick succession, so that in the course of one or two
days the invention was thus far complete in my mind."


The next step was to construct a model engine for the purpose of
embodying the invention in a working form. With this object, Watt hired
an old cellar, situated in the first wide entry to the north of the
beef-market in King Street, and then proceeded with his model. He found
it much easier, however, to prepare his plan than to execute it. Like
most ingenious and inventive men, Watt was extremely fastidious; and
this occasioned considerable delay in the execution of the work. His
very inventiveness to some extent proved a hindrance; for new expedients
were perpetually occurring to him, which he thought would be
improvements, and which he, by turns, endeavored to introduce. Some of
these expedients he admits proved fruitless, and all of them occasioned
delay. Another of his chief difficulties was in finding competent
workmen to execute his plans. He himself had been accustomed only to
small metal work, with comparatively delicate tools, and had very little
experience "in the practice of mechanics _in great_" as he termed it. He
was therefore under the necessity of depending, in a great measure, upon
the handiwork of others. But mechanics capable of working out Watt's
designs in metal were then with difficulty to be found. The beautiful
self-action and workmanship which have since been called into being,
principally by his own invention, did not then exist. The only available
hands in Glasgow were the blacksmiths and tinners, little capable of
constructing articles out of their ordinary walks; and even in these
they were often found clumsy, blundering, and incompetent. The result
was, that in consequence of the malconstruction of the larger parts,
Watt's first model was only partially successful. The experiments made
with it, however, served to verify the expectations he had formed, and
to place the advantages of the invention beyond the reach of doubt. On
the exhausting-cock being turned, the piston, when loaded with eighteen
pounds, ascended as quickly as the blow of a hammer; and the moment the
steam-cock was opened, it descended with like rapidity, though the
steam was weak, and the machine snifted at many openings.

Satisfied that he had laid hold of the right principle of a working
steam-engine, Watt felt impelled to follow it to an issue. He could give
his mind to no other business in peace until this was done. He wrote to
a friend that he was quite barren on every other subject. "My whole
thoughts," said he, "are bent on this machine. I can think of nothing
else." He proceeded to make another and bigger, and, he hoped, a more
satisfactory engine in the following August; and with that object he
removed from the old cellar in King Street to a larger apartment in the
then disused pottery, or delftwork, near the Broomielaw. There he shut
himself up with his assistant, John Gardiner, for the purpose of
erecting his engine. The cylinder was five or six inches in diameter,
with a two-feet stroke. The inner cylinder was enclosed in a wooden
steam-case, and placed inverted, the piston working through a hole in
the bottom of the steam-case. After two months continuous application
and labor it was finished and set to work; but it leaked in all
directions, and the piston was far from air-tight. The condenser also
was in a bad way, and needed many alterations. Nevertheless, the engine
readily worked with ten and a half pounds pressure on the inch, and the
piston lifted a weight of fourteen pounds. The improvement of the
cylinder and piston continued Watt's chief difficulty, and taxed his
ingenuity to the utmost. At so low an ebb was the art of making
cylinders that the one he used was not bored, but hammered, the
collective mechanical skill of Glasgow being then unequal to the boring
of a cylinder of the simplest kind; nor, indeed, did the necessary
appliances for the purpose then exist anywhere else. In the Newcomen
engine a little water was found upon the upper surface of the piston,
and sufficiently filled up the interstices between the piston and the
cylinder. But when Watt employed steam to drive down the piston, he was
deprived of this resource, for the water and steam could not coexist.
Even if he had retained the agency of the air above, the drip of water
from the crevices into the lower part of the cylinder would have been
incompatible with keeping the cylinder hot and dry, and, by turning into
vapor as it fell upon the heated metal, it would have impaired the
vacuum during the descent of the piston.

While he was occupied with this difficulty, and striving to overcome it
by the adoption of new expedients, such as leather collars and improved
workmanship, he wrote to a friend, "My old white-iron man is dead;" the
old white-iron man, or tinner, being his leading mechanic. Unhappily,
also, just as he seemed to have got the engine into working order, the
beam broke, and, having great difficulty in replacing the damaged part,
the accident threatened, together with the loss of his best workman, to
bring the experiment to an end. Though discouraged by these
misadventures, he was far from defeated. But he went on as before,
battling down difficulty inch by inch, and holding good the ground he
had won, becoming every day more strongly convinced that he was in the
right track, and that the important uses of the invention, could he but
find time and means to perfect it, were beyond the reach of doubt. But
how to find the means! Watt himself was a comparatively poor man; having
no money but what he earned by his business of mechanical-instrument
making, which he had for some time been neglecting through his devotion
to the construction of his engine. What he wanted was capital, or the
help of a capitalist willing to advance him the necessary funds to
perfect his invention. To give a fair trial to the new apparatus would
involve an expenditure of several thousand pounds; and who on the spot
could be expected to invest so large a sum in trying a machine so
entirely new, depending for its success on physical principles very
imperfectly understood?

There was no such help to be found in Glasgow. The tobacco lords,[10]
though rich, took no interest in steam power; and the manufacturing
class, though growing in importance, had full employment for their
little capital in their own concerns.

"How Watt succeeded in interesting Dr. Roebuck in his project, and thus
obtained funds to continue his experiments; how he finally joined with
Matthew Boulton in the great firm of Boulton and Watt, manufacturers of
steam-engines; how they pumped out all the water in the Cornish mines;
and how Watt finally attained prosperity as well as success,--is an
interesting story, but rather too long for these winter afternoons; and
as the story of the _invention_ of the steam-engine is substantially
told in the foregoing pages, we must stop our reading here, more
especially as it seems to be tea-time, and I hear Ellen ringing the bell
for supper."



They were to continue their talk and reading by following along the
developments in the use of steam.

"Uncle Fritz," said Fanchon, "these agnostics make so much fun of our
dear Harry and Lucy, that they will not let me quote from 'The Botanic

Emma promised that they would laugh as little as they could.

"'The Botanic Garden,'" said Fanchon, "was a stately, and I am afraid
some of you would say very pompous, poem, written by Dr. Darwin."

"Dr. Darwin write poetry!"

"It is not the Dr. Charles Darwin whom you have heard of; it was his
grandfather," said Uncle Fritz.

And Fanchon went on: "All I ever knew of 'The Botanic Garden' was in the
quotations of our dear Harry and Lucy and Frank. But dear Uncle Fritz
has taken down the book for me, and here it is, with its funny old
pictures of Ladies' Slippers and such things."

"I do not see what Ladies' Slippers have to do with steam-engines," said
Bedford Long, scornfully.

"No!" said Fanchon, laughing; "but I do, and that is the difference
between you and me. Because, you see, I have read 'Harry and Lucy,' and
you have not." And she opened "The Botanic Garden" at the place where
she had put in a mark, and read:--

  "Pressed by the ponderous air, the piston falls
  Resistless, sliding through its iron walls;
  Quick moves the balance beam of giant birth,
  Wields its large limbs, and nodding shakes the earth.
  The giant power, from earth's remotest caves
  Lifts, with strong arm, her dark reluctant waves,
  Each caverned rock and hidden depth explores,
  Drags her dark coals, and digs her shining ores."

"That is rather stilted poetry," said Uncle Fritz, "but a hundred years
ago people were used to stilted poetry. It describes sufficiently well
the original pumping-engine of Watt, and the lifting of coal from the
shafts of the deep English mines. Now, it was not till Watt had made his
improvements on the pumping-engine,--say in 1788,--that it was possible
to go any farther in the use of steam than its application to such
absolutely stationary purposes. It is therefore, I think, a good deal to
the credit of Dr. Darwin, that within three years after Watt's great
improvement in the condensing-engine the Doctor should have written

  'Soon shall thy arm, unconquered steam, afar
  Drag the slow barge or drive the rapid car.'

It was twelve years after he wrote this, that Fulton had an experimental
steamboat on the river Seine in France. It was sixteen years after,
that, with one of Watt's own engines, Fulton drove the 'Clermont' from
New York to Albany in thirty-six hours, and revolutionized the world in
doing it.

"Poor James Mackintosh was in virtual exile in Calcutta at that time,
and he wrote this in his journal: 'A boat propelled by steam has gone a
hundred and fifty miles upon the Hudson in thirty-six hours. Four miles
an hour would bring Calcutta within a hundred days of London. Oh that we
had lived a hundred years later!' In less than fifty years after
Mackintosh wrote those words, Calcutta was within thirty days of London.

"When Harry and Lucy read these verses in 1825, the 'rapid car' was
still in the future."

"Yes," said Fanchon; "but Harry says, 'The rapid car is to come, and I
dare say that will be accomplished soon, papa; do not you think it

"I have sometimes wondered," said Uncle Fritz, "whether our American
word 'car' where the English say 'wagon' did not come from the 'rapid
car' of Dr. Darwin. Read on, Fanchon." And he put his finger on the
lines which Fanchon read:--

  "Or on wide waving wings, expanded, bear
  The flying chariot through the fields of air."

"Monsieur ----, the French gentleman, tried a light steam-engine for the
propulsion of a balloon in 1872; but it does not seem to have had power
enough. Messrs. Renard and Krebs, in their successful flight of August
last, used an electric battery.

"But we are getting away from Fulton, who is really the first who drove
the 'slow barge,' and indeed made it a very fast one."

"Did you know him?" asked Emma Fortinbras, whose ideas of chronology are
very vague.

"Oh, no!" said Uncle Fritz; "he died young and before my time. But I did
know a personal companion and friend, nay, a bedfellow of his, Benjamin
Church, who was with him in Paris at one of the crises of his life.
Fulton had a little steamboat on the river Seine, as I said just now;
and he had made interest with Napoleon to have it examined by a
scientific committee. Steam power was exactly what Napoleon wanted, to
take his great army across from Boulogne to England. The day came for
the great experiment. Church and Fulton slept, the night before, in the
same bed in their humble lodgings in Paris. At daybreak a messenger
waked them. He had come from the river to say that the weight of boiler
and machinery had been too much for the little boat, that her timbers
had given way, and that the whole had sunk to the bottom of the river.
But for this misfortune, the successful steamboat would have sailed upon
the Seine, and, for aught I know, Napoleon's grandchildren would now be
emperors of England."

Until Watt had completed the structure of the double-acting
condensing-engine, the application of steam to any but the single object
of pumping water had been almost impracticable. It was not enough, in
order to render it applicable to general purposes, that the condensation
of the water should take place in a separate vessel, and that steam
itself should be used, instead of atmospheric pressure, as the moving
power; but it was also necessary that the steam should act as well
during the ascent as during the descent of the piston. Before steam
could be used in moving paddle-wheels, it was in addition necessary that
a ready and convenient mode of making the motion of the piston
continuous and rotary, should be discovered. All these improvements upon
the original form of the steam-engine are due to Watt, and he did not
complete their perfect combination before the year 1786.

Evans, who, in this country, saw the possibility of constructing a
double-acting engine, even before Watt, and had made a model of his
machine, did not succeed in obtaining funds to make an experiment upon a
large scale before 1801. We conceive, therefore, that all those who
projected the application of steam to vessels before 1786, may be
excluded, without ceremony, from the list of those entitled to compete
with Fulton for the honors of invention. No one, indeed, could have seen
the powerful action of a pumping-engine without being convinced that the
energy which was applied so successfully to that single purpose, might
be made applicable to many others; but those who entertained a belief
that the original atmospheric engine, or even the single-acting engine
of Watt, could be applied to propel boats by paddle-wheels, showed a
total ignorance of mechanical principles. This is more particularly the
case with all those whose projects bore the strongest resemblance to the
plan which Fulton afterwards carried successfully into effect. Those who
approached most nearly to the attainment of success, were they who were
farthest removed from the plan of Fulton. His application was founded on
the properties of Watt's double-acting engine, and could not have been
used at all, until that instrument of universal application had received
the last finish of its inventor.

In this list of failures, from proposing to do what the instrument they
employed was incapable of performing, we do not hesitate to include
Savery, Papin, Jonathan Hulls, Périer, the Marquis de Jouffroy, and all
the other names of earlier date than 1786, whom the jealousy of the
French and English nations have drawn from oblivion for the purpose of
contesting the priority of Fulton's claims. The only competitor, whom
they might have brought forward with some shadow of plausibility, is
Watt himself. No sooner had that illustrious inventor completed his
double-acting engine, than he saw at a glance the vast field of its
application. Navigation and locomotion were not omitted; but living in
an inland town, and in a country possessing no rivers of importance, his
views were limited to canals alone. In this direction he saw an
immediate objection to the use of any apparatus, of which so powerful an
agent as his engine should be the mover; for it was clear, that the
injury which would be done to the banks of the canal, would prevent the
possibility of its introduction. Watt, therefore, after having conceived
the idea of a steamboat, laid it aside, as unlikely to be of any
practical value.

The idea of applying steam to navigation was not confined to Europe.
Numerous Americans entertained hopes of attaining the same object, but,
before 1786, with the same want of any reasonable hopes of success.
Their fruitless projects were, however, rebuked by Franklin, who,
reasoning upon the capabilities of the engine in its original form, did
not hesitate to declare all their schemes impracticable; and the
correctness of his judgment is at present unquestionable.

Among those who, before the completion of Watt's invention, attempted
the structure of steamboats, must be named with praise Fitch and Rumsey.
They, unlike those whose names have been cited, were well aware of the
real difficulties which they were to overcome; and both were the authors
of plans which, if the engine had been incapable of further improvement,
might have had a partial and limited success. Fitch's trial was made in
1783, and Rumsey's in 1787. The latter date is subsequent to Watt's
double-acting engine; but as the project consisted merely in pumping in
water, to be afterwards forced out at the stern, the single-acting
engine was probably employed. Evans, whose engine might have answered
the purpose, was employed in the daily business of millwright; and
although he might, at any time, have driven these competitors from the
field, he took no steps to apply his dormant invention.

Fitch, who had watched the graceful and rapid way of the Indian canoe,
saw in the oscillating motion of the old pumping-engine the means of
impelling paddles in a manner similar to that given them by the human
arm. This idea is extremely ingenious, and was applied in a simple and
beautiful manner. But the engine was yet too feeble and cumbrous to
yield an adequate force; and when it received its great improvement from
Watt, a more efficient mode of propulsion had become practicable, and
must have superseded Fitch's paddles had they even come into general

The experiments of Fitch and Rumsey in the United States, although
generally considered unsuccessful, did not deter others from similar
attempts. The great rivers and arms of the sea which intersect the
Atlantic coast, and, still more, the innumerable navigable arms of the
Father of Waters, appeared to call upon the ingenious machinist to
contrive means for their more convenient navigation.

The improvement of the engine by Watt was now familiarly known; and it
was evident that it possessed sufficient powers for the purpose. The
only difficulty which existed, was in the mode of applying it. The first
person who entered into the inquiry was John Stevens, of Hokoken, who
commenced his researches in 1791. In these he was steadily engaged for
nine years, when he became the associate of Chancellor Livingston and
Nicholas Roosevelt. Among the persons employed by this association was
Brunel, who has since become distinguished in Europe as the inventor of
the block machinery used in the British navy-yards, and as the engineer
of the tunnel beneath the Thames.

Even with the aid of such talent, the efforts of this association were
unsuccessful,--as we now know, from no error in principle, but from
defects in the boat to which it was applied. The appointment of
Livingston as ambassador to France broke up this joint effort; and, like
all previous schemes, it was considered abortive, and contributed to
throw discredit upon all undertakings of the kind. A grant of exclusive
privileges on the waters of the State of New York was made to this
association without any difficulty, it being believed that the scheme
was little short of madness.

Livingston, on his arrival in France, found Fulton domiciliated with
Joel Barlow. The conformity in their pursuits led to intimacy, and
Fulton speedily communicated to Livingston the scheme[11] which he had
laid before Earl Stanhope in 1793. Livingston was so well pleased with
it that he at once offered to provide the funds necessary for an
experiment, and to enter into a contract for Fulton's aid in introducing
the method into the United States, provided the experiment were

Fulton had, in his early discussion with Lord Stanhope, repudiated the
idea of an apparatus acting on the principle of the foot of an aquatic
bird, and had proposed paddle-wheels in its stead. On resuming his
inquiries after his arrangements with Livingston, it occurred to him to
compose wheels with a set of paddles revolving upon an endless chain
extending from the stem to the stern of the boat. It is probable that
the apparent want of success which had attended the experiments of
Symington[12] led him to doubt the correctness of his original views.

That such doubt should be entirely removed, he had recourse to a series
of experiments upon a small scale. These were performed at Plombières, a
French watering-place, where he spent the summer of 1802. In these
experiments the superiority of the paddle-wheel over every other method
of propulsion that had yet been proposed, was fully established. His
original impressions being thus confirmed, he proceeded, late in the
year 1803, to construct a working model of his intended boat, which
model was deposited with a commission of French _savans_. He at the same
time began building a vessel sixty-six feet in length and eight feet in
width. To this an engine was adapted; and the experiment made with it
was so satisfactory, as to leave little doubt of final success.

Measures were therefore immediately taken, preparatory to constructing a
steamboat on a larger scale in the United States. For this purpose, as
the workshops of neither France nor America could at that time furnish
an engine of good quality, it became necessary to resort to England for
that purpose. Fulton had already experienced the difficulty of being
compelled to employ artists unacquainted with the subject. It is,
indeed, more than probable, that, had he not, during his residence in
Birmingham, made himself familiar, not only with the general features,
but with the most minute details of the engine of Watt, the experiment
on the Seine could not have been made. In this experiment, and in the
previous investigations, it became obvious that the engine of Watt
required important modifications in order to adapt it to navigation.
These modifications had been planned by Fulton; but it now became
important, that they should be more fully tested. An engine was
therefore ordered from Watt and Boulton, without any specification of
the object to which it was to be applied; and its form was directed to
be varied from their usual models, in conformity to sketches furnished
by Fulton.

The order for an engine intended to propel a vessel of large size, was
transmitted to Watt and Boulton in 1803. At about the same time,
Chancellor Livingston, having full confidence in the success of the
enterprise, caused an application to be made to the legislature of New
York for an exclusive privilege of navigating the waters of that State
by steam, that which was granted on a former occasion having expired.

This privilege was granted with little opposition. Indeed, those who
might have been inclined to object, saw so much of the impracticable and
even of the ridiculous in the project, that they conceived the
application unworthy of serious debate. The condition attached to the
grant was, that a vessel should be propelled by steam at the rate of
four miles an hour, within a prescribed space of time. This reliance
upon the reserved rights of the States proved a fruitful source of
vexation to Livingston and Fulton, and imbittered the close of the life
of the latter, and reduced his family to penury. It can hardly be
doubted that, had an expectation been entertained, that the grant of a
State was ineffectual, and that the jurisdiction was vested in the
general government, a similar grant might have been obtained from
Congress. The influence of Livingston with the administration was
deservedly high, and that administration was supported by a powerful
majority; nor would it have been consistent with the principles of the
opposition to vote against any act of liberality to the introducer of a
valuable application of science. Livingston, however, confiding in his
skill as a lawyer, preferred the application to the State, and was thus,
by his own act, restricted to a limited field.

Before the engine ordered from Watt and Boulton was completed, Fulton
visited England, and thus had an opportunity of visiting Birmingham, and
directing, in person, its construction. It could only have been at this
time, if ever, that he saw the boat of Symington;[13] but a view of it
could have produced no effect upon his own plans, which had been matured
in France, and carried, so far as the engine was concerned, to such an
extent as to admit of no alteration.

The engine was at last completed, and reached New York in 1806. Fulton,
who returned to his native country about the same period, immediately
undertook the construction of a boat in which to place it. In ordering
his engine and in planning the boat, Fulton exhibited plainly how far
his scientific researches and practical experiments had placed him
before all his competitors. He had evidently ascertained, what each
successive year's experience proves more fully, the great advantages
possessed by large steamboats over those of smaller size; and thus,
while all previous attempts had been made in smaller vessels, he alone
resolved to make his final experiment in one of great dimensions. That a
vessel, intended to be propelled by steam, ought to have very different
proportions, and lines of a character wholly distinct from those of
vessels intended to be navigated by sails, was evident to him. No other
theory, however, of the resistance of fluids was admitted at the time
than that of Bossut, and there were no published experiments except
those of the British Society of Arts. Judged in reference to these, the
model chosen by Fulton was faultless, although it will not stand the
test of an examination founded upon a better theory and more accurate

The vessel was finished and fitted with her machinery in August, 1807.
An experimental excursion was forthwith made, at which a number of
gentlemen of science and intelligence were present. Many of these were
either sceptical or absolute unbelievers. But a few minutes served to
convert the whole party, and satisfy the most obstinate doubters, that
the long-desired object was at last accomplished. Only a few weeks
before, the cost of constructing and finishing the vessel threatening to
exceed the funds with which he had been provided by Livingston, Fulton
had attempted to obtain a supply by the sale of one third of the
exclusive right granted by the State of New York. No person was found
possessed of the faith requisite to induce him to embark in the project.
Those who had rejected this opportunity of investment, were now the
witnesses of the completion of the scheme, which they had considered as
an inadequate security for the desired funds.

Within a few days from the time of the first experiment with the
steamboat, a voyage was undertaken in it to Albany. This city, situated
at the natural head of the navigation of the Hudson, is distant, by the
line of the channel of the river, rather less than one hundred and
fifty miles from New York. By the old post-road, the distance is one
hundred and sixty miles, at which that by water is usually estimated.
Although the greater part of the channel of the Hudson is both deep and
wide, yet for about fourteen miles below Albany this character is not
preserved, and the stream, confined within comparatively small limits,
is obstructed by bars of sand or spreads itself over shallows. In a few
remarkable instances, the sloops, which then exclusively navigated the
Hudson, had effected a passage in about sixteen hours; but a whole week
was not unfrequently employed in the voyage, and the average time of
passage was not less than four entire days. In Fulton's first attempt to
navigate this stream, the passage to Albany was performed in thirty-two
hours, and the return in thirty.

Up to this time, although the exclusive grant had been sought and
obtained from the State of New York, it does not appear that either he
or his associate had been fully aware of the vast opening which the
navigation of the Hudson presented for the use of steam. They looked to
the rapid Mississippi and its branches, as the place where their triumph
was to be achieved; and the original boat, modelled for shallow waters,
was announced as intended for the navigation of that river. But even in
the very first attempt, numbers, called by business or pleasure to the
northern or western parts of the State of New York, crowded into the yet
untried vessel; and when the success of the attempt was beyond question,
no little anxiety was manifested, that the steamboat should be
established as a regular packet between New York and Albany.

With these indications of public feeling Fulton immediately complied,
and regular voyages were made at stated times until the end of the
season. These voyages were not, however, unattended with inconvenience.
The boat, designed for a mere experiment, was incommodious; and many of
the minor arrangements by which facility of working and safety from
accident to the machinery were to be insured, were yet wanting. Fulton
continued a close and attentive observer of the performance of the
vessel; every difficulty, as it manifested itself, was met and removed
by the most masterly as well as simple contrivances. Some of these were
at once adopted, while others remained to be applied while the boat
should be laid up for the winter. He thus gradually formed in his mind
the idea of a complete and perfect vessel; and in his plan, no one part
which has since been found to be essential to the ease of manoeuvre or
security, was omitted. But the eyes of the whole community were now
fixed upon the steamboat; and as all those of competent mechanical
knowledge were, like Fulton himself, alive to the defects of the
original vessel, his right to priority of invention of various important
accessories has been disputed.

The winter of 1807-8 was occupied in remodelling and rebuilding the
vessel, to which the name "Clermont" was now given. The guards and
housings for the wheels, which had been but temporary structures,
applied as their value was pointed out by experience, became solid and
essential parts of the boat. For a rudder of the ordinary form, one of
surface much more extended in its horizontal dimensions was substituted.
This, instead of being moved by a tiller, was acted upon by ropes
applied to its extremity; and these ropes were adapted to a
steering-wheel, which was raised aloft towards the bow of the vessel.

It had been shown by the numbers who were transported during the first
summer, that at the same price for passage, many were willing to
undergo all the inconveniences of the original rude accommodations, in
preference to encountering the delays and uncertainty to which the
passage in sloops was exposed. Fulton did not, however, take advantage
of his monopoly, but with the most liberal spirit, provided such
accommodations for passengers, as in convenience and even splendor, had
not before been approached in vessels intended for the transportation of
travellers. This was, on his part, an exercise of almost improvident
liberality. By his contract with Chancellor Livingston, the latter
undertook to defray the whole cost of the engine and vessel, until the
experiment should result in success; but from that hour each was to
furnish an equal share of all investments. Fulton had no patrimonial
fortune, and what little he had saved from the product of his ingenuity
was now exhausted. But the success of the experiment had inspired the
banks and capitalists with confidence, and he now found no difficulty in
obtaining, in the way of loan, all that was needed. Still, however, a
debt was thus contracted which the continued demands made upon him for
new investments never permitted him to discharge. The "Clermont," thus
converted into a floating palace, gay with ornamental painting, gilding,
and polished woods, began her course of passages for the second year in
the month of April.

The first voyage of this year was of the most discouraging character.
Chancellor Livingston, who had, by his own experiments, approached as
near to success as any other person who, before Fulton, had endeavored
to navigate by steam, and who had furnished all the capital necessary
for the experiment, had plans and projects of his own. These he urged
into execution in spite of the opposition of Fulton. The boiler
furnished by Watt and Boulton was not adapted to the object. Copied from
those used on the land, it required that its fireplace and flues should
be constructed of masonry. These added so much weight to the apparatus,
that the rebuilt boat would hardly have floated had they been retained.
In order to replace this boiler, Livingston had planned a compound
structure of wood and copper, which he insisted should be tried.

It is only necessary for us to say, that this boiler proved a complete
failure. Steam began to issue from its joints a few hours after the
"Clermont" left New York. It then became impossible to keep up a proper
degree of tension, and the passage was thus prolonged to forty-eight
hours. These defects increased after leaving Albany on the return, and
the boiler finally gave way altogether within a few miles of New York.
The time of the downward passage was thus extended to fifty-six hours.
Fulton was, however, thus relieved from all further interference; this
fruitless experiment was decisive as to his superiority over his
colleague in mechanical skill. He therefore immediately planned and
directed the execution of a new boiler, which answered the purpose
perfectly; and although there are many reasons why boilers of a totally
different form and of subsequent invention should be preferred, it is,
for its many good properties, extensively used, with little alteration,
up to the present day. But a few weeks sufficed to build and set this
boiler, and in the month of June the regular passages of the "Clermont"
were renewed.

In observing the hour appointed for departure, both from New York and
Albany, Fulton determined to insist upon the utmost regularity. It
required no little perseverance and resolution to carry this system of
punctuality into effect. Persons accustomed to be waited for by
packet-boats and stages, assented with great reluctance to what they
conceived to be a useless adherence to precision of time. The benefits
of this punctuality were speedily perceptible; the whole system of
internal communication of the State of New York was soon regulated by
the hours of arrival and departure of Fulton's steamboats; and the same
system of precision was copied in all other steamboat lines. The
certainty of conveyance at stated times being thus secured, the number
of travellers was instantly augmented; and before the end of the second
summer, the boat became far too small for the passengers, who crowded to
avail themselves of this novel, punctual, and unprecedentedly rapid
method of transport.

Such success, however, was not without its alloy. The citizens of Albany
and the river towns saw, as they thought, in the steamboat, the means of
enticing their customers from their ancient marts to the more extensive
market of the chief city; the skippers of the river mourned the
inevitable loss of a valuable part of their business; and innumerable
projectors beheld with envy the successful enterprise of Fulton.

Among the latter class was one who, misled by false notions of
mechanical principles, fancied that in the mere oscillations of a
pendulum lay a power sufficient for any purpose whatever. Availing
himself of a well-constructed model, he exhibited to the inhabitants of
Albany a pendulum which continued its motions for a considerable time,
without requiring any new impulse, and at the same time propelled a pair
of wheels. These wheels, however, did not work in water. Those persons
who felt themselves aggrieved by the introduction of steamboats, quickly
embraced this project, prompted by an enmity to Fulton, and determined,
if they could not defeat his object, at least to share in the profits of
its success.

It soon appeared, from preliminary experiments, made in a sloop
purchased for the purpose, that a steam-engine would be required to give
motion to the pendulum; and it was observed that the water-wheels, when
in connection with the pendulum, had a very irregular motion. A
fly-wheel was therefore added, and the pendulum was now found to be a
useless incumbrance. Enlightened by these experiments, the association
proceeded to build two boats; and these were exact copies, not only of
the hull and all the accessories of the "Clermont," but the engine
turned out to be identical in form and structure with one which Fulton
was at the very time engaged in fitting to his second boat, "The Car of

The pretence of bringing into use a new description of prime mover was
of course necessarily abandoned, and the owners of the new steamboats
determined boldly to test the constitutionality of the exclusive grant
to Fulton. Fulton and Livingston, in consequence, applied to the Court
of Chancery of the State of New York for an injunction, which was
refused. On an appeal to the Court of Errors this decision of the
Chancellor was reversed; but the whole of the profits which might have
been derived from the business of the year were prevented from accruing
to Livingston and Fulton, who, compelled to contend in price with an
opposition supported by popular feeling in Albany, were losers rather
than gainers by the operations of the season.

As no appeal was taken from this last decision, the waters of the State
of New York remained in the exclusive possession of Fulton and his
partner, until the death of the former. This exclusive possession was
not, however, attended with all the advantages that might have been
anticipated. The immense increase of travel which the facilities of
communication created, rendered it imperative upon the holders of the
monopoly to provide new facilities by the construction of new vessels.
The cost of these could not be defrayed out of the profits. Hence new
and heavy debts were necessarily contracted by Fulton, while Livingston,
possessed of an ample fortune, required no pecuniary aid beyond what he
was able to meet from his own resources.

The most formidable opposition which was made to the privileges of
Fulton, was founded upon the discoveries of Fitch. We have seen, that he
constructed a boat which made some passages between Trenton and
Philadelphia; but the method which he used, was that of paddles, which
are far inferior to the paddle-wheel. Of the inferiority of the method
of paddles, had any doubt remained, positive evidence was afforded in
the progress of this dispute; for in order to bring the question to the
test of a legal decision, a boat propelled by them was brought into the
waters of the State of New York. The result of the experiment was so
decisive, that when the parties engaged in the enterprise had succeeded
in their designs, they made no attempt to propel their boats by any
other method than that of wheels.

Fulton, assailed in his exclusive privileges derived from State grants,
took, for his further protection, a patent from the general government.
This is dated in 1809, and was followed by another, for improvements
upon it, in 1811. It now appeared, that the very circumstance in which
the greatest merit of his method consists, was to be the obstacle to his
maintaining an exclusive privilege. Discarding all complexity, he had
limited himself to the simple means of adapting paddle-wheels to the
crank of Watt's engine; and, under the patent laws, it seems hardly
possible that such a simple yet effectual method could be guarded by a
specification. As has been the case with many other important
discoveries, the most ignorant conceived that they might themselves have
discovered it; and those unacquainted with the history of the attempts
at navigation by steam, were compelled to wonder that it had been left
for Fulton to bring it into successful operation.

Before the death of Fulton, the steamboats on the Hudson River were
increased in number to five. A sixth was built under his direction for
the navigation of the Sound; and, this water being rendered unsafe by
the presence of an enemy's[14] squadron, the boat plied for a time upon
the Hudson. In the construction of this boat he had, in his own opinion,
exhausted the power of steam in navigation, having given it a speed of
nine miles an hour; and it is a remarkable fact, which manifests his
acquaintance with theory and skill in calculation, that he in all cases
predicted with almost absolute accuracy, the velocity of the vessels he
caused to be constructed. The engineers of Great Britain came, long
after, to a similar conclusion in respect to the maximum of speed.

It is now, however, well known, that, with a proper construction of
prows, the resistance to vessels moving at higher velocities than nine
miles an hour, increases in a much less ratio than had been inferred
from experiments made upon wedge-shaped bodies; and that the velocity of
the pistons of steam-engines may be conveniently increased beyond the
limit fixed by the practice of Watt.

For these important discoveries the world is indebted principally to
Robert L. Stevens. That Fulton must have reached them in the course of
his own practice can hardly be doubted, had his valuable life been
spared to watch the performance of the vessels he was engaged in
building at the time of his premature death.[15] These were, a large
boat intended for the navigation of the Hudson, to which the name of his
partner, Chancellor Livingston, was given, and one planned for the
navigation of the ocean. The latter was constructed with the intention
of making a passage to St. Petersburg; but this scheme was interrupted
by his death, which took place at the moment he was about to add to his
glory, as the first constructor of a successful steamboat, that of being
the first navigator of the ocean by this new and mighty agent.



"What I say is this," said Nahum, "that all your Vesuvius dividends, and
all your pickers and slobbers, and shirtings at four cents, and all the
rest of your great cotton victory, depend on railroads. If your father
could not go to Lewiston and see his foreman and people, and come back
before you can say Jack Robinson, there would be no mills at Lewiston
such as there are. There might be a poor little sawmill making shingles,
as you free-traders want." This with scorn at Fergus, perhaps, or some
one else suspected of views unfavorable to protection.

Then Nahum shook hands with Uncle Fritz, and apologized for his zeal,
adding: "I am telling the boys why I want to go to Altoona, and to
become a railroad man. I say that the new plant in India might knock
cotton higher than a kite, and that people might learn to live without
novels or magazines, but that they must have transportation all the
same. And I am going into the railroad business. I am going to hew down
the mountains and fill up the valleys." The boy was fairly eloquent in
his enthusiasm.

"It is in your blood, my brave fellow," said Uncle Fritz. "People
thought your grandfather was crazy when he said it, sixty years ago.
But it proved he was the seer and the prophet, and they were the fools."

"And who invented railroads?" asked Blanche.

"As to that, the man invented a railroad who first put two boards down
over two ruts to make a cart run easier. Almost as soon as there were
mines, there must have been some sort of rail for the use of the wagons
which brought out the ore. These rails became so useful that they were
continued from the mine to the high-road, whatever it was. But it was
not till the first quarter of this century, that rails were laid for
general use. The earliest railroad in the United States was laid at the
quarries in Quincy, in Massachusetts, in 1825."

Uncle Fritz was so well pleased at their eagerness that he brought out
for them some of the old books, and some of the new. In especial he bade
them all read Smiles's "Life of Stephenson" before they came to him
again. For to George Stephenson, as they soon learned, more than to any
one man, the world owes the step forward which it made when locomotives
were generally used on railroads. Since that time the improvements in
both have gone on together.

Before they met again, at Uncle Fritz's suggestion, Fergus and Hester
prepared this sketch of the details of Stephenson's earlier invention,
purposely that Uncle Fritz might use it when these papers should be
printed together.


An efficient and economical working locomotive engine still remained to
be invented, and to accomplish this object Stephenson now applied
himself. Profiting by what his predecessors had done,--warned by their
failures and encouraged by their partial successes,--he began his
labors. There was still wanting the man who should accomplish for the
locomotive what James Watt had done for the steam-engine, and combine in
a complete form the best points in the separate plans of others,
embodying with them such original inventions and adaptations of his own,
as to entitle him to the merit of inventing the working locomotive, as
James Watt is to be regarded as the inventor of the working
condensing-engine. This was the great work upon which George Stephenson
now entered, though probably without any adequate idea of the ultimate
importance of his work to society and civilization.

He proceeded to bring the subject of constructing a "Travelling Engine,"
as he denominated the locomotive, under the notice of the lessees of the
Killingworth Colliery,[16] in the year 1813. Lord Ravensworth, the
principal partner, had already formed a very favorable opinion of the
new colliery engine-wright from the improvements which he had effected
in the colliery engines, both above and below ground; and after
considering the matter, and hearing Stephenson's explanations, he
authorized him to proceed with the construction of a locomotive, though
his lordship was by some called a fool for advancing money for such a
purpose. "The first locomotive that I made," said Stephenson, many years
after, when speaking of his early career at a public meeting in
Newcastle, "was at Killingworth Colliery, and with Lord Ravensworth's
money. Yes, Lord Ravensworth and partners were the first to intrust me,
thirty-two years since, with money to make a locomotive engine. I said
to my friends, there was no limit to the speed of such an engine, if the
works could be made to stand."

Our engine-wright had, however, many obstacles to encounter before he
could get fairly to work upon the erection of his locomotive. His chief
difficulty was in finding workmen sufficiently skilled in mechanics and
in the use of tools to follow his instructions, and embody his designs
in a practical shape. The tools then in use about the colliery were rude
and clumsy, and there were no such facilities, as now exist, for turning
out machinery of any entirely new character. Stephenson was under the
necessity of working with such men and tools as were at his command, and
he had in a great measure to train and instruct the workmen himself. The
new engine was built in the workshops at the West Morr, the leading
mechanic being John Thirlwall, the colliery blacksmith,--an excellent
mechanic in his way, though quite new to the work now intrusted to him.

In this first locomotive, constructed at Killingworth, Stephenson to
some extent followed the plan of Blenkinsop's engine. The wrought-iron
boiler was cylindrical, eight feet in length and thirty-four inches in
diameter, with an internal flue-tube twenty inches wide passing through
it. The engine had two vertical cylinders, of eight inches diameter and
two feet stroke, let into the boiler, which worked the propelling gear
with cross-heads and connecting-rods. The power of the two cylinders was
combined by means of spur-wheels, which communicated the motive power to
the wheels supporting the engine on the rail. The engine thus worked
upon what is termed the second motion. The chimney was of wrought-iron,
round which was a chamber extending back to the feed-pumps, for the
purpose of heating the water previous to its injection into the boiler.
The engine had no springs, and was mounted on a wooden frame supported
on four wheels. In order to neutralize as much as possible the jolts and
shocks which such an engine would necessarily encounter, from the
obstacles and inequalities of the then very imperfect plate-way, the
water-barrel, which served for a tender, was fixed to the end of a lever
and weighted; the other end of the lever being connected with the frame
of the locomotive carriage. By this means the weight of the two was more
equally distributed, though the contrivance did not by any means
compensate for the total absence of springs.

The wheels of the locomotive were all smooth, Stephenson having
satisfied himself by experiment that the adhesion between the wheels of
a loaded engine and the rail would be sufficient for the purposes of

The engine was, after much labor and anxiety, and frequent alterations
of parts, at length brought to completion, having been about ten months
in hand. It was placed upon the Killingworth Railway on the 25th of
July, 1814, and its powers were tried on the same day. On an ascending
gradient of 1 in 450, the engine succeeded in drawing after it eight
loaded carriages, of thirty tons weight, at about four miles an hour;
and for some time after it continued regularly at work.

Although a considerable advance upon previous locomotives, "Blucher"
(as the engine was popularly called) was nevertheless a somewhat
cumbrous and clumsy machine. The parts were huddled together. The boiler
constituted the principal feature; and, being the foundation of the
other parts, it was made to do duty not only as a generator of steam,
but also as a basis for the fixings of the machinery and for the
bearings of the wheels and axles. The want of springs was seriously
felt; and the progress of the engine was a succession of jolts, causing
considerable derangement to the working. The mode of communicating the
motive power to the wheels by means of the spur-gear also caused
frequent jerks, each cylinder alternately propelling or becoming
propelled by the other, as the pressure of the one upon the wheels
became greater or less than the pressure of the other; and when the
teeth of the cog-wheels became at all worn, a rattling noise was
produced during the travelling of the engine.

As the principal test of the success of the locomotive was its economy
as compared with horse-power, careful calculations were made with the
view of ascertaining this important point. The result was, that it was
found the working of the engine was at first barely economical; and at
the end of the year the steam-power and the horse-power were ascertained
to be as nearly as possible upon a par in point of cost.

We give the remainder of the history of George Stephenson's efforts to
produce an economical working locomotive in the words of his son Robert,
as communicated to Mr. Smiles in 1856, for the purposes of his father's

"A few months of experience and careful observation upon the operation
of this (his first) engine convinced my father that the complication
arising out of the action of the two cylinders being combined by
spur-wheels would prevent their coming into practical application. He
then directed his attention to an entire change in the construction and
mechanical arrangements, and in the following year took out a patent,
dated Feb. 28, 1815, for an engine which combined in a remarkable degree
the essential requisites of an economical locomotive,--that is to say,
few parts, simplicity in their action, and great simplicity in the mode
by which power was communicated to the wheels supporting the engine.

"This second engine consisted, as before, of two vertical cylinders;
which communicated directly with each pair of the four wheels that
supported the engine by a cross-head and a pair of connecting-rods. But
in attempting to establish a direct communication between the cylinders
and the wheels that rolled upon the rails, considerable difficulties
presented themselves. The ordinary joints could not be employed to unite
the engine, which was a rigid mass, with the wheels rolling upon the
irregular surface of the rails; for it was evident that the two rails of
the line of railway could not always be maintained at the same level
with respect to each other,--that one wheel at the end of the axle might
be depressed into a part of the line which had subsided, while the other
would be elevated. In such a position of the axle and wheels it was
clear that a rigid communication between the cross-head and the wheels
was impracticable. Hence it became necessary to form a joint at the top
of the piston-rod where it united with the cross-head, so as to permit
the cross-head always to preserve complete parallelism with the axle of
the wheels with which it was in communication.

"In order to obtain the flexibility combined with direct action, which
was essential for insuring power and avoiding needless friction and
jars from irregularities in the rail, my father employed the 'ball and
socket joint' for effecting a union between the ends of the cross-heads,
where they were united with the crank-pins attached to each
driving-wheel. By this arrangement the parallelism between the
cross-head and the axle was at all times maintained, it being permitted
to take place without producing jar or friction upon any part of the

"The next important point was to combine each pair of wheels by some
simple mechanism, instead of the cog-wheels which had formerly been
used. My father began by inserting each axle into two cranks, at right
angles to each other, with rods communicating horizontally between them.
An engine was made upon this plan, and answered extremely well. But at
that period (1815) the mechanical skill of the country was not equal to
the task of forging cranked axles of the soundness and strength
necessary to stand the jars incident to locomotive work; so my father
was compelled to fall back upon a substitute which, though less simple
and less efficient, was within the mechanical capabilities of the
workmen of that day, either for construction or repair. He adopted a
chain, which rolled over indented wheels placed on the centre of each
axle, and so arranged that the two pairs of wheels were effectually
coupled and made to keep pace with each other. But these chains after a
few years' use became stretched, and then the engines were liable to
irregularity in their working, especially in changing from working back
to forward again. Nevertheless, these engines continued in profitable
use upon the Killingworth Colliery Railway for some years. Eventually
the chain was laid aside, and the wheels were united by rods on the
_outside_ instead of rods and crank-axles inside, as specified in the
original patent; and this expedient completely answered the purpose
required, without involving any expensive or difficult workmanship.

"Another important improvement was introduced in this engine. The
eduction steam had hitherto been allowed to escape direct into the open
atmosphere; but my father having observed the great velocity with which
the smoke issued from the chimney of the same engine, thought that by
conveying the eduction steam into the chimney, and there allowing it to
escape in a vertical direction, its velocity would be imparted to the
smoke from the engine, or to the ascending current of air in the
chimney. The experiment was no sooner made than the power of the engine
became more than doubled; combustion was stimulated, as it were, by a
blast; consequently, the power of the boiler for generating steam was
increased, and in the same proportion, the useful duty of the engine was

"Thus, in 1815 my father had succeeded in manufacturing an engine which
included the following important improvements on all previous attempts
in the same direction: simple and direct communication between the
cylinder and the wheels rolling upon the rails; joint adhesion of all
the wheels, attained by the use of horizontal connecting-rods; and,
finally, a beautiful method of exciting the combustion of fuel by
employing the waste steam which had formerly been allowed to escape
uselessly. It is perhaps not too much to say that this engine, as a
mechanical contrivance, contained the germ of all that has since been
effected. It may be regarded, in fact, as a type of the present
locomotive engine.

"In describing my father's application of the waste steam for the
purpose of increasing the intensity of combustion in the boiler, and
thus increasing the power of the engine without adding to its weight,
and while claiming for this engine the merit of being a type of all
those which have been successfully devised since the commencement of the
Liverpool and Manchester Railway, it is necessary to observe that the
next great improvement in the same direction, the 'multitubular boiler,'
which took place some years later, could never have been used without
the help of that simple expedient, _the steam-blast_, by which power
only, the burning of coke was rendered possible.

"I cannot pass over this last-named invention of my father's without
remarking how slightly, as an original idea, it has been appreciated;
and yet how small would be the comparative value of the locomotive
engine of the present day, without the application of that important

"Engines constructed by my father in the year 1818, upon the principles
just described, are in use on the Killingworth Colliery Railway to this
very day (1856), conveying, at the speed of perhaps five or six miles an
hour, heavy coal-trains, probably as economically as any of the more
perfect engines now in use."

The invention of the steam-blast by George Stephenson in 1815 was
fraught with the most important consequences to railway locomotion; and
it is not saying too much to aver that the success of the locomotive has
been in a great measure the result of its adoption. Without the
steam-blast, by means of which the intensity of combustion is maintained
at its highest point, producing a correspondingly rapid evolution of
steam, high rates of speed could not have been kept up; the advantages
of the multitubular boiler (afterward invented) could never have been
fully tested; and locomotives might still have been dragging themselves
unwieldily along at a rate of a little more than five or six miles an

As the period drew near for the opening of the line, the question of the
tractive power to be employed was anxiously discussed. At the Brusselton
decline, fixed engines must necessarily be made use of; but with respect
to the mode of working the railway generally, it was decided that horses
were to be largely employed, and arrangements were made for their

Although locomotives had been regularly employed in hauling coal-wagons
on the Middleton Colliery Railway, near Leeds, for more than twelve
years, and on the Wylam and Killingworth Railways, near Newcastle, for
more than ten years, great scepticism still prevailed as to the economy
of employing them for the purpose in lieu of horses. In this case, it
would appear that seeing was _not_ believing. The popular scepticism was
as great at Newcastle, where the opportunities for accurate observation
were the greatest, as anywhere else. In 1824 the scheme of a canal
between that town and Carlisle again came up; and although a few timid
voices were raised on behalf of a railway, the general opinion was still
in favor of a canal. The example of the Hetton Railway, which had been
successfully worked by Stephenson's locomotives for two years past, was
pointed to in proof of the practicability of a locomotive line between
the two places; but the voice of the press, as well as of the public,
was decidedly against the "new-fangled roads."

When such was the state of public opinion as to railway locomotion, some
idea may be formed of the clear-sightedness and moral courage of the
Stockton and Darlington directors in ordering three of Stephenson's
locomotive engines, at a cost of several thousand pounds, against the
opening of the railway.

These were constructed after Stephenson's most matured designs, and
embodied all the improvements which he had contrived up to that time.
No. 1 engine, the "Locomotion," which was first delivered, weighed about
eight tons. It had one large flue, or tube, through the boiler, by which
the heated air passed direct from the furnace at the one end, lined with
fire-bricks, to the chimney at the other. The combustion in the furnace
was quickened by the adoption of the steam-blast in the chimney. The
heat raised was sometimes so great, and it was so imperfectly abstracted
by the surrounding water, that the chimney became almost red-hot. Such
engines, when put to their speed, were found capable of running at the
rate of from twelve to sixteen miles an hour; but they were better
adapted for the heavy work of hauling coal-trains at low speed--for
which, indeed, they were specially constructed--than for running at the
higher speed afterward adopted. Nor was it contemplated by the directors
as possible, at the time when they were ordered, that locomotives could
be made available for the purposes of passenger travelling. Besides, the
Stockton and Darlington Railway did not run through a district in which
passengers were supposed to be likely to constitute any considerable
portion of the traffic.

We may easily imagine the anxiety felt by George Stephenson during the
progress of the works toward completion, and his mingled hopes and
doubts--though the doubts were but few--as to the issue of this great
experiment. When the formation of the line near Stockton was well
advanced, the engineer one day, accompanied by his son Robert and John
Dixon, made a journey of inspection of the works. The party reached
Stockton, and proceeded to dine at one of the inns there. After dinner,
Stephenson ventured on the very unusual measure of ordering in a bottle
of wine, to drink success to the railway. John Dixon relates with pride
the utterance of the master on the occasion "Now, lads," said he to the
two young men, "I venture to tell you that I think you will live to see
the day when railways will supersede almost all other methods of
conveyance in this country,--when mail-coaches will go by railway, and
railroads will become the great highways for the king and all his
subjects. The time is coming when it will be cheaper for a working man
to travel on a railway than to walk on foot. I know there are great and
almost insurmountable difficulties to be encountered, but what I have
said will come to pass as sure as you now hear me. I only wish I may
live to see the day, though that I can scarcely hope for, as I know how
slow all human progress is, and with what difficulty I have been able to
get the locomotive introduced thus far, notwithstanding my more than ten
years' successful experiment at Killingworth." The result, however,
outstripped even George Stephenson's most sanguine expectations; and his
son Robert, shortly after his return from America in 1827, saw his
father's locomotive generally adopted as the tractive power on

Tuesday, the 27th of September, 1825, was a great day for Darlington.
The railway, after having been under construction for more than three
years, was at length about to be opened. The project had been the talk
of the neighborhood for so long that there were few people within a
range of twenty miles who did not feel more or less interested about it.
Was it to be a failure or a success? Opinions were pretty equally
divided as to the railway; but as regarded the locomotive, the general
belief was that it would "never answer." However, there was the
locomotive "No. 1" delivered upon the line, and ready to draw the first
train of wagons on the opening day.

A great concourse of people assembled on the occasion. Some came from
Newcastle and Durham, many from the Aucklands, while Darlington held a
general holiday and turned out all its population. To give _éclat_ to
the opening, the directors of the company issued a programme of the
proceedings, intimating the times at which the procession of wagons
would pass certain points along the line. The proprietors assembled as
early as six in the morning at the Brusselton fixed engine, where the
working of the inclined planes was successfully rehearsed. A train of
wagons laden with coals and merchandise was drawn up the western incline
by the fixed engine, a length of nineteen hundred and sixty yards in
seven and a half minutes, and then lowered down the incline on the
eastern side of the hill, eight hundred and eighty yards, in five

At the foot of the incline the procession of vehicles was formed,
consisting of the locomotive engine No. 1, driven by George Stephenson
himself; after it, six wagons loaded with coals and flour; then a
covered coach containing directors and proprietors; next, twenty-one
coal-wagons fitted up for passengers (with which they were crammed); and
lastly, six more wagons loaded with coals.

Strange to say, a man on a horse, carrying a flag with the motto of the
company inscribed on it, _Periculum privatum utilitas publica_,[18]
headed the procession! A lithographic view of the great event, published
shortly after, duly exhibits the horseman and his flag. It was not
thought so dangerous a place, after all. The locomotive was only
supposed to be able to go at the rate of from four to six miles an hour,
and an ordinary horse could easily keep ahead of that.

Off started the procession, with the horseman at its head. A great
concourse of people stood along the line. Many of them tried to
accompany it by running, and some gentlemen on horseback galloped across
the fields to keep up with the train. The railway descending with a
gentle decline toward Darlington, the rate of speed was consequently
variable. At a favorable part of the road Stephenson determined to try
the speed of the engine, and he called upon the horseman with the flag
to get out of his way! Most probably, deeming it unnecessary to carry
his _periculum privatum_ farther, the horseman turned aside, and
Stephenson "put on the steam." The speed was at once raised to twelve
miles an hour, and, at a favorable part of the road, to fifteen. The
runners on foot, the gentlemen on horseback, and the horseman with the
flag were consequently soon left far behind. When the train reached
Darlington, it was found that four hundred and fifty passengers occupied
the wagons, and that the load of men, coals, and merchandise amounted to
about ninety tons.

At Darlington the procession was rearranged. The six loaded coal-wagons
were left behind, and other wagons were taken on with a hundred and
fifty more passengers, together with a band of music. The train then
started for Stockton,--a distance of only twelve miles,--which was
reached in about three hours. The day was kept throughout the district
as a holiday; and horses, gigs, carts, and other vehicles, filled with
people, stood along the railway, as well as crowds of persons on foot,
waiting to see the train pass. The whole population of Stockton turned
out to receive the procession, and, after a walk through the streets,
the inevitable dinner in the Town Hall wound up the day's proceedings.

The principal circumstances connected with the construction of the
"Rocket," as described by Robert Stephenson to Mr. Smiles, may be
briefly stated. The tubular principle was adopted in a more complete
manner than had yet been attempted. Twenty-five copper tubes, each three
inches in diameter, extended from one end of the boiler to the other,
the heated air passing through them on its way to the chimney; and the
tubes being surrounded by the water of the boiler. It will be obvious
that a large extension of the heating surface was thus effectually
secured. The principal difficulty was in fitting the copper tubes in the
boiler ends so as to prevent leakage. They were manufactured by a
Newcastle copper-smith, and soldered to brass screws which were screwed
into the boiler ends, standing out in great knobs. When the tubes were
thus fitted, and the boiler was filled with water, hydraulic pressure
was applied; but the water squirted out at every joint, and the factory
floor was soon flooded. Robert went home in despair; and in the first
moment of grief he wrote to his father that the whole thing was a
failure. By return of post came a letter from his father, telling him
that despair was not to be thought of,--that he must "try again;" and he
suggested a mode of overcoming the difficulty, which his son had already
anticipated and proceeded to adopt. It was to bore clean holes in the
boiler ends, fit in the smooth copper tubes as tightly as possible,
solder up, and then raise the steam. This plan succeeded perfectly; the
expansion of the copper completely filling up all interstices, and
producing a perfectly water-tight boiler, capable of standing extreme
external pressure.

The mode of employing the steam-blast for the purpose of increasing the
draught in the chimney, was also the subject of numerous experiments.
When the engine was first tried, it was thought that the blast in the
chimney was not sufficiently strong for the purpose of keeping up the
intensity of the fire in the furnace, so as to produce high-pressure
steam with the required velocity. The expedient was therefore adopted of
hammering the copper tubes at the point at which they entered the
chimney, whereby the blast was considerably sharpened; and on a farther
trial it was found that the draught was increased to such an extent as
to enable abundance of steam to be raised. The rationale of the blast
may be simply explained by referring to the effect of contracting the
pipe of a water-hose, by which the force of the jet of water is
proportionately increased. Widen the nozzle of the pipe and the jet is,
in like manner, diminished. So is it with the steam-blast in the chimney
of the locomotive.

Doubts were, however, expressed whether the greater draught obtained by
the contraction of the blast-pipe were not counterbalanced in some
degree by the pressure upon the piston. Hence a series of experiments
was made with pipes of different diameters, and their efficiency was
tested by the amount of vacuum that was produced in the smoke-box. The
degree of rarefaction was determined by a glass tube fixed to the bottom
of the smoke-box, and descending into a bucket of water, the tube being
open at both ends. As the rarefaction took place, the water would of
course rise in the tube, and the height to which it rose above the
surface of the water in the bucket was made the measure of the amount
of rarefaction. These experiments proved that a considerable increase of
draught was obtained by the contraction of the orifice; accordingly, the
two blast-pipes opening from the cylinders into either side of the
"Rocket" chimney, and turned up within it, were contracted slightly
below the area of the steam-ports; and before the engine left the
factory, the water rose in the glass tube three inches above the water
in the bucket.

The other arrangements of the "Rocket" were briefly these: The boiler
was cylindrical with flat ends, six feet in length, and three feet four
inches in diameter. The upper half of the boiler was used as a reservoir
for the steam, the lower half being filled with water. Through the lower
part the copper tubes extended, being open to the fire-box at one end,
and to the chimney at the other. The fire-box, or furnace, two feet wide
and three feet high, was attached immediately behind the boiler, and was
also surrounded with water. The cylinders of the engine were placed on
each side of the boiler, in an oblique position, one end being nearly
level with the top of the boiler at its after end, and the other
pointing toward the centre of the foremost or driving pair of wheels,
with which the connection was directly made from the piston-rod to a pin
on the outside of the wheel. The engine, together with its load of
water, weighed only four tons and a quarter; and it was supported on
four wheels, not coupled. The tender was four-wheeled, and similar in
shape to a wagon,--the foremost part holding the fuel, and the hind part
a water-cask.

When the "Rocket" was finished, it was placed upon the Killingworth
Railway for the purpose of experiment. The new boiler arrangement was
found perfectly successful. The steam was raised rapidly and
continuously, and in a quantity which then appeared marvellous. The same
evening Robert despatched a letter to his father at Liverpool, informing
him to his great joy, that the "Rocket" was "all right," and would be in
complete working trim by the day of trial. The engine was shortly after
sent by wagon to Carlisle, and thence shipped for Liverpool.

The time so much longed for by George Stephenson had now arrived, when
the merits of the passenger locomotive were about to be put to the test.
He had fought the battle for it until now, almost single-handed.
Engrossed by his daily labors and anxieties, and harassed by
difficulties and discouragements which would have crushed the spirit of
a less resolute man, he had held firmly to his purpose through good and
through evil report. The hostility which he had experienced from some of
the directors opposed to the adoption of the locomotive, was the
circumstance that caused him the greatest grief of all; for where he had
looked for encouragement, he found only carping and opposition. But his
pluck never failed him; and now the "Rocket" was upon the ground to
prove, to use his own words, "whether he was a man of his word or not."

Great interest was felt at Liverpool, as well as throughout the country,
in the approaching competition. Engineers, scientific men, and mechanics
arrived from all quarters to witness the novel display of mechanical
ingenuity on which such great results depended. The public generally
were no indifferent spectators, either. The populations of Liverpool,
Manchester, and the adjacent towns felt that the successful issue of the
experiment would confer upon them individual benefits and local
advantages almost incalculable, while populations at a distance waited
for the result with almost equal interest.

On the day appointed for the great competition of locomotives at
Rainhill, the following engines were entered for the prize:--

1. Messrs. Braithwaite and Ericsson's "Novelty."

2. Mr. Timothy Hackworth's "Sanspareil."

3. Messrs. R. Stephenson & Co.'s "Rocket."

4. Mr. Burstall's "Perseverance."

Another engine was entered by Mr. Brandreth, of Liverpool,--the
"Cycloped," weighing three tons, worked by a horse in a frame,--but it
could not be admitted to the competition. The above were the only four
exhibited, out of a considerable number of engines constructed in
different parts of the country in anticipation of this contest, many of
which could not be satisfactorily completed by the day of trial.

The day fixed for the competition was the 1st of October; but to allow
sufficient time to get the locomotives into good working order, the
directors extended it to the 6th. On the morning of the 6th the ground
at Rainhill presented a lively appearance, and there was as much
excitement as if the St. Leger were about to be run. Many thousand
spectators looked on, among whom were some of the first engineers and
mechanicians of the day. A stand was provided for the ladies; the
"beauty and fashion" of the neighborhood were present, and the side of
the railroad was lined with carriages of all descriptions.

It was quite characteristic of the Stephensons that although their
engine did not stand first on the list for trial, it was the first that
was ready; and it was accordingly ordered out by the judges for an
experimental trip. Yet the "Rocket" was by no means the "favorite" with
either the judges or the spectators. Nicholas Wood has since stated that
the majority of the judges were strongly predisposed in favor of the
"Novelty," and that nine tenths, if not ten tenths, of the persons
present were against the "Rocket" because of its appearance.[19] Nearly
every person favored some other engine, so that there was nothing for
the "Rocket" but the practical test. The first trip made by it was quite
successful. It ran about twelve miles, without interruption, in about
fifty-three minutes.

The "Novelty" was next called out. It was a light engine, very compact
in appearance, carrying the water and fuel upon the same wheels as the
engine. The weight of the whole was only three tons and one
hundred-weight. A peculiarity of this engine was that the air was driven
or forced through the fire by means of bellows. The day being now far
advanced, and some dispute having arisen as to the method of assigning
the proper load for the "Novelty," no particular experiment was made
farther than that the engine traversed the line by way of exhibition,
occasionally moving at the rate of twenty-four miles an hour. The
"Sanspareil," constructed by Mr. Timothy Hackworth, was next exhibited,
but no particular experiment was made with it on this day. This engine
differed but little in its construction from the locomotive last
supplied by the Stephensons to the Stockton and Darlington Railway, of
which Mr. Hackworth was the locomotive foreman.

The contest was postponed until the following day; but before the judges
arrived on the ground, the bellows for creating the blast in the
"Novelty" gave way, and it was found incapable of going through its
performance. A defect was also detected in the boiler of the
"Sanspareil," and some farther time was allowed to get it repaired. The
large number of spectators who had assembled to witness the contest were
greatly disappointed at this postponement; but to lessen it, Stephenson
again brought out the "Rocket," and attaching to it a coach containing
thirty-four persons, he ran them along the line at the rate of from
twenty-four to thirty miles an hour, much to their gratification and
amazement. Before separating, the judges ordered the engine to be in
readiness by eight o'clock on the following morning, to go through its
definitive trial according to the prescribed conditions.

On the morning of the 8th of October the "Rocket" was again ready for
the contest. The engine was taken to the extremity of the stage, the
fire-box was filled with coke, the fire lighted, and the steam raised
until it lifted the safety-valve loaded to a pressure of fifty pounds to
the square inch. This proceeding occupied fifty-seven minutes. The
engine then started on its journey, dragging after it about thirteen
tons weight in wagons, and made the first ten trips backward and forward
along the two miles of road, running the thirty-five miles, including
stoppages, in an hour and forty-eight minutes. The second ten trips were
in like manner performed in two hours and three minutes. The maximum
velocity attained during the trial trip was twenty-nine miles an hour,
or about three times the speed that one of the judges of the competition
had declared to be the limit of possibility. The average speed at which
the whole of the journeys were performed was fifteen miles an hour, or
five miles beyond the rate specified in the conditions published by the
company. The entire performance excited the greatest astonishment among
the assembled spectators; the directors felt confident that their
enterprise was now on the eve of success; and George Stephenson rejoiced
to think that, in spite of all false prophets and fickle counsellors,
the locomotive system was now safe. When the "Rocket," having performed
all the conditions of the contest, arrived at the "grand stand" at the
close of its day's successful run, Mr. Cropper--one of the directors
favorable to the fixed-engine system--lifted up his hands, and
exclaimed, "Now has George Stephenson at last delivered himself."

Neither the "Novelty" nor the "Sanspareil" was ready for trial until the
10th, on the morning of which day an advertisement appeared, stating
that the former engine was to be tried on that day, when it would
perform more work than any engine on the ground. The weight of the
carriages attached to it was only seven tons. The engine passed the
first post in good style; but in returning, the pipe from the
forcing-pump burst and put an end to the trial. The pipe was afterward
repaired, and the engine made several trips by itself, in which it was
said to have gone at the rate of from twenty-four to twenty-eight miles
an hour.

The "Sanspareil" was not ready until the 13th; and when its boiler and
tender were filled with water, it was found to weigh four hundred-weight
beyond the weight specified in the published conditions as the limit of
four-wheeled engines; nevertheless, the judges allowed it to run on the
same footing as the other engines, to enable them to ascertain whether
its merits entitled it to favorable consideration. It travelled at the
average speed of about fourteen miles an hour with its load attached;
but at the eighth trip the cold-water pump got wrong, and the engine
could proceed no farther.

It was determined to award the premium to the successful engine on the
following day, the 14th, on which occasion there was an unusual
assemblage of spectators. The owners of the "Novelty" pleaded for
another trial, and it was conceded. But again it broke down. Then Mr.
Hackworth requested the opportunity for making another trial of his
"Sanspareil." But the judges had now had enough of failures, and they
declined, on the ground that not only was the engine above the
stipulated weight, but that it was constructed on a plan which they
could not recommend for adoption by the directors of the company. One of
the principal practical objections to this locomotive was the enormous
quantity of coke consumed or wasted by it,--about six hundred and
ninety-two pounds per hour when travelling,--caused by the sharpness of
the steam-blast in the chimney, which blew a large proportion of the
burning coke into the air.

The "Perseverance" of Mr. Burstall was found unable to move at more than
five or six miles an hour, and it was withdrawn from the contest at an
early period. The "Rocket" was thus the only engine that had performed,
and more than performed, all the stipulated conditions; and it was
declared to be entitled to the prize of £500, which was awarded to the
Messrs. Stephenson and Booth[20] accordingly. And farther to show that
the engine had been working quite within its powers, George Stephenson
ordered it to be brought upon the ground and detached from all
incumbrances, when, in making two trips, it was found to travel at the
astonishing rate of thirty-five miles an hour.

The "Rocket" had thus eclipsed the performances of all locomotive
engines that had yet been constructed, and outstripped even the sanguine
expectations of its constructors. It satisfactorily answered the report
of Messrs. Walker and Rastrick, and established the efficiency of the
locomotive for working the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, and indeed
all future railways. The "Rocket" showed that a new power had been born
into the world, full of activity and strength, with boundless capability
of work. It was the simple but admirable contrivance of the steam-blast,
and its combination with the multitubular boiler, that at once gave
locomotion a vigorous life, and secured the triumph of the railway
system. As has been well observed, this wonderful ability to increase
and multiply its powers of performance with the emergency that demands
them, has made this giant engine the noblest creation of human wit, the
very lion among machines.

The success of the Rainhill experiment, as judged by the public, may be
inferred from the fact that the shares of the company immediately rose
ten per cent, and nothing farther was heard of the proposed twenty-one
fixed engines, engine-houses, ropes, etc. All this cumbersome apparatus
was thenceforth effectually disposed of.

When the reading was over, Bedford said: "When I heard you were going to
have George Stephenson this afternoon, I wrote to my cousin Prentiss
Armstrong, who has been at the locomotive works at Altoona for several
years, and asked him about locomotives nowadays, that I might be able to
compare them with the locomotives of George Stephenson's time. This is
his letter, which I'll read, if there be no objection:"--

DEAR BEDFORD,--Speaking roughly, a freight-engine of the "Consolidation"
type (eight driving-wheels and two truck-wheels) weighs from
forty-seven to forty-eight tons of two thousand pounds. On a road with
no grades over twenty feet to the mile (1 in 250) it will haul over one
thousand tons at fifteen miles an hour. If the train is of merchandise,
it will be of say fifty cars, each weighing ten tons and carrying ten
tons. If it is of coal or ore, the cars will each carry twenty or
twenty-five tons.

["The 'Rocket,'" said Bedford, "which was the successful engine at the
Rainhill competition, weighed a little over four tons and had four
wheels. Dragging a weight of thirteen tons in wagons, it made
thirty-five miles in about two hours."]

Our Engine No. 2 [continued the letter] made a mile on a level in
forty-three seconds with no train, but there are very few such records.
Two of our fast trains (four cars each, weighing twenty-five tons) make
a schedule in one place (level) of nine miles in eight minutes. I have
seen a record of a run on the Bound Brook route of four cars, ten miles
in eight minutes. I think this must have been down hill.

I hope these facts will answer your views. If there's anything else that
I can get up for you, I shall be glad to do it.

                         Yours truly,
                                                     PRENTISS ARMSTRONG.



The young people all came in laughing.

"And what is it?" said Uncle Fritz, good-naturedly.

"It is this," said Alice, "that I say that all this is very entertaining
about Palissy the Potter and Benvenuto Cellini; and I have been boasting
that I know as much of the steam-engine as Lucy did, who was 'sister to
Harry.' But I do not see that this is going to profit Blanche when she
shall make her celebrated visit to Mr. Bright, and when he asks her what
is the last sweet thing in creels or in fly-frames."

"Is it certain that Blanche is to go?" said Uncle Fritz, doubtfully.

"Oh, dear, Uncle Fritz, do you know?" said Blanche, in mock heroics;
"are you in the sacred circle which decides? Will the Vesuvius pass its
dividend, or will it scatter its blessings right and left, so that we
can go to Paris and all the world be happy?"

"I wish I knew," said Colonel Ingham; "for on that same dividend depends
the question whether I build four new rooms at Little Crastis for the
accommodation of my young friends when they visit me there."

"Could you tell us," said Fergus, "what is the cause of the depression
in the cotton-manufacture?"

"Don't tell him, Uncle Fritz," said Fanchon, "for the two best of
reasons,--first, that half of us will not understand if you do; and
second, that none of us will remember."

Colonel Ingham laughed. "And third," he said, "that we are to talk about
Inventions and Inventors, and we shall not get to Fergus's grand
question till we come to the series on 'Political Economy and Political

"You are all quite right in all your suggestions and criticisms. It is
quite time that you girls should know something of the industry which is
important not only to all the Southern States, but to all the
manufacturing States. Cotton is the cheapest article for clothing in the
world, and the use of it goes farther and farther every year. The
manufacture is also improving steadily. Thirty men, women, and children
will make as much cotton cloth to-day as a hundred could make the year
you were born, Hester. I saw cottons for sale to-day at four cents a
yard which would have cost nearly three times that money thirty years
ago. So I have laid out for you these sketches of the life of Eli
Whitney, on whose simple invention, as you remember, all this wealth of
production may be said to depend. You college boys ought to be pleased
to know, that within a year after this man graduated from Yale College,
he had made an invention and set it a going, which entirely changed the
face of things in his own country. At that moment there was so little
cotton raised in America, that Whitney himself had never seen cotton
wool or cotton seed, when he was first asked if he could make a machine
which would separate one from the other. It was so little known, indeed,
that when John Jay of New York negotiated a treaty of commerce with
England in 1794, the year after Whitney's invention, he did not know
that any cotton was produced in the United States. The treaty did not
provide for our cotton, and had to be changed after it was brought back
to America. With this invention by Whitney, it was possible to clean
cotton from the seed. The Southern States, which before had no staple of
importance, had in that moment an immense addition to their resources.
Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Tennessee, besides the States in
the old thirteen, were settled almost wholly to call into being new
lands for raising cotton. To these were afterwards added Arkansas,
Florida, and Texas. With this new industry slave labor became vastly
more profitable; and the institution of slavery, which would else have
died out probably, received an immense stimulus. Fortunately for the
country and the world, the Constitution had fixed the year 1808, as the
end of the African slave trade. But, up to that date, slaves were pushed
in with a constantly increasing rapidity, so that the new States were
peopled very largely with absolute barbarians. There is hardly another
instance in history where it is so easy to trace in a very few years,
results so tremendous following from a single invention by a single man.

"Fortunately for us, Miss Lamb has just published a portrait of Eli
Whitney in the 'Magazine of History.' Here it is, in the October number
of the 'Magazine of History.'

"As to processes of manufacture, of course we can learn little or
nothing about them here. But you had better read carefully this article
in Ure's 'Dictionary of Arts,' though it is a little old-fashioned, and
then you will be prepared to make up parties to go out to the Hecla, or
up to Lowell or Lawrence, where you can see with your own eyes.

"And now I will read you a little sketch of the life of Eli Whitney."


Eli Whitney was born at Westborough, Worcester County, Massachusetts,
Dec. 8, 1765. His parents belonged to the middle class in society, who,
by the labors of husbandry, managed by uniform industry and strict
frugality to provide well for a rising family.

The paternal ancestors of Mr. Whitney emigrated from England among the
early settlers of Massachusetts, and their descendants were among the
most respectable farmers of Worcester County. His maternal ancestors, of
the name of Fay, were also English emigrants, and ranked among the
substantial yeomanry of Massachusetts. A family tradition respecting the
occasion of their coming to this country may serve to illustrate the
history of the times. The story is, that about two hundred years ago,
the father of the family, who resided in England, a man of large
property and great respectability, called together his sons and
addressed them thus: "America is to be a great country. I am too old to
emigrate myself; but if any one of you will go, I will give him a double
share of my property." The youngest son instantly declared his
willingness to go, and his brothers gave their consent. He soon set off
for the New World, and landed in Boston, in the neighborhood of which
place he purchased a large tract of land, where he enjoyed the
satisfaction of receiving two visits from his venerable father. His son
John Fay, from whom the subject of this memoir is immediately descended,
removed from Boston to Westborough, where he became the proprietor of a
large tract of land, since known by the name of the Fay Farm.

From the sister of Mr. Whitney, we have derived some particulars
respecting his childhood and youth, and we shall present the anecdotes
to our readers in the artless style in which they are related by our
correspondent, believing that they would be more acceptable in this
simple dress than if, according to the modest suggestion of the writer,
they should be invested with a more labored diction. The following
incident, though trivial in itself, will serve to show at how early a
period certain qualities of strong feeling tempered by prudence, for
which Mr. Whitney afterward became distinguished, began to display
themselves. When he was six or seven years old he had overheard the
kitchen maid, in a fit of passion, calling his mother, who was in a
delicate state of health, hard names, at which he expressed great
displeasure to his sister. "She thought," said he, "that I was not big
enough to hear her talk so about my mother. I think she ought to have a
flogging; and if I knew how to bring it about, she should have one." His
sister advised him to tell their father. "No," he replied, "it will hurt
his feelings and mother's too; and besides, it is likely the girl will
say she never said so, and that would make a quarrel. It is best to say
nothing about it."

Indications of his mechanical genius were likewise developed at a very
early age. Of his early passion for such employments, his sister gives
the following account: "Our father had a workshop, and sometimes made
wheels of different kinds, and chairs. He had a variety of tools, and a
lathe for turning chair-posts. This gave my brother an opportunity of
learning the use of tools when very young. He lost no time; but as soon
as he could handle tools, he was always making something in the shop,
and seemed not to like working on the farm. On a time, after the death
of our mother, when our father had been absent from home two or three
days, on his return he inquired of the housekeeper what the boys had
been doing. She told him what B. and J. had been about. 'But what has
Eli been doing?' said he. She replied he had been making a fiddle. 'Ah,'
said he, despondingly, 'I fear Eli will have to take his portion in
fiddles.' He was at this time about twelve years old. His sister adds
that this fiddle was finished throughout, like a common violin, and made
tolerably good music. It was examined by many persons, and all
pronounced it to be a remarkable piece of work for such a boy to
perform. From this time he was employed to repair violins, and had many
nice jobs, which were always executed to the entire satisfaction, and
often to the astonishment, of his customers. His father's watch being
the greatest piece of mechanism that had yet presented itself to his
observation, he was extremely desirous of examining its interior
construction, but was not permitted to do so. One Sunday morning,
observing that his father was going to meeting, and would leave at home
the wonderful little machine, he immediately feigned illness as an
apology for not going to church. As soon as the family were out of
sight, he flew to the room where the watch hung, and taking it down he
was so delighted with its motions that he took it all to pieces before
he thought of the consequences of his rash deed; for his father was a
stern parent, and punishment would have been the reward of his idle
curiosity, had the mischief been detected. He, however, put all the work
so neatly together that his father never discovered his audacity until
he himself told him, many years afterwards.

"Whitney lost his mother at an early age, and when he was thirteen years
old his father married a second time. His stepmother, among her articles
of furniture, had a handsome set of table knives that she valued very
highly. Whitney could not but see this, and said to her, 'I could make
as good ones if I had tools, and I could make the necessary tools if I
had a few common tools to make them with.' His stepmother thought he was
deriding her, and was much displeased; but it so happened, not long
afterwards, that one of the knives got broken, and he made one exactly
like it in every respect except the stamp on the blade. This he would
likewise have executed, had not the tools required been too expensive
for his slender resources."

When Whitney was fifteen or sixteen years of age he suggested to his
father an enterprise, which was an earnest of the similar undertakings
in which he engaged on a far greater scale in later life. This being the
time of the Revolutionary War, nails were in great demand and bore a
high price. At that period nails were made chiefly by hand, with little
aid from machinery. Young Whitney proposed to his father to procure him
a few tools, and to permit him to set up the manufacture. His father
consented; and he went steadily to work, and suffered nothing to divert
him from his task until his day's work was completed. By extraordinary
diligence he gained time to make tools for his own use, and to put in
knife-blades, and to perform many other curious little jobs which
exceeded the skill of the country artisans. At this laborious occupation
the enterprising boy wrought alone, with great success, and with much
profit to his father, for two winters, pursuing the ordinary labors of
the farm during the summers. At this time he devised a plan for
enlarging his business and increasing his profits. He whispered his
scheme to his sister, with strong injunctions of secrecy; and requesting
leave of his father to go to a neighboring town, without specifying his
object, he set out on horseback in quest of a fellow-laborer. Not
finding one as easily as he had anticipated, he proceeded from town to
town with a perseverance which was always a strong trait of his
character, until, at a distance of forty miles from home, he found such
a workman as he desired. He also made his journey subservient to his
mechanical skill, for he called at every workshop on his way and gleaned
all the information he could respecting the mechanical arts.

At the close of the war the business of making nails was no longer
profitable; but a fashion prevailing among the ladies of fastening on
their bonnets with long pins, he contrived to make those with such skill
and dexterity that he nearly monopolized the business, although he
devoted to it only such seasons of leisure as he could redeem from the
occupations of the farm, to which he now principally betook himself. He
added to this article, the manufacture of walking-canes, which he made
with peculiar neatness.

In respect to his proficiency in learning while young, we are informed
that he early manifested a fondness for figures and an uncommon aptitude
for arithmetical calculations, though in the other rudiments of
education he was not particularly distinguished. Yet at the age of
fourteen he had acquired so much general information, as to be regarded
on this account, as well as on account of his mechanical skill, a very
remarkable boy.

From the age of nineteen, young Whitney conceived the idea of obtaining
a liberal education; but, being warmly opposed by his stepmother, he was
unable to procure the decided consent of his father, until he had
reached the age of twenty-three years. But, partly by the avails of his
manual labor and partly by teaching a village school, he had been so far
able to surmount the obstacles thrown in his way, that he had prepared
himself for the Freshman Class in Yale College, which he entered in May,

The propensity of Mr. Whitney to mechanical inventions and occupations,
was frequently apparent during his residence at college. On a particular
occasion, one of the tutors, happening to mention some interesting
philosophical experiment, regretted that he could not exhibit it to his
pupils, because the apparatus was out of order and must be sent abroad
to be repaired. Mr. Whitney proposed to undertake this task, and
performed it greatly to the satisfaction of the faculty of the college.

A carpenter being at work upon one of the buildings of the gentleman
with whom Mr. Whitney boarded, the latter begged permission to use his
tools, during the intervals of study; but the mechanic, being a man of
careful habits, was unwilling to trust them with a student, and it was
only after the gentleman of the house had become responsible for all
damages, that he would grant the permission. But Mr. Whitney had no
sooner commenced his operations than the carpenter was surprised at his
dexterity, and exclaimed, "There was one good mechanic spoiled when you
went to college."

Soon after Mr. Whitney took his degree, in the autumn of 1792, he
entered into an engagement with a Mr. B. of Georgia, to reside in his
family as a private teacher. On his way thither, he was so fortunate as
to have the company of Mrs. Greene, the widow of General Greene, who,
with her family, was returning to Savannah after spending the summer at
the North. At that time it was deemed unsafe to travel through our
country without having had the small-pox, and accordingly Mr. Whitney
prepared himself for the excursion, by procuring inoculation while in
New York. As soon as he was sufficiently recovered, the party set sail
for Savannah. As his health was not fully re-established, Mrs. Greene
kindly invited him to go with the family to her residence at Mulberry
Grove, near Savannah, and remain until he was recruited. The invitation
was accepted; but lest he should not yet have lost all power of
communicating that dreadful disease, Mrs. Greene had white flags (the
meaning of which was well understood) hoisted at the landing and at all
the avenues leading to the house. As a requital for her hospitality, her
guest procured the virus and inoculated all the servants of the
household, more than fifty in number, and carried them safely through
the disorder.

Mr. Whitney had scarcely set his foot in Georgia, before he was met by a
disappointment which was an earnest of that long series of adverse
events which, with scarcely an exception, attended all his future
negotiations in the same State. On his arrival he was informed that Mr.
B. had employed another teacher, leaving Whitney entirely without
resources or friends, except those whom he had made in the family of
General Greene. In these benevolent people, however, his case excited
much interest; and Mrs. Greene kindly said to him, "My young friend, you
propose studying the law; make my house your home, your room your
castle, and there pursue what studies you please." He accordingly began
the study of the law under that hospitable roof.

Mrs. Greene was engaged in a piece of embroidery in which she employed a
peculiar kind of frame, called a _tambour_. She complained that it was
badly constructed, and that it tore the delicate threads of her work.
Mr. Whitney, eager for an opportunity to oblige his hostess, set himself
to work and speedily produced a tambour-frame, made on a plan entirely
new, which he presented to her. Mrs. Greene and her family were greatly
delighted with it, and thought it a wonderful proof of ingenuity.

Not long afterwards a large party of gentlemen, consisting principally
of officers who had served under the General in the Revolutionary Army,
came from Augusta and the upper country, to visit the family of General
Greene. They fell into conversation upon the state of agriculture among
them, and expressed great regret that there was no means of cleansing
the green seed cotton, or separating it from its seed, since all the
lands which were unsuitable for the cultivation of rice, would yield
large crops of cotton. But until ingenuity could devise some machine
which would greatly facilitate the process of cleaning, it was vain to
think of raising cotton for market. Separating one pound of the clean
staple from the seed was a day's work for a woman; but the time usually
devoted to picking cotton was the evening, after the labor of the field
was over. Then the slaves--men, women, and children--were collected in
circles, with one whose duty it was to rouse the dozing and quicken the
indolent. While the company were engaged in this conversation,
"Gentlemen," said Mrs. Greene, "apply to my young friend Mr. Whitney; he
can make anything." Upon which she conducted them into a neighboring
room, and showed them her tambour-frame and a number of toys which Mr.
Whitney had made or repaired for the children. She then introduced the
gentlemen to Whitney himself, extolling his genius and commending him to
their notice and friendship. He modestly disclaimed all pretensions to
mechanical genius; and when they named their object, he replied that he
had never seen either cotton or cotton seed in his life. Mrs. Greene
said to one of the gentlemen, "I have accomplished my aim. Mr. Whitney
is a very deserving young man, and to bring him into notice was my
object. The interest which our friends now feel for him will, I hope,
lead to his getting some employment to enable him to prosecute the study
of the law."

But a new turn, that no one of the company dreamed of, had been given to
Mr. Whitney's views. It being out of season for cotton in the seed, he
went to Savannah and searched among the warehouses and boats until he
found a small parcel of it. This he carried home, and communicated his
intentions to Mr. Miller, who warmly encouraged him, and assigned him a
room in the basement of the house, where he set himself to work with
such rude materials and instruments as a Georgia plantation afforded.
With these resources, however, he made tools better suited to his
purpose, and drew his own wire (of which the teeth of the earliest gins
were made),--an article which was not at that time to be found in the
market of Savannah. Mrs. Greene and Mr. Miller were the only persons
ever admitted to his workshop, and the only persons who knew in what way
he was employing himself. The many hours he spent in his mysterious
pursuits, afforded matter of great curiosity and often of raillery to
the younger members of the family. Near the close of the winter, the
machine was so nearly completed as to leave no doubt of its success.

Mrs. Greene was eager to communicate to her numerous friends the
knowledge of this important invention, peculiarly important at that
time, because then the market was glutted with all those articles which
were suited to the climate and soil of Georgia, and nothing could be
found to give occupation to the negroes and support to the white
inhabitants. This opened suddenly to the planters boundless resources of
wealth, and rendered the occupations of the slaves less unhealthy and
laborious than they had been before.

Mrs. Greene, therefore, invited to her house gentlemen from different
parts of the State; and on the first day after they had assembled, she
conducted them to a temporary building which had been erected for the
machine, and they saw with astonishment and delight, that more cotton
could be separated from the seed in one day, by the labor of a single
hand, than could be done in the usual manner in the space of many

Mr. Whitney might now have indulged in bright reveries of fortune and of
fame; but we shall have various opportunities of seeing that he tempered
his inventive genius with an unusual share of the calm, considerate
qualities of the financier. Although urged by his friends to secure a
patent and devote himself to the manufacture and introduction of his
machines, he coolly replied that, on account of the great expenses and
trouble which always attend the introduction of a new invention, and the
difficulty of enforcing a law in favor of patentees, in opposition to
the individual interests of so large a number of persons as would be
concerned in the culture of this article, it was with great reluctance
that he should consent to relinquish the hopes of a lucrative
profession, for which he had been destined, with an expectation of
indemnity either from the justice or the gratitude of his countrymen,
even should the invention answer the most sanguine anticipations of his

The individual who contributed most to incite him to persevere in the
undertaking, was Phineas Miller. Mr. Miller was a native of Connecticut
and a graduate of Yale College. Like Mr. Whitney, soon after he had
completed his education at college, he came to Georgia as a private
teacher in the family of General Greene, and after the decease of the
General, he became the husband of Mrs. Greene. He had qualified himself
for the profession of the law, and was a gentleman of cultivated mind
and superior talents; but he was of an ardent temperament, and therefore
well fitted to enter with zeal into the views which the genius of his
friend had laid open to him. He also had considerable funds at command,
and proposed to Mr. Whitney to become his joint adventurer, and to be at
the whole expense of maturing the invention until it should be patented.
If the machine should succeed in its intended operation, the parties
agreed, under legal formalities, "that the profits and advantages
arising therefrom, as well as all privileges and emoluments to be
derived from patenting, making, vending, and working the same, should be
mutually and equally shared between them." This instrument bears date
May 27, 1793; and immediately afterward they commenced business under
the firm of Miller and Whitney.

An invention so important to the agricultural interest (and, as it has
proved, to every department of human industry) could not long remain a
secret. The knowledge of it soon spread through the State, and so great
was the excitement on the subject, that multitudes of persons came from
all quarters of the State to see the machine; but it was not deemed safe
to gratify their curiosity until the patent right had been secured. But
so determined were some of the populace to possess this treasure, that
neither law nor justice could restrain them; they broke open the
building by night, and carried off the machine. In this way the public
became possessed of the invention; and before Mr. Whitney could complete
his model and secure his patent, a number of machines were in successful
operation, constructed with some slight deviation from the original,
with the hope of escaping the penalty for evading the patent right.

As soon as the copartnership of Miller and Whitney was formed, Mr.
Whitney repaired to Connecticut, where, as far as possible, he was to
perfect the machine, obtain a patent, and manufacture and ship to
Georgia such a number of machines as would supply the demand.

Within three days after the conclusion of the copartnership, Mr. Whitney
having set out for the North, Mr. Miller commenced his long
correspondence relative to the cotton-gin. The first letter announces
that encroachments upon their rights had already begun. "It will be
necessary," says Mr. Miller, "to have a considerable number of gins
made, to be in readiness to send out as soon as the patent is obtained,
in order to satisfy the absolute demands, and make people's heads easy
on the subject; _for I am informed of two other claimants for the honor
of the invention of cotton-gins, in addition to those we knew before_."

On the 20th of June, 1793, Mr. Whitney presented his patent to Mr.
Jefferson, then Secretary of State; but the prevalence of the yellow
fever in Philadelphia (which was then the seat of government) prevented
his concluding the business relative to the patent until several months
afterwards. To prevent being anticipated, he took, however, the
precaution to make oath to the invention before the notary public of the
city of New Haven, which he did on the 28th of October of the same year.

Mr. Jefferson, who had much curiosity in regard to mechanical
inventions, took a peculiar interest in this machine, and addressed to
the inventor an obliging letter, desiring farther particulars respecting
it, and expressing a wish to procure one for his own use.[21] Mr.
Whitney accordingly sketched the history of the invention, and of the
construction and performances of the machine. "It is about a year," says
he, "since I first turned my attention to constructing this machine, at
which time I was in the State of Georgia. Within about ten days after my
first conception of the plan, I made a small though imperfect model.
Experiments with this encouraged me to make one on a larger scale; but
the extreme difficulty of procuring workmen and proper materials in
Georgia prevented my completing the larger one until some time in April
last. This, though much larger than my first attempt, is not above one
third as large as the machines may be made with convenience. The
cylinder is only two feet two inches in length, and six inches in
diameter. It is turned by hand, and requires the strength of one man to
keep it in constant motion. It is the stated task of one negro to clean
fifty weight (I mean fifty pounds after it is separated from the seed)
of the green cotton seed per day."

In the year 1812 Mr. Whitney made application to Congress for the
renewal of his patent for the cotton-gin. In his memorial he presented a
history of the struggles he had been forced to encounter in defence of
his right, observing that he had been unable to obtain any decision on
the merits of his claim until he had been _eleven years_ in the law, and
_thirteen years_ of his patent term had expired. He sets forth that his
invention had been a source of opulence to thousands of the citizens of
the United States; that, as a labor-saving machine, it would enable one
man to perform the work of a thousand men; and that it furnishes to the
whole family of mankind, at a very cheap rate, the most essential
article of their clothing. Hence he humbly conceived himself entitled to
a further remuneration from his country, and thought he ought to be
admitted to a more liberal participation with his fellow-citizens in
the benefits of his invention. Although so great advantages had been
already experienced, and the prospect of future benefits was so
promising, still, many of those whose interest had been most enhanced by
this invention, had obstinately persisted in refusing to make any
compensation to the inventor. The very men whose wealth had been
acquired by the use of this machine, and who had grown rich beyond all
former example, had combined their exertions to prevent the patentee
from deriving any emolument from his invention. From that State in which
he had first made and where he had first introduced his machine, and
which had derived the most signal benefits from it, he had received
nothing; and from no State had he received the amount of half a cent per
pound on the cotton cleaned with his machines in one year. Estimating
the value of the labor of one man at twenty cents per day, the whole
amount which had been received by him for his invention was not equal to
the value of the labor saved in _one hour_ by his machines then in use
in the United States. "This invention," he proceeds, "now gives to the
southern section of the Union, over and above the profits which would be
derived from the cultivation of any other crop, an annual emolument of
at least _three millions_ of dollars."[22] The foregoing statement does
not rest on conjecture, it is no visionary speculation,--all these
advantages have been realized; the planters of the Southern States have
counted the cash, felt the weight of it in their pockets, and heard the
exhilarating sound of its collision. Nor do the advantages stop here.
This immense source of wealth is but just beginning to be opened. Cotton
is a more cleanly and healthful article of cultivation than tobacco and
indigo, which it has superseded, and does not so much impoverish the
soil. This invention has already trebled the value of the land through a
large extent of territory; and the degree to which the cultivation of
cotton may be still augmented, is altogether incalculable. This species
of cotton has been known in all countries where cotton has been raised,
from time immemorial, but was never known as an article of commerce
until since this method of cleaning it was discovered. In short (to
quote the language of Judge Johnson), "if we should assert that the
benefits of this invention exceed _one hundred millions of dollars_, we
could prove the assertion by correct calculation." It is objected that
if the patentee succeeds in procuring the renewal of his patent, he will
be too rich. There is no probability that the patentee, if the term of
his patent were extended for twenty years, would ever obtain for his
invention one half as much as many an individual will gain by use of it.
Up to the present time, the whole amount of what he has acquired from
this source (after deducting his expenses) does not exceed one half the
sum which a single individual has gained by the use of the machine in
one year. It is true that considerable sums have been obtained from some
of the States where the machine is used; but no small portion of these
sums has been expended in prosecuting his claim in a State where nothing
has been obtained, and where his machine has been used to the greatest

There was much more which was curious, laid out in different books; but
the call came for supper, and the young people obeyed.




"My dear Uncle Fritz, I have found something very precious."

"I hope it is a pearl necklace, my dear," was his reply, "though I see
no one who needs such ornaments less."

Hester waltzed round the room, and dropped a very low courtesy before
Uncle Fritz in acknowledgment of his compliment; and all the others
clapped their hands. They asked her, more clamorously than Uncle Fritz,
what she had found.

"I have found a man--"

"That is more than Diogenes could."

"Horace, I shall send you out of the room, or back on first principles.
Do you not know that it is not nice to interrupt?"

"I have found a man, Uncle Fritz, who is an inventor, a great inventor;
and he is very nice, and he likes people and people like him, and he
always succeeds,--his things turn out well, like Dr. Franklin's; and he
says the world has always been grateful to him. He never sulks or
complains; he knows all about the moon, and makes wonderful pictures of
it; and he's enormously rich, I believe, too,--but that's not so much
matter. The best of all is, that he began just as we begin. He had a
nice father and a nice mother and a good happy home, and was brought up
like good decent children. Now really, Uncle Fritz, you mustn't laugh;
but do you not think that most of the people whose lives we read have to
begin horridly? They have to be beaten when they are apprentices, or
their fathers and mothers have to die, or they have to walk through
Philadelphia with loaves of bread under their arms, or to be brought up
in poor-houses or something. Now, nothing of that sort happened to my
inventor. And I am very much encouraged. For my father never beat me,
and my mother never scolded me half as much as I deserved, and I never
was in a poor-house, and I never carried a loaf of bread under my arm,
and so I really was afraid I should come to no good. But now I have
found my new moon-man, I am very much encouraged."

The others laughed heartily at Hester's zeal, and Blanche asked what
Hester's hero had invented, and what was his name. The others turned to
Uncle Fritz half incredulously. But Uncle Fritz came to Hester's relief.

"Hester is quite right," he said; "and his name it is James Nasmyth. He
has invented a great many things, quite necessary in the gigantic system
of modern machine-building. He has chosen the steam-hammer for his
device. Here is a picture of it on the outside of his Life. You see I
was ready for you, Hester."

The children looked with interest on the device, and Fergus said that it
was making heraldry do as it should, and speak in the language of the
present time.

Then Uncle Fritz bade Hester find for them a passage in the biography
where Mr. Nasmyth tells how he changed the old motto of the family.
Oddly enough, the legend says that the first Nasmyth took his name
after a romantic escape, when one of his pursuers, finding him disguised
as a blacksmith, cried out, "Ye're _nae smyth_."

It is a little queer that this name should have been given to the family
of a man, who, in his time, forged heavier pieces of iron than had ever
been forged before, and, indeed, invented the machinery by which this
should be done. The old Scotch family had for a motto the words

  "Non arte, sed Marte."

With a very just pride, James Nasmyth has changed the motto, and made it

  "Non Marte, sed arte."

That is, while they said, "Not by art, but by war," this man, who has
done more work for the world, directly or indirectly, than any of
Aladdin's genii, says, "Not by war, but by art."

Hester was well pleased that their old friend justified her enthusiasm
so entirely. He and she began dipping into her copy and his copy of the
biography, which is one of the most interesting books of our time.


My grandfather, Michael Naesmyth, like his father and grandfather, was a
builder and architect. The buildings he designed and erected for the
Scotch nobility and gentry were well arranged, carefully executed, and
thoroughly substantial. I remember my father pointing out to me the
extreme care and attention with which he finished his buildings. He
inserted small fragments of basalt into the mortar of the external
joints of the stones, at close and regular distances, in order to
protect the mortar from the adverse action of the weather; and to this
day they give proof of their efficiency.

The excellence of my grandfather's workmanship was a thing that my own
father impressed upon me when a boy. It stimulated in me the desire to
aim at excellence in everything that I undertook, and in all practical
matters to arrive at the highest degree of good workmanship. I believe
that these early lessons had a great influence upon my future career.

My father, Alexander Nasmyth, was the second son of Michael Nasmyth. He
was born in his father's house in the Grassmarket, on the 9th of
September, 1758.

I have not much to say about my father's education. For the most part he
was his own schoolmaster. I have heard him say that his mother taught
him his A B C, and that he afterward learned to read at Mammy Smith's.
This old lady kept a school for boys and girls at the top of a house in
the Grassmarket. There my father was taught to read his Bible and to
learn his Carritch (the Shorter Catechism).

My father's profession was that of a portrait-painter, to begin with;
but later he devoted himself to landscape-painting. But he did not
confine himself to this pursuit. He was an all-round man, with something
of the universal about him. He was a painter, an architect, and a
mechanic. Above all, he was an incessantly industrious man.

I was born on the morning of the 19th of August, 1808, at my father's
house in Edinburgh. I was named James Hall, after a dear friend of my
father. My mother afterward told me that I must have been a "very
noticin' bairn," as she observed me, when I was only a few days old,
following with my little eyes any one who happened to be in the room, as
if I had been thinking to my little self, "Who are you?"

When I was about four or five years old I was observed to give a decided
preference to the use of my left hand. At first everything was done to
prevent my using it in preference to the right, until my father, after
viewing a little sketch I had drawn with my left hand, allowed me to go
on in my own way. I used my right hand in all that was necessary, and my
left in all sorts of practical manipulative affairs. My left hand has
accordingly been my most willing and obedient servant, and in this way I
became ambidexter.

In due time I was sent to school; and while attending the High School,
from 1817 to 1820, there was the usual rage among boys for
spinning-tops, "peeries," and "young cannon." By means of my father's
excellent foot-lathe I turned out the spinning-tops in capital style, so
much so that I became quite noted among my school companions. They all
wanted to have specimens of my productions. They would give any price
for them. The peeries were turned with perfect accuracy, and the
steel-shod or spinning pivot was centred so as to correspond with the
heaviest diameter at the top. They would spin twice as long as the
bought peeries. When at full speed they would "sleep;" that is, turn
round without a particle of wavering. This was considered high art as
regarded top-spinning.

Flying-kites and tissue-paper balloons were articles that I was also
somewhat famed for producing. There was a good deal of special skill
required for the production of a flying-kite. It must be perfectly still
and steady when at its highest flight in the air. Paper messengers were
sent up to it along the string which held it to the ground. The top of
the Calton Hill was the most favorite place for enjoying this pleasant

Another article for which I became equally famous was the manufacture of
small brass cannon. These I cast and bored, and mounted on their
appropriate gun-carriages. They proved very effective, especially in the
loudness of the report when fired. I also converted large cellar-keys
into a sort of hand-cannon. A touch-hole was bored into the barrel of
the key, with a sliding brass collar that allowed the key-guns to be
loaded and primed, ready for firing.

The principal occasion on which the brass cannon and hand-guns were used
was on the 4th of June,--King George the Third's birthday. This was
always celebrated with exuberant and noisy loyalty. The guns of the
Castle were fired at noon, and the number of shots corresponded with the
number of years that the king had reigned. The grand old Castle was
enveloped in smoke, and the discharges reverberated along the streets
and among the surrounding hills. Everything was in holiday order. The
coaches were hung with garlands, the shops were ornamented, the troops
were reviewed on Bruntsfield Links, and the citizens drank the king's
health at the Cross, throwing the glasses over their backs. The boys
fired off gunpowder, or threw squibs or crackers, from morning till
night. It was one of the greatest schoolboy events of the year.

My little brass cannon and hand-guns were very busy that day. They were
fired until they became quite hot. These were the pre-lucifer days. The
fire to light the powder at the touch-hole was obtained by the use of a
flint, a steel, and a tinder-box. The flint was struck sharply on the
steel, a spark of fire consequently fell into the tinder-box, and the
match (of hemp string, soaked in saltpetre) was readily lit and fired
off the little guns.

One of my attached cronies was Tom Smith. Our friendship began at the
High School in 1818. A similarity of disposition bound us together.
Smith was the son of an enterprising general merchant at Leith. His
father had a special genius for practical chemistry. He had established
an extensive color-manufactory at Portobello, near Edinburgh, where he
produced white lead, red lead, and a great variety of colors,--in the
preparation of which he required a thorough knowledge of chemistry. Tom
Smith inherited his father's tastes, and admitted me to share in his
experiments, which were carried on in a chemical laboratory situated
behind his father's house at the bottom of Leith Walk.

We had a special means of communication. When anything particular was
going on at the laboratory, Tom hoisted a white flag on the top of a
high pole in his father's garden. Though I was more than a mile away, I
kept a lookout in the direction of the laboratory with a spy-glass. My
father's house was at the top of Leith Walk, and Smith's house was at
the bottom of it. When the flag was hoisted I could clearly see the
invitation to me to come down. I was only too glad to run down the Walk
and join my chum, to take part in some interesting chemical process. Mr.
Smith, the father, made me heartily welcome. He was pleased to see his
son so much attached to me, and he perhaps believed that I was worthy of
his friendship. We took zealous part in all the chemical proceedings,
and in that way Tom was fitting himself for the business of his life.

Mr. Smith was a most genial-tempered man. He was shrewd and
quick-witted, like a native of York, as he was. I received the greatest
kindness from him as well as from his family. His house was like a
museum. It was full of cabinets, in which were placed choice and
interesting objects in natural history, geology, mineralogy, and
metallurgy. All were represented. Many of these specimens had been
brought to him from abroad by his ship-captains, who transported his
color manufactures and other commodities to foreign parts.

My friend Tom Smith and I made it a rule--and in this we were encouraged
by his father--that, so far as was possible, we ourselves should
actually _make_ the acids and other substances used in our experiments.
We were not to buy them ready-made, as this would have taken the zest
out of our enjoyment. We should have lost the pleasure and instruction
of producing them by means of our own wits and energies. To encounter
and overcome a difficulty is the most interesting of all things. Hence,
though often baffled, we eventually produced perfect specimens of
nitrous, nitric, and muriatic acids. We distilled alcohol from duly
fermented sugar and water, and rectified the resultant spirit from
fusel-oil by passing the alcoholic vapor through animal charcoal before
it entered the worm of the still. We converted part of the alcohol into
sulphuric ether. We produced phosphorus from old bones, and elaborated
many of the mysteries of chemistry.

The amount of practical information which we obtained by this system of
making our own chemical agents, was such as to reward us, in many
respects, for the labor we underwent. To outsiders it might appear a
very troublesome and roundabout way of getting at the finally desired
result; but I feel certain that there is no better method of rooting
chemical or any other instruction deeply in our minds. Indeed, I regret
that the same system is not pursued by the youth of the present day.
They are seldom if ever called upon to exert their own wits and industry
to obtain the requisites for their instruction. A great deal is now said
about technical education; but how little there is of technical
handiness or head work! Everything is _bought ready-made_ to their
hands; and hence there is no call for individual ingenuity.

I left the High School at the end of 1820. I carried with me a small
amount of Latin and no Greek. I do not think I was much the better for
my small acquaintance with the dead languages.

By the time I was seventeen years old I had acquired a considerable
amount of practical knowledge as to the use and handling of mechanical
tools, and I desired to turn it to some account. I was able to construct
working models of steam-engines and other apparatus required for the
illustration of mechanical subjects. I began with making a small working
steam-engine, for the purpose of grinding the oil-colors used by my
father in his artistic work. The result was quite satisfactory. Many
persons came to see my active little steam-engine at work; and they were
so pleased with it that I received several orders for small workshop
engines, and also for some models of steam-engines to illustrate the
subjects taught at Mechanics' Institutions.

I contrived a sectional model of a complete condensing steam-engine of
the beam and parallel-motion construction. The model, as seen from one
side, exhibited every external detail in full and due action when the
fly-wheel was moved round by hand; while on the other, or sectional
side, every detail of the interior was seen, with the steam-valves and
air-pump, as well as the motion of the piston in the cylinder, with the
construction of the piston and the stuffing-box, together with the
slide-valve and steam-passages, all in due position and relative

I was a regular attendant at the Edinburgh School of Arts from 1821 to
1826, meanwhile inventing original contrivances of various sorts.

About the year 1827, when I was nineteen years old, the subject of
steam-carriages to run upon common roads occupied considerable
attention. Several engineers and mechanical schemers had tried their
hands, but as yet no substantial results had come of their attempts to
solve the problem. Like others, I tried my hand. Having made a small
working model of a steam-carriage, I exhibited it before the members of
the Scottish Society of Arts. The performance of this active little
machine was so gratifying to the Society, that they requested me to
construct one of such power as to enable four or six persons to be
conveyed along the ordinary roads. The members of the Society, in their
individual capacity, subscribed £60, which they placed in my hands, as
the means of carrying out their project.

I accordingly set to work at once. I had the heavy parts of the engine
and carriage done at Anderson's foundry at Leith. There was in
Anderson's employment a most able general mechanic, named Robert
Maclaughlan, who had served his time at Carmichael's, of Dundee.
Anderson possessed some excellent tools, which enabled me to proceed
rapidly with the work. Besides, he was most friendly, and took much
delight in being concerned in my enterprise. This "big job" was executed
in about four months. The steam-carriage was completed and exhibited
before the members of the Society of Arts. Many successful trials were
made with it on the Queensferry Road, near Edinburgh. The runs were
generally of four or five miles, with a load of eight passengers,
sitting on benches about three feet from the ground.

The experiments were continued for nearly three months, to the great
satisfaction of the members.

The chief object of my ambition was now to be taken on at Henry
Maudsley's works in London. I had heard so much of his engineering work,
of his assortment of machine-making tools, and of the admirable
organization of his manufactory, that I longed to obtain employment
there. But I was aware that my father had not the means of paying the
large premium required for placing me there, and I was also informed
that Maudsley had ceased to take pupils, they caused him so much
annoyance. My father and I went to London; and Mr. Maudsley received us
in the most kind and frank manner, and courteously invited us to go
round the works. When this was concluded I ventured to say to Mr.
Maudsley that "I had brought up with me from Edinburgh some working
models of steam-engines and mechanical drawings, and I should feel truly
obliged if he would allow me to show them to him." "By all means," said
he; "bring them to me to-morrow at twelve o'clock." I need not say how
much pleased I was at this permission to exhibit my handiwork, and how
anxious I felt as to the result of Mr. Maudsley's inspection of it.

I carefully unpacked my working model of the steam-engine at the
carpenter's shop, and had it conveyed, together with my drawings, on a
handcart to Mr. Maudsley's, next morning, at the appointed hour. I was
allowed to place my work for his inspection in a room next his office
and counting-house. I then called at his residence, close by, where he
kindly received me in his library. He asked me to wait until he and his
partner, Joshua Field, had inspected my handiwork.

I waited anxiously. Twenty long minutes passed. At last he entered the
room, and from a lively expression in his countenance I observed in a
moment that the great object of my long-cherished ambition had been
attained. He expressed, in good round terms, his satisfaction at my
practical ability as a workman, engineer, and mechanical draughtsman.
Then, opening the door which led from his library into his beautiful
private workshop, he said, "This is where I wish you to work, beside me,
as my assistant workman. From what I have seen there is no need of an
apprenticeship in your case."

One of his favorite maxims was, "First _get a clear notion_ of what you
desire to accomplish, and then in all probability you will succeed in
doing it." Another was, "Keep a sharp lookout upon your materials; get
rid of every pound of material you can _do without_; put to yourself the
question, 'What business has it to be there?' avoid complexities, and
make everything as simple as possible." Mr. Maudsley was full of quaint
maxims and remarks,--the result of much shrewdness, keen observation,
and great experience. They were well worthy of being stored up in the
mind, like a set of proverbs, full of the life and experience of men.
His thoughts became compressed into pithy expressions exhibiting his
force of character and intellect. His quaint remarks on my first visit
to his workshop and on subsequent occasions proved to me invaluable
guides to "right thinking" in regard to all matters connected with
mechanical structure.

On the morning of Monday, May 30, 1829, I began my regular attendance at
Mr. Maudsley's workshop, and remained with him until he died, Feb. 14,
1831. It was a very sad thing for me to lose my dear old master, who
always treated me like a friend and companion. At his death I passed
over into the service of his worthy partner, Joshua Field, until my
twenty-third year, when I intended to begin business for myself.

I first settled myself at Manchester, but afterwards established a large
business outside of Manchester on the Bridgewater Canal. In August,
1836, the Bridgewater Foundry was in complete and efficient action. The
engine ordered at Londonderry was at once put in hand, and the concern
was fairly started in its long career of prosperity. The wooden
workshops had been erected upon the grass, but the greensward soon
disappeared. The hum of the driving-belts, the whirl of the machinery,
the sound of the hammer upon the anvil, gave the place an air of busy
activity. As work increased, workmen multiplied. The workshops were
enlarged. Wood gave place to brick. Cottages for the accommodation of
the work-people sprung up in the neighborhood, and what had once been a
quiet grassy field became the centre of a busy population.

It was a source of vast enjoyment to me, while engaged in the anxious
business connected with the establishment of the foundry, to be
surrounded with so many objects of rural beauty. The site of the works
being on the west side of Manchester, we had the benefit of breathing
pure air during the greater part of the year. The scenery round about
was very attractive. Exercise was a source of health to the mind as well
as the body. As it was necessary that I should reside as near as
possible to the works, I had plenty of opportunities for enjoying the
rural scenery of the neighborhood. I had the good fortune to become the
tenant of a small cottage in the ancient village of Barton, in
Cheshire, at the very moderate rental of fifteen pounds a year. The
cottage was situated on the banks of the river Irwell, and was only
about six minutes' walk from the works at Patricroft. It suited my
moderate domestic arrangements admirably.

On June 16, 1840, a day of happy memory, I was married to Miss Anne

I was present at the opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, on
Sept. 15, 1830. Every one knows the success of the undertaking. Railways
became the rage. They were projected in every possible direction; and
when made, locomotives were required to work them. When George
Stephenson was engaged in building his first locomotive, at
Killingworth, he was greatly hampered, not only by the want of handy
mechanics, but by the want of efficient tools. But he did the best that
he could. His genius overcame difficulties. It was immensely to his
credit that he should have so successfully completed his engines for the
Stockton and Darlington, and afterward for the Liverpool and Manchester,

Only a few years had passed, and self-acting tools were now enabled to
complete, with precision and uniformity, machines that before had been
deemed almost impracticable. In proportion to the rapid extension of
railways the demand for locomotives became very great. As our machine
tools were peculiarly adapted for turning out a large amount of
first-class work, we directed our attention to this class of business.
In the course of about ten years after the opening of the Liverpool and
Manchester Railway, we executed considerable orders for locomotives for
the London and Southampton, the Manchester and Leeds, and the Gloucester
Railway Companies.

The Great Western Railway Company invited us to tender for twenty of
their very ponderous engines. They proposed a very tempting condition of
the contract. It was that if, after a month's trial of the locomotives,
their working proved satisfactory, a premium of £100 was to be added to
the price of each engine and tender. The locomotives were made and
delivered; they ran the stipulated number of test miles between London
and Bristol in a perfectly satisfactory manner; and we not only received
the premium, but, what was much more encouraging, we received a special
letter from the board of directors, stating their entire satisfaction
with the performance of our engines, and desiring us to refer other
contractors to them with respect to the excellence of our workmanship.
This testimonial was altogether spontaneous, and proved extremely
valuable in other quarters.

The date of the first sketch of my steam-hammer was Nov. 24, 1839. It
consisted of, first, a massive anvil, on which to rest the work; second,
a block of iron constituting the hammer, or blow-giving portion; and,
third, an inverted steam cylinder, to whose piston-rod the hammer-block
was attached. All that was then required to produce a most effective
hammer, was simply to admit steam of sufficient pressure into the
cylinder, so as to act on the under side of the piston, and thus to
raise the hammer-block attached to the end of the piston-rod. By a very
simple arrangement of a slide-valve under the control of an attendant,
the steam was allowed to escape, and thus permit the massive block of
iron rapidly to descend by its own gravity upon the work then upon the

Thus, by the more or less rapid manner in which the attendant allowed
the steam to enter or escape from the cylinder, any required number or
any intensity of blows could be delivered. Their succession might be
modified in an instant; the hammer might be arrested and suspended
according to the requirements of the work. The workman might thus, as it
were, _think in blows_. He might deal them out on to the ponderous
glowing mass, and mould or knead it into the desired form as if it were
a lump of clay, or pat it with gentle taps, according to his will or at
the desire of the forgeman.

Rude and rapidly sketched out as it was, this my first delineation of
the steam-hammer will be found to comprise all the essential elements of
the invention. There was no want of orders when the valuable qualities
of the steam-hammer came to be seen and experienced; soon after I had
the opportunity of securing a patent for it in the United States, where
it soon found its way into the principal iron-works of the country. As
time passed by, I had furnished steam-hammers to the principal foundries
in England, and had sent them abroad even to Russia.

       *       *       *       *       *

But the English Government is proverbially slow in recognizing such
improvements. It was not till years had passed by, that Mr. Nasmyth was
asked to furnish hammers to government works. Then he was invited to
apply them to pile-driving. He says:--

My first order for my pile-driver was a source of great pleasure to me.
It was for the construction of some great royal docks at Devonport. An
immense portion of the shore of the Hamoaze had to be walled in so as to
exclude the tide.

When I arrived on the spot with my steam pile-driver, there was a great
deal of curiosity in the dockyard as to the action of the new machine.
The pile-driving machine-men gave me a good-natured challenge to vie
with them in driving down a pile. They adopted the old method, while I
adopted the new one. The resident managers sought out two great pile
logs of equal size and length,-seventy feet long and eighteen inches
square. At a given signal we started together. I let in the steam, and
the hammer at once began to work. The four-ton block showered down blows
at the rate of eighty a minute, and in the course of _four and a half
minutes_ my pile was driven down to its required depth. The men working
at the ordinary machine had only begun to drive. It took them upward of
_twelve hours_ to complete the driving of their pile!

Such a saving of time in the performance of similar work--by steam
_versus_ manual labor--had never before been witnessed. The energetic
action of the steam-hammer, sitting on the shoulders of the pile high up
aloft, and following it suddenly down, the rapidly hammered blows
keeping time with the flashing out of the waste steam at the end of each
stroke, was indeed a remarkable sight. When my pile was driven the
hammer-block and guide-case were speedily re-hoisted by the small engine
that did all the laboring and locomotive work of the machine, the
steam-hammer portion of which was then lowered on to the shoulders of
the next pile in succession. Again it set to work. At this the
spectators, crowding about in boats, pronounced their approval in the
usual British style of "Three cheers!" My new pile-driver was thus
acknowledged as another triumphant proof of the power of steam.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the course of the year 1843 it was necessary for me to make a journey
to St. Petersburg. My object was to endeavor to obtain an order for a
portion of the locomotives required for working the line between that
city and Moscow. The railway had been constructed under the engineership
of Major Whistler, and it was shortly about to be opened.

The Major gave me a frank and cordial reception, and informed me of the
position of affairs. The Emperor, he said, was desirous of training a
class of Russian mechanics to supply not only the locomotives, but to
keep them constantly in repair. The locomotives must be made in Russia.
I received, however, a very large order for boilers and other detail
parts of the Moscow machines.

I enjoyed greatly my visit to St. Petersburg, and my return home through
Stockholm and Copenhagen.

Travelling one day in Sweden, the post-house where I was set down was an
inn, although without a sign-board. The landlady was a bright, cheery,
jolly woman. She could not speak a word of English, nor I a word of
Dannemora Swedish. I was very thirsty and hungry, and wanted something
to eat. How was I to communicate my wishes to the landlady? I resorted,
as I often did, to the universal language of the pencil. I took out my
sketch-book, and in a few minutes I made a drawing of a table with a
dish of smoking meat upon it, a bottle and a glass, a knife and fork, a
loaf, a salt-cellar, and a corkscrew. She looked at the drawing and gave
a hearty laugh. She nodded pleasantly, showing that she clearly
understood what I wanted. She asked me for the sketch, and went into the
back garden to show it to her husband, who inspected it with great
delight. I went out and looked about the place, which was very
picturesque. After a short time the landlady came to the door and
beckoned me in, and I found spread out on the table everything that I
desired,--a broiled chicken, smoking hot from the gridiron, a bottle of
capital home-brewed ale, and all the _et ceteras_ of an excellent
repast. I made use of my pencil in many other ways. I always found that
a sketch was as useful as a sentence. Besides, it generally created a
sympathy between me and my entertainers.

As the Bridgewater Foundry had been so fortunate as to earn for itself a
considerable reputation for mechanical contrivances, the workshops were
always busy. They were crowded with machine tools in full action, and
exhibited to all comers their effectiveness in the most satisfactory
manner. Every facility was afforded to those who desired to see them at
work; and every machine and machine tool that was turned out became in
the hands of its employers the progenitor of a numerous family.

Indeed, on many occasions I had the gratification of seeing my
mechanical notions adopted by rival or competitive machine constructors,
often without acknowledgment; though, notwithstanding this point of
honor, there was room enough for all. Though the parent features were
easily recognizable, I esteemed such plagiarisms as a sort of
left-handed compliment to their author. I also regarded them as a proof
that I had hit the mark in so arranging my mechanical combinations as to
cause their general adoption; and many of them remain unaltered to this

My favorite pursuit, after my daily excursions at the foundry, was
astronomy. I constructed for myself a telescope of considerable power,
and, mounting my ten-inch instrument, I began my survey of the heavens.
I began as a learner, and my learning grew with experience. There were
the prominent stars, the planets, the Milky Way,--with thousands of
far-off suns,--to be seen. My observations were at first merely
general; by degrees they became particular. I was not satisfied with
enjoying these sights myself. I made my friends and neighbors sharers in
my pleasure, and some of them enjoyed the wonders of the heavens as much
as I did.

In my early use of the telescope I had fitted the speculum into a light
square tube of deal, to which the eyepiece was attached, so as to have
all the essential parts of the telescope combined together in the most
simple and portable form. I had often to move it from place to place in
my small garden at the side of the Bridgewater Canal, in order to get it
clear of the trees and branches which intercepted some object in the
heavens which I wished to see. How eager and enthusiastic I was in those
days! Sometimes I got out of bed in the clear small hours of the
morning, and went down to the garden in my night-shirt. I would take the
telescope in my arms and plant it in some suitable spot, where I might
take a peep at some special planet or star then above the horizon.

It became bruited about that a ghost was seen at Patricroft! A barge was
silently gliding along the canal near midnight, when the boatman
suddenly saw a figure in white. "It moved among the trees, with a coffin
in its arms!" The apparition was so sudden and strange that he
immediately concluded that it was a ghost. The weird sight was reported
all along the canal, and also at Wolverhampton, which was the boatman's
headquarters. He told the people at Patricroft, on his return journey,
what he had seen; and great was the excitement produced. The place was
haunted; there was no doubt about it! After all, the rumor was founded
on fact; for the ghost was merely myself in my night-shirt, and the
coffin was my telescope, which I was quietly shifting from one place to
another, in order to get a clearer sight of the heavens at midnight.

I had been for some time contemplating the possibility of retiring
altogether from business. I had got enough of the world's goods, and was
willing to make way for younger men.

Many long years of pleasant toil and exertion had done their work. A
full momentum of prosperity had been given to my engineering business at
Patricroft. My share in the financial results accumulated, with
accelerated rapidity, to an amount far beyond my most sanguine hopes.
But finding, from long-continued and incessant mental efforts, that my
nervous system was beginning to become shaken, especially in regard to
an affection of the eyes, which in some respects damaged my sight, I
thought the time had arrived for me to retire from commercial life.

Behold us, then, settled down at Hammerfield for life. We had plenty to
do. My workshop was fully equipped. My hobbies were there, and I could
work them to my heart's content. The walls of our various rooms were
soon hung with pictures and other works of art, suggestive of many
pleasant associations of former days. Our library bookcase was crowded
with old friends in the shape of books that had been read and re-read
many times, until they had almost become part of ourselves. Old
Lancashire friends made their way to us when "up in town," and expressed
themselves delighted with our pleasant house and its beautiful

I was only forty-eight years old, which may be considered the prime of
life. But I had plenty of hobbies, perhaps the chief of which was
astronomy. No sooner had I settled at Hammerfield than I had my
telescopes brought out and mounted. The fine, clear skies with which we
were favored furnished me with abundant opportunities for the use of my
instruments. I began again my investigations on the sun and the moon,
and made some original discoveries.

It is time to come to an end of my recollections. I have endeavored to
give a brief _résumé_ of my life and labors. I hope they may prove
interesting as well as useful to others. Thanks to a good constitution
and a frame invigorated by work, I continue to lead, with my dear wife,
a happy life.




In intervals of the reading meetings so many of the children's
afternoons with Uncle Fritz had been taken up with excursions to see
machinery at work, that their next meeting at the Oliver House was, as
it proved, the last for the winter.

They had gone to the pumping-station of the waterworks, and had seen the
noiseless work of the great steam-engine there. They had gone to the
Ætna Mills at Watertown, and with the eye of the flesh had seen "rovers"
and shuttles, and had been taught what "slobbers" are. They had gone to
Waltham, and had been taught something of the marvellous skill and
delicacy expended on the manufacture of watches. They had gone to Rand
and Avery's printing-house; and here they not only saw the processes of
printing, but they saw steam power "converted" into electricity. They
had gone to the Locomotive Factory in Albany Street, and understood,
much better than before, the inventions of George Stephenson, under the
lead of the foremen in the shops, who had been very kind to them.

On their last meeting Uncle Fritz reminded them of something which one
of these gentlemen had taught them about the qualities of steel and
iron; and again of what they had seen of steel-springs at Waltham, when
they saw how the balances of watches are arranged.

"Some bright person has called our time 'the Age of Steel,'" he said.
"You know Ovid's division was 'the Age of Gold, the Age of Silver, the
Age of Brass, the Age of Iron.' And Ovid, who was in low spirits,
thought the Age of Iron was the worst of all. Now, we begin to improve
if we have entered the Age of Steel; for steel is, poetically speaking,
glorified iron.

"Now the person to whom we owe it, that, in practice, we can build steel
ships to-day where we once built iron ships, and lay steel rails to-day
where even Stephenson was satisfied with iron, is Sir Henry Bessemer.
The Queen knighted him in recognition of the service he had rendered to
the world by his improvements in the processes of turning iron into

"It is impossible to estimate the addition which these improvements have
made to the physical power of the world. I have not the most recent
figures, but look at this," said Uncle Fritz. And he gave to John to
read from a Life of Sir Henry Bessemer:--

"Prior to this invention the entire production of cast steel in Great
Britain was only about fifty thousand tons annually; and its average
price, which ranged from £50 to £600, prohibited its use for many of the
purposes to which it is now universally applied. After the invention, in
the year 1877, the Bessemer steel produced in Great Britain alone
amounted to 750,000 tons, or fifteen times the total of the former
method of manufacture, while the selling price averaged only £10 per
ton, and the coal consumed in producing it was less by 3,500,000 tons
than would have been required in order to make the same quality of
steel by the old, or Sheffield, process. The total reduction of cost is
equal to about £30,000,000 sterling upon the quantity manufactured in
England during the year."

The same book goes on to show that in other nations £20,000,000 worth of
Bessemer steel was produced in the same year.

"You see," said Uncle Fritz, "that here is an addition to the real
wealth of the world such as makes any average fairy story about diamonds
and rubies rather cheap and contemptible.

"You will like Sir Henry Bessemer, Hester, because he was happily
trained and had good chances when he was a boy. And you will be amused
to see how his bright wife was brighter than all the internal-revenue
people. She was so bright that she lost him the appointment which had
enabled him to marry her. But I think he says somewhere, with a good
deal of pride, that but for that misfortune, and the injustice which
accompanied it, he should have probably never made his great inventions.
It is one more piece of 'Partial evil,--universal good.'"

Then the children, with Uncle Fritz's aid, began picking out what they
called the plums from the accounts he showed them of Sir Henry
Bessemer's life.


At the time of the great Revolution of 1792 there was employed in the
French mint a man of great ingenuity, who had become a member of the
French Academy of Sciences at the age of twenty-five. When Robespierre
became Dictator of France, this scientific academician was transferred
from the mint to the management of a public bakery, established for the
purpose of supplying the populace of Paris with bread. In that position
he soon became the object of revolutionary frenzy. One day a rumor was
set afloat that the loaves supplied were light in weight; and, spreading
like wildfire, it was made the occasion of a fearful tumult. The manager
of the bakery was instantly seized and cast into prison. He succeeded in
escaping, but it was at the peril of his life. Knowing the peril he was
in, he lost no time in making his way to England; and he only succeeded
in doing so by adroitly using some documents he possessed bearing the
signature of the Dictator. Landing in England a ruined man, his talents
soon proved a passport to success. He was appointed to a position in the
English mint; and by the exercise of his ingenuity in other directions,
he ere long acquired sufficient means to buy a small estate at Charlton,
in Hertfordshire. Such, in brief, were the circumstances that led to the
settlement there of Anthony Bessemer, the father of Sir Henry Bessemer.
The latter may be said to have been born an inventor. His father was an
inventor before him. After settling in England, his inventive ingenuity
was displayed in making improvements in microscopes and in
type-founding, and in the discovery of what his son has happily
described as the true alchemy. The latter discovery, which he made about
the beginning of the present century, was a source of considerable
profit to him. It is generally known that when gold articles are made by
the jewellers, there are various discolorations left on their surface by
the process of manufacture; and in order to clear their surface, they
are put into a solution of alum, salt, and saltpetre, which dissolves a
large quantity of the copper that is used as an alloy. Anthony Bessemer
discovered that this powerful acid not only dissolved the copper, but
also dissolved a quantity of gold. He accordingly began to buy up this
liquor; and as he was the only one who knew that it contained gold in
solution, he had no difficulty in arranging for the purchase of it from
all the manufacturers in London. From that liquor he succeeded in
extracting gold in considerable quantities for many years. By some means
that he kept secret (and the secret died with him), he deposited the
particles of gold on the shavings of another metal, which, being
afterwards melted, left the pure gold in small quantities. Thirty years
afterward the Messrs. Elkington invented the electrotype process, which
had the same effect. Anthony Bessemer was also eminently successful as a
type-founder. When in France, before the Revolution of 1792, he cut a
great many founts of type for Messrs. Firmin Didot, the celebrated
French type-founders; and after his return to England he betook himself,
as a diversion, to type-cutting for Mr. Henry Caslon, the celebrated
English type-founder. He engraved an entire series, from pica to
diamond,--a work which occupied several years. The success of these
types led to the establishment of the firm of Bessemer and Catherwood as
type-founders, carrying on business at Charlton. The great improvement
which Anthony Bessemer introduced into the art of type-making was not so
much in the engraving as in the composition of the metal. He discovered
that an alloy of copper, tin, and bismuth was the most durable metal for
type; and the working of this discovery was very successful in his
hands. The secret of his success, however, he kept unknown to the trade.
He knew that if it were suspected that the superiority of his type
consisted in the composition of the metal, analysis would reveal it,
and others would then be able to compete with him. So, to divert
attention from the real cause, he pointed out to the trade that the
shape of his type was different, as the angle at which all the lines
were produced from the surface was more obtuse in his type than in those
of other manufacturers, at the same time contending that his type would
wear longer. Other manufacturers ridiculed this account of Bessemer's
type, but experience showed that it lasted nearly twice as long as other
type. The business flourished for a dozen years under his direction, and
during that period the real cause of its success was kept a secret. The
process has since been re-discovered and patented. Such were some of the
inventive efforts of the father of one of the greatest inventors of the
present age.


The youngest son of Anthony Bessemer, Henry, was born at Charlton, in
Hertfordshire, in 1813. His boyhood was spent in his native village; and
while receiving the rudiments of an ordinary education in the
neighboring town of Hitchin, the leisure and retirement of rural life
afforded ample time, though perhaps little inducement, for the display
of the natural bent of his mind. Notwithstanding his scanty and
imperfect mechanical appliances, his early years were devoted to the
cultivation of his inventive faculties. His parents encouraged him in
his youthful efforts.

At the age of eighteen he came to London, "knowing no one," he says,
"and myself unknown,--a mere cipher in a vast sea of human enterprise."
Here he worked as a modeller and designer with encouraging success. He
engraved a large number of elegant and original designs on steel, with a
diamond point, for patent-medicine labels. He got plenty of this sort of
work to do, and was well paid for it. In his boyhood his favorite
amusement was the modelling of objects in clay; and even in this
primitive school of genius he worked with so much success that at the
age of nineteen he exhibited one of his beautiful models at the Royal
Academy, then held at Somerset House.


Thus he soon began to make his way in the metropolis; and in the course
of the following year he was maturing some plans in connection with the
production of stamps which he sanguinely hoped would lead him on to
fortune. At that time the old forms of stamps were in use that had been
employed since the days of Queen Anne; and as they were easily
transferred from old deeds to new ones, the Government lost a large
amount annually by this surreptitious use of old stamps instead of new
ones. The ordinary impressed or embossed stamps, such as are now
employed on bills of exchange, or impressed directly on skins or
parchment, were liable to be entirely obliterated if exposed for some
months to a damp atmosphere. A deed so exposed would at last appear as
if unstamped, and would therefore become invalid. Special precautions
were therefore observed in order to prevent this occurrence. It was the
practice to gum small pieces of blue paper on the parchment; and, to
render it still more secure, a strip of metal foil was passed through
it, and another small piece of paper with the printed initials of the
sovereign was gummed over the loose end of the foil at the back. The
stamp was then impressed on the blue paper, which, unlike parchment, is
incapable of losing the impression by exposure to a damp atmosphere.
Experience showed, however, that by placing a little piece of moistened
blotting-paper for a few hours over the paper, the gum became so
softened that the two pieces of paper and the slip of foil could be
easily removed from an old deed and then used for a new one. In this way
stamps could be used a second and third time; and by thus utilizing the
expensive stamps on old deeds of partnerships that were dissolved, or
leases that were expired, the public revenue lost thousands of pounds
every year. Sir Charles Persley, of the Stamp Office, told Sir Henry
Bessemer that the Government were probably defrauded of £100,000 per
annum in that way. The young inventor at once set to work, for the
express purpose of devising a stamp that could not be used twice. His
first discovery was a mode by which he could have reproduced easily and
cheaply thousands of stamps of any pattern. "The facility," he says,
"with which I could make a permanent die from a thin paper original,
capable of producing a thousand copies, would have opened a wide door
for successful frauds if my process had been known to unscrupulous
persons; for there is not a government stamp or a paper seal of a
corporate body that every common office clerk could not forge in a few
minutes at the office of his employer or at his own home. The production
of such a die from a common paper stamp is a work of only ten minutes;
the materials cost less than one penny; no sort of technical skill is
necessary, and a common copying-press or a letter stamp yields most
successful copies." To this day a successful forger has to employ a
skilful die-sinker to make a good imitation in steel of the document he
wishes to forge; but if such a method as that discovered and described
by Sir Henry Bessemer were known, what a prospect it would open up!
Appalled at the effect which the communication of such a process would
have had upon the business of the Stamp Office, he carefully kept the
knowledge of it to himself; and to this day it remains a profound

More than ever impressed with the necessity for an improved form of
stamp, and conscious of his own capability to produce it, he labored for
some months to accomplish his object, feeling sure that, if successful,
he would be amply rewarded by the Government. To insure the secrecy of
his experiments, he worked at them during the night, after his ordinary
business of the day was over. He succeeded at last in making a stamp
which obviated the great objection to the then existing form, inasmuch
as it would be impossible to transfer it from one deed to another, to
obliterate it by moisture, or to take an impression from it capable of
producing a duplicate. Flushed with success and confident of the reward
of his labors, he waited upon Sir Charles Persley at Somerset House, and
showed him, by numerous proofs, how easily all the then existing stamps
could be forged, and his new invention to prevent forgery. Sir Charles,
who was much astonished at the one invention and pleased with the other,
asked Bessemer to call again in a few days. At the second interview Sir
Charles asked him to work out the principle of the new stamping
invention more fully. Accordingly Bessemer devoted five or six weeks'
more labor to the perfecting of his stamp, with which the Stamp Office
authorities were now well pleased. The design, as described by the
inventor, was circular, about two and a half inches in diameter, and
consisted of a garter with a motto in capital letters, surmounted by a
crown. Within the garter was a shield, and the garter was filled with
network in imitation of lace. The die was executed in steel, which
pierced the parchment with more than four hundred holes; and these holes
formed the stamp. It is by a similar process that valentine makers have
since learned to make the perforated paper used in their trade. Such a
stamp removed all the objections to the old one. So pleased was Sir
Charles with it that he recommended it to Lord Althorp, and it was soon
adopted by the Stamp Office. At the same time Sir Henry was asked
whether he would be satisfied with the position of Superintendent of
Stamps with £500 or £600 per annum, as compensation for his invention,
instead of a sum of money from the treasury. This appointment he gladly
agreed to accept; for, being engaged to be married at the time, he
thought his future position in life was settled. Shortly afterwards he
called on the young lady to whom he was engaged, and communicated the
glad tidings to her, at the same time showing her the design of his new
stamp. On explaining to her that its chief virtue was that the new
stamps thus produced could not, like the old ones, be fraudulently used
twice or thrice, she instantly suggested that if all stamps had a date
put upon them they could not be used at a future time without detection.
The idea was new to him; and, impressed with its practical character, he
at once conceived a plan for the insertion of movable dates in the die
of his stamp. The method by which this is now done is too well known to
require description here; but in 1833 it was a new invention. Having
worked out the details of a stamp with movable dates, he saw that it
was more simple and more easily worked than his elaborate die for
perforating stamps; but he also saw that if he disclosed his latest
invention it might interfere with his settled prospects in connection
with the carrying out of his first one. It was not without regret, too,
that he saw the results of many months of toil and the experiments of
many lonely nights at once superseded; but his conviction of the
superiority of his latest design was so strong, and his own sense of
honor and his confidence in that of the Government was so unsuspecting,
that he boldly went and placed the whole matter before Sir Charles
Persley. Of course the new design was preferred. Sir Charles truly
observed that with this new plan all the old dies, old presses, and old
workmen could be employed. Among the other advantages it presented to
the Government, it did not fail to strike Sir Charles that no
Superintendent of Stamps would now be necessary,--a recommendation which
the perforated die did not possess. The Stamp Office therefore abandoned
the ingenuous and ingenious inventor. The old stamps were called in, and
the new ones issued in a few weeks; the revenue from stamps grew
enormously, and forged or feloniously used stamps are now almost unheard
of. The Stamp Office reaped a benefit which it is scarcely possible to
estimate fully, while Bessemer did not receive a farthing. Shortly after
the new stamp was adopted by Act of Parliament, Lord Althorp resigned,
and his successors disclaimed all liability. When the disappointed
inventor pressed his claim, he was met by all sorts of half-promises and
excuses, which ended in nothing. The disappointment was all the more
galling because, if Bessemer had stuck to his first-adopted plan, his
services would have been indispensable to its execution; and it was
therefore through his putting a better and more easily worked plan
before them that his services were coolly ignored. "I had no patent to
fall back upon," he says, in describing the incident afterward. "I could
not go to law, even if I wished to do so; for I was reminded, when
pressing for mere money out of pocket, that I had done all the work
voluntarily and of my own accord. Wearied and disgusted, I at last
ceased to waste time in calling at the Stamp Office,--for time was
precious to me in those days,--and I felt that nothing but increased
exertions could make up for the loss of some nine months of toil and
expenditure. Thus sad and dispirited, and with a burning sense of
injustice overpowering all other feelings, I went my way from the Stamp
Office, too proud to ask as a favor that which was indubitably my


Shortly after he had taken out his first patent for his improvement in
type-founding, his attention was accidentally turned to the manufacture
of bronze powder, which is used in gold-work, japanning, gold-printing,
and similar operations. While engaged in ornamenting a vignette in his
sister's album, he had to purchase a small quantity of this bronze, and
was struck with the great difference between the price of the raw
material and that of the manufactured article. The latter sold for
112_s._ a pound, while the raw material only cost 11_d._ a pound. He
concluded that the difference was caused by the process of manufacture,
and made inquiries with the view of learning the nature of the process.
He found, however, that this manufacture was hardly known in England.
The article was supplied to English dealers from Nuremberg and other
towns in Germany. He did not succeed, therefore, in finding any one who
could tell him how it was produced. In these circumstances he determined
to try to make it himself, and worked for a year and a half at the
solution of this task. Other men had tried it and failed, and he was on
the point of failing too. After eighteen months of fruitless labor he
came to the conclusion that he could not make it, and gave it up. But it
is the highest attribute of genius to succeed where others fail, and,
impelled by this instinct, he resumed his investigations after six
months' repose. At last success crowned his efforts. The profits of his
previous inventions now supplied him with funds sufficient to provide
the mechanical appliances he had designed.

Knowing very little of the patent law, and considering it so insecure
that the safest way to reap the full benefit of his new invention was to
keep it to himself, he determined to work his process of bronze-making
in strict secrecy; and every precaution was therefore adopted for this
purpose. He first put up a small apparatus with his own hands, and
worked it entirely himself. By this means he produced the required
article at 4_s._ a pound. He then sent out a traveller with samples of
it, and the first order he got was at 80_s._ a pound. Being thus fully
assured of success, he communicated his plans to a friend, who agreed to
put £10,000 into the business, as a sleeping partner, in order to work
the new manufacture on a larger scale. The entire working of the concern
was left in the hands of Sir Henry, who accordingly proceeded to enlarge
his means of production. To insure secrecy, he made plans of all the
machinery required, and then divided them into sections. He next sent
these sectional drawings to different engineering works, in order to
get his machinery made piecemeal in different parts of England. This
done, he collected the various pieces, and fitted them up himself,--a
work that occupied him nine months. Finding everything at last in
perfect working order, he engaged four or five assistants in whom he had
confidence, and paid them very high wages on condition that they kept
everything in the strictest secrecy. Bronze powder was now produced in
large quantities by means of five self-acting machines, which not only
superseded hand labor entirely, but were capable of producing as much
daily as sixty skilled operatives could do by the old hand system.

To this day the mechanical means by which his famous gold paint is
produced remains a secret. The machinery is driven by a steam-engine in
an adjoining room; and into the room where the automatic machinery is at
work none but the inventor and his assistants have ever entered. When a
sufficient quantity of work is done, a bell is rung to give notice to
the engine-man to stop the engine; and in this way the machinery has
been in constant use for over forty years without having been either
patented or pirated. Its profit was as great as its success. At first he
made 1,000 per cent profit; and though there are other products that now
compete with this bronze, it still yields 300 per cent profit. "All this
time," says the successful inventor thirty years afterward, "I have been
afraid to improve the machinery, or to introduce other engineers into
the works to improve them. Strange to say, we have thus among us a
manufacture wholly unimproved for thirty years. I do not believe there
is another instance of such a thing in the kingdom. I believe that if I
had patented it, the fourteen years would not have run out without other
people making improvements in the manufacture. Of the five machines I
use, three are applicable to other processes, one to color-making
especially; so much so that notwithstanding the very excellent income
which I derive from the manufacture, I had once nearly made up my mind
to throw it open and make it public, for the purpose of using part of my
invention for the manufacture of colors. Three out of my five assistants
have died; and if the other two were to die and myself too, no one would
know what the invention is." Since this was said (in 1871), Sir Henry
has rewarded the faithfulness of his two surviving assistants by handing
over to them the business and the factory.


Sir Henry Bessemer was first led to turn his attention to the
improvement of the manufacture of iron by a remark of Commander Minie,
who was superintending certain trials of the results of Sir Henry's
experiments in obtaining rotation of shot fired from a smooth-bore gun.
"The shots," said Minie, "rotate properly; but if you cannot get
stronger metal for your guns, such heavy projectiles will be of little

At this time Sir Henry had no connection with the iron or steel trade,
and knew little or nothing of metallurgy. But this fact he has always
represented as being rather an advantage than a drawback. "I find," he
says, "in my experience with regard to inventions, that the most
intelligent manufacturers invent many small improvements in various
departments of their manufactures,--but, generally speaking, these are
only small ameliorations based on the nature of the operation they are
daily pursuing; while, on the contrary, persons wholly unconnected with
any particular business have their minds so free and untrammelled to
new things as they are, and as they would present themselves to an
independent observer, that they are the men who eventually produce the
greatest changes." It was in this spirit that he began his
investigations in metallurgy. His first business was to make himself
acquainted with the information contained in the best works then
published on the subject. He also endeavored to add some practical
knowledge to what he learned from books. With this view he visited the
iron-making districts in the north, and there obtained an insight into
the working merits and defects of the processes then in use. On his
return to London he arranged for the use of an old factory in St.
Pancras, where he began his own series of experiments. He converted the
factory into a small experimental "iron-works," in which his first
object was to improve the quality of iron. For this purpose he made many
costly experiments without the desired measure of success, but not
without making some progress in the right direction. After twelve months
spent in these experiments he produced an improved quality of cast iron,
which was almost as white as steel, and was both tougher and stronger
than the best cast iron then used for ordnance. Of this metal he cast a
small model gun, which was turned and bored. This gun he took to Paris,
and presented it personally to the Emperor,[23] as the result of his
labors thus far. His Majesty encouraged him to continue his experiments,
and desired to be further informed of the results.

As Sir Henry continued his labors, he extended their scope from the
production of refined iron to that of steel; and in order to protect
himself, he took out a patent for each successive improvement. One idea
after another was put to the test of experiment; one furnace after
another was pulled down, and numerous mechanical appliances were
designed and tried in practice. During these experiments he specified a
multitude of improvements in the crucible process of making steel; but
he still felt that much remained to be done. At the end of eighteen
months, he says, "the idea struck me" of rendering cast iron malleable
by the introduction of atmospheric air into the fluid metal. His first
experiment to test this idea was made in a crucible in the laboratory.
He there found that by blowing air into the molten metal in the
crucible, by means of a movable blow-pipe, he could convert ten pounds
or twelve pounds of crude iron into the softest malleable iron. The
samples thus produced were so satisfactory in all their mechanical tests
that he brought them under the notice of Colonel Eardley Wilmot, then
the Superintendent of the Royal Gun Factories, who expressed himself
delighted and astonished at the result, and who offered him facilities
for experimenting in Woolwich Arsenal. These facilities were extended to
him in the laboratory by Professor Abel, who made numberless analyses of
the material as he advanced with his experiments. The testing department
was also put at his disposal, for testing the tensile strength and
elasticity of different samples of soft malleable iron and steel. The
first piece that was rolled at Woolwich was preserved by Sir Henry as a
memento. It was a small bar of metal, about a foot long and an inch
wide, and was converted from a state of pig iron in a crucible of only
ten pounds. That small piece of bar, after being rolled, was tried, to
see how far it was capable of welding; and he was surprised to see how
easily it answered the severest tests. After this he commenced
experiments on a larger scale. He had proved in the laboratory that the
principle of purifying pig iron by atmospheric air was possible; but he
feared, from what he knew of iron metallurgy, that as he approached the
condition of pure soft malleable iron, he must of necessity require a
temperature that he could not hope to attain under these conditions. In
order to produce larger quantities of metal in this way, one of his
first ideas was to apply the air to the molten iron in crucibles; and
accordingly, in October, 1855, he took out a patent embodying this idea.
He proposed to erect a large circular furnace, with openings for the
reception of melting-pots containing fluid iron, and pipes were made to
conduct air into the centre of each pot, and to force it among the
particles of metal. Having thus tested the purifying effect of cold air
introduced into the melting iron in pots, he labored for three months in
trying to overcome the mechanical difficulties experienced in this
complicated arrangement. He wondered whether it would not be possible to
dispense with the pipes and pots, and perform the whole operation in one
large circular or egg-shaped vessel. The difficult thing in doing so,
was to force the air all through the mass of liquid metal. While this
difficulty was revolving in his mind, the labor and anxiety entailed by
previous experiments brought on a short but severe illness; and while he
was lying in bed, pondering for hours upon the prospects of succeeding
in another experiment with the pipes and pots, it occurred to him that
the difficulty might be got over by introducing air into a large vessel
from below into the molten mass within.

Though he entertained grave doubts as to the practicability of carrying
out this idea, chiefly owing to the high temperature required to
maintain the iron in a state of fluidity while the impurities were being
burned out, he determined to put it to a working test; and on recovering
health he immediately began to design apparatus for this purpose. He
constructed a circular vessel, measuring three feet in diameter and five
feet in height, and capable of holding seven hundred-weight of iron. He
next ordered a small, powerful air-engine and a quantity of crude iron
to be put down on the premises in St. Pancras, that he had hired for
carrying on his experiments. The name of these premises was Baxter
House, formerly the residence of old Richard Baxter; and the simple
experiment we are now going to describe has made that house more famous
than ever. The primitive apparatus being ready, the engine was made to
force streams of air, under high pressure, through the bottom of the
vessel, which was lined with fire-clay; and the stoker was told to pour
the metal, when it was sufficiently melted, in at the top of it. A
cast-iron plate--one of those lids which commonly cover the coal-holes
in the pavement--was hung over the converter; and all being got ready,
the stoker in some bewilderment poured in the metal. Instantly out came
a volcanic eruption of such dazzling coruscations as had never been seen
before. The dangling pot-lid dissolved in the gleaming volume of flame,
and the chain by which it hung grew red and then white, as the various
stages of the process were unfolded to the gaze of the wondering
spectators. The air-cock to regulate the blast was beside the
converting-vessel; but no one dared to go near it, much less
deliberately to shut it. In this dilemma, however, they were soon
relieved by finding that the process of decarburization or combustion
had expended all its fury; and, most wonderful of all, the result was
steel! The new metal was tried. Its quality was good. The problem was
solved. The new process appeared successful. The inventor was elated, as
well he might be!

The new process was received with astonishment by all the iron-working
world. It was approved by many, but scoffed at by others. As trials went
on, however, the feeling against it increased. The iron so made was
often "rotten," and no one could tell exactly why.

Bessemer, however, continued to investigate everything for himself,
regardless of all suggestions. Some ideas of permanent value were
offered to him, but were set at nought. It was not till another series
of independent experiments were made that he himself discovered the
secret of failure. It then appeared that, by mere chance, the iron used
in his first experiments was Blaenavon pig, which is exceptionally free
from phosphorus; and consequently, when other sorts of iron were thrown
at random into the converter, the phosphorus manifested its refractory
nature in the unworkable character of the metal produced. Analyses made
by Professor Abel for Sir Henry showed that this was the real cause of
failure. Once convinced of this fact, Sir Henry set to work for the
purpose of removing this hostile element. He saw how phosphorus was
removed in the puddling-furnace, and he now tried to do the same thing
in his converter. Another series of costly and laborious experiments was
conducted; and first one patent and then another was taken out, tried,
and abandoned. His last idea was to make a vessel in which the
converting process did not take place, but into which he could put the
pig iron as soon as it was melted, along with the same kind of materials
that were used in the puddling-furnace. He was then of opinion that he
must come as near to puddling as possible, in order to get the
phosphorus out of the iron. Just as he was preparing to put this plan
into operation, there arrived in England some pig iron which he had
ordered from Sweden some months previously. When this iron, which was
free from phosphorus, was put into the converter, it yielded, in the
very first experiment, a metal of so high a quality that he at once
abandoned his efforts to dephosphorize ordinary iron. The Sheffield
manufacturers were then selling steel at £60 a ton; and he thought that
as he could buy pig iron at £7 a ton, and by blowing it a few minutes in
the converter could make it into what was being sold at such a high
price, the problem was solved.

But there was yet one thing wanting. He had now succeeded in producing
the purest malleable iron ever made, and that, too, by a quicker and
less expensive process than was ever known before. But what he wanted
was to make steel. The former is iron in its greatest possible purity;
the latter is pure iron containing a small percentage of carbon to
harden it. There has been an almost endless controversy in trying to
make a definition that will fix the dividing line that separates the one
metal from the other.[24]

For our present purpose, suffice it to quote the account given in a
popular treatise on metallurgy, published at the time when Bessemer was
in the midst of his experiments. "Wrought iron," it says, "or soft
iron, may contain no carbon; and if perfectly pure, would contain none,
nor indeed any other impurity. This is a state to be desired and aimed
at, but it has never yet been perfectly attained in practice. The best
as well as the commonest foreign irons always contain more or less
carbon.... Carbon may exist in iron in the ratio of 65 parts to 10,000
without assuming the properties of steel. If the proportion be greater
than that, and anywhere between the limits of 65 parts of carbon to
10,000 parts of iron and 2 parts of carbon to 100 of iron, the alloy
assumes the properties of steel. In cast iron the carbon exceeds 2 per
cent, but in appearance and properties it differs widely from the
hardest steel. These properties, although we quote them, are somewhat
doubtful; and the chemical constitution of these three substances may,
perhaps, be regarded as still undetermined." Now, in the Bessemer
converter the carbon was almost entirely consumed. In the small gun just
described,[25] there were only 14 parts of carbon for 1,000,000 parts of
iron. Bessemer's next difficulty was to carburize his pure iron, and
thus to make it into steel. "The wrought iron," says Mr. I. L. Bell, "as
well as the steel made according to Sir Henry Bessemer's original plan,
though a purer specimen of metal was never heard of except in the
laboratory, was simply worthless. In this difficulty, a ray of
scientific truth, brought to light one hundred years before, came to the
rescue. Bergmann was one of the earliest philosophers who discarded all
theory, and introduced into chemistry that process of analysis which is
the indispensable antecedent of scientific system. This Swedish
experimenter had ascertained the existence of manganese in the iron of
that country, and connected its presence with suitability for steel
purposes." Manganese is a kind of iron exceptionally rich in carbon, and
also exceptionally free from other impurities. Berzelius, Rinman,
Karsten, Berthier, and other metallurgists had before now discussed its
effect when combined with ordinary iron; and the French were so well
aware that ferro-manganese ores were superior for steel-making purposes
that they gave them the name of _mines d'acier_. So Bessemer, after many
experiments, discovered a method whereby, with the use of
ferro-manganese, he could make what is known as mild steel. The process
of manufacture, when described by Sir Henry Bessemer at Cheltenham in
1856,[26] was so nearly complete, that only two important additions were
made afterwards. One was the introduction of the ferro-manganese for the
purpose of imparting to his pure liquid iron the properties of "mild
steel." The other was an improvement in the mechanical apparatus. He
found that when the air had been blown into the iron till all the carbon
was expelled, the continuance of "the blow" afterward consumed the iron
at a very rapid rate, and a great loss of iron thus took place. It was
therefore necessary to cease blowing at a particular moment. At first he
saw no practical way by which he could prevent the metal going into the
air-holes in the bottom of the vessel below the level of the liquid
mass, so as to stop them up immediately on ceasing to force the air
through them; for if he withdrew the pressure of air, the whole
apparatus would be destroyed for a time. Here, again, his inventive
genius found a remedy. He had the converter holding the molten iron
mounted on an axis, which enabled him at any moment he liked to turn it
round and to bring the holes above the level of the metal; whenever this
was done the process of conversion or combustion ceased of itself, and
the apparatus had only to be turned back again in order to resume the
operation. This turning on an axis of a furnace weighing eleven tons,
and containing five tons of liquid metal, at a temperature scarcely
approachable, was a system entirely different from anything that had
preceded it; for it he took out what he considered one of his most
important patents, "and," he says, "I am vain enough to believe that so
long as my process lasts, the motion of the vessel containing the fluid
on its axis will be retained as an absolute necessity for any form which
the process may take at any future time." The patent for this invention
was taken out about four years after his original patent for the

Uncle Fritz showed them a picture of this gigantic kettle, which holds
this mass of molten metal and yet turns so easily.

"But," said Helen, "you have a model of it here, Uncle Fritz." And she
pointed to her Uncle Fritz's inkstand, which is something the shape of a
fat beet-root, with the point turned up to receive the ink. Uncle Fritz
nodded his approval. These inkstands, which turn over on a little brazen
axis, were probably first made by some one who had seen the great
eleven-ton converters.

Uncle Fritz showed the children the picture in the "Practical Magazine,"
and they spent some time together in looking over the pages of the
volume for 1876.

The Bessemer process was now perfect. Nearly four years had elapsed
since its conception and first application; and in addition to the
necessary labor and anxiety he had experienced, no less than £20,000
had been expended in making experiments that were necessary to complete
its success. It only remained to bring the process into general use.

       *       *       *       *       *

The young people asked quite eagerly whether they could see the
processes of "conversion" anywhere, and were glad to be told that
Bessemer steel is made in many parts of America. One of their young
friends, who was educated at the "Technology," is in charge of a
department at Steelton, in Pennsylvania, and they have all written
letters to him.

The American steel-makers have a great variety of ores to choose from,
and they have found it possible, by using different ores, to avoid the
difficulties which Mr. Bessemer first met in using the ores of England.

And so far are the processes now simplified, that in many American
establishments the molten iron is received liquid from the blast
furnaces, and does not have to be reduced a second time in a cupola
furnace, as was the iron used by Mr. Bessemer. There is no cooling, in
such establishments, between the ore and the finished steel.




When the day for the next meeting came, Uncle Fritz had a large
collection of books and magazines in the little rolling racks and tables
where such things are kept. But no one of them was opened.

No. The young people appeared in great strength, all at the same moment,
and notified him that he was to put on his hat and his light overcoat,
and go with them on what they called the first "Alp" of the season. For
there is a pretence in the little company that they are an Alpine Club,
and that for eight months of the year it is their duty to climb the
highest mountains near Boston.

Now, the very highest of these peaks is the summit hill of the Blue
Hills, to which indeed Massachusetts owes its name. For "Matta" in the
Algonquin tongue meant "great," and "Chuset" meant "a hill." And a woman
who was living on a little hummock near Squantum, just before Winthrop
and the rest landed, was the sacred Sachem of the Massachusetts Indians.
Hence the name of Mattachusetts Bay; and then, by euphony or bad
spelling, or both, Massachusetts.

Uncle Fritz obeyed the rabble rout, as he is apt to do. He retired for a
minute to put on heavier shoes, and, when he reappeared, he took the
seat of honor in the leading omnibus. And a very merry expedition they
had to the summit, where, as the accurate Fergus told them, they were
six hundred feet above the level of the sea. There was but little wood,
and they were able to lie and sit in a large group on the ground just on
the lee side of the hill, where they could look off on the endless sea.

"Whom should you have told us about, had it rained?" said Mabel Fordyce.

"Oh! you were to have had your choice. There are still left many
inventors. I had looked at Mr. Parton's Life of Goodyear, and the very
curious brief prepared for the court about his patents. Half of you
would not be here to-day but for that ingenious and long-suffering man."

"Should not I have come?" said Gertrude, incredulously.

"Surely not," said Uncle Fritz, laughing. "I saw your water-proof in
your shawl-strap. I know your mamma well enough to know that you would
never have been permitted to come so far from home without that ægis, or
without those trig, pretty overshoes. You owe waterproof and overshoes
both to the steady perseverance of Goodyear and to the loyal help of his
wife and daughters. Some day you must read Mr. Webster's eulogy on him
and them. Indeed, he is the American Palissy. You hear a good deal of
woman's rights; but, really, modern women had no rights worth speaking
of till Mr. Goodyear enabled them to go out-doors in all weathers.

"I meant we should have an afternoon with the Goodyears. Then I meant
that you should know, Gertrude, where that slice of bread came from."

"Well," said she, "I do not know much, but I do know that. It came out
of the bread-box."

"Very good," said the Colonel, laughing. "But somebody put it into the
bread-box. And it is quite as well that you should know who put it in.
American girls and American boys ought to know that men's prayer for
'Daily Bread' is answered more and more largely every year. They ought
to know why. Well, the great reason is that reaping and binding after
the reapers, nay, that sowing the corn, and every process between sowing
and harvest, has been wellnigh perfected by the American inventors. So I
had wanted to give a day or two to reapers and binders, and the other
machinery of harvesting. Indeed, if our winter had been as long as poor
Captain Greely's was, and if you had met me every week, we should have
had a new invention for each one. Here are the telephone and the
telegraph. Here is the use of the electric light. Here is the
sewing-machine, with all its nice details, like the button-hole maker.
Nay, every button is made by its own machinery. Here are carpets one
quarter cheaper than they were only four years ago; cotton cloths made
more by machinery and less by hand labor; nay, they tell us that the
cotton is to be picked by a machine before long.

"But these are things you must work up for yourselves. You are on a good
track now, and have learned some of the principles of such study.

"Go to the originals whenever you can. Read what you understand, and
fall back on what you did not understand at first, so as to try it

"Do you not think that all the great things have been invented, Uncle

This was John Angier's rather melancholy question.

"Not a bit of it, my boy. Certainly not for as keen eyes as yours and as
handy hands. Let me tell you what I heard President Dawson say. He is
President of McGill University, and is counted one of the first physical
philosophers in America.

"He said this in substance: 'What will future times say of us, the men
of the end of the nineteenth century? They will say, "What was the ban
on those men, what numbed them or held them still, as if in fear? Why
did they not apply in daily life their own great discoveries of the
central laws of Nature? They were able to work out principles. Why could
they not embody them in useful inventions? They discovered the Ocean of
Truth, but they stood frightened on its shore. They found the great
principles of science, and for their application they seem to have been
satisfied when they had built the steam-engine, had devised the
telegraph, the telephone, the phonograph, and when they had set the
electric light a blazing."'

"You see, John, that he thinks there is enough more for you and the rest
to invent and to discover."

Then Uncle Fritz took from his ulster pocket Mr. Parton's volume of
biographical sketches.

"It is all very fine for you, Miss Alice," he said, "to lie there on
your waterproof, and to be sure that even mamma will not scold when you
go home. But take the book, and read, and see who has wept and who has
starved that you might lie there."

And Alice read the passages he had marked for her.

The difficulty of all this may be inferred when we state that at the
present time it takes an intelligent man a year to learn how to conduct
the process with certainty, though he is provided, from the start, with
the best implements and appliances which twenty years' experience has
suggested. And poor Goodyear had now reduced himself, not merely to
poverty, but to isolation. No friend of his could conceal his impatience
when he heard him pronounce the word "India-rubber." Business-men
recoiled from the name of it. He tells us that two entire years passed,
after he had made his discovery, before he had convinced one human being
of its value. Now, too, his experiments could no longer be carried on
with a few pounds of India-rubber, a quart of turpentine, a phial of
aquafortis, and a little lampblack. He wanted the means of producing a
high, uniform, and controllable degree of heat,--a matter of much
greater difficulty than he anticipated. We catch brief glimpses of him
at this time in the volumes of testimony. We see him waiting for his
wife to draw the loaves from her oven, that he might put into it a batch
of India-rubber to bake, and watching it all the evening, far into the
night, to see what effect was produced by one hour's, two hours', three
hours', six hours' baking. We see him boiling it in his wife's
saucepans, suspending it before the nose of her teakettle, and hanging
it from the handle of that vessel to within an inch of the boiling
water. We see him roasting it in the ashes and in hot sand, toasting it
before a slow fire and before a quick fire, cooking it for one hour and
for twenty-four hours, changing the proportions of his compound and
mixing them in different ways. No success rewarded him while he employed
only domestic utensils. Occasionally, it is true, he produced a small
piece of perfectly vulcanized India-rubber; but upon subjecting other
pieces to precisely the same process, they would blister or char.

Then we see him resorting to the shops and factories in the neighborhood
of Woburn, asking the privilege of using an oven after working hours,
or of hanging a piece of India-rubber in the "man-hole" of the boiler.
The foremen testify that he was a great plague to them, and smeared
their works with his sticky compound; but though they regarded him as
little better than a troublesome lunatic, they all appear to have helped
him very willingly. He frankly confesses that he lived at this time on
charity; for although _he_ felt confident of being able to repay the
small sums which pity for his family enabled him to borrow, his
neighbors who lent him the money were as far as possible from expecting
payment. Pretending to lend, they meant to give. One would pay his
butcher's bill or his milk-bill; another would send in a barrel of
flour; another would take in payment some articles of the old stock of
India-rubber; and some of the farmers allowed his children to gather
sticks in their fields to heat his hillocks of sand containing masses of
sulphurized India-rubber. If the people of New England were not the most
"neighborly" people in the world, his family must have starved, or he
must have given up his experiments. But, with all the generosity of his
neighbors, his children were often sick, hungry, and cold, without
medicine, food, or fuel. One witness testifies: "I found, in 1839, that
they had not fuel to burn nor food to eat, and did not know where to get
a morsel of food from one day to another, unless it was sent in to
them." We can neither justify nor condemn their father. Imagine Columbus
within sight of the new world, and his obstinate crew declaring it was
only a mirage, and refusing to row him ashore. Never was mortal man
surer that he had a fortune in his hand, than Charles Goodyear was when
he would take a piece of scorched and dingy India-rubber from his pocket
and expound its marvellous properties to a group of incredulous
villagers. Sure also was he that he was just upon the point of a
practicable success. Give him but an oven and would he not turn you out
fire-proof and cold-proof India-rubber, as fast as a baker can produce
loaves of bread? Nor was it merely the hope of deliverance from his
pecuniary straits that urged him on. In all the records of his career,
we perceive traces of something nobler than this. His health being
always infirm, he was haunted with the dread of dying before he had
reached a point in his discoveries where other men, influenced by
ordinary motives, could render them available.

By the time that he had exhausted the patience of the foremen of the
works near Woburn, he had come to the conclusion that an oven was the
proper means of applying heat to his compound. An oven he forthwith
determined to build. Having obtained the use of a corner of a factory
yard, his aged father, two of his brothers, his little son, and himself
sallied forth, with pickaxe and shovels, to begin the work; and when
they had done all that unskilled labor could effect towards it, he
induced a mason to complete it, and paid him in brick-layers' aprons
made of aquafortized India-rubber. This first oven was a tantalizing
failure. The heat was neither uniform nor controllable. Some of the
pieces of India-rubber would come out so perfectly "cured" as to
demonstrate the utility of his discovery; but others, prepared in
precisely the same manner, as far as he could discern, were spoiled,
either by blistering or charring. He was puzzled and distressed beyond
description; and no single voice consoled or encouraged him. Out of the
first piece of cloth which he succeeded in vulcanizing he had a coat
made for himself, which was not an ornamental garment in its best
estate; but, to prove to the unbelievers that it would stand fire, he
brought it so often in contact with hot stoves, that at last it
presented an exceedingly dingy appearance. His coat did not impress the
public favorably, and it served to confirm the opinion that he was
laboring under a mania.

In the midst of his first disheartening experiments with sulphur, he had
an opportunity of escaping at once from his troubles. A house in Paris
made him an advantageous offer for the use of his aquafortis process.
From the abyss of his misery the honest man promptly replied, that that
process, valuable as it was, was about to be superseded by a new method,
which he was then perfecting, and as soon as he had developed it
sufficiently he should be glad to close with their offers. Can we wonder
that his neighbors thought him mad?

It was just after declining the French proposal that he endured his
worst extremity of want and humiliation. It was in the winter of
1839-40; one of those long and terrible snowstorms for which New England
is noted, had been raging for many hours, and he awoke one morning to
find his little cottage half buried in snow, the storm still continuing,
and in his house not an atom of fuel nor a morsel of food. His children
were very young, and he was himself sick and feeble. The charity of his
neighbors was exhausted, and he had not the courage to face their
reproaches. As he looked out of the window upon the dreary and
tumultuous scene,--"fit emblem of his condition," he remarks,--he called
to mind that a few days before, an acquaintance, a mere acquaintance,
who lived some miles off, had given him upon the road a more friendly
greeting than he was then accustomed to receive. It had cheered his
heart as he trudged sadly by, and it now returned vividly to his mind.
To this gentleman he determined to apply for relief, if he could reach
his house. Terrible was his struggle with the wind and the deep drifts.
Often he was ready to faint with fatigue, sickness, and hunger, and he
would be obliged to sit down upon a bank of snow to rest. He reached the
house and told his story, not omitting the oft-told tale of his new
discovery,--that mine of wealth, if only he could procure the means of
working it. The eager eloquence of the inventor was seconded by the
gaunt and yellow face of the man. His generous acquaintance entertained
him cordially, and lent him a sum of money, which not only carried his
family through the worst of the winter, but enabled him to continue his
experiments on a small scale. O. B. Coolidge, of Woburn, was the name of
this benefactor.

On another occasion, when he was in the most urgent need of materials,
he looked about his house to see if there was left one relic of better
days upon which a little money could be borrowed. There was nothing but
his children's school-books,--the last things from which a New Englander
is willing to part. There was no other resource. He gathered them up,
and sold them for five dollars, with which he laid in a fresh stock of
gum and sulphur, and kept on experimenting.

Alice and Hester looked over the rest of the story while the others
packed up the wrecks of the picnic and prepared to go down the hill.
Then they joined Uncle Fritz in the advance, and thanked him very
seriously for what he had shown them.

"Such a story as that," said Hester, "is worth more than anything about
cut-offs or valves."

"I think so too," said he.

"I should like," said the girl, "to write to those children of his a
letter to thank them for what they have done, and what he did for me,
and a million girls like me."

"It would be a good thing to do," said he, "and I think I can put you in
the way."

"And I do hope," said Alice, eagerly, "that if we are ever tested in
that way we shall bear the test."

"Dear Uncle Fritz, if we cannot invent a flying-machine, and have not
learned how to close up rivets this winter, we have learned at least how
to bear each other's burdens."


[1] These are the quinqueremes, fastened together, of the other account.

[2] The estimates of a talent vary somewhat, but ten talents made about
seven hundred pounds.

[3] Quoted in Fabricius's Greek fragments.

[4] Encyclopædia Americana: art. "Roger Bacon."

[5] See "Stories of Adventure."

[6] As St. James says, "The wisdom from above is _first_ pure."

[7] Joseph Droz, born in 1773. His essay was published in 1806, and had
come to its fourth edition in 1825.

[8] The first-steam-engines were devised in order to supply some motor
for the pumps which were necessary, all over England, to keep the mines
free from water. The locomotive engine, as will be seen later, owes its
birth to the efforts of colliery engineers to find some means of drawing
coal better than the horse-power generally in use.

[9] John Robison, at this time a student at Glasgow College, and
afterwards Professor of Natural Philosophy at Edinburgh. He was at
one time Master of the Marine Cadet Academy at Cronstadt.

[10] The principal men of Glasgow were the importers of tobacco from

[11] Earl Stanhope, among other projects, had conceived "the hope of
being able to apply the steam-engine to navigation by the aid of a
peculiar apparatus modelled after the foot of an aquatic fowl." Fulton,
on being consulted by the Earl, doubted the feasibility, and suggested
the very means which he afterward made successful upon the Hudson.

[12] Symington was an engineer who had been carrying out some
experiments of Miller of Dalswinton in regard to the practicability of
steam navigation.

[13] Who subsequently made charge that Fulton, having seen his steamboat
and made copious notes thereon, had thus been able to make his boat upon
the Hudson.

[14] This was in the course of the War of 1812.

[15] Fulton died Feb. 24, 1815; he was born in 1765.

[16] Killingworth is a town some seven or eight miles north of
Newcastle, in Northumberland. George Stephenson was at this time the
engine-wright of the colliery. It may be said here that the principal
use for which the early locomotive engines and railroads were designed
was to convey coal from the pit to a market. It was not till the success
of the mining and quarrying railways led to the building of the
Liverpool and Manchester Road, between two great cities, that the value
of the railroad for the transfer of passengers was recognized.

[17] It had been generally the opinion that cog-wheels must be used
which should fit into cogs in the rail. Otherwise it was imagined the
wheels would revolve without proceeding.

[18] "The private risk is the public benefit."

[19] It had a sort of resemblance to a grasshopper, caused by the angle
at which the piston and cylinder were placed.

[20] Mr. Henry Booth, secretary to the Liverpool and Manchester Railway,
suggested to Mr. Stephenson the idea of a multitubular boiler.

[21] This letter is dated Nov. 24, 1793.

[22] This was in 1812, twenty years after the invention of the gin. The
saving in 1885 is enormously greater.

[23] Napoleon III., under whose protection Bessemer had been
experimenting in projectiles when his attention was turned to the
manufacture of iron.

[24] In Grüner's text-book on steel, he says: "In its properties, as
well as in its manufacture, steel is comprised between the limits of
cast and wrought iron. It cannot even be said where steel begins or
ends. It is a series which begins with the most impure black pig iron,
and ends with the softest and purest wrought iron. [Karsten stated this
in these words in 1823.] Cast-iron passes into hard steel in becoming
malleable (natural steel for wire-mills, the 'Wildstahl' of the
Germans); and steel, properly so called, passes into iron, giving in
succession mild steel, steel of the nature of iron, steely iron, and
granular iron."

[25] A small cannon cast by Sir Henry, the description of which we have

[26] Immediately after his first successful experiment at St. Pancras,
described above.


  Abel, Professor, 275, 278

  Althorp, Lord, 268

  Anderson, 246

  Archimedes, 18, 20

  Bacon, Roger, 37

  Barlow, Joel, 179

  Baxter House, 277

  Beccaria, 114

  Bell, I. L., 280

  Benvenuto Cellini, 58

  Bernard Palissy, 82

  Berthier, 281

  Berzelius, 281

  Bessemer, Andrew, 262

  Bessemer, Sir Henry, 259

  Bessemer and Catherwood, 263

  Black, Dr., 165

  Blue Hills, Mass., 284

  Bossuet, 183

  Boulton, Matthew, 171, 181

  Bourbon, Constable, 63

  Braithwaite and Ericsson, 212

  Brandreth, 212

  Bridgewater Foundry, 249, 255

  Brunel, Isambert, 178

  Bungy, Friar, 41

  Burstall, 212, 216

  Carriage, Sailing, 141

  Car of Neptune, 189

  Caslon, Henry, 263

  Cellini, Benvenuto, 58

  Chaise, One-wheeled, 144

  Charles IX. of France, 96

  Cheltenham, 281

  Church, Benjamin, 174

  Circle, The Square of, 22

  Clement VII., 62

  Condensation, 159

  Conductors of Electricity, 105

  Constable Bourbon, shot, 63

  Coolidge, O. B., 292

  Court of Chancery, N. Y., 189

  Dalibard, 108

  Darwin, Dr., 135

  Dawson, President, 286

  De Foe, Daniel, 99

  Devonport, 252

  Didot, Finnin, 263

  Dixon, John, 205

  Droz, François Xavier Joseph, 102

  Edgeworth, Richard Lovell, 119

  Edison's Laboratory, 51

  Electricity, 103

  Elkingtons, 263

  Engines, Early Steam, 149

  Euclid, 20

  Evans, Oliver, 175

  Experiment, The Great, 111

  Field, Joshua, 249

  Fitch, John, 177, 190

  "Firework," The, 155

  Francis I., 71

  Franklin, Benjamin, 97, 177, 237

  Fulton, Robert, 173

  Gig, One-wheeled, 145

  Glasses, Musical, 115-117

  Gold Paint, 270

  Goodyear, Charles, 285

  Greene, Mrs. General, 227, 229

  Grüner, 279

  Gun Factories, 275

  Hackworth, Timothy, 212

  Hammerfield, 257

  Harmonica, 113

  Hart's Recollections, 161

  Hartop, Annie (Mrs. Bessemer), 250

  Helton Railway, 203

  Hiero, 21

  Hitchin, 264

  Hooke, Dr. Robert, 137

  Hulls, Jonathan, 176

  Jack the Darter, 142

  Jay, John, 220

  Jefferson, Thomas, 233

  Jouffroy, Marquis de, 176

  Karsten, 281

  Keramics, 82

  Killingworth Colliery, 195

  Latent Heat, 157

  Lightning, 107

  Livingston, Chancellor, 178

  Mackintosh, James, 173

  Maclaughlan, Robert, 246

  Manchester, 249

  Marcellus attacks Syracuse, 26

  Massachusetts, Derivation of Name, 284

  Maudsley, Henry, 247

  Middleton Colliery Railway, 203

  Miller, Phineas, 231

  Minie, Commander, 273

  Musical Glasses, 115

  Napoleon I., 175

  Napoleon III., 274

  Nasmyth, James, 238

  Newcomen Engine, 150, 167, 169

  Nuremburg, 271

  Palissy the Potter, 82

  Papin, Denis, 176

  Patricroft, 256

  Périer, 176

  Persley, Sir Charles, 266

  Plombières, 180

  Pope Clement VII., 62

  Potter, Humphrey, 152

  Practical Magazine, 282

  Quincy, 194

  Rastrick and Walker, 217

  Ravensworth, Lord, 195

  Renard and Krebs, 174

  Resolution Book, 101

  Rinman, 281

  Robespierre, Max, 261

  Robison, 154, 165

  Roebuck, Dr., 171

  Roger Bacon, 37

  Roosevelt, Nicholas, 178

  Royal Academy, 265

  Royal Gun Factories, 275

  Rumsey, James, 177

  St. Pancras, 274

  St. Petersburg, 192, 253

  Savery, 176

  Scottish Society of Arts, 246

  Sharp Conductors, 105

  Somerset House, 265

  Sounds and Signals, 139

  Stanhope, Earl, 179

  Stamp Office, English, 266

  Steam-Engines, Early, 149

  Stephenson, George, 193

  Stephenson, Robert, 208

  Stevens, John, 178

  Stevens, Robert L., 192

  Sweden, 254

  Symington, 180, 182

  Syracuse, Siege of,  25

  Telegraph, Edgeworth's, 124

  Telegraph, English, 133

  Telegraph, Irish, 127

  Telegraph, Home, 139

  Telegraphs, 125, 126

  Tellograph, 137

  Thirteen Virtues, 100

  Travelling Engine, 195

  Ugolini, Giorgio, 65

  Virgil, 53

  Walker and Rastrick, 217

  Walking-machine, 140

  Watt, James, 146

  Whistler, Major G. W., 254

  Whitney, Eli, 219

  Wilmot, Col. Eardley, 275

  Wood, Nicholas, 213

  Woolwich Arsenal, 275

  Wylam and Killingworth Railway, 203

  Zonara, 32

    University Press: John Wilson & Son, Cambridge.

       *       *       *       *       *


  _Told by Soldiers_.

  _Told by Sailors_.

  _Told by Adventurers_.

  _Told by Discoverers_.

  _Told by Inventors_.

Collected and edited by EDWARD E. HALE. 16mo, cloth, black and gold.
Price, $1.00 per volume.

  _For sale by all booksellers, or mailed, post-paid, on receipt of
  price by the Publishers_,



TEN TIMES ONE IS TEN. 16mo. $1.00.

Frontispiece by Darley. 16mo. $1.25.

UPS AND DOWNS. An Every-day Novel, 16mo. $1.50.

A SUMMER VACATION. Paper covers. 50 cents.

IN HIS NAME. Square 18mo. $1.00.

OUR NEW CRUSADE. Square 18mo. $1.00.

THE MAN WITHOUT A COUNTRY, and other Tales. 16mo. $1.25.

THE INGHAM PAPERS. 16mo. $1.25.

WORKINGMEN'S HOMES. Illustrated. 16mo. $1.00.

HOW TO DO IT. 16mo. $1.00.

HIS LEVEL BEST. 16mo. $1.25.

THE GOOD TIME COMING; or, Our New Crusade. A Temperance Story. Square
18mo. Paper covers. 50 cents.

GONE TO TEXAS; or, The Wonderful Adventures of a Pullman. 16mo. $1.00.

CRUSOE IN NEW YORK, and other Stories. 16mo. $1.00.

WHAT CAREER? or, The Choice of a Vocation and the Use of Time. 16mo.

MRS. MERRIAM'S SCHOLARS. A Story of the "Original Ten." 16mo. $1.00.

SEVEN SPANISH CITIES, and the Way to Them. 16mo. $1.25.

  _For sale by all Booksellers. Mailed, postpaid, by the



=THE GOOD TIME COMING=; or, Our New Crusade. Square 18mo. Paper,
50 cents; cloth, $1.00.

    "It has all the characteristics of its brilliant
    author,--unflagging entertainment, helpfulness, suggestive,
    practical hints, and a contagious vitality that sets one's blood
    tingling. Whoever has read 'Ten Times One is Ten' will know just
    what we mean. We predict that the new volume, as being a more
    charming story, will have quite as great a parish of readers. The
    gist of the book is to show how possible it is for the best
    spirits of a community, through wise organization, to form
    themselves into a lever by means of which the whole tone of the
    social status may be elevated, and the good and highest happiness
    of the helpless many be attained through the self-denying
    exertions of the powerful few."--_Southern Churchman._

=THE INGHAM PAPERS.= 16mo. $1.25.

    "But it is not alone for their wit and ingenuity we prize Mr.
    Hale's stories, but for the serious thought, the moral, or
    practical suggestion underlying all of them. They are not written
    simply to amuse, but have a graver purpose. Of the stories in the
    present volume, the best to out thinking is 'The Rag Man and Rag
    Woman.'"--_Boston Transcript._

=HOW TO DO IT.= 16mo. $1.00.

    "Good sense, very practical suggestions, telling illustrations (in
    words), lively fancy, and delightful humor combine to make Mr.
    Hale's hints exceedingly taking and stimulating, and we do not see
    how either sex can fail, after reading his pages, to know How to
    Talk, How to Write, How to Read, How to go into Society, and How
    to Travel. These, with Life at School, Life in Vacation, Life
    Alone, Habits in Church, Life with Children, Life with your
    Elders, Habits of Reading, and Getting Ready, are the several
    topics of the more than as many chapters, and make the volume one
    which should find its way to the hands of every boy and girl. To
    this end we would like to see it in every Sabbath-school library
    in the land."--_Congregationalist._

=CRUSOE IN NEW YORK=, and other Stories. 16mo. $1.00.

    "If one desires something unique, full of wit, a veiled sarcasm
    that is rich in the extreme, it will all be found in this charming
    little book. The air of perfect sincerity with which they are
    told, the diction, reminding one of 'The Vicar of Wakefield,' and
    the ludicrous improbability of the tales, give them a power rarely
    met with in 'short stories.' There is many a lesson to be learned
    from the quiet little volume."

=THE MAN WITHOUT A COUNTRY=, and other Tales. 16mo. $1.25.

    "A collection of those strange, amusing, and fascinating stories,
    which, in their simplicity of narrative, minute detail, allusion
    to passing occurrences, and thorough _naturalness_, make us almost
    feel that the difference between truth and fiction is not worth
    mentioning. Mr. Hale is the prince of story-tellers; and the
    marvel is that his practical brain can have such a vein of
    frolicsome fancy and quaint humor running through it. It will
    pay any one to _think_ while reading these."--_Universalist

=WORKINGMEN'S HOMES.= Illustrated. 16mo. $1.00.

    "Mr. Hale has a concern, as the Friends say, that laboring men
    should have better homes than they usually find in the great
    cities. He believes all the great charities of the cities fail to
    overtake their task, because the working men are always slipping
    down to lower degrees of discomfort, unhealthiness, and vice by
    the depressing influences surrounding their homes. He writes
    racily and earnestly, and with rare literary

=TEN TIMES ONE IS TEN=: The Possible Reformation. A new edition, in
two parts. Part I. The Story. Part II. Harry Wadsworth and
Wadsworth Clubs. 16mo. $1.00.


      "To look up and not down;
      To look forward and not back;
      To look out and not in; and
      To lend a hand.

    "The four rules are over my writing-desk and in my heart. Every
    school boy and girl of age to understand it should have this
    story, and, if I was rich enough, should have it."--_Extract from
    a letter by an unknown correspondent._

=MRS. MERRIAM'S SCHOLARS.= A Story of the "Original Ten." 16mo. $1.00.

    "It is almost inevitable that such a book as 'Ten Times One is
    Ten' should suggest others in the same line of thought; and Mr.
    Hale begins in 'Mrs. Merriam's Scholars' to take up a few of what
    he terms the 'dropped stitches' of the narrative. The story is
    exceedingly simple, so far as concerns its essentials, and carries
    the reader forward with an interest in its motive which Mr. Hale
    seldom fails to impart to his writings.... The two already
    published should be in every Sunday-school library, and, indeed,
    wherever they will be likely to fall into the hands of
    appreciative readers."

=HIS LEVEL BEST.= 16mo. $1.25.

    "We like Mr. Hale's style. He is fresh, frank, pungent,
    straightforward, and pointed. The first story is the one that
    gives the book its title, and it is related in a dignified
    manner, showing peculiar genius and humorous talent. The
    contents are, 'His Level Best,' 'The Brick Moon,' 'Water
    Talk,' 'Mouse and Lion,' 'The Modern Sinbad,' 'A Tale of a
    Salamander.'"--_Philadelphia Exchange._

=GONE TO TEXAS=; or, The Wonderful Adventures of a Pullman. 16mo. $1.00.

    "There are few books of travel which combine in a romance of true
    love so many touches of the real life of many people, in glimpses
    of happy homes, in pictures of scenery and sunset, as the
    beautiful panorama unrolled before us from the windows of this
    Pullman car. The book is crisp and bright, and has a pleasant
    flavor; and whatever is lovely in the spirit of its author, or of
    good report in his name, one may look here and find promise of
    both fulfilled."--_Exchange._

=WHAT CAREER?= or, The Choice of a Vocation and the Use of Time.
16mo. $1.25.

    "'What Career?' is a book which will do anybody good to read;
    especially is it a profitable book for young men to 'read, mark,
    and inwardly digest.' Mr. Hale seems to know what young men need,
    and here he gives them the result of his large experience and
    careful observation. A list of the subjects treated in this little
    volume will sufficiently indicate its scope: (1) The Leaders Lead;
    (2) The Specialties; (3) Noblesse Oblige; (4) The Mind's Maximum;
    (5) A Theological Seminary; (6) Character; (7) Responsibilities of
    Young Men; (8) Study Outside School; (9) The Training of Men; (10)

=UPS AND DOWNS.= An Every-Day Novel. 16mo. $1.50.

    "This book is certainly very enjoyable. It delineates American
    life so graphically that we feel as if Mr. Hale must have seen
    every rood of ground he describes, and must have known personally
    every character he so cleverly depicts. In his hearty fellowship
    with young people lies his great power. The story is permeated
    with a spirit of glad-heartedness and elasticity which in this
    hurried, anxious, money-making age it is most refreshing to meet
    with in any one out of his teens; and the author's sympathy with,
    and respect for, the little romances of his young friends is most
    fraternal."--_New Church Magazine._

=SEVEN SPANISH CITIES=, and the Way to Them. 16mo. $1.25.

    "The Rev. E. E. Hale's 'Spanish Cities' is in the author's most
    lively style, full of fun, with touches of romance, glimpses of
    history, allusions to Oriental literature, earnest talk about
    religion, consideration of Spanish politics, and a rapid, running
    description of everything that observant eyes could possibly see.
    Mr. Hale makes Spain more attractive and more amusing than any
    other traveller has done, and he lavishes upon her epigram and
    wit."--_Boston Advertiser._

=CHRISTMAS EVE AND CHRISTMAS DAY.= Ten Stories. 16mo. $1.25.

    "Many an eye has moistened, and many a heart grown kindlier with
    Christmas thoughts over 'Daily Bread,' and some of the lesser
    stars which now shine in the same galaxy; and the volume which
    contains them will carry on their humane ministry to many a future
    Christmas time."--_Christian Register._

=IN HIS NAME.= A Story of the Waldenses, Seven Hundred Years ago.
Square 18mo. Paper, 30 cents; cloth, $1.00.

    "A touching, almost a thrilling, tale is this by E. E. Hale, in
    its pathetic simplicity and its deep meaning. It is a story of the
    Waldenses in the days when Richard Coeur de Lion and his
    splendid following wended their way to the Crusades, and when the
    name of Christ inspired men who dwelt in palaces, and men who
    sheltered themselves in the forests of France. 'In his Name' was
    the 'Open Sesame' to the hearts of such as these, and it is to
    illustrate the power of this almost magical phrase that the story
    is written. That it is charmingly written, follows from its
    authorship. There is in fact no little book that we have seen of
    late that offers so much of so pleasant reading in such little
    space, and conveys so apt and pertinent a lesson of pure
    religion."--_N. Y. Commercial Advertiser._

    "The very loveliest Christmas story ever written. It has the ring
    of an old Troubadour in it."

=A SUMMER VACATION.= 16mo. 50 cents.

    "After Mr. Hale's return from Europe he preached to his people
    four sermons concerning his European experience. At the request of
    'some who heard them,' Mr. Hale has allowed these sermons to be
    published with this title. They are full of vigorous thought, wide
    philanthropy, and practical suggestions, and will be read with
    interest by all classes."--_Boston Transcript._

  _Sold everywhere. Mailed, post-paid, on receipt of price, by the


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