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Title: Invention - The Master-key to Progress
Author: Fiske, Bradley A. (Bradley Allen), 1854-1942
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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  Former Aid for Operations of the Fleet, President U. S. Naval
  Institute, Gold Medallist of U. S. Naval Institute, the Franklin
  Institute and the Aero Club of America.

  Author of "Electricity in Theory and Practice," "War Time in Manila,"
  "The Navy as a Fighting Machine," "From Midshipman to
  Rear-Admiral," "The Art of Fighting," etc.

  Inventor of the Gun Director System, the Naval Telescope Sight, the
  Stadimeter, the Turret Range Finder, the Horizometer,
  the Torpedoplane, etc., etc., etc.



  Copyright, 1921,
  By E. P. Dutton & Company

  _All Rights Reserved_



To show that inventors have accomplished more than most persons
realize, not only in bringing forth new mechanisms, but in doing
creative work in many walks of life, is, in part, the object of this
book. To suggest what they may do, if properly encouraged, is its main
intention. For, since it is to inventors mainly that we owe all that
civilization is, it is to inventors mainly that we must look for all
that civilization can be made to be.

The mind of man cannot even conceive what wonders of beneficence
inventors may accomplish: for _the resources of invention are

The author is indebted to Ginn & Company, Boston, for the use of
illustrations from "General History for Colleges and High Schools,"
by Philip Van Ness Myers, and "Ancient Times, A History of the Early
World," by James Henry Breasted, and to George H. Doran Company, New
York, for the use of a map from "A History of Sea Power," by William
Oliver Stevens and Allan Westcott.


  CHAPTER                                                       PAGE

     I. INVENTION IN PRIMEVAL TIMES                                1

    II. INVENTION IN THE ORIENT                                   24

   III. INVENTION IN GREECE                                       51

    IV. INVENTION IN ROME: ITS RISE AND FALL                      81

     V. INVENTION OF THE GUN AND OF PRINTING                     101



  VIII. THE AGE OF STEAM, NAPOLEON AND NELSON                    179

          A DANGEROUS ERA                                        203

          BENEFICENT INFLUENCE                                   231

          CIVIL WAR                                              255

          PHONOGRAPH AND PREVENTIVE MEDICINE                     279

          JAPAN AND THE UNITED STATES                            301

   XIV. THE FRUITION OF INVENTION                                322

          CONCERNING IT, SHOWN BY STATESMEN                      333

   XVI. THE FUTURE                                               341



  Carvings in Ivory and in Stone of Cavern Walls made by the
    Hunters of the Middle Stone Age                                3

  Early Babylonian Signs, Showing Their Pictorial  Origin         27

  Villa of an Egyptian Noble                                      34

  The Pyramids of Gizeh                                           36

  Assyrians Flaying Prisoners Alive                               44

  Two Cretan Vases                                                52

  Insurgent Captives Brought Before Darius                        58

  The Lighthouse of the Harbor of Alexandria in the Hellenistic
    Age                                                           77

  Triumphal Procession from the Arch of Titus                     96

  The Printing of Books                                          113

  Portuguese Voyages and Possessions                             126

  Hero's Engines                                                 150

  Hero's Altar Engine                                            151

  Leupold's Engine                                               154





Our original ancestors dwelt in caves and wildernesses; had no sewed
or fabricated clothing of any kind; subsisted on roots and nuts and
berries; possessed no arts of any sort; were ignorant to a degree that
we cannot imagine, and were little above the brutes in their mode of
living. Today, a considerable fraction of the people who dwell upon the
earth enjoy a civilization so fine that it seems to have no connection
with the brutish conditions of primeval life. Yet, as these pages show,
a perfectly plain series of inventions can be seen, starting from the
old conditions and building up the new.

The progress of man during the countless ages of prehistoric times is
hidden from our knowledge, except in so far as it has been revealed
to us by ruins of ancient cities, by prehistoric utensils of many
kinds, and by inscriptions carved on monuments and tablets. The sharp
dividing line between prehistoric times and historic times, seems to be
that made by the art of writing; for this epochal invention rendered
possible the recording of events, and the consequent beginning of

Of prehistoric times we have, of course, no written record; and we
have but the most general means of estimating how many millenniums
ago man first had his being. Geological considerations indicate a
beginning so indefinitely and exceedingly remote that the imagination
may lose itself in speculations as to his mode of living during those
forever-hidden centuries that dragged along, before man had advanced
so far in his progress toward civilization as to make and use the rude
utensils which the researches of antiquarians have revealed.

Inasmuch as the most important employment of man from his first breath
until his last has always been the struggle to preserve his life;
inasmuch as the endeavor of primeval man to defend himself against
wild beasts must have been extremely bitter (for many were larger
and stronger than he), and inasmuch as man eventually achieved the
mastery over them, one seems forced to conclude that man overcame wild
beasts by employing some means to assist his bodily strength, and that
probably his first invention was a weapon.

The first evidences of man's achievements that we have are rude
implements of stone and flint, evidently shaped by some force guided
by some intelligence;--doubtless the force of human hands, guided by
the intelligence of human minds. Many such have been found in caves and
gravel-beds over all the world. They were rough and crude, and indicate
a rough and crude but nevertheless actual stage of civilization. Some
call this the Old Stone Age and others call it the Early Stone Age.
Besides stone and flint, bones, horns and tusks were used. Among the
implements made were daggers, fish-hooks, needles, awls and heads of
arrows and harpoons. One of the most interesting revelations of those
rude and immeasurably ancient implements is the fact that man, even in
those times, possessed the artistic sense; for on some of them can be
seen rough but clear engravings of natural objects, and even of wild

[Illustration: Carvings in Ivory (1 and 3-7) and in Stone of Cavern
Walls (2), made by the Hunters of the Middle Stone Age]

Men naturally supported themselves mainly by hunting and fishing,
as savages do now; and it was because they had invented suitable
implements and weapons for practicing those necessary arts, that
their efforts were successful. The first weapon was probably the
fist-hatchet, a piece of sharpened flint about nine inches long, that
he grasped in his hand. At some time during the centuries of the Old
Stone Age, someone invented a much finer weapon, that continued to be
one of the most important that was known, until the invention of the
gun, and is used even now in savage lands--the bow and arrow. What a
tremendous advantage this weapon was in fighting wild beasts (and also
men not possessing it) it is not hard for us to see; for the arrow
tipped with flint or bone, could be shot over distances far greater
than the spear or javelin could be thrown, and with sufficient force
to kill. The club and spear had probably been devised before, for they
were simpler and more easily imagined and constructed.

How the bow and arrow came to be invented we have no intimation. The
invention of the club and spear did not probably involve much creative
effort, so simple were those instruments, and so like the branches
that could be broken from the trees. Yet, to the untrained mind of the
primeval savage, the idea of sharpening a straight branch of wood into
a fine point at the end, in order that penetration through the skin
might be facilitated, must have come as an inspiration. No such thing
as a spear exists as a spear in nature, and therefore the making of a
spear was a creative act. To us, the use of the spear as a projectile
may not seem to have required the inventive faculty--unless the hurling
of stones may also be supposed to have required it. It may be, however,
that with the dull mind of primeval men, even the idea of using stones
or javelins as projectiles was the result of a distinct, and perhaps
startling inspiration.

The invention of the bow and arrow was one of the first order of
brilliancy, and would be so even now. It is not easy to think of any
simple accident as accounting for the invention; because the bow and
arrow consists of three entirely independent parts--the straight
bar of wood, the string, and the arrow; for the bow was not a bow
until the string had been fastened to each end, and drawn so tight
that the bar of wood was forced into a bent shape, and held there at
great tension. When one realizes this, and realizes in addition the
countless centuries during which the bow and arrow held its sway, the
millions of men who have used it, and the important effect it has had
in the overcoming of wild beasts, and the deciding of many of the
critical battles of the world, he can hardly escape the conclusion
that the invention of the bow and arrow was one of the most important
occurrences in the history of mankind.

A still more important occurrence was the invention of making fire.
Probably less inventive effort was needed for this than for the bow and
arrow; for fire could be seen in the lightning and in trees struck by
lightning, and in the sparks that came forth when two hard stones were
struck together. The discovery of fire may have been made by accident;
but this does not mean that no invention was needed for devising and
producing the means whereby fire could be produced at will. To note
the fact of a phenomenon, say the production of fire when stones are
accidentally struck together, or the falling of an apple from a tree,
requires no special effort, and of itself brings forth no benefit; but
to reason from the appearance of the sparks to the production of an
apparatus for making fire at will; or to reason from the falling of an
apple to the enunciation of Newton's Law of Gravitation, is the kind of
successful mental effort that has produced the effects which it is the
endeavor of this humble book to indicate. These effects have combined
as progress has advanced, to put civilized man in a position relatively
to his natural surroundings very different from that held by primeval
man, and very different from that held by the brutes, both in primeval
days and now. Evidently, the effects have been made possible by some
faculty possessed by man and not by brutes. This faculty is usually
called reason, and is held to be a faculty by means of which man can
infer cause from effect, and effect from cause, and can remember events
and facts to a degree sufficient to enable him to hold them in his
mind, while reasoning about them.

But it seems impossible to explain the advent of even the oldest and
simplest inventions by the possession of reason only, using the word
reason in its ordinary sense; for it is obvious that no matter how
clearly a man could reason as between cause and effect, no matter how
great a student of all phenomena he might be, no matter how good a
memory he might have, he might nevertheless live for many years and
never invent anything. In fact, we see men at the present day who
possess great knowledge, splendid energy, keen powers of analysis,
high courage, and even great administrative talent, and yet who
are obviously deficient in originality, who seem to possess the
constructive faculty in only a small degree, and who seem incapable of
taking any step forward except on paths that have been plainly trod

Countless instances can be cited of the persistence of men, even in
civilized lands, in following a certain practice for long periods,
until someone possessing the inventive faculty has devised a better
one. For the sake of brevity, only two cases, and those well known,
will be mentioned as illustrative. One was the invention of movable
type, and the other that of pointing the wood screw. Man had continued
for centuries to make blocks of wood or other material on which words
and phrases were engraved or cut, and then to print from them. Suddenly
a man in Germany (usually said to be John Guttenberg) made the change,
so slight in appearance and yet so tremendous in results, of cutting
only one letter on a block, and arranging and securing the blocks in
such a way as to enable him to print any word or words desired. This
did not occur until about the year 1434 A. D. Why had not someone
done this in all the long centuries? Surely it was not because men
of great reasoning faculties had not lived; for in the long interval
the civilization of Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome
had flourished; and Plato, Aristotle, Cæsar and the great inventor
Archimedes had lived! Similarly, men continued to use in wood the same
flat pointed screw that they used in metals, boring the hole first in
the wood with a gimlet, and then entering the flat point of the screw
into the hole. Suddenly (but not until the nineteenth century A. D.)
an inventor made and patented a screw which came to a sharp point like
a gimlet, which could be forced into wood just as the gimlet was, and
then screwed into the wood without further ado. How can we explain the
curious fact that countless men of reason, intelligence and mechanical
skill had continued century after century to bore into wood with
gimlets, and then follow the gimlet with flat-pointed screws?

The explanation seems to be expressed in the phrase, "the idea had
not occurred to them." Why had it not occurred to them? This question
cannot, of course, be answered convincingly; but it may be pointed out
that there is a small class of men to whom original ideas seem to come
of their own accord. The inventor of mechanical appliances is in this
class, and is perhaps its most conspicuous exemplar.

       *       *       *       *       *

It may be pointed out, however, that the inventors of mechanical
appliances are not the only men to whom original conceptions come;
for original conceptions evidently come to the poets, the novelists,
the musical composers, the artists, the strategists, the explorers,
the statesmen, the philosophers, the founders of religions and the
initiators of all enterprises great and small. It may be pointed out
also that their mental processes are similar, and that they are best
described by the greatest of all poets in the lines--

    "The poet's eye in a fine frenzy rolling,
    Glances from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;
    And as imagination bodies forth
    The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen
    Turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothing
    A local habitation and a name."

These lines suggest that the first step in invention is made almost
without effort; that a picture, confused and dim but actual, is made
by the imagination on the mental retina; and that, after that, the
constructive faculties arrange the elements of the picture in such wise
as to produce a clear and definite entity.

Regarded in this way, the inventor of mechanical appliances suddenly
sees a confused and dim picture of an instrument or a mechanism (or a
part of it) that he has never seen with his bodily eyes; the musical
composer hears imperfectly and vaguely a new musical composition; the
sculptor sees a statue, the painter sees a new combination of objects
and colors producing a new effect, and the poet feels the stirring in
him of vague, but beautiful, or powerful or inspiring thoughts. If now
the picture is allowed to fade, or if the constructive faculty is not
able to make it into an actuality, or if the picture has not in itself
the elements which the state of civilization then prevailing make it
possible to embody in an entity, no invention of a mechanical appliance
is made, no plan of campaign, no musical composition, no statue, no
painting, no poem is produced.

If, however, the constructive effort develops successfully the
conception that the imagination made, and if the circumstances of time
and place are all propitious, then the art of making fire at will is
born, or Bonaparte's suggestion at Toulon is made, or the strains of
Beethoven's music inspire the world, or the statue of Moses is carved,
or the Immaculate Conception is pointed, or Hamlet is written, or the
electric telegraph binds the peoples of the earth together.

The inventor in mechanics, the sculptor, the painter, the novelist and
the poet embody their creations in material forms that are enduring
and definite, and constitute evidences of their work, which sometimes
endure throughout long periods. The architect and the constructing
engineer are able similarly to produce lasting and useful monuments
to their skill; but it can hardly be declared that their work is
characterized by quite so much of originality and invention, because
of the restrictions by which the practice of their arts is bound. It
is, in fact, hard to conceive of a bridge very different in principle
or design from bridges that had been built before; and while it is not
difficult to conceive of an engine different in principle and design
from previous ones, yet we realize that the points of novelty in such
an engine would be attributable more to invention than to engineering.
This is because the arts of engineering and architecture rest on
principles that have long since been proved to be correct, and on
practices that are the results of long experience; whereas one of the
main characteristics of invention is novelty.

It is true that many of the most important inventions have been made
by engineers; but this has been because some engineers, like Ericsson,
have been inventors also. But it is also true that only a small
proportion of the engineers have made original inventions; and it is
equally true that many inventions have failed--or have been slow in
achieving success--because of lack of engineering skill in construction
or design. These facts show that the work of the inventor is very
different from that of the engineer, and that the inventor and the
engineer are very different people, though an engineer and an inventor
sometimes live together inside of the same skin. In fact, it is by a
combination of inventive genius and engineering talent in one man that
the greatest results in invention have been achieved; though great
results have often followed the intimate cooperation of an inventor and
an engineer, the two being separate men.

It is in the latter way that important advances have usually been
made; and it is somewhat analogous to the way in which authors and
publishers, actors and managers, promoters and capitalists cooperate.

But while the individuals whose inventions have taken the form of
new creations, such as novel machines and books and paintings, have
received the clearest recognition as men of genius, may not the
inventive faculty be needed in other fields and be required in other
kinds of work? If an instrument is produced by the joint exercise of
imagination and constructive talent, is not every puzzle worked out,
and every problem solved, and every constructive work accomplished by
the similar exercise of those same faculties?

It may seem obvious that this question should be answered in the
negative, and so it unquestionably should be. But there always has been
much cloudiness as to what constitutes invention in our own minds;
and it must be admitted that the dividing line is not immediately
obvious between invention and the art of meeting difficulties with
resourcefulness, or between invention and the act of solving any of the
perplexing riddles of our daily lives.

It may be declared with confidence, however, that the difference
between invention and any one of these other acts is that, while
invention ends in performing such acts, it begins with an exercise
of the imagination. A man who designs an engine to fulfil a stated
purpose, who solves any problem whatever that is presented to him from
outside, simply accomplishes a task that is given to him to accomplish;
whereas, while the inventor accomplishes a similar task, he does it
as a second step in a task that was not given him to accomplish, but
that he himself had pictured to himself. The act of inventing consists
of three separate acts--the act of conceiving, the act of developing,
and the act of producing. Of these three acts, that of conceiving is
obviously not only the first, but also the most important, distinctive
and unusual.

For every real invention, there have been countless constructive acts.
In the invention of the bow and arrow, the conception was probably
instantaneous and unbidden. The subsequent work of developing the
conception into material and practical shape was probably one of long
duration, consisting of many acts, accompanied with many difficulties
and disappointments, and accomplished finally in the face of much
active and passive opposition.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Old Stone Age gradually developed into the New Stone Age at
different times in different localities, as successive improvements
in implements were made. The New Stone Age was distinguished from its
predecessor mainly by the fact that the principal weapons and utensils
were formed into regular shapes, polished into smoothness, and in many
cases ground to sharp points and keen cutting edges. These improvements
made the implements more effective both as weapons and as utensils, by
facilitating not only cutting but penetration.

How much invention was needed to make these improvements, it is not
easy to decide; but probably only a little was required, and that of an
order not very original or high; for the improvements were rather in
detail than principle. Perhaps their character can be best indicated by
saying that they were improvements, rather than inventions of a basic

It may here be pointed out that the act of improving upon an invention
already existing may be almost wholly a constructive act, performed
on a visible and tangible material object, and not on a picture made
by the imagination on the mind. In such a case, the act of improving
belongs rather in the category of engineering than of invention, for
the reason that it involves only a slight use of the imagination. It
may also be pointed out, however, that a mere improvement may be, and
sometimes has been an invention of the highest order. As a rule, of
course, basic inventions have been the most brilliant and also the most

But it was not only by polished instruments of stone and bone that
the New Stone Age was characterized; for we find in the records which
our ancestors unintentionally left us, many evidences that they had
invented the arts of making pottery, of spinning and weaving, and
of constructing houses of a simple kind. This Age was characterized
by many improvements besides those relating to articles of stone,
and was a period far in advance of its predecessor on the march to
civilization. It was marked by the domestication of animals and plants,
the tilling of the soil, and a gradual change from a purely savage and
nomadic mode of life. This change was first to a pastoral life, in
which men lived in fixed habitations and tended their flocks; thence
to an agricultural life, in which men cultivated the ground over large
areas and grew crops of cereals and vegetables; and then to a still
more settled existence, in which men congregated in villages and towns.
Certainly, the race had taken the first steps, and had started on the
path which it has since pursued.

In order to make the start and to proceed afterwards in the line
begun, many physical, mental and spiritual attributes were needed
and employed, that mere brutes did not possess, and because of which
the civilization of the Old Stone Age had been begun and gradually
developed. Of these faculties, those principally characteristic seem
to have been mental; and among those faculties, invention, reason,
construction and memory seem to have been the most important. It would
be unreasonable to declare any one of those faculties to have been
more important than the others; but it can hardly be denied that the
first steps in the march of progress should be credited to invention.
Clearly, it was the weapons and utensils of the Old Stone Age that made
possible the subduing and subsequent domestication of certain animals,
such as the horse, the cow, the dog, the sheep and the goat.

It may be pointed out, in passing, that many animals have not been
domesticated even at this late day--such as the tiger, the eagle
and the bear. But, equally, certain tribes of men have not been
domesticated. It may be that in both the undomesticated men and the
undomesticated brutes, the mind is of such a character that it cannot
assimilate even the first grains of knowledge, or make any effort
whatever of an inventive character.

There was one invention that was probably made in the Old Stone Age,
which must have needed considerable inventiveness to be developed as
highly as it was developed during the Old and New Stone Ages, and that
was language. The origin of language is, of course, hidden in the
impenetrable mystery of the childhood of the race; and it may be that
language was an original attribute of man. If we reason, however, that
the development of language must have been a continuing act from the
first, inferring it from the fact that it has been a continuing act
from the dawn of recorded history until now, and if we suppose that it
had a rise and a growth like those of other arts, we may reasonably
conclude that some man invented the plan of making his wants known by
the use of vocal sounds, uttered in accordance with a preconcerted
code; that the invention was only partially successful at first, and
that it was afterwards improved. That language was not a natural gift,
but rather the result of an invention and subsequent development, is
suggested by the fact that a child has to be taught to speak, but
does not have to be taught to exercise his natural functions, such as
breathing, eating, drinking, walking, etc.

Which was the first invention ever made by man, there is, of course,
no means of ascertaining; but it seems obvious that that of language
must have been among the first. The invention of weapons we may easily
imagine to have been actually the first, called for by the necessity
of defense against wild beasts and other men. Following the defense by
individual men of their individual lives, it seems logical to suppose
that a man and his wife, a man and his brother, and then groups of men,
banded together in their common defense against common foes. To further
their joint action, what would be more valuable than a language
consisting of vocal sounds, arranged in accordance with a simple code,
as a means of conveying information, issuing warnings, and giving
signals in emergencies, to insure concerted action?

That language should later be used for manifold other purposes would
be most natural; for many other arts have been invented primarily
to further man's first aim, the preservation of his life, and have
afterwards been employed for other purposes. The uses of clothing,
houses, knives, guns and of nearly all weapons are cases in point.

The New Stone Age seems to have passed gradually into the Age of
Copper, because doubtless of a more or less accidental discovery
when native copper was seen upon the ground, or when some copper ore
was subjected to fire. The metal, by reason of its great durability,
ductility, elasticity and strength, came to be used for many
purposes--the first use being probably in weapons; for weapons were the
main dependence of the people in their struggle against beasts.

A great advance was made when bronze was discovered, with which weapons
and tools of many kinds could be made that were harder than those of
copper. Then the Age of Bronze succeeded the Age of Copper. One can
hardly imagine that bronze was really invented; for it is difficult to
see how, knowing the softness of copper and tin, any primeval man could
have imagined a metal made from them much harder than either, and then
proceeded to make it by mixing about seven parts of copper with one
part of tin. The gradual improvement made in bronze implements, and the
different kinds of bronze that later appeared (made by altering the
proportions of tin and copper) were doubtless due more to constructive
and engineering methods than to pure invention; but nevertheless a
considerable amount of inventing must have been required; for one can
rarely effect any important improvement in any weapon, instrument or
tool, without first imagining the improvement, and then endeavoring to
effect it.

In fact, an overwhelming majority of the "inventions" for which
patents are issued by our Patent Office, are for mere improvements
over existing apparatus; and the bald fact that the thing accomplished
is only such an improvement, instead of the creation of something
different from everything else whatever, like the telephone or
phonograph, does not debar the achievement from being classed as an
invention. The pointed screw was merely an improvement over previous
forms of screw, and yet it was an invention of high originality,
novelty and importance. Obviously, improvements occupy various
positions not only in importance and scope, but also in the relative
degrees in which invention and construction were employed to bring them
into being.

It is held by some that no purely human act can possibly create
anything really new, that "there is nothing new under the sun," and
that therefore every so-called invention made by a man must be merely a
novel arrangement of already existing objects.

Of course, no man "creates" anything, in the sense that he makes
anything whatever out of nothing; but it is a well-known fact that he
has created many things in the sense that he has made many entities to
exist that had not existed before as such entities; for instance, man
made the speaking telephone to exist. The speaking telephone did not
exist before Bell invented it, and it did exist after he invented it.
To say that Bell did or did not create the telephone conveys a meaning
dependent wholly on the meaning in which the word "create" is used.
Men ordinarily use the word with such a meaning that it is correct to
say that Bell created the speaking telephone; it being understood as
a matter of common sense that Bell did not create the metals and other
material parts which he put together to make the telephone.

Used in this sense, primeval man (or more correctly some primeval
men, and probably a very few) created certain weapons, implements and
utensils, that gave the men who used them such mastery over wild beasts
and over men who did not use them, that the steps since taken toward
civilization were made possible.

Our whole civilization can be traced back to those inventions, and can
be shown to proceed from them and be based upon them. _No other basis
that civilization could have proceeded from can even be imagined; for
the actual progress of events was the outcome of the actual nature of
man, and the actual nature of his environment._

We seem forced to conclude, therefore, that we owe our civilization
primarily to the invention of certain primeval implements and weapons,
the art of making fire, etc., and therefore to the inventors who made
the inventions. This does not mean that we do not owe it to other
things besides inventions, and to other men besides inventors; for it
is obvious that we owe it to all the facts of our history, and to such
of our ancestors as did anything to advance it. We owe it in part, for
instance, to the men who framed the laws that made living in villages
and cities possible, to the men who executed the laws, and to all the
men and women who observed the laws and gave examples of righteous
living. For it is obvious that, no matter what inventions were made,
the march of civilization could not have even started, unless there had
been a sufficient number of good and intelligent men and women to keep
the human procession in good order from the first.

It may be pointed out here that, although every human being has much
of evil in his nature, yet even the most depraved person desires
other people to be good. Even thieves see the advantage to themselves
resulting from the fact that most men do not steal; murderers have no
inclination toward being themselves murdered, and human beings as a
class see the benefits of morality and good living throughout society
as a whole. For this reason, and for the still more important reason
that most individuals are not very different in their characteristics
and abilities from the average of all individuals, the tendency of
society is to reduce men to a common level; so that we see only a
small fraction who are extremely good or extremely bad, extremely
brilliant or extremely stupid, extremely large or extremely small, etc.
Similarly, there is only a small fraction of the people who have done
much good individually or much harm, or who have exercised individually
any noticeable influence of any kind.

We may reasonably conclude, therefore, that there were only a few men
in primeval days who performed any acts that entitle them to individual
recognition; and as the only records that have come down to us indicate
that the most important acts were the inventing of certain implements,
we seem forced to conclude that most of the recognition accorded to
individuals of primeval days may be limited to a very small number, and
they inventors.

Who they were, and where and when they lived, is not known and probably
never will be. For countless centuries their names and personalities
have been forgotten as wholly as those of many beasts. But maybe other
achievements like those that have exposed the history of certain
Oriental kings and wise men to our knowledge, will some day tell us who
were the inventors who started the march of human progress, and pointed
out the road that it should follow.

Yet, if we infer the probable conditions of the remote past from the
conditions of the present and recent past, we shall have to conclude
that, while the names and deeds of prehistoric rulers may some day
become known to us, and even the names of authors, poets and song
singers, the names of the original inventors will be forever hid. For
inventors have ever been depreciated in their day; even at the present
time, despite the known facts as to what inventions and inventors
have done for every one of us, the inventor as an inventor is lightly
regarded, and so are his inventions. So are his inventions until they
have ceased to be regarded as inventions, and have been accepted as
constituent parts of the machine of civilization. By that time the
inventor has often been forgotten.

The Age of Iron succeeded the Age of Bronze in the countries from which
we have inherited our civilization; but in Africa bronze does not seem
to have been discovered until after iron was. Iron being an element
like copper, and not an alloy of two metals like bronze, it seems
probable that its discovery, like that of copper, followed the act of
heating stones with fire. The coming of iron seems due therefore to
discovery rather than to invention; but yet the mere discovery that a
very hard substance had been accidentally produced would of itself have
brought forth no fruit. One is almost forced to infer from probability
that the fact must have become known to many men, but only as a plain
and uninteresting fact. Finally, some man realized that that hard
substance was superior to bronze for making weapons, and then set to
work to ascertain exactly what kinds of stone it could be gotten from,
and exactly what process gave the best results.

To us who have been carefully taught the facts known at the present
day, and whose minds have been trained by logic and mathematics to
reason from effect to cause, and to construct frameworks of cause
wherefrom to gain effects, it seems that anyone who noted that the
hard substance which we call iron came from heating certain stones,
would immediately invent a process for making iron in quantities. But
prehistoric man had no knowledge whatever save that coming from his
own observation and the oral teachings of the wise men; mathematics
and logic did not exist; and the only training given him was in those
simple arts of hunting, fishing, field tilling, etc., by which he
earned his livelihood. For a mind so untrained and ignorant to leap
from the simple noting of the accidental production of the metal to
a realization of its value, then to a correct inference as to the
possibility of producing it at will, then to a correct inference as
to the method of producing it, and then to devising the method and
actually producing iron at will, suggests a reasoning intelligence of
an order exceedingly high.

Nevertheless, the art of making iron may have originated not so much
from effort as from inspiration; the process may have been less one of
reasoning than one of imagination, less one of construction than one of
invention. In fact, when we realize that imagination is almost wholly
a pure gift (like beauty, or artistic genius or a singing voice) while
the reasoning and constructive faculties require long education, we may
reasonably conclude that the production of iron and of all the metals
and processes in prehistoric times, was probably attributable mainly to

The crowning invention of prehistoric man was that of writing; for
it lifted him out of his dependence on oral teachings, with their
liability to error and forgetfulness, into a condition in which the
facts and experiences of life, and the reasons for failure or success,
could be put into permanent form, and supply sure bases from which to
start on any line of progress in the future.

The production of the art of writing seems to have been a pure
invention, and it has always been so regarded. Nothing resembling
writing is to be found in nature; _nowhere do we see in nature any
effort to preserve any records of any kind_. How man, or a man, was led
to invent writing we can only imagine, for we cannot ascertain. When
we realize, however, how entirely novel an undertaking the production
of writing was, and that there is no process of mere reasoning by
which a man could arrive at a decision to produce it, we seem forced
to conclude that it must have been caused by one of those inexplicable
conceptions that imagination puts into the mind, and that constitute an
inspiration, coming from the Great Outside and its ruler, the Almighty.

In fact, if one ponders the history and teachings of the Christian
religion (in truth of all religions), and notes that the revelations
on which they are believed to have been founded seem to have come
unbidden to certain men as inspirations from On High, he must realize
how similar are the conceptions that come to inventors in a field less
spiritual, but yet actual. For in the case of each basic invention, an
idea seems to have come unbidden to the mind, and grown and developed

The first writing was what we call picture writing, in which
representations in outline of well-known objects were scratched with
a hard point on some softer substance. This form of writing probably
began in the Old Stone Age. It continued for different lengths of
time among different peoples, as have all other characteristics of
any stage of civilization; and it is practiced in some degree by some
peoples even now. In fact, one might with reasonableness declare that
many of the illustrations used in books and magazines and papers, many
of the paintings and drawings that adorn our walls, and many of the
moving pictures in our places of amusement convey messages by means of
pictures, and are therefore forms of picture writing.

As the intelligence of man increased, and his consequent need for
better means of expressing himself in writing increased, the idea
occurred to someone to use conventional drawings to represent vocal
sounds, instead of pictures of visible objects. The first writing of
this kind, called phonetic writing, used characters that represented
spoken words, and therefore required many characters and necessitated
long and tedious study to master it. It was gradually replaced among
most peoples by an improved phonetic system, in which each character
represented a syllable instead of a word; though the Chinese have
never wholly abandoned it. The syllabic system needed, of course,
fewer characters, and was much more easily learned, much more flexible
and generally satisfactory. The syllabic system was finally replaced
among the more progressive peoples by the alphabetical system, in
which each character represents a separate vocal sound. As the number
of separate vocal sounds is few, only a few characters are needed. In
most alphabets, the number of characters varies between twenty-two and

We of the present day plume ourselves greatly on our achievements in
invention, and point to the tens of thousands of scientific appliances,
books and works of art with which we have enriched our civilization. To
most of us, prehistoric man was an uncouth creature, living in caves
and uncleanly huts, and so far removed from us that in our hearts we
class him as little higher than the beasts. Yet to prehistoric man we
owe all that we are and all that we have. The gift of life itself came
to us through him; and so did not only our physical faculties, but our
mental, moral and spiritual faculties as well. It was prehistoric man
who invented the appliances without which the wild beasts would not
have been overcome, and the man, wilder than himself, been kept at bay;
by means of which the soil was tilled, and boats were made to move
upon the water, and villages and towns were built. It was prehistoric
man who invented spoken language and the arts of drawing, painting,
architecture, weaving and writing. It was prehistoric man who started
the race on its forward march, and pointed it in the direction in
which it has ever since advanced. It was prehistoric man who made the
inventions on which all succeeding inventions have been based. The
prehistoric inventor exercised an influence on progress greater than
that of any other man.



The first countries to pass into the stage of recorded history were
Egypt and Babylonia. Excavations made near the sites of their ancient
cities have brought to light many inscriptions which, being deciphered
and translated, give us clear knowledge of the conditions under which
they lived, and therefore of the degree of the civilization that they
had attained.

As we note the progress that the inscriptions show us to have been
made beyond the stage reached by prehistoric man, it becomes clear to
us that much--if not most--of that progress could not have been made
without the aid of writing. One cannot conceive of the invention and
development of Astronomy, for instance, without some means of recording
observations that had been made.

In developing the art of writing itself, much progress was effected
in both countries, and many improvements were made in the art itself
that must have been due to that lower order of invention which consists
in improving on things already existing. In addition, invention was
employed in devising and arranging means for preserving the writings in
an enduring form. In Babylonia, this was done by making the writing on
soft tablets of clay about an inch in thickness, that were afterwards
baked to hardness. In the case of records of unusual importance, the
precaution was sometimes taken of covering the baked inscription with
a thin layer of clay, making a duplicate inscription on this layer,
and then baking it also. If afterwards, from any cause, the outside
inscription was defaced, it could be removed and the inside inscription
exposed to view.

In Egypt, the writing was done on sheets of papyrus, made from a reed
that grew in the marshes. To devise and make both the baked clay
tablets and the papyrus, it is clear that invention had to be employed;
for nothing exactly like them existed in nature. Thus the invention
of the art of writing was supplemented by the invention of the art of
preserving the records that writing made. The act of writing would have
been useful, even if no means had been invented for preserving the
things written; even if the things written had perished in a day. But
the importance of the invention of writing was increased ten thousand
fold by the invention of the means for preserving the things written;
because without that means it would have been impossible by any process
of continual copying of tablets to keep at hand for reference that
library of records of the past on which all progress has been based,
and from which every act of progress has started, since some inventor
of Babylonia invented baked clay tablets and some inventor of Egypt
invented papyrus.

It may be objected that there is no reason for assuming that any one
man invented either; that each invention may have been the joint work
of two men, or of several men. This of course, is true; but it does not
minimize the importance of either invention, or the credit due to the
inventors. It simply divides the credit of each invention among several
men, instead of giving it all to one. It is a notable fact, however,
that, although some inventions have been made by the joint work of two
men, and although some books have been written, and some music has been
composed by two men working in cooperation, yet such instances have
been rare.

Many men combine to do constructive work of many kinds, and millions
combine to work and fight together in armies; and it is an interesting
fact that the working together of many men has been made possible by
inventions, such as writing and printing. Yet there is hardly any other
kind of work that is so wholly a "one man job" as inventing. The fact
that only one man, as a rule, makes a certain invention, or writes a
certain book, or composes a certain musical piece, or does any other
inventional work, seems to spring naturally from the original fact that
an invention begins with a picture made by imagination on a mind. Now a
picture so made is an individual picture in an individual mind. If the
picture is allowed to fade, or if from any cause the mind that received
it does not form it into a definite entity, no invention is made. If,
on the contrary, the mind develops the dim picture into a definite
entity of some kind, that mind alone has made that invention; even if
other minds improve it later by super-posing other inventions on it.

It is true that sometimes a man who receives from his imagination
a mental picture of some possible invention will communicate it to
another man, and that other man will contribute some constructive work,
and make the dim picture into a reality; so that the complete invention
resulting will be the joint product of two men. It seems to be a fact,
however, that these dim pictures have rarely been disclosed while in
the formless period, and that almost every invention of which we know
the history, was made by one man only.

It need hardly be interjected here that we are discussing inventions
only, and not the acts of making inventions practicable in the sense
of making them useful or commercially successful. At the present day,
there are few inventions indeed, which even after having been completed
as inventions, need no modification at the hands of the engineer and
the manufacturer, before they are suitable to be put to practical use.

       *       *       *       *       *

That the Babylonians realized the importance of their invention is
proved by the fact that their baked tablets were carefully preserved,
and that in some cities large libraries were built in which they were
kept, as books are kept in our libraries at the present day. When the
expedition of the University of Pennsylvania made its excavations
near the site of the ancient city of Nippur, in the southern part of
Babylonia near the city of Babylon, a library was discovered that
contained more than thirty thousand tablets.

[Illustration: Early Babylonian Signs, Showing Their Pictorial Origin]

The writing of the Babylonians, while phonetic, was a development of
picture writing, each character expressing a syllable, and was made of
wedge-shaped characters. From the shape of the characters the adjective
_cuneiform_ has been applied to the writing, the word coming from the
Latin word, _cuneus_, a wedge. Syllabic writing was in use for probably
three thousand years among the peoples of western Asia.

The Babylonians utilized their ingenuity and inventiveness in divers
ways, and accomplished many things that help to form the basis of
our civilization, without which we cannot imagine it to exist. Their
creations were of a highly practical and useful kind, and illustrate
the proverb that "necessity is the mother of invention." From the fact
that their ships sailed the waters of the Persian Gulf, and had need
of means to locate their positions and determine their courses from
port to port, and from the fact easily noted by their navigators that
the heavenly bodies held positions in the firmament depending on their
direction from an observer, and on the month and season and the time of
day, the study of the heavens was undertaken; with the result that the
science of astronomy was conceived and brought into existence.

It may here be asked if this achievement can properly be called an
invention. One must hesitate a little before answering this question
either negatively or positively; because such an achievement is not
usually called an invention, and yet it cannot truthfully be denied
that there is nothing in Nature like the science of astronomy, and
that therefore it must have been created by man. It cannot reasonably
be denied, also, that after the science had at last been formulated,
it was as clearly a distinct entity as a bow and arrow or a telephone.
Furthermore, it does not seem unreasonable to suppose that, before
any of the principles of astronomy were laid down, before anyone even
attempted to lay them down, before anyone even attempted to ascertain
the laws that seemed to govern the movements of the heavenly bodies,
the idea must have occurred to someone that those heavenly bodies were
all moving in obedience to some law; and a more or less confused and
yet real image must have been made upon his mind of a great celestial
machine. He must actually have imagined such a machine. This first act
would be quite like that of the inventor of a mechanical device. The
next act would be to observe and record all the phenomena observable
in connection with the movements of the celestial bodies, then to
analyze and classify them. This series of acts would not, of course, be
inventive or even constructive. They would rather be like those studies
of any art, without which no man could be an inventor in that art.

The analysis having been completed, the positions of the heavenly
bodies at various times having been ascertained and tabulated, the
next step would seem to be to construct a supposititious machine of
which each part would represent a heavenly body, and in which those
various parts would move according to laws induced tentatively from
the actual motions of certain heavenly bodies. If it were afterwards
found that all positions of each part, predicted in advance by applying
the laws tentatively induced, corresponded to the actual positions
of the heavenly body that it represented, then the supposititious
machine could be truthfully declared to be a correct imitation of the
great celestial machine. That is, the machine could be declared to be

The science of astronomy is, in effect, such a machine. Its parts are
representations of the sun, moon and other heavenly bodies, that move
according to laws that are illustrated in the diagrams, and expressed
precisely in the formulas.

The first act of the originator of the science of astronomy being one
of the imagination in conceiving a picture of a celestial machine, and
being like that of the inventor in conceiving a picture of an earthly
machine; and his second act being also like that of the inventor in
developing the picture, a justification for speaking of the "invention"
of the science of astronomy may perhaps be reasonably claimed.

(We must bear in mind, of course, that no invention is complete until
the third act has been performed, and the thing invented has been
actually produced.)

To speak of invention in connection with bringing forth novel creations
is far from new, for the phrases "construct a theory," "invent a
science," "invent a religion," etc., are in almost daily use; and it
may seem unnecessary to some persons, therefore, to discuss it at
such length. But most people seem to regard such phrases as merely
figurative; while the author wishes to make it plain that they are not
figurative but exact.

As this modest treatise does not pretend to be a learned one, and as
the author is not a professional scholar, no further attempt will
be made to claim the production of the science of astronomy as an
invention. To pursue the subject further would be merely to enter a
discussion as to the meaning, both original and derived, of the word
invention. The author, however, cannot escape the conclusion that,
no matter what may be the literally correct meaning of the word, the
mental acts performed by the originators of the science of astronomy
were like the mental acts performed by the inventors of mechanical
appliances, and exerted a similar influence on history. That is, he
believes that the men who brought into being the science of astronomy
and the men who brought into being the bow and arrow, first saw
pictures on the mental retina of some things actual yet vague and
formless, and then constructed entities from them. He believes also
that the creation of the bow and arrow, and the creation of the
science of astronomy constituted actual and similar stepping-stones on
which the race rose toward a higher civilization.

In default of any definition of the word invention, which precludes
its application to the origination of a science, theory, religion or
formulated school of thought, the author begs permission so to use it,
in indicating the influence on history of the novel creations which,
according to this meaning of the word, have been inventions.

The influence on history of the invention of the science of astronomy
has been so great that we cannot estimate its greatness. On it the
whole science of navigation rests. Without it, the science and the art
of navigation could not exist, no ships could cross the ocean from one
port to another, except by accident, and the lands that are separated
by the ocean would still rest in complete ignorance of each other.
This world would not be a world, but only a widely separated number of
barbarian countries; most of them as ignorant of even the existence of
the others as in the days before Columbus.

Following the invention of astronomy, or as it was first called,
Astrology, the imaginative and practically constructive intellects
of the Babylonians naturally led them to invent the sun-dial for
indicating the time during the day, and the water-clock for indicating
it during the night.

Another invention, doubtless brought into being by the study of
the movements of the heavenly bodies, was the duodecimal system of
notation, of which the base was twelve. In accordance with this
system, the Babylonians divided the Zodiac into twelve equal parts or
"signs"; divided the year into nearly equal months, that corresponded
approximately to the length of a lunar month; divided a day and a night
into twelve equal parts or hours; divided an hour in sixty (12 x 5)
equal parts or minutes, and divided a minute into sixty (12 x 5) equal
parts or seconds.

The duodecimal system of notation has been supplanted for many purposes
by the more convenient decimal system, the invention of which is
attributed by some to the Arabs; but the duodecimal divisions of time
are still with us, and the duodecimal divisions of the circle are still
used in most countries.

The duodecimal system of notation seems to have been the earliest
system of notation invented; and it was an invention so important that
we cannot imagine civilization without it and the decimal system,
possibly its offspring. The influence of these two inventions on
history has been so great that the mind is incapable of realizing its
greatness, even approximately.

Who were the inventors, we do not know. It is almost certain that none
of our generation ever will know, and it is far from probable that any
one of any generation will ever know. If any knowledge on this subject
is ever given to the world, it will be knowledge of names only--only
names. Yet some human beings, forgotten now and probably obscure even
in their lifetimes, invented those systems, and contributed more to the
real progress of the race than many of the great statesmen and warriors
of history.

The Babylonians invented measures of length, capacity and weight, also;
and it is from those measures that all the later measures have been
directly or indirectly derived. To have invented systems by which time,
angle, distance, space, weight and volume were lifted out of the realm
of the vague and formless into the realm of the definite and actual,
was an achievement that almost suggests that noted in the first chapter
of Genesis, in the words, "And God said 'Let there be light,' and there
was light"; for what a clearing up of mental darkness followed, when
the science of measurement turned its rays on the mysteries that beset
the path of early man!

The Egyptians seem to have been inventors, though hardly to the same
degree as were the Babylonians. The Egyptians studied the heavens and
employed a science of astronomy; and it is possible that they, rather
than the Babylonians, should be credited with its invention. But it is
not the intention of this book to decide points in dispute in history,
or even to discuss them. Its intention is merely to study the influence
that inventions and inventors had. Whether the name of an inventor was
John Smith or Archimedes, whether he lived in the year 1000 or 1100,
or which one of two rival claimants should be credited with the honor
of any invention, is often an interesting question; but it is not one
that is especially important to us, unless it casts light on the main
suggestion of our inquiry. The only reason for mentioning names and
dates and countries in this book is to show the sequence of inventions
as correctly as practicable. In order to show the influence of
invention on history it seems best to give the treatment of the subject
an historical character.

Possibly the most important invention of the Egyptians was papyrus,
which was the precursor of the paper of today. The clay tablets of
the Babylonians were clearly much less adapted to the making of many
records than was papyrus. One cannot readily imagine an edition of
300,000 newspapers like the _New York Times_, made out of clay tablets
an inch in thickness, and sold on the streets by newsboys. Clearly the
invention of papyrus was one so important that we cannot declare any
invention as more important, except on the basis that (other factors
being equal) the earlier an invention was the more important it was.
To assume such a basis would, of course, be eminently reasonable;
because the earlier invention must have supplied the basis in part for
the making of the later. The invention of writing, for instance, was
more important than the invention of papyrus.

[Illustration: Villa of an Egyptian Noble]

A curious invention of the Egyptians was the art of embalming the
bodies of the dead, an art still practiced in civilized countries. It
was prompted by their belief that the preservation of the body was
necessary, in order to secure the welfare of the soul in the future
life. This belief resulted further in building sepulchres of elaborate
design, filling them with multitudes of objects of many kinds,
decorating the walls with paintings, sculptures and inscriptions,
and placing important manuscripts in the coffins with the mummies or
embalmed bodies. The sepulchres of the kings were, of course, the
largest and most elaborate of all; and of these sepulchres the grandest
were the pyramids. By reason of the great care and labor lavished on
tombs and sepulchres and pyramids, and by reason also of the dryness of
the air in Egypt, and the consequent durability of works of stone, it
has been from the tombs that many of the clearest items of information
have come to us about old Egyptian times.

The Egyptians excelled in architecture, and the greatest of their
buildings were the pyramids. As to whether or not there was much
invention devoted to those works, it is virtually impossible now
to know. The probability seems to be that they could not have been
produced without the promptings of the inventor, but that the progress
was a slow and gradual march. It seems that there was a long series
of many small inventions that made short steps, and not a few basic
inventions that proceeded by great leaps.

The Egyptians seem to have been the inventors of arithmetic and
geometry. What men in particular should most be credited with
inventing them, we do not know; but that some men were the original
inventors the probabilities seem to intimate. For these sciences were
creations just as actual as the steam engine, and could hardly have
been produced save by similar procedures.

[Illustration: The Pyramids of Gizeh]

The suggestion may here be made that whatever we do is the result (or
ought to be) of a decision to do it, that follows a mental process
not very different from that invented by the German General Staff for
solving military problems. By this process one writes down--

1. The mission--the thing which it is desired to accomplish.

2. The difficulties in the way of accomplishing it.

3. The facilities available for accomplishing it.

4. The decision--that is, how to employ the facilities to overcome the
difficulties and accomplish the mission.

In solving a military problem (or in solving many of the problems of
daily life) it is often a matter of great difficulty to arrive at a
clear understanding of what the mission actually is, what one really
wishes to accomplish. In the majority of ordinary cases, however, the
mission stands out as a clear picture in the mind. Such a case would
be one in which an enemy were making a direct attack; for the mission
would be simply to repel it. Another case would be one in which the
mission was stated by the terms of a problem itself; for instance, to
build a steam engine to develop 1000 horse power. In the case of the
inventor, the mission seems to be sent to him as a mental picture; he
suddenly sees a dim picture in his mind of something that he must make.

Perhaps, many centuries ago, some man who had been laying out plots of
ground in Egypt, of different shapes and sizes, and making computations
for each one, suddenly saw a phantom picture in which all the lines and
figures appeared grouped in a few classes, and arranged in conformity
to a few fixed rules. The mission was given to him free, but it
devolved on him to formulate the rules. As soon as he had formulated
and proved the rules, the science of Geometry existed.

It is interesting to note that the conception of the idea required
no labor on the part of the conceiver. He was virtually a passive
receiver. His labor came afterwards, when he had to do the constructive
work of "giving to airy nothing a local habitation and a name."

The Egyptians seem to have learned the use of many drugs, though they
can hardly be said to have invented a system or a science of medicine.
They did, however, invent a system of characters for indicating the
weights of drugs. Those characters are used by apothecaries still.

The first means of cure were incantations that evidently influenced the
mind. It is interesting to note that modern systems tend to decrease
the use of drugs and increase that of mental suggestion.

Both the Babylonians and the Egyptians held religious beliefs; but it
is doubtful if the religious beliefs of either were so definite and
formulated that they could be correctly called religions, according to
our ideas of what constitutes a religion. An interesting fact is the
wide difference between the beliefs of the two peoples, in view of the
similarity of many of the other features of their civilizations. The
beliefs of neither can be called highly spiritual; but of the two, the
Egyptian seems to have been the more so. The Egyptians believed that
the souls of those who had lived good lives would be rewarded; while
the Babylonian belief did not include even a judgment of the dead.

One of the most important inventions made in Babylonia was that of a
code of laws. It is usually ascribed to a king named Hammurabi; but
whether he was the real inventor or not, we have no means of knowing.
We do know, however, that the first code of laws of which there is any
record was invented in his reign, and that it was the prototype of all
that have followed since.

The influence on history of the invention and carrying into effect of
a formulated code of laws, we cannot exactly gauge; but we may assert
with confidence that modern civilization would not have been possible
without codes of laws, and that the first code must have been more
important than any code that followed, because it led the way.

Both the Babylonians and the Egyptians seem to have made most of
their inventions in the period of their youth, and to have become
conservative as they grew older. The Babylonians were a great people
until about the year 1250 B. C., when a subject city, Assur, in the
north, threw off its allegiance and formed an independent state,
Assyria. The decline of Babylonia continued until the fall of Assyria
and the destruction of Nineveh, its capital, about the year 606 B. C.,
when the new Babylonian, or Chaldean Empire, came into existence. It
enjoyed a period of splendid but brief prosperity until it was captured
by Cyrus, king of Persia, in the year 538 B. C.

Egypt's career continued until a later day; but it was never glorious
in statesmanship, war or invention, after her youth had passed.

A nation possibly as old as the Babylonian or Egyptian was the Chinese;
but of their history, less is known. It is well established, however,
that they possessed a system of picture writing in which each word was
represented by a symbol. The system was much more cumbrous, of course,
than the syllabic or alphabetical; but its invention was a performance,
nevertheless, of the utmost brilliancy and importance, viewed from the
light of what the world was then. There is little doubt also that the
Chinese were the original inventors of the magnetic compass and of
printing from blocks, two of those essential inventions, without which
civilization could not have been brought about. Another of China's
inventions was gunpowder; though it is not clear that the Chinese ever
used it to propel projectiles out of guns.

Achievements equally great, and maybe greater, were the creations of
religions--Confucianism and Taoism, invented in China, and Buddhism,
invented in India. These religions may seem to us very crude and
commonplace and earthy; but we should not shut our eyes to the fact
that they have probably influenced a greater number of human beings
toward right living than any other three religions that we know of.

Like Babylonia and Egypt, China became conservative as she grew older.
At the present day, her name stands almost as the symbol of everything
non-progressive and non-inventive.

Assyria was able to capture Babylon about the year 1250 B. C., and to
maintain the position of the dominant power in western Asia for about
600 years. A progressive and ambitious people, they accomplished an
original and important step in the art of government by organizing
conquered peoples into provinces under governors appointed by the
king. It does not seem to be a great straining of the word to declare
that this achievement was so novel, so concrete and so useful as to
possess the essential features of an invention. For if we realize that
during all the times that had gone by, conquered peoples had remained
simply conquered peoples, paying tribute but not forming parts of the
conquering state, we can see that the idea of actually incorporating
them into the state, thereby increasing the population of the state
by the number of people incorporated, and making the state stronger
in that proportion, we can hardly fail to realize that the conception
of doing this was of the highest order of brilliancy. To work out
afterwards the details of developing the conception in such a way as
to render possible the production of an actual and workable machine
of government was a constructive act. When the machine was actually
produced a new thing had been created. In other words, the institution
of this new scheme in government seems to have followed the same three
stages as the invention of a mechanical device; that is, conception,
development and production.

_The likeness between this process and that of conception, gestation
and birth is obvious._

The Assyrians were evidently a very practical and constructive people,
somewhat such people as the Romans later were. They devoted themselves
to the practical side of life, and to this end they developed the
governmental and the military arts. They were great warriors. The
period of their greatest greatness was in the seventh and eighth
centuries B. C., when the conquerors Sargon II and Sennacherib were
kings. The splendor of the empire afterwards was conspicuous but not
long lived; for after unifying the great nations of the Orient under
Assyrian rule, and carrying on wars marked with the utmost of cruelty
and oppression, they finally entered on a rapid decline in morals,
and consequently in national prosperity and strength. The end came in
606 B. C., when a combined force of Medes and Babylonians captured
and sacked the hated Nineveh, the capital. The intensity of the
hatred against the Assyrians may be gauged by the completion of the
destruction visited on Nineveh. When Xenophon saw its ruins only two
centuries afterwards, he could not even ascertain what city those ruins

The Assyrians have left us clearer records of their achievements in
the invention of weapons than has any other ancient nation. It is
impossible to declare with certainty that all the seemingly novel
weapons and armor which the ancient Assyrians possessed and used were
invented by themselves, and not by the Egyptians or the Babylonians;
but the mere facts that the Assyrians were the most military nation of
the three, and that the specimens of those weapons which have come down
to us have been mostly Assyrian, give probability to that supposition.

The Assyrian soldier was finely equipped and armed as far back as the
thirteenth century B. C.; and Assyrian bas-reliefs show that they
actually used war-chariots then, drawn by horses and operated by armed
warriors. The infantry soldiers wore defensive armor consisting of
helmets, corslets made of skin or some woven stuff on which plates of
metal were sewn, and sometimes coats of steel mail; with leggings to
protect the legs. They carried shields, and were armed with lances,
swords, slings and bows and arrows. The Assyrians employed cavalry,
the horsemen wearing mail armor, and carrying shields and swords and
lances. They employed archers also; the archers being sometimes mounted.

The use of war-chariots, with all the mechanical equipment that was
necessary, in order to make them operate effectively, shows a state
of civilization much higher than many people realize. It shows also
that a great deal of inventiveness and constructiveness must have been
employed, and must have been skilfully directed;--for it is a very
long road--a very long road indeed--from the bow and arrow to the
war-chariot. In order to produce the war-chariot, several inventions
must have previously been made. The most important of these was one of
the most important inventions ever made,--the wheel.

Who invented the wheel, and when and where did he invent it?

This is one of the unanswered questions of history. The war-chariot
suddenly appears on the stage, without any preliminary announcement,
and without any knowledge on our part that even the wheel on which it
moved had been invented.

It is true that the records of prehistoric man show us that in
fashioning pottery he used a disc that he revolved on a spindle and
applied to the surface of the urn or vase; and it is also true that a
revolving disc is a kind of wheel. But a disc revolving on a stationary
spindle is in its intent and use a very different implement from a
wheel placed on a chariot, and turned by the forward movement of the
chariot itself, for the important purpose of reducing its resistance to
being drawn along the ground.

It is true also that invention was needed to produce the revolving
disc, the forerunner of all the polishing and turning machines on the
earth today. But the wheel was a different invention, probably a later
one, and certainly a more important one. There are things sometimes
seen in nature that look a little like revolving discs; for instance,
swirls of dust or water. In fact, almost anything put in rotation looks
like one, if the rotation is rapid enough; for instance, the sling that
a primeval slinger revolved around his head. But what do we know of in
nature that looks like a wheel, or that is used for a similar purpose?
Nothing. This being the case, the mind may lose itself in speculation
as to what could have led to the conception of such an appliance in the
mind of the original inventor of the wheel.

The suggestion may be hazarded that the invention was preceded by an
accidental recognition of the fact that it was easier to drag something
along the ground, if it rested on round logs, than if it did not so
rest; and by noting also that the logs were passed over and left behind
continually. From this point to the mental conception of a roller that
would not be left behind, but would be secured to the thing dragged
by a round shaft on which it revolved, there was probably a single
mental jump. Someone saw such a contrivance with his mental eye. It
looked dim and unreal--but he saw it. To make the picture clear, and
then to develop the thing pictured, constructiveness was used. In other
words, conception and development accomplished their successive but
cooperating tasks. The invention was complete when a wheel was actually

To realize the importance of the wheel, we have but to ask ourselves
(or our neighbors) how history could possibly have been even
approximately what it has been if the wheel had not been invented.

Another important invention probably made by the Assyrians was the
catapult; another one, somewhat similar, was the balista. The catapult
was used for hurling stones, balls, etc.; the balista for shooting
arrows with greater force than an archer could exert. Another was the
battering ram for making breaches in the walls of fortresses.

[Illustration: Assyrians Flaying Prisoners Alive. (From a bas-relief.)]

The Assyrians used these inventions in their wars against the
contiguous nations of the East, and with their aid achieved the
mastery, and unified the Orient. That the Assyrian rule was harsh
and cruel should not be denied; but, on the principle that any kind
of government is better than no government, it cannot reasonably be
supposed that the central and efficient administration of Assyria was
not better than the condition of continual petty wars and quarrels that
had existed among the numerous tribes and nations, with their enormous
possibilities for suffering of all kinds.

It may be pointed out here that the cruelties and injustices committed
by any powerful government against great numbers of persons attract
immeasurably more notice and condemnation by historians and others
than do the numberless atrocities of all kinds that lie hidden in the
darkness of anarchy, or the confusion of petty wars. In the endeavor to
preserve order over widely separated and barbarous peoples, when means
of transportation and communication were inadequate, stern measures
seem always to have been required. That they have often been too stern,
and that great cruelty has often been exercised, the wail of the ages
testifies. But human nature is very imperfect; and no really good
government, no government free from the faults of man, has ever been
established. Yet every government has been better than anarchy.

The Assyrians, despite their cruel treatment of their conquered
peoples, did a direct service to mankind and gave a powerful stimulus
to the march of progress. For the great empire which they established,
and the great cities which grew up, and the system of provinces which
they instituted, formed a pattern for similar work by later nations;
while the civilization which they spread throughout the more backward
countries under their rule, especially in Greece, started the later
culture which Greece developed, and which is the basis of all that is
most beautiful in the civilization of today.

The influence of the weapons which the Assyrians invented was toward
this end.

Between Egypt on the west and Babylonia and Assyria on the east lay
Syria; a territory not very large, of which the part that played the
most prominent part in history bordered the eastern coast of the
Mediterranean Sea. Two important peoples dwelt in Syria, the Hebrews
and the Phoenicians. Both belonged to the Semitic race, and neither was
distinctly warlike; though the Hebrews during a brief period achieved
considerable military strength and skill, under their great king David.

The main gift of the Hebrews to the world was the Jewish religion, a
more spiritual religion than any that had preceded it, and based on a
conception of one God, a holy God. The ideas held of immortality and of
judgment after death for the deeds done in this life were not entirely
new, but the conception of a holy and beneficent Deity was new; and
it was so inspiring and stimulating a conception that it lifted the
Jews at once to a moral and spiritual plane higher than any people had
ever lived on before. It constituted a step also directly toward the
Christian religion--which also was born in Syria; in Palestine.

That the conception and establishment of the Jewish religion was an
invention may not be admitted by some; but the author respectfully asks
attention to the sense in which he uses the word invention in this
book, and points out that they constituted an invention in that sense.

That it was a beneficent invention, and that it helped the human race
spiritually in a way analogous to that in which the invention of
many mechanical devices helped it materially, does not seem hard to
realize. For in both cases the race was transported away from savagery
and toward high civilization; and in both cases there was first a
conception of something desirable, then a constructive effort to
develop it, and finally its production.

The Phoenicians lived just north of the Jews, and possessed a territory
smaller than that of any other people who ever exercised an equal
influence on history; for it embraced merely a little strip of land
hardly longer than a hundred and twenty miles from north to south, or
wider on the average than twelve miles from east to west. It bordered
on the eastern edge of the Mediterranean Sea, and was shut off by the
mountains of Lebanon from Syria, that lay due east.

The Phoenicians were a people of extraordinary enterprise and
initiative. Inventors are men of extraordinary enterprise and
initiative. How much the Phoenicians are to be credited with the
invention of sailing vessels, we have no means of knowing; but we
do know that (with the possible exception of the Egyptians) the
Phoenicians were more identified with early navigation by sailing
vessels and by vessels pulled by oars than any other people. It
is even known that Phoenician vessels were navigating the Eastern
Mediterranean, both under sails and under oars, as long ago as 1500 B.
C. So, while we should not be justified in asserting positively that
the Phoenicians were the inventors and developers of sailing vessels
and of vessels pulled by banks of oars and steered by rudders, we may
declare with ample reason that probably they were.

For the purposes of this book, however, the identity of the inventors
is not important. What is important is the fact that the invention
of those vessels had immediate fruit in a commerce by which the
products of eastern civilization were taken westward to Greece and
other countries, while tin and other raw material were brought east
from Spain and even Britain; and that it had later fruit in gradually
building up a western civilization. It had other fruit as well, in
demonstrating the possibilities and the value of ocean commerce, and
forming the basis of the world-wide navigation of today.

Few inventions have had a greater influence on history than that of the
sailing ship. To some of us it may seem that no invention was involved;
that to use sails was an obvious thing to think of and accomplish. But
if any one of us will close his eyes a moment and imagine an absence
of most of the great scientific and mechanical knowledge of today, and
imagine also the absence of nearly all the present acquaintance with
the laws of weather, flotation, resistance to propulsion, metacentric
height, etc., he may realize what a feat was the invention of the
sailing ship and even of the ship pulled with oars and steered with a
rudder. It is true that we have no reason to assume that either vessel
was conceived by one leap of the imagination and developed by one act,
while we have many reasons to think that each was the result of a
series of short steps; but this does not invalidate the invention of
the ships, or depreciate its influence.

By two other achievements, also, the Phoenicians showed the kinship
between the inventor and the man of enterprise and initiative; the
invention of the Tyrian dyes and of an alphabetical system of writing
that forms the basis of the systems of today. Here again it is
necessary to remind ourselves that possibly the Phoenicians were not
the sole and original inventors of the alphabet, and that they may
have merely improved upon a system invented by, say, the Cretans; and
again it may be helpful to point out that the important fact is not the
personality of the inventors but the birth of the invention, and the
influence of the invention on history. Certain it is, however, that it
was the Phoenicians who brought alphabetical writing to the practical
stage and who not only used it themselves, but carried it in their
ships all over the Mediterranean, where it bore abundant fruit. It bore
fruit especially in Greece.

Phoenicia is an instructive illustration of the fact that a country
(like a man) may make inventions of lasting usefulness to mankind, and
yet not hold a position of power or splendor in the world. Phoenicia
was nearly always a vassal, paying tribute to one great monarchy or

In striking contrast with Phoenicia was the empire of Persia, which,
though it gave to the world of that day the best government it had
ever known, contributed nothing in the nature of an actual new
stepping-stone to civilization.

Persia conquered Lydia, which is credited with the important invention
of coinage. The coins first issued by the Lydians were of electrum, an
alloy of gold and silver. King Croesus later issued coins of pure gold
and pure silver.

Directly east of Syria was Phrygia. It was in Phrygia that the flute,
the first real musical instrument, is supposed to have been invented,
in about the sixteenth century B. C.

       *       *       *       *       *

The brief résumé just given of the inventions made in prehistoric
times, and also in historic times in China, Egypt and western Asia,
shows that before Greece had attained any civilization whatever the
most important inventions for the betterment of mankind had been
already made. These inventions were not only mechanical appliances
and such arts as spinning, weaving, pottery making, etc., that were
intended for safety and material benefit generally; for they included
systems of government and codes of laws and even religions that
aimed to elevate man, and that did elevate him mentally, morally and

At the present day, when inventions follow each other with such
rapidity that even students and experts cannot keep themselves informed
about them, except in certain specialties, it is natural for us to feel
that no inventing of any consequence was ever done before. In fact, the
present age is called "The Age of Invention." Yet all the inventions
of the last century added together have not had so great influence on
mankind as the invention of writing, or of the bow and arrow, or the
wheel--or almost any of the inventions we have noted. Not only are they
not so important,--they were not so novel, they did not constitute
steps so long, they did not mark such epochs, and probably resulted
from less brilliant pictures on the mind. Can anyone think that the
telephone was as novel or as important as the wheel? Can anyone suppose
that the steam engine, or the electric telegraph, or the powder-gun
took us as long a step upward to civilization as did papyrus? Will
anyone declare that the railroad ushered in as great an epoch as
the sailing ship? Is it probable that the first conception of the
phonograph made quite so startling a picture on the accustomed brain
of the habitual inventor as that of the art of making fire did on the
virgin mentality of the savage?

The last contribution of western Asia to the betterment of the world
was Christianity. It was not made until after Greece had reached the
prime of her civilization and passed beyond it; and some may consider
it a sacrilege to call it an invention. It was an inspiration from On
High. But dare anyone assert that the wonderful conceptions that have
come unbidden to the minds of the great inventors were not, in their
degree, also inspirations from On High? Whence did they come? That they
came there can be no doubt. Whence did they come? Our religion teaches
us that God directs our paths, that He puts good thoughts into our
minds. It also teaches us that He inspired the men who wrote the Bible.
In the ordinary meaning of the word "inspired," Some One inspired every
noble and novel and beneficent achievement that was ever made. Who?

       *       *       *       *       *

Without insisting tediously on the meaning of the word invention, one
may point out that the word is used continually to mean a mental act by
which something heretofore non-existent is created. The expertest of
all word users, in any language, cried:

"Oh, for a muse that would ascend the highest heaven of invention";
expressing almost exactly what the present author is trying to express,
and indicating invention as the highest effort of the mind.

In this sense, may I reverently claim the Christian Religion as an
invention, one of the greatest inventions ever made?



Our brief survey has thus far carried us over the lands of Egypt,
China and western Asia; lands so far removed from us in distance, and
inhabited by people so far removed from us in time and character,
that they seem to belong almost to another world. But we now are
coming to a country which, though its history goes back many centuries
before the Christian era, was a country of Europe and inhabited by
a people who seem near. The Greeks who overran what we now call
Greece, probably about 1500 B. C., took possession of a civilization
exceedingly high, which the inhabitants of the mainland and the Ægean
Islands had received from the East, through the Phoenicians, who
brought it in their ships. This civilization the Ægean islanders,
especially the Cretans, had developed and improved, particularly in
creations of beauty and works of art. The Greeks created a still
higher civilization, and transmitted it to us. The influence of Greek
civilization we see on every hand:--in our language, in our daily life,
and especially in our ideas of art, literature and philosophy.

That a civilization so high and beautiful should have been attained,
could hardly have been brought about without the presence of great
imagination among the Greeks, and the exercise of considerable
invention. The presence of both imagination and invention are evidenced
in every page of the early history of Greece, in the stirring
stories of her heroes, and in the conception and development of her
government. Compared with the stories of ancient Greece, the stories of
the childhood of every other country seem unimaginative and tame. The
stories of early Greece still live and still have the power to charm.
The Iliad and Odyssey are in the first rank of the great poems even
now; and the story of Helen and the siege of Troy is as full of life
and color as any that we know.

[Illustration: Two Cretan Vases]

An interesting legend characteristic of the inventiveness of the
ancient Greeks was that of the large wooden horse in which a hundred
brave warriors concealed themselves, and were drawn within the walls of
Troy by the Trojans themselves, who had been induced to do this by an
ingenious story, invented to deceive them. Whether the legend is true
or not does not affect the fact that invention was needed and employed
to create the legend in the one case, or to cause the incident in the
other case.

The prehistoric age of Greece was filled with myths of so much beauty,
interest and originality, that the Greek mythology is more read, even
now, than any other. It formed also the basis of the later mythology of
the Romans.

It may be noted here that mere imagination is not a quality of very
high importance, unless it be associated with constructiveness. In
fact, imagination is evidenced more by savage and barbarous peoples
than by the civilized; as it is also by children and women than by
men. Imagination by itself, untrained and undirected, while it is
unquestionably an attribute of the mind, is not one of reason, in the
sense that it does not necessarily employ the reasoning faculties. In
fact, the imagination, unless trained and well-directed, may lead us to
the absurdest performances, in defiance of the suggestions of reason.
Using the word imagination in this sense, Shakespeare said--

    "The lunatic, the lover and the poet
    Are of imagination all compact."

It is only when imagination has been assisted by reason, it is only
when conception has been followed by construction, that practical
inventions have resulted.

The myths invented by the Greeks in their prehistoric period were
the products of not only imagination but construction. Each myth
was a perfectly connected story, complete in all necessary detail,
admirably put together, and told in charming language. The story of
Jason's Argonautic Expedition in search of the Golden Fleece cannot be
surpassed in any of the elements that make a story good; Penelope is
still the model of conjugal devotion, and Achilles the ideal warrior;
Poseidon, or his Roman successor, Neptune, still rules the waves;
Aphrodite, or Venus, calls up more vividly before our minds than any
other name the vision of feminine beauty even to this day. Hercules
exemplifies muscular strength, and Apollo still typifies that which is
most beautiful in manliness.

The influence of the Grecian myths, "pure inventions" as they were, in
the sense that they were fictitious and not true, has been explained
and demonstrated at great length and with abundant enthusiasm by poets
and scholars for many centuries. They have been generally regarded as
inventions, but nevertheless as quite different from such inventions
as the steam-engine or the printing press. The present author wishes
to point out that the mental processes by which both myths and engines
were created were alike, and that the inventions differed mainly in the
uses to which they were put.

Even the uses to which they were put were similar in the end; for the
use of the myths and of the steam engine was to improve the conditions
of man's existence. There is only one way in which to do this, and that
is by improving the impressions made on his mind. The myths did this by
making beautiful pictures for his mind to gaze at, and by using them to
induce him to follow a certain (good) line of conduct, rather than the
contrary. The steam engine did it by making the conditions of living
more comfortable, by rendering transportation more safe and rapid, and
by rendering possible the procuring of many of the pleasant things of
life from distant places.

The invention of a myth may be said to be the invention of an
immaterial thing; the invention of a steam engine to be of a material
thing. These two lines of effort, invention has followed since long
before the dawn of history. Of the two, the invention of myths and
stories probably succeeded the other.

Probably also it has been the more important in affecting our actual
degree of happiness; affecting it beneficently in the main. For, while
some myths and stories have filled men with dread and horror, a very
large majority have had the opposite effect; and while many mechanical
inventions have contributed to our material ease and comfort, it
is not clear that they have much increased our actual happiness.
Men accommodate themselves easily to changes in their material
surroundings; what is a luxury today will be a necessity tomorrow; and
very many of the material inventions have tended to artificial and
unhealthful modes of living, with consequent physical deterioration and
its accompanying loss of happiness.

As to influence on history, however, the influence of the material
inventions has probably been the greater. Immaterial inventions might
have been made in enormous numbers without of themselves affecting
history greatly; but the material inventions have brought about most of
the events that history describes; and without one material invention,
that of writing, history could not exist at all. History is rather a
narrative of men's deeds than of their thoughts; and their deeds have
been directed largely by the implements which they had to do deeds with.

We must realize, of course, that the Greeks were much indebted to the
Ægeans; for discoveries about the shores and islands of the Ægean
Sea show that long before the advent of the Greeks they used tools
and weapons of rough and then of polished stone, and later of copper
and tin and bronze; that they lived on farms and in villages and
cities, and were governed by monarchs who dwelt in palaces adorned
with paintings and fine carvings, and filled with court gentlemen
and ladies who wore jewelry and fine clothing. Exquisite pottery was
used, decorated with taste and skill; ivory was carved and gems were
engraved, and articles were made of silver and bronze and gold.

As early as the sixth century B. C., the Greeks made things more
beautiful than had ever been made before. One almost feels like saying
that the Greeks invented beauty. Such a declaration would be absurd
of course: but it seems to be a fact that the Greeks had a conception
of beauty that was wholly original with them, and that was not only
finer than that which any other people had ever had before, but finer
than any other people have had since. And not only did they have the
conception, they had the ability to embody the conception in material
forms that possessed a beauty higher than had ever been produced
before, and higher (at least on the average) than have ever been
produced in any other country since.

Looked at in this way, the production of a new and beautiful statue,
painting or temple, seems to be an act of invention much like the
formulation of a myth or the writing of a poem. In this sense, the
Greeks were inventors, inventors of works of beauty that have existed
as concrete material creations for centuries, and have exercised an
enduring influence on the minds of men.

The influence of paintings, statues and temples is not so clear as
that of material inventions, but more clear than that of myths and
poems. They may be said to form a class midway between inventions of
material appliances and inventions of immaterial thoughts and fancies.
A beautiful painting or statue is a material object in the same sense
as that in which a steam engine is; but its office is to stimulate the
mind, as a poem does.

The first inventor of mechanical appliances, mentioned by name as
such, was Dædalus of Athens. He was probably a mythical person. He was
reputed to be the son or the grandson of Erectheus, a probably mythical
king. He is credited with the invention of the saw, the gimlet, the
plumb-line, the axe, the wedge, the lever, masts and sails and even
of flying;--for he is said to have escaped from Crete to Sicily with
artificial wings. The story of Dædalus, like that of many other
mythological personages, is both interesting and irritating from the
mixture of the very probable, the highly improbable, and the entirely
impossible, in a jumble. But the story of Dædalus seems to make it
probable that all the things which he is reported to have invented
(except flying) were in use in Greece in prehistoric times.

As no records show to us that the inventions just enumerated (except
masts and sails) had been invented elsewhere, we may feel justified
in inferring that they were invented in Greece by Dædalus, or by some
other man bearing a different name,--or by some other men. The name
borne by the man is not important to us now; but it is important to
realize that such brilliant and original inventions were made so long
ago by a primeval people; especially since they were of a character
somewhat different from those invented in Egypt and Asia which we have
already noted. The invention of the gimlet seems the most brilliant
and original of those just spoken of; and one marvels that it should
have been invented at such a time; for the action of the gimlet was a
little more complicated than that of even the balista or the catapult.
It is true that the number of parts was less, that in fact there was
only one part. But that part turned around in one plane, and advanced
in another; it was less like anything that existed before than the
catapult was like the sling, or the balista was like the cross-bow.
There was no immediate forerunner of the gimlet. In other words, the
mental jump needed to invent the gimlet was from a base of nothing that
we can exactly specify.

[Illustration: Insurgent Captives Brought Before Darius]

A possible suggestion for the gimlet was the succession of inclined
planes by which one mounted to the top of an Assyrian or Chaldean
palace; these planes rising gradually on each of the four sides,
so as to form together what might be called a square spiral. It is
possible that a circular spiral may have been traced later around some
cylindrical shaft or column, and given the first suggestion for the
screw or gimlet. Of course, a gimlet is a kind of screw. The Greeks do
not seem to have applied their inventiveness after the time of Dædalus
to mechanical appliances, but to works of art and systems of religion
and philosophy. One of their most important inventions may be said to
be mid-way between: it consisted in adding vowels to the Phoenician
alphabet and producing the basis of the Latin and succeeding alphabets.
The Greeks were not naturally of a warlike disposition, and their
peculiarly jealous temperament prevented the various states and cities
from combining and forming a great nation. Their energetic character
and great intellectuality saved them, however, when Darius, King of
Persia, invaded Greece in 490 B. C.

By that time the Greeks had raised and trained an army of great
excellence. No especial inventiveness seems to have been exercised,
but the equipments of the men, their organization, their armor, their
weapons and their discipline had been brought to a standard exceedingly
high. All these advantages were needed; for the Persians were a warlike
people, their King Darius was an ambitious and successful conqueror,
and the number of Persians that invaded Greece was far greater than the
number that Greece could raise to fight them.

Had the Greeks been destitute of invention they would have followed
the most obvious course, that of shutting themselves up inside the
protection of the walls of Athens. Had they done this, the Persians
would have surrounded the city, shut them off from supplies from
outside, and slowly but surely forced them to surrender.

But, on the insistent advice of Miltiades, the Greeks advanced to
meet the Persians, leaving the shelter of their walls behind them. It
may not seem to some that Miltiades made any invention in planning
the campaign which he urged against much resistance, and which the
Athenians finally carried out. Yet his mental action was one allied
to that of making an invention; for his mind conceived a plan as a
purely mental picture, then developed into a workable project, and
then presented it as a concrete proposition. Later, when the hostile
forces met on the low plain of Marathon, Miltiades rejected the obvious
plan that an uninventive mind would have adopted. Instead of it, he
invented the plan of weakening his center, strengthening his flanks,
and departing from the usual custom of advancing slowly against the
enemy, in favor of advancing on the run. The plan (invention) worked
perfectly. The unsuspecting Persians broke through the center and
pursued the fleeing Athenians to a rough ground;--only to be caught
between the two flanks, like a nut in a nut-cracker, and crushed to

It can hardly be seriously questioned that in this plan Miltiades
showed the abilities of the inventor, and in a highly brilliant and
highly important way. Had he fought the battle in the obvious way, the
great numerical superiority of the Persians could hardly have failed
to gain the victory, despite a really considerable superiority of the
Athenians in training and equipment. But the Persians were the victims
of a new and unexpected kind of attack. A new weapon suddenly brought
to bear on them would have had a similar effect.

This is the first illustration in recorded history of the influence
of invention on the deciding of a war. Its influence was enormous in
this case; for the battle of Marathon was one of the most decisive and
one of the most important battles ever fought. If it had been decided
contrariwise, Grecian civilization would have been stamped out, or so
completely stifled that it would never have risen to the heights it
afterwards attained; freedom of thought and government would have been
smothered, and the world would be immeasurably different now from what
it really is.

The defeat of the Persians was so decisive that they withdrew to
their own country, but with the determination of returning, and in
overwhelming force. By reason of a variety of circumstances, including
the death of the king, the invasion did not take place until ten years
later. Then, in the year 480 B. C., King Xerxes set out on a punitive
expedition against Greece with an enormous military and naval force.

Again Greece was saved from Persia by pure brain power, that of
Themistocles. Like Miltiades, he rejected the obvious. Discerning,
as no one else discerned, that the weakest point in the Persian
forces was the line of communication across the Ægean Sea, because
the ships of those days were fragile, and an invading army needed to
get supplies continually from Persia, he pointed out that although it
was the Persian army that would do the actual damage in Greece, yet
nevertheless, the major effort of the Athenians should not be spent on
their army but on their navy.

The difficulties he met in making the Athenians see the truth may
easily be imagined, from experiences in our own day. He succeeded at
last, however; so that by the time the Persians reached Greece, Greece
had a fleet that was very good, though not nearly so large as the
Persian. The fleets came near to each other in the vicinity of Athens.
The majority of the Athenian leaders advised that the Athenian fleet
should retreat toward the south and west, to the isthmus of Corinth,
and await the Persians there; because, if defeated, a safe retreat
could be effected. But Themistocles opposed this plan with all the
force and eloquence he could bring to bear; pointing out that the aim
of the Athenians should not be to find a safe line of retreat, but to
win a battle; and that the Bay of Salamis was the best place, for two
reasons. One reason was that the Persians would have to enter the bay
in column, because the entrance was narrow, and the Persian ships, as
they successively passed into the bay, would therefore be at a great
disadvantage against the combined attack of the Athenian ships, waiting
for them there; the other reason was that the bay was so small that the
great numbers and size of the Persian ships would be a disadvantage,
instead of an advantage. Themistocles (not without the use of
considerable diplomacy and even subterfuge) finally secured the assent
of the other Athenian leaders. The result was exactly what he predicted
that it would be. The Persian fleet was wholly defeated, and Greece
again was saved.

The great victory of the Greeks over the Persians wrought a powerful
stimulation among all the people, especially in Athens, and was
followed by the most extraordinary intellectual movement in the history
of the world. It lasted about a century and a half; and in no other
country, and at no other period, has so much intellectual achievement
been accomplished by so few people in so short a time.

Before the Persian wars, the Greeks had already shown an extraordinary
originality in art and literature; especially in architecture,
sculpture and poetry. Naturally these peaceful arts languished during
the wars; but after the Persian invaders had been finally ejected, they
rose with renewed vigor, stimulated by the patriotic enthusiasm of the
nation as a whole.

It was in Athens, and among the Athenians that most of the movement
was carried on. The principal state in Greece besides Athens then
was Sparta. The Spartans devoted themselves mainly to warlike and
allied arts, while the Athenians devoted themselves mainly to the
beautification of Athens; though they were careful to guard it
adequately by maintaining an excellent navy, surrounding the city with
high walls, and building two long parallel walls from Athens to Piræus,
its seaport.

It would be out of place in a book like this to attempt any description
or discussion of the various phases of the intellectual activities that
rose with such startling quickness, and developed into such important
movements, during the century and a half that followed the Persian
wars; especially as this has already been done by many scholars,
in many languages, and at many times. A very brief and elementary
statement may, however, be made, for the purpose of illustrating the
influence of invention on history.

The main characteristic of the movement as a whole and of every
one of the various channels which it followed, was originality. No
such perception of beauty had ever been evidenced before; no such
conceptions of logic, philosophy or science.

Accompanying these was a conception of free government equally
original. Whether the government of Athens was the cause of the
intellectual rise, or the intellectual rise was the cause of the
government, may safely be left to scholars to debate; for the purposes
of the present discussion, it seems sufficient that they co-existed and
had together a powerful influence on history.

The greatest genius that guided the intellectual forces of the
Athenians in the matter of government was that of Pericles, who ruled
their minds by pure force of argument and persuasion, from about 445
to 431 B. C. Athens and her subject cities formed a virtual empire,
small in extent, but powerful in influence; though in form it was a
democracy. In some ways it was the most perfect democracy that ever
has existed even to this day; for not only was every citizen available
for office, but he was expected to take active part in deciding public
measures, and to be really qualified to hold office.

This idea was put into practical operation by a careful system of
payment for every public service; to the end that even the poorest
citizen should be enabled to hold office, and a wealthy office-holding
caste prevented from existing. To so great an extent was this carried
out that, by the time that the Age of Pericles ceased and the
Peloponnesian War began, almost every citizen was in the pay of the
state. The perfect equality of all the citizens, and their community
of interests and privileges, was recognized by supplying them at
times with free tickets to places of amusement, and by banqueting the
people on great occasions at the expense of the state. To distribute
widely the powers and duties of citizenship, exceedingly large juries
were established for the trials of all cases. There was no king or
president or prime minister. The source of authority was the Assembly
which included every citizen over eighteen years of age, and held forty
meetings a year. Cooperating, as a sort of committee, was a Council of
Five Hundred, whose members were chosen by lot each year from citizens
over thirty years of age.

The success of the Athenian democracy has had a powerful influence ever
since on history; because it has supplied not only a precedent but an
encouragement to every people to try to escape from the individual
restrictions that monarchies and all "strong governments" tend to
impose. But it had another though less powerful influence also,
which continued for a long while, but now has ceased, in supplying a
precedent for slavery. For while the citizens of Athens were free, only
the sons of Athenian fathers and Athenian mothers could be citizens;
many thousand workers and merchants of all kinds could take no part in
the government, and there were besides an enormous number of slaves.
It was to a great degree the fact of slavery that made possible the
success of the so-called Athenian democracy; for it liberated the
citizens in very great measure from the drudgery of life, and gave them
leisure to devote themselves to the study of government and the arts.

In addition, Athens acquired great wealth from the spoils of its wars
and the tribute of its subject states. This wealth was expended largely
in the beautifying of Athens, and in the consequent encouragement
and opportunity to artists of all kinds. Naturally, the art most
immediately encouraged was that of architecture; and that the
encouragement met with ready and great success the most beautiful ruins
in the world superbly testify. The directing genius in this work and
in all the others was Pericles, who stimulated the Athenians with his
conception and description of a city worthy to symbolize the power and
glory of the empire. The twin arts of architecture and sculpture worked
together and in harmony; and a city more beautiful than ever known
before, or ever known since, testified to the soundness and brilliancy
of the conception and to the constructive ability of the Athenians to
embody it in material form.

The poets and scholars kept pace with the statesmen and the architects
and the sculptors; but the philosophers surpassed them all. For, while
the successful democracy of Athens is a model still, and while the
Parthenon and the statue of Apollo are models still, yet an integral
part of the system of government (slavery) has been abjured by the
civilized world, and the temples and the statues have been for the
pleasure of but a few; while the teachings of the philosophers have
been the basis on which has rested ever since much of the intellectual
progress of mankind.

It may be noted here that, as men have progressed up the steep road to
civilization, the only guides they have had have been men who have not
themselves passed over the road before, and whose only qualification
as guides has lain in some attribute of the mind that enabled them
to survey the road a little farther ahead than the others could, and
to point out the paths to take, and the obstructions to avoid. Man's
physical instincts guide him considerably as to the methods to preserve
his physical existence; but they help him not at all to lift himself
above his physical self, and in many ways they hinder him. It seems
to be the office of the mind both to discern the upward paths and to
stimulate the will to overcome the difficulties and dangers in the way.

Of the great pointers of the way, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and
others, it might be deemed presumptuous of the present author to do
more than speak; and of the great stimulators, Æschuylus, Sophocles,
Euripedes, Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon, and, above all, Demosthenes
as well. But because it is pertinent to our subject it is instructive
for us to note that the main distinctive feature of the work of each
was originality. It is true that it is the completed work in the case
of each that meets our gaze; it is true that the superficial impression
would be the same, even if each work had been a copy of some work that
had gone before; in the same way that, superficially, many a copy of
an oil painting is as good as the original. But from the standpoint
of influence on the future, it is the originator rather than the
copyist who wields the influence; just as it is the basic inventor of a
mechanical appliance rather than the man who improves upon it.

The Athenians and Spartans became involved in the Peloponnesian War,
that lasted from 431 to 404 B. C., and ended with the capture of
Athens. The Spartans thereupon became dominant in Greece, but only to
be mastered by the Thebans in 371 B. C. The little jealous states of
Greece were never able to agree together long, and no one state was
ever able to unite them. But the half-barbarian people of Macedonia,
under Philip their king, after developing their army, according to a
novel system invented by him, overcame and then united under their sway
the highly cultured but now military weak states that had despised them.

Possibly, it would somewhat strain the meaning of the word invention,
to declare that Philip made a radically new invention, when he
improved on the Theban phalanx, and devised his system of military
training; for kings and other leaders had trained armies long before
Philip lived, and Philip departed only in what some might call detail
from the methods that had been used before. But, at the same time,
it was an act, or a series of acts, betokening great initiative and
originality, for a man ruling a weak collection of tribes such as dwelt
in Macedon, to create out of such crude material as he began with, such
an extraordinary army as he ultimately was able to lead to battle. To
accomplish this it was necessary for him to conceive the idea of doing
it, then to embody his conception in a formulated plan, and then bring
forth the finished product. The thought of doing it must have come to
him:--how else could he get it? An idea comes from outside through the
mental eye to the mind; as a ray of light comes from outside through
the physical eye to the retina.

The picture made on Philip's mind must have impressed him profoundly,
for he spent the rest of his life in giving it "a local habitation
and a name." To accomplish it cost him years of continual effort of
many kinds, but he did accomplish it. He did, as a result, produce a
machine, as truly a machine as Stephenson ever produced, but made up of
many more parts; each part independent of any other, and yet dependent
on every other, and all working together, for a common purpose.

Let us remind ourselves again that a machine composed of inanimate
parts only is only one kind of machine; for a machine may be composed
of animate parts, or inanimate parts, or of parts of which some are
animate and some inanimate. Clearly, it makes no difference, so far
as the act of invention goes, whether a man uses animate or inanimate
parts; the essential of invention is the creation of a new thing. If a
man merely puts two pieces of wood and a piece of string into a pile,
or if he merely collects a number of men together, no invention is made
and nothing is created. But if he so combines the two pieces of wood
and the string as to make a bow and arrow; or if he combines a modified
Theban phalanx with masses of cavalry and catapults in a novel and
effective way as Philip did, invention is exercised and something is

Before Philip's time a phalanx was used to bear the brunt of the
battle, and to overwhelm the enemy by mere strength and force; as the
Thebans did at Leuctra and Mantinea. But Philip conceived the idea of
merely holding the enemy with his phalanx assisted by the catapults,
and hurling his cavalry against their flanks. Philip's army, as Philip
used it, was a machine and a very powerful one:--each part independent
of every other, yet dependent on every other--all the parts working
together for a common purpose. Philip conceived the idea of making
this machine, and afterwards made it; just as Ericsson more than two
thousand years later conceived the idea of making a "_Monitor_" and
afterwards made it.

By means of his machine Philip defeated the Greeks at Cheronea in the
year 338 B. C., just as Ericsson by means of his machine defeated the
_Merrimac_ at Newport News in the year 1862 A. D., exactly twenty-two
centuries later. The two machines differed, it is true. Yet they did
not differ so much as one might unthinkingly suppose; for each machine
was made up of parts, of which some were animate and some were not; and
in each machine every part, animate or inanimate, cooperated with all
the others; and all cooperated together, to carry out the inventor's
purpose, the destruction of the enemy.

The influence of Philip's invention began before Philip died, and it
continues to this day. For after Philip's death, his son Alexander put
it to work at once on the task of subduing thoroughly all of Greece,
and then subduing Asia.

The influence of the machine in subduing even Greece alone must not be
regarded lightly; not so much because Greece was subdued, as because
the various little states were by that means brought together; and
because it illustrates the fact that without a machine, no great number
of people can work together. It _was because of the absence of any
machine_ that the Grecian states acted separately and antagonistically,
instead of in cooperation.

After subduing Greece, Alexander took his machine across the
Hellespont, in the year 334 B. C., to try it on the Persian troops
in Asia Minor. The machine worked so successfully at a battle on the
Granicus that Alexander took it south, and with its aid was able to
conquer all of Asia Minor in about a year.

It may be objected that it is not correct to attribute all of
Alexander's success to the excellence of his machine; and this
objection would have great force and receive the approval of most
people, for the reason that, in most histories, the main credit is
given to the energy of Alexander and the courage of his troops;--though
the excellence of the training and organization bequeathed by Philip is

To this hypothetical objection the answer may be made that the ultimate
result was due to both the machine and the excellence with which it was
operated; that is, to the product of what the machine could do if it
were used with perfect skill and the percentage of skill with which it
was actually used. This statement is, of course, true of all machines
and instruments, as the author has often pointed out, in articles and

In the case of Alexander and his army, the percentage of skill, of
course, was high; but Alexander and each one of his soldiers was only
a part of the machine; and even their skill was part of the machine
in the sense that it was a characteristic included in the original
design of Philip. In other words, we should not fall into the error of
dissociating the skill of Alexander and his soldiers from the machine
itself; because it was part of Philip's invention that the training
should produce that skill. The system of training was part of the

It is true, however, and exceedingly important, that the degree of
skill which Alexander brought to bear personally was far in excess of
what any system of training could possibly produce. When we read of the
amazing victories that Alexander made over superior forces of highly
trained warriors, we see that Philip of Macedon should not be given
all the credit; that the genius of Philip of Macedon was not the only
genius contributing to the result. We see that genius of some kind
directed the decisions of Alexander. What were the characteristics of
that genius?

Courage? Yes; history tells of no one possessing higher courage,
both physical and moral, than Alexander. Not only was he physically
brave, not only did he dare physical danger of many kinds, and on many
occasions, but he was morally brave; he did not shirk responsibility;
he did not fear to take enormous risks; he did not hesitate to reject
advice, even the advice of his most experienced and able generals; he
was willing to stake everything, sometimes, on the success of some
wholly untried expedient of his own devising.

But does mere courage, even of so many kinds--and even if it be added
to trained skill and the possession of an admirable machine--do they
all together explain the amazing successes of Alexander? No. What does
explain them?

Genius? Yes, but the word genius is only a word, and explains nothing;
for the reason that no one knows what the word genius means. It is
merely a label that we attach to a man who is able to do things that
other men cannot do. But granting that the possession of "genius" is
an explanation of Alexander's being able to accomplish what he did, in
what way did that genius operate? in what way did it help him to win so
many victories and extricate himself from so many perilous situations?

By inventing methods and devising schemes and improvising plans
that an uninventive man would not have thought of. The story of the
Gordian knot may or may not be true; but it seems credible, because
it was exactly the kind of a thing that Alexander might have been
expected to do in such an emergency. Posing as a great conqueror, he
was (according to the legend) suddenly confronted with the untying of
a knot, the successful accomplishment of which would make him master
of Asia. He realized that he could not untie it. Any man but a man
like Alexander would have tried it and acknowledged failure, or have
declined to try it: placing himself in a defensive position in either
case. But Alexander draws his sword and cuts the knot in two, thereby
accomplishing whatever the untying of the knot would have accomplished,
but in an unexpected way. Alexander's victories and escapes from
perilous positions were largely accomplished by unexpected measures.

But Alexander showed his inventive ability before he invaded Persia;
in his very first campaign undertaken to subdue a revolt in Thessaly
immediately after he ascended to the throne. The Thessalians opposed
him in a narrow defile. An ordinary man would have thought, as the
Thessalians did, that he was checkmated. But Alexander conceived and
executed the ingenious scheme of cutting a new road up the steep
side of the mountain, leading his army along that road, and suddenly
threatening the Thessalians in their helpless rear. Shortly afterward
in Thrace he reached a defile in the mountains which it was necessary
for him to pass, but which he found defended by a force that had
stationed a number of war-chariots at the top, to be rolled down on the
Macedonians. Alexander immediately ordered his infantry to advance up
the path and to open their ranks whenever possible to let the chariots
rush through; but when that could not be done to fall on their knees
and hold their shields together as a sort of roof on which the chariots
would slide, and from which they would roll off. This amazing story is
supposed to be true; and it is said to have succeeded perfectly.

Not long afterward Alexander had to cross the Danube with his army and
all their equipments and attack a force of barbarians on the farther
bank. This he saw he could not do by the use of any means available of
an ordinary kind. Nothing daunted, he conceived and executed the scheme
of floating his equipments across at night in floats made of tent
skins, filled with hay.

The next clear example that we find of Alexander's inventiveness
was when he undertook the siege of Tyre. Tyre stood on an island
of Phoenicia in the extreme eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea.
It was surrounded with a wall, very thick and very high, and was
separated from the shore by half a mile of deep water. To capture
such a place was no small undertaking for a man who had no ships. But
Alexander conceived and executed a scheme that worked successfully.
In accordance with that scheme, he built a causeway that extended
from the shore out toward the island on which Tyre stood. Naturally,
the Tyrians obstructed his efforts by sending fireships against
him and firing projectiles; and these tactics became more and more
effective as the causeway approached the city. Then Alexander visited
some of the jealous neighbors of Tyre that had submitted to him, and
secured a fleet of some eighty ships; and these he led, as the admiral
commanding, against the Tyrian harbor.

By this time, the causeway was well protected with catapults and
war-engines of various kinds, and had been carried close up to the
island. Yet little actual damage could be done to Tyre, because of the
height and thickness of the walls, and because Alexander's galleys that
he had equipped with war-engines could not get close enough, by reason
of large boulders under water. Alexander then equipped certain galleys
with windlasses to root up the boulders, the galleys being fitted
with chain cables to prevent divers from cutting them. Tyre was soon
afterwards reduced to a purely passive defense and consequent surrender.

The story of the siege of Tyre, if read in the light of the conditions
of the comparative barbarism of the world in those days, is a record of
inventiveness, on the part of Alexander, so convincing and complete, as
to entitle Alexander to a place in the first rank among the inventors
of our race.

Shortly afterward Alexander reached the town of Gaza, the great
stronghold of the Philistines. It stood on high ground, and was
more than two miles from the sea. Alexander's engineers reported to
him that, as the fleet could not assist them, and as the walls were
themselves very high and stood on a high hill, the walls could never be
stormed. Things looked serious. They were serious; and failure would
then have come to any man, except a man like Alexander. He cut the
Gordian knot by ordering that ramparts be thrown up as high as the top
of the walls, and war engines placed on the ramparts. This was done,
and the city was taken.

Alexander's campaigns in Egypt, and afterward in western Asia, were
characterized by the same quickness and daring, both in conception and
in execution, that had marked his opening campaigns in Greece. Later,
when advancing toward Persia, he encountered a tribe of hillsmen in
the Uxian Pass, who, like the Thessalians and the Thracians, thought
they had blocked his passage by opposing him in so narrow a defile.
Alexander literally "circumvented" them by making a night march over
a difficult mountain pass, and astonishing them by an attack on
their rear the following morning. Shortly afterward a like situation
presented itself, when an army opposed him in a narrow defile called
the Persian Gates, that was fortified with a wall. Alexander soon
realized that the position of his enemy was impregnable. He learned,
however, that there was a path that led around the pass, though it was
exceedingly dangerous, particularly to men in armor and to horses,
and especially at that time, when snow and ice were on the ground. He
again utilized his former invention (circumvention) and with his former
success; though the conditions under which it was accomplished were
much more difficult.

The four examples just given of literally circumventing an uninventive
enemy illustrate in the simplest form the influence of invention on
military history.

After it became clear to Alexander that his invasion of Asia would
be successful from a military point of view, his active imagination
presented to his mind a picture of a grand and noble empire, embracing
the whole world, but dominated and inspired by the spirit of the
civilization of Greece. To develop this conception into an actual
reality, became at once the object of his efforts. To develop it, he
decided to adopt in some measure the characteristics and dress of
the people in whatever province he might be, and to take such steps
in organizing provinces, founding cities and establishing systems, as
to weld all into one empire, under himself, as ruler. One can hardly
credit the authoritative account he reads of Alexander's bewildering
success. He seems not only to have won battles, and built cities,
and organized provinces, but actually to have super-posed Greek
civilization on Persian civilization!

In one of his most important later battles, Alexander again utilized
his inventiveness. If he had not done so, he would assuredly have lost
the battle. It was against King Porus in northwestern India. Alexander
found the forces of Porus encamped on the opposite side of the Hydaspes
River, with the evident intention of preventing him from crossing. As
the army of Porus in men alone was evidently equal to his own, and
as it was reinforced with a multitude of elephants, Alexander was
apparently confronted with a problem impossible of solution. It would
have been impossible to anyone but a man like Alexander. He, however,
by means of various feints and ingenious stratagems, managed to get
across at night about sixteen miles up the river, using boats that he
had constructed, and floats of skin stuffed with straw. Porus took up
a position on the opposite shore and made ready to receive attack, his
front preceded by war chariots and elephants. Alexander had neither;
but he did have brains and originality. So he simply held the enemy
with his infantry, and then made a determined attack with cavalry and
archers on the enemy's left flank, and especially on the elephants. The
elephants soon got beyond control; and the rest of the battle was a
fight between a highly trained Macedonian phalanx, assisted by cavalry,
and an Oriental mob.

Alexander died in Babylon when not quite thirty-three years old. In
actual and immediate achievement he surpassed perhaps every other man
who has ever lived. He founded an empire which he himself had conceived
and developed, which covered nearly all the then known world, and
which, though it was composed mainly of barbarous and semi-barbarous
people, was dominated by Greek thought. It is true that the empire
fell apart almost immediately after Alexander died. But it did not
fall into anarchy, or revert to its previous state: it was divided
into four parts, each of which was distinct, self-governing and well
organized. The two larger parts, the kingdom of the Seleucidæ, which
occupied approximately the territory of Persia, and the kingdom of the
Ptolomies, or Egypt, continued as torch-bearers to civilization for
many centuries thereafter.

Of the two, the former was the larger and was probably the better,
from an administrative point of view; but Egypt represented the finer
civilization; for Alexandria, with its library and its wonderful
museum, became the seat of learning and the resort of the scholars of
the world, and the centre of the Hellenistic civilization that followed
that of Greece.

This Hellenistic civilization, it may here be pointed out, was in some
respects as fine as that of Greece, and in some respects was finer,
because it was more mature. But (perhaps for the reason that it was
more mature) it lacked much of the element that was the highest in the
Greek, the element that gave Greek civilization greater influence on
history than any other civilization ever had--the creative element. The
creative period of Greece ceased when her political liberty was lost.
Furthermore, the immense amount of wealth that poured into the Grecian
cities and the Græco-Oriental world, by reason of the putting into
circulation of gold that had been stored away in Oriental palaces,
as well as by the commercial exploitation of the riches of the East,
brought about a general effeminizing of all classes of society, and the
consequent dulling of their minds.

[Illustration: The Lighthouse of the Harbor of Alexandria in the
Hellenistic Age]

Nevertheless, there was great intellectual activity in the
Græco-Oriental world, and a certain measure of invention, though little
was of a basic kind. Euclid improved the science of geometry, and put
it in virtually the same shape as that in which it has been taught
since, even to this day. Aristarchus, the astronomer, announced the
doctrine that the earth revolves around the sun and rotates on its
own axis; and Hipparchus invented the plan of fixing the positions of
places on the earth by their latitudes north and south of the Equator
and their longitude east or west of a designated meridian. Hippocrates
and Galen conceived and developed the foundations of the science of
medicine of the present day. Eratosthenes estimated with extraordinary
accuracy the circumference of the earth, and founded the science of

But the greatest of all of the original workers of that time was
Archimedes, who lived at Syracuse in Sicily, and was killed by mistake
when Syracuse was captured in the year 212 B. C., while engaged in
drawing a geometrical figure on the sand. His principal fame is as a
mathematician; but as a great inventor of mechanical appliances, he
is the first man recognized as such in history. The invention with
which his name is most frequently linked is that of the Archimedean
screw. This consisted of a tube, wound spirally around an inclined
axle, and so disposed that when the lower end of the tube was dipped
into water and the axle was rotated water would rise in the tube--as
shavings do when a screw is screwed down into wood. It constituted a
very convenient pump and was so used. This was, of course, a mechanical
invention of the utmost originality and value, and forms one of the
clearly defined stepping-stones to civilization.

There seems to be a belief in the minds of some that Archimedes was the
inventor of the lever. The lever was, of course, invented long before
he lived; but the laws of its operation and the principle that the
weight on each side of the fulcrum, multiplied by its distance from
the fulcrum, is equal to the weight on the other side, multiplied by
its distance (when the lever is in equilibrium), seems to have been
established by him.

Many stories are told of his exploits when Syracuse was besieged by
the Romans, but they are rather vague. The best known story is that he
arranged a great many mirrors in such a way that he concentrated so
many rays of sunlight on some Roman ships that they took fire. Whether
this is true or not is not definitely known; but many centuries later
Buffon, the French scientist, made an arrangement of plane mirrors
with which he set fire to wood 200 feet away.

The greatest single exploit of Archimedes was his discovery and
demonstration of the hydrostatic principle that the weight of liquid
displaced by a body floating in it is equal to that of the body.
The story is that the king gave him the apparently impossible task
of determining the quantity of gold and the quantity of silver in a
certain gold coin, in making which the king suspected the workmen of
stealing part of the gold and substituting silver. Pondering this
subject later while lying in his bath, Archimedes suddenly realized
that his body displaced a bulk of water equal to that part of his body
that was immersed, and conceived the consequent law; and the conception
was so startling and so vivid that he rushed unclad out into the street
crying, "I have found it, I have found it."

The story as a story may not be exactly true; but if Archimedes
had realized the full purport and the never-ending result of his
conception, he would probably have done something even more eccentric
than he did.

       *       *       *       *       *

Archimedes esteemed mechanical inventions as greatly inferior in value
to those speculations and demonstrations that convince the mind, and
considered that his chief single work was discovering the mathematical
relation between a sphere and a cylinder just containing it.

Whether this discovery and the discovery of the hydrostatic principle
just mentioned were inventions or not, depends, of course, on the
meaning of the word invention. Within the meaning of the word as
employed heretofore in this book, both seem to have been inventions.
Each made a definite creation and each caused something to exist,
the like of which had never existed before. Furthermore, the mental
processes followed resemble very closely the conception and formulation
of a religion or a theory, the conception and composing of a new piece
of music, story or poem, the conception and developing of any new
plan or scheme; the conception and embodying in material form of any
mechanical device.

It is not asserted, of course, that all inventions are on a dead level
of equality, simply because they are inventions. Evidently there are
degrees of excellence among inventions as among all other things.



We have noted, up to a time approximately that of Archimedes, a
continual succession of inventions of many kinds, that formed
stepping-stones to civilization so large and plain, that we can see
them even from this distance.

We now come to a period lasting more than a thousand years, in
the first half of which there was a gradually decreasing lack of
inventiveness shown, and in the latter half a cessation almost complete.

The nation that followed Greece as the dominant nation of the world was
Rome. She became more truly a dominant nation than Greece ever was; but
her civilization was built on that of Greece, and her success even in
war and government was due largely to following where Greece had led.
That Rome in her early days should have followed the methods of Greece
was natural of course; for the two countries were close together, and
the methods of Greece had brought success. The early religion of Rome
was so like that of Greece that even to this day the conceptions of
most of us regarding Zeus and Jupiter, Poseidon and Neptune, Aphrodite
and Venus are apt to become confused.

Like the Greeks, the Romans first were gathered in city-states that
were governed by kings; and as with the Greeks, more republican forms
were adopted later. In one important particular, the Roman practice
diverged from the Greek, and that was in incorporating conquered
states into the parent state, and granting their inhabitants the
privileges of citizenship; instead of keeping them in the condition
of mere subject states. The Roman system was somewhat like the system
of provinces established by the Assyrians. It forms the basis of the
"municipal system" of the free states of the present day, in which
local self-government is carried on, under the paramount authority of
the state.

It may be pointed out here that the conception of such an idea and its
successful development into an effective machine of government by the
Romans constituted an invention; though in view of what had been done
before by Assyria and Greece, it cannot be called a basic invention.

The early Romans were very different in their mental characteristics
from the Greeks; for they were stern, warlike, intensely practical, and
possessed of an extraordinary talent for what we now call "team work."
As a nation they were not so inventive as the Greeks; but the Roman,
Cæsar, was the greatest military inventor who ever lived.

As might be expected, their early endeavors pertained to war, and their
first improvements were in warlike things. One improvement that was
marked by considerable inventiveness was in changing the phalanx into
the legion. The phalanx, the historian Botsford tells us, was "invented
by the Spartans, probably in the eighth century B. C.," and consisted
of an unbroken line of warriors, several ranks deep. The Thebans
improved on this; and from the Theban, Philip developed the Macedonian
phalanx with which Alexander fought his way through Asia. The Romans
under Servius Tullius developed this into the Roman phalanx, which was
different only in detail. The essential characteristic of the phalanx
was strength. This was gained by the close support given by each man
to his neighbor, the personal strength of each man and the trained
co-operation of all. A tremendous blow was given to an enemy's line
when a phalanx struck it.

In the early wars among the hills of Italy, the Romans found the
phalanx too rigid for such uneven country; and it was in endeavoring
to invent a substitute that they finally developed the legion. This
machine was much more flexible, the individual soldiers had more
room for their movements, and yet the machine seemed to possess the
necessary rigidity when the shock of impact came. The heavy infantry
was in three lines, and each line was divided into ten companies, or
"maniples." The burden of the first attack was borne by the first
line. If unsuccessful, the first line withdrew through gaps in the
second line, and the second line took up the task;--and then the third,
composed of the most seasoned troops. The attack usually began with the
hurling of javelins, and was followed at once by an assault with the
Roman strong short swords.

Now the legion was just as truly an invented machine as a steam engine
is; and it had a greater influence on history than the steam engine has
ever had thus far. It was by means of their legions that the Romans
passed outside of the walls of Rome, and conquered all of Italy. It
was by means of their legions that the Romans conquered all the coast
peoples that bordered the Mediterranean Sea, subdued Gaul, Europe and
Egypt and Asia, and became the greatest masters of the world that the
world has ever seen.

The first war of the Romans that history calls great was their war
against the splendid and wealthy city of Carthage, situated on the
opposite side of the Mediterranean, inhabited by descendants of the
Phoenicians. They were an aggressive and energetic people, but only
commercially. They were not of the warlike cast, and delegated the work
of national defense to hired soldiers and sailors. They had one great
advantage over the Romans in the possession of an excellent navy.

The Romans resolved to create a navy. With characteristic energy
and practical ability, they devoted themselves at once to both the
acquisition of the personnel and the material, and the adequate
training of the crews. It is stated that within two months from the
time of starting, Rome possessed a hundred quinqueremes, the largest
galleys of those days, having five tiers of rowers; though they had had
none when the war broke out. The first naval battle took place near the
promontory of Mylæ. Naturally, the Romans were at a great disadvantage
as compared with the experienced officers and sailors in the
Carthaginian fleet; for though the Roman soldier was far better than
the Carthaginian, the Roman sailor was inexperienced and unskilful.
To remedy the difficulty, the Romans made a simple but brilliant
invention. They provided each quinquereme with a "corvus," that
consisted essentially of a drawbridge that could be lowered quickly,
and that carried a sharp spike at its outer end; and then arranged a
plan whereby each quinquereme should get alongside of a Carthaginian,
drop the drawbridge at such a time that the spike would hold the outer
end of the drawbridge in place on the Carthaginian deck, and Roman
soldiers should then rush across the drawbridge and attack the inferior
Carthaginian soldiers.

Few more brilliant inventions have ever been made; few have been more
successful and effective. The battle ended in a perfect victory for the
Romans, and constituted the initial step in the subjugation of Carthage
by Rome.

There were three wars in all, called Punic Wars. The great Carthaginian
General, Hannibal, invaded Italy by land in the Second War, and after
a campaign marked with a high order of daring and ability, threatened
Rome herself after a brilliant victory near Lake Trasimene. Another
victory followed at Cannæ, but a decisive disaster later on the
Metaurus River. So the Second War was won by Rome. But Carthage still
existed, and menaced the commercial, naval and military dominance of
Rome. Therefore war was brought about at last by Rome, and Carthage
destroyed completely.

The conduct of Rome toward Carthage cannot be justified on any grounds
of any system of morality accepted at the present day; and yet it
cannot reasonably be denied that it was better for human progress that
Rome should prevail than Carthage. The Romans, harsh and ruthless
as they were, were less so than the Carthaginians; and they had an
element of strong manliness and a comprehensive grasp of things beyond
mere commerce and money-getting and ease and comfort that the Semitic
Carthaginians wholly lacked. The effect of the conquest of Carthage by
Rome was a little like that of the conquest of Persia by Alexander.

During the same year (146 B. C.) when Rome destroyed Carthage, she also
destroyed Corinth in Greece, and brought Greece and Macedonia under her
sway. She had previously (190 B. C.) defeated Antiochus the Great, and
taken from him nearly all his territory in Asia Minor.

By the year 58 B. C., Rome had become the most powerful nation in the
world and still preserved a republican form of government. In that
year, 58 B. C., the man who probably is the most generally regarded
as the greatest man who has ever lived, appeared upon the stage of
history. His name was Julius Cæsar.

He appeared in that year, because he went then from Rome to Gaul,
and started on those brilliant and in many respects unprecedented
campaigns which have had so profound an effect on history, and which
for originality in conception and execution have had no rivals since.

At this time, Italy and the lands of Africa and Asia on which
Alexander had impressed the civilization of Greece, were prosperous
and well-governed; but beyond those countries only barbarous customs
prevailed, and only a primitive civilization reigned. The lands that
lay north and northwest of Italy, throughout all Gaul, were inhabited
by savage tribes that were in a state of continual war with each other.
In the southern and middle parts the effects of Roman civilization
might be dimly seen; but in the southwestern part, and in the north,
especially among the German tribes on the Rhine, and the Belgæ near the
North Sea, a condition of virtually pure savagery prevailed.

Into such a country Cæsar marched, at the head of a body of men wholly
inferior in numbers to those they were to meet, not superior to them
in courage or physical strength, but considerably superior to them
in discipline, and vastly superior in the weapons and methods that
had gradually been invented, with the progress of civilization. Thus,
while the Roman machine was superior as a machine to any that the
Gauls could bring to bear, it was smaller; so that the question to be
decided was whether the superior excellence of the Roman machine was
great enough to balance its inferiority in size. Looking back from our
vantage ground on the history of the campaigns that followed, we feel
inclined to answer the question in the negative, unless we consider
Cæsar himself a part of the machine. It is true that the campaigns were
decided in favor of the Roman machine; but there seems little ground
for doubting that they would not have been so decided, if the genius
of Cæsar had not managed the Roman machine and made improvements from
time to time.

Cæsar had had little experience as a soldier, but his habits of life
and traits of character were of the military kind. As the campaigns
progressed, his courage, equanimity and rapidity of thought and action
were continually displayed;--yet not to such a degree as to put him
in a higher class than many other generals of history, or to account
wholly for his marvellous successes. One peculiar ability, however,
he possessed and exercised in a degree greater than any other general
of history: and it was by the exercise of that ability that his most
extraordinary victories were achieved, and his generalship especially
distinguished from the generalship of others. That ability was

His first contact was with the Swiss (Helvetii), who were about to
leave the barrenness of their mountain lands, and march west to the
fertile lands beyond. As this would take them through Roman territory
and tend to drive the Gauls into Italy, open Switzerland to occupation
by the Germans, and point a road thence for them also into Italy,
Cæsar hastened to the Rhône River, destroyed the bridge which they
would naturally go over, and forbade the Swiss to attempt to cross the
river. The Swiss pleaded with Cæsar to permit them to cross. As Cæsar
realized that the Swiss were too greatly superior in force to be kept
back, unless he could strengthen himself in some way, he asked time
for reflection, and told them to return in two weeks. When the Swiss
returned at the end of that time, their astonished eyes disclosed to
them the fact that Cæsar had constructed walls and trenches and forts
at every point where a passage could reasonably be attempted.

It may be objected that walls and trenches and forts were not new, and
that therefore Cæsar invented nothing. This may be admitted as an
academic proposition; but nevertheless, it was clearly the ingenious
and wholly unexpected construction of certain appliances by Cæsar that
opposed the barbarous Swiss with barriers which they could not pass. It
may even be argued with much reason that the conception and successful
execution of Cæsar's plan as a whole constituted an invention, even
though the material used was old. Certain it is that a situation was
created which did not exist before, and that it was the creation of
this situation, and not the exercise of strength or courage, that was
_the determining factor_ in stopping the Swiss. Froude says of Cæsar,
"He was never greater than in unlooked-for difficulties. He never
rested. He was always inventing some new contrivance."

Cæsar realized fully the value in war of mechanical appliances,
and took careful measures before he left Italy to supply his army
adequately with them, and also with men trained to use them. Besides
the fighting men strictly considered, Cæsar took a considerable number
of engineers with him, and expert men for building bridges, and doing
mechanical work of many kinds. The ingenious and frequent use that
Cæsar made of these men and of mechanical appliances was the most
powerful single factor that contributed to his success.

The Swiss departing from Switzerland by another route, Cæsar pursued
them, and defeated a fourth of them in a battle on the banks of a river
which the other three-fourths had crossed. He then built a bridge
over the river and sent his army across. This feat alarmed the Swiss
more than their defeat; because Cæsar had built the bridge and sent
his army across in one day, whereas they had consumed twenty days in
merely crossing. The Swiss pleaded to be allowed to proceed; but Cæsar
was obdurate. A battle followed, in which the Swiss, though greatly
superior in numbers and reinforced by 15,000 allies, were decisively
beaten; not because of inferior courage or warlike skill, but by reason
of inferior equipments, mechanical appliances and weapons.

Cæsar's next battle was with the Germans. It was won, if not precisely
with inventiveness, at least with "brains." He learned that the
German matrons had declared, after certain occult proceedings, that
Heaven forbade them to fight before the new moon. Apprehending his
opportunity, he advanced his forces right up to the German camp,
thereby forcing them as valiant soldiers to come out and fight. Fight
they did, but under an obvious psychological disadvantage, and with the
natural result.

In this battle, as in others between the Romans and the barbarians,
it was noticeable that although their first onslaught was fine, the
barbarians seemed to be at a loss afterwards,--if anything unexpected
occurred, or if any reverse was sustained; whereas the Romans--and
especially Cæsar himself--never behaved so well as when threatened
with disaster. This may be expressed by saying that the barbarians, as
compared with the Romans, were wholly inferior in the inventiveness
needed to devise a new plan quickly.

Not long afterward, Cæsar advanced against the town of Noviodunum. He
soon saw that he could not take it by storm; and so he brought forward
his mechanical siege appliances. The psychological effect of these on
the barbarians was so tremendous that they at once pleaded for terms of

After a battle with the Nervii, in which Cæsar defeated them
disastrously, largely because of his resourcefulness in emergency and
their lack of it, he advanced against a great barbarian stronghold
that looked down on steep rocks on three sides, and was protected by
a thick, high double wall on the fourth side. Cæsar made a fortified
rampart around the town, pushed his mantlets (large shields on wheels
protected on the sides and top) close up to the wall, and built a
tower. The barbarians laughed at this tower; seeing it so far away
that, they thought, no darts thrown from it could reach them. But when
they saw the tower actually moving toward them they were struck with
terror and began at once to sue for peace.

During the following winter the Veneti, a large tribe on the
northwestern coast, the most skilful seamen and navigators of Gaul,
stirred up a revolt that quickly and widely spread. The situation at
once became serious for Cæsar, for the reason that the Veneti could not
be subdued, except on the sea; and neither the Roman sailors nor the
Roman vessels were as good as were those of the Veneti. Nevertheless,
Cæsar ordered war-vessels to be built on the Loire River, and seamen
and rowers to be drafted from the Roman Province.

When the improvised fleet of the Romans and the thoroughly prepared
fleet of the Veneti came together, the latter was superior even in
numbers. Furthermore, the Romans were at a great disadvantage in the
matter of throwing projectiles, from the fact that the Veneti's decks
were higher than theirs.

But Cæsar had prepared a scheme that gave him victory. In accordance
with it, the Roman galleys rowed smartly against the Veneti ships, and
Roman sailors raised long poles on which were sharp hooks which they
put over the halliards that held up the sails. Then each Roman galley
rowed rapidly away, the halliards were cut, and down came the sails.
The Veneti ships became helpless at once and were immediately boarded;
with the result that, of all the number, only a few made their escape.

Somewhat later, Cæsar decided to cross the Rhine into the country of
the Sueves, and to impress them with the power of Rome by building a
bridge and marching his army across. This bridge and the quickness and
thoroughness with which it was built are still models for engineers;
for in ten days after he had decided to build it, at which time the
material was still standing in the forest, a bridge 40 feet wide had
been constructed. Across this Cæsar at once marched his legions. The
effect on the barbarous Germans can be imagined. It made them realize
that the Romans were a race superior to themselves in ways that they
could not measure or even understand; and it impressed them with that
fear which is the most depressing of all fears, the fear of the unknown.

Did Cæsar make an invention? This depends on the meaning of the word
invention. Cæsar did not invent the bridge; but he did conceive and
carry into execution a highly original, concrete and successful scheme.
By it he accomplished as much as a victorious campaign would have
accomplished, and without shedding any blood. _He devised means which
created a state of thought in the minds of his enemies that destroyed
their will to fight._ Therein lay his invention.

Cæsar then conceived the idea of going across the water to the island
of Britain, about which little was known. After having a survey made
of the coast, he took his legions across in about eighty vessels. He
had to fight to make a landing, of course; but he succeeded, and then
formed his camp. A Roman camp, we may now remind ourselves, was so
distinctly a Roman conception, and so distinctly a part of the Roman
system of conducting war, that it almost constituted an invention.
Whenever a Roman army halted, even for one night, they intrenched
themselves within a square enclosure, surrounded with a ditch and
a palisade of stakes, and made a temporary little city, laid with
streets. In such a camp they were reasonably safe against any attack
that barbarians could make.

But a storm arose that drove some of Cæsar's ships ashore and some out
to sea. In this emergency, Cæsar's resourcefulness and energy directed
the work of recovery and repair, and enabled the Romans to collect and
put into good condition nearly all their ships. Cæsar returned shortly
afterward to Gaul; arrived there, he gave directions for building and
equipping another and larger fleet.

In the following July (54 B. C.), he started again for Britain. This
time he took five legions and some cavalry and had about 800 vessels.
He landed and formed his camp, and then advanced inland;--but another
storm arose that scattered his ships. He returned at once to the coast,
and instituted such prompt and resourceful measures that in ten days he
was able to resume his march. On this march, which took him far inland,
he was able to overcome all opposition; largely because, after the
first onset, the barbarians seemed to be without any plan of action,
while Cæsar was at his best.

_Cæsar had the ability to invent under circumstances of the utmost
danger and excitement._

Cæsar's remaining campaigns in Gaul were marked with the same
resourcefulness and originality on his part, and the same lack of
resourcefulness and originality on the part of the barbarians. Cæsar
would continually do something that the barbarians had not expected him
to do. True, they gradually learned some of his schemes and methods
from him; but only to find that he had then some newer schemes and

Cæsar at one time remarked that wise men anticipate possible
difficulties, and decide beforehand what they will do, if certain
possible occasions arise. Does not this process involve invention,
in cases where the possible occasions are not of the ordinary and
expectable kind? In such cases, does it not require imagination to
foresee the possible occasions, and form a correct picture on the mind
of the resulting situations? This being done, does it not require the
exercise of the constructive faculty afterwards, to make a concrete and
effective plan to meet them?

If it be so, then we may reasonably declare that, of all the factors
that contributed to the successes in Gaul of Cæsar, the most powerful
single factor was his inventiveness.

The final crisis came when Cæsar besieged Alesia, and Vercingetorix,
who had taken refuge in it, sent out a call for succor, that was
eagerly and promptly responded to; for it was plain to the barbarians
that Cæsar, being held in position fronting a fortress that he could
not successfully storm, would be in a precarious condition if attacked
vigorously in his rear. Attacked vigorously he was; for the barbarians
came in his rear with about 250,000 men; Cæsar having only 50,000, and
the enemy in front having 80,000.

But it required somewhat more than a month for the barbarians to unite
and reach Alesia. With his wonted energy and resourcefulness, Cæsar had
by this time cast up siege works all around the fortress, placed camps
at strategic points, and constructed twenty-three block-houses. He dug
a trench twenty feet deep around the place, and back of this began his
other siege works. These included two parallel trenches fifteen feet
broad and fifteen feet deep. Behind these he built a palisade twelve
feet high, and to this he added a breastwork of pointed stakes; while
at intervals of eighty feet he constructed turrets. In addition, he
had branches cut from trees and sharpened on the ends; and these he
fastened at the bottom of the trenches, so that the points projected
just above the ground. In front of these he dug shallow pits, into
which tapering stakes hardened in the fire were driven, projecting
four inches above the ground. These pits were hidden with twigs and
brushwood. Eight rows of these pits were dug, three feet apart; and
in front of all stakes with iron hooks were buried in the ground at
irregular intervals. When all this had been done on the side toward the
fortress, Cæsar constructed parallel entrenchments of the same kind, to
protect his rear; the two sets being so arranged with respect to each
other that the same men could man both. Having constructed all these
material appliances, he instituted a comprehensive system of drills, so
that his men would know exactly how to utilize them under all probable

In the battle that followed the barbarians showed their wonted courage
and dash; but an unexpected situation arose when Cæsar attacked a
separated part in their rear. Then they were seized with panic, and the
natural rout and disaster followed.

This battle decided the fate of Gaul; though its actual subduing,
especially in the southwestern part was not accomplished immediately.
The last major act was taking a strong fortress. This was accomplished
by cutting a tunnel, by which the spring was tapped that supplied
the garrison with water. As Vercingetorix said, the Romans won their
victories, not by superior courage, but by superior science.

Cæsar's later passage across the Rubicon, the flight of the Senate,
and his later operations by land and sea against Marseilles (Massilia)
and hostile forces in northern Spain, are well known, and were
characterized by the same high order of inventiveness. His later
operations against Pompey, and later still against Pharnaces and
Scipio, were conducted under conditions that gave him less opportunity
to utilize the quality of inventiveness in such clear ways; but they
were marked with the kindred qualities of foresight, skilful adaptation
of means to ends, and presence of mind in emergencies.

In the minds of some, Cæsar's greatest influence on history has been
due to his improvement of the Calendar, and especially his reforms of
the public morals and the laws of Rome, after his campaign against
Pharnaces. This subject has been the theme of jurists and scholars to
such a degree that it might seem presumptuous in a navy officer to
do more than mention it. At the same time it may be pointed out that
Cæsar's work was not in any matters of detail, or in contributing any
legal or juridical skill or knowledge, but in conceiving the idea of
creating the _Leges Juliæ_, and then creating them.

Julius Cæsar was murdered in the year 44 B. C. He was followed in power
by his grandnephew Octavius, one of the most fortunate occurrences in
history; for Octavius possessed the ability and the character to carry
on the constructive work that Julius Cæsar had begun. Under Octavius
and his successors, the Roman Empire became increasingly large and
strong, until the reign of Trajan in the second century, A. D., when it
acquired its greatest territorial extent.

During the time when Rome was increasing in extent and power, the
wealth of cities and of individuals increased also, and enormous public
works of all kinds were constructed, many of which are still the
admiration of the world. Material prosperity reached its highest point.

But the creative period had passed. Youth, with its dreams and vigor
of doing had gone, and maturity, with the luxury of prosperity and
the consequent dulling of the imagination, had assumed its place.
Senescence followed in due course. Then the empire was divided into
two parts, the Empire of the West and the Empire of the East. Finally,
in 476 A. D., Rome died and with it the Empire of the West.

[Illustration: Triumphal Procession from the Arch of Titus]

But the Eastern Empire stood, and Constantinople was its capital. And
it stood, alone and unassisted, as the sole bulwark of Christianity and
civilization for nearly 1000 years, until it finally fell before the
Ottoman Turks in 1543. It could not have done this, if in the latter
part of the seventh century when it was beleaguered by a Turkish fleet,
much greater than its own, it had not suddenly received unexpected
aid in the shape of a new invention. This was "Greek fire," which
seems to have been a pasty mixture of sulphur, nitre, pitch, and other
substances, which when squirted against wood set it on fire with a
flame that water could not quench. In the very first attack, the Turks
were so demoralized by the Greek fire that they fled in panic. They
never learned the secret and were never able to stand up against it.
On one occasion, fifteen Christian ships, using Greek fire, actually
put to rout a Turkish fleet numbering several hundred.

       *       *       *       *       *

During all the countless centuries before the dawn of recorded history,
and during the approximately forty centuries that elapsed from the
beginning of recorded history until the fall of Rome, we have observed
the coming of many inventions of both material and immaterial kinds,
and noted the influence of those inventions in causing civilization,
and therefore in directing the line that history has followed.

It may be objected that a perfectly natural inference from what has
been written would be that the only thing which had influenced the
direction of movement of history was invention. To this, the answer
may very reasonably be made that this book does not pretend to be a
history, or to point out what have been the greatest factors that
have influenced its line of movement; it attempts merely to emphasize
the influence of one factor, invention, and to suggest that maybe its
influence has not hitherto been estimated at its proper value.

Another objection like that just indicated might be made to the effect
that all the progress of the world up to the fall of Rome is attributed
in this book to inventors only; that all the work of statesmen,
scientists, generals, admirals, explorers, jurists, men of business,
etc., etc., is ignored.

Such an objection would be natural and reasonable; but to it an answer
like the previous one may be made, to the effect that the purpose of
this book is not to compare the benefits conferred by any one class of
men with those conferred by any other, but merely to point out, in a
very general way, what inventors have done.

Nevertheless, it does seem clear that inventors did more to map out
the direction of the progress just traced than any other single class
of men. If we will fix our attention on any one invention about which
we know enough--say, the water-clock--we can see that the original
inventor of the water-clock (no matter who he was) had more influence
on the history of the clock than any other man has had; and that the
inventors of clocks who followed him had more influence on the clock
than any other equal number of men had. This does not mean that the
men who risked their money in making novel clocks did not influence
the history of the clock materially; and it does not mean that the men
who made good materials for them did not influence the history of the
clock greatly; and it does not mean that the engineers and mechanics
who operated them successfully did not influence its history. It would
be absurd to pretend that each one of these men did not influence
the history of the clock; for without them there would have been no
successful clock. Nevertheless, in the nature of things, the original
inventors must be credited with influencing the history of the clock
more than any other equal number of men did, just as a father must
be credited with influencing the history of his children more than
any other man can, from the mere fact of his having caused them to be
born. The inventors of clocks were the fathers of the clocks that they
invented, and also the forefathers of all the inventions that proceed
directly or indirectly from them.

What has been said about the clock applies with equal force to every
other invented thing. Therefore, it can hardly be gainsaid that, so
far as invented things are concerned, their inventors have had more
influence on the history that has resulted from them than any other men
have had.

If anyone will glance through any book of ancient history, he will
realize that it is mainly a record of wars; the political changes
caused by wars, or rendered possible by their means; the growth of
nations and other organizations; the invention of certain mechanisms,
arts and sciences; and the construction of certain structures such
as temples, palaces and ships. All these agencies influenced ancient
history, of course; but it is clear that the agency that influenced it
the most obviously and immediately was the wars.

Yet let us remind ourselves that the real effect on history of any war
was not exerted by the war itself, so much as by the result of the war.
Let us also remind ourselves that the result of any war was because of
the material forces engaged and the skill with which they were handled.

Now the material forces put onto the field of battle on each side
in any of the wars were the product of the material resources of
the country, of its wealth, its ability to manufacture weapons
and transport troops; that is, of its utilization of invented
mechanisms, processes and methods. The skill with which they were
handled--(especially when supreme skill was exerted, as in the cases of
Alexander and Cæsar)--was the outcome not of mere laborious training,
not of mere knowledge, or courage, or carefully detailed arrangement,
but of plans so conceived, developed and produced (invented) as to
confront the enemy with unexpected situations that they were not
prepared to meet. So the influence of even the wars seems to have been
due fundamentally to invention.

As to the other agencies that influenced the course of ancient history,
they seem to owe their influence even more obviously to invention than
war does. Every department of ancient civilization seems traceable back
to some invention or inventions. The whole of ancient civilization
seems to rest primarily on inventions.

As inventions were made by inventors, we seem forced to the conclusion
that inventors influenced ancient history more than any other one class
did. This does not mean that the inventor of a child's toy influenced
history more than did any one of the millions of wise and good men in
each generation who helped to keep the machine of civilization working
smoothly; for it refers to inventors as a class, and not to inventors
as individuals.



The period from the fall of Rome to the beginning of the fourteenth
century was almost destitute in the matter of inventions that can be
distinctly named: though the conception and carrying into effect of
Mohammedanism in the seventh century, the campaigns and governmental
systems of Charlemagne in the ninth century, the invasion of England by
William of Normandy in the eleventh century, and the Crusades in the
eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth centuries, as well as all the numerous
wars and campaigns that succeeded each other so rapidly, indicate a
mental and nervous restlessness which sought relief in action, and
which received guidance in seeking that relief from the suggestions of

During the interval, paper is supposed by some to have been invented,
or at least the art of making it from rags. Paper itself, however, had
been invented long before in China.

The early part of the twelfth century opened a new era in Europe with
the introduction of one of the most important inventions ever made, the
gun. It is often said that gunpowder was invented then. Gunpowder, of
course, had been invented or discovered many centuries before.

There is much obscurity about the invention of gunpowder. It is usually
supposed to have been invented in China, and to have crept its way
first to the western Asian nations, and afterwards to Europe by way
of the Mediterranean. There can be little doubt that gunpowder was
known to the Romans in the days of the empire; and some accounts of
Alexander's campaigns declare that he used mines to destroy the walls
of Gaza.

It is supposed by many that the Chinese had cannon, from certain
embrasures in some of their ancient walls; but there seems to be no
absolute proof of this. It seems fairly well established that the Moors
used artillery in Spain in the twelfth century; though some writers
hold that what were called firearms in Europe before the fourteenth
century were only engines which threw fire into besieged places.

It seems probable that the gun was invented as the result of an
accident that occurred while some man was pounding the (gunpowder)
mixture of charcoal, saltpetre and sulphur in a receptacle of some
kind. According to one story, the mixture exploded and threw the pestle
violently out of the mortar. From this incident, the man who was
handling the pestle, or a bystander, is supposed to have conceived the
idea that the powder could be used intentionally to throw projectiles,
and he is supposed also to have actually proved that it could be done
at will, and to have produced a concrete appliance for doing it. From
the history of the case, it would seem that the first gun was what we
still call a "mortar."

It may occur to some that (conceding the story to be true, which it
possibly is, in essentials) the gun was not an invention so much as a
discovery. It may be pointed out, however, that while the fact that
gunpowder would blow a pestle out of a mortar might be truly called
a discovery, yet the conception of utilizing the discovery by making
a weapon, and the subsequent making of the weapon constituted an
invention of the most clean-cut kind.

Let us realize the extreme improbability that the phenomenon of the
expulsive force of gunpowder was then noted for the first time. It
seems probable that accidental ignition of the mixture had often
occurred before, and missiles hurled in all directions in consequence.
But, as happens in the vast majority of all incidents, no one imagined
any possible utilization of the facts disclosed by the incident; and
if the man who invented the gun, after witnessing the expulsion of the
pestle from the mortar, had not been endowed with both imagination
and constructiveness, he would have treated it as most of us treat
an incident--merely as an incident. But the imagination of this man
must at once have conceived a picture of what we now call a mortar,
which should be designed and constructed so that projectiles could
be expelled from it at will, in whatever direction the mortar were
pointing; and then his constructive faculty must have taken up the task
that imagination had suggested, and developed the conception into a
concrete thing.

Into the long, elaborate and exciting history of the development of
the gun, that has been carried on with enormous energy ever since, it
is not necessary at this point to enter. Since the sixteenth century,
its history is accurately known, and many large books are filled with
descriptions and diagrams and mathematical tables and formulæ that
recount its progress in detail; while the histories of all the nations
blaze with stories of the battles in which guns have been employed.
Of all the inventions ever made, it is doubtful if the development
and improvement of any other has enlisted the services of a greater
number of men and of more important men, than the gun. It is more than
doubtful if a greater amount of money has been expended on any other
invention, if a greater number of experiments have been made, or if
more mental and physical energy has been expended. Certain it is
that no other invention has had so direct and powerful an effect on
human beings; for the number of men it has killed and wounded must be
expressed in terms of millions.

This phase of the influence of the gun on history is clearly marked.
Not so clearly marked, but really more important, has been its
influence in deciding wars; for the ways in which wars have been
decided have been the turning points in the march of history. The issue
of Alexander's wars, for instance, had decided that Greek civilization
should not perish, but survive; the issue of Cæsar's wars in Gaul had
decided that Roman civilization should extend north over Europe, and
that the western incursion of the savage Germans should be stopped; the
issue of the wars between the vigorous Goths and degenerate Rome had
decided that Rome must die; and so forth, and so forth. So, after the
invention of the gun, the issue of every succeeding war supplied a new
turning point for history to follow. Naturally, those nations that took
the most skilful, prompt and thorough advantage of the power, range and
accuracy of the new invention gained in almost every case the victory
over their opponents.

So long as no weapons existed, struggles between men had to be
decided by physical strength and cunning and quickness only. When the
first flint fist-hammer was invented, a man who was sagacious enough
and industrious enough and skilful enough to make one, could gain
the victory over many another man of greater physical strength and
quickness, but who had not the sagacity, industry and skill to provide
himself with a flint fist-hammer.

Supposing the flint fist-hammer to be the first invention ever made,
as many think it was, we see here the first instance of the influence
of invention on history; because this first invention influenced the
course of history in favor of men possessing sagacity, industry and
skill, as against men not possessing those qualities. By doing this, it
not only decided that such men (and tribes composed of such men) should
prevail, but did even more to influence history; _it induced men and
tribes to make and develop and utilize inventions_. This resulted in
what we call civilization.

As each improved weapon followed its predecessor, a new demand was
made;--not only for a new kind of skill on the part of the man making
the weapon and on the part of the soldiers using it, but also for
foresight on the part of the tribe or nation that would supply the
weapon to its troops. It is easily realized that, if there were two
contiguous tribes about to go to war against each other, one of which
was ruled by a sagacious, energetic and far-seeing chief, while the
other was ruled by a dull, slothful and short-sighted chief, the former
chief would probably provide his warriors with the newest weapon (say,
the bow and arrow) and train them in its use; whereas the other would
ignore it and go to battle with clubs and javelins only. As between
two tribes otherwise equally matched, the result would be obvious; and
doubtless it was exceedingly obvious in hundreds of tribal battles,
before the dawn of history.

It is a characteristic of evolution, as has been pointed out by wise
men, that complexity eventually evolves from simplicity. In no one
department of man's endeavor does this truth stand out more clearly
than in the evolution of weapons. For the oldest weapon that we know of
was probably a stone, or a stick used as a club; and each succeeding
weapon has been more complicated than its predecessor,--needing
additional parts with which to secure the additional results achieved.
This increased complexity has entailed increased liability to
derangement, because the failure of any one part has entailed the
failure or the decreased effectiveness of the weapon as a whole. This
increased liability to derangement has entailed a demand for not only
increased care and skill in fabricating the weapon, but for increased
knowledge, diligence and skill in caring for it, and using it.

The superiority of the gun over all previously existing weapons was
quickly recognized, and every civilized nation soon adopted it as
its major implement of war. As the gun was a piece of mechanism, it
possessed the attribute which seems to give to pieces of mechanism an
element of superiority over every other thing in the universe, the
attribute of continual improvability. Human beings do not possess this
attribute, nor does any other thing in nature, so far as we know. Every
human being begins where his father did--and so does everything else
on the earth; though human invention has recently made it possible for
certain plants to be improved. No new invention ever dies as a man
does, even if the material parts or immaterial parts that compose it
are destroyed. On the contrary, it lives, in the sense that it exists
as a definite usable entity, and also in the sense that it continues to
propagate. And the things that it propagates do not begin as helpless
and useless babies, but as mature creations. The first completed gun is
still the model for the guns that men make now, and will continue to be
the model for all guns in the future. The man who made the first gun
has been succeeded by other men, as the first gun has been succeeded by
other guns; but the human successors have been no improvement on the
inventor of the first gun, while the guns that have succeeded the first
gun have been improvements on it to a degree that it is difficult--in
fact, impossible, to realize.

The relations of the gun to civilization are reciprocal, and are
therefore in accord with most of the other phenomena of our lives; for
just as the gun furthered the improvement of civilization, civilization
furthered the improvement of the gun. Nearly every step taken in the
physical sciences, and afterward in engineering and general mechanics,
has had a direct effect in improving the gun. The gun began as an
exceedingly rough, awkward and crude appliance; the gun today is one
of the most highly specialized and perfect appliances that the world

But it is not only the gun itself that has been improved; the powder
has also been improved, and to a degree almost equal, if not quite.
When we realize that modern gunnery is so exact that if a gun is fired
in any direction and at any angle of elevation, the projectiles will
fall so close to a designated spot that all considerable variations
in the points of fall from that spot are usually attributed to other
causes than imperfection in the powder; and if we realize also that
a variation of one per cent. in the initial velocity imparted to a
projectile by its powder would result in a variation (practically
speaking) of one per cent. in the range attained, we then may realize
how perfectly understood the laws of the combustion of powder and the
development of powder gas have become, and how perfect are the methods
of manufacturing, storing and using it. Books upon books have been
written on the subject of making and using gunpowder; and as high a
grade of experimental ability has been employed as on the development
of any other art.

It is not quite clear whether stationary cannon or small guns carried
by soldiers were the first to be used; but the probability seems to be
that cannon were the first. It soon became desirable to devise and to
make appliances for holding the cannon in position, elevating them to
predetermined angles, and transporting them from place to place. To
accomplish these things, gun-carriages were invented. These appliances
have kept pace with guns and gunpowder in the march of improvement;
countless minor inventions have been made; countless experiments
have been conducted; countless books and articles have been written;
countless millions of money have been expended. That the field has
been large can readily be realized, when we remind ourselves of the
numberless situations that gun-carriages have had to be adapted to, on
the level plains of Central Europe, in the mountains, on the sands of
the desert,--in cold and heat and wet; and on the ocean also, in small
vessels and great battleships, to handle cannon great and small, on the
uneasy surface of the sea. But it will not be enough for us to realize
that it has been necessary to construct gun-carriages so ingeniously
that guns can be handled on them under all these circumstances; for we
will fall short of a realization of what must be attained, unless we
realize that the guns must be handled with safety, and (which is more
difficult of attainment) with precision and yet with quickness.

Now to bring the gun and its accessories to the high standard they have
now reached, the resources of virtually all the physical sciences have
been required and utilized; so that, while modern civilization was made
possible by the gun, and could not have been made possible without it,
the modern gun has been made possible by civilization, and could not
have been made possible without it.

This mutuality between civilization and the gun is evident in the
relations between civilization and every other great invention. It is
very clearly evident in the case of material mechanism; for it has been
plainly impossible for any material invention to exist without directly
and indirectly contributing to the improvement, and even to the birth,
of others. Any improvement in the process of making any metal or any
compound has always been of assistance to every mechanism using that
metal or that compound; and it seems impossible to name any mechanism
or process whose invention has not helped some other mechanism or
process. In the matter of the invention of immaterial things, the
effect may not be quite so obvious; and yet it is plain that most of
those inventions have contributed to the safety, intelligence and
stabilization of peoples, and therefore to a condition of mentality and
of tranquillity that permitted and often encouraged the improvement of
existing appliances, and the invention of new ones. Of one class of
immaterial invention, such as new books on the physical and engineering
sciences, the influence on material inventions is, of course, as
obvious as it is profound.

The boom of the gun may be said, by a not forced figure of speech, to
have ushered in the new civilization that rose from the mental lethargy
of the Middle Ages; for it was the first great invention of all in the
long line that have followed since. As it was the first, and because
without it the others would have been impossible, we can hardly avoid
the conclusion that it was the most important.

The mutual reactions between the gun and civilization have resulted,
and are still resulting, in widening the distance between the civilized
and the uncivilized, placing more and more power in the hands of the
civilized, and putting the uncivilized more and more into subjection
by the civilized. The process that began with the invention of the
fist-hammer, and was continued through the centuries by all the
improvements in weapons that followed, was brought to a halt when
Rome fell, and not revived until the gun came into general use in the
fourteenth century. During the interval of nearly nine hundred years,
civilization indeed went backward with the advance of the barbarians
into Europe, checked but not wholly stopped by Charles Martel at the
Battle of Tours in 732, and later by Charlemagne, his grandson, in
numerous campaigns. But the gun, being adopted and improved by peoples
having the mentality needed to discern its usefulness, stabilized the
conditions of living afterward by keeping in check the barbarians,
especially east of Europe. Its greatest single usefulness followed from
this by making possible the development and utilization of the next
great invention. This invention was next to the gun in point of time.
It was next to the gun in influence on history also; and some people
think it has had even more influence than the gun. This invention is
usually called the invention of printing.

Of course, printing had been invented centuries before, probably in
China, and had been practiced during all the intervening centuries,
in China, Egypt, Babylonia, Assyria, Greece, Rome, the Hellenistic
countries and Italy. But the printing had been done from blocks on
which were cut or carved many characters, that expressed whole words or
sentences. Naturally, printing done from them was not adaptable to the
recording of discussions, the making of connected narratives, or the
publishing of books.

Suddenly, about the year 1434, John Gutenberg, who lives at Mayence,
conceives the idea of cutting only one letter on each block, putting
the blocks in forms so arranged that the blocks can be put in such
sequence as may be desired for spelling words, and all the blocks
secured firmly in position. In other words, he invented movable type.

Objection may be made to this statement, and the declaration urged that
movable type were used in China before the Christian era. Possibly
they were; some declarations have been made to that effect. But
even if they were, we cannot see that their invention there had any
considerable influence on history. China was separated from western
Asia and from Africa and Europe by the long stretch of the dry lands
of Central Asia, across which little communication passed. It is
more nearly certain than most things are in ancient history, that
the civilized peoples of western Asia, Africa and Europe, including
Gutenberg himself, did not know of movable type until Gutenberg
invented them.

It is absolutely certain that virtually the whole of the influence
that printing by movable type has exercised on history sprang from the
invention of Gutenberg. It started almost immediately; and it increased
with a rapidity and a certainty that are amazing. No invention made
before, not even the gun, was seized upon with such avidity. The
world wanted it. The world seemed to have been waiting for it, though

It may be well at this point to impress upon our minds the fact that
no invention has ever been recognized as an invention, unless it has
been put into a concrete form. The U. S. Patent Office, for instance,
will not award a patent for any invention unless it is described and
illustrated so clearly that "any one skilled in the art can make and
use it." It is an axiom that a man "cannot patent an idea." In many
countries a patentee is required to "work" his invention, to make
apparatus embodying it, and to put the apparatus to use. The underlying
idea of the patent laws of all countries is that the good of the public
is the end in view, and not the good of the inventor; that rewards
are held out to the inventor, merely to induce him to put devices of
practical value into the hands of the people. From this point of view,
which seems to be the correct one, the mere fact that a man conceives
of a device, even if he afterward develops his device to the degree
that he illustrates it and describes it to someone in such a way that a
person skilled in the art can make and use it, does not entitle him to
any reward. He must use "due diligence" in communicating full knowledge
of his invention to the public, through the Patent Office, ask for a
patent, and pay to the Government the prescribed fee.

Now, Gutenberg "worked" his invention so energetically that, with the
assistance of Faust, Schaeffer and others, an exceedingly efficient
system of printing books was in practical operation as early as 1455.
The types were of metal, and were cast from a matrix that had been
stamped out by a steel punch, and could therefore be so accurately
fashioned that the type had a beautiful sharpness and finish. In
addition, certain mechanical apparatus of a simple kind (printing
presses) were invented, whereby the type could be satisfactorily
handled, and impressions could be taken from them with accuracy and

News of the invention spread so rapidly that before the year 1500
printing presses were at work in every country of Europe. The first
books printed were, of course, the works of the ancient authors,
beginning with three editions of Donatus. These were multiplied in
great numbers, and gave the first effective impulse to the spread of
civilization from the Græco-Oriental countries, where it had been
sleeping, to the hungry intellects of Europe.

The new birth of civilization (usually called the Renaissance) began
in Italy, where civilization had never quite died out, at some time
during the fourteenth century, and took the form at first of the
study of classical literature. This led naturally to a search for old
manuscripts; and so ardent did this search become that the libraries
of cathedrals and monasteries in all the civilized countries were
ransacked. Many new libraries were founded, especially in Italy, to
hold the old manuscripts that were discovered. A great impetus was
given to the movement by the exodus of scholars from Constantinople,
and their migration west to Italy, during the half century between the
year 1400 and the fall of Constantinople before the Ottoman Turks in

[Illustration: The Printing of Books]

Therefore, when the news of the invention of Gutenberg reached
the scholars of Italy and other lands, they seized upon it as an
undreamed-of blessing for bringing about that widespread study of
the classical authors which they had been struggling under so many
difficulties to accomplish.

To narrate and describe the progress made since then in the art of
printing would be to rewrite what has been written from time to time in
books and magazines and papers. To describe and point out the other
arts that have sprung directly from the art of printing, such as the
manufacture of printing presses and allied machinery, would require an
enormous book of a wholly technical nature; to describe and point out
the arts that have been made necessary, and the arts that have been
made possible, by the invention of printing would entail a history of
most of the industrial arts of the present day; while to mention and
adequately describe the measures that have resulted from the invention
of printing, and those made necessary and possible by it, would entail
a history of all the civilization that has come into being since
printing was invented.

The effects of the invention of printing are most of them so obvious
that it would be unnecessary to call attention to them. No other
one art seems to be so directly and clearly to be credited with the
progress of civilization. In the minds of many people, perhaps of most
people, printing is considered the most important invention ever made.
Maybe it is; but let us remind ourselves that the gun came before
the printing-press, and that the civilization contributed to by the
printing press would not have been possible without the gun. It may be
answered that, nevertheless, the printing press contributed more than
the gun; in the same way that a bank contributes more to the welfare of
a city than does the policeman who guards the bank.

Such an argument would have much to commend it, and it may be based
on the correct view of the situation. But to the author, the gun
seems to constitute the foundation of modern civilization, and the
printing press to be part of the structure built upon it; for the
fundamental enemy to civilization has always been the barbarian, be
he a savage under Attila or a Bolshevik in New York. It is true that
civilization may be considered as more important than the means that
makes it possible, but even this seems to be discussible; but that the
gun constitutes more distinctly the preservative influence of modern
civilization than any other one thing constitutes civilization itself
seems hardly to be discussible. The whole system of defense of all the
nations against foes outside and anarchy inside has rested on the gun
ever since it was invented; whereas, not even the printing press can
be said to be the only element, or even the main element, in modern

This brief discussion is perhaps not very important; but it does not
wholly lack importance, for the reason that it brings into clear
relief the fact that we cannot reasonably discuss civilization without
realizing the dangers that confront it, and have always confronted
it, and will continue to confront it. _Civilization is an artificial
product_, that some people think has more evil in it than good for the
majority of mankind, and that certainly has been forced on mankind by a
very small minority. The foundation on which the force has rested for
four hundred years has been the gun.

But whatever the comparative amount of influence of the gun and the
printing press, there can be no doubt that they have worked together
hand in hand: that one guarded, and the other assisted, the first
tottering steps of the Renaissance movement, and that both have
continued to guard and assist the grand march that soon began, and that
is still advancing.

As the circumstances surrounding the invention of both the gun and the
art of printing are sufficiently well known to warrant the belief that
each was made, not by a king or any other man of high position, but by
a man relatively obscure, and that the surroundings and early life of
both were not those of courts or palaces, but those of a humble kind,
it may be well to note how enormous are the results that have flowed
from causes that seem to be very small. We have been told that "great
oaks from little acorns grow"; but the consequences that have grown
from the conception of the idea of printing are larger than any oak;
and an acorn is probably much larger than the part of the brain in
which an idea is conceived.

As a matter of interest, let us realize the strong resemblance between
the impression we receive from a material object actually seen by the
eye and the memory of that impression afterwards. Let us then realize
the strong resemblance between it and another impression of that same
object seen mentally but not physically; for instance, let us realize
the strong resemblance between the impression made on us by actually
seeing some friend and the impression received by _imagining_ him
receiving a letter which we are now writing to him. The first picture
was an image of the external object that was physically made on the
retina, as a picture or image is made by a camera on a screen; but that
picture on the retina must have been seen by the brain, or we would not
have known of it. The other pictures were not made physically on the
retina, so far as we know. Yet we all realize that we can make pictures
on our minds the more readily if we close our eyes. The fact of our
eyes being open seems to operate adversely to our receiving a clear
mental picture.

Now it is a matter of fact that an object (for instance, a pole) can
be seen by a person with normal eyesight, if it subtends an angle as
great as one minute; that a pole a foot thick can be seen clearly from
a distance of 3600 feet, at which distance it subtends that angle. The
rays of light pass through the crystalline lens of the eye and are
focussed on the retina, as they pass through the lens of the camera,
and are focussed on the sensitized paper. Assuming the distance from
the crystalline lens to the retina to be about three-quarters of an
inch, the pole would be represented on the retina by an image 3/(4 x
3600) or less than 1/4000 of an inch wide. During daylight our retinas
are continually receiving images of which all lines as wide as 1/4000
of an inch (and much narrower) are very clearly apprehended by the mind.

But very few of those images are noticed by us. It is only when some
incident calls them to our attention, or when the mind voluntarily
seizes on them, that any conscious impression is made upon the brain.
Similarly, images of physical objects unseen by the physical eye are
continually made on the mind: we are continually thinking of our
friends and of past incidents and possible future incidents; and our
thoughts of these things take the form of pictures. We see the man
with whom we had a conversation yesterday, and we see him with a
clearness that is proportional to the interest taken by the mind in the
conversation and the circumstances surrounding it. If our conversation
was uninteresting and the circumstances tame, we see him dimly. But if
our conversation was angry and the circumstances were exciting, we see
him and the surroundings very vividly--so vividly that our anger is
again aroused; perhaps to as high degree as on the day before, or even

This image-making is, of course, voluntary sometimes; but most images
come without volition on our part, and require no effort that we are
conscious of. To call up an image voluntarily requires conscious
effort; and to keep it in position while we gaze upon it requires
effort that is great in proportion to the time during which it is
exerted. Psychologists speak of this act of keeping an image in
position as one of giving attention, or paying attention.

To perform this act requires the exercise of will, unless the act gives
pleasure, or the image suggests danger; in each of these cases, of
course, the act is almost involuntary.

A man who is observant notes consciously the incidents that are passing
around him: he seizes on certain of the millions of pictures passing
before him, concentrates their images on his retina, and gazes on
each one for a while. Similarly, a man who is contemplative, seizes
on certain of the vague mental pictures passing through his mind,
concentrates his attention on them, and gazes at each one for a while.
We call the former an observant man and the other a thoughtful man.
Sometimes an observant man learns a great deal from what he sees, in
the same way that sometimes a studious man learns a great deal from
what he studies; but the learning of course cannot be accomplished
without the assistance of the memory. One is often surprised to see
how little some observant and studious men have remembered. Many
impressions have been received, but few retained.

The thoughtful man, of course, cannot in the nature of things receive
so many conscious impressions as the merely observant or studious man;
for the reason that he continually seizes on one and then another, and
holds each for a time, while he fixes his attention on it. Usually,
however, the thoughtful man memorizes his observations or his studies
for some specific purpose; he moves the various images about in his
mind; and arranges them in classes: for otherwise, the various images
would form merely an aggregation of apparently unrelated facts. The
value of such aggregations is, of course, enormous; they compose what
we call data, and include such things as tables of dates, etc.

But data, even tables of dates, have no value in themselves; it is only
from their relations to other things that they have value. There would
be no value, for instance, in knowing that William of Normandy invaded
England in 1066, unless we knew who William was, and what England
was, and what the effect of his invading it was. Now the thoughtful
man, like the man who arranges a card-catalogue in such a way that
it will be useful, not only notes isolated facts, but puts them into
juxtaposition with each other, and sees what their relations are.
The mental pictures that he finally fixes in his mind are of related
things, seen in their correct perspective. They are like the pictures
which are made on the mind of anyone by--say, a landscape: whereas the
mental pictures made by an unthoughtful man are such as little children
probably receive from nature; pictures in which the trees and hills and
valleys of a landscape do not appear as such, but merely as a great
aggregation of numberless separate images, confused and meaningless
like the colored pieces of a kaleidoscope.

To the thoughtful man, therefore, life seems not quite so meaningless
as to his neighbor; though even the most thoughtful can fix very few
complete and extensive pictures in his mind. If his thoughtfulness
takes him no further than simply forming pictures that enable him to
see things as they are, and in their correct relations to each other,
he becomes "a man of good judgment," a man valuable in any community,
especially for filling positions in which the ability to make correct
deductions is required.

Such a man, however, no matter how correctly he may estimate any
situation, no matter how clearly he may see all the factors in it,
no matter how accurately he may gauge their relative values and
positions, may be unable to suggest any way for utilizing its possible
benefits, or warding off its possible dangers. That is, he may lack
constructiveness. He is like a man who possesses any desirable thing or
dangerous thing, and who understands all there is to understand about
it, but _does not know what to do with it_. The various factors are in
his (mental) hands, but he can make nothing of them.

The constructive man can construct concrete entities out of what
are apparently wholly individual factors having no relation to each
other; he can, for instance, take two pieces of wood and a piece of
string, and make a weapon with which he can kill living animals at a
considerable distance. With neither the pieces of wood nor the string
could he do that; and he could not do it with all three, unless he were
able to construct them into a bow and arrow. That is, he could make the
weapon if he had ever seen it made before. If he were only constructive
and not inventive, he could not make it unless he had seen it done
before, or knew it had been done.

Men of purely constructive ability have not of themselves taken very
conspicuous parts on the stage of history; and yet the things that they
have constructed comprise nearly all that we can see and hear and touch
in the world of civilization. Thus history, while it is a narrative
of things that have been done, is not a narrative of all the things
that have been done, but only of the new and striking things. It is a
narrative of wars, of the rise and fall of nations, of the founding of
cities, of the establishment of religions and theories, of the writing
of books, of the invention of mechanisms, of the painting of pictures,
of the carving of statues; in general, of the creative work that man
has done.

The merely constructive man, unless he has been inventive also, has
never constructed anything of a really novel kind. It is a matter of
everyday experience that nearly all the things that are constructed
are according to former patterns and the lessons of experience. All
the constructive and engineering arts and sciences are studied and
practiced for the purpose of enabling men to build bridges and houses
and locomotives, etc., in such ways, as experience has shown to be
good. Nearly all our acts, nearly all our utterances, nearly all our
thoughts, are of stereotyped and conventional forms.

This condition of affairs possesses so many advantages that we cannot
even imagine any other to exist. It enables a man to act nearly
automatically in most of the situations of life. The main reason for
drilling a soldier is that when confronted with the conditions of
battle, he shall fire his musket and do his other acts automatically,
undisturbed by the danger and excitement. Similarly, all our experience
in life tends to automaticity. It is a very comfortable condition,
for it demands the minimum amount of mental and nervous energy. The
conductor demands your fare, and you pay it almost automatically.
That a condition of automaticity prevails in nature, as we see it,
one is tempted to suppose: for the seasons succeed each other with a
regularity suggestive of it.

But even if the machine of nature and the machine of civilization are
automatic now, we have no reason for believing that they always were
so. Even the most perfect automatic engine had to be started at some
time, and it had to be invented before it could be started; and it had
also to go through a long process of development. Similarly, a man
reads a paper almost automatically; but it required years of time to
develop his ability to do so.

Now it has happened from time to time in history that some invention
has broken in on the smoothly running machine of civilization and
introduced a change. The gun did this, and so did the printing press.
In every such case, a few men have welcomed the invention, but the
majority have resented the change: some of them because their interests
were threatened by it; others because of the instinctive but powerful
influence of dislike of change.

The purely constructive man does not cause any such jolt. His work
proceeds smoothly, uniformly, and usually with approval. But the
inventive man, "his eye in a fine frenzy rolling," is visited with some
vision which he cannot or will not dismiss, and which compels him to
try to embody it in some form, and to continue to try until he succeeds
in doing so, or gives up, confessing failure. The inventive man, having
seen the vision, becomes a constructive man, and (in case he succeeds)
_puts the vision which he sees into such form that other people can see
it also_.

It is obvious therefore that two kinds of ability are needed to produce
a really good invention of any kind, inventive ability and constructive
ability; and it is also obvious that they are separate, though they
cooperate. Many an invention of a quality that was mediocre or even
inferior in originality, novelty and scope, has been quite acceptable
by reason of the excellent constructive work that was done upon it:
many a book and many an essay has succeeded almost wholly because of
the skilful construction of the sentences; many a picture because of
the accuracy of the perspective and the mixing of the colors; many a
new mechanical device because of the excellent workmanship bestowed
upon it. Conversely, many a grand and beautiful conception has failed
of recognition because of the poor constructive work that was done on
it. But occasionally a Shakespeare has given to the world an enduring
masterpiece, the joint work of the highest order of invention and the
highest order of constructive skill; occasionally a Raphael has painted
a picture similarly conceived and executed; and occasionally an Edison
has given the world a mechanical invention, comparably wonderful and

In all such cases, the start of the work was a picture on the mental
retina; an image of something that was not, but might be made to be.
A physical picture is actually made on the physical retina, but it
cannot be recognized by the owner of the retina, unless a healthy optic
nerve transmits it to his brain. Every mental picture must also be
transmitted to the brain; and some mental pictures are very bright and
clear. In some forms of insanity, the mental pictures are so clear that
the patient cannot be persuaded that they are not physical; the patient
sees a man approaching him, when there is no man approaching him; but
the impression made on the patient's mind is the same as if there were.

The thought of the enormousness of the consequences that have followed
the appearing of some visions to men (the vision of the gun, for
instance) is almost stunning, if we try to realize the small area of
the brain that the vision must have covered. If a line 1/4000 of an
inch wide made on the physical retina and afterwards transmitted to the
brain is seen with perfect clearness by the mind, what a small area of
the brain must have been covered by the original vision of the gun! Yet
how vast have been its consequences!

The fact that the inventor sees a vision, and then mentally arranges
and rearranges the various material elements available in order to
embody his vision in a painting, a project, a machine, a poem or a
sonata, indicates that the essential processes of invention are wholly
mental. This truth is illustrated by the work of every inventor, great
or small. Possibly, the most convincing illustration is that given by
the deaf Beethoven, who conceived and composed some of his grandest
works when he could not physically hear a note.

    Reference to the work of Roger Bacon has not been made, because
    of the doubts surrounding it.



Long before the Christian era the Chinese used pivoted magnetic needles
to indicate absolute direction to them; but that they possessed or
had invented the mariner's compass, there is considerable doubt. The
history of the invention of the mariner's compass has not yet been
written. It is not known when, or where, or by whom it was invented.

It is well-known, however, that the mariner's compass was in use in
the Mediterranean Sea in the early part of the fifteenth century A. D.
Guided by it, the navigators of that day pushed far out from land.

The first great navigational feat that followed the invention of the
compass was that performed by the Portuguese, Bartholomew Dias, who
conceived the idea of reaching India by going around Africa, and
sailed down the west coast of Africa as far as its southern end,
later called the Cape of Good Hope. It was a tremendous undertaking,
and it had tremendous results; for it demonstrated the possibilities
of great ocean voyages, proved that the road to India was very long,
and led to the expedition of Columbus, six years later. It was also a
great invention, both in brilliancy of conception and excellence of
execution, although Dias did not reach India.

The second great navigational feat was performed by Christopher
Columbus in 1492. Before that time it was conceded by most men of
learning and reflection that the earth was spherical; and it was
realized that, if it was spherical, it might be possible by sailing to
the westward to reach India, the goal of all commercial expeditions in
that day. Columbus is not to be credited with the first conception of
that possibility.

[Illustration: Portuguese Voyages and Possessions]

But that conception rested undeveloped in the minds of only a few men.
Had it not been for Columbus, or some man like him, it would have
remained undeveloped and borne no fruit. The Savior in his parable
tells us of the sower who went forth to sow, and tells us also that
most of the grain fell on stony ground. So it is with most of the
opportunities that are offered to us every day; and so it is even
with most of the visions that are placed before our minds. But the
Savior tells us also of other grains that fell on good ground and bore
abundant fruit. Such are the conceptions that the great inventors have
embodied; such was the conception that fell on the good ground of the
mind of Christopher Columbus.

The conception that came to him was not of the possibility that someone
could sail west and eventually reach India, but of preparing a suitable
expedition himself and actually sailing west and reaching India. The
conception must have been wonderfully powerful and clear, for it
dominated all his life thereafter. But he could not make others see
the vision that he saw. For many years he went from place to place,
trying to get the means wherewith to prepare his expedition. He made
only a few converts, but he did make a few. Some of these exerted their
influence on Queen Isabella of Spain. She, together with her husband
Ferdinand, then supplied the money and other necessaries for the

The invention of the gun was followed by the invention of printing in
1434, and this by the discovery of America in 1492. These three epochal
occurrences started the new civilization with a tremendous impetus.
This impetus was immediately reinforced by the voyage of the Portuguese
Admiral, Vasco da Gama, around the Cape of Good Hope to India in
1497-1498, and the circumnavigation of the globe by Ferdinand Magellan
in 1519-1522.

The immediate practical influence of da Gama's feat was almost to kill
the commerce of the cities of Italy and Alexandria with India by way
of the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean, and to transfer the center of
the sea-commerce of the world to the west coast of Europe, especially
Portugal. Near the west coast it has rested ever since; though but
little of it stayed long with Portugal.

While Magellan's voyage was not quite so important as the discovery of
America, it was not immeasurably less so; for it set at rest forever
the most important question in geography,--was the earth round or
not? The voyage of Columbus had not answered it, because he returned
by the same route as that by which he went. But Magellan started in
a southwesterly course, and one of his ships again reached home,
coming from the east. The Victoria had circumnavigated the globe! Only
eighteen men and one ship returned. The other ships and the other men
had perished. Magellan himself had been buried in the Philippines.

The news of Magellan's great exploit and the stories that came to
Europe of the riches beyond the sea, resulted soon in an idea coming
to the mind of Hernando Cortez, the development of that idea into a
concrete plan, and the making of a complete invention. This was a
plan by which he should head an expedition to a certain part of the
New World, and "convert" the heathen dwelling there; doing whatever
killing and impoverishing and general maltreatment might be found to
be convenient or desirable. The invention worked perfectly; some
half-savage Indians of what we now call Mexico were "converted," many
were killed, and untold treasure was forcibly obtained.

The success of this invention was so great that Francisco Pizarro was
inspired to copy it, and to try it on some Indians in a country that
now we call Peru. Whether Pizarro improved on Cortez's scheme, or
whether the conditions of success were better need not concern us now:
the main fact seems to be that Pizarro was able to convert and kill and
impoverish and generally ruin more effectively than Cortez.

Following Cortez and Pizarro, many expeditions sailed from Spain to
the West Indies, Central America and South America, and carried out
similar programs. The two principal results were that those parts
of the world were soon dominated by Spain, and that the people of
Spain received large amounts of gold and treasure. The main result to
them was that they succumbed under the enervating influence of the
artificial prosperity produced, and rapidly deteriorated. By the end of
the hundred years' period after Columbus discovered America, Spain was
clearly following the downward path, and at high speed.

One of the early results of the invention of printing was an increased
ability of people separated by considerable distances to interchange
their views; and a still greater though allied result was an increased
ability of men of thought and courage to impress their thoughts upon
great numbers of people. At the time when printing was invented, the
Church of Rome had ceased to dominate European nations as wholly as it
had done before; but it exercised a vast power in each country. This
was because of its prestige, its hold on the clergy and the Church
property, and its authority in many questions connected with marriage,
wills, appointments, etc. This was resented, but impotently, by the
various sovereigns.

It was realized also (and it came to be realized with increasing
clearness toward the end of the fifteenth century) that there were many
grave evils and scandals in the Church, even in the highest quarters.
The printing-press lent itself admirably to the dissemination of views
on this matter: so that there gradually grew up a strong and widespread
feeling of discontent. But despite considerable friction as to the
limits of their respective functions, the Church and the State were so
intimately allied in every country, and each realized so clearly its
dependence on the other, that no movement of any magnitude against even
the acknowledged evils had been able to gain ground. No man appeared
who was able to conceive and execute a plan that could successfully
effect reform.

But such a man appeared in the year 1517, whose name was Martin
Luther. He was a poor monk; but a knowledge of virtually all there
was to know lived in his mind, coupled with imagination to conceive,
constructiveness to plan, and courage to perform. In that fateful year,
1517, the Pope sent agents through the world to sell "indulgences,"
which remitted certain temporal punishments for sin, in return for
gifts of money. The agent who was commissioned for Germany carried out
his work with so little tact and moderation, that he made the granting
of indulgences seem even a more scandalous procedure than it really
was. Luther had been preaching the doctrine of a simple following of
the teachings of the Savior, and deprecating a too close adherence to
mere forms and ritual. He now seems to have conceived a clean-cut plan
of effective action; for on the evening before the indulgences were to
be offered on All Saints Day, in the Church of Wittemberg, Luther nails
on the door his celebrated ninety-five theses against the sale. The
printing-press reproduced copies of these in great numbers throughout
Germany. A definite sentiment antagonistic to the indulgences developed
rapidly, and a general movement toward the reform of the abuses in the
Church took shape. Luther was threatened with excommunication by the
Pope in 1520, but he burned a copy of the "papal bull" in a public
place on December 10 of that year.

The emperor of Germany convened a meeting of the Diet at Worms in 1521,
at which he exerted all his powers to make Luther retract: but in vain.
So great a following did Luther now have that, though the emperor put
him under ban, and all persons were forbidden to feed or give him
shelter, he was cared for secretly by men in high position, until he
voluntarily came out of hiding, and appeared in Wittemberg. The emperor
called a meeting of the Diet at Spires in 1526, and another meeting
in 1529. Both meetings had for their object the suppression of the
movement begun by Luther. It was against a decree made by the second
Diet that certain high officials and others made the famous protest,
that caused the name to be affixed to them of Protestants. This name
has been perpetuated to this day.

As is well known, the movement resulted, after nearly a hundred years
of disturbed conditions, in a series of wars, called "The Thirty Years'
War" that began in 1618, and ended with the Peace of Westphalia in
1648. This Peace marked the end of the Reformation period, and resulted
in establishing Protestantism in North Germany, Denmark, Norway,
Sweden, England and Scotland.

The influence of Luther's conception with its subsequent development
was thus definite, widespread and profound, even if regarded from a
merely religious point of view: but the influence it had on religion
was only a part of its total influence. In words, the protest was
against certain abuses in the Roman Church; but in fact it was against
a domination exercised over the minds and souls of men. Luther's
influence was in reforming not only the Roman Catholic Church and the
practice of the Christian religion throughout Europe, but also the
conditions under which men were allowed to use their minds.

While the inventions in mechanism, religion, etc., which we have just
noted were going on during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries,
others were going on in the realm of science. The movement was begun
about 1507 by a young man named Nicolas Copernicus, who was executing
the dissimilar functions of canon, physician and mathematician in
the little town of Frauenberg in Poland. Copernicus at this time
was thirty-four years old, but he had even then devoted the major
activities of his mind to astronomy for several years. Naturally,
his efforts had been devoted to mastering whatever of the science
then existed. The efforts of most people in dealing with any subject
end when they have gone thus far--and very few go even thus far. But
Copernicus noted that, while the Ptolemaic System (suggested, though
probably not invented by the Egyptian king) was the one generally
accepted, it did not account for many of the phenomena observed; that
none of the other systems that had been suggested afterward explained
matters more satisfactorily, and that no one of the systems was in
harmony with any other.

Thereupon this daring young man conceives the idea of inventing a
system of astronomy himself, in which all the movements of the heavenly
bodies should be shown to be in accordance with a simple and harmonious
law. Seizing on this idea, he proceeds at once to develop it; and he
works on it until death takes him from his labors in 1543 at the age of

The whole civilized world had virtually accepted the Ptolemaic
Theory,--at least, the part of it which assumed that the earth was the
center of the universe, the sun and stars and planets revolving around
it. Copernicus invented the theory that the sun was the center, that
the earth and the other planets revolved around it, and that the earth
revolved on its own axis once in twenty-four hours. So great was the
insistence of the religious bodies in adhering to the Ptolemaic Theory,
so set were the minds of all men of high position on it, that though
Copernicus wrote a book expounding his own theory, he did not think it
wise to publish it. He seems to have completed the book in about 1530.
He did not publish it till 1543. Just before its printing was finished,
Copernicus was taken ill. The first volume was held before him. He
touched it and seemed to realize dimly what it was. Then he relapsed
into torpor almost immediately, and soon died.

It is interesting to note that Copernicus was not the first to conceive
the idea that the earth turns on its own axis, or that the earth
revolves around the sun, any more than Bell was the first to conceive
the idea that speech could be transmitted by a suitable arrangement of
magnet, diaphragm and electric circuit. But Copernicus was the first to
invent a system of astronomy that was like a machine. It was a usable
thing. It could be made to explain astronomical phenomena and predict
astronomical events correctly.

It may be well to remind ourselves again that no application for patent
will be granted by our Patent Office unless the invention is described
and illustrated so clearly and correctly that "a person skilled in
the art can make and use it;" and to realize that this admirable
phraseology may be utilized to distinguish any other novel endeavor of
man entitled to be called an invention from any other not so entitled;
for no system, no theory, no religion, no scheme of government,
regardless of how attractive it may be, is entitled to be called an
invention, unless, like the Copernican System, "a person skilled in the
art can make and use it."

Shortly after Copernicus, came Johann Kepler, who was born in
Württemburg in 1571, and died in 1630. He had been a pupil of Tycho
Brahe, who did not succeed in making any great invention or discovery,
but who did collect a great amount of data. Utilizing these, Kepler
devoted many years to the study of Copernicus, and tried to invent a
system which would explain some facts of astronomy that the system
of Copernicus did not explain, notably the non-uniform speed of the
planets. The main result of his labors was the famous Kepler's Laws,
which were

    "1. The orbits of the planets are ellipses having the sun at
        one focus.

    "2. The area swept over per hour by the radius joining sun and
        planet is the same in all parts of the planet's orbit.

    "3. The squares of the periodic times of the planets are
        proportional to the cubes of their mean distances from the

These three discoveries, enunciated in three interdependent, concrete
laws, constituted an invention which, while it was merely an
improvement on Copernicus's, was so great an improvement as almost
to make the difference between impracticability and practicability.
Without this improvement, astronomy would not be what it is, navigation
would not be what it is, the regulation of time throughout the world
would not be what it is, and the present highly intricate but smoothly
running machine of civilization could not exist at all, except in a
vastly inferior form. The machine of civilization is dependent for its
successful operation on the good quality and correct design of every
other part. So is every other machine; for instance, a steam-engine.

The Copernican System was not recognized for more than a century.
It was, in fact, definitely rejected, and people were subjected to
punishment and even torture for declaring their belief in it.

One of the amazing facts surrounding Copernicus's invention was that
he carried on his observations with exceedingly crude appliances. _The
telescope had not yet been invented._

Who invented the telescope is not definitely known; but it is probable
that both the telescope and the microscope (compound microscope)
were invented by Jansen, a humble spectacle-maker in Holland. Both
inventions were made about the year 1590, and were of the highest order
of merit from the three main points of view,--originality, completeness
and usefulness. Few inventions more perfectly possessing the attributes
of a great invention can be specified. The originality of the
conception of each seems unquestionable; the beautiful completeness of
the embodied form of each was such that only improvements in detail
were needed afterward; and, as to their usefulness, can we even imagine
modern civilization without them both?

The interesting fact may now be called to mind that, although many men
who lived in Jansen's time were loaded with honors and fame and wealth
and glory, the inventor of the telescope and the microscope received
no reward of any kind that we know of; and his fame has come to us so
imperfectly that we are not even sure that Jansen was his name.

The man usually credited with the invention of the telescope is
Galileo, though Galileo himself never pretended that he invented it,
and though historical statements are clear that he heard that such
an instrument had been invented, and then designed and constructed
one himself in a day. It would be interesting to know just how much
information Galileo received. It seems that his information was very
vague. If so, a considerable amount of inventiveness may have been
required, besides a high order of constructiveness. But the mere fact
that Galileo knew that such an instrument had been invented caused his
mental processes to start from an image put into his mind by an outside
agency and not from his own imagination. Galileo's work did not begin
with conception, and therefore it was not an invention.

Galileo was one of the foremost and most ardent supporters of the
Copernican Theory; and it was on his skilful and industrious use of
the telescope in making observations confirming the theory that his
fame mainly rests. As late as 1632, nearly a century after Copernicus's
doctrine had become known, Galileo was compelled by threat of torture
to recant, and was condemned to imprisonment for life.

The influence of inventions on history has been greater and more
beneficial than that of any other single endeavor of man. Yet most
inventions have been resisted. _The invention of Copernicus was
resisted for more than a century by the organization commanding the
greatest talent and character and learning that the world contained._

The extraordinary access of mental energy in Europe about the beginning
of the seventeenth century is illustrated by another invention
virtually contemporaneous with those of Copernicus and Jansen, and also
in the line of mathematical research. This was the invention by Baron
John Napier of logarithms.

It was a curious invention--an invention the like of which one cannot
easily specify; for the thing invented was not a material mechanism,
or a theory, or anything exactly like anything else. It is difficult
to classify a logarithm except as a logarithm:--yet Napier did
create something; he did make something exist that had not existed
before; he did conceive an idea and embody that idea in a concrete
machine. That machine, in the hands of a man who understood it, could
supply extraordinary assistance in making mathematical calculations,
especially calculations involving many operations and many figures, as
in astronomy. It has been in continual use since Napier invented it,
and is used still. In order to indicate the simplicity and the value
of Napier's invention, it may assist those who have forgotten what
a logarithm is, or who have been so fortunate as never to have been
compelled to study about them, to state that logarithms are numbers so
adapted to numbers to be multiplied, divided, or raised to any power,
that one simply adds their logarithm, subtracts one logarithm from the
other or multiplies or divides a logarithm by the number representing
the power, and then notes in a table the number resulting, instead of
going through the long process of multiplying, dividing, squaring,
etc. Of course, in the case of small numbers, the use of logarithms
is not only unnecessary but undesirable; but in the case of the long
numbers used in astronomy, and even in navigation, logarithms are
inexpressibly helpful and time-saving. The mental feat of Napier
consisted in conceiving the idea of accomplishing what he subsequently
did accomplish, and then constructing and producing the "logarithmic
tables" that made it possible.

Another indication of the new intellectual movement in Europe was the
experiments, deductions and inventions of William Gilbert, an English
physician, who lived from 1540 till 1603. According to the use of
the word invention followed in this book, only two actual inventions
can be credited to Gilbert, that of the electroscope and that of
magnetization. Gilbert's work was valuable in the highest degree, more
valuable than that of most inventors; and yet it was more inductive
and deductive than inventional. It is not the purpose of this book to
suggest that invention has been the only kind of work that men have
done which has had an influence on history; and the work of Gilbert
gives the author an opportunity to emphasize the value of certain
work which is not inventional. At the same time, the author cannot
resist the temptation of pointing out that Gilbert's work was original
and constructive, that it hovered around the borders of invention,
and that it did more to assist the inventors of the electric and
electro-magnetic appliances that were soon to follow, than the work of
almost any other one man.

The full influence of Gilbert's work was not apparent for many years;
not, in fact, until the discoveries and inventions of Volta, Galvani
and Faraday showed the possibilities of utilizing electricity for
practical purposes. Then the facts which Gilbert had established, and
the discoveries built upon them afterward, were the basis of much of
the work of those great men, and of the vast science of electrical
engineering that resulted.

The inventions made before the opening of the seventeenth century A.
D., wonderful as they were, were quite widely separated in time, and
seem to have been wholly the outcome of individual genius, and not the
result or the indication of any widespread intellectual movement. But
soon after it opened, the influence of printing in spreading knowledge
became increasingly felt, and inventions began to succeed each other
with rapidity, and to appear in places far apart.

In the beginning of the seventeenth century, certain writings appeared
in England that took great hold on the minds of thinking men, not only
in England, but throughout Europe. The name of the author was Francis

It would not be within the scope of this book even to attempt to
analyze the philosophy of Bacon, to differentiate between it and
the philosophy of Aristotle or any other of the great thinkers of
the world, or to try to trace directly the influence of Bacon's
philosophy on his own time and on future times. It is obvious,
however, that Bacon invented a system of inductive reasoning that
assisted enormously to give precision to the thoughts of men in his
own day, by convincing them of the necessity of first ascertaining
exact facts, and then inferring correct conclusions from those facts.
This seems to us an easy thing to do, looking at the matter in the
light of our civilization. But it was not easy, though Bacon's high
position gave him a prestige exceptional for a philosopher to possess;
and this smoothed his way considerably. Men had not yet learned to
think exactly. The efforts of even the great minds were of a groping
character; and fanciful pictures made by the imagination seem to
have intertwined themselves with facts, in such a way that correct
inferences (except in mathematical operations) were hardly to be
expected. Bacon insisted that every start on an intellectual expedition
should be made from absolutely indisputable facts.

The first effect of such teaching was to make men seek for facts. Not
long afterward, we find that many men were making it the main business
of their lives to seek for facts from Nature herself. This does not
mean that men had not sought for facts before from Nature, or that
Bacon alone is to be credited with the wonderful increase in the work
of research and investigation that soon began.

Bacon's principal book was published in 1620, and called the "Novum
Organum," or "the new instrument." It was obviously an invention, for
it was a definite creation of a wholly new thing, that originated in
a definite conception, and was developed into a concrete instrument.
That Bacon so regarded it is evident from the title that he gave it.
Furthermore, he described it as "the science of a better and more
perfect use of reason in the investigation of things and of the true
aids of the understanding." Bacon was a patient of Dr. Harvey, who
discovered the circulation of the blood; and it would be strange indeed
if Bacon's philosophy did not give to Harvey a great deal of guidance
and suggestion that furthered his experiments.

William Harvey discovered the fact that the blood circulates in the
bodies of living animals. This declaration stated by itself would
convey to the minds of some the idea that Harvey discovered it,
somewhat as a boy might discover a penny lying on the ground. The first
definition of the word discover in the _Standard Dictionary_ is "to
get first sight or knowledge of"; so that the mere announcement that
an investigator has "discovered" something gives to many people an
incorrect idea of his achievement. Harvey discovered the fact of the
circulation of the blood after years of experimentation and research on
living animals, and by work of a most laborious kind. His conclusions
were not accepted by many for a very considerable period; but he was
fortunate, like Bacon, in holding a position of such influence and
prestige, that he escaped most of the violent opposition that inventors
usually meet.

Harvey's discovery did not of itself constitute an invention; but the
embodiment of that discovery in a concrete theory, so explained "that
persons skilled in the art could make and use it," did constitute
an invention of the most definite kind. The whole influence of that
invention on history, only a highly equipped physician could describe;
but, nevertheless, one may feel amply justified in stating that its
influence on the science and practice of surgery and medicine, and on
the resulting health of all the civilized nations of the world, has
been so great as to be incalculable.

A contemporary and acquaintance of Harvey was Robert Boyle, one of the
most important of the early scientific investigators, who was an avowed
disciple of Bacon, and followed his methods with conscientious care.
His work covered a large field, but it was concerned mostly with the
action of gases. He is best known by "Boyle's Law," which is usually
expressed as follows: "When the volume of a mass of gas is changed,
keeping the temperature constant, the pressure varies inversely as the
volume; or the product of the pressure by the volume remains constant."
While it has been found that this law is not absolutely true with all
gases at all temperatures and pressures, its departure from accuracy
are very small, and these are now definitely known. With certain
tabulated corrections, this law is the basis on which most of the
calculations for steam engines, air engines and gas engines are made.
It is usually expressed by the formula

    p v = p´ v´ = constant.

Boyle is said to have "discovered" this law, and Harvey is said to have
"discovered" the circulation of the blood. Doubtless they did: but if
they had done no more than "discover" these things, no one else would
have been the wiser, and the world would have been no richer. What
these two men did that made us wiser and the world richer, was to make
inventions of definite character, and give them to the world in such
manageable forms, that "persons skilled in the art can make and use

In 1620, the spirit thermometer, as we know it now, was invented by
Drebel. It is by some ascribed to Galileo. An interesting controversy
has been waged as to which was actually the inventor. The facts seem to
be that Galileo did invent a thermometer in which the height of water
in a glass tube indicated approximately the temperature. The tube was
long and ended in a bulb at the top. The bulb being warmed with the
hand of Galileo, and the open lower end of the tube being immersed in
water, and then the warmth of the hand removed, water rose in the tube
to a height depending on the warmth of the air in the bulb. The height
of the water therefore varied _inversely_ as the temperature. The
defect of the instrument was that it was a barometer as much as it was
a thermometer; because the varying pressure of the atmosphere caused
the water to rise and fall accordingly, and thus falsify the thermal
indications. Drebel realized this, and closed both ends of the tube.

Thus Galileo came very near to inventing both the thermometer and the
barometer, but yet invented neither! It seems incredible that he should
have failed to invent the barometer, having come so near it; for he had
been engaged for a long period in investigating the weight of air, and
finally had succeeded in ascertaining it. The barometer was invented
or rather discovered by Galileo's successor, Torricelli, in 1645.
Torricelli, in investigating the action of suction pumps, constructed
what now we call a barometer; but it was not until _after_ he had
constructed it that he realized that the height of mercury in his tube
indicated the pressure of the air outside. Seventy-five years later,
Fahrenheit made a great improvement in the thermometer by substituting
mercury for spirits.

Meanwhile, Otto von Guericke, following in the footsteps of Galileo and
Torricelli, had invented the air-pump, by means of which he succeeded
in getting a fairly perfect vacuum in a glass receiver. This seems to
have been an invention of the most clear-cut kind, resulting from an
idea that occurred to Guericke that he seized upon promptly and put to
work to serve mankind. Its influence in giving impetus to the science
and art of pneumatics, and the influence of pneumatics on the progress
of civilization, are too obvious to need more than to be pointed out.
The invention of Guericke is a simple and clear illustration of the
"power of an idea"; an illustration of seed falling on good ground and
bringing forth fruit an hundred fold.

One of the greatest inventors that ever lived was Isaac Newton, who
lived from 1642 till 1728. Even as a child he busied himself with
contriving and constructing mechanical appliances, mostly toys. As
a young man he occupied himself mostly with studies in mathematics
and experiments in physics, especially optics. In 1671 he invented
a special form of the reflecting telescope, called after him the
Newtonian telescope. He made many experiments in optics, in consequence
of which he discovered and announced that white light consists of seven
colors, having different degrees of refrangibility. The influence of
this discovery on the advancement of learning since that time, it
is unnecessary to point out; but we cannot realize too clearly that
without it much of the most important progress in optics since that
time would have been impossible.

The invention by reason of which Newton is most generally known is his
theory or law of gravitation, which he announced in his _Principia_,
published in 1686. In 1609, Kepler had announced his famous laws, that

    "1. The orbits of planets are ellipses having the sun at one

    "2. The area swept over per hour by the radius joining sun and
        planet is the same in all parts of the planet's orbit.

    "3. The squares of the periodic times of the planets are
        proportional to the cubes of their mean distances from the

Newton showed from the laws of mechanics which he had discovered that,
assuming the first two laws of Kepler to be true, each planet must
always be subject to a force directing it toward the sun, that varies
inversely as the square of its distance from the sun: otherwise, it
would fly away from the sun or toward it. From this, Newton inferred
that all masses, great and small, attract each other with a force
proportional to their masses, and inversely proportional to the square
of the distance between them, and invented what is now called the law
of universal gravitation.

Another invention of possibly equal value, also published in his
_Principia_, but not so generally known, is his three laws of motion.
These are

    "1. Every body continues in its state of rest, or of moving
        with constant velocity in a straight line, unless acted
        upon by some external force.

    "2. Change of momentum is proportional to the force and to the
        time during which it acts, and is in the same direction as
        the force.

    "3. To every action there is an equal and contrary re-action."

It is probably impossible for any human mind to conceive any invention
of a higher order of originality than either of these two, or to
construct any invention more concrete and useful. Certainly no more
brilliant inventions have ever yet been made. These two wonderful
products of Newton's genius underlie the whole structure of modern
astronomy and modern mechanics. The sciences of modern astronomy and
modern mechanics could not exist without them, and would not now exist
unless Newton (or someone else) had invented them.

It may be pointed out that Newton's conception of our solar system is
that of a machine in rapid motion, of which the sun and the planets are
the principal parts.

Another important invention ascribed to Newton is that of the sextant,
a small and easily handled instrument, used ever since in ships for
purposes of navigation; but whether he should receive the entire credit
for this invention seems quite doubtful; for another astronomer, Robert
Hooke, is credited by some with the original suggestion, and John
Hadley, still another astronomer, with having adapted it to practical
sea use. Numerous other scientific inventions, however, that have
formed the basis of much of the scientific work of later experimenters
and inventors are clearly to be credited to Newton. Among these, his
formula for the velocity of a wave of compression, his color-wheel,
and his simple apparatus known as "Newton's rings," by which can be
measured the wave lengths of light of different colors, are possibly
the most important.

In approximate coincidence with the Renaissance movement and the
accompanying awakening of the intellect of Europe, there began a
conflict between the sovereigns and the Pope. The Popes had gradually
acquired great power, because of their prestige as the successors of
St. Peter, to whom it was declared our Savior had given the keys of
heaven. Coincidentally, the multitudinous barons had gradually built
up the Feudal System. This was a loose-jointed contrivance, under
which Europe was virtually divided into little geographical sections,
ruled over by hereditary feudal lords, who in each country owed
allegiance to a sovereign. By reason of the slowness and uncertainty
of transportation and communication, the various feudal lords were
extremely independent, and each one did substantially as he willed in
his little domain.

The situation was a miserable one for every person, except the Pope,
the sovereigns, the feudal lords and their hangers-on; not only
because of the various petty tyrannies, but because of the continual
little wars and the general absence of good government. Gradually,
the sovereigns got more and more power (except in England) and the
conditions improved so much that the people realized that it was better
to be ruled by one king, or emperor, than by a multitude of barons. The
sovereigns finally acquired so much power that they dared to oppose the
Pope in many of his aggressions; but no very important situations were
developed until the Reformation caused the existence of protestant or
heretic sovereigns, and the occasional excommunication of one of them
by the Pope, with its attendant exhortation to his subjects to take
up arms against him. To meet this situation, the theory of the Divine
Right of Kings was invented.

This was a very important invention; for it offset the Divine authority
of the Pope as Pope, and gave a theme for the bishops and priests in
their discourses to the people, and a slogan for the soldiers. It was
extremely successful for three centuries, and its influence was in the
main beneficent. It worked for the establishment of stable governments
and great nations, tended to prevent the excessive domination of
a religious organization, and, by recognizing the fact that every
sovereign's power comes from the Almighty, it suggested the sovereign's
responsibility to Him. At first this suggestion evidently bore little
fruit; for the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were characterized
by general oppression of the people, and filled with dynastic wars,
waged merely in behalf of monarchical ambitions. But gradually the
kings and the peoples came to realize the duties of sovereigns, as well
as their privileges and powers. Gradually then, the view came to be
held that kings were bound to exercise their power for the benefit of
their people.

Even the doctrine of the Divine Right of Kings, now condemned and
obsolete, had a great influence and a good influence during the time it
was in vogue; and it supplies a clear illustration of the power of a
good idea, skillfully developed, to fulfill a given purpose, so long as
its existence is necessary.

Most men have a considerable amount of energy, but do not know what to
do with it. Children are in the same category, except that toys have
been invented for them, and parents give these toys to their children.
Without toys, children find the days very long, and parents find their
children very trying. The usefulness of toys seems to be mainly, not so
much in giving children pleasure directly, as in supplying an outlet
for their energies, both physical and mental. For what greater pleasure
is there than in expending one's natural energies under pleasant

Possibly, all the work that men have done in building up civilization
is like the work that children have done with building blocks.
Certainly there are many points of similarity. The mental efforts are
similar; and, so far as we can see, the results are similar also.
Toy temples have been built of building blocks, and then have been
destroyed. Civilizations also have been built and then destroyed. And
in the case of both the building blocks and the civilizations, the
pleasure seems to come, not from the result achieved, but from an
enjoyable expenditure of energy in achieving it. In both cases it has
been the inventors who have pointed out the ways in which to expend the
energy, and achieve the results.



The invention of the first electrical machine was made by Otto Von
Guericke, of Magdeburg, about 1670. It consisted of a sulphur ball, a
stick with a point, and a linen thread "an ell or more long," hanging
from the stick. The lower end of the thread being made to hang "a thumb
breadth distance" from some other body, and the sulphur ball rubbed and
brought near the point of the stick, the lower end of the thread moved
up to the body. The ball being removed, the lower end of the thread
would drop away from the body; so that by moving the ball back and
forth, the lower end of the thread would be made to move back and forth

It may be objected that Guericke made no invention, because he did not
conceive the idea of making a machine or instrument and did not, in
fact, produce one: that he merely made a discovery. The author admits
that such an objection would have great reasonableness, and that
Guericke's feat is a little hard to class. It is classed by many as an
invention, however, and the present author is inclined to class it so;
because there seems no reason to doubt that Guericke first conceived
the idea of doing what he did do, and that he did produce a device
whereby an actual motion of a rubbed ball at one place caused actual
motion at another place, through the medium of a current of electricity
that traversed a conductor joining the two places. The device is
sometimes spoken of as the first telegraph instrument.

Guericke (like Gilbert) was more distinctly an experimenter than an
inventor,--and (like Gilbert) his work was not only in electricity, but
in most of the other branches of science. Of the two, Guericke seems
to have covered a wider field, and to have been more distinctly an
inventor. His celebrated experiment of holding two hollow hemispheres
together, then exhausting the air from the hollow sphere thus formed,
and then demonstrating the force of the atmosphere by showing that
sixteen horses could not pull the hemispheres apart, indicates just the
kind of clear apprehension of the laws of Nature that characterizes the

By some, Guericke is esteemed the inventor of the first electric light,
because by rubbing a sulphur ball in a dark room he produced a feeble
electric illumination. Of Guericke's discoveries and inventions, the
only one that has survived as a concrete apparatus is the air pump;
but it is doubtful if the direct influence on history of the air pump,
great as it has been, has actually been any greater than the indirect
influence of his less widely known discoveries and experiments.

[Illustration: Hero's Engines]

One of the early influences of the art of printing was to bring to the
notice of some restless minds the writings of Hero and Archimedes. In
Hero's _Pneumatics_, published more than 120 years before Christ, he
gives such a clear account of an invention of his own, in which the
expansive force of steam was used to give and maintain motion, as to
establish thoroughly his right to the basic invention of the steam
engine. He described three apparatus that he devised. In one, the
currents of air and aqueous vapor rising through a tube from a hollow
sphere, containing water, under which a fire is burning, support a
ball placed immediately above the tube, and make it seem to dance. In
another apparatus, a hollow sphere into which steam has arisen from
what we now call a boiler, is supported on a horizontal or vertical
axis, and provided with tubes that protrude from the sphere, and are
bent at right angles to the radius and also to the pivot. The inner
ends of these tubes lie within the sphere, so that the steam passes
from the sphere through the tubes. As soon as this happens, the sphere
takes up a rapid rotation, that continue so long as the steam continues
to escape from the nozzles of the tubes, which point rearwardly. A
third apparatus was merely an elaboration of the second, in that the
sphere was connected with an altar which supported a large drum on
which were figures representing human beings. The fire being lighted,
the sphere would soon begin to revolve, and with it the drum; and
the figures on it would seem to dance around, above the altar. The
invention was probably to impress the people with the idea that the
priests were exerting supernatural power.

[Illustration: Hero's Altar Engine]

Hero's wonderful invention remained unused and unappreciated for nearly
2,000 years. About 1601, an Italian named Della Porta, published a book
that seems to show acquaintance with it, also with the fact that if
water be heated it is converted into a gas that can raise water to a
height. In 1615, a Frenchman named de Caus published a book in which he
showed a hollow sphere into which water could be introduced through an
orifice that could then be closed; the sphere carrying a vertical tube
that dipped into the water at its lower end, and ending in a small
nozzle at its upper end. When a fire was started under the sphere, the
air in the upper part expanded, and forced down the water that occupied
the lower part, so that a jet of water would soon issue from the upper
end of the tube. Of course, this was really less than Hero had done,
because the appliance described did not constitute a machine, in any
real sense of the word.

In 1629, an Italian named Branca carried Hero's invention a step
further, by inventing a simple apparatus whereby the revolution of
Hero's hollow sphere was communicated to a series of pestles in
mortars, and put to the useful work of compounding drugs. Branca seems
entitled to the basic invention of the steam engine as an industrial

About 1663, the Marquis of Worcester invented a steam engine that
exerted about two horse-power, and was employed to raise water from the
Thames River, and supply it to the town of Vauxhall. Six years later
(1669) Captain Thomas Savery erected a steam engine about twenty-five
feet above the water in a mine, and successfully drew water out. This
was a very important feat, because the difficulties surrounding the
problem of freeing the mines from water were extremely great, and the
desirability of overcoming them was equally so. In Savery's engine,
there were two boilers in which steam was raised, and two receivers
communicating with them. Steam being admitted to one receiver, the
connection with the boiler was shut off by a valve, and a cold jet was
then suddenly thrown on the receiver, condensing the steam and forming
a partial vacuum. This vacuum the water below immediately rushed up to
overcome. Connection with the pipe leading down was then shut off, and
steam introduced to the receiver. This steam forced out the water from
the receiver into a pipe, which discharged it above. This operation
was then performed by the other boiler and receiver; so that, by
their continued and alternate action, a fairly continuous stream of
discharged water was maintained.

This invention was quickly followed by Captain Savery with another, by
means of which the discharge stream was made to fall on a mill-wheel,
as though from a natural waterfall. Several of these machines were
erected for actuating the machinery of mills and factories in the

In 1690, Dr. Papin invented a steam engine, in which he used a cylinder
containing water, with a piston so arranged that, when the water was
heated, the steam would raise the piston. The fire being then removed
the pressure of the atmosphere would force down the piston. This
was followed shortly by an invention of Newcomer and Cawley, which
was a very considerable advance on previous engines. It comprised a
separate boiler and furnace, a separate cylinder and piston, means for
condensing the steam in the cylinder by injecting water into it, and
a system of self-acting valves that were opened and closed by a long
beam that was moved by the piston. Furthermore, this beam communicated
motion to a pump that pumped the water up directly. This engine was
so efficient and so practically useful, that it was very generally
introduced into service for draining mines throughout England. About
1775, Smeaton built an engine carefully designed on these lines, of
which the cylinder was 72 inches in diameter, and the length of stroke
was 10 feet and 6 inches.

In 1725, Jacob Leupold invented an engine, in which the work was done
by steam alone, instead of by the atmosphere, as in the engines that
immediately preceded it. Leupold used two cylinders. They were open
at the top to the atmosphere as in the others, but he used higher
pressures of steam, and arranged a four-way cock between the bottoms of
the two cylinders in such a way that the bottom of each cylinder, in
its turn, was connected to the boiler or to the open air. Each cylinder
actuated directly a separate vibrating beam, which in turn actuated the
piston of a pump; the two pistons acting reciprocally, each drawing up
water in its turn.

[Illustration: Leupold's Engine]

In 1765, James Watt made the very great improvement of providing a
condenser separate from the cylinder of the engine, so that the great
loss of heat caused by cooling the cylinder and then heating it at
each stroke was wholly avoided. He covered the cylinder entirely, and
surrounded it with an external cylinder kept always full of steam, that
maintained the cylinder at a high temperature. The steam, instead of
being condensed within the cylinder, after it had done its work, was
allowed to escape into the condenser. To facilitate this action, the
condenser was fitted with an air-pump that maintained a good vacuum in

In 1769, Watt invented an improvement that consisted mainly of means
whereby the supply of steam to the cylinder could be shut off at any
desired part of the stroke, and the steam allowed to complete the
rest of the stroke by virtue of its expansive force. This invention
increased tremendously the efficiency of the engine: that is, the
amount of work done with a given amount of steam.

During all this time, Watt had realized that virtually all the work was
done on the down stroke, and none on the up stroke, and also realized
that it would be highly desirable to devise an apparatus whereby the
reciprocating motion of the piston could be converted into a rotary
motion. Watt was able to accomplish both feats, and to connect the
bottom and top of the cylinder alternately with the condenser and
boiler by a simple mechanism driven by a wheel rotated by the engine.
The result was the reciprocating steam engine in its main features, as
it exists today.

The influence of Hero's invention on history is not direct, because
his engine has never been employed for any industrial purpose. But
Hero's engine has had an enormous influence on history, nevertheless,
because it supplied the basis on which the steam engine of the last
two centuries has rested. The influence of Hero's invention was not
realized until two thousand years after he had died, and until after
all those men had died whose names have just been mentioned. It is
inconceivable that any of those men could really have expected that
their work was to have even a small fraction of the influence on
mankind that it actually has had. The influence of Watt's work became
visible to some degree before he died, and became clearly visible not
very long after he had died; so clearly visible that by many men Watt
is credited with the invention of the steam engine. But his good work
was built on the good work of his predecessors, whose main work was
in making Watt's work possible. The successive feats of all, like the
successive layers in the foundations of any building, were to support,
in time, the whole superstructure of the great and beneficent science
of steam engineering.

But the work done by these men was not all the work that had to be
done, to make Watt's steam engine the efficient machine it was. These
men were the men who are directly to be credited, but they were not
the only men engaged. Neither did they belong to the only class of
men engaged. There was another class of men whose labors were equally
arduous, and equally important, though not so clearly in evidence--the
physicists, as we now call them. It was by the knowledge which they
gleaned regarding the properties of steam and air and water and iron,
regarding the laws of motion and heat and work and force and weight
and mass, that the inventors' experiments were guided. It is true that
the science of physics was then in its infancy, as we realize with the
knowledge of the science today; but Aristotle in the days of Greece,
and Archimedes and Hero later, and Galileo and many others in Italy--as
well as Guericke in Germany, Newton and Gilbert in England, and others
of less note, had evolved a good deal of order out of what had been
chaos, and had given inventors a great deal of firm ground on which
to stand themselves and raise their structures. And reciprocally, the
inventors found themselves confronted with problems of a kind that gave
opportunities for the physicists to show their skill and knowledge.

Thus were opened up promising avenues of investigation, and not only
of investigation, but of invention also. For it is obvious that,
while investigation and experimentation can hardly fail to secure
data, they may secure nothing else, and usually do. But mere data are
mere facts; and, valuable as they are if suitably classified, they
are not valuable unless they are classified; and even after data are
classified, they are not useful until some use is found for them. The
data in card-indexes are mere unrelated facts, and are almost useless,
until they have been classified and arranged in boxes alphabetically
labeled. Then they are useful whenever any use is found; when, for
instance, some one is seeking information on a certain subject. In
this condition, data are like material substances, in that they are
available for use,--in fact, data are often spoken of by writers
as "material"; a certain series of incidents, for instance, supply
"material" for a story. Now, just as pieces of iron and brass supply
material with which an inventor can create a new machine, so classified
facts, or data, supply material with which an inventive investigator
can create a new theory, or formulate a new law.

Our books on physics are full of accounts of experiments and
investigations conducted by such men as Hero, Archimedes, Gilbert,
Galileo and many others, the consequent discoveries that they made,
and the consequent laws that they enunciated; but those books could
not possibly describe all the investigations that have ever been
made. Those which they describe are those that ended in some definite
creations, such as the hydrostatic law enunciated by Archimedes. Most
investigations, experiments and researches have ended in nothing
definite:--most of them, in all probability, have not even established
facts. The investigations that we studied about when boys were such as
those of Archimedes, that presented us with inventions, in the form of
useful and usable laws. No appreciable difference is apparent between
the mental operations of Archimedes in inventing these laws and his
mental operations in inventing his screw: for in both cases the mental
operations consisted mainly in conceiving an idea and then embodying
it. The Archimedean screw was a machine of an entirely new kind that,
in the hands of a man understanding its use, would enable the man to
do something he could not do before--or enable him to do a thing he
could do before, but do it better. So were his laws. The laws have been
utilized ever since, as definite and concrete devices; and to a much
greater extent than the special form of screw that he invented.

In a like way, all the laws that investigators have put into concrete
and usable form, have been used by other investigators as bases
for further investigations, and by inventors as bases for future
inventions. Even the inventor of the fist-hammer had to know something
about the material which he employed; he had to know that it was hard
and heavy, for instance, and that it could be hammered so as to have a
point and a sharp edge. He had to know also something about the flesh
of a man: he had to know that if his flesh was struck with a sharp hard
instrument, it would be bruised, and the man injured, and maybe killed.
Similarly, the inventor of the gun, and the inventor of printing,
and the inventors of steam engines, had to know a good deal about
the materials which they employed, and about the uses to which their
appliances could be put. Naturally, they had to know much more than did
the inventor of the fist-hammer. But the inventor of today has to know
still more, because there is still more to know. An inventor of the
present day who knew no more about physical science than Galileo did
would not be able to go far.

A like remark may be made about any man in any vocation, as compared
with his predecessor in Galileo's time. The machine of civilization is
so vast and so complex, that the amount of knowledge which anyone of
us needs in mere daily life is almost incredible. Let anyone try to
enumerate all the facts he knows! The attempt will convince him quickly.

It may be pointed out here that, while modern civilization differs
from ancient civilization in many ways, it differs more in complexity
than in any other one way. Some of the factors of ancient civilization
were as good as those of today; such things, for instance as temples
and pyramids and stationary objects in general. But the ancients did
not understand motion clearly, especially irregular motion; and they
had no fast vehicles of any kind. Their knowledge of statics must have
been fairly complete, or they could not have built their temples and
pyramids; but their records show little understanding of dynamics.

Now the basis of dynamics is mathematics. Dynamics is the result of the
application of mathematics to the observed effects of force on bodies,
in producing motion. Dynamics is a branch of the science of mechanics,
and a most difficult branch. It is built on the observations,
calculations and conclusions of Newton and a host of experimenters and
mathematicians of lesser mentality, and it could not have come into
being without them.

But dynamics has not been the only physical science involved in making
the machine of civilization. All the physical sciences have taken part;
and each one has taken a part which was essential to the final result,
and without which the final result could not have been attained.
The science of light made possible the solution of our problems of
illumination and the development of inventions for producing it; the
science of acoustics made possible the solution of our problems of
sound, including music, and the invention of acoustic and musical
instruments; the science of heat made possible the invention of all the
complex and powerful steam and gas engines that have revolutionized
society; the science of electricity (including magnetism) has made
possible the invention of those electric and electro-magnetic machines
that have supplemented the work of the steam engine; and the science of
pneumatics has made possible the invention of those "flying machines"
of many kinds, that promise to complicate civilization further still.

But let us realize clearly that no one of these sciences by itself
has been able to perform any of the feats just mentioned. Each one
was virtually dependent on every other one; and all were dependent on
mathematics. In order to make the steam engine work efficiently, it was
not enough that heat should expand water into steam: the mathematical
laws which showed how much water was needed to secure a certain amount
of steam, for instance, and how a certain desired pressure of steam
could be secured, had first to be comprehended and then to be followed.
In order to have boilers and engines so designed as to prevent
disastrous explosions, the laws governing the strength of materials
had to be known and followed. In order that a projectile could be so
fired from a gun as to reach a certain predetermined spot, the laws of
heat, pneumatics, chemistry and dynamics had all to be understood and
followed with exactness.

But it was not only the machines and instruments that needed the
assistance of those sciences, it was the sciences themselves; because
it was only after eliminating phenomena caused by one agency from those
caused by another, that accuracy in any conclusions whatever could be
secured; and in order that the phenomena caused by one agency could
be kept separate from the phenomena caused by another agency, the
laws underlying both had to be understood. The science of light could
not be developed until the action of heat was fairly well understood;
dynamics had to wait on statics; Newton could not have contributed what
he did to astronomy, unless the science of light (including optics) was
sufficiently understood; and the laws of pneumatics could not have been
developed, unless the laws of heat had been developed, etc. And not one
of the physical sciences could have gone beyond the state of infancy,
if the science of mathematics had not been invented and made into a
workable machine.

The paragraph above may be put into a different form, and made to
state that all the physical sciences have been brought up to their
present stage, by subjecting the phenomena studied by each science
to quantitative investigation. It was by making these quantitative
investigations that Newton and the others were able to ascertain the
exact facts from which to start in their endeavor to discover the
laws of nature; and it was from the laws of nature thus induced that
later investigators were able to start on still further expeditions of
discovery into the unknown. As the common basis of all quantitative
work is mathematics, the common basis of all the physical sciences
is mathematics. This makes all the physical sciences interdependent,
despite the fact that each is independent of the others. Each one
of the physical sciences has contributed its part to building the
machine of civilization; the part that each has specially contributed
can be clearly specified; and yet, since the machine is the result
of the combination of what all have contributed, their contributions
are interdependent. This remark applies to the various parts of all
machines. The piston of a steam engine, for instance, and the valve
that admits steam to the cylinder are entirely separate from each
other; but from the mere fact that they both work together, each one
must be designed and operated with reference to the other; so that both
in their construction and their operation, they are interdependent.

Francis Bacon, in the sixteenth century, may be said to have
inaugurated the system on which the whole of modern progress has been
based, and Newton in the seventeenth century to have taken up Bacon's
work and carried it further on. Following Newton, only a few great
investigators can be seen in the seventeenth century; but in the
eighteenth, began that intense and brilliant movement of investigation,
discovery and invention, that has been adding more and more to the
machine of civilization--and still is adding more.

One of the earliest and most important contributions was an apparatus
for measuring time accurately. Who was the inventor is not precisely
known. It seems fairly well established, however, that Galileo was the
first to call attention to the fact that the vibrations of a pendulum
were nearly isochronous, and could be used to measure the lapse of
time; and that Galileo's son (as well as Dr. Hooke, Huygens and a
London mechanic named Harris, in the early part of the seventeenth
century) made clocks based on that principle. It is fairly well
established also that Huygens was the first one to make a mathematical
investigation of the properties of the pendulum, and to enumerate the
laws since utilized for making accurate clocks and watches.

Most of the investigators of the eighteenth century occupied themselves
with studies indirectly or directly caused by the invention of the
steam engine, that is with studies relating to heat and light; but,
by reason of the interdependence of all the physical sciences, their
investigations led them automatically into the allied fields of
acoustics and electricity. Their investigations led even further; they
led to the establishment, on the ruins of the illusions of alchemy, of
a wholly new and supremely important science, chemistry.

One of the most important inventions of a purely scientific character
made during the period was one that has never been known by any other
name than "Atwood's machine." It is an interesting illustration of the
addition of invention to investigation, in that its end was--merely
investigation; and it reminds us of a fact that many people are
prone to forget, that invention may be applied to almost any purpose
whatever, and that even a "machine" may be devoted to a purpose not

Atwood's machine was the outcome of studies into the relations between
force and a body to which force may be applied. Galileo had shown
that a body subjected to a constant force, like that of gravity, will
gradually acquire a velocity and at a constant rate; and also that
this rate, or acceleration, is proportional to the force (leaving out
the effect of air resistance). Atwood's machine consisted merely of an
upright with a pulley at its upper end over which passed a cord, to
both ends of which weights could be attached. In any given experiment,
a weight was attached to one end and allowed to fall free; but another
weight could automatically be attached to the other end by a simple
device, when the first weight had fallen through any predetermined
distance. If the added weight were equal to the first weight, the
velocity of movement became uniform at once; while if it were less, the
velocity approached uniformity to a degree depending on the approach
to equality of the two weights. While this machine did not establish
any new law, or prove anything that Newton had not proved before, it
supplied a very valuable device for conducting quantitative experiments
with actual weights, and for instructing students.

The first important improvement in the art of printing was made by
a Scotch goldsmith named William Ged, about the year 1725. It is now
called stereotyping, and it seems to have been successful from the
first, from a technical point of view. It was far from successful from
a financial point of view, however, mainly because of the opposition
from the type-founders; so that Ged died without realizing that he had
accomplished anything. Ged's invention was not put to practical use
for nearly fifty years after his death; but after that, its employment
extended rapidly over the civilized world. Ged's experience was bitter,
but no more so than that of many other discoverers, inventors and
benefactors. He did not profit in the least by his invention; in fact,
it must have brought him little but exasperation and discouragement.
But can we even imagine civilization to exist as it exists today, if
stereotyping had not been invented?

An invention of a highly original kind was made some time in the middle
of this century which is attributed by some to Daniel Bernoulli, one
of the eight extraordinary investigators and scholars of that family.
According to this theory, the pressure of any gas is due to the
impact of its molecules against the walls of the vessel containing
it. Naturally, the greater the density of the gas, and the greater
the velocity of the molecules, the greater is the pressure. This
theory has greatly assisted the study of gases, and contributed to the
investigation of electric discharges in gases and partial vacua, and
therefore to the modern science of radio-activity.

In the year 1640 there came to the little throne of the Margravate
of Brandenburg a coarse and violent man, who conceived a principle
of government that seems to have been wholly novel at that time, the
principle of efficiency. Having conceived this idea clearly in his
mind, he proceeded to develop it into a system of administration, in
spite of opposition of all kinds, especially inertia. He ruled till
1688. He found Brandenburg unimportant, disordered and poor; he left
Brandenburg comparatively rich, with a good army, an excellent corps of
administrators, a very efficient government, and a recognized standing
before the world. For his contribution to the cause of good government,
he is known in history as The Great Elector. He might be called, with
much reasonableness, the inventor of governmental efficiency, if Julius
Cæsar had not in some degree forestalled him.

He was followed by his son, who contributed nothing to this cause
or to any other, but who was able to take advantage of his father's
work and be crowned as King of Prussia. He was followed by his son,
King Frederick William I, who was a man like the Great Elector, his
grandfather, in the essential points of character, both good and bad.

He was somewhat like Philip of Macedon also; for he conceived the
idea of making his army according to a certain pattern, novel at that
time, though considerably like the pattern that Philip had employed.
The likeness was in so organizing and training the soldiers that a
regiment or division could be handled like a coherent and even rigid
thing, directed accurately and quickly at a pre-determined point, and
made to hit an enemy at that point with a force somewhat like the blow
of an enormous club. He succeeded during his reign of twenty-seven
years in developing his conception into such a perfect and concrete
reality, that he was able on his death in 1740 to bequeath to his son a
veritable military machine--the first since the days of Rome.

These two Frederick Williams were inventors in the broad sense of
the word, and made inventions that have had an influence on history
since they died, as great as that of almost any other contemporary
inventions that can be specified. Their immediate influence was to make
it possible for the son of King Frederick William, Frederick the Great,
to put Prussia in the first rank among the nations, and to lay the
foundations of the German Empire.

It may be objected that the ultimate result was not extremely great,
after all, because the German Empire fell in 1918. To this possible
objection, it may be answered that, nevertheless, the doings of Prussia
and the German Empire have had an enormous influence up to the present
time; and that, though the empire itself has ceased, the influence of
its policies and doctrines, of its military system, and, above all, of
its doctrine of efficiency in government has not ceased, and shows no
signs of ceasing. Besides, _history still is young_.

Frederick the Great made no inventions in improving the military
machine bequeathed him; but he did operate it with inventiveness,
daring and success. He showed these qualities in his actual operations
in the field; but he showed inventiveness in an equal degree before
those operations took place, in the plans which he prepared. As a
tactician, Frederick could hardly help being good, in view of the
training he had received and the military atmosphere in which he
had been born and bred. But no amount of training could have given
Frederick the brilliant and yet correct imagination that enabled him
to see entire situations clearly and accurately with his mental eye;
that enabled him to form a correct picture of the mission in each case,
the difficulties in the way of accomplishing it, and the facilities
available for his use. And, equally, no amount of training or knowledge
or experience could of themselves have given him the constructive
ability necessary to build up such plans as he built up, for
accomplishing the mission with the facilities available and in spite of
the difficulties.

Frederick's first invention was his successful invasion of Silesia.
This may be called by some "an invention of the devil," and perhaps it
was inspired by him. But even if Frederick's conception came straight
from the devil, it was a brilliant conception, nevertheless, as the
conceptions of the devil himself are popularly supposed to be. So
original in conception and so perfect in development was Frederick's
invented plan, that he had seized the capital of Silesia before Austria
had taken any real defensive measures of any kind.

During the first half of Frederick's reign, or twenty-three years (from
1740 to 1763), he was engaged continually in war or preparation for
war; and in both activities he had to plan to fight against odds that
often seemed overwhelming. They would have overwhelmed any man, except
a man like Frederick. It is true that Frederick had two advantages,
the best trained army, and the fact that all his forces, military and
political, were united under one head--his own. But it is the verdict
of history that even these advantages were far from sufficient to
explain his victories; that his victories cannot be explained except
on the ground that Frederick showed a generalship superior to that
of his foes. In what did its superiority consist? A careful study of
his campaigns, even if it be not in detail, shows that Frederick was
able to invent better plans than his adversaries, to invent them more
quickly, and to carry them into effect more promptly. If he had been
born under other stars, he might have exercised his inventiveness in
such ways as men like Guericke, for instance, did; as is shown by his
gathering around him, in the peaceful period of the latter half of
his reign, a company selected from the most eminent philosophers and
scientists of the age; and as is shown with equal clearness by his
admirably conceived and executed measures for the better government of
his country.

The middle of the eighteenth century is especially distinguished by the
success of some extraordinary and brilliant experiments with electrical
apparatus. One of the most important in results occurred about 1746,
in the town of Leyden, where Muschenbroek invented a device that made
possible the accumulating and preserving of charges of electricity.
This appliance consisted of merely a glass jar, coated on the outside
and the inside with tin foil. It was a most important invention, and it
is still in general use, and called the Leyden jar.

The Leyden jar was soon put to practical work in electrical
investigations, notably by the Royal Society in London; and many
valuable demonstrations were made with it. Among these were the firing
of gunpowder by the electric spark that passed when both surfaces of
tin foil were connected by an external conductor; and the transfer
of the spark over a distance of two miles, by using one discharging
conductor or wire two miles long, the earth acting as the return

But the greatest results came from the investigations of Benjamin
Franklin, who proved that there was only one kind of electricity, that
the two coatings of tin foil were both charged with it, that one had
more than its ordinary quantity, while the other had less, and that
the spark was caused by the transfer of electricity from one coating
to the other. These discoveries were as much as any one discoverer
might reasonably be expected to contribute; but Franklin soon followed
them by his discovery of the power of points to collect and discharge
electricity. He then pointed out with extraordinary clearness the fact
that all the phenomena which had been produced by electricity were like
those produced by lightning; and made the suggestion that lightning
and electricity were identical.

This was an interesting suggestion, but a suggestion only. To make
it into a theory, or prove it as a law, an invention was required.
Franklin made the invention. He conceived the idea of bringing down the
electricity, with which he imagined that a storm-cloud was charged, by
means of a long conductor, and of drawing off a spark from the lower
end of the conductor as from an electrical machine. The long conductor
he had in mind was a high spire that was about to be erected in
Philadelphia. The erection of the spire being delayed, his imagination
presented to his mind the picture of a kite flying near the cloud,
and the charge flowing down the cord, made into a conductor by the
accompanying rain. Forthwith, he embodied his conception in definite
form by preparing a kite to which was connected a long cord, that ended
with a piece of non-conducting silk, that was to be held in the hand,
and kept dry if possible, and a key that was secured to the junction of
the conducting cord and the non-conducting silk. The expectation was
that the key would receive the charge from the cloud and give it out as
a spark, if Franklin applied to it the knuckle of his disengaged hand.
The invention was a perfect success in every way; sparks were given
off, a Leyden jar was charged, and subsequent discharges of the Leyden
jar were made to perform the same electrical feats as jars charged from
ordinary electrical machines. (June, 1752.)

The courage shown by Franklin in performing this experiment may here be
pointed out. To the eye of a casual observer, he must have been trying
to get struck by lightning.

This brilliant invention caused Franklin to conceive another brilliant
invention, the utilization of the discovery he had just made in
combination with his previous discovery of the power of points to
collect electricity. He embodied his conception in what we now call
"lightning rods," by erecting on the highest points of houses thin
metal rods or conductors, the lower ends of which were buried in the
earth, while their upper ends were sharpened to points, and made to
project upward, above the houses. Franklin's theory was that the points
would collect the electricity from the clouds and allow it to pass
harmlessly through the conductors into the ground. The invention worked
perfectly, and has been utilized everywhere ever since.

Naturally, Franklin's epochal discoveries stirred the scientific world
in Europe, and gave a great impetus to the study of electricity and
the other physical sciences. One of the earliest important discoveries
that followed (made by Mr. Cavendish) was that the electrical spark
could decompose water and atmospheric air, and make water by exploding
mixtures of oxygen and hydrogen. An epochal discovery was made by Mr.
Cavendish about 1787, when he exploded a mixture of oxygen and nitrogen
and obtained nitric acid.

In 1790 Galvani discovered that, if two dissimilar metals were
placed in contact at one end of each, and if the free ends are put
into contact with the main nerve of a frog's hind leg and the thigh
muscle respectively, spasmodic muscular movements would ensue. In
investigating the cause of this phenomenon, Volta discovered that if
the lower ends of two dissimilar metals were immersed in a liquid they
would assume opposite electrical states; so that if their outer ends
were joined by a conducting wire, electricity would pass along it. This
led him at once to the invention of the Voltaic cell. The enormous
value of the Voltaic cell in building up the science of electricity
need hardly be pointed out. It is still used in electric telegraphy as
a source of current.

During the eighteenth century, the relations between chemistry and
heat were very ill defined; but they were cleared up gradually by the
researches of such men as Black in Scotland, Priestley and Cavendish
in England, and Lavoisier in France. Black's work was mainly in
making investigations of the phenomena of heat. In the course of them
he discovered the important fact that different substances require
different amounts of heat to be applied to a given mass to raise its
temperature 1°. From this discovery arose the science of calorimetry,
which deals with the specific heats of all substances, solid, liquid
and gaseous, and which is necessary to the present science of heat
and the arts that depend upon it. About 1774 Dr. Priestley discovered

Lavoisier prosecuted rigorous researches in heat and chemistry, and
finally made a discovery that cleared up a great fog of doubt as to
the nature of oxidation, by proving that it consisted in an actual
attack on a metal by oxygen, and that the increased weight resulting
from oxidation was that of the oxygen that became associated with the
metal in the form of rust. He therefore disproved the theory formerly
loosely held that the increase in weight was due to the escape of a
spirituous substance which the chemists of that day imagined to depart
from the metal, and called by the name phlogiston. An analogous and
equally valuable contribution by Lavoisier was that of introducing the
use of exact measurements into the study of chemistry. The result of
his labors was to put the science of chemistry on a new basis and to
separate it from physics entirely.

It might be supposed that Lavoisier would live and die in great honor.
He lived in comparative obscurity, and was publicly guillotined on a
false accusation. He requested a brief respite, in order to complete an
important experiment, and was told in answer that "the Republic has
no need of philosophers." This was France's reward for one of the most
useful lives that has ever been lived.

One of the most important industrial inventions ever produced and
one of the first of the long list of inventions for making things
by machinery that had formerly been made by hand, was the spinning
machine, that was invented by Dr. Paul in England about 1738. Spinning
is an exceedingly ancient art, and consists in forming continuous
lengths of thread by drawing out and twisting together filaments of
such material as wool, cotton, flax, etc. This art was practiced in
many of the ancient countries; and it seems to have been practiced in
essentially the same way in England in the eighteenth century A. D.,
as in Egypt and Assyria long before the eighteenth century B. C. About
1738 Dr. Lewis Paul invented and patented a simple mechanism that
anyone with imagination could have invented at any time during the
two or three thousand years before, in which the filaments were drawn
between rollers. The invention seems to have been moderately successful
from the start; for it is stated that in 1742 a spinning mill was
in operation in Birmingham in which ten girls were employed, and in
which the motive power was supplied by two asses. Paul's invention
was improved by a weaver named Hargreaves, who invented the "spinning
Jenny"; and it was later brought to a high state of efficiency and
value by an invention of a poor and wholly uneducated barber, named
Richard Arkwright. The spinning machines of the present day are of
the highest order of intricacy, efficiency and usefulness; but they
are all based directly on the invention of Arkwright, and his was
based on the previous inventions of Paul and Hargreaves. Few persons
have contributed so much as these three men of humble station to the
comfort and well-being of the race.

On July 3, 1775, George Washington arrived at Cambridge, near Boston,
and took command of an army of about 17,000 men that faced a British
army occupying Boston. Washington devoted his energies to organizing
and training his motley force during the ensuing fall and winter, the
enemy making no decided move to drive him off. Finally, on March 4,
1776, having conceived a plan that promised success to him, he suddenly
seized and fortified Dorchester Heights, about two miles south of
Boston, from which he could command the whole of Boston and the channel
south of it, by means of guns which he had ordered, to be dragged
through the snow from Ticonderoga. His plan worked perfectly; for the
British General Howe, after a vain attempt to drive Washington away,
evacuated Boston himself, and took his army to Halifax.

This was Washington's opening move in our War of the Revolution. It
was the execution of a plan admirably conceived. There may seem little
of originality or brilliancy in it to us now, looking at a map of
Boston in the quiet and safety of a library, but there must have been
a great deal of merit and originality in it; for it took a British
major-general completely by surprise, and compelled him to evacuate an
important stronghold with a precipitancy that must have been distinctly
galling to British pride. Few neater feats of strategy can be found in
military history.

Washington's next feat was in extricating his force from a distinctly
perilous position in Brooklyn in front of a superior British force,
retreating across the East River to New York, and landing near what
is now called Fulton Street. This was on August 30, 1776. The next
three months were spent in maneuvers that showed great clearness in
conception and great energy in execution on Washington's part, and
ended with his occupying Trenton, and Howe occupying New York with
the bulk of his forces. Washington had only a little more than 4,000
men, while Howe had 30,000. Washington's troops were discouraged,
half-ragged, underfed and untrained; Howe's were elated, well clad,
well fed and thoroughly trained. Washington was in as dangerous a
plight as can easily be imagined. He extricated himself by conceiving
and carrying into execution the brilliant plan of crossing the Delaware
River on Christmas night, forcing his way through floating ice, and
falling on the amazed camp of the Hessians on the other side. His
invention worked perfectly, and effected almost a complete reversal in
the relative conditions of the opposing forces; for it put the British
on the defensive, and made them withdraw all their forces from New

Thenceforward, Washington, by the exercise of imagination,
constructiveness and sheet force of will, fought a continual fight
against forces that were superior in material and training, but
inferior in mentality. Finally, in August, 1781, the crisis came.
The British were occupying New York, and Washington was in front of
it, threatening to attack it, but knowing that he could not do so
with success. About August 14 he received a letter written in July
by Admiral Comte de Grasse, then in the West Indies, saying that he
would start with his fleet and a force of troops for Chesapeake Bay
on August 13. Washington knew that the British General Cornwallis
was entrenched at Yorktown, near the mouth of the Chesapeake, with
a force considerably inferior to his own. He instantly proceeded
to embody in action an idea that he had already conceived--that of
leaving the vicinity of New York secretly, and marching with the utmost
possible despatch to Yorktown, and calling on de Grasse to assist him
to capture Yorktown, and if possible Cornwallis. No invention ever
succeeded better. Its influence on history was to precipitate the
collapse of the entire British program of hostilities, and cause the
establishment of the United States.

The balloon was invented about 1783. Mr. Cavendish had found that
hydrogen was about seven times lighter than air, and Dr. Black had
forthwith delivered a lecture in which he pointed out that a thin light
vessel inflated with hydrogen should be able to rise and float in the
air. He conceived the idea of the balloon, but made no invention. The
Italian philosopher, Cavallo, about 1782, inflated soap-bubbles with
hydrogen gas, but went no further. The subject of making balloons
filled with hydrogen was widely discussed; but the first balloon
really to rise was the hot-air balloon invented by Joseph and Stephen
Montgolfier. This balloon made a successful ascent on June 5, 1783,
carrying the two brothers, flew about ten minutes, and alighted safe,
after a trip of about a mile and a half. This was followed on August 27
by a flight of a balloon filled with hydrogen gas, the design of which
was made by the physicist Charles, and the cost of which was met by a
popular subscription. The flight was followed shortly by many others.
The first employment of balloons in practical work was in making
observations of the enemy by the French army in 1794.

An important invention for utilizing mechanical power in place of
hand-power was the power-loom invented in 1785 by Edmund Cartwright.
This was an invention of the most clean-cut kind, originating in the
conception by the Rev. Dr. Cartwright of the possibility of doing much
more weaving by mechanical power than by hand, then constructing the
machine to accomplish it, and then accomplishing it. An interesting
fact in the early development of looms for weaving was the determined
and angry opposition of weavers to each improvement in succession.

Another invention also utilizing external power, made near the end of
the eighteenth century, was the hydrostatic press. It consisted of a
vertical cylinder, fitted with a piston prevented by suitable means
from rising, except against great pressures; the piston resting on a
liquid in the bottom of the cylinder, which was connected by a small
pipe with a small pump, by which more liquid could be forced in. When
the pump was operated the pressure per square inch on the piston of
the pump was communicated to each square inch of the large piston in
the press, and a force exerted equal to that pressure multiplied by
the difference in area of the two pistons. This is the model on which
hydraulic jacks and many other hydraulic mechanisms are constructed;
and it has taken a prominent part in the development of the science of
hydraulics ever since it was invented.

Because of the gradual recognition of the value of sea-commerce in the
British Isles, and the fact that the stormy seas adjacent necessitated
the construction of ships at once sturdy and yet capable of speed,
much study and experimentation were carried on during the eighteenth
century, especially in England. In these experiments, the invention
by Archimedes of the hydrostatic principle of buoyancy supplied the
starting-point, and gave an excellent illustration of the influence
of invention on history: for from experiments and investigations on
floating bodies carried on in England, based on the invention of
Archimedes, and followed by others of English origin, sprang England's
merchant marine and England's navy and England's domination over a
quarter of the land on the surface of the earth.

The eighteenth century closed with the invention of two very important
mechanisms that reinforced the power of the human hand with power
drawn from external sources: these were the threshing machine and
the cotton gin; the former invented by Andrew Meikle in 1788, and
the latter by Eli Whitney in 1793. It would be hard to decide with
knowledge as to which has had the greater influence in constructing
the machine of civilization; but it is not at all hard to realize that
the machine of civilization could not have attained its present stage
without the assistance of both.

One of the last important inventions of the century was that of an
art entirely new, as distinguished from inventions like the cotton
gin, that merely increased the value of an art already in existence.
This was the invention of lithography, or printing from stone, made by
Alois Senefelder in 1796. The first thing printed by him was a piece of
music. While this invention was more brilliant than those of Meikle and
Whitney, it was hardly so important. Nevertheless, it was important in
a high degree and made a valuable addition to civilization.

An invention of a kind different from either Whitney's or Senefelder's
was made on October 15, 1793, by Napoleon Bonaparte. He was at that
time a young and ill-clad captain of artillery, attending a Council of
War in Toulon. An idea for driving out the English had been conceived
and embodied in a complete plan by a celebrated engineer, and it
had been approved by the Committee on Fortifications. The youthful
and prestigeless captain opposed this plan with a vehemence and
convincingness that came to be familiarly known a few years later,
and proposed in place of it a plan that he had himself conceived and
embodied in a concrete form. His plan consisted in the main merely in
mounting some guns on a point of land that he designated, from which
they could command the British war-ships in the harbor; and it was so
much simpler and in every way better, that, despite his obscurity
and youth, it was adopted, and he himself was charged with carrying
it into operation. This he did; and with such constructive skill and
energy, that the British ships were driven from the harbor and the
entire vicinity, and without doing any damage to the town. The British
soldiers, then unsupported, immediately withdrew.

What was the determining difference between Napoleon's plan and that of
the great engineer? _The idea conceived._



In the early part of the nineteenth century began what has been called
the Age of Steam; but before it ended, it was supplanted by the Age of
Electricity. When the century opened, the steam engine of Watt existed
in a practical and useful form, and the numberless experiments of
the physicists in the preceding century had laid bare the main laws
governing the force and the expansion of steam and air, and of gases
and vapors in general. The laws of the expansion of solids and liquids
were also understood in their main features, and the various inventions
mentioned in the last chapter were in operation. Seizing on the
facilities thus supplied, and noting the worldly success that certain
discoverers and inventors had achieved, the inventors of the nineteenth
century got speedily to work. The result was that the civilized world
at the end of the nineteenth century was vastly different from the
civilized world at the end of the eighteenth century.

In general terms, it may be declared that during the first half of the
nineteenth century, the principal inventions were in the utilization of
heat, especially in the form of steam engines; while during the latter
half, the principal inventions were electrical:--though some very
important electrical inventions were made before 1850. In this brief
résumé, no attempt will be made to describe or even mention all the
inventions made, or even all the important ones; for such an attempt
would be impossible to carry out. Only a few super-important ones will
be mentioned.

The first important successful application of the steam engine was
embodied in the steamboat _Charlotte Dundas_ that was produced in
Scotland in 1801. Other steamboats had appeared before, but they had
not been successful. The first was tried on the Soane River in France
in 1781. Later, Fitch and Ramsay made some unsuccessful attempts in the
United States. Then, in 1788, Patrick Miller, with the assistance of an
engineer named William Symington, had constructed a steam vessel that
attained a speed of five knots on a lake in Scotland. In the next year,
Mr. Miller and Mr. Symington had put another steamboat on the water
that developed a speed of nearly seven knots. None of these experiments
could be called successful of itself; but the experience gained by
them induced Lord Dundas to build the _Charlotte Dundas_ and name it
after his daughter. The _Charlotte Dundas_ was a practical success from
the start; for, in March, 1802, it towed two vessels of 70 tons each
a distance of 19-1/2 miles in six hours, while such a strong wind was
blowing from ahead that no other vessel on the canal tried to move to

Whether or not this constituted an actual invention the present author
will not attempt to determine, even in his own mind. It is clear,
however, that it was the direct issue of several inventions, and that
it was the first embodiment in a concrete form of the successful and
practical application of steam power to transportation on the water.

The next successful application was made by Robert Fulton, who built
the _Clermont_ in 1807. This vessel went into regular service in 1808,
plying between New York and Albany, on the Hudson River.

The first steamboat to venture on the ocean was the _Phoenix_, that
made the trip from New York to Delaware Bay by sea in 1808. It was
built by Mr. R. L. Stevens, an engineer of Hoboken. If it accomplished
nothing else, it supplied a precedent and gave encouragement to
inventors everywhere. It made "le premier pas qui coute."

Meanwhile, in June, 1802, Mr. Thomas Wedgwood had published "An Account
of a Method of Copying Paintings upon Glass, and of making Profiles
by the Agency of Light upon Nitrate of Silver," with observations by
Sir Humphry Davy. In the course of his paper, he declared that he had
secured profiles of paintings made on glass by throwing the shadows
of those paintings on paper covered with a solution of the nitrate;
the paper showing the objects delineated in tones that were dark or
light inversely as they were in the painting. He also took profiles of
natural objects by throwing their shadows on the prepared paper: the
parts of the paper covered by the shadows being white, while the parts
outside the shadows became dark.

This seems to have been an actual invention, in that it followed a
discovery made by Wedgwood that sunlight acted on nitrate of silver,
and was the embodiment of an idea, then conceived by him, to utilize
his discovery in making profile pictures. His invention was far from
perfect, however; the greatest imperfection being the fact that the
pictures could not be fixed; because, unless the paper was ever
afterward kept away from the light, its whole surface would become
dark, and the picture therefore cease to exist. In consequence, it
aroused almost no interest whatever at the time. In 1814, M. Niepce
invented a process that he called "heliography," by which he made
pictures on silvered copper covered with a thin solution of asphaltum.
In 1829, Daguerre and Niepce entered into a copartnership for
developing heliography, and instituted experiments that led Daguerre
to inventing the daguerreotype, made by a process quite new in detail,
but based on the earlier inventions of both Wedgwood and Niepce. The
daguerreotype was followed in 1850 by the present "photograph."

The invention of electroplating was made by Brugnatelli in Italy
in 1803. The fact that electric currents could decompose certain
liquids had been known since 1800, and also the further fact that
oxygen and hydrogen, acids and alkalies, appeared at the positive and
negative poles respectively of the wires in contact with the liquid.
But Brugnatelli seems to have been the first to conceive the idea of
utilizing these facts in a device whereby he could deposit metals
at will at the negative end of a solution. In the embodiment of his
conception, pieces (say of silver) were hung on rods in connection with
the positive pole of the battery supplying the electric current, while
the articles to be plated with silver were hung on rods connected with
the negative pole. The value of this invention and its extensive use in
the electrodeposition of metals at the present day are well known.

In the following year, Sir Humphry Davy, working along the general
line of electrical decomposition of liquids, made a number of
super-brilliant investigations. Possibly the most important result was
his discovery of a new metal, to which he gave the name Potassium,
formed at the negative pole by the electrical decomposition of
moistened caustic potash. He followed this by decomposing caustic soda
and discovering another new metal, that he named Sodium.

During the course of his experiments, Davy noted that when the two
terminal wires from a large Voltaic battery were touched together and
then drawn apart, not only did a spark pass, but a continuous discharge
of great brilliancy, that did not cease until the wires were separated
by a considerable distance. The extent of this distance was found later
to be dependent on the number of cells in the battery. He noted also
that the discharge did not follow a straight line, but was bent into
an arc; and for this reason he gave it the name, "Voltaic arc." This
light is still known by the name "arc light." Its importance does not
seem to have been realized until after the dynamo-machine had been
invented, and means thereby supplied for providing a greater amount of
electric current, and at less expense than Voltaic cells were capable
of delivering.

Davy's last great invention was his miner's safety lamp, made in 1816.
There had been frequent explosions in the collieries, attended with
great loss of life, and Davy was requested to try to ascertain how they
could be prevented. After visiting the mines, he had samples of the gas
that was found in them sent to him for investigation. He went about the
work with scientific thoroughness and system, and ascertained that the
gas would not explode if it were mixed with less than six times or more
than fourteen times its volume of air; that air rendered impure by the
combustion of a candle would not explode the gas; that, if a candle
were burnt in a closed vessel, with small openings near the flame, no
explosion would take place, even if the vessel were introduced into an
explosive mixture; and that the gas from the mines would not explode
inside a tube less than 1/8 inch in diameter. These data being secured,
Davy conceived the idea of making a lamp in which a small oil light
should be fixed and surrounded with a cylinder of wire gauze. He then
embodied his conception in a concrete form, and the "Miners' Safety
Lamp" resulted.

This was an invention of the first order; original, concrete and
highly useful. After meeting the customary chorus of prejudice and
opposition, it justified its existence by a quickly established record
of effectiveness, and took its place among the useful adjuncts of the
machine of civilization.

Meanwhile, several other adjuncts had appeared. Among these was the
steel pen, a process of making malleable iron castings, the planing
machine, a fireproof safe, the knitting machine and the band wood-saw.

In 1726 Dr. Hales had announced that a gas capable of burning, and
giving light while burning, could be distilled from coal. This
announcement created great interest, and led to a long series of
scientific investigations as to the possibility of utilizing it for
house and street illumination, especially by a Mr. Murdock in the
latter decade of the century. In 1802 Mr. Murdock made a public display
of the result of his labors, by illuminating a factory with gas. In
the year 1803-1804 the Lyceum Theatre in London was so lighted, and a
year later some extensive cotton mills in Manchester. Public interest
was so roused that investigations on a larger scale ensued, which
resulted in lighting Westminster Bridge with gas in 1813, and the town
of Westminster the following year. In 1816 street lighting by gas was
common in London. The lighting of houses by gas followed later, but
very slowly.

It is a little difficult to see that there was much invention of an
original or brilliant kind involved in the gradual development of the
art of illuminating by gas; but it cannot reasonably be denied that a
considerable amount of invention must have been done in the aggregate,
for the reason that a wholly novel art was created. If it was not
invented, how was it brought into being? The best answer probably is
that the art was not the result of one brilliant invention followed by
others that improved upon it, but was rather the aggregate work of a
number of minor inventions, each one of which carried the art forward,
but by only one short step.

Other minor inventions produced the locomotive and the railroad. The
first steam engines were stationary; but portable engines, now called
locomotives, gradually came into being. They were engines mounted
on platforms resting on wheels that, in turn, rested on the ground;
the revolutions of the engines turning the wheels, and causing the
advancement of the whole. In 1807 a wagon-way was laid down on which
cars were run to and from a colliery, and this wagon-way passed close
in front of a house in which lived a poor family named Stephenson,
a member of which was a boy whose Christian name was George. In the
following year, the wooden parts were taken up and replaced by a
single line of iron rails with sidings. In 1811 a portable engine
was constructed for running on these rails, and this was followed by
another in the following year. George Stephenson made a locomotive for
running on rails in 1814, and followed it by another in 1816, both for
hauling coal.

It was now so obvious that locomotives could haul other things than
coal, that a railroad was laid down between Manchester and Liverpool,
and a prize of £500 was offered for the best engine. On October 6,
1829, the competition was held, though only three engines appeared. The
prize was won by Stephenson's locomotive, the _Rocket_, which attained
a speed of 29 miles per hour.

With the locomotive, as with illuminating gas, it is impossible to
see any one original or brilliant invention. We do see, however, the
result of the superposition on one brilliant invention (that of Hero's
steam engine) of a number of minor inventions, and much constructive
ingenuity and initiative.

An invention of a higher order had signalized the latter part of the
eighteenth century, in the form of a printing press in which the speed
of printing was greatly increased by the use of revolving cylinders;
one holding the type on its outer surface, and the other covered
with leather, the paper passing between, and receiving the printed
impression by the pressure exerted between the two cylinders. In order
that the type should fit on the curved surface of the cylinder, they
were made narrower toward the bottom. The machine was invented by an
Englishman named Nicholson. It was never put into practical use; but
a machine embodying the revolving cylinder for receiving the force of
the impression communicated to the paper, was invented and put into
successful use later by a German named König. The type, however, was
not put on a cylinder in this machine, but on a flat plate that passed
back and forth under the revolving impression cylinder. Two of König's
presses were bought for the _London Times_; and on November 28, 1814,
one made 1,100 impressions per hour, a marvelous advance over speeds
previously attained. From the standpoint of pure invention, it was
not so admirable as Nicholson's; but being a later product, and being
based on Nicholson's principle, it was naturally an improvement in
construction and mode of operation.

In 1814 Sir David Brewster, while experimenting on the polarization of
light, made an invention of the most original and concrete type, which
required a high grade of scientific knowledge for its conception and
development, but which was not intended for any utilitarian purpose,
and yet was of too serious a character to be called a scientific toy.
This was his famous kaleidoscope; an instrument described accurately
by its name, for it enabled one to see beautiful things. It was very
simple in construction and principle, and seems to have fallen short
of greatness in only one element, that of usefulness. By a careful
adjustment of two prisms at a definite angle to each other, Sir David
showed that geometrical images of the utmost beauty and variety could
be made of objects placed between the mirrors, especially if those
objects were small objects, and if they were of different colors,
like bits of colored glass. Knowledge of this escaping, thousands
of kaleidoscopes were soon put on the market, and sold in all the
principal cities, before Sir David had had time to get a patent.
Though the instruments were unscientifically made, they gave beautiful
pictures nevertheless; but the result was that the kaleidoscope was not
appreciated at its full value. The inventor improved the instrument
greatly, and developed it into one of the most beauty-producing
appliances known, and one of the most extraordinary and unique. The
most remarkable fact connected with it is that no real usefulness for
it has ever yet been found. The present author ventures to predict that
a clear field of usefulness will some day be found by some fortunate

Meanwhile, the ill-clad captain of artillery who had invented the plan
by which the British were pushed out of Toulon with so much neatness
and despatch, had nearly turned the civilized world upside down. No man
save Alexander ever accomplished so much of that kind of work in so
short a time. His work consisted of a number of acts performed by him,
each of which was like his act at Toulon, in that it began with the
conception of a brilliant idea, proceeded with the embodiment of the
idea in a concrete plan, and ended with the carrying into operation of
that plan. Napoleon was great in each of these lines of work. He had
a brilliant and yet correct imagination, that enabled him to conceive
ideas of extraordinary brilliancy, and also to select from them the
ideas that were the most susceptible of being made into concrete plans
of the kind that could be carried out successfully. He possessed great
constructiveness, that enabled him to construct mentally a plan in
which all the means available for his use were seized upon and put to
their special tasks. He possessed finally great ardor, industry and
courage, that enabled him to start his plan to going very quickly, and
keep it going very rapidly, until it had performed its task. It would
be idle to discuss at which of these three stages of the work he was
the greatest, or to try to decide which stage of the three was the most
important; because the three were links in a continual chain, and the
chain depended on each equally for its strength:--as any chain does on
its links.

It may be interesting, however, to realize that mere imagination is
possibly the most elementary activity of the mind; mere imagination
is evidenced by savages, for instance, and by children, more than by
highly educated men. Constructiveness, on the other hand, is little
to be found in savages or children, and is a product of education,
and a result of the training of the reasoning faculties. Courage and
impulsive energy again are elemental faculties, and are observable
more in savages than in the civilized. It seems to be the effect of
civilization, therefore, to develop the reasoning faculties, at the
expense of both imagination and courage. In fact, it is clearly the
effect of civilization to develop a cold and calculating materialism.
Men are rare therefore, and have been rare in every age, who combine
the three qualities of imagination, constructiveness and courage.
Napoleon combined all three in harmonious proportions; and he possessed
each one in its most perfect form.

His performance at Toulon was so spectacular that it attracted
attention at once, and caused his promotion to the command of the
artillery in Italy. Here he was able to suggest projects that received
approval and brought successes. One plan conceived and developed by
him, however, was disapproved. It consisted essentially of dividing the
Piedmontese and Austrians, crushing the Piedmontese, and then driving
the Austrians out of Italy into Austria and following them thither.
Later, this plan was approved, and he himself was put in command in
Italy. It was this plan, executed by the Bonaparte of those days, that
began the career of the Napoleon of history. So original and brilliant
had been the conception, so mathematically correct and practically
feasible had been the plan which Bonaparte developed from it, and so
furiously energetic were his operations in carrying out the plan, that
the sluggish Piedmontese were defeated before they quite realized that
war had been begun. A like catastrophe happened to the equally mentally
and physically sluggish Austrians; then another catastrophe, and then
another, and then still others; and in such rapid and bewildering
succession, that in a year and a month after his arrival in Italy he
had driven the Austrians out completely, formed the Cisalpine and
Ligurian republics in the north of Italy, and signed the armistice of
Leoben with the Austrians, within fifty miles of Vienna.

Napoleon's next invention was a project for ruining England by
attacking her East Indian possessions by a campaign beginning with an
invasion of Egypt. Everything proceeded in substantial accordance with
the plan developed, until August 1, 1798. In the evening of that day
the whole project was destroyed by Horatio Nelson.

It was destroyed in a battle near the mouth of the river Nile, that was
decided in fifteen minutes, though it was not wholly concluded until it
had been raging for nearly four hours. In fifteen minutes, the French
fleet on which depended Bonaparte's communications with Europe, had
been so severely damaged that the failure of Bonaparte's project was

Nelson was a man like Bonaparte in certain qualities; in the qualities
that are essential to great leadership, imagination, constructiveness
and executiveness. The first clear evidence of these qualities he had
displayed startlingly at the battle of Cape St. Vincent on February 14,
1797;--when, swiftly realizing that two separated parts of the hostile
Spanish fleet were about to join, he suddenly conceived the idea of
preventing the junction by committing an act that--unless it brought
success--would probably cost him his commission and perhaps his life.
Now, the mere conception of an idea so revolting to professional ethics
would not occur to an unimaginative man: and still less would it be
retained. But it did occur to Nelson; and Nelson retained it and looked
it squarely in the face. To embody his idea in a practicable plan was a
simple matter to his active and trained intelligence, while to execute
the plan was an act so natural as to be almost automatic. Much to the
amazement of the Commander of the fleet and all the officers and men in
both the fleets, the little division commanded by Commodore Nelson was
seen actually to leave the line of battle! Nelson had taken his life,
his fortune and his sacred honor in his hand, and staked all on an
endeavor to get between the two separated parts of the Spanish fleet.
The British Commander quickly realized what his daring subordinate
had in mind, and speedily came to his relief. A brilliant, though
not materially decisive, victory was won. The already distinguished
Commander-in-Chief was then made Earl St. Vincent, and the hitherto
obscure Horatio Nelson brought into the forefront of naval heroes, with
the rank of rear-admiral, a gold medal and a knighthood.

Now, Nelson had not appeared at the mouth of the Nile because of any
accident, or any chain of fortuitous circumstances; he did not fight
the epochal battle there because of any accidental occurrences or
conditions, and he did not gain the victory because of any similar
causes. Nelson appeared at the mouth of the Nile in accordance with a
plan that he had conceived as soon as he heard of Bonaparte's departure
from Toulon on a destination carefully kept secret, but which Nelson
divined as Egypt. He so divined it, by imagining himself in Bonaparte's
place, and imagining for what purpose he, Nelson, would have left
Toulon under the conditions prevailing then in France. He engaged the
French fleet when he did, and he fought the French fleet in the way he
did, in accordance with a plan that he had conceived long before. No
men were ever more cautious, more solicitous about the future, more
painstaking, more prudent, more insistent against taking undue risks,
than those reputedly reckless devil-may-cares, Napoleon Bonaparte and
Horatio Nelson.

Napoleon realized at once that his brilliant scheme had been shattered;
but he could not now even take his army home, because the British fleet
was in the way. Finally, he succeeded in making the trip himself, with
only a few of his staff. Events ran rapidly then; and on the sixth of
May, 1800, we see Napoleon leaving Paris to undertake a campaign in
northern Italy, in accordance with a plan embodied to carry out an idea
conceived in his fertile mind, of taking his army through the great St.
Bernard pass, dragging his cannon with him through the snow. This plan
(like most of his plans) was so brilliantly conceived, so skillfully
planned, and so energetically executed, that when Napoleon suddenly
appeared with his army in the North of Italy, the Austrian general was
bewildered with amazement. The natural result developed quickly, and
the Austrians retired beyond the Mincio River.

By this time affairs in Europe were vastly complicated, because of the
fact that the maritime enemies of France (which meant virtually all
the other maritime countries of Europe) became exasperated at one of
their number, Great Britain, in consequence of what they considered
her unreasonable insistence on certain doctrines concerning maritime
affairs. A League of Armed Neutrality against her was finally formed,
that soon assumed menacing proportions. This league was completely
broken by the same Horatio Nelson in a naval battle off Copenhagen on
April 2, 1801. This battle was the direct result of a plan conceived
by Nelson, that was so original and so daring that for a long time
he could not secure the consent of his Commander-in-Chief to its
execution. The battle resulted in a victory that was brilliant in
the highest degree; but it was brilliant only because the original
idea was brilliant, and because it was developed into a plan that was
constructively correct and skillfully carried out.

Meanwhile, a brief campaign had been going on between the French and
the Austrians in Austria. It was carried on with great brilliancy of
conception and skill of execution by Moreau, and ended with the battle
of Hohenlinden and the disastrous defeat of the Austrians. The treaty
of Lunéville followed in February, 1801, and left Great Britain as
France's only antagonist.

The victory of Copenhagen having broken the strength of the Confederacy
of Neutrals, and Napoleon seeing the folly of attempting further to
ruin British commerce then, the Treaty of Amiens between Great Britain
and France followed in March, 1802.

As part of this treaty, Great Britain agreed to give up Malta. For
various reasons that do not concern this discussion, Great Britain did
not do so, and war followed in May, 1803.

Before that time, Napoleon had realized that his principal enemy was
England. He now conceived the project of sending an invading army
across the English Channel, knowing that if he could accomplish that,
he could march to London, and dictate his own terms of peace. But how
could he get across the channel, in the face of the British fleet?
From the numberless pictures conjured up in his brilliant imagination,
Napoleon selected the one which showed a French fleet threatening
British possessions in the West Indies, a British fleet rushing to
the West Indies to save them, the French fleet returning and joining
with another French fleet waiting for it, then the combined fleets
securing the mastery of the English Channel from the depleted British
fleet remaining, then a French flotilla of transports with an invading
army forthwith starting across the channel, then a landing against an
opposition easily overcome, then a march to London, then a capture of
London: and finally, he, Napoleon, riding in triumph through London
streets and sleeping in the palace at London--as he had slept in other
palaces on the Continent.

It was a beautiful vision;--a beautiful series of moving pictures
presented to his imagination. To embody all these pictures in realities
became the pre-occupation of his waking and his sleeping hours. By
dint of herculean exertions, he finally collected near Boulogne about
200,000 troops and 1,500 transports. At the proper time, Villeneuve,
with a powerful fleet, was sent to the West Indies to threaten the
British possessions there.

But the same man who had spoiled his India project by the battle of
the Nile, and who had spoiled his project of ruining British commerce
by the battle of Copenhagen, spoiled his present project: the same
man, Horatio Nelson. Nelson had some imagination himself; and he
imagined (correctly as usual) that Villeneuve had sailed for the West
Indies--and away he went in pursuit. Arriving there, and finding that
Villeneuve had been in the West Indies but had left, Nelson left also.
He imagined that Villeneuve had sailed for Europe; and so Nelson sailed
for Europe also, sending a fast frigate to inform the Admiralty of all
that he had learned, and of all that he inferred. The frigate made such
speed, and the First Lord of the Admiralty, Admiral Lord Barham, acted
with such sailor-like energy and skill, that a large British fleet
intercepted Villeneuve on his return, brought him to action near the
coast of Spain, and handled him so roughly that he went for repairs to
Cadiz. He arrived there on August 20.

The news of this, reaching Napoleon, wiped all the beautiful pictures
out of his mind. But he had other pictures in the background. These
he put promptly into the foreground, and started off with incredible
swiftness toward Austria. On October 19, he brought the Austrians to
battle near Ulm, and achieved one of the most decisive victories of his
career. The victory was mainly due to the clearness and correctness
of Napoleon's conceived idea, and the amazing speed and certainty of
his movements in carrying it into execution. The Austrian General Mack
was so wholly taken by surprise that he found his army was completely
surrounded before he had had time to take any preventive measures.

Napoleon had correctly judged the import of Villeneuve's interception
by the British fleet, and realized that it would be mere folly
afterward to attempt to cross the channel then. Still, the situation
was not wholly bad for him, and the victory at Ulm made it beautiful.
For, though England was still greater on the sea than France, France
was also great, and was still a powerful weapon which he could wield
against England, with all the power of genius. But, two days after
the victory of Ulm, came the disaster near Cape Trafalgar, when Nelson
defeated the combined French and Spanish fleets, and thereby secured
for England a superiority at sea, vastly more pronounced than it had
been before. This victory, by making Napoleon helpless at sea against
Great Britain, ruined all Napoleon's chances of dominion, except upon
the Continent.

Napoleon made two brilliant campaigns after this, that brought him to
the summit of his career. Had he been content to stop there, had he
not tried to climb still higher, his descendants might now sit on the
throne of France. But the intoxicating fumes of success seem to have
clouded that brilliant mind, and to have prevented those clear and
correct pictures from forming there that had formed before. The result
was that he embarked on a new project for ruining England that began
with an invasion of Portugal and Spain, which brought on a war with
Austria. It is true that, by a brilliant campaign, Napoleon worsted
Austria and made an advantageous treaty with her, and then married
the daughter of the emperor: but the continuance of the policy that
underlay the war with Austria, brought on later a war with Russia that
sent Napoleon to Elba, an exile.

We see the key to Napoleon's successes in the quality of his mind at
the time of those successes, and we see the key to his failures in a
lowering of the quality of that mind. Military writers tell us that his
mind was not of the same quality when he planned his Russian campaign
as it had been when he planned his early campaigns. Now the reasoning
faculties do not grow dull when one approaches middle age; but the
imaginative faculties do--(in most people). It is an old saying that
"one cannot teach an old dog new tricks." Clearly, this cannot be
because of any failing of memory, though memory fails with age; because
the memory is not involved, save slightly. It must be therefore
because of failing impressionability and receptivity. We all speak
of the "receptive years," meaning the years of childhood and then of
youth; and it is a common saying that young people are more receptive
than old people. Of what are they receptive? Clearly, of mental
impressions. Parents and teachers are warned not to forget that the
minds of young people are very impressionable, and to be careful that
their minds receive good impressions only, so far as they can compass
it. Napoleon, when he made his Russian campaign, was only 43 years old
in years; but he had lived a life that was far from normal or hygienic
physically, and extremely abnormal and unhygienic mentally.

The intention of the last sentence is to point out that mental health
cannot be long preserved amid surroundings mentally unhealthful, any
more than physical health can be long preserved amid surroundings
physically unhealthful; and that the highest qualities of our nature
are the most difficult to maintain and therefore are the first to
fail, under unhealthful surroundings. The spiritual faculties fail
first, then the moral, then the mental and lastly the physical. Now the
imagination, while a mental quality, rather than a moral one, partakes
in a measure of the spiritual, and is one of the highest of the mental
attributes. For this reason imagination is one of the first to be

The especial picture of the imagination that becomes faulty under
certain conditions, is the picture of one's self. Under conditions such
as Napoleon had lived under for several years, the picture of himself
in his mind had become unduly magnified in relation to the pictures of
other men. Now is there any one thing more dangerous to a man than to
carry in his mind an incorrect picture of himself?

In Napoleon's case, it led him to the unforgivable military crime;
that of underestimating the enemy. His imagination, by presenting a
magnified image of himself, presented relatively dwarfed images of his
antagonists. The very faculty (imagination) which started Napoleon on
his great successes, started him now on his great reverses. The actual
beginning of these was in his carelessly planned campaign in Russia.
His invention seems to have failed him both in planning the campaign
and in meeting situations afterwards; because his imagination failed to
picture each situation to him exactly as it was.

But the Russian campaign did not wholly ruin him. Even after that,
even after Elba, situations were sometimes presented to him, such
that (although Trafalgar had prevented him from achieving European
domination), yet, if he had been able to see them as clearly as he
had seen situations in his unspoiled days, he might, at least have
saved himself from ruin. But his imagination had become impaired and
therefore his powers of invention also.

Napoleon as general, and Nelson as admiral were what we may term
"opportunistic inventors," who made inventions for meeting transient
situations with success, as distinguished from inventors like Newton
and Watt, who made permanent contributions to the welfare of mankind.
Napoleon as statesman, however, made contributions of a permanent

A supremely valuable contribution of this kind was the stethoscope,
which was invented about 1819 by Dr. Laennec in Paris, and by means of
which the science and art of diagnosis were given an amazing impetus
almost instantly. Possibly one cannot find in the whole history of
modern invention any instrument so small and so inexpensive that has
been so widely and definitely useful. A painful interest hangs to it in
the fact that by means of his own invention, Laennec discovered that
he himself was dying of tuberculosis of the lungs.

In July, 1820, a discovery of a vastly different character was made by
Oersted in Copenhagen; the discovery that if a current of electricity
be passed over or under a magnetic needle, the needle will be deflected
in a direction and to a degree depending on the strength and direction
of the current and the position of the conducting wire relatively to
the needle. Now Laennec invented a simple and little instrument that
began virtually perfect, and that exists today substantially as it
started. Oersted did something equally important, that ultimately
initiated intricate inventions of many kinds, and yet he did not
really invent anything whatever. The importance of his discovery was
recognized at once; so quickly, in fact, and by so many experimenters
and inventors, that Oersted soon found himself in the extraordinary
position of being left behind, in an art to which himself had almost
unknowingly given birth! That some relation existed between magnetism
and electricity had long been evident to physicists; but what that
relation was they did not know until Oersted told them. They seized on
his information with avidity, with results that the whole world knows

The first man heard from was Ampère, who communicated the results of
his experiments in the new art to the Institute of France as early as
September 18th. Almost immediately afterward, Arago discovered that,
if a conducting wire were wrapped around iron wires, those iron wires
became magnets and remained magnets as long as the electric current
continued to pass. Thereupon, Arago made and announced his epoch-making
invention, the electro-magnet. The influence of this invention on the
subsequent history of the machine of civilization, it is hardly needful
to point out.

The experiments of Oersted gave rise at once to much speculation as
to the nature of the action between electric currents and magnets,
and also to considerable experimental and mathematical research.
As had been the case for many thousand years in other endeavors,
speculation accomplished little, but experimental research accomplished
much. By this time mathematics had been highly developed, not only
as an abstract science but also as an aid to physical and chemical
research. The man who attacked the problem in the most scientific
manner was Ampère, who in consequence solved it in the following year,
after a series of mathematically conducted experiments of the utmost
originality and inductiveness. As a result in 1820, he showed that
all the actions and reactions of magnets could be performed by coils
of wire through which electric currents were passing, even if there
was no iron within the coils:--but that they were more powerful, if
iron were within. From this and kindred facts, which he developed by
experiment--(especially the fact that electric currents act and react
on each other as magnets do), he established a new science to which he
gave the name electro-dynamics. In recognition of his contributions to
electricity, the name given many years later to the unit of electric
current was ampère.

In the following years, while pursuing a series of investigations into
the new science, Faraday invented the first electro-magnetic machines.
In the first machine, a magnet floating in mercury was made to revolve
continuously around a central conducting wire through which an electric
current was passing; in the second a conductor was made to revolve
continuously around a fixed magnet; in a third machine, a magnet so
mounted on a longitudinal axis that an electric current could be made
to pass from one pole half way to the other pole, and then out, would
revolve continuously as long as the electric current was made to pass.
Faraday invented the first machines that converted the energy of the
electric current into mechanical motion; though Oersted was the first
who merely effected the conversion. It can hardly be said that Oersted
invented a machine; but Faraday certainly did.

The first utilization of Oersted's discovery in a concrete and
practically usable device was the galvanometer, invented by Schweigger
in 1820. It was a brilliant invention, and solved perfectly the
important problem of measuring accurately the strength of an electric
current. The apparatus consisted merely of a means of multiplying the
effect of the deflecting current by winding the conductor into a coil,
the magnetic needle being within the coil. The galvanometer (named
after Galvani) was an invention of the utmost value, and it is in use
to this day, though in many modified forms. When one realizes how
obvious a utilization of Oersted's discovery the galvanometer was, and
that Schweigger did not invent it until two years later, he wonders
why Oersted himself did not invent it. But the history of invention is
full of such cases and of cases still more amazing. Why did the world
wait several thousand years before Wise invented the metal pen? Why are
we not now inventing a great many more things than we are? Nature is
holding out suggestions for inventions to us by the million, but we do
not see them.

In the year before Schweigger's invention, in 1821, the important
discovery had been made by Seebeck in Berlin, that if two different
metals are joined at their ends, and one junction be raised to a
higher temperature than the other, a current of electricity will be
generated, the strength of which will vary with the metals employed
and the difference in temperature of the junctions. The discovery was
soon utilized in Nobili's invention of the thermopile in which the
current was increased by employing several layers of dissimilar metals
(say antimony and bismuth) in series with each other. The main use of
the thermopile has been in scientific investigations, especially in the
science of heat.

One of the results of the increased use of mathematics, especially
arithmetic, was the invention of Babbage's calculating machine in 1822.
The usefulness of this invention was so apparent that it was not long
in coming into use, or long in causing the invention of improvements on
it of many kinds. The calculating machine was a distinct contribution
to civilization.

Another contribution, but of quite a different kind, was made
by Faraday in the following year (1823) when, after a series of
experiments, he announced that he had succeeded in liquefying many
of the gases then known by the combined action of cold and pressure.
The possibility of doing this had long been suspected by physicists
reasoning from known phenomena; but the actual accomplishment of
the liquefaction of gas was none the less a feat of a high order of
brilliancy and usefulness. In experiments subsequently made, Dewar
received the gases in a vessel of his invention which had double walls,
the space between which he had exhausted of air, and thus made a
vacuum--which is a non-conductor of heat. The "thermos bottle" of today
was invented by the great chemist Dewar, and is not therefore a new

Meanwhile, the steam engine had been undergoing rapid development,
though the use of locomotives for drawing passenger trains does not
seem to have come into regular use until the Liverpool and Manchester
Railroad was opened in 1830. In 1828, the Delaware and Hudson Canal
Company constructed a short railroad, and sent an agent to England to
buy the necessary locomotives and rails. In the four years following
twelve railroad companies were incorporated. The Baltimore and
Susquehanna began actual operations in 1831.

The inventions of Hero, Branca, Worcester, Savery, Papin and Leupold,
brought to practicality by Watt, had now come to full fruition, and
entered upon that career of world-wide usefulness that has advanced
civilization so tremendously and still continues to advance it.

But the most decisive triumph of the steam engine had come more than
a decade before, when in 1819 the American steamship _Savannah_
crossed the Atlantic ocean in 26 days, going from the United States to



When the nineteenth century opened, George III was King of England,
Napoleon was First Consul of France, Francis II was Emperor of Germany,
Frederick William III was King of Prussia, Alexander was Czar of Russia
(beginning 1801), and John Adams was President of the United States.

By this time the influence of the inventions of the few centuries
immediately preceding, especially the invention of the gun and that
of printing, was clearly in evidence. The Feudal System had entirely
vanished, the sway of great and powerful sovereigns had taken the place
in Europe of the arbitrary rule of petty dukes and barons, the value
of the natural sciences was appreciated, and a fine literature had
developed in all the countries.

A terrible war was raging, however, that was not to end for fifteen
years and that involved, directly or indirectly, nearly every
European nation. The war had started in France, where the tremendous
intellectual movement had aroused the excitable people of that land to
a realization of the oppression of the nobility and a determination to
make it cease.

The wars that ensued were not so different from the wars of the
Egyptians and other ancient nations as one might carelessly suppose,
because the weapons were not very different. The only weapon that
was very novel was the gun; and the gun of the year 1800 was a
contrivance so vastly inferior to the gun that exists today as not
to be immeasurably superior to the bow and arrow. It had to be loaded
slowly at the muzzle; and the powder was so non-uniform and in other
ways inferior, that the gun's range was short and its accuracy slight.
Even the artillery that Bonaparte used so skillfully was crude and
ineffective, according to the standards of today. The cavalry was not
very different from the cavalry of the Assyrians, and the military
engineers performed few feats greater than that of Cæsar's, in building
the bridge across the Rhine. There were no railroads, no steamships, no
telegraphs, no telephones. There was less difference between the armies
of 1800 A. D. and those of 1800 B. C., than between the armies of 1800
A. D. and those of 1900 A. D.

The same remark applies to virtually all the material conditions of
living. There was less difference, for instance, between the fine
buildings of 1800 B. C. and 1800 A. D. than between the fine buildings
of 1800 and 1900 A. D. The influence of the new inventions on the
material conditions of living was only beginning to be felt; for the
twin agencies of steam and electricity, that were later to make the
difference, had not yet got to work. It was the power of steam that
was to transport men and materials across vast oceans and across great
continents at high speed, and place in the hands of every people the
natural fruits and the foods and the raw materials and the manufactured
appliances of other lands; it was the subtle influence of electricity
that was to give every people instant communication with every other.
It was the co-working of steam and electricity that was to make
possible the British navy and the British merchant marine, and the
relatively smaller merchant marines and navies of other countries, and
to bring all the world under the dominance of Great Britain and of the
other countries that were civilized.

The opening of the nineteenth century, therefore, marks the opening of
a new era. In 1800 the steam engine was already an effective appliance,
but it was not yet in general use. Electricity was a little behind
steam; and though Franklin and the others had proved that it possessed
vast possibilities of many kinds, and also that it could be harnessed
and put to work by man for the benefit of man, electricity had as yet
accomplished little of real value.

Under the stimulating influence of the quick communication given by the
art of printing, literature had blossomed especially in Great Britain,
France, Germany and Italy; but in 1800 one has to notice the same fact
as in previous years--literature had not improved. The literature of
1800 A. D. was no better than the literature of Greece or Elizabethan
England--to state the truth politely; and no such poet lived as
Homer, Shakespeare or John Milton. It seems to be a characteristic of
literature, and of all the fine arts as well, that each great product
is solely a product of one human mind, and not the product of the
combined work of many minds. To the invention of Watt's steam engine,
numberless obscure investigators and inventors had contributed, besides
those whose great names everybody knows: but how can two men write a
poem or any work of fiction, or paint a picture or carve a statue? It
is true that each of these feats has been performed; but rarely and not
with great success.

For this reason, it is not clear that mere literature as literature, or
that any of the fine arts as such can exert much influence on history,
and it is not clear that any of them have done so. That they have had
great influence in conducing to the pleasure of individuals there can
be no question; but the influence seems to have been transient. History
is a record of such of the doings of men as have had influence at
the time, or in the future. Of these doings, the agency that has had
the most obvious influence is war, and next to war is invention. War,
next after disease, has caused the most suffering the world knows of;
but out of the suffering have emerged the great nations without which
modern civilization could not exist. The influence of invention is
not so obvious, but it is perhaps as great, or nearly so; the main
reason being that invention has been the agency which has enabled
those nations to emerge that have emerged. Without the appliances that
invention has supplied, the civilized man could not have triumphed over
the savage.

Now literature and painting and sculpture and music, while they have
made life easier and pleasanter, have contributed little to this
work, and in many ways have rather prevented it from going further by
softening people, physically and mentally. This statement must not
be accepted without reservations of course; for the reason that some
poems, some works of fiction, and some paintings and (especially) some
musical compositions have tended to strengthen character, and even to
stimulate the martial spirit. But a careful inspection of most works of
pure literature and fine art must lead a candid person to admit that
the major part of their effect has been to please,--to gratify the
appetite of the mind rather than to inspire it to action.

The author here requests any possible reader of these pages, not to
infer that he has any objection to being pleased himself, or to having
others pleased; or that he regards the influence of literature and the
fine arts as being detrimental to the race. On the contrary, he regards
them as being valuable in the highest degree. He is merely trying to
point out the difference between the influence of inventions in the
useful arts and those in the fine arts.

A like remark may be made concerning inventors and other men; the word
inventors being here supposed to mean the men who make inventions of
all kinds. These men seem to have been those who have brought into
existence those machines and books and projects of all kinds that
have determined the kind of machine of civilization that has now been
produced. These men are very few, compared with the great bulk of
humanity; but it seems to be they who have given direction to the line
along which the machine has been developed.

This does not mean, of course, that these men have been more estimable
themselves than the men who kept the machine in smooth and regular
motion, and made the repairs, and supplied the oil and fuel; but it
does mean that they had more influence in making its improvements.
Naturally, their work in making improvements would have been of
no avail, if other men had not exerted industry and carefulness
and intelligence and courage, in the countless tasks entailed in
maintaining the machine in good repair, in keeping it running smoothly,
and in receiving with open minds and helping hands each new improvement
as it came along. And it was not only in welcoming real improvements,
but in keeping out novelties which seemed to be improvements but were
not improvements that the work of what may be called the operators,
as distinguished from the inventors, was beneficent. Nothing could be
more injurious to the machine than to permit the incorporation in it of
parts that would not improve it. There has been little danger to fear
from this source, however; for the inertia of men is such that it is
only rarely that one sees any new device accepted, until it has proved
its value definitely and unmistakably in practical work.

Possibly the greatest single impetus given to progress about the year
1800 was that given by Lavoisier shortly before, which started the
science of chemistry on the glorious career it has since pursued. As a
separate branch of science, chemistry then began, though it had been
the subject of investigation for many centuries, beginning in Egypt
and the other ancient countries of the East. In the Middle Ages, it
was known in Europe by the name Alchemy. Originally, and in all the
long ages of its infancy, the investigations of the experimenters were
carried on mainly to discover new remedies in medicine, or to learn
methods to transmute base metals into precious metals; though there
was a considerable degree also of pursuit of knowledge for its own
sake. As a result of the investigations, many startling facts were
developed, and many discoveries were made; but, for the reason that the
investigations were not conducted on the mathematical or quantitative
lines that had led to so much success in developing physics, alchemy or
chemistry did not rest on any sure basis, and therefore had no fixed
place to start from. It was in the same vague status that some subjects
of thoughtful speculation are in today, such as telepathy, which may
(or may not) be put on a basis of fact some day, and started forward
thence, as chemistry was started.

What gave chemistry its basis was the methods introduced by Lavoisier
who was a practiced physicist. He introduced the balance into the study
of chemistry, and raised it instantly from a collection of speculations
to an exact science, capable of progressing confidently and assuredly
thereafter, instead of wandering in a maze. Lavoisier gave chemistry a
mathematical basis to start from, and sure beacon lights to guide it;
and though many changes in its theory have been made from time to time,
they have been due only to increase of knowledge and not to departure
from fundamental principles. Finding that a substance was not an
element, but was a compound of two elements, or more than two, did not
require any rejection of accepted principles, but merely a readjustment.

We now see that it was impossible because of the exact nature of
the way in which the various elements combine, that chemistry could
have become a science until the balance had been used to weigh the
substances investigated; and we also see that it was impossible that
the balance could have been so used until physics had been developed
to the point permitting it, and men skilled in exact measurements had
been brought up by practice in physical researches. Lavoisier himself
had served a long apprenticeship, and his earliest claim to fame was
his mathematical researches on heat, embodied in an essay, written in
connection with Laplace, and published in 1784. Even after an enormous
mass of facts had been collected and announced, chemistry could not
take her place by the side of physics, and Bacon's teachings could not
be followed, until those facts had been mathematically investigated,
and their mathematical relations to each other had been established.
This Lavoisier and his followers did.

No better illustration of the influence of invention on history can
be found than the fact that chemistry hovered in the dim twilight of
speculation, guess-work and even superstition, until Lavoisier brought
to bear the various inventions made in physics. Then, presto, the
science of chemistry was born.

We must not let the fact escape us, however, that Lavoisier would have
left mankind none the wiser, if he had merely brought mathematical
research to bear and discovered what he did, and then stopped. If he
had stopped then, his knowledge would have remained locked inside of
his own mind, useless. The good work that Lavoisier actually did was
in actually producing an invention; in conceiving a certain definite
method of chemical research, then embodying it in such a concrete form
that "persons skilled in the art could make and use it," and then
giving it to the world.

The first important effect of Lavoisier's work was the announcement by
Dalton about 1808 of his Atomic Theory, which has been the basis of
most of the work of chemistry ever since. Dalton's earlier work had
been in physics, and its principal result had been "Dalton's Laws" in
regard to the evaporation and expansion of gases, announced by him
about 1801. These investigations led his mind to the consideration
of the various speculations that had been entertained concerning
the nature of matter itself, as distinguished from the actions and
reactions between material objects that physics studies; and they
brought him to the conclusion that there are certain substances or
elements which combine together to form compounds that are wholly
different from each of the elements (oxygen and hydrogen, for instance,
combining to form water); and that those elements are made up of units
absolutely indivisible, which combine with each other in absolutely
exact proportions. The units he called atoms. He built up a theory
wonderfully convincing and coherent, that explained virtually all the
chemical phenomena then known, and supplied a stepping-stone following
Lavoisier's, from which chemists could advance still further. Dalton
classified certain substances as elements which we now know are not
elements, because they have been found since to be compounds of two or
more elements; but this in itself does not disprove his theory, because
he himself pointed out that means might be found later to decompose
certain materials that seemed then to be elements, because no means had
then been found to decompose them.

It may be instructive to note here that Dalton was not the first to
imagine that certain forms of matter were elemental, or that matter was
indivisible beyond a certain point, or that substances entered into
combination with each other in definite proportions. Speculation on all
these points had been rife for many years, but it had not produced the
invention of any workable law or even theory. Similarly, many men later
speculated on the possibility of devising an electrical instrument that
would transform the mechanical energy of sound waves into electrical
energy, transfer the electrical energy over a wire, and re-convert it
into sound; but no one succeeded in producing such an instrument, until
Bell invented the telephone in 1876.

History is a record of acts, and not of dreams. And yet the greatest
acts were dreamed of before they were performed. Every process,
no matter how small or how great, seems to proceed by three
stages--conception, development and production. Most of our acts are
almost automatic, and the three stages succeed each other so quickly
that only the final stage itself is noted. But the greatest acts, from
which great results have followed, have begun with the conception of
a picture not of an ordinary kind, such as a great campaign, a new
machine, a novel theory, a book, painting, statue or edifice:--then a
long process of development, during which the conception is gradually
embodied in some concrete form, as, for instance, a statue, a painting
or an instrument;--and then production. _Finis opus coronat, the end
crowns the work_; but the work is not crowned until it is finished, and
a concrete entity has been brought forth.

Lavoisier finished his work. Not only did he dream a dream, but he
embodied his dream in a definite form, and gave it to mankind to use.
Dalton did similarly. This does not mean that their work was not
improved upon thereafter, or that they invented the chemistry of
today. They merely laid the foundation of chemistry, and placed the
first two stones.

A remarkable exemplar of the meaning of this declaration was Benjamin
Thomson, who was an American by birth, but who entered the Austrian
Army after the War of the Revolution, and made an unprecedented record
in the application of physical and chemical science to the relief
of the distressed and ignorant and poor, especially the mendicant
classes. For his services he was made Count Rumford. His researches
were mostly in the line of saving heat and light, and therefore saving
food and fuel. He ascertained by experiments of the utmost ingenuity
and thoroughness that the warmth of clothing was because of the air
entangled in its fibers; he investigated the radiation, conduction
and convection of heat, analyzed the ways in which heat could be
economized, and invented a calorimeter for testing the heat-giving
value of different fuels. In 1798 he had noted the fact that heat was
developed when cannon were being bored. He immediately conceived the
idea that the heat developed was related to the amount of work expended
driving the boring tool, and invented a means of measuring it. This
consisted simply of a blunt boring tool that pressed into a socket in
a metal block that was immersed in water, of which the temperature
could be taken. To get a basis for his investigations into the problem
of lighting economically the dwellings of the poor, Rumford invented
a photometer for measuring illumination. No man in history shows more
clearly the co-working of a high order of imagination, and a careful
and accurate constructiveness; and no man ever secured more intensely
practical and beneficent results. In the hospital at Verona he reduced
the consumption of fuel to one-eighth.

In 1827 a valuable improvement was made to the machine of civilization
by Ohm, who announced the now famous Ohm's Law, that the strength of an
electric current in any circuit is equal to the difference in potential
of the ends of the circuit, divided by its resistance. This is usually
expressed by writing C = E/R.

Can anything be less inspiring than C = E/R? Yes:--few things have
been more inspiring. Few things have inspired more zeal for work than
that simple formula. That simple formula evolved order out of chaos in
the little but super-important world, in which physicists and chemists
were trying to solve the riddles that the utilization of electric
currents presented. It gave them a basis from which to start, and a
definite rule to work by. No oration of Demosthenes, Cicero or Webster
has imparted more inspiration, or supplied a greater stimulus to high
effort, or done more for human kind than C = E/R.

In 1827 Walker in the United States invented friction matches. It
seems strange that someone had not invented matches before. The usual
way of getting light was with the flint and steel and tinder-box,--a
most inconvenient contrivance. It was quite well known that certain
substances would ignite when rubbed, and yet men waited until 1827 to
utilize the fact in matches!

In the following year Wöhler succeeded in reducing aluminum, thus
contributing a valuable new factor to human knowledge and a valuable
new metal to human needs. In the same year Neilson took out a patent in
England for "an improved application of air to produce heat in fires,
forges and furnaces," in which he proposed to pass a current of heated
air through the burning fuel. His invention met with opposition of all
kinds, but eventually proved its usefulness. Another invention produced
in the same year was Woodworth's machine for planing wood. Still
another, was the tubular boiler for locomotives.

In 1829 the first steam locomotive was put into use in the United
States. No especial invention seems to have been expended on this
device; but there was considerable invention of the kind that I have
ventured to call "opportunistic" involved in conceiving the idea of
getting the locomotive, and then in actually getting it, and then
putting it to work. In the following year Braithwaite and Ericsson
in London brought out the first portable fire-engine. There was a
great deal of invention of the practical kind involved in the design,
construction, production and successful employment of this novel
device; and an important step was taken in the means of protecting life
and the material products of civilization from destruction by fire.

In 1831 Faraday in London made one of the most important discoveries
in physical science ever made, the discovery that if a current of
electricity is changed in strength, or if a conductor carrying a
current be moved, an instantaneous magnetic effect is felt in the
vicinity; and that this magnetic effect will cause an instantaneous
current in any closed conducting circuit that may be near. Faraday also
discovered that a similar instantaneous current will be set up in a
closed circuit if a magnet be moved in its vicinity. This discovery is
usually spoken of as the discovery of electro-magnetic induction; and
the instantaneous currents are said to be "induced."

About the same time Professor Henry in Princeton discovered that an
electric circuit will act not only on other circuits in its vicinity,
but on itself; that the fact of being increased or decreased will
set up instantaneous currents that tend to oppose the increase or
decrease. Thus, while Faraday is credited with the discovery of
electro-magnetic induction, Henry is credited with the discovery of
self-induction. It has been claimed by some that Henry discovered
electro-magnetic induction before Faraday did. This question is of
great interest but it is outside the scope of this modest volume.

While both discoveries were of prime importance, and were also
analogous, that of electro-magnetic induction has played the more
conspicuous part. With it began the endeavor to develop electric
currents by the relative motion of coils of wire and magnets, that
resulted in the invention of the dynamo, and the later invention of
electric lights and motors.

In the same year the discovery (or was it the invention?) of chloroform
was made by Guthrie in America, Soubeiran in France and Liebig in
Germany. A curious fact connected with the early history of chloroform
is that, although its anæsthetic properties were known in general, and
although the idea of using gases and vapors and medicines to deaden
pain was many centuries old yet nevertheless, chloroform was not put to
practical use until about 1846 when Dr. Morton, a dentist, of Boston,
adopted it as an anæsthetic. Of all the single inventions ever made,
chloroform has unquestionably done more than any other, invented till
that time, to give relief from agony.

In 1832 the electric telegraph was invented by Morse, though he did
not patent it until 1837. The influence of the electric telegraph
on subsequent history has been so great that the influence of no
contemporary invention can reasonably be declared to be greater. As
with many other inventions, one is tempted to wonder why it had not
been invented before; for the fact that electricity could be sent along
a conductor and made to cause motion at the other end had been known
since Guericke had demonstrated the fact in the closing years of the
seventeenth century. The original invention of the electric telegraph
is claimed by some for Henry, who had a wire run between his house and
his laboratory at Princeton, over which he sent messages, by opening
and closing the circuit and thereby actuating an electro-magnet at the
receiving end.

The first machine to put Faraday's discovery of magneto-electric
induction to practical use was invented by Pixii in France in 1832,
and exhibited before the Academy of Sciences. It consisted of a
powerful magnet that was made to revolve with great rapidity before
a bar of soft iron that had wrapped around it a coil of insulated
wire about 3,000 feet long. The north and south poles taking position
in succession in front of the coil, currents were induced that
alternated in direction, twice in each revolution. If a man grasped
two wires in the circuit he received a series of sharp electric
shocks; but such effects as decomposing water that were produced by
the continuous currents of Voltaic batteries could not be produced by
these alternating currents. To secure such effects, Siemens and others
made machines in which the magnet in the form of a U was stationary,
two coils of wire revolved in front of the poles, and a two-part
"commutator" was used. When this was placed on the axle, and the axle
was revolved, the change in direction of the current was obviated,
though a smooth and uniform current was not produced. The reason was
that the current fell to zero twice in each revolution.

The magneto-electric machine, as it was called, remained virtually
in this form for many years. It was not sufficiently effective
or efficient to be of much practical usefulness in any art, and
was considered more of a scientific toy than a machine of serious
importance. Still, the probability was realized by many investigators
that a new discovery or invention might be made at any moment, that
would put it in the forefront of the useful inventions of the age. (The
invention was not made till 1862; it was made by Pacinnotti in Italy
and will be mentioned later.)

The influence of the magneto-electric machine, therefore was not
direct, but indirect. It was a basic invention; and like many basic
inventions, it formed the hidden foundation on which a conspicuous
superstructure was later to be reared. One of the lessons of history is
that it is the men and the methods and the other things which are in
evidence when some important occurrence happens, that are identified
with it in the minds of people not only at the time, but afterward.
An invention that may have cost its creator the toil and struggle
of a lifetime may not gain success simply because of some existing
unfavorable conditions of some kind. Suddenly the conditions become
favorable. John Doe takes advantage of all the work that other men have
done, adds some slight improvement, achieves "success" and dons the
laurel wreath.

We see at this time (1832) very clear signs of an increasing number
of inventions per year, an increasing speed of invention. We see an
acceleration in invention which we cannot help associating in our minds
with the acceleration which any material object gets, when continuously
subjected to a uniform force, like that of gravity. One almost feels
that there must be a continuous force impelling men to invent; so clear
is the increase of the speed of inventing.

Following the magneto-machine in 1832 came the invention of a rotary
electric motor by Sturgeon, the discovery of chloral-hydrate by
Liebig, the production of the first large American locomotive by
Baldwin and the invention of link motion by Sir Henry James. The
last was an exceedingly important and ingenious contribution to the
steam engine, especially in locomotives and ships; for it gave a very
quick and sure means of reversing its direction of motion, and of
regulating the travel of the valve and the degree of expansion of the
steam. In the following year came Stephenson's steam whistle; and in
the year following (1834) came the McCormick reaper. Few inventions
have had a greater or a more immediate effect on the trend of modern
progress, which is to influence men to live in large communities. For
the McCormick reaper could do so much more work, and so much better
work, than men could do without it, that the cultivation of extensive
areas of land could be undertaken with the assurance that large crops
of grain could be secured. This not only secured more grain for the
country, but liberated many men from toil on farms, and permitted them
to migrate to the cities.

The author does not wish to be understood as meaning that migration to
cities is wholly desirable; for he is familiar with its disadvantages
and dangers. But whether it be desirable or not is beyond the scope
of this book. This book is merely a modest attempt to point out the
influence of invention in making the world what it is today. Perhaps it
would have been better if men had had no invention and had remained in
a state of savagery. Some men say so sometimes; but even those men (or
most of them) like to sit by a warm fire in a cozy room when it is cold
outdoors. The consensus of opinion seems to be that civilization in the
main has been a blessing to men, though not an unmixed blessing, and
though men must keep on their guard against certain manifest dangers
which civilization entails.

In the same year, 1834, Jacobi invented an electric motor and Runge
made the important discovery of carbolic acid. In 1835 Burden invented
a horse-shoe machine. In 1836 four important inventions added four
important parts to our rapidly growing Machine.

The first was the "constant battery" invented by Daniell. Before this
time a Voltaic cell, or battery, soon lost its strength, because of
various chemical actions inside the cell which need not be detailed
here. Daniell overcame this difficulty almost wholly by inventing a
battery, in which there were two liquids instead of one, and the two
liquids were in two separate compartments but separated only by porous
material. This invention was successful from the start, and immediately
increased the usefulness of Voltaic batteries and the means of
utilizing electric currents.

The second great invention in 1836 was that of acetylene gas made by
Edmund Davy. It is still the most brilliant illuminating gas we have,
and is rivaled by the electric arc-light only. The third invention was
that of the revolver, made by Samuel Colt.

It may be objected by some that the revolver did not contribute
anything valuable to the Machine of Civilization because it was merely
an improvement on the pistol, and enabled one to kill more men in a
given time than he could before. Such an objection would have much to
justify it; but it may be pointed out that the Machine must be made
self-protective as far as possible; and that anything which increases
the power of civilized man as against the savage, or barbarous, or
semi-barbarous increases its power of self-protection. It is true
that a savage can use a revolver, if he be instructed; but the more
complicated a weapon is the more difficult it is for a savage, as
compared with a civilized man, to use it effectively. This is not
an argument in favor of complication for its own sake; but it is
an argument in favor of accepting complication in a weapon, if the
complication renders greater effectiveness possible.

The last invention was the most important of the four, the application
of the screw propeller to navigation made by John Ericsson. The author
is aware of the fact that this invention was claimed by others, and
is claimed for others now. The weight of testimony, however seems
to be on the side of Ericsson; and as has been pointed out before,
the question of the identity of the inventor is not important to our
discussion. The first ocean steamship to be propelled by a screw was
the _Stockton_, which was built in England under Ericsson and fitted
with his screw. The first war-ship to be fitted with a screw was the U.
S. S. _Princeton_ in 1841. Its screw was designed by Ericsson.

In 1837 Crawford invented a process for "galvanizing" iron; for
electro-plating it with a non-oxidizable metal. The value of this
invention in preserving iron wire and iron articles in general needs
not to be pointed out; it was a contribution to the permanency of the
Machine. In the same year, Cooke and Wheatstone in England invented
their famous "Needle Telegraph," in which a magnetic needle was made to
deflect quickly to the right or left when one of two keys was pressed
by an operator and letters thereby signaled. This invention was a
valuable contribution; but it was eventually superseded by Morse's
telegraph, after that system had established itself in the United
States and on the Continent.

In 1839 Babbitt invented his celebrated Babbitt metal, which has been
successfully used ever since in the bearings of engines and in moving
machinery generally, for reducing friction; and in the same year
Goodyear made an invention even more important, the art of hardening,
or "vulcanizing," rubber by means of sulphur. This invention was a
great boon to mankind, but not to Goodyear; for the jackals who lie
in wait for great inventions eager to wrest unearned profit for
themselves from the men who have truly earned it, made Goodyear's
life miserable for many years. Before he died, however, his wrongs
were righted at least in part. In the same year Jacobi, in Germany,
propelled a boat by electricity using an electric motor of his own

But the great contributions made in 1839 were to the art of what we now
call photography. About 1834 Talbot had succeeded in taking pictures
in a camera by the agency of light on paper washed with nitrate of
silver and also in fixing them. Later, he was able to obtain many
copies, or "proofs," from one picture or negative. It seems that he
did not publicly announce his invention till 1839. To it was given the
name "calotype." In May of that year Mr. Mungo Ponton announced that
he had been able to copy pictures of engravings and of dried plants on
paper that he had soaked in bichromate of potash. A number of other
investigators forthwith announced similar feats, using various chemical

In 1840 Draper published the result of certain important experiments
made by him in photographing celestial bodies. In 1841 pneumatic
caissons were invented by Triger in France. In 1842 Long discovered
the usefulness of ether as an anæsthetic, and Seytre invented the
automatically played piano. In the same year, Selligne discovered a
method of utilizing water-gas, made by decomposing water and producing
a new illuminating agent that could be used by itself or in combination
with coal gas. In the same year James Nasmyth in Scotland invented the
steam hammer--a simple appliance by means of which steam was able to
make a hammer give blows much heavier than the human arm could give.
This invention belongs to the class in which the human muscles are
assisted in doing work which the brain directs them to do, but which
they are not strong enough to do effectively.

The self-playing piano belongs in a class closely allied, in which the
machine invented merely assists the muscles: the assistance in this
class being not in supplying power in order to do more work, however,
but in supplying what may be called auxiliary physical agencies. In the
player piano, the fingers are replaced by little mechanical hammers; in
the steam hammer the arm is replaced by a piston actuated by steam. One
secures quickness, the other secures force.

But the self-playing piano and the steam hammer are in very different
classes, when viewed from the standpoint of their influence on history.
The influence of the piano is scarcely discernible, while the influence
of the steam hammer stands out in enormous letters of steel. The piano
seems to be in the same category as are literature and poetry and music
in general: it serves to please. The steam-hammer, on the other hand,
has had so great an influence on history subsequent to its invention,
that we know that subsequent history could not have been as it has
been, if the steam hammer had not been invented.

It has been the steam hammer and the ensuing modifications of it that
have made possible the making of large forgings of iron and steel. It
has been the large forgings of iron and steel that have made possible
the use of large solid masses of those metals in the construction of
engines, guns, shells, houses, bridges and ships. It is the ability
to use large and solid masses of iron and steel, free from holes and
seams, that has enabled constructors and engineers to produce the
tremendous engineering structures that characterize today. _The main
element in the progress of the race has been its triumph over the
forces of material Nature._ This triumph has been gained by inventors,
who conceived of certain methods and devices (clothing, for instance)
by means of which materials provided by Nature could be utilized by man
to protect himself against her attacks upon him--attacks by cold, for
instance. Inventions of the useful kind have had a history of their
own, as definite as the history of any other thing or things, in which
it is shown that every useful instrument or method has been succeeded
by another and better; so that the history of useful inventions may
be compared to a picture of men mounting a flight of stairs toward
civilization, the steps of the stairs being the successive useful
inventions of different kinds.

The paragraph just written is not intended to mean that inventions
which please have no value, but merely to point out the difference
between what are aptly called the fine arts and the useful arts. There
would be little happiness given to man by toilsomely climbing the
stairway to civilization, unless he were occasionally cheered on the
way by a strain of music, or a beautiful painting, or a poem, or a
brisk walk in northwest weather, or a gladdening glass of wine. It may
be argued that these are the things that really give happiness; it may
be claimed that these things go direct to the seat of happiness in the
brain, but that steam hammers merely provide a material civilization,
which continuously promises to make men happier some day, but never
makes them happier.

Verily, verily, the way to happiness is not so clearly marked, that
anyone can walk in it all the time, or even for five minutes, except
on rare occasions. The consensus of opinion seems to be, however, that
the civilized man is, on the whole, happier than the savage; that
civilization is preferable to savagery. It is the purpose of this book,
moreover, merely to point out that that structure of civilization has
become so complicated and is moving so fast that it is now a veritable
machine and to indicate the part that invention has taken in building

Not only is it a veritable machine, it is the largest, the most
powerful, the most intricate machine we know of--except the solar
system and the greater systems beyond it. And not only is it powerful
and intricate--it is, like all powerful and intricate machines,
extremely delicate. Extreme delicacy is a characteristic of all
machines; it is inherent in every machine, simply because the good
working of every part is dependent on the good working of every other
part. An organism is a machine of the highest order, and therefore
possesses this characteristic of inter-dependability in its highest
form. A club is not an organism, or even a machine, and does not
possess it. If a man injures one end of a club the other end is just as
good as before; but if a club injures one end of a man, the other end
is injured also. A severe blow on the head will prevent the effective
use of the foot, and a severe blow on the foot will prevent the
effective use of the head.

Similarly, in this great Machine of Civilization, a war between any
two nations affects every other nation in the realm of civilization,
though it may not affect appreciably the savages of Australia. A strike
in the coal mines affects every person in the United States;--and even
a threat to strike by the railway employees affects not only the whole
United States, but, to some degree, all Europe.

This brings us to realize that, while the Machine of Civilization
itself has improved tremendously, it is only as a machine, and only
because it is a machine. It should make us realize also that the mere
fact that a machine is good or useful is no bar to its being destroyed.
It should make us realize besides that the finer a machine is the
greater danger there is of its being injured and even destroyed, by
careless or ignorant handling. These facts are clearly realized by all
engineering companies of all kinds; and the result has been that highly
competent engineers have been trained to care for and handle their
engines. There are no more highly competent men in any callings than
are the engineers in every civilized country. One might declare without
much exaggeration that, of all the men in business or professions, the
engineers are the most competent for their especial tasks; and the
reasonableness of the declaration might be pointed out on the ground
that the very nature of the engineering profession (unlike that of
most other professions) makes it impossible for an engineer to be
incompetent, and yet maintain his standing.

But the Machine of Civilization is composed not only of material
parts, such as come within the province of the engineer, but also of
immaterial parts; in fact, the principal parts are men, and especially
the minds of men. It is the office of the Machine of Government to
handle the men. It is also its office to direct their minds; because
unless those minds view things correctly, the Machine of Government
cannot work with smoothness. Now, men are inferior to machines in one
important way:--men, as men, cannot be improved. It therefore devolves
on Government continuously to instruct and train men to handle the
Machine of Civilization skillfully, because the machine is being made
more and more complicated, and more and more in need of intelligent
care, with every passing day.

Is this fact realized? I fear not. No sign is visible to the author of
these pages that the people in any country realize or even suspect that
there is any need for looking out for the integrity of the Machine as
a whole. The closest approximation to it is a belated realization that
the Bolsheviki are a danger to "society." The people do not seem even
to realize the necessity of having competent experts at the head of
governmental affairs.

The Machine of Civilization had been developed to a very high stage
when Trajan ruled the world about the year 100 A. D. For three-quarters
of a century afterward, it continued to run with smoothness, under
intelligent care; but in the year 180 A. D. Commodus came to the
throne, and soon after began to abuse it. For two hundred years
thereafter, the Machine suffered from such abuse and neglect, that by
the year 395, it had become so unwieldy, that it was divided into two
parts, one administered from Rome and the other from Constantinople.
The two parts soon became two separate Machines, the Roman Machine
being at first the better, but gradually becoming more and more
ineffective under the unfavorable conditions of abuse and neglect. In
476, the Roman Machine broke down completely, and the barbarian chief,
Odoacer, sat himself on the throne of Octavius Cæsar.

A ruin more complete, it would be hard to realize. The vast structure
of Roman civilization, built on the civilization of Greece and Assyria
and Babylonia and Egypt, was hurled to the ground; and its fine and
beautiful parts were scattered to the winds by barbarians who hated
civilization because they were barbarians. The progress of science
and literature and art stopped. The marvelous inventions of the past
were forgotten and disused. A condition of semi-barbarism passed into
Europe, and continued for a period of five hundred years, to which the
name Dark Ages has been aptly given. A feeble light began to glow about
800 A. D. as a result of the activities of Charlemagne, but it almost
expired when he did. It began again when the Crusaders came back from
the Orient with knowledge of the civilization that still persisted
there; and shortly after came the first effort of the Renaissance.
Then followed the invention of the gun, and then the invention of
printing:--and presto--the making of another Machine of Civilization is

Now let us realize three facts: one fact is that the Machine of
Modern Civilization, though bigger and more complicated than the one
of Trajan's time is not nearly so strong; another fact is that the
Roman Machine was destroyed because it had become ineffective through
carelessness and abuse; the third fact is that because in a measure,
"history repeats itself," the Modern Machine may be destroyed, as the
Roman was.

The Machine of today is vastly weaker than Trajan's. Trajan's Machine
was operated by a powerful empire that controlled the whole world
absolutely. No rival of Rome existed. The structure of society was
simple, homogeneous and strong. It was almost wholly military. It
rested on force; but that force rested on reason, moderation, skill and
patriotism. Rome had many foes; but they were so weak compared with
Rome, that she had naught to fear from them--so long as she kept her
Machine in order.

The Machine of today is not only more complicated than that of Trajan,
and therefore more liable to derangement from that cause alone--but
it is supported by no government that dominates the world. On the
contrary, the control is divided among a number of different nations
that have diverse interests. The influence of this condition can be
clearly seen in the fact that every great war has set back the progress
of civilization for a while in all civilized countries, even though
in some ways it has advanced it. The World War just finished, for
instance, shook the very foundations of society; and we do not yet
know that it did not impair them seriously. Certainly the Machine has
not yet begun to run smoothly again. Certainly, the Bolsheviki are
threatening it as seriously as the barbarians began to threaten Rome
not long after Trajan's time. The Romans did not regard the barbarians
then any more seriously than we regard the Bolsheviki now.

The barbarians finally succeeded in destroying the Roman Machine, but
not for the reason that they had become any stronger. They had not
become any stronger, but the Roman Machine had become weaker. It had
become weaker for the reason that the men in charge of it had not taken
the proper care of it. They failed to take proper care of it, for the
reason that they were not the proper kind of men to have charge of that
kind of machine. The reason for this was that the Roman people did
not see to it that they put the proper kind of men in charge of their

Someone may say that Rome was an autocracy, and that there are no
autocracies now. True, but republics have been inefficient, just as
often, and in as great a degree as autocracies have. The United States
under President Buchanan, for instance, was excessively inefficient;
while the Roman autocracy under Octavius was exceedingly efficient.
But whether a government is autocratic or democratic, the degree of
civilization must depend in the main on the people themselves. Even
the power and genius of Charlemagne could not at once make Europe
civilized; and even the power and bestiality of Commodus could not at
once make Rome uncivilized. In every nation, the rulers and the people
re-act upon each other, and each makes the other in a measure what they
are. A people that are strong and worthy will not long be governed
by men who are weak and unworthy. If a nation continues to have weak
and unworthy rulers, it is because the people themselves are weak and

Therefore, it is an insufficient explanation of the breaking down of
the Roman Machine to declare that the Roman emperors were what they
were. The Roman emperors reflected the Roman people, or they would not
have remained Roman emperors. If the Roman people had been as strong
individually and collectively as they were in the days of Octavius
and Trajan, no such emperors as later sat on the throne would have
been possible. But the Roman people gradually deteriorated, morally,
mentally, and even physically; and inefficient government was one of
the results.

What caused the deterioration of the Roman people? The same thing that
has caused the deterioration of every other great people that have
deteriorated--the softening influence of wealth and ease.

Thus, Rome did not fall because of the barbarians, but because of
herself. She fell because her people allowed the Machine which she had
built up, in spite of the barbarians outside, at so much cost of labor
and blood, to become so weak that it could no longer protect itself.
Can this happen to our Machine? Yes, and it will happen as surely as
effect follows after cause, unless means be taken to see that men are
trained to care for the Machine more carefully than they are trained
now. _In no country is there any serious effort made to train men to
operate the Machine of Government_, except those parts of the Machine
that are called the army and the navy:--though some tremendous efforts
are made in private life to train men to handle corporations and
business enterprises, and to learn all that can be learned in medicine,
engineering, the Law and all the "learned professions." And even the
efforts made to train officers to handle armies and navies are in great
part neutralized by placing men at the head of those armies and navies
who are not trained in the slightest.

The Roman Machine fell with a crash that was proportional to the
magnitude of the Machine. The Machine of today is much larger and
heavier than the Roman. If it falls, as it may, the crash will be
proportionally greater. What will follow, the mind recoils from



In 1843 Charles Thurber invented the typewriter. Few inventions are
more typical. In 1843, the conditions of life were such that the first
stage in inventing the typewriter must have been the conception of an
extremely brilliant and original idea. After that, the difficulties of
embodying the idea in a concrete form must have been very great; for it
was not until about 1875 that instruments of practical usefulness were
in general use. Since then, typewriters have penetrated into virtually
every office in the civilized world.

Though the typewriter is a very simple apparatus in both principle
and construction, yet few machines stand out more clearly as
great inventions. Few inventions also have exerted a greater
influence--though the influence of the typewriter has been auxiliary,
rather than dominant; it has merely enabled a greater amount of
business to be transacted than could be transacted before. If anyone
will go into any business office whatever, and note the amount of work
performed in that office by means of one typewriter that could not be
performed without it, and will then multiply that amount by the number
of typewriters in the world, he will come to a confused but startling
realization of the amount of executive work that is being done in a
single day through the agency of the typewriter, that otherwise would
not be done. If he will then go a step further, and multiply the number
of days that have gone by since the typewriter was first employed, by
one-half, or even one-tenth, of the amount accomplished by means of
all the typewriters in a single day, he may then be able to appreciate
in a measure the enormous influence on progress which the invention
of the typewriter has already had. One would not make an exaggerated
statement if he should declare that if the typewriter had not been
invented, every great business organization in the world today would be
much smaller than it is; the great industries would not exist in their
present vastness; and all the arts of manufacture, transportation and
navigation would be far behind the stage they now have reached.

The electric telegraph was patented by Morse in 1837, but the first
telegram was not sent till 1844, along a wire stretched from Washington
to Baltimore. It is said that the first official message was "What hath
God wrought!" This message shows a realization of a fact which some
people fail to realize: the people who say, "God made the country, but
man made the city." The message showed a realization that God inspires
the thoughts of men, as truly as He provides them with things to eat.
It is inconceivable that it was intended to call attention to the fact
that God wrought the wire along which the message ran, or the wooden
poles that carried the wire, or the material zinc and copper of the
battery. The only new thing evidenced in the telegraph so far as anyone
could know, was the invention itself. God had wrought that through the
agency of Morse. It is a known fact that no human mind, no matter how
fine it may be, or how brilliant and correct its imagination, can have
any images or ideas that are not based in some way on the evidence of
the senses. We can imagine things, and even create things, that have
never existed before; but those things must be composed of parts whose
existence we know of through the evidence of our senses. So Morse,
although he invented a thing that was wholly new, although he created
something--did not create any of the parts that composed it. He used
such well-known things as wire, iron, zinc and copper. Even in the
creation of man, the Almighty himself used common materials: "And the
Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his
nostrils the breath of life: and man became a living soul." (Genesis,
Chapter II.)

If the Lord God breathed the breath of life into Adam, He inspired him
according to the original meaning of the word inspire. If He inspired
Morse with the conception of the electric telegraph, He inspired
him according to the modern meaning of the word, which is not very
different from the original meaning, and which is not at all different
from the meaning according to which He is said to have inspired the
prophets of old.

To bring before us clearly the whole influence of the telegraph on
history would require a book devoted to no other subject; yet the
telegraph belongs in the same class with the typewriter, in the sense
that its main office is to assist the transaction of business. The
telegraph does not of itself produce results. It is not in the class
with the fist-hammer, or the weaving machine, or the gun, or the steam
engine, or the electric light, or chloroform, or the telescope, or the
discovery of America. It owes its reputation largely to the spectacular
way in which it first appeared, and to the seeming wonderfulness of its
success. Yet the telegraph seems no more wonderful than the typewriter,
to a person who knows even a little of electricity; and the task
of making it practicable was much easier. A very simple and crude
apparatus sufficed for the telegraph: but a highly perfect mechanism
was needed for the typewriter.

It is probably true, however, that the telegraph has had a greater
influence on history than the typewriter, though modern civilization
would not be even approximately what it is, if either had not been
invented. And if by any combination of circumstances, either one
should now be taken from us, the whole Machine would be thrown into
inextricable confusion.

It may be objected that if Morse had not invented the telegraph,
or if any inventor whoever had not invented whatever thing he did
invent, some other man would have done so; and that therefore those
inventors do not deserve to be placed in any especial niche of honor.
There would be considerable reasonableness in such an objection, as
is evidenced by the fact that in many cases two or more men have
invented the same thing at about the same time. It may be pointed out,
however, that while this has often happened in regard to improvements
on basic inventions, it has not happened very often in regard to the
basic inventions themselves; and also that, even if we include all
the inventors the world has ever heard of, we find that there have
been surprisingly few. Therefore, it really makes little difference to
the race as a whole whether Smith or Jones made a certain invention,
or whether Smith would have made it, if Jones had not made it. "The
man who delivers the goods," receives, and as a rule deservedly, the
recognition of mankind. Furthermore, this book, as has been stated, is
not concerned mainly with inventors, but with inventions.

In 1844, the use of nitrous oxide gas (laughing gas) as an anæsthetic
was introduced by Dr. Wells. It cannot be said that this invention has
had any direct influence on history itself, though it has had a great
deal of influence on the history of some individuals. It contributed a
new and distinct part to the Machine, however, and certainly helped to
ameliorate the conditions of living. Besides, it seems to be one of the
lessons of history that most new and distinct creations, even if no use
has been found for them for a long while, have ultimately found a field
of usefulness. Furthermore, every new and useful thing, like nitrous
oxide gas, attracts the attention of men to the advantages that the
study of physical sciences and the prosecution of invention offer, and
gives inspiration for further study and endeavor.

In the same year, Léon Foucault invented the first practical electric
arc-light. Davy had made the basic invention of the Voltaic arc in
1808; but his invention was in the class just spoken of, in that it
was not utilized for many years. Even the arc-light that Foucault
produced in 1844 was not utilized then. In both cases, the cause of
slowness of utilization did not rest so much in the invention as in
the stage of civilization at the time. The world was not yet ready
for the arc-light. In fact, it did not become ready, and it could not
become ready, to use the arc-light in real service, until a cheaper
means of producing electric current had been invented. This did not
happen until the dynamo-electric machine had been invented and had been
brought to such a point of practical development that it could supply
electric current, not only adequately and economically, but reliably.
A necessary step toward the utilization of the arc-light was made in
1845, however, by Thomas Wright, who invented a means whereby the
carbons could be kept automatically at the correct distance apart for
maintaining a continuous and uniform light.

In 1845, Robert Hoe made an important contribution in his
double-cylinder printing press. In the same year, R. W. Thompson
invented the pneumatic tire. This invention belongs distinctly in the
class just spoken of, for the pneumatic tire did not come into general
use until the bicycle did, about 1890. It may be asked if there is any
use in inventing appliances long before they are needed. So far as the
inventor is then concerned--no: so far as the public is eventually
concerned, yes. All inventions made and patented are described and
illustrated in the Patent Office Gazette; and many of them are
described and illustrated in magazines and newspapers, even if they are
not used in actual practice. These records form part of the general
knowledge of mankind, just as much as do the facts of geography and
history and arithmetic; and they can be drawn upon by investigators and
inventors, and made to assist them in their work.

In 1846, an invention was made by Elias Howe, that does not belong
at all in the same category as that of the pneumatic tire, because
it was utilized almost immediately. This is usually spoken of as the
sewing-machine; but the essence of the invention was not a machine, but
merely an instrument; for it consisted of a needle in which the eye was
near the point, instead of at the other end, as in existing needles.
The machine afterwards produced was merely an obvious means for using
the new kind of needle.

The invention of the sewing-machine was one rich in influence on
subsequent progress; and all the story connected with it is interesting
in many ways. But the most wonderful fact connected with the invention
is that it was not made before! Many inventions have not been made
because the conditions at the time did not demand them, or make
their successful utilization possible: and yet some inventions,
like the Voltaic arc, were made despite the unfavorable conditions.
But what conditions were unfavorable to the utilization of Howe's
sewing-machine, even as far back in history as the days when the
pyramids were built? The Howe sewing-machine was not so complicated
an apparatus as the ballista, or the chariot, used by the Assyrians
and the other nations in the "fertile crescent," that curved from
Alexandria to Babylon; and it was much easier and cheaper to make.
Its construction required immeasurably less scientific knowledge and
carefulness than the printing press, the gun, the telescope and the
microscope, and a score of appliances that had preceded it by several
centuries. Why was the sewing-machine not invented before? Why, why?
This question continually presents itself to the mind, when certain
simple inventions appear, that (so far as we can see) could have been
invented and ought to have been invented, long before.

In 1846, the printing-telegraph was invented by House. No such question
as that just discussed is presented to our minds by this invention,
because we realize that it could not have been invented before some
means of generating continuous electric currents had been invented. The
printing-telegraph was not an invention of the same order of influence
as the sewing-machine; but it has assisted the work of the telegraph in
supplying news, especially in reports of stock fluctuations.

In the same year, De Lesseps started his project of building the Suez
Canal, and joining the Mediterranean to the Red Sea; so that ships
could proceed to India from Europe by a direct route. Many centuries
before, a canal had been cut and generally used that ran from the Nile
River to the Red Sea. The canal that De Lesseps proposed was to be
larger, and the engineering difficulties greater. The vast enterprise
was finally carried out, at a cost of about $100,000,000. It seems
to have passed through the three successive stages of conception,
development and production. The idea of building a canal did not
originate in 1846, or in the brain of De Lesseps; for the idea was very
old, probably older than recorded history. But the only man who formed
the mental picture in his mind and afterwards developed it into a
concrete plan was De Lesseps. He did this; and his plan was so complete
and coherent, and so evidently practical, that he finally succeeded in
convincing engineers and capitalists of the fact, and forming a large
company. The execution of the concrete plan was not begun until 1859,
and it was De Lesseps who began it. Thus De Lesseps, though he did
not conceive the basic idea, conceived and combined the various ideas
necessary to embody the basic idea in a concrete plan, then constructed
the concrete plan, and then produced the actual instrument.

This instrument (the canal) was a very useful instrument. An
instrument, according to the _Standard Dictionary_, is "a means by
which work is done." By means of the Suez Canal, the work of direct
water transportation between the Far East and Europe was done; and it
could not have been done, except by means of that instrument. It has
been done by that instrument ever since, and at an increasing rate. The
canal was completed in 1869, and widened and deepened in 1886. It has
shortened the water distance between England and India by about 7600
miles, and has had a tremendous influence on history, especially on
Great Britain's history. One of the largest stockholders is the British
Government; three-fourths of the ships passing through it have been
British; and though the whole world has benefited, the greatest single
beneficiary has been Great Britain.

Yet De Lesseps was a Frenchman! This calls to our minds the fact
that although some of the greatest names in History are French, yet
the French nation, as a nation, has never shown the same concerted
national purpose as the British. In this respect, the French seem to
have borne somewhat the same relation to the British, as the Greeks
did to the Romans: and yet the French are more nearly allied by blood
and language to the Romans than are the British. The Greeks and the
French aimed to make life pleasant, by the aid of the fine arts and a
general utilization of all that is delightful; while the Romans and
the British, early in their careers, conceived the idea of dominion,
embodied the idea in a concrete plan, and proceeded to carry the plan
into execution. The plan was continually accommodated to the changing
conditions of the times, and the means of execution were continually
accommodated also. The result has been that Greece and France never,
as nations, acquired dominion even approximately; while Rome did
completely, and Great Britain did, approximately.

The author does not wish to be understood as approving of the idea of
acquiring dominion, or as failing to realize the sordidness of such
an ambition, and the evil that men and nations have done, in order to
achieve it. He begs leave to point out, however, that the Machine could
not have been built, except under the stable conditions that large
nations permit better than small nations do; and that it has been the
endeavor to achieve dominion by aspiring tribes and nations, and the
consequent endeavor to gain strength in order to prevent it, by other
aspiring tribes and nations, which have caused the gradual building up
of the great nations of today, with the comfort, security and culture
that their existence permits.

In the same year, 1846, artificial limbs were invented, and so was the
electric cautery. Neither of these inventions had a profound influence;
but each was a new creation, and each formed a useful and distinct
addition to the Machine. But another invention was made in 1846, that
has had great influence.

This was the invention of gun-cotton, made by Schonbein in Germany
by the action of nitric and sulphuric acids on cotton, or some other
form of cellulose. It was the first practical explosive that depended
for its usefulness on the decomposition of a chemical compound, and
not on the combustion of a mechanical mixture, like gunpowder. The
explosive power of gun-cotton was declared by the chemist Abel to be
fifty times that of an equal weight of the gunpowder of that day; but
this does not mean that it possessed fifty times the energy. The action
of gun-cotton is very much more sudden than that of gunpowder; and for
that reason, it exerts a much greater force for an instant, and has
much greater efficacy for such purposes as breaking into structures,
bursting shells, etc. On the other hand, the very fact that its energy
is developed with such suddenness, causes its force to fall to zero
very soon, and makes it useless for such purposes as gunpowder fulfils
in firing projectiles from guns. In a gun, especially in a long gun,
the endeavor is made to keep down the pressure of the gas and prolong
its continuance; so that the projectile will receive a comparatively
gentle but prolonged push, that will start it gradually from its seat,
and will continue to push it, and therefore to increase its velocity,
all the way to the muzzle.

Gun-cotton does not belong in the class with the typewriter and the
telegraph, that merely assist men to transact business: gun-cotton
transacts business "on its own account." Gun-cotton belongs in the
class with the gun; and its main influence has been to increase the
self-protectivity of the Machine. It has done this mainly by increasing
the power of the submarine torpedo against the hulls of warships. It
may be objected that both sides in a war between civilized nations
would use torpedoes, that no persons except organizations controlled by
civilized nations (such as those in warships) would use torpedoes, and
that therefore, whatever effect the torpedo might have on the Machine
is neutralized by the fact that two civilized bodies use it against
each other. True; but the fact that the torpedo and the gun-cotton
in it require a high degree of civilization in the people who use
it, gives civilized people an immediate and tremendous advantage
over uncivilized people; and furthermore, the fact that the torpedo
and the gun-cotton in it depend for their ultimate effect not only
on their being used, but on the degree of knowledge and skill with
which they are used, gives an advantage to which every nation in any
war is willing and able to utilize the most knowledge and exert the
most skill. That is, the torpedo and the gun-cotton in it combine to
give the advantage to the nations possessing the highest degree of
civilization and willpower. They enable the Machine of the most highly
civilized nation to protect itself if it will against the Machines of
less highly civilized nations.

In the year following the invention of gun-cotton, came Sobrero's
invention of nitro-glycerin, made by the action of nitric acid on
glycerin (1847). The new explosive was more powerful than gun-cotton,
but much more dangerous to handle. By reason of its extreme
sensitiveness and the consequent danger of handling it, the use of pure
nitro-glycerin has never been great.

In the same year, 1847, the time-lock was invented by Savage. This
invention was in the class with the gun and gun-cotton, in the sense
that it enhanced the self-protectiveness of the Machine. It did not
enhance its self-protectiveness against a few great, open, external
foes, however, but against a myriad of small, secret, internal foes.
The Machine is very expensive to maintain in operation, and so is
every one of the little mechanisms of which it is composed. And each
one of these little mechanisms, each bank, its business corporation,
each company, each department store, each little shop, requires that
its money be kept safe from the burglar and the pilferer. Inasmuch as
the time-lock assists in doing this, the time-lock has been a valuable
contribution to the Machine, and has exerted a good influence on
history since it was invented.

In the same year, 1847, R. M. Hoe invented his great printing press,
that could make 20,000 impressions per hour. As it was a long step
forward in the improvement of printing, this invention deserved the
applause which it received; and the inventor deserved the financial
reward which he received.

In 1848, Dennison invented a machine for making matches. This was a
most useful contribution; but one is inclined to wonder why twenty
years elapsed between the invention of matches and the invention of a
machine for making them. Inventing was not going ahead so fast then as
it is now. Surely, no such interval is allowed to pass unutilized, in
the present inventing days.

In 1849, the "interrupted thread" screw, for use in closing the
breeches of guns was invented. Many men have claimed the honor of
this invention. Regardless of who the particular inventor was, the
invention itself must be regarded as one of a very high order, from the
standpoints of originality, constructiveness and usefulness. Though the
screw itself was a very old contrivance, the idea of cutting a long
slot lengthwise, so that the screw could be pushed forward quickly
without the slow process of continuously turning it around, yet so
arranged that the screw could be turned when near the end of its
travel, and the force-gaining power of the screw-thread thus secured,
seems to have been entirely new. Certainly the idea was original and
brilliant and useful. To develop the idea into a concrete plan was not
difficult, and neither was it difficult to carry the concrete plan
into execution. This invention falls into the happy class of which the
stethoscope is typical, in which the idea originally conceived was so
perfect, that little else was needed. The main use of this invention
has been that for which it was first intended, to close the breeches of
guns. It is used in most of the navies and armies. Its principal rival
is the famous sliding breech-block of Krupp.

In 1849, came an invention in the gun class, the magazine gun, made by
Walter Hunt. This invention also seems to fulfil all the requirements
of a real invention, in originality of conception, constructiveness of
development and ultimate usefulness. But in this case, the original
idea can hardly be declared as brilliant and spectacular as that of
the "interrupted thread"; and certainly the labor of developing it was
incomparably greater. The author feels the temptation of declaring
that the more brilliant and valuable a conception is, the less will be
the difficulty of developing it. He refuses to declare it, however,
realizing that it would not be wholly true; and yet he wishes to point
out that if a conception be wholly erroneous, it cannot be developed
into any concrete plan whatever; and that many of the most brilliant
conceptions, such as the fist-hammer, the flute, the telescope, the
telegraph and the telephone were very easily developed into forms
sufficiently concrete to make them practically usable. An idea itself
is an extremely simple thing, even if it be developed ultimately into
a highly complex machine. The idea of the steam engine, for instance,
the idea which Hero conceived was, of itself, extremely simple; but see
into what complex forms it has been developed! The original idea of
Hero was easily developed into "Hero's engine." The improvements that
have been made upon it have been the developments of separate ideas
that were conceived later. Not one of these ideas has been nearly so
brilliant as Hero's, and few of them have been so easily developed.

In 1849, Bourdon invented the steam pressure gauge that still bears
his name, and made a contribution of distinct and permanent value,
by which ability to keep track of the steam pressure in boilers was
increased, and safety from explosion increased proportionately. In the
same year, Sir David Brewster invented his lenticular stereoscope. In
this beautiful instrument two separate pictures of the same object
are put on one card, one picture showing the object as it would
look to the left eye from a given distance, and the other picture
showing the object as it would look to the right eye. The two eyes of
an observer look at the two pictures through the two halves of two
convex lenses, that are so shaped that the two pictures are seen as
one picture, but so superposed as to represent the object in relief,
as the actual object appears to the two eyes. Like the kaleidoscope,
this later product of Sir David Brewster's brilliant imagination has
had little influence thus far, except possibly to lead the way toward
stereo-photography and the stereopticon: but it seems hardly probable
that an important field will not be found some day for an invention so

In the same year, Hibbert made an important improvement on the
knitting machine, and Corliss invented his famous engine cut-off,
which vastly economized fuel. Neither invention was especially novel
or brilliant, but both were highly practical and useful contributions
to the improvement of the Machine. In the same year also came Worm's
improvement on the printing press, that concerned the making of
"turtles" which held type in a curved shape, so that they could be
secured to the cylinder of the press.

In 1850, Scott Archer succeeded in using collodion to fix silver salts
on the surface of glass plates in photography. He cannot be credited
with the basic invention, because the idea of doing this had been
suggested long before. The invention made an important contribution to
the growing art of photography, mainly by supplying a stepping stone
for further advances. In the same year, an important improvement was
made in watch-making by inventing a watch-making machine. This was
one of the first of those distinctly American inventions, by which
machine-work replaced hand-work, with great increase in speed of
production and lessening of cost, but without decrease in accuracy of

The influence of this invention has escaped the notice of many of us,
for the reason that it has spread so gradually, and has been of such
a character as to fail to strike the imagination from its lack of
spectacularity. But the idea of what we now call "quantity production"
has spread to all the fields of the manufacturing world, and is the
basis of much of the enormous industrial progress of the last half
century. It is rendered possible mainly by making the machinery
automatic, or nearly so. Without such exaggeration, America may justly
claim the contribution of automaticity to the Machine of Civilization.

In 1851, Dr. Charles G. Page produced the first electric locomotive.
Like many pioneers, it did not achieve practical success itself,
but it supplied a stepping stone to further progress. In the same
year, Seymour produced his self-rakers for harvesters, and Gorrie
invented the ice-making machine. Two more important inventions were
the ophthalmoscope, invented by Helmholtz, and the "Ruhmkorff coil,"
invented by the man whose name still clings to it.

The ophthalmoscope reminds one of the stethoscope; so simple it is,
so perfect and so useful. It consists merely of a small concave
mirror with a hole in it, a lamp and a small convex lens: the mirror
being held so that one eye of a physician can look through it, and
the lens being placed conveniently by the physician near the eye
of a patient. The mirror reflects light from the lamp towards the
patient's eye, and the convex lens concentrates them on whatever is to
be examined--usually the interior of an eye. This instrument belongs
in the small class of inventions already spoken of, in which the
original conception was so perfect, that the acts of developing it into
a concrete instrument and then producing the instrument were easily

The Ruhmkorff coil is in the same class; for it consists merely of two
coils of wire; one "primary" coil being of coarse wire and connected
with a source of electric current, and the other "secondary" coil of
fine wire placed around the coil of coarse wire. If the current in
the primary coil be made or broken or changed in force or direction,
currents are "induced" in the secondary coil; the strength of the two
currents varying relatively according to the sizes and lengths of the
wires in the two coils. This invention has an interest apart from
its usefulness, in the fact that Ruhmkorff invented it for purposes
of scientific study, and that no utilization of it for everyday life
occurred until nearly half a century later. Then Ruhmkorff coils were
made into "transformers" for use in "stepping down" the small high
voltage currents needed for transmitting electric currents over long
distances, into the larger but lower voltage currents needed for
actuating electric lights and motors.

In the following year, 1852, Channing and Farmer invented the
fire-alarm telegraph, an important contribution to the safety of the
Machine, though it did not come into general use for several years. In
the same year, Fox Talbot made another of his epochal contributions to
photography, by inventing a process by which photographic half-tones
could be produced. In the following year, a process was invented for
making from wood a pulp that was very valuable as the basis of making
paper,--and Faraday made three important discoveries. These were the
laws of electro-magnetic induction, the relations of the dielectric
to the conducting bodies in electro-static induction, and the laws of

These discoveries of Faraday were all inventions, in the sense in which
the word invention is used in this book. Each one was the outcome
of a series of careful and mathematically guided experiments, and
the outgrowth of an idea. In the following year, Melhuish invented
photographic roll films, and Herman invented the rock drill. The latter
invention has been of the utmost practical value in blasting operations
of all kinds, and must be regarded as a very distinct addition to the

In the same year, appeared the Smith & Wesson revolver; not a great
invention, but an improvement in many ways over Colt's; Mr. A. B.
Wilson brought out his four-motion feed for sewing-machines, and R. A.
Tilghman invented his process for decomposing fats by hot steam. In the
following year (1855), Lundstrom made the highly important invention
of safety matches. When one reflects (as every one must at times) how
great and absolutely irretrievable are the losses caused by fire each
year, how the amount of possible destruction grows each year exactly as
fast as the Machine grows, and realizes how large a fire many a small
match has caused, he feels inclined to give a mental salute to Mr.
Lundstrom of Sweden.

In the same year, iron-clad floating batteries were used in the Crimean
War. This was not the first time that iron-clad vessels had been
employed, for vessels protected on the sides with sheets of iron and
copper had been used by the Coreans in their victorious war against
the Japanese about three hundred years before; but it was the first
time that such vessels had appeared in Europe. Cocaine was invented the
same year, and one of the most valuable anæsthetics yet known was then

But the most valuable contribution to the Machine in 1855 was Henry
Bessemer's epochal invention of making steel by blowing air through
molten cast iron, until enough of the carbon had been burnt off to
leave a steel of whatever quality was desired. This invention reduced
the cost of making steel, and the time required, in so great a degree
as to place the manufacture of steel on a basis entirely new, and to
extend its field of employment greatly. And, as with many previous
great inventions, this one paved the way for still other inventions, by
indicating the possibility of still wider fields. The Bessemer process
is not in the class with the typewriter or the telegraph, but in the
class with the gun; for it does things itself. It would be difficult
to specify any invention (except one produced at a much earlier time)
that has had more influence, and more good influence, on history than
Bessemer's. No one can look out of his window in any town or city,
without seeing some of the innumerable products of Bessemer's idea.

       *       *       *       *       *

Our record has now brought us to the middle of the nineteenth century.
The conditions of living in 1850 were greatly different from those
of 1800. In fifty years, the physical conditions of living and of
carrying on business of all kinds, had improved more than in the
century between 1700 and 1800, more than in the two centuries preceding
1700, and more than in the ten centuries from 500 and 1500. Rapid
transportation over the land in railroad trains for both passengers
and freight had largely replaced the slow transportation methods of
1800; and, in an almost equal degree, steam transportation at sea had
replaced transportation by sails. The printing press had been developed
from a crude and slow contrivance, worked by a hand, to a magnificent
mechanism worked by steam: the electric battery had been improved
into an appliance of the utmost reliability and usefulness; telegraph
lines stretched over the continents, and messages were sent surely
and instantaneously over hundreds of miles of land; and the science
of chemistry had arisen from the ashes of alchemy. As a result of
this, the science of photography had been born, and had already begun
its work, so varied and so useful. Physics had grown so surely and so
greatly, that it had been divided into the separate but allied sciences
of heat, light and electricity--including magnetism: the science of
engineering had expanded so widely, that it also had been divided into
other sciences--civil engineering, mechanical engineering, hydraulic
engineering and electrical engineering: the science of medicine,
because of the advances in chemistry and physics, had advanced at
an equal rate: the gun had been so greatly improved, and gunpowder
also, that such a degree of precision and range had been attained
as to make the gun of 1800 seem crude indeed; and the improvement
had been inevitably caused by the greater knowledge placed at the
disposal of ordnance officers, by the advances in chemistry, heat,
light, electricity, magnetism and the various engineering arts. The
introduction of illuminating gas, the improvements in forging, casting
and turning metals, had made possible the building of edifices, and the
fabrication of better and cheaper utensils of every kind: improvements
in the means and methods of spinning, knitting and weaving had bettered
the materials that people wore upon their persons: improvements in
rubber manufacture had made possible the use of waterproof garments;
crops could be gathered more quickly and surely: safety from fire had
been increased: methods of heating houses had been vastly improved: and
the discovery of anæsthetics had relieved civilized man in great degree
from his most distressing single enemy. As a result, the people of
every civilized country lived under conditions of comfort far greater
than had ever been known before in similar climates.

The facts and conditions detailed above relate almost wholly to the
material conditions of living, and show that, for most people, they
had been enormously improved: though it is noteworthy that for the
very poor, they had not improved in many cases, and had been altered
for the worse in other cases. The unfavorable changes were mainly
those produced by "factory life" which in 1850 must have been worse
than country life for the same class of people. These cases were so
greatly in the minority, however, as not to affect the main proposition
that the advance in civilization from 1800 to 1850, caused by new
inventions, had improved the material conditions of living for the
great majority of the people affected by them.

That it was desirable that these conditions should be improved, some
people may be disposed to deny; pointing out that the improvement
tended to develop "luxury, thou cursed of Heaven's decree." One of the
effects of increasing material prosperity is undoubtedly a tendency
toward luxury. But the number of people thus affected was so very small
in the period from 1800 to 1850, and the degree of luxury attained
then was so slight, that this question need hardly be discussed, at
this point.

But the mental condition of the people had changed as greatly as the
physical conditions of their environment. The immediate cause of
this change was, of course, the printing press, which disseminated
the thoughts of thinking men broadcast, and told of events that were
occurring not only in places near, but also in places distant. This
gave an enormous stimulation to the minds of the people by exciting
their interest: and it also gave to their minds both "food for thought"
and almost unlimited opportunity for exercise. Before this period, only
a small part of the population had a wide range of knowledge, or a
large number of subjects to think about. Their lives were exceedingly
monotonous, and would have been exceedingly dull, had it not been for
the continuous necessity of combating the inconveniences of every-day
life by continual toil of one kind or another. There were very few
subjects of conversation.

But the printing-press told the people of other things besides the
events that were taking place; it told them also of new discoveries
and inventions that were being made, and of the effects they would
produce. The news of a great discovery or invention must have created
more excitement in 1831 when the discovery of chloroform was announced,
than almost any discovery would now, because we are so accustomed
to new discoveries as almost to be sated. We know what excitement
the first successful railway trips created. The coming of these new
discoveries and inventions gave mental exercise in four ways:--first by
stimulating the imagination with a picture it had never seen before,
and whose possibilities reached no one could guess how far; second
by stimulating the logical powers to reason out and understand the
principles underlying each discovery or invention; third by stimulating
the memory to engrave upon its tablets certain new and important facts;
and fourth, by stimulating the inventive faculties, to carry inventions

Thus, the influence of new inventions was to change a man's
environment, both physical and mental. Now every man is said to be the
product of his environment and his heredity; so that the influence
of these new inventions was to change men to a degree proportional
to the degree by which they changed their environment. This does not
mean that inventions have changed man biologically, or even changed
him so much that he will act very differently from a savage, under
abnormal conditions. It does mean, however, that they have caused men
so to adapt themselves to the new environment which inventions have
created, that, while in that environment, they will for all practical
purposes, be very different from savages. It means that under nearly
all the conditions of living, a gentleman in civilized society will
be a gentleman--courteous, refined, law-abiding and moral. It does
not mean that he will be perfect, but that he will be very much more
courteous, refined, law-abiding and moral than a savage; and it means,
in consequence that the society of civilized people in general will
possess these characteristics much more than any society of savages

Not only, however, have these inventions changed the environment of
civilized man, they have changed his heredity also; because they had
previously changed the environment of his parents, grandparents and
other ancestors. The graduate of Oxford of 1850, the son of an Oxford
graduate who was also the son of an Oxford graduate, though he was
biologically the same as his barbarian ancestors of ten thousand
years before, was nevertheless a much more refined, intelligent and
courteous gentleman. Under certain abnormal conditions, such as
intense thirst, hunger, jealousy, passion or unlooked-for temptation
he might act as badly as a savage:--in fact such men sometimes do.
But nevertheless, the fact that in 99% of the conditions under which
he lives he acts as a gentleman and not as a savage makes him 99% a
gentleman, and only 1% a savage, during his mortal life.

Thus inventions, while originating (or seeming to originate) in the
minds of men, change the environment of men, and this changes the
men. Of the two changes, it would be easy to say that the change made
in the men is the more important; but would it be truthful to say
so? We have already noted the curious fact that inventions have the
faculty of self-improvement to a degree far greater than men have it;
for the reason that each new man must begin where his last ancestor
began, whereas each new invention begins where his last ancestor
finished. This suggests that the changes produced in environment are
more profound than the changes produced in men; that in fact the
changes in environment are very profound, and the changes in men quite
superficial. That this is really the case is indicated by the very long
time needed to build up the environments of civilization, and the very
short time needed for men to adapt themselves to those environments,
or to any changed conditions. The fact has often been noted (sometimes
with chagrin) that highly refined gentlemen adapt themselves with
extreme facility to the often primitive environments of hunting or
campaigning, and history shows in many instances how quickly barbarians
have adapted themselves to civilization.

This leads us to suspect that the Machine which inventions have built
up may not be of so much permanence as we are prone to think, and
makes us realize that it is not a natural production but one wholly
artificial. Now nothing that is wholly artificial can reasonably be
expected to be permanent, unless adequate and timely measures are taken
to insure it.



While the period from 1800 to 1850 was alive with inventions of many
sorts, it was alive also with the economic changes which the inventions
caused and with political changes also. It was in the United States
of America that the greatest changes of all kinds came. This was to
be expected from the fact that before 1800 the United States were
considerably behind the countries of Europe from which their own
civilization had been derived; whereas in 1850, they had been able to
get abreast of them, by reason of the quickness of transportation and
communication that ocean steamers gave, and the energy and enterprise
of the new American nation. During the period from 1800 till 1850,
the United States went through three successful wars; one with Great
Britain, one with Algiers and one with Mexico. They expanded also over
a considerably greater territory, acquired a much greater population,
added new states, and showed such aptitude in scientific discovery and
invention as to achieve a place in the first rank of nations in this

The Constitution of the United States may be characterized as a great
invention, in the meaning of the word which is used in this book;
and until 1850, it had worked with a success that surprised many of
the statesmen and scholars of Europe. The problems placed before the
nation had been many, various and difficult; but all had been solved
with a sufficient degree of success for practical purposes; and the
resulting situations had, on the whole, been met with courage, energy
and intelligence. The Monroe Doctrine had been treated with respect,
if not with entire acquiescence; the conduct of the Navy in the War of
1812 had demonstrated to Europe the fighting ability of our people;
our scientific men, such as Franklin and Henry, ranked as high as any
who had ever lived in any country; certain of our statesmen such as
Franklin, held equal rank with statesmen anywhere; and the invention
and first use of the electric telegraph had put America ahead of every
other country in inventions of a basic kind.

When we realize the rapid growth of the United States in the half
century 1800-1850, and realize also that it was a growth almost _ab
initio_, and note that the engineering materials of all kinds and
all the knowledge of science in the country had come from Europe, we
must admit that it is to the influence of invention, more than to any
other one thing, that we owe the rapid progress of our country. As
is the case with individuals, nations are prone to extol their own
successes, and to take the entire credit for them. Americans are apt
to thank themselves only for their amazing progress; but, in fairness,
they should admit that without the inventions made in Europe and by
Europeans, they would have had no means for even starting. The first
locomotive used in the United States was brought from England.

In Great Britain, the wars with France were under full headway in 1800,
and her statesmen knew that she was faced with a danger so great that
only the most strenuous exertions, and the utmost naval and military
skill could overcome it. This danger was not overcome till the Battle
of Waterloo in 1815. Thereafter, the progress of the nation was fairly
quiet and assured, the main difficulties centering in the deplorable
condition of the working classes, serious disturbances in Ireland and
the mutiny in India.

In few matters has the influence of invention been greater than in the
relations between Great Britain and India. In 1564 a company called the
Merchant Adventurers had been formed for competing with the merchants
of Spain, Venice, Holland and other countries. A company coming into
existence shortly afterward was the East India Company, formed for
trading with India, Persia, Arabia and the islands in the Indian
Ocean. The company was chartered by the Crown and had a monopoly of
a certain territory. The object was that the company should not only
make money for itself, but promote the welfare of Great Britain and
her subjects, by taking out manufactured goods, and bringing back raw
materials and coin. During the seventeenth century, naval wars took
place with Holland, and in the eighteenth century with France; both
originating in commercial and colonial rivalry--especially in regard
to India. Both wars were won by Great Britain. The Seven Years' War in
particular ended to the advantage of Great Britain, as regards India;
for France was left with only a few trading stations. By 1773, the East
India Company was in virtual control of India; but in 1784 William Pitt
secured political control of it by the Government. Napoleon realized
the importance of India and sent an army there to recover control, but
without success. The Crimean War that began in 1853 between Russia and
Turkey was joined by Great Britain in 1854 because she feared that
Russia would flank the British route to India through the projected
Suez Canal. This war ended to the advantage of Great Britain, and the
danger to India was removed.

Now the whole area of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
is only about 121,000 square miles, while that of India is about
1,803,000, nearly fifteen times as great. The population of the United
Kingdom in 1917 was about 45,370,000, while that of India was about
315,156,000, or nearly seven times as great. Yet Great Britain has
secured the complete mastery of India! How has she been able to do
it? The easiest answer would be that the British are a "superior"
people. Even if they are, such an answer would explain nothing, unless
the means be indicated by which the superiority was made effective
in conquering India. The superiority evidently did not consist in
courage or physical strength, which were obvious factors in achieving
the victories in the field that were necessary, for those qualities
were shown equally by the Indians. But if we should answer that the
British succeeded for the reason that they could bring to bear superior
weapons, equipments, means of transportation, means of communication,
methods of organization and methods of operation, we evidently would
explain what happened adequately and convincingly. Now all these
facilities the British had available; they had been invented and were

One of the important influences of invention on history therefore, has
been to give Great Britain control of India.

In France, the changes in economic and political conditions rivaled the
changes that one sees take place in Sir David Brewster's kaleidoscope.
In 1800 Napoleon had been First Consul, in 1804 emperor, in 1814 an
emperor and then an exile, in 1815 an emperor and then an exile. France
was a kingdom from then until 1848, and then a republic till 1852, when
she again became an empire, under Napoleon III. The virtual anarchy
following the Revolution had been crushed out and replaced with order;
and the menace to republican institutions had been removed by the
genius of Napoleon I, who then established an autocracy of a kind that,
though arbitrary, was so wise and broad-viewed as to be beneficent
on the whole. The result of all was that in 1850, France was in a
condition of civilization and prosperity that was amazing to one who
remembered the conditions of 1800.

When we analyze the causes of the evolution of order and prosperity out
of the conditions of 1793, and the later conditions of 1800, we can
hardly fail to realize the greatest single cause was the same cause
as that of Napoleon's victories. It was the mind that conceived and
developed and brought forth; the mind that invented so amazingly.

That many other causes may be named need hardly be pointed out. In
the complex affairs of human life, every result is the resultant of
many causes; but in most of those affairs, most of those causes are
always present; so that we have to find an unusual cause to explain an
unusual condition or event. It would be easy to say that the cause of
France's return to a condition of law and order was that the condition
of anarchy was abnormal; and that France simply returned to her normal
state, as a wave does after it has risen above or fallen below the
level of the sea. But would this be true? Is the condition of anarchy
more abnormal than the condition of law and order? Which was the
condition of primitive man? Which is an artificial product of man's
invention? Is it not logical to conclude from the record of invention's
influence that it was man's inventions that brought into existence the
artificial condition of law and order which existed in France prior to
1793, and that it was also man's inventions that restored it afterward?
Three ideas were conceived in France and developed into the Revolution:
these ideas were the principles of equality, of the sovereignty of
the people and of nationality. After the overthrow of Napoleon, the
Congress of Vienna met to readjust the affairs of Europe. The Congress
seems to have conceived the idea of preventing the carrying out of
those principles as their first starting point, and to have developed
that idea with fixed determination. The Commissioners endeavored
to restore everything to its condition before the Revolution, and
to discredit the principles conceived and developed in France.
They succeeded in accomplishing their intent, so far as remaking
political boundaries, etc., was concerned; but they did not succeed in
discrediting the principles. A great picture had been made in the minds
of men, and the Commissioners could not wipe it out. As a result, three
revolutions took place in 1820, 1830 and 1848, of which the second was
more important than the first, and the third was more important than
the second.

Shortly after the fall of Napoleon, the Czar Alexander, with the
emperor of Austria and the king of Prussia, invented the Holy Alliance.
It was in pretense an alliance to advance the cause of religion, and to
reduce to practice in political affairs the teachings of Christ; but
it was in intention a league against the spread of the ideas embodied
in the French Revolution. The League was not successful in the end,
for the picture of liberty made in the minds of men was too brilliant
and too deeply printed to be wiped out. One of the results of the Holy
Alliance was the invention by the United States of the Monroe Doctrine
which was made to prevent that intervention in affairs on the American
continent which the proceedings of the Alliance foreshadowed.

Italy was very harshly treated by the Congress of Vienna, two of her
largest provinces in the north being given to Austria, who forthwith
proceeded then to try to control the entire peninsula. In 1820, a
revolution broke out in Italy, but it was soon suppressed. Another
broke out in 1830, simultaneous with that in France; and this was also
suppressed. The third, in 1848, met a similar fate. But the revolutions
in France were successful; the one of 1848 resulting in the formation
of a republic. At the same time, a sympathetic revolution in Germany
was in a measure successful also.

In Germany, the formation of the German Confederation in 1815 by the
Congress of Vienna was the formation of a kind of political body that
has never lasted long; for no political body has ever lasted long,
except an actual and definite nation. The various components of the
German Confederation were too loosely bound together. This invention,
like others of mechanical machines, was not a practical invention
because the machine invented was too easily thrown out of adjustment.
The Customs Union was invented in 1828 to supply the necessary element
of coherency. It was hardly adequate for its task, at the time; but
it made the people think of national union; an idea that was finally
developed in 1871.

In Russia, considerable progress was made from 1800 to 1850, though
not so much as in the countries farther west. An adequate reason would
seem to be that there were too few minds, in proportion to the entire
population, that were able to conceive and develop the ideas that are
needed to make progress.

During this half-century, while the names of many men stand out as
having done constructive work in invention and discovery, and while
many great statesmen existed, the names of three statesmen stand out
more brightly than the rest: Pitt, Talleyrand and Metternich. Each
had the mind to conceive, develop and produce; and each did conceive,
develop and produce. Of the three, William Pitt was, according to
almost any accepted standard by far the greatest, and Talleyrand was
second. Without the force and guidance of such a mind as Pitt possessed
and utilized, it is hard to estimate what would have been the rôle of
England in the Napoleonic wars, and what would have been her fate. In
the actual course of events, it was England that announced the "mate in
four moves" to Napoleon at Trafalgar, and that finally checkmated him
at Waterloo. True, Pitt died long before Waterloo; but the policy which
he conceived and developed was the policy which was followed; and the
influence of his mind lived in almost unabated strength after his poor,
frail body had ceased to live.

Talleyrand seems to have been what I have asked permission to call
an "opportunistic inventor"; quick to conceive, develop and produce
plans for meeting difficult situations as they arose, but without
any ultimate objective, or any moral or other principles of any
kind. Metternich, on the other hand, though lacking the brilliancy
of Talleyrand, exerted his talents devotedly to the interests of his
country, as he saw them. But he failed to realize how deep the ideas
of the French Revolution had been engraved in the minds of men, and
finally saw the Machine of the Austrian Government almost destroyed
in 1848. He himself was forced to flee; and the Emperor was forced to
abdicate in favor of his nephew, who granted the people a Constitution,
in order to save the Machine. In Prussia, affairs went almost as far
as in Austria, though not nearly so far as in France. The Machine in
Prussia was saved by the promise of the granting of a constitution.

The main ultimate political result of the agitations of all kinds
during the half century 1800 to 1850, was the granting to greater
numbers of people of a part in directing the affairs of State. In
France, the whole Machine of Civilization had been menaced with
destruction in the years just previous to 1800; but destruction had
not resulted, and actual improvement had been begun by 1800, though in
an experimental and tentative way. During the fifty years now under
consideration, the idea conceived and developed in France spread to all
other civilized countries; and in all those countries it exercised its
benignant influence, especially in the new nation across the Atlantic,
the United States of America. Reciprocally, the news of the formation
of that republic, and the adoption of its Constitution in 1787, had
exercised considerable influence in giving support to the idea of the
people of France, although the United States of America was very far
away indeed, and her experiment in government was as yet untried.
Then, as the years went by, between 1800 and 1850, and as the American
experiment became increasingly successful, and as the ocean steamships
brought prompt and adequate information about all of its developments,
the American idea joined with the French idea, to advance the cause of
government by the people.

It may be pointed out here that the discoveries in the physical
sciences and the utilization of those discoveries in the invention of
material instruments and mechanisms were more fruitful in creations
of a permanent and definite character than were the achievements of
statesmen, generals, admirals and "opportunistic inventors" in general.
The same remark is true of discoveries and inventions in systems of
government, ethics and religion. These also have developed monuments
of extraordinary permanency; witness, for instance, the inventions
of the kingdom, of democracy and of the Buddhist, Shinto, Taoist,
Jewish, Christian and Mohammedan religions. The distinctive feature in
securing permanency seems to have been the intent to secure it. The
sudden conception, development and production of a campaign, political
maneuvre or business enterprise, seems to have produced a creature
that was merely a temporary expedient, adapted only to meet emergencies
that themselves were temporary.

This does not mean that the influence of these temporary expedients
has not sometimes been great: it does not mean, for instance, that the
influence of the victory at Salamis was not great. It does not mean
to deny the plain fact that it has been the succession of the results
of temporary expedients that has brought affairs to the condition in
which they are today. It does mean, however, that the actual pieces
of the existing Machine of Civilization are the permanent inventions
which have been made; while the opportunistic inventions have in some
cases prevented, and in other cases have furthered, the making of
those inventions, and the incorporation of them in the Machine. The
invention of printing, for instance, produced an actual part of the
Machine; while the successful wars waged by civilized nations with
the gun against savages, barbarians and peoples of a lower order of
civilization, made possible the further development of printing,
and its continual use in upbuilding the Machine. The use of the
opportunistic inventions seems to have been in assisting the inventors
of permanent creations and in directing the efforts of the operators of
the Machine.

An analogue can be found in the case of the invention, development and
operation of the smaller machines of every-day life: the inventor of
each machine merely invents that machine; when he has done this his
work is virtually finished. When his machine is put to work (say, an
electric railroad) the operators carry on the various routine tasks;
just as the president of a bank operates his bank, or the president
of a nation administers the affairs of the nation. But there arise
occasions when something goes wrong, when something besides supplying
coal and oil and electricity is necessary for the successful running
of the railroad, when something more than routine administration is
required of the president of the bank, or the president of the nation.
Then the ingenious and bright mechanic or electrician invents a
practical scheme for circumventing the difficulty with the railroad; or
Napoleon invents a campaign to save the French Republic.

In 1855 Taupenot made the important invention of dry-plate photography,
by which dry plates can be prepared and kept ready for use when needed,
and Michaux invented the bicycle. Both of these were fairly important
contributions of a practical kind; so was Woodruff's invention of the
sleeping-car, and so was Perkins's discovery of aniline dyes, both of
which came in 1856. None of these was a brilliant invention, though
each was a useful one. But they were immediately followed by one of
a high order of brilliancy and usefulness, Siemens's regenerative
furnace, in which the waste heat of the combustion gases was utilized
to heat the air or gas just entering. In the same year, Kingsland
invented a refining engine for use in making paper pulp. In the
following year the first ocean-going iron-clad ship of war, _La
Gloire_, appeared, and in 1858 the first cable car, invented by E. A.

In the same year Giffard invented his famous injector, which performs
the feat (seemingly impossible at first thought) of using steam at
a certain pressure in a boiler to force water into that same boiler
against its own pressure! The explanation of course is that the area
of the stream of water that enters the boiler is less than the area of
the stream of steam that leaves the boiler. This invention was one of a
very high order of brilliancy of conception, excellence of construction
and usefulness of final product. It was a valuable contribution to the

In the same year Cyrus Field of New York succeeded in laying the first
Atlantic cable between Ireland and Newfoundland. It is difficult to
declare whether this achievement constituted an invention or not, and
it may not be so classed by many people. Nevertheless, it created
something that had not existed before, and it progressed by the same
three stages of conception, development and production by which all
inventions progress. It was a contribution of enormous value to the
Machine, moreover; for though the first cable was not a practical
success, and though the second cable broke while being laid in 1865, it
was recovered and re-laid and afterward operated successfully. Since
that time, submarine cables have been multiplied to such an extent
that there were more than 1800 in operation in 1917, and they formed
a network under all the seas. Such important parts of the Machine of
Civilization have these submarine cables become that the Machine as it
is could not exist without them. That is, it could not have existed
before the wireless telegraph came. The wireless telegraph has made the
Machine less dependent on submarine cables than it was before, and yet
not wholly independent.

In 1858 the _Great Eastern_ was launched, the largest steamship built
up to that time. The case of the _Great Eastern_ is interesting from
the fact that she was too large to fit in the Machine as it then
existed, and that by the time that the Machine had grown large enough
the _Great Eastern_ was obsolete!

About 1859, Kirchhoff and Bunsen invented the spectroscope, an optical
instrument for forming and analyzing the spectra of the rays emitted
by bodies and substances. In 1860 Gaston Planté invented his famous
"secondary battery," formed by passing an electric current through
a cell composed of two sheets of lead immersed in dilute sulphuric
acid, the two sheets separated by non-conducting strips of felt. The
acid being decomposed, hydrogen formed on one plate, while oxygen
attacked the other plate and formed peroxide of lead. There being
now two dissimilar metals in an acid solution, a Voltaic battery had
been created, that gave a current which passed through the liquid in
a direction the reverse of the current ("charging current") that had
caused the change. Planté's secondary battery was an important and
practical contribution to the Machine; but the credit for the basic
invention does not belong to Planté, but to Sir William Grove, who
had invented the "Grove's gas battery." In this battery, two plates
of platinum were immersed in dilute acid, and submitted to a charging
current that decomposed the liquid and formed an actual though
practically ineffective "secondary battery"; the two elements being
oxygen and hydrogen.

In the next year Philip Reis invented the singing telephone, by which
he could transmit _musical tones_ over considerable distances. Whether
or not Philip Reis invented the speaking telephone has been a much
controverted question, for the reason that speech was occasionally
transmitted over Reis's telephone,--though not by intention. The
invention that Reis conceived, developed and produced was a singing
telephone only; the apparatus by which he sometimes transmitted speech
was his singing telephone, slightly disadjusted. That Reis should have
failed to invent the telephone is amazing, in the same sense that it is
amazing that Galileo did not invent the thermometer and the barometer;
and the fact is extremely instructive in enabling us to see distinctly
what constitutes invention. To make an invention, a man must himself
create a thing that is new, and produce it in a concrete form, such
that "persons skilled in the art can make and use it." Reis did not
do this: and yet Philip Reis's telephone could be made to speak in
a few seconds, by simply turning a little thumb-screw! Reis did not
know this, and consequently could not give the information to "persons
skilled in the art." Reis did not invent the speaking telephone,
for the fundamental reason that his original conception, although
correct for his singing telephone, was wholly incorrect for a speaking
telephone; because the speaking telephone requires a continuous
current, while Reis's conception included an intermittent current.

Apologies are tendered for going into what may seem a technicality
at such great length; but the author wishes to utilize this example
to emphasize the importance of the original conception, the image
pictured on the mind by the imagination. This original conception is
of paramount importance in making inventions, not only of material
mechanisms, but of all other things that can be invented, such as
religions, laws, systems of government, campaigns, books, paintings,
etc., etc. The final product cannot be better than the original
conception, except by chance; for even if the development be absolutely
perfect, the invention finally brought forth can be only equal to the
original conception. It is obvious that the simpler the invention
is the more easily it can be made equal to the original conception,
and vice versâ. For this reason the stethoscope is a more efficient
embodiment of the original conception than is that very inefficient
product--the steam engine.

The fact that the final product cannot be better than the original
conception (except by chance) is the bottom reason for placing men
of fine minds at the head of important organizations. It is the
ideas conceived by the man at the head in any walk of life, that are
developed by his assistants: at least, this is the intention, in all
organizations, and the only efficient procedure. We see an analogue in
the actual life of every individual. Now the conception is the work
of the imagination, and not of the reasoning faculties: the reasoning
faculties develop and construct what the imagination conceives. It
is because of this that men of fine mentality sometimes devote their
talents to evil ends: their imaginations have conceived evil pictures.
Sometimes this is the result of a bad environment in childhood. The
environment of Talleyrand's childhood, for instance, caused the
conception in his imagination of evil aims.

In 1860 Carré made the important invention of the manufacture of ice
with the use of ammonia. In 1861 Craske improved stereotyping by
making it possible to reproduce curved printing plates from flat forms
of type. Green invented the driven-well in the same year, and McKay
invented the shoe-sewing machine.

The most important event of 1861 was the outbreak of the Civil War in
America, when the invention of the American Constitution was put to
its severest test. It had been known ever since the adoption of the
Constitution that the instrument was faulty in not defining clearly the
relative rights of the Federal Government and the separate states; but
it had been found impossible to secure the assent of a sufficiently
large body of citizens to any proposition that defined them clearly;
and so the machine of Government had operated for nearly three-quarters
of a century, with the disquieting knowledge in the minds of its
operators that conditions might put it to a test that would break it
down, and perhaps destroy it totally. The most dangerous condition
was seen to be the one associated with the question of slavery in
the Southern States. This question, and the consequent condition of
antagonism between the North and the South, became rapidly worse during
the period from 1846 to 1861, when war between them finally broke out.

The war was ultimately decided in favor of the North, despite the fact
that the South was much the better prepared; in fact, that the North
was wholly unprepared. The main weakness in the Confederate situation
was the fact that cotton was virtually the only product with which she
could raise money for feeding and equipping her army, that she had to
get the equipments from Europe, and that the line of communication to
Europe was across the Atlantic Ocean, 3000 miles wide. The weakness
seemed, during a period of about twenty-four hours, to be removed by
the invention of the iron-clad _Merrimac_; for the _Merrimac_ destroyed
the _Cumberland_ and _Congress_, two of the finest warships on the
Union side, without the slightest difficulty in one forenoon, and
threatened the destruction of all the other Union ships. The Union
ships having been destroyed or made to flee to port, complete freedom
from blockade of the Confederate coast would follow immediately. The
_Monitor_ had been invented years before; but no steps had been taken
to build her, despite the insistence of the great inventing engineer,
John Ericsson. News of the work of constructing the _Merrimac_ had
reached the North, however, and stimulated the northern imagination
to the extent that it was able to see in the _Monitor_ a savior (and
the only savior) from the _Merrimac_. By the exercise of amazing
engineering skill, Ericsson constructed his invention with such speed
and precision that the _Monitor_ was able to meet and defeat the
_Merrimac_ the very day after she had destroyed the Union ships.

The result was an immediate and absolute reversal of conditions. It
was the North now that controlled the sea and the South that was to be
blockaded. And not only this; for the fact that the North possessed a
warship that was not only the most formidable in the world, but was of
such simple construction that many of them could be launched in a very
short time, showed to those European powers who were deliberating as to
whether or not they should recognize the Confederacy, the futility of
their attempting to carry into effect on the American coast any naval
policy of a character unfriendly to the United States. The victory of
the _Monitor_ was the announcement of the "mate in four moves." Victory
for the South became immediately impossible, no matter how long the
final checkmate might be delayed. We know, of course, that checkmate
was delayed until April 9, 1865, when Lee surrendered to Grant at

In few cases has the influence of invention on history shone more
clearly than in the case of the _Monitor_. The _Monitor_ was the
deciding factor in the Civil War. This does not mean that the _Monitor_
alone won the Civil War. No one event or person or maneuver won the
Civil War: for the Civil War was won by the resultant effect of many
events, persons and maneuvers. It does mean, however, that the victory
of the _Monitor_ made it virtually impossible for the issue to be
otherwise than it eventually was; provided, of course, that a course of
conduct not wholly unreasonable was pursued by the North. All the other
factors in the war were what might be called usual: the _Monitor_ alone
was unusual. The _Monitor's battle was the only battle in which the
light of genius shone, on either side_.

The _Monitor's_ victory emphasizes a truth previously pointed out
in this book: the truth that the influence of invention has been to
advance the cause of civilization, by giving victory in wars, as a
rule, to the side possessing the higher civilization. This was clearly
the case in our Civil War; for the South was far more an agricultural
and primitive community than the North. It was for this reason that
Ericsson lived in the North. We can hardly imagine Ericsson coming
from England and going to live in the South; for the simple reason that
Ericsson, the dynamic, inventive Ericsson, could not possibly have
lived a life even approximately satisfying to him in the South. There
was no opportunity in the South for him to exercise his powers. It has
been said sometimes that the _Monitor_ might have been produced by the
South, and the _Merrimac_ by the North. Of course, anything is possible
that is not wholly impossible; but history shows that inventions have,
as a rule, been produced by people like those of the North, and not by
people like those of the South.

The influence of invention on history has been to bring about such
victories as that of the _Monitor_ over the _Merrimac_; and the
influence of those victories has been to enhance the advantages
possessed by the more highly civilized. Furthermore, the victory of the
more civilized has given civilization greater assurance in its struggle
to go still higher, just as defeat has made it pause and sometimes
retreat. The issue of the Civil War, for instance, was more than a
victory over slavery and the tendency to dissipation of energy by a
division into two parts of the forces of the country; for it removed
permanently a highly injurious obstruction and started the rejuvenated
republic along that career of progress which it has followed since so

In 1861 E. G. Otis invented the passenger elevator. Possibly this was
not an invention of the first order of brilliancy, but certainly it
was an invention of the first order of utility. Can anyone imagine
the New York of today without passenger elevators? The Otis elevator
has not made it possible to grow two blades of grass where one
blade grew before; but it has made it possible to operate hotels
and office buildings of more than twice as many stories as could be
operated before. Few inventions have had more immediate influence on
contemporary history than the passenger elevator.

In the same year was invented the barbed-wire fence. The production
of carbide of calcium followed in 1862, and also the invention of
the Gatling gun. This was the first successful machine gun, and an
invention of a high order of brilliancy of conception, excellence of
construction and practical usefulness. Few inventions have been more
wholly unique than this machine: so beautiful and harmonious and simple
in principle--though devoted superficially merely to the killing and
wounding of men. Like all inventions in the gun class, it contributed
to the self-protectiveness of the Machine.

An invention in a similar class, smokeless gunpowder was invented by
Schultze in 1863, for use as a sporting powder. Being based on the
action of nitric acid on cellulose, it was somewhat like gun-cotton,
and therefore a chemical compound; rather than a mechanical mixture
like the old gunpowder. It gave out but little smoke when fired.
Smokelessness would be such an obvious advantage in military
operations, that the study of this powder was prosecuted carefully,
with a view to obtaining a smokeless powder suitable for military
purposes. This was accomplished in 1886 by Vieille in France. The
invention of smokeless powder was not one of a high order of brilliancy
for the reason that it was the result of a long series of painstaking
investigations and not of any luminous idea. It was nevertheless a
contribution of the highest usefulness to the self-protectiveness of
the Machine, and therefore to Civilization.

In 1864 Behel invented the automatic grain binder, an invention of the
same class of practical and concrete usefulness as McCormick's reaper,
and a distinct contribution to the Machine. It expedited the binding
of grain, tended to insure accuracy and efficiency, and stimulated
the agricultural classes to a study of mechanism, and therefore of
physics and the arts depending on it. In other words, this invention
performed the double service that many other inventions have performed,
of contributing to the material necessities of men, and inspiring their
intellects as well. In the following year, Martin invented his process
for improving the manufacture of fine steel.

In the same year (1865) Lister brought out his method of antiseptic
surgery. It would be difficult to specify any invention which has
contributed more in half a century to the direct welfare of mankind.
It has effected such a change in surgery as to make the surgery before
Lister's time seem almost barbarous. It made a greater change in
surgery than any change ever made before: one is tempted to declare
that it has brought about a greater change in surgery than all the
previous changes put together. Now, it is interesting to realize
that all these changes, extending over all the civilized world, and
affecting countless human beings, were caused by "a mere idea." They
were caused by a picture made by the imagination of Lister on his
mental retina, that must have covered a very small area of his brain.
It is interesting also to realize that if that part of his brain
had become impaired from any cause, the picture could not have been
imprinted there. And was his brain always in condition to receive
such a picture, or only seldom? Knowing as we do that even the most
brilliant minds are brilliant only rarely, may we not infer that
conditions of the brain permitting such pictures as this of Lister
occur but rarely?

It was also in 1865 that Bullock invented his web-feeding printing
press, and Dodge invented the automatic shell-ejector for firearms.
In 1866 Siemens and Martin invented the open-hearth process for steel
making, Burleigh the compressed air rock-drill, and Whitehead the
automobile torpedo.

The Whitehead torpedo was an invention of the highest order of
brilliancy of conception; but, unlike many other inventions of this
class, it has been a matter of the utmost difficulty to develop it. The
possible usefulness suggested was so great that the principal European
nations, especially the Germans and English, went about its development
at once; but the practical difficulties encountered were so many and so
great, and the opportunities of testing out its usefulness in actual
warfare were so few, that it was not until after its successful and
important use in the war between Russia and Japan in 1904-1905, that
the torpedo was accepted as a major weapon. This invention is one of
the most important contributions ever made to the self-protectivity
of the Machine of Civilization; not only because of its immediate
usefulness in war, but because its complexity necessitates such skill
and knowledge in the operators, and its cost is so great, that only
the most wealthy and highly civilized nations are able to use it
successfully. As has been pointed out repeatedly in this book, one of
the influences of invention on history has been to urge nations to a
high degree of civilization, under pain of greater or less subjection
to nations more highly civilized.

In 1866 Wilde in England and Siemens in Germany invented dynamo
electric machines, in which the magnetic field was made, not by
permanent steel magnets, but by electro-magnets of soft iron that were
energized by the current which the machine itself produced. This was
an invention of the utmost practical value; but who was the actual
inventor does not seem to be exactly known. Its main value is in its
ability to produce a much more powerful current than could be produced
when using permanent magnets; caused by the fact that electro-magnets
can create a "magnetic field" much stronger than steel magnets can.

In 1867 Tilghman invented his sulphite process for pulp making, and in
1868, Moncrief invented his famous disappearing gun-carriage. This was
an invention requiring a high order of conception and constructiveness;
it resulted in a considerable improvement in the art of sea-coast
defense, and therefore in the self-protectiveness of the Machine, by
keeping the guns safe behind fortifications except when actually being
fired. Moncrief's carriage, although originally very good, has been
improved upon from time to time; whenever the progress of the mechanic
arts has made it possible, and some inventor has realized the fact.

Attention is here requested to the last clause in the last sentence. As
civilization has progressed and various inventions have been made, the
whole field of possible future invention has been narrowed, but a field
of clear though limited opportunity has been mapped out. Each invention
narrows the field by removing the opportunities for making that
especial invention: after the printing press had been invented, for
instance, the number of possible inventions was reduced by one; but see
what a field for future invention was mapped out, and what immeasurable
opportunities were suggested! Nevertheless, opportunity does not
produce inventions, it merely invites them; and we have occasionally
noted in this book that the opportunity to make a certain invention
had existed for ages before it was realized: for instance, the
sewing-machine and the little stethoscope.

In 1868 Sholes invented what is usually considered the first practical
typewriting machine. The machine that Thurber had invented in 1843 had
never been developed to a practical stage, and, consequently, it was
not itself a direct contribution to the Machine. Whether it paved the
way for Sholes's is a debatable point; if it did, it was an indirect
contribution, like Hero's engine. Not for several years after 1868
did the typewriter take its place in the Machine: but now it plays an
exceedingly useful, if not conspicuous, part in making it operate day
after day.

In the same year Nobel contributed another of his notable inventions,
and called it dynamite. It was the development of an exceedingly
brilliant and original idea; and, as often happens with conceptions
of that kind, it was easily developed into a concrete, usable and
useful thing. It consisted merely in mixing nitro-glycerin with
about an equal quantity of very finely divided earth. The resulting
mixture was much less sensitive to shock and therefore much safer to
handle than nitro-glycerin. It supplied the factor needed to render
the utilization of nitro-glycerin possible, and therefore it was a
valuable contribution to the Machine. In the same year, Mege invented
oleomargarine, a comparatively inexpensive substitute for butter, and
therefore an important factor in furthering the health and comfort of
the poorer classes and a considerable forward step.

Shortly after 1866, Mrs. Eddy declared to many people that she had made
a discovery which enabled her to cure the sick with Divine aid, and
without the use of drugs. She healed many people and gradually gathered
followers. In a few years, she developed a religion that is now called
Christian Science; and in 1875 she published a book called "Science
and Health, with Key to the Scriptures." Since then, the number of her
followers has increased enormously, and Christian Science Churches
have been erected in all the civilized countries of the world. Though
the doctrines of Christian Science have not been accepted by many
Christians, the great opposition directed toward them at first has now
been largely overcome; and it is admitted by most fair-minded people
that Christian Science seems to have made an important contribution to
the spiritual, mental and physical welfare of mankind.

In 1868, Westinghouse made his epochal invention, the railway
air-brake. It was the result of a brilliant mental conception that
was put into practical form without very serious difficulty. At first
sight, this invention might not be considered of very great importance,
because one might assume that its only office was to prevent collisions
and consequent loss of life and property. Doubtless that was its only
direct effect; but its indirect effect was to increase the confidence
of the people in the safety of railway travel, consequently the number
of people who traveled, consequently the prosperity of the railway
companies, consequently the faith of people in railway investments,
consequently the number and magnitude of railway projects, consequently
the number and length of railways, consequently the speed and general
excellence of transportation and communication over the land in every
civilized country, and consequently the coherency and operativeness of
the entire Machine.



In 1866, one of the most important inventions of history was put to
test, in a war between Austria and Prussia. The invention was the
Prussian Military Machine, of which the inventor was von Moltke, the
Chief of Staff of the Prussian Army. Moltke was not the original
inventor of the Military Machine, any more than Watt was the original
inventor of the steam engine; but he was the inventor of the modern
Military Machine, just as Watt was the inventor of the modern
reciprocating steam-engine.

Moltke had been made Chief of Staff in 1858, and had proceeded at once
to embody an idea that his mind had conceived some years before. This
idea was to utilize all the new inventions of every kind that had
been made, especially in weapons, transportation and communication;
and to continue to utilize all new inventions as each reached the
useful stage, in such a way that the Prussian Army would be an actual
weapon, which could be handled with all the quickness and precision
that the products of modern civilization could impart to it. Philip of
Macedon, Julius Cæsar, and Frederick William of Prussia evidently had
had similar ideas; but no one after them, save Moltke, seems to have
realized fully that armies and navies must utilize all the new methods
and appliances that can be made to assist their operations, if those
armies and navies are to attain their maximum effectiveness. It is
true that no very great changes in arms or in methods of transportation
and communication had recently taken place, at the time when Napoleon
went to war; but this only emphasizes the new conditions with which
Moltke was confronted, and the courage and resourcefulness with which
he met them.

Moltke's Machine was, of course, much more comprehensive and detailed
than the paragraph above would indicate; but almost every machine,
after it has been perfected, is comprehensive and detailed, even if
the original idea was simple. It is true also that the direct means
which Moltke employed to perfect his Machine was to train officers to
solve independently certain problems in strategy and tactics, just as
children at school were taught to solve problems in arithmetic. It
is true also that more attention has usually been fixed on Moltke's
system of training than on his utilization of inventions, and it may
be true that Moltke himself fixed more attention on it. But the idea
of training officers as he did, seems also to have been original with
Moltke; and it is certain that Moltke was the first to develop such a
system, and therefore, that he was the inventor of that system.

We see, therefore, that Moltke made two separate inventions, and
combined both in his machine. Both inventions were condemned and
ridiculed, but both succeeded. The result was that, when war was
declared in 1866 between Prussia and Austria, a reputedly greater
nation, the Prussian machine started smoothly but quickly when the
button was pressed, advanced into Austria without the slightest delay
or jar, collided at once with the Austrian machine, and smashed it in
one encounter. This encounter was near Sadowa and Königgrätz, and took
place only seventeen days after war began. The most important single
invention that Moltke had utilized was the breech-loading "needle
gun," a weapon far better than the Austrians had, not only in speed of
loading, but in accuracy. The two armies were not very different in
point of numbers: so that, even if von Moltke's other measures had not
been taken, the superiority of the Prussian musket over the Austrian
must of itself have caused the winning of the war, though not so
quickly as actually was the case.

But in the war with France, Moltke's machine demonstrated its
effectiveness even more completely, because its task was harder. For
France was esteemed the greatest military nation in the world; it was
the France of Napoleon the Great, then ruled by his nephew Napoleon
III. In the usual sense of the word, the French were a more "military"
people than the Prussians. The Empire of Napoleon III was much more
splendid than the poor little Kingdom of Prussia, the army was more
in evidence, there were more military pageants, the people were more
ardent. But the military leaders of the French included no such
inventor as von Moltke, there was no one who conceived any such ideas
as were pictured in Moltke's imaginative brain; and consequently it
never occurred to anyone to utilize strenuously all the new inventions,
or to train officers like school boys, in the practical problems of
war. The result was that Moltke's machine got into France before the
French machine had been even put together. The pieces of the French
machine had not been got together even when the war ended. When war
was declared by France, her military machine was in three parts. Two
of them got together fairly quickly, so that the French machine was
soon divided into only two parts; one under Marshal Bazaine, and the
other under Marshal McMahon. But Moltke's machine was together at the
start, and it stayed together throughout the war. This does not mean
that all its parts stood in the same spot; but it does mean that the
parts were always in supporting distance of each other. The two parts
of the French machine were not in supporting distance of each other,
and the German machine prevented them from uniting. When McMahon and
Bazaine tried to unite, McMahon was defeated at Wörth, and Bazaine at
Gravelotte. McMahon was forced to surrender his entire force, including
the emperor at Sedan; and Bazaine was shut up in Metz. Paris was then
besieged. Bazaine was soon forced to surrender and Paris to capitulate.

The main immediate result was the establishment of the German Empire.
A later result was the establishment of what is sometimes called
militarism. Of the two, the latter was probably the more important
in future consequences; for the influence of Moltke's conception of
military preparedness has been to make all civilized nations keep up
enormous and highly organized military and naval establishments, under
pain of being caught unprepared for war and beaten to subjection.

The German Empire has vanished, but militarism has not vanished. There
seem to be no signs that it will soon vanish, for it is simply part
of a general preparedness movement that embraces many fields of life,
that is necessitated by the existence of this cumbrous Machine of
Civilization, and that is advanced by the realization that everyone
must cultivate foresight. The physicians tell us, the financiers tell
us, the lawyers tell us, the clergymen tell us, even the business men
of every day and the housewives tell us that we must continually look
ahead and continually prepare to meet what may be coming. Now this is
what Militarism urges as applied to the coming of war. Militarism is
the doctrine of preparedness for war; it holds the same relation to
national health that preventive medicine does to individual health.
It would make us do many unpleasant things, and refrain from doing
many pleasant things. But to do many unpleasant things and to refrain
from doing many pleasant things is necessary, in order to lead even a
moderately virtuous and prudent life. Militarism may be pushed to an
undue extreme; but so may any course of conduct.

It may be interesting to note that Moltke was not an "opportunistic
inventor," like most men of action typified by Napoleon, but that
Bismarck was. Moltke made inventions of a permanent nature, but
Bismarck did not. Yet Moltke was a soldier and Bismarck was a
statesman. Bismarck's German Empire has already passed away, but
Moltke's method of preparedness is with us still, and is gathering
more and more prestige as the years go by. Judged by the standard of
permanent achievement, Moltke was a greater man than Bismarck; though
a belief to the contrary was held during their lifetimes, and is
generally held by most men now.

In 1870, Gramme invented the famous Gramme dynamo-electric machine,
which was so excellent a machine for producing a smooth and
unidirectional electric current, that it gave the start to that
wonderful succession of electrical inventions which established the Age
of Electricity. The main part of Gramme's machine was a modification
of the Pacinnoti ring, invented by Pacinnoti in 1862, which seems
never to have been put to practical use, and never to have been heard
of by Gramme. The Pacinnoti ring consisted of a ring around which
a continuous coil of wire was wound. This ring being rotated in a
magnetic field, the various parts of the wire at any instant lay at
different angles to the lines of force, instead of at the same angle to
them, as was the case with the flat coil of previous dynamo machines.
The result was that some coil was always cutting the magnetic
lines-of-force at the maximum speed, while others were cutting them
at varying speeds, down to zero; so that the aggregate of all was
approximately the same at all instants. The result was that the current
was nearly uniform in strength. The influence of this invention on
subsequent history need hardly be pointed out; for it is impressed on
us every day and every night, in every part of the civilized world.

In the same epochal year that ushered in the Franco-Prussian War and
the Gramme machine, the Hyatts invented celluloid. The invention was of
the simplest character, involving mainly the compression of camphorated
gun-cotton by hydraulic or other force. This was not a great invention,
but a useful one; making it possible to fabricate many useful articles
at low cost.

In the following year of 1871, Goodyear invented his welt shoe-sewing
machine and Maddox made his epochal discovery. This was that when
nitrate of silver was added to a solution of gelatine in water
containing a soluble bromide, silver bromide was formed, which did
not subside even after long standing; that the emulsion could be made
quickly and in large quantities, and that by thus substituting gelatine
for collodion on the surface of glass plates used in photography,
greater sensitiveness, and therefore, greater speed could be obtained.
This led to an important improvement, and paved the way to others, and
thus became the basis of rapid photography.

By 1871 the work of several inventors had produced a press that printed
an endless sheet of paper on both sides and folded it automatically.
In the same year Ingersoll invented his compressed air rock drill.
In 1872, Lyall invented his positive-motion weaving loom, and Clerk
Maxwell propounded his electro-magnetic theory of light. According
to this theory, luminous and electric disturbances are the same in
kind, the same medium transmits both, and light is an electro-magnetic
phenomenon. This was a most important invention in the field of
physical science, and is now accepted by the majority of scientists. It
is not so applicable to the needs of men at the present moment as the
weaving loom; but in the future, it may be more so.

In the same year, Westinghouse invented an improvement on his original
air-brake that made it automatic under some conditions, and in the
following year Janney invented the automatic car-coupler. Both of these
were brilliant inventions, though not nearly so brilliant as Clerk
Maxwell's. They were immeasurably more important, however, from the
standpoint of material contributions to the Machine. One result was
that the inventors were immeasurably more rewarded in a material way
than was that great mathematical physicist, Clerk Maxwell.

In the same year of Our Lord, 1873, Willis invented his platinotype
photographic process, in which finely divided platinum forms an image
virtually permanent, and Edison invented his duplex telegraph. This
was the first of those wonderful inventions that made Edison famous;
and it embodied possibly as brilliant an idea as he ever conceived.
The principle was exceedingly simple, and consisted merely in using
currents that increased in strength as the key was pressed to actuate
an ordinary electro-magnet for one message, and using currents whose
direction was reversed when the key was pressed, to actuate a polarized
relay for another message. By combining this scheme with one long
before proposed, of putting the receiving instruments across the arms
of a Wheatstone Bridge, the entire system could be duplicated, and two
messages sent at the same time in each direction. This, of course,
constituted quadruplex telegraphy.

In the same year, Gorham invented the twine-binder for harvesters,
Bennett improved the gelatine-bromide process of Maddox; and Locke and
Wood invented the self-binding reaper. In 1874, Glidden and Vaughan
invented a machine for making barbed wire, and Sir William Thomson
invented his super-excellent siphon-recorder for receiving messages
over the Atlantic cable. This invention combined the three elements
that constitute a great invention; brilliancy of conception, excellence
of construction and concrete product. It was of immediate usefulness
also, which a great invention may not necessarily be. But Sir William
Thomson was a "canny Scot," a good mechanic, and a man of the world,
as well as a mathematical physicist of the highest order; with the
result that even on his loftiest flights, he held tight to a string
that connected him to the earth, and that kept his flights within
the regions of the practical and immediate. His siphon-recorder was
very much more sensitive to electric currents than any recorder ever
invented before; a quality which made feebler currents utilizable,
decreased induction and therefore increased speed. Coming when it
did, and coming because Sir William Thomson saw a need for it, it
was a great and important contribution to submarine telegraphy, and
therefore to the Machine; for the Machine has now become very large
and complicated, and needed the best possible communication among its
various parts. Some of these parts were far distant from each other.

In the following year, 1875, Brown invented his cash-carrier. This
was not so brilliant or important an invention as Sir William
Thomson's; but it can hardly be doubted that a hundred thousand
times as many cash-carriers and their children, cash-registers, have
been made as siphon-recorders. In the same year, Lowe invented his
illuminating water-gas; Wegmann his roller flour mills; Smith his
middlings purifier for flour; and Pictet his ice-machine. The last
four inventions were of that distinctly practical kind that contribute
directly to the operativeness of the Machine, by facilitating the
conditions of living in large communities, and make great cities
possible. Of the four, the invention of Pictet was the most brilliant
and scientific, and the least directly useful.

In 1876, Bell made an invention that is usually conceded to be the most
important of modern times, and that was also of the highest order of
brilliancy of conception, excellence of construction and concreteness
of result. The invention was that of the speaking telephone.

The telephone is not in the class with the actual doers of things,
like the weaving machine and the gun, but rather in the class with
the telegraph and the typewriter, in being an assistant to the doers
of things: that is, it is an instrument rather than a machine. This
does not mean that a machine is more important than an instrument,
though possibly machines have done more work directly in furthering
civilization than instruments have. A machine does something itself;
an instrument is a means or agency or implement with which men do
something. As a class, machines have probably been more directly useful
than instruments; but this does not mean, of course, that any machine
that one may name has been more useful than any instrument. A machine
(generally speaking) does only one class of work; the sewing-machine,
for instance, does no work save sewing; while such an instrument as
the telephone is an aid to men in directing the work of thousands of

It may be pointed out here that, in the broad meaning of the word
instrument, every machine that does actual work is an instrument in the
hands of men for doing that work; but that every instrument is not
necessarily a machine. A machine, by definition, is composed of various
parts that work together to a common end, and it carries with it the
ideas of movement and of power. An instrument, on the other hand, need
not be composed of more than one part; it may of itself be incapable of
moving or exerting power; and yet, in the hands of men and women, it
may be the means of doing the most useful work. A familiar illustration
among many is the needle.

Now the telephone can hardly be called a machine: it can of itself do
nothing. It is not like an engine that can do work hour after hour,
without external interposition, supervision or assistance. Yet, for
the reason that the only value of a machine lies in the fact that it
is an instrument whereby men can get results, an instrument is not
necessarily in a lower class than a machine.

The essential value of the telephone seems to lie in the fact that the
Machine has become so complicated, and composed of so many separate
parts, that, without the telephone, those parts would not be adequately
linked together. The telephone, like the telegraph, acts in the Machine
of Civilization as do the nerves in the human organism. The human
organism could not be an organism without the nervous system; and
the present Machine could not exist in its present form without the
telegraph and the telephone. These two instruments have so greatly
improved the Machine as to raise it toward the dignity of an organism.
They have not made it an organism, because they have not endowed it
with life. They have, however, raised it to the dignity of an automatic
machine, by supplying such a ready and sure means of conveying
information and instructions, that a blow to the Machine anywhere is
felt everywhere, and assistance to the part attacked can be summoned
from everywhere.

Illustrations of this can be seen the most clearly in our large cities,
in which information concerning a fire, or a riot, or an accident is
transmitted instantly to all parts of the city; and fire engines,
police or ambulances are sent in response thereto. Illustrations
covering wider fields come to mind at once; but they are of the same
character, whether the fields comprise single states or continents
or seas, or the whole surface of the earth. Possibly the best single
illustration is that supplied by the events of the recent World War, in
which the nerves of civilization in every land were kept on the tingle
by the news continually received from the fighting fronts, and measures
were continually taken to meet each situation as it occurred. Australia
and New Zealand and America and Canada and South Africa assisted France
to repel the invader from her soil.

The influence of the telephone on history has been so great that
history would not be at all as it has been, if the telephone had not
been born. Has this influence been beneficent? Probably, because it
has tied the parts of the Machine together, and made it more coherent.
But it may be well to realize that this very fact has had the effect
of permitting other additions to the Machine; with the result that the
Machine is perhaps no more coherent now than it was when the telephone
was added to it. Furthermore, we must not forget that, although the
influence of each new invention is usually to assist civilization
rather than to assist its enemies, yet we cannot assume that 100%
is exerted on that side, for a considerable percentage is always
exerted on the other side. For instance, the printing press is used to
disseminate harmful teachings, as well as beneficent teachings, the
telephone is used for bad purposes as well as good ones, etc.

We must not restrict our appreciation of the influence of the telephone
by ignoring the stimulation which it has given to study and experiment,
especially in the physical sciences. People of the present day do not
realize the amazement and excitement caused throughout the world by the
sudden realization of the fact that human speech could be transmitted.
Coming as it did so soon after the invention of the Gramme dynamo,
it waked the minds of men with a sudden start, and opened a dazzling
avenue of anticipation of discoveries and inventions yet to come. Young
men, and especially young men of fine ambition, saw ahead a clear
line of useful and brilliant work; and the colleges and technical
schools were soon thronged with eager youth. A new epoch--the electric
epoch--was at hand.

The most generally noticed herald of the new epoch was not the
telephone, however, but the "electric candle" invented by Jablochkoff
in 1876, which soon afterward came into use in Paris. This candle
consisted of two parallel sticks of carbon separated by an insulating
substance, made of some refractory material, that fuzed as the carbons
gradually burned away. The two carbons were connected to an electric
circuit that passed from the tip of one carbon to the tip of the other,
causing a brilliant electric arc. To prevent one carbon wasting away
more rapidly than the other, an alternating current was employed. This
great invention is now almost forgotten, because it was soon supplanted
by the present arc-light that is better in many ways. Nevertheless, to
Jablochkoff must be accorded the distinction of being the first to make
electric lighting on a large scale practicable, and to demonstrate the

In the same year, an invention of more than doubtful beneficence was
made, a machine for continuously making cigarettes; but this was
balanced in the same year by the inventions of the steam saw-mill and
of Portland cement.

In the following year came an invention fully as brilliant as the
telephone, though not so useful, the phonograph. It is usually
considered as more brilliant; certainly it was more unexpected. The
idea of transmitting speech was very old, many men had worked on it,
and many were working on it at the time when Bell accomplished it;
but the idea of recording speech was almost undreamed of. Up to the
present moment, it can hardly be said that the phonograph has had great
influence on history; for its main work has been in giving pleasure by
the music it has rendered. We can easily imagine the present Machine,
without the phonograph, but not without the telephone.

And we cannot imagine the present Machine to exist without the gas
engine, invented the same year by Dr. Otto, that made possible the
use of large units of mechanical power, without the need of boilers
or condensers or other external appliances; for the combustion of the
fuel was carried on inside the engine itself. This invention has been
followed by many others during the forty-five years that have since
gone by, in which oil has taken the place of gas. Petrol or gasolene
has been the oil (or spirit) most used; but engines of the Deisel type,
employing heavy oils, have now come into being in large numbers.

It is easy to underestimate the influence of the gas-engine, or
oil-engine (usually called the internal combustion engine), as is
proved by the fact that most people do so; despite the evidence of its
importance on all sides, in the shape of submarine vessels, automobiles
and similar vehicles. Its most important single effect has been to
make possible the aeroplane, and all the science and art of aviation,
and the consequent conquest of the air.

In the same year of 1877, Edison made his great invention, the carbon
telephone transmitter, which increased enormously the effect of the
voice in varying the resistance of a telephone circuit, and thereby
increased the loudness of telephone speech. In the same year, Berliner
invented the induction transmitter, which consisted of a primary coil
of small resistance in circuit with the transmitter and the secondary
coil connected to the outside circuit. These two inventions, added
to Bell's original invention, made the telephone of today--in its
essential features.

In 1878, Edison produced his incandescent lamp, in which a carbon
filament, enclosed in a bulb exhausted of air, was heated to
incandescence by an electric current. The importance of this invention
need hardly be even mentioned. As to the originality of the conception,
there are many opinions; for several experimenters had been working in
this field, and many brilliant results had been achieved. Important as
this invention was, we can imagine the Machine to exist without it,
though not in quite so perfect and complete a form. Its main use is
its obvious use; though there can be no doubt that the improvement it
wrought in the conditions of comfortable living, and the attractions it
offered to ambitious youths enlisted a large army in the study of the
physical sciences, gave impetus to all the mechanic arts, and assisted
in many important ways the upbuilding of the Machine.

In 1879, Appleby invented the automatic grain-binder, and Sir William
Crookes made his epochal discovery of cathode rays. This discovery,
like many others of a highly scientific character, was not of immediate
practical value; consisting as it did in the fact that if the poles
of the secondary circuit of a Rhumkorff coil were connected to the two
ends of a glass tube from which nearly all the air (or other gas) had
been exhausted, a stream of electrified particles was projected from
the cathode, or negative pole. These particles were evidently projected
with great violence; for if they struck the side of the tube, they
produced a brilliant illumination there; while if they struck a piece
of metal they developed heat. If the metal were sufficiently thin, it
was melted. Later study of these cathode rays developed the fact that
the stream of charged particles could be deflected by magnetic and
electric fields, thus showing that they had actual physical mass; and
still later studies resulted in that mass being determined, and also
the amount of the electric charges on them. To an individual particle
the name electron was given; and the interesting fact developed that
the mass of an electron is only about one-thousandth that of an atom of

This is not very exciting news to men whose time is consumed in the
engrossing occupation of earning a living; but scientific facts have
a curious habit of lurking in the background, sometimes a long while,
and then suddenly stepping up to the footlights in the form of facts
or inventions of a kind that are exceedingly important,--even from the
standpoint of making a living, or at least of enduring the conditions
of living. The study of electrons, for instance led the way to the
discovery of the beneficent X-rays, made in 1895 by Röntgen.

The first electric railways, like the first railways of any kind, were
laid in mines; for the superiority of electricity over steam for use in
the unventilated spaces of mines was obviously greater than in the open
spaces on the surface. The first one was in the mines at Zankerode in
Germany and was constructed by the famous Siemens Brothers. The first
electric surface railway was built at Berlin in 1879. It was about
three hundred and fifty yards in length, and laid upon wooden sleepers;
an auxiliary rail being fixed midway between the two main rails. The
auxiliary rail carried the electric current, which was taken off by a
brush connected to the electric motor on the car, from which it went
to the rails that acted as the "return." The similarity between this
system and that now used in all our cities is striking, and shows how
practically and scientifically good the first electric railway was.

To estimate correctly the influence of the invention of the electric
railway would be, of course, impossible, especially on partially
developed countries; for the electric railway assisted greatly in
developing them. It seems possible, however, that the electric
railway may be of not very long life, for the reason that the
internal-combustion-engine possesses the same great advantage of
smokelessness that the electric motor does and makes possible the use
of a much simpler system than electric railways necessitate. The fact
that any invention is displaced by a later one does not, of course,
detract from the merit of the invention displaced, in having supplied
the needed stepping-stone for the other one to rise from.

In the same year, Foy invented the steam plow, and Lee invented his
magazine rifle. In the following year (1880) Blake invented his
telephone transmitter, an improvement of a practical character over
preceding ones, Greener invented his hammerless gun, and Faure invented
his electric storage battery.

The Faure storage battery was a very important invention, but not
nearly so important a one as was at first supposed. It was an
improvement on Planté's battery, and consisted mainly in applying red
lead and litharge directly to the positive and negative lead plates,
before sending any charging current through the liquid; thus expediting
the making of the battery very greatly. The invention was hailed with
extravagant rejoicings, even Sir William Thomson being carried away
from his habitual equanimity; but serious practical difficulties soon
developed that are familiar to most of us, and that have never yet been

In 1880, Koch and Eberth isolated the typhoid bacillus, and Sternberg
the pneumonia bacillus. The importance of these two discoveries is not
usually appreciated by any but physicians and those who have suffered
from these diseases and been cured. Even those who have been saved from
having them, especially those in armies who have been saved from having
typhoid fever, fail to realize their debt. But the almost perfect
immunity from typhoid fever enjoyed by all the enormous armies of the
vast World War, compared with the frightful distress and mortality
caused by typhoid fever in previous wars, bears eloquent witness to the
influence of the great discoveries of those tireless investigators.

It may be pointed out here that of all the inventions and discoveries
ever made, those made in medical and surgical science, especially in
preventive measures, have had more direct and immediate influence on
history than contemporary inventions in any other field, save possibly
religion. For what is history but the life-story of the human race; and
what greater influence can be had than influence upon the health of its
component members? The discoveries and inventions made in the field of
bacteriology especially, by gaining knowledge concerning the unseen and
unheard foes that attack us from within, have lifted civilized man up
to a condition of cleanliness and purity, in comparison with which the
conditions under which our forefathers lived seem almost repulsive.

It is true that many of these conditions were outcomes of civilization
itself, and that for some of them medicine has merely found the
antidotes. Yet the fact that medicine has found antidotes shows
that medicine has been keeping pace with progress and has invented
measures for preventing the Machine from poisoning itself by a sort
of auto-intoxication. That the Machine is in danger of disruption
by outside and inside forces has been suggested frequently in this
book; so that what seems to be indicated as desirable is a series of
discoveries and inventions that will prevent it. But, in attempting
this, we must not forget that each new discovery or invention adds
another part, that safety devices are sometimes so intricate as to
increase the danger element rather than lessen or prevent it, and that
safety appliances themselves are apt to get out of order, and thus lead
to a false sense of security. These reflections force on our attention
the fallibility of the human, the necessity for continuous study of
all situations as they successively develop, and the solemn fact that
progress is not beneficial of itself; for it may be in the wrong

One obvious fact that we have always realized, startles each one of
us occasionally; the fact that "people do not know what is good for
them." The appetites and instincts of undomesticated brutes are said to
be much more trustworthy as guides than those of domesticated brutes
and human beings. We, by cultivating our imaginations and reasoning
powers, and the brutes by being given food and shelter that they
themselves do not have to get, seem to have lost a considerable part
of the instinctive abilities with which we were originally blessed.
With human beings, many objects that most of us aim for are extremely
artificial, and some of them are extremely harmful. An illustration is
the craving for much food and little physical labor,--a craving that is
gratified almost at once by most people suddenly achieving wealth, with
consequences that are always deplorable and are frequently distressing.

Of course this comes from excessive yielding to our appetites; but
the brutes seem to feel no temptation to excessive yielding; an
undomesticated brute seems to know when he has had enough. We not only
yield, we go further and force our appetites. Possibly this is only
an illustration of the fact that our minds have a sort of inertia,
comparable to the inertia of physical objects; so that when we move
in any direction, we are apt to go too far. That it is a tendency of
human nature to go too far in any line of conduct, when once it is
entered on, the facts of daily life continually testify. What reformer
in public or private life ever knew when to stop; what money maker ever
realized that he had enough money and ceased his efforts to get more? A
small percentage have, but only a small percentage.

For this reason and others, the human machine and the Machine of
Civilization do not get along together as harmoniously as might be
wished. Though many inventions, especially the basic ones, have been
actually uncontrollable acts of self-expression, many others have been
inspired by motives largely selfish, such as the wish to gain fame, or
power or money (or fame _and_ power _and_ money); and the result is a
Machine that contributes more to man's material well-being than to his
moral, mental or spiritual well-being, and a consequent civilization
that is necessarily artificial. The net effect, however (unless all our
standards are wrong), has been beneficial; for it cannot truthfully
be denied that physically, mentally, morally and spiritually, the
civilized man is better than the savage, and to a degree commensurate
with the degree to which he is civilized.

Probably most civilized men would agree to this proposition. Probably
most of them would also agree that civilization brings its evil
influences as well as its good influences, that the Machine has been
found vulnerable to destructive influences in the past, that the
ultimate effect must be judged from its influences on human beings, and
that the most beneficent inventions and discoveries have been those
that tend to the safety of the Machine itself and the spiritual, moral,
mental and physical health of the individual humans who comprise its
principal parts. They will therefore applaud such discoveries as those
of Eberth, Koch and Sternberg of 1880, and also another one of Koch and
one of Pasteur two years later. Both of these benefactors then isolated
deadly microbes of disease: Koch the bacillus of tuberculosis, and
Pasteur that of hydrophobia.

In 1881, Reece invented a button-hole machine and Schmid a hand
photographic camera. Both of these were useful inventions if not
brilliant. It would be interesting to know the amounts of money
realized by their inventors, compared with the amounts received by
Koch, Pasteur and Sternberg. In 1884, by the way, Koch made another
epoch-making and beneficent discovery, and isolated the bacillus of
cholera. Loeffler did the same thing, in the same year for diphtheria,
and Nicolaier for lockjaw; while Kuno produced antipyrene.

In reflecting on what these great men accomplished, it is interesting
to point out to ourselves that the consensus of opinion seems to be
that, for most people, "the pursuit of happiness" is the main business
of life. Whether this ought to be or not, should not distract our
attention from the fact that it really is. To most of us--at least
to those of us who are young--happiness seems to lie in the thing
pursued, provided the pursuit succeeds. We all seek the crock of gold
at the end of the rainbow, and imagine that if we get it, we shall
get the _summum bonum_ of everything--happiness. Yet all one has to
do is to remember how happy he was one day when he was feeling well
physically, morally, mentally and spiritually (as we all have at rare
intervals), to realize that happiness is merely a condition,--and
that it is a condition that depends more on _the condition of his own
machine than on all other things put together_. When one observes the
action of a fine trotting horse, the smooth and noiseless motion of
a large steam-engine, or the majestic setting of the sun; or when he
hears the harmonies of some great musical composer, or the grander
harmonies of the ocean-breakers on the beach; or when he ponders on the
inconceivably swift but God-like regularity of the stars and planets,
he may get a faint and brief conception of what it means for a machine
to be in order. Our human machines are rarely in this condition: but
sometimes, without any assignable cause whatever, one takes a deep,
full breath, and says, "It is good to live."

The men just spoken of, and the great teachers of truth in all ages, in
even a higher degree, admonish us to keep our machines in order, and
tell us how to do it.

How not to do it, the world and the flesh and the devil tell us
unceasingly; beguiling us, as the serpent beguiled Eve, to eat; to
gratify one and all the appetites of the senses, regardless of the
effect on the machine inside. For we know those senses ought to guard
our intake valves, but do not.

Why cannot some one invent a device that will automatically regulate
our intake valves? Such an invention would prevent us from eating too
much, drinking too much, and smoking too much, and also from eating,
drinking and smoking things detrimental to the machine, and injurious
to our happiness; and even from taking in sights and sounds and
thoughts of an unhealthful kind. This might be followed by another
invention that would regulate our outgo valves, and put a brake on our
speech, our ambition, our acquisitiveness, etc. But would not these
take from us our God-granted free will? Yes, in great measure. But
such is the effect of the Machine of Civilization. The primeval savage
lived--(and the primeval savage still lives) in a condition of almost
perfect liberty, as do the beasts that perish: but in the vast Machine
of Civilization, we are only tiny parts. Each of us, it is true, has a
little freedom of motion; but it is like the "lost motion" of a loose
part in a crude or ill-constructed engine; and it seems to be growing
smaller and smaller, as the Machine grows larger and improves.



In 1884, Mergenthaler invented the linotype machine, in which matrixes
for casting different type were moved successively into line, by
pressing the corresponding alphabetically marked keys on a keyboard,
and the whole line then moved to the casting mechanism and cast. This
was an invention of the most clean-cut and perfect character; following
clearly the processes of conception, development and production, and
resulting in an improvement in the art of printing of a most important
kind. Few inventions embody such a brilliant and original conception,
such excellent constructiveness and such a useful product. So perfect
was the result, and so clear was the conception that preceded it,
that one marvels that some one had not invented it before. Why make
matrixes for type, then cast the type, then space the type individually
one after the other in line, and then stereotype them as they stand
in line, when it is so much easier simply to place the matrixes in
line and then stereotype the matrixes? The influence of this invention
is of the same kind as the influence of the invention of the art of
printing from movable type, because it is an improvement in that art.
All over the world this invention, or inventions suggested by it, are
used by the newspaper and book publishers, with the result that the
quickness and accuracy of printing are much enhanced, and the work of
co-operating the parts of the Machine thereby facilitated.

In the same year Marble increased the safety of the bicycle by his
invention of the rear-driven chain, and Schultz invented his chrome
process of tanning leather. Both of these were important in their way;
but in 1885 Cowles made a more important invention, that of reducing
(and thereby producing) the metal aluminum from its oxide, called
alumina, the chief constituent of clay. The usefulness of aluminum lies
largely in its extreme lightness, and in the fact that when combined
with certain metals, notably copper, it forms important alloys.

During the same year, Welsbach invented his gas mantle, a valuable
contribution to gas-lighting, and Bowers invented his hydraulic dredge,
in which the act of dredging a channel or harbor was accomplished by
hydraulic power. In the same year, Van Depoele invented a practical
contact appliance for use in taking off the current from the overhead
wires of electric railways. In 1886, Bell and Tainter invented the
graphophone, an important improvement on the phonograph, and Elihu
Thompson invented electric welding. This was an epochal invention,
inaugurating as it did an entirely new art, and contributing enormously
not only to the quickness of welding, but to its accuracy and strength.
Many improvements have been made on this invention during the past few
years, that have increased its scope and value. Many articles are now
made in one piece that is really solid, though composed of several
parts: for those parts are so firmly welded together that the joints
cannot be seen and are as strong as any other parts.

In the same year, Matteson invented his combined harvester and
thresher. In the following year, Prescott invented his band wood saw,
and McArthur and Forrest invented their process of extracting metals
(especially gold and silver) from ores by the use of a solution of
potassium cyanide, and greatly cheapened the work. In the same year,
Tesla invented his system of multi-phase electric currents, which
rendered possible the economical transmission of power over long
distances, of which the first use was made in transmitting power
derived from Niagara Falls. This was another invention of the first
order of merit in brilliancy and originality of conception, excellence
of constructiveness and usefulness of result. Its value has been only
dimly appreciated by most men, because the invention does not stand
continually before our eyes, like the telephone and electric light; for
it cannot be seen at all. It is not a machine or instrument (in the
common use of those words) but a system, actually invisible of itself,
that governs the method of design, construction and operation of the
visible dynamos, motors and conductors. Like the germ of life, we see
not it, but only its manifestations.

In the same year, Welsbach brought out an improvement on his
incandescent gas-mantle that was valuable for cases in which a
brilliant illumination was desired, that leaped almost immediately into
public favor. In the following year of 1888, Sprague made the first
installation of street electric railways in the United States, and the
first in the world in which the conditions of operating were difficult.
The success of Sprague's system was largely due to the excellence of
Sprague's electric motor, which had the curious property of being
designed on principles which the scientific men of those days declared
to be wholly wrong. Sprague's reputation rests mainly on his electric
railway; but, from the standpoint of the inventor, Sprague's invention
of his electric motor was of a higher order than that of his electric

In 1888, Harvey invented his process of making armor-plate. In the
same year, Eastman and Walker invented the kodak camera, in which the
novelty consisted mainly of a continuous roll of sensitized film,
on which photographs could be successively made; and De Chardonnet
invented his process of manufacturing artificial silk from threads that
were made by forcing collodion through very small holes. These were
important in fact; but in comparison with the discoveries in the realm
of the actual ether made in the same year by Hertz, they were quite

These discoveries resulted from experiments with electric apparatus
of the simplest and most inexpensive character, in a space near which
sparks were passing between the two terminals of a Rhumkorff coil.
It had been known before that each spark accompanied and therefore
represented an establishment of equilibrium between the two oppositely
charged terminals, and that each discharge was of an oscillatory
character--as any readjustment of equilibrium always is. By means of
a mere single wire, curved into a circle, except that the two ends
were not quite joined, Hertz discovered that the space was filled with
electric waves that were propagated in straight lines from the source
(as light is) and accompanied with vibrations at right angles to the
direction of propagation (also as light is); and also that the electric
rays were refracted, reflected and polarized, as light rays are.
Subsequent experiments with modified apparatus measured the velocity of
the propagation of electric waves, and found that it was virtually the
same as that of light.

To some, this may not seem a very important discovery, "from a
practical standpoint"; and doubtless it is not, from the "practical
standpoint" of some people, because it does not affect the amount of
their worldly possessions, or their ease, comfort and pleasure. It
was hailed with delight by scientific men, however; because not only
did it support the electro-magnetic theory of light, but the course of
Hertz's work had demonstrated the suspected fact that the "receiver"
of electric waves must harmonize in its electric dimensions with the
transmitter, in order that the greatest amount of electric energy
may be developed in the receiver; and it had thus given assistance
to investigations then in progress on what we now call "wireless

Many investigators were now in the field, among whom was the humble
author of these pages. Little real progress was made until, in 1891,
when Branly announced his amazing discovery and utilized it in his
amazing invention, called the "coherer." His discovery was that, if a
tube containing metal filings be placed in the "field" of the spark of
an electric machine, Leyden jar, or Rhumkorff coil, it (the filings)
will become a conductor of electricity when hit by the electric waves;
and that it will revert to its normal state as a non-conductor, if
smartly tapped: the effect of the waves being to cause the separate
particles to co-here and form a continuous metal conductor; while the
effect of the tapping was to jar the particles apart. The first use
of this coherer was in place of the ring that Hertz had used; but its
value as an instrument of practical usefulness in achieving electric
communication without wires was almost immediately perceived--and

The career of the wireless telegraph since Branly's great discovery
has been as rapid, widespread and important as any other new agency
has ever enjoyed, and possibly more so. That wireless telegraphy was a
distinct invention may perhaps be questioned. If it was, who was the
inventor? It is true that an invention does not have to be associated
with any one inventor in order to have the right to be characterized
as an invention; but in the case of the wireless telegraph, it seems
safe to say that, although some of the separate steps toward its
achievement were inventions, the final step was merely the adding
together of these separate steps in a way that was perfectly obvious,
and that several men accomplished almost simultaneously. As soon as
Branly produced his coherer, the problem was thereby automatically
solved. Every experimenter realized that it was merely necessary to
use Branly's coherer, in place of any receiver previously used, and to
"tune" the transmitting and receiving circuits into harmony.

The first man to make a practical wireless installation seems to have
been Marconi, in 1896. As is well known, the distances over which
messages can be sent has been increasing rapidly ever since, and so has
been the number and the importance of the organizations using it, of
which the largest are the various national governments themselves. The
vast influence of wireless (or radio) telegraphy on the history of the
great World War is too recent to need detailing, but possibly it may
be well to call to mind the fact that the ocean cables were virtually
all under the control of the Allies, and that "the wireless" was almost
the only means that Germany had for receiving information quickly and
sending instructions quickly beyond her own coast line. It was used by
the Allies, however, almost continually in the controlling of their
multitudinous naval units on the sea, and among those units themselves;
and it made possible that prompt and harmonious action among numerous
widely separated groups, that distinguished this war from all preceding
wars. It would be difficult to determine whether the wireless
lengthened the war by the assistance it gave to Germany, or shortened
it by the assistance it rendered the Allies. In the early part of the
war, when Germany was directing ships that were far away, it helped
Germany more than it helped the Allies; but in the last years, when
the Allies were fighting the submarines in the Mediterranean and North
Seas, it helped the Allies more. In the main, it probably shortened the
war considerably, by accelerating the operations.

This reminds us of the fact that the general effect of invention
has been to make wars more terrible but more brief; and that the
abbreviating effect is especially noticeable in inventions that
increase the speed and safety of transportation and communication.
Another effect of invention has been to make wars more widespread; for
the reason that it links some nations together and creates antagonism
between other nations, even if they are far apart. Larger and larger
organizations are thus brought into being, not only as nations but
as allies and confederates. In this way, Japan fought in Asia, in
co-operation with her allies in France.

On the supposition that the Machine is going to continue to increase
in size and strength and excellence, on the further supposition that
the more highly civilized nations will continue to control the less
civilized nations increasingly, the time may not be many generations
distant when all the nations of the world will be divided into a very
few groups, each dominated by one great nation; as the Middle Europe
nations were dominated by Germany in the last war. As all the known
world was once divided into two groups headed by Assyria and Babylon;
at another time by Assyria and Persia; at another time by Greece and
Persia; at another by Rome and Carthage, etc., and as at various times
Europe also has been divided into two opposing groups of nations, so
the whole known world may again be divided into two opposing groups of
nations:--possibly the white and the yellow nations.

The clash of the fighting machines of two such vast organizations,
perfected in power and speed as they doubtless will be as the years go
by and inventions succeed each other, will surpass in grandeur anything
yet dreamed of. It may never occur. _Never?_ It may never occur; but
something approximating it will occur, if history is to be as much like
past history as history usually has been.

In 1889, Schneider invented his process of making nickel steel, and
thereby effected an improvement in steel that was first utilized in
making armor, and afterward in making other articles of many kinds.
Hall invented a process of making aluminum during the same year. In the
following year, Stephens invented his electric plough, and Mergenthaler
made an improvement on his linotype machine. About the same time,
pneumatic tires were attached to bicycles; and an invention of a most
important kind, that had lain dormant for many years, was put to work
at last. The inventor had long since died. Does he know that his
invention is now used all over the civilized world? If so, does the
knowledge give him pleasure?

One of the most unsatisfactory parts of an inventor's experience is the
difficulty he has in making other men see the value of his inventions,
combined with the fact that when the invention is finally adopted, his
part in it is often forgotten, and sometimes intentionally ignored.
This applies especially to inventions of a high order of originality,
that are a little in advance of the requirements and knowledge of most
men at the time, and that are looked upon as visionary and do not
come into use for a considerable while. Many an inventor has endured
a purgatory while trying to get a hearing for his invention, and yet
been wholly forgotten when it was finally adopted. To make the matter
worse, he has often been branded for life as a visionary, and remained
so branded, even after the invention had been adopted because of which
he had been branded. In other cases, manufacturers have stolen his
invention and denied his claims, knowing that he was too poor to fight
against them with all of their resources. In other cases, business men
and lawyers have combined to induce him to sign papers of a highly
advantageous character to the business men, but contrariwise to the
inventor. In all of these cases, the matter has usually been the worse
for the inventor in proportion to the high order of the invention: for
the real inventor, like the real artist, is usually so absorbed in his
thoughts that he cares but little (too little) for material gain. The
case of the inventor who makes a business of inventing is somewhat
different. He usually confines his efforts to making inventions that
will bring in money, becomes an expert on nice points in patent law,
discerns chances for circumventing existing patents while utilizing
their basic principles, perceives opportunities for making the little
improvements in detail that promote practicability, and becomes the
kind of inventor who owns a limousine.

In 1890, Krag-Jorgensen invented the famous rifle of that name. In the
following year, Branly invented the coherer mentioned on page 305, and
Parsons invented his rotary steam turbine. The steam turbine was an
improvement over the reciprocating steam engine for many classes of
work, great and small. The first steam engine invented by Hero was a
rotary engine, but it was of course, most uneconomical of steam. The
first steam engine that was really efficient was the reciprocating
engine produced by Watt. The greatest single defect of rotary engines
has always been the loss of steam in going by the rotating parts
without doing any work, a defect existing in only a small degree with
the closely fitting pistons of reciprocating engines. In the turbines
invented by Parsons and others about the same time, wastage of steam
was prevented by various means that need not be detailed here, and
smooth motion of the rotary engine at the same time secured. The
greatest benefit accrued probably to ocean steamships, in which the
absence of vibration, and the saving in weight, space and number of
attendants required were features of great practical importance.

About 1890, Edison invented the kinetograph and kinetoscope, after
a long series of investigations and experiments. These followed the
experiments made by Dr. Muybridge some years before, in which he had
taken many successive pictures of horses at very short intervals, by
means of as many separate cameras, (twelve pictures in one stride
for instance), and afterwards reproduced them in such a way as to
show horses in rapid motion. They came also after Eastman's kodak,
in which pictures could be taken successively, on a traveling film.
In the kinetograph, only one object glass was used; and the film was
drawn along behind it in such a way that, at predetermined intervals,
the film was stopped and a shutter behind the object glass or lens
was moved away, and a picture taken. The moving mechanism (at first
the human hand) continuing in motion, the shutter was closed and the
film was moved along a short distance, so as to bring another part
behind the object glass. Then the same operation was repeated--and
so on. In the kinetoscope, the operation was reversed, in the sense
that the pictures taken were presented successively to the eye of the
observer. In the first form, the observer looked at them through a
peep-hole: but in the latter forms, the pictures have been thrown upon
a screen--somewhat as from a magic lantern, and become the "movie" of

Here, again, we see an invention of the highest order in each of
the three essentials--conception, development and production. No
invention exists of a higher order. As to their use and usefulness,
we are most familiar with them in moving pictures. Whether it is for
the public good to produce so many shows for idly disposed men and
women to spend their time in looking at, is perhaps a possible subject
for enlightening discussion. But the moving picture is used for many
purposes, especially for purposes of education and research, besides
that of mere amusement, and will unquestionably be so used, more and
more as time goes on. One of its most obvious spheres of usefulness
is in making photographs of movements that are very rapid, and then
analyzing and inspecting those photographs when presented very slowly,
and when stopped. Another is in taking photographs of successive
situations that have occurred at considerable intervals of time, and
then presenting the pictures quickly, and thus showing a connected
story. By dealing in this way with historical incidents, we can get
a realization of the interdependence of those incidents that we
cannot get in any other way, and see how cause has produced effects,
and effects have come from causes. Similarly, the work of building
any large structure can be shown by presenting rapidly a series of
photographs taken at different stages; and so can the growth of a plant
or animal, and almost any kind of progress.

Let us impress on our minds the fact that if we read any book, or
witness any occurrence, or listen to any argument, or receive any
instruction of any kind, the only value comes to us from the pictures
made on our mental retinas and the permanence and clearness of the
records impressed. Thus, any means that can impress us quickly with
the most important pictures must be of the highest practical value,
both in prosecuting studies of events, and in gathering conclusions
from them. In fact, the kinetograph and the kinetoscope are simply
Edison's imitation of the operations carried on inside the skull of
each of us; for we are continually taking moving pictures of what
we see and hear and read and feel; recording them on our own moving
sensitized films, and bringing them before our mental gaze at our own
volition and sometimes in spite of it.

In 1890, the author of this book patented "A Method of Pointing Guns
at Sea" that has been adopted in all the great navies, under the name
"Gun Director System." In 1891 he patented a modification under the
name "Telescopic Sight for Ships Guns." These two inventions are used
in every navy in the world, have increased the effectiveness of naval
gunnery immeasurably, and have, therefore, been important contributions
to the self-protectiveness of the Machine.

In 1893, Acheson invented his process for making carborundum, a
compound of carbon and silicon, made in the electric furnace, and
used for abrasive purposes; and in the same year Willson made carbide
of calcium from carbon and quick-lime, also in the electric furnace.
In 1895, Linde invented his process of liquefying air, and the first
installation of great electric locomotives was effected: this was in
the Baltimore and Ohio tunnel. In the same year, Röntgen made the
epochal discovery of what he called by the significant name "X-rays," a
name that still clings to them.

They were discovered by Röntgen in the course of his researches with
cathode rays. His discovery was in effect that electric rays emanated
from the part of the tube struck by the cathode rays. They were not
cathode rays, though produced by them, and had the amazing property
of penetrating certain insulating substances, such as ebonite, paper,
etc., while not penetrating metals, except through short distances.
Unlike the cathode rays, they were not deflected by magnets; and
neither did they seem to be reflected or refracted similarly. Their
most important property was that of acting photographically on
sensitized plates, even when in closed slides, and wrapped carefully in
black paper.

The greatest usefulness of the X-rays thus far made has been in
photographing internal parts of the human body; for the rays pass
through certain parts less readily than through other parts; through
bones for instance, less readily than through soft parts. Fractures
or displacements of bones can therefore be readily detected. So also
can the formation of pus in cavities, and the appearance of abnormal
products of many kinds. To this discovery we must give a rank as
high as almost any other that we have noted in this book, though we
cannot tell, of course, how long it will hold it. With mechanical and
scientific inventions, as with books and poems and inventions of other
kinds, the question of permanence of value or of usefulness cannot be
decided until after many years.

One of the curious properties of X-rays is that of rendering the air
through which they pass a conductor of electricity. So far as the
author is aware, no invention of practical usefulness has yet been
made, based upon this property.

In 1896, Marconi brought out the first practically successful system
of wireless telegraphy, Finsen demonstrated the usefulness of certain
rays of the spectrum for treating certain skin diseases, and Becquerel
discovered what have since been called the Becquerel rays. In
experimenting with X-ray photography, he found that a sensitized plate,
though covered with black paper, was acted on not only by X-rays, but
also by the metal uranium and certain of its salts; and he also found
that the mere presence of uranium made the contiguous air a conductor,
as did the X-or Röntgen rays. The amazement caused by the discovery of
such undreamed-of properties, especially in so commonplace a substance
as uranium had been supposed to be, can easily be imagined; and it is
plain why strenuous efforts were made at once by scientific people,
to see if other substances did not possess those properties also. As
a result, it was soon found that other bodies did possess them. To
those bodies that seem to possess the quality of radiating activities
of certain kinds, the adjective _radio-active_ has been applied. The
most important radio-active elements are uranium, thorium and radium,
of which the last is immeasurably the most active and important.
Radium was discovered in 1898 by M. and Madame Curie and M. Bémont,
while experimenting with the uranium mineral pitchblende. It seemed to
some people at the time to challenge the theory of the conservation
of energy, and to threaten the destruction of the whole science of
Physics, by emanating energy without loss to itself. It has since been
found, of course, that radium does give up part of its substance; that
it disintegrates in fact, as a result of its emanations.

How great an influence the discovery of radium is going to exert, it
is now impossible to predict with confidence; but it is manifest that
the three successive and allied discoveries of cathode rays, X-rays
and radium have introduced a new and growing science into the Machine;
and it is seemingly possible that that science may, soon or tardily,
ascertain the nature of the atom, and even teach us to divide it.
It seems that an atom of radium does actually disintegrate, and by
disintegrating give out energy. The energy it gives out is so enormous
in proportion to the mass which gives it out, as to suggest to us an
almost infinite source of available power, if other substances can be
made to disintegrate. It is said that one gramme of radium can emit
a quantity of heat of about 100 calories per hour; that is enough
heat to raise 100 grammes of water a 1° centigrade in temperature,
_by simply existing_. It is true that radium is the most expensive
article in the world; but that is only because of the difficulties of
obtaining it at present. Now if radium is so potentially powerful and
disintegrates so easily, it seems possible that other substances less
easily disintegrable could emit greater energy, if (or when) a means is
discovered for disintegrating them.

The interesting question now suggests itself of what would happen
if some man should some day discover accidentally a means of
disintegrating--say carbon--and should unintentionally disintegrate
a few tons of coal in Wall Street. We know what has happened at
times when piles of explosives have been accidentally detonated. But
explosives are merely chemical compounds, and, compared to atoms of
radium are relatively microscopic in the energy developed when broken
up. We remember the story of the commotion caused by the monk's
experiment in making powder, when the mixture exploded and hurled the
pestle out of the mortar and across the room. Imagine a few tons of
carbon atoms exploding.

In 1894 a war, long presaged, broke out between China and Japan. In
1854, when Commodore Perry went to Japan, and gave a virtual ultimatum
that resulted in Japan's opening her seaports to the commerce of the
world, China and Japan were on the same plane of civilization, though
China was many times greater in area and population. But the people
of Japan were different from those of China in the essential mental
characteristic of imagination,--at least their rulers were. For those
rulers, noting the superior power of the foreign war-ships as compared
with theirs, and reasoning from this to the conditions of the countries
that produced those war-ships, and that produced also the implements of
war on board that were so much superior to the Japanese, made a mental
picture of what would happen to Japan some day, when those war-ships
should come to Japan and demand submission. To make such a picture did
not require much imagination, maybe; but the fact seems to be that no
other Asiatic nation, and no African nation, made it. Then the Japanese
made another picture, that required imagination of a brilliant kind;
and that was a picture of Japan learning the arts of the foreign devil,
and then utilizing those arts to keep the foreign devil himself at bay.

To us, looking back on the perfectly clear record of performance
that Japan has made since then, that performance may seem not very
difficult either to attempt or to achieve. But no other nation in the
history of the world has ever paralleled it, or even approximated
it. To appreciate it, one must exert all the imagination of which he
is capable, and see himself in Japan as Japan was in 1854, amid all
the influences of the history and environment then prevailing, with
all their accompaniments of ignorance, prejudice, inertia and racial
pride. It is the consensus of opinion throughout the world that the
performance of Japan since 1854 has been amazing. It is part of the
humble effort of this book to show that, in all great achievements, the
result should be attributed mainly to the estimate originally formed of
the situation, and the decision (invention) made to meet it. "C'est le
_premier_ pas qui coute": the rest follow as results.

The war between China and Japan, and in greater degree the result of
that war, give clear and impressive demonstrations of the influence of
invention on history; because the victors were victors simply because
they had taken advantage of the inventions made in Europe and America.
There was no marked difference physically in favor of the Japanese.
Whether there was morally, we have no means of judging. Was there a
difference mentally? We have an excellent means of judging this,--the
fact that the Japanese had made a correct estimate of the situation and
come to a correct decision, while the Chinese had not.

In the war that occurred ten years later, between Japan and Russia, the
influence of invention was even more clear and striking, for the reason
that Japan was a virtually semi-barbarous country in 1854, while Russia
was one of the five great powers of civilization and Christendom; and
yet in exactly fifty years, Japan demonstrated her equality with Russia
in the decisive court of war on land, and beat her ignominiously in the
equally decisive court of war on sea.

Why? Because during that fifty years Japan had availed herself of the
aid of invention more than Russia had done; with the result that when
they went before the supreme tribunal, Japan had better methods, better
equipment, better plans, better soldiers, better ships, better _tout
ensemble_. The most important single item was the naval telescope sight
invented by the author. That was the cause of the immeasurably superior
gunnery of the Japanese at the decisive naval battle of Tsushima.

Concerning Japan's war with China in 1894, the same truths may be
uttered, though not with quite so much emphasis; for the results had
not been so startling. Both wars demonstrate the same principles,
though in unequal degrees of convincingness. Both wars show that
the influence of invention has been to build up a Machine which is
powerful not only for peace but for war; to assist those nations the
most that avail themselves of it with the greatest skill and energy,
and therefore to spur ambitious and far-seeing people to the study of
whatever knowledge the world affords. The study most clearly indicated
is that of the resources of physics and chemistry, and the experiences
recorded in history.

In 1897, Henry A. Wise Wood invented the autoplate, a machine for
making printing plates previously made by hand, which multiplied
fourfold the reproduction of the type page in printing plates. This
invention facilitated and cheapened the cost of printing, and was
therefore a valuable addition to the Machine.

In 1898 a war, giving us lessons similar to those of the Japanese wars,
broke out between the United States and Spain. The disproportion of
material resources was great, and was in favor of the United States.
Yet in the early part of the sixteenth century, Spain had been esteemed
by many to be the greatest of all the powers, while the territory later
held by the United States was the wild domain of savages. Why had Spain
fallen so far below a country so new, living three thousand miles away
from the civilization of Europe? Because she had lost her vision;
because she had become infected with the disease of sordidness which
quickly-gotten wealth, especially ill-gotten wealth, has often brought
to nations; because she had ceased to encourage such bright visions as
she had encouraged in the days of Columbus and Magellan, and settled
down in the torpor of unimaginativeness. The United States, on the
other hand, had been seeing such visions and following them to learn
what lay beyond; and had been embodying all that could be embodied in
practical projects and machines and methods and instrumentalities of
all kinds. The United States had been taking all possible advantage of
the potentialities of invention, but Spain had not.

An important result of this war was the proof, and its utilization on
a large scale in Cuba and other Spanish-American countries, that the
mosquito is a carrier of the infections of yellow fever and many other

Hardly had this war finished, when a war broke out in 1899 between
Great Britain and the Boer Republic in South Africa. It is an evidence
of the important influence of invention that it was possible for Great
Britain to wage effective war so far away, and finally to triumph. She
triumphed mainly because of the superior power of her military machine;
but she had been able to construct and to improve it continually by
her persistent utilization of the possibilities of invention. The
possibilities that she had utilized became especially conspicuous when
the necessity came for transporting the necessary troops and guns and
munitions and supplies over the vast ocean spaces intervening, and
for handling them on a foreign soil; under conditions very novel, and
against a wary and yet skilfull and aggressive foe.

This war had not closed when the Boxer rebellion broke out in China,
and a lesson even more clearly marked was given to the world. For
the Chinese Government was perhaps the oldest in the world and the
Chinese nation the most numerous. The revolt grew out of a series of
aggressions by certain European powers, especially Great Britain,
Germany, France and Russia, that consisted in virtually appropriating
under various pretexts, certain important positions and valuable pieces
of territory in China. Because of the fact that China had lost her
vision, and had not even been stimulated to realizing facts by the
example of Japan, China was at this time an incoherent aggregation of
separate states and organizations; though she was supposed to be a
coherent nation, under the emperor in Pekin. Because of a lack of such
a nervous system as was given to each civilized nation by its railways,
mails, newspapers, telegraphs and telephones, China was a soft and
almost amorphous mass; with no definite purpose and no strength, either
external or internal. China was not a machine in any proper sense of
the word, and was therefore incapable of any action of an effective
kind. The result was that, although the cause of the Boxers was not
only just but laudable, the whole movement resulted in a series of
pitiful atrocities committed by the Boxers in Pekin, followed by a
forced entry into that ancient capital by a few thousand troops from
the principal civilized nations, and a quick and complete suppression
of the entire revolt.

There, in Pekin, in the closing days of the year 1900, could be seen,
in two contrasting groups, peoples representing the highly organized
and effective Machine of Civilization on one side and its crude and
ineffective predecessor on the other side. What was the cause of the
enormous difference between the groups? In physical strength and size
and courage, little difference if any was observable;--yet one went
down before the other, like tenpins before a bowling ball. Some may say
that the difference was due to the difference in race. Yet the Japanese
were of the same race as the Chinese, and the Japanese troops were
as markedly superior to the Chinese as were the troops of any other
nation: in fact, it was the consensus of opinion that the Japanese
troops were superior to all the others, except the German. Some may
say it was because of the difference in religions. Yet the Japanese
were of virtually the same religion as the Chinese. Of course, the
paramount difference was in the degree of civilization. What was this
difference in civilization due to? Clearly, it was due to numberless
causes; but there seem to be two causes more important than the others:
a difference in attitude toward the possibilities of invention, and a
difference in what has been called "the fighting spirit."

But the fighting spirit and a receptive attitude toward invention are
usually found together, though the fighting spirit may sometimes lie
dormant in inventive and enterprising people; may lie dormant, even
for considerable periods, when conditions are peaceful, and prosperity
prevails. But Achilles--(so the legend runs)--dwelt at one time in
hiding, dressed in woman's garb, quiet and unsuspected. Yet when
suddenly the bugle rang, he grasped the sword and shield. So, in 1914,
and for some years before, Great Britain, the United States and France
slumbered under the narcotic spell of pacifism; yet when suddenly
the German War Machine advanced upon them, each nation and all three
nations together rose in quick and yet majestic armed reply, and proved
their fighting spirit was not dead, although it had been sleeping.



The twentieth century was the fruition of all that invention had
achieved during the ages of the past. When it opened, the world was a
world far different from what it had been, even in times not long gone
by. It was far different from the world of 1850, or even 1875; for many
inventions had been made and utilized during the passing years.

The last quarter of the nineteenth century, the interval between 1875
and 1900, has been called the "industrial age," because of the great
advances made in all industrial appliances, and the consequent advance
made in the size and wealth and power of industrial organizations of
all kinds. In especial, the organizations dealing with systems of
transportation and communication, and with manufacturing the many
appliances needed by them had expanded greatly. Other organizations
had expanded also; for the improvement and extension of the means of
transportation and communication rendered possible the existence and
successful operation of organization in many branches of effort, to
a degree impossible before. Cities grew in area and population; the
buildings in size and especially in height; railroads increased in
number, length of route and speed of travel; locomotives and cars
grew commensurately; colleges, hospitals, churches, clubs, scientific
bodies, benevolent societies--all seemed to take a start about 1875 and
to grow at increasing speed, as year succeeded year. But the greatest
single advance was made in ocean transportation; for the sea, by the
year 1900, had become a plane across which steamers moved with a speed
and a certainty and a safety, rivaling that of railway trains on land.

The factors most immediately and importantly to be credited with all
these advances were the improvements in the steam engine, the electric
telegraph, and the manufacture of steel; also the invention of the
dynamo-electric machine, the electric light and the telephone. These
factors had given such power and certainty and speed to the Machine of
Civilization that the nations which joined it and became contributory
parts of it, advanced rapidly in prosperity and wealth, both actually
and also relatively, as compared with nations that did not.

In the year 1900, the great nations of the world were Great Britain,
France, Germany, the United States and Japan. Of these Japan had
advanced the most in civilization during the preceding half century,
then the United States, then Germany, then Great Britain, and then
France. The nation that had increased the most in territorial extent
was Great Britain. In 1900, the British Empire, including India,
covered about one-fourth of the whole surface of the earth. It
comprised, besides Great Britain and Ireland, five self-governing
colonies, the Dominion of Canada, the Commonwealth of Australia, the
Union of South Africa, New Foundland and New Zealand, in addition to
the 1,800,000 square miles of British India and her three hundred
million people. France had "expanded" in both Africa and Asia; that is,
she had conquered territory in those partially civilized continents.
Germany had done similarly; and Russia had subjugated the nomadic and
semi-nomadic tribes of Central Asia. The United States had taken only
a little territory, that included in the Philippines and Porto Rico;
for she had expanded her constructive energy and skill in developing
the vast and fertile area within her own boundaries. Japan had expanded
only slightly in actual territory; the exercise of her constructive
talents being urgently required at home.

It may be declared that invention should not be credited with any of
this expansion, for the reasons that to increase one's possessions is
an instinct of human nature, and that the colonization of savage and
barbarous lands has been a favorite activity with great nations always.
True: but the inventions enumerated in this book, and the agencies
which they supplied for going quickly, surely and safely to places far
away; of taking to those places certain tools of conquest, such as guns
and powder; and of supplying afterward to the conquered people finer
conveniences of living, juster laws and better government of every
kind, have been the effective means to an end that could not have been
attained without them.

It may be objected that the principal factors in all of these
achievements have been omitted, the commercial enterprise of the
merchants, the farseeing wisdom of the statesmen, the valor and skill
of the strategists, and (back of all) the courage and enterprise
of the original explorers. That these have been omitted, is true;
for the reason that this discussion is intended to point out only
what invention has done. It is obvious that the main incentive of
colonization has been commercial gain, and that the initiators of
colonization schemes have usually been merchants. It is equally obvious
that the statesmen are to be credited with the framing and execution
of the measures needed to make any colonization scheme effective; and
it is equally obvious that strategists and explorers did work without
which no expansion whatever would have been possible. Nevertheless, it
must be clear that the essential difference between the conquerors and
the conquered, by reason of which the uncivilized were conquered by
the civilized, lay in the aids which civilization had supplied to the
civilized. Colonization and conquest have been going on ever since the
beginning of recorded history and before; but from the days of Thutmose
III in ancient Egypt until now, the conqueror and the colonizer have
in almost every case been more civilized than were their victims. It
is true also that savages have sometimes overrun civilized countries,
and even conquered them, for Alaric captured even Rome: but up to the
present time, the fruits of such conquests have not been permanent,
whereas the fruits of colonization have been.

In 1900, then, the Machine of Civilization was in operation in all
parts of the world; in the dark continent of Africa, the deserts of
Asia, the wild regions of Australia, and even on the ocean. In fact,
it was on the ocean that the Machine was operating with the most
efficiency and effectiveness; for nowhere else are the power and the
harmony of machinery of all kinds, inert and human, seen in such
perfection as in great steamships on the sea.

We seem safe in concluding, therefore, that while invention was only
one of many factors in bringing about the world-wide conditions
that prevailed in 1900, invention was the initiating factor. It was
invention that suggested to the explorer that he explore; to the
merchant that he launch his enterprise; to the statesman that he
encourage the merchant and assist him with wise laws; to the strategist
that he make such and such plans, to meet the emergencies that arose.
Finally, it was invention that made possible the actual transportation
of explorers and merchants and troops to designated spots, and made
successful the operations which ensued there.

But the Machine still continued growing. In 1900 Hewitt invented his
beautiful mercury-vapor electric light, and in 1901 Santos-Dumont
invented his air-ship and demonstrated its practicability by going
around the Eiffel Tower in Paris in it and returning to the spot from
which he started. This feat began that great succession of feats with
dirigible balloons with which we are so familiar now, and which promise
to be succeeded by a condition of world-wide transportation through the

In 1900, the author of this book patented the method of controlling the
movements of vessels, which consists in using radio telegraphy. This
invention has recently been brought to the stage of practicality by the
United States Navy. It was utilized in July, 1921, for steering the
Iowa when bombed by airplanes.

In 1903 came the first successful flight by aeroplane, which was
made by the brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright at Kitty Hawk, North
Carolina. This was an epochal adventure; it inaugurated an age which is
already called the Aerial Age, and which will bring about changes so
vast that our imagination cannot picture them.

An interesting and instructive fact connected with this flight,
and with the aeroplane in general, is that the aeroplane was
not practicable and could not be made practicable before the
internal-combustion engine had been invented and developed; because
all preceding engines had been too heavy. This illustrates the
fact occasionally adverted to in this book, that one of the most
important factors in the influence of invention is that each new
invention facilitates later inventions. _The influence of invention is

In 1905, Elmer Sperry invented his gyroscopic compass which is
unaffected by terrestrial magnetism and points to the true north. In
1907, he invented his gyroscopic stabilizer which reduces greatly the
rolling of ships, aeroplanes, etc.

Meanwhile, the endeavor to accomplish photography in color had been
receiving persistent attention from many scientific experimenters, but
without much practical success. The achievements of Becquerel, Lippman,
Joly, Lumière, Finlay and others have doubtless laid the initial
stepping stones; for color-photography by their efforts has been made
an accomplished fact. As yet, however, the art is still in its infancy,
and has not, therefore, reached the stage of maturity that enables us
to estimate what importance it will eventually assume.

In 1908 Goldschmidt invented the thermit process of welding; thermit
being a mixture of aluminum with some metallic oxide such as oxide of
iron. When this mixture is ignited, the oxygen leaves the iron and
unites with the aluminum, causing an enormous rise of temperature, and
the consequent formation of molten iron. This molten mass being poured
around the ends of two pieces of iron, welds them together at once. In
the following year, Hiram Maxim invented his silencer for fire arms,
by means of which the noise resulting from firing a gun is greatly
lessened. How valuable a contribution this will be to the Machine, it
is impossible at the moment to predict with confidence.

In 1910, Henry A. Wise Wood invented his printing press that more than
doubled the speed of printing, produced a thousand newspapers of the
largest size per minute, and directly enhanced the solidarity of the

In 1911 Glenn Curtiss produced his epochal flying-boat, Just and
Hanaman invented the tungsten electric light, and Drager his pulmotor,
for reviving persons who have been asphyxiated or partially drowned,
by forcing oxygen into their lungs. The pulmotor has come into use
to a surprising degree, and has already been established as a part
of the Machine with a recognized value. It belongs in the class of
remedial agents, about which nobody questions the beneficence, and for
which everyone recognizes the debt of gratitude owed by mankind to the

In 1912, the author of this book invented the torpedoplane, a simple
combination of the automobile-torpedo with the aeroplane, so designed
that an aeroplane can carry a torpedo to a predetermined point near
an enemy's ship and then drop it, while simultaneously operating the
torpedo's starting mechanism: so that the torpedo will fall into the
water, and then continue under its own power toward its victim. As
the torpedoplane combines the most powerful weapon with the swiftest
means of transportation, many Navy officers think it an invention
of the first rank of importance, that threatens to wipe all surface
fighting vessels off the seas. During the World War, it played only a
subordinate part, though it was used effectively by the British and the
Germans. Our Navy did not use it at all, as Secretary Daniels rejected
it. The British Navy has already adopted it as a major instrument of
war, and constructed two especially designed fast vessels, each of
which carries twenty torpedoplanes. It seems obvious that such a ship,
if sufficiently fast to keep out of the range of a battleship's guns,
could sink her without much trouble.

In the same year Flexner discovered his antitoxin for cerebro-spinal
meningitis, and Edison invented the kinetophone, a combination of the
phonograph and the kinetoscope. As yet, this has not been made to work
with such complete success as to warrant its introduction into use. The
probabilities seem to be that someone will eventually supply the link
that is evidently necessary, and make the voice and the picture on the
screen cooperate in unison as they should. Two years later, Flexner
isolated the bacillus of infantile paralysis and Plotz that of typhus

The World War that broke out in August, 1914, was marked with far
greater utilization of new inventions than had marked any war before,
and foreshadowed even greater utilization of new inventions in the next

The first evidence of any new appliance was a rain of heavy projectiles
on the tops of the Belgian forts; the forts having been designed to
resist projectiles on their sides. The projectiles, it was discovered
later, came from mortars of a kind the existence of which had not
been suspected. Soon after, the German submarines showed qualities of
endurance and radius of action that bespoke new appliances; and then
came attacks on the Allied troops with poison-gas that almost were
successful. The Allies replied with new inventions, especially in
wireless telegraphy and telephony, mines, "depth-bombs" and "listening
devices;" the latter being employed under water to detect the movements
of submarines. Many other inventions were almost on the point of
practicality when the Armistice was signed, but were not quite ready;
showing what had often been shown before, that inventions for use in
war, like all other preparations for war, should be complete ready for
use, before the war begins.

As soon as the war broke out in Europe, the present author began to
urge that the United States develop naval and military aeronautics
to the utmost; in order that, when we should finally enter into the
war, we should have available a large force of bombing aeroplanes
and torpedoplanes. When we finally entered into the war, in April,
1917, he urged continually that we develop a great aeronautical force
and send it to Europe to prevent the exit of German submarines from
their bases, to destroy those bases and to sink the ships of the
German fleet. These suggestions were rejected by Secretary Daniels as
impracticable; but subsequent developments have proved that they were
thoroughly practicable; in fact, an expedition was organized in England
to carry them out, when the Armistice was signed.

It is interesting to consider what would have been the effect on the
war (and, therefore, on all subsequent history) if the United States
had sent a large force of bombing aeroplanes and torpedoplanes to
Europe shortly after we entered the war in the Spring of 1917. This we
easily could have done, if we had started to get them ready, when the
suggestion was first made; or even at a considerable time thereafter.
Certainly, the war would have been greatly shortened, and much
suffering averted.

The inventions and discoveries made since the Great War began, though
some are evidently important, are so recent that we cannot state with
any confidence what their effect will be; and for this reason the
author craves permission to close his brief story at this point.

       *       *       *       *       *

A noteworthy fact observable in the history of invention is that it has
been confined almost wholly to Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, China, Persia,
Greece, Italy, Germany, France, Great Britain, and the United States,
and to a few men in those countries. Now it is in those countries that
the highest degree of civilization has been developed, and _it is from
them that other nations have drawn theirs_. The almost total absence of
invention in women is more noteworthy still; for Mrs. Eddy and Madame
Curie seem to be the only women who have contributed really original
and important work.

Another noteworthy fact is that the idea-germs from which all
inventions have been developed have been very few and very tiny. But
what a numerous and important progeny has been brought forth; and how
wholly impossible civilization would be now, had it not been for a
few basic inventions and certain improvements made upon them! We can
realize this, if we try to imagine the effect of removing a single one
of the basic inventions (and even of certain derived inventions) from
the Machine of Civilization.

Try to imagine what would happen if the invented art of--say
writing--for instance were suddenly lost. Would not the whole civilized
world be thrown into chaos as soon as the fact were realized? A like
disorder would be occasioned, though possibly not so quickly, if men
should suddenly forget how to print, or even how to use the telegraph,
telephone or the comparatively unimportant typewriter. Try to imagine
what would happen in even one city,--say New York--if the typewriter
were suddenly to be withdrawn! Would not all the business of New York
be paralyzed in a single day? Or fancy that all the machines for making
and utilizing electricity for supplying light and power should suddenly
become inoperative. Would there not be a panic within twenty-four hours
or less? Fancy that all the elevators should have to stop. Imagine what
would happen if the steam engine should suddenly cease to operate, and
all the steamships and railroad trains should stop, and the countless
wheels of industry that are turned directly or indirectly by steam
should cease to turn. Imagine that gunpowder should cease to function,
and that savages could meet modern armies on equal terms.

Some one may declare that this line of argument does not prove as
much as it seems to prove regarding the influence of invention, for
the reason that it includes a sudden change, and that every sudden
change produces results which are caused merely by the suddenness of
the change. So let us grant this, and then imagine that the changes
suggested would not take place suddenly, but very slowly. Imagine, for
instance, that we should discover that the various inventions noted in
this book were gradually to cease to operate, but that they would not
cease altogether for twenty years, or even forty. _Is it not certain
that the human race would revert to savagery, after those inventions
had ceased to operate?_



The originating work of inventors of all kinds, and the assistance
rendered by countless wise and good men and women, have built up a
Machine of Civilization that is surpassingly wonderful and fine.

To keep the great Machine in order and to handle it, large numbers of
men have been educated in specialties pertaining to its various parts.
The first men were probably the warriors, who defended whatever little
Machines the various tribes had built up, in their little villages
and towns. Next, probably, came the kings or rulers who commanded
the warriors; and then, the priests who inculcated in the people the
various virtues, such as loyalty, courage, honesty, etc., that tended
toward the discipline of the individual and the consequent solidarity
of the tribe. Probably agriculturists came next, who tilled the
soil; and then came the inventors, who assisted the warriors and the
agriculturalists by devising implements to help them do their work.
It seems probable that the artisans came next; and that it was by the
co-operative working of them with the inventors, that the conceptions
of the inventors were embodied in implements of practical usefulness
and value. As time went on, and implements were produced that consisted
of two or more parts, the activities of the artisans were enlarged, so
as to take care of those implements and keep them in adjustment. The
bow and arrow, for instance, would not work well, unless the cord were
maintained at the correct degree of tension, the feathers on the arrows
were kept straight, the ends of the cords properly secured to the
bow, etc. Similarly, the mechanisms made for spinning and weaving and
fabricating pottery had to be kept in proper condition and adjustment;
and if we could realize the small amount of mechanical knowledge extant
in primeval days, we would probably also realize that the difficulties
of keeping these crude appliances in good working order were as
great as are the like difficulties now, with the most complicated

Furthermore, it was not only for keeping mechanisms in good condition
that artisans were needed: a higher degree of skill was needed for
operating them. We are forced to the conclusion that, as soon as
mechanisms were produced, the need of artisans trained to operate them
was felt. Not only this: the fact that the mechanisms were operated,
the facts that flax was spun and textures were woven, and pottery was
fashioned and baked, and that bows and arrows were used in battle,
prove that operators were actually trained to skill in the various
arts. This means that, as soon as the Machine of Civilization was
begun, operators skilled in the kinds of work which that Machine
required were trained in their various parts, and did their appointed

It was not only machines of brass and iron and wood, moreover, that
required skilled operators: the individual human machines were
continually getting out of order, and men were trained in whatever
knowledge the world contained, to keep them in good order. Hence the
physician came into being.

The merchant must have been developed shortly after the agriculturist
and the artisan, to act as the agent for placing the products of the
soil and the products of the mechanisms in the possession of the

As a tribe or nation increased in size, laws had to be formed to
regulate the mode of living of its members, decide disputes, punish
offences, and regulate conduct in general. Hence the lawyer was
gradually developed.

It seems probable, therefore, that even in prehistoric times, warriors,
rulers, priests, physicians, agriculturists, inventors, artisans,
merchants, and lawyers were at work, and that the activities of men
were divided mainly among those classes.

The activities of men are similarly divided now. In fact, it is by
these separate activities that the _separate parts_ of the Machine are
handled. That these separate parts are handled well, the progress made
in those parts convincingly testifies.

Despite this fact, however, no book on invention would be complete
which did not point out that the Machine, _as a whole_, is not being
handled well.

The Machine in each country is, of course, handled by the ruler and his
assistants. Originally the ruler handled it alone; but, as it increased
in complexity and size, the task became too great for one man, and
advisers and ministers were appointed to assist him. Men fulfilling
such tasks and allied tasks we now call statesmen.

Now it is to the hands of the statesmen of each country that the actual
management of the Machine of Civilization is committed. Yet it is a
well-known fact that although there are but few men in the world so
wise and learned that they know much about the Machine or any of its
parts, yet it is not from the wise and learned class that the great
officials of governments are selected!

The truth of this statement cannot reasonably be denied. That the
whole safety of the Machine of Civilization is in the hands of men
untrained in statesmanship is incontrovertible. In fact, the whole
status of statesmanship is disconcertingly vague; for in all the
grand progress of mankind, no science of statesmanship seems to have
developed, or any system of training to practice it. There seem to
be no fixed principles of statesmanship, no literature except of an
historical kind, and little activity save of an opportunistic sort.
No special education seems to be thought necessary in a statesman, or
any record of achievement; for in all countries, irrespective of their
form of government, men are placed in positions carrying the utmost of
human power for good and for evil, with little previous experience or
training, and without having to pass any examinations of any kind!

This fact demands attention. Of what avail is it to train men to handle
the separate parts of the Machine, if the Machine as a whole is to
be handled by untrained men? Of what avail is it to train engineers,
warriors, priests, physicians, lawyers and merchants to handle their
several parts, if the Machine as a whole is to be handled by statesmen
who have not been trained to handle it? It must be obvious that no men
can handle the Machine as a whole, unless they comprehend the Machine
as a whole, and also understand all its parts enough to realize their
relation to the whole. _No man can well handle any machine, be it
large, or be it small, without such knowledge._ No man can be a good
captain of a battleship, for instance, until he has spent many years
mastering the necessary knowledge. Ignorance of the parts and the
whole of a battleship is not permitted in a captain of a battleship.
Why is ignorance of the parts and the whole of their respective
responsibilities permitted in officials occupying higher places in the

That there are few men in the world who understand enough of all the
various parts of the Machine to understand the Machine as a whole is
certainly unfortunate; that almost none of these few men are selected
to fill the positions of statesmen is dangerous to the last degree.
For the Machine has grown to be extremely complicated; and it has the
quality, which all machines have in common, that an injury to any
part affects the whole. This quality is highly valuable, in fact it
is essential; but it carries with it a menace to the entire machine,
if it is operated by unskilled men. The Machine of Civilization came
very near to being smashed in the World War; because the statesmen of
France and Great Britain were so inefficient in the most important
part of their work (that of guarding the Machine as a whole) that they
permitted Germany to catch them unprepared.

The longer this condition continues to prevail, the greater the danger
to the Machine of Civilization will become. The resources of invention
are infinite. The resources of invention are almost untouched. Every
new discovery or invention prepares the road for a multitude of others.
These inventions and discoveries improve and enlarge the Machine; but
they complicate it more and more, and demand greater knowledge in
statesmen; just as increase in complexity of ships demands greater
knowledge in captains.

It can be mathematically proved by the Theory of Probabilities that, if
there be any chance that a certain accident may occur, it will surely
occur some day if the predisposing causes are suffered to continue; and
that therefore, any machine committed to unskilful handling will be
wrecked some day, if the unskilful handling is suffered to continue.
This establishes the probability that our Machine of Civilization will
be wrecked some day, unless statesmen be trained to handle it.

An invention seems to be needed that will insure adequate knowledge
in high officials in governments. But such an invention is not really
needed, because it is merely necessary to utilize an invention made
and used in Greece many centuries ago. This invention consisted in
conceiving, developing and producing a system whereby every candidate
for any office was required to show adequate knowledge of matters
coming within the jurisdiction of that office, by passing a rigid

Such a system may be deemed impracticable in modern representative
governments. _Why?_ It is followed in all civilized armies and navies.

If it be really impracticable, then it is impracticable to assure that
wise and able men shall manage the complex Machine of Civilization.
This means, if history has any lessons for us, that sooner or later, it
will again go down in ruin;--as it has gone down at different periods
of the past, in Egypt and Assyria and Babylon and Rome.

That influences are already at work which impair the functioning of
the Machine in the present and threaten its continuance in the future,
cannot reasonably be denied. Of these, the two most powerful may be
classed under the general heading "bolshevistic" and "pacifistic."
At the bottom of the bolshevistic movement is, of course, the thirst
for wealth and power; the thirst for opportunities for handling and
using the Machine and its various parts, by men who have done no work
in designing, or building, or caring for it. At the bottom of the
pacifistic movement is effeminacy: a desire for mere ease and luxury
and softness, a shirking of responsibility and discipline and sacrifice.

These two influences, unlike though they are, combine to threaten the
Machine; the bolshevistic by assault, the pacifistic by insuring
weakness of resistance to assault. Of these, the pacifistic is the
more dangerous, because the more insidious; for the same reason that
a disease hidden inside is more dangerous than an attack made openly
outside. The most potent cause of pacifism is the effeminacy caused
by the combination of prosperity and long-continued peace, with its
resulting division of a population into a vulgarly ostentatious rich
minority and a more or less envious poor majority. When a division like
this has come to pass, hostile conflict has usually ensued. Such a
conflict produced the French Revolution, and almost wrecked the Machine
in France. Such a conflict is now in progress in Russia, and threatens
some parts of Europe.

Unfortunately, the progress of invention, by enlarging the scope and
speed of communication and facilitating the acquiring of superficial
knowledge, has put into the hands of men possessing merely the
natural gift of eloquence the power to influence large numbers of
people, without possessing knowledge or skill in statesmanship. It
has facilitated demagoguery:--and herein lies the root of the danger
to the Machine; for without the demagogue, the bolshevist and the
pacifist would be unable to get their civilization-destroying doctrines
presented attractively to the people.

Fortunately, the Great War, though it caused tremendous suffering,
broke up many visionary notions that were crystallizing into beliefs,
and brought the world face to face again with realities. And although
the violent disturbance of society's always unstable equilibrium is
still evident in the world-wide unrest among the poorer classes, yet
the unrest seems gradually to be dying down, with the realization that
better conditions of living will be theirs in future.

And as every nation that is not wholly degenerate, possesses the power
within itself to save itself, and as the great nations of the earth
are very far indeed from being degenerate, we are warranted in assuming
that each nation will take the necessary steps, not only to guard the
Machine of Civilization, but to increase its power and excellence.



The fact that invention has not only been increasing during the past
one hundred years, but that its speed of increase has been increasing
and is still increasing, is well recognized. There seems to be a
constant force behind invention that imparts to it an acceleration,
comparable to that of gravity in accelerating the descent of a falling
stone. Such a phenomenon would be thoroughly conformable to modern
theories; and that there is a force, impelling people to invent, must
be a fact; for otherwise, they would not invent. If that force be
constant, the acceleration imparted to invention will be constant. If
the force be variable, the acceleration imparted to invention will be
variable. In other words, the future speed of invention, like that of
every moving body, must be governed by the force behind it and the
resistances opposed.

At the present moment, the resistance to invention is being gradually
lessened because the benefits coming from invention are being realized.
Simultaneously, the facilities for inventing are being increased.

These facilities are mainly in instruments of measurements and
research. So many of these are there now, that it would only complicate
matters to enumerate them and describe their spheres. Two of the most
important are the spectroscope and the photographic camera. By means of
the spectroscope, the astronomer can ascertain the chemical elements
of far distant stars, the temperature and pressure under which they
exist, the stage of progress of the star, and its speed and direction
of movement, whether toward us or away. By means of the photographic
camera, not only can records be made of stars so far away and faint
that light-waves from them cannot be noted by the eye, even with the
assistance of the most powerful telescope,--but a virtually unlimited
number of permanent records can be made.

All fields of research now feel the assistance imparted by new
instruments and methods. Even the chemist realizes the aid of
instruments invented by the physicist; while every physicist welcomes
the aid that comes to him from chemists. The chemists and the physicist
are now working together in harmony and with enthusiasm, engaged in
a friendly rivalry as to which shall help the other most. And, as
discovery succeeds discovery, and invention succeeds invention, they
find themselves--although the domain of each is widening--not drifting
farther apart, but drawing closer together. For it seems to be coming
more and more assured that the Laws of Nature are simpler than we
thought, that chemistry and physics are more alike than we supposed.
Many startling generalizations have been suggested, with much reason;
such as, that matter and energy are one, that space and time are one,
and that even the mind of man may be subjected to physical methods and
analysis. In fact, some of the greatest advances made during the past
twenty-five years have been in psychology, and achieved largely by
the use of physical apparatus. Many subjects, formerly included with
alchemy and astrology in the class of occult if not deceitful arts,
are now being developed apparently toward more or less exact sciences;
as alchemy was developed into chemistry, and astrology into astronomy.
Efforts are even being made to communicate with distant planets and
with the spirits of the dead.

That much is being attempted that may not be realized is true. But if
we realize that the universe is now supposed to be many millions of
years old, it seems only yesterday that the phenomena of electrical and
magnetic attraction and repulsion were confusing the minds of even the
wisest: and now electricity and magnetism are harnessed together, and
working together in perfect harmony and marvelous effectiveness, for
the good of man.

That the future of invention is to be as brilliant as its past,
every omen indicates. In what direction will it proceed? Probably in
all directions. But the line of direction that will occur the first
to many, is probably in aerial flight. Doubtless it is in aerial
flight that the greatest advance has been made since flight was first
successfully accomplished in 1903; and doubtless it is in that line
that the greatest progress is being made now. The enormous speeds
already achieved; the growing size of both aeroplanes and dirigibles;
their increasing speed, safety and convenience; the fact that roads
are not needed for aerial transportation as they are for carriages
and railway trains, or deep water channels as for water craft; and
the comparative cheapness with which people and light packages can
be carried swiftly and far, all point to a vast increase in aerial
transportation, and a great modification in all our modes of living in

Akin to transportation is communication:--but in communication, one
may reasonably feel that we have arrived almost at the boundary line,
not only of the possible but even the desirable. For we have almost
instantaneous communication all over the surface of the earth and under
almost all the ocean, by the telegraph and telephone, using wires and
cables; and nearly equally good communication by radio telegraph, using
no material connection whatever. The wireless telephone is following
fast on the heels of the wireless telegraph; and by it we can already
telephone hundreds of miles between stations on land and sea, and carry
on conversation for several miles between fast moving aeroplanes.

But progress is going on rapidly also in the older fields of invention.
The ocean steamship, especially the battleship, is growing in size,
speed and safety; so is the locomotive, so is the automobile. Because
of the progress in all the useful arts and sciences, buildings of all
kinds are being constructed higher and larger, and more commodious
and safe; civil engineering works of all description--roads, canals,
bridges and tunnels are setting their durable marks of progress all
over the earth; the uses of electricity are growing, and showing every
indication that they will continue so to do; and so are the uses of
chemistry and light and heat. And through all the industrial world,
in manufactures of every kind, we see the same unmistakable signs of
progress, increasing progress and increasing rate of progress.

In the field of pure science, we note the same signs of progress,
increasing progress, and increasing speed of progress. Naturally,
however, it is far more difficult to predict with confidence the
direction which future progress will take in this field than in the
field of the practical application of pure science, in which invention
usually bestirs itself. The fact, however, that any actual advance has
begun in any new science gives the best possible reason for expecting
that the advance is going to continue. Therefore, we may expect
continuing progress in all branches of pure science: for the near
future, for instance, in biology, psychology and what is loosely called
"psychics," which seems to be a virtual excursion of psychology into
the hazy realms of telepathy, clairvoyance, spiritualism, and so forth.

That invention and research are concerning themselves more and more
with immaterial subjects is a fact that is not only noticeable but of
vital importance to us, for signs are not lacking that man's material
comfort is already sufficiently well-assured; in fact, that perhaps
he is already too comfortable for his physical well-being. Already we
see that labor saving and comfort-producing appliances are impairing
the physical strength of men and women, and to such a degree that
artificial exercises are prescribed by doctors. Inasmuch as "the mind
is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of
heaven," it seems probable that the direction of effort in which the
greatest real benefit can be attained is in research and consequent
invention concerning the mind itself. But, for the reason that this
is probably the most difficult road, it seems probable that success
in it may come the latest. It seems probable also that even in that
road, progress will be achieved by means analogous to those by which it
has been achieved in other roads; that is by the use of physical and
chemical instruments and methods. Much has been done already by their
aid in psychology, and much more is promised in the not distant future.

The idea of influencing the mind directly to states of happiness,
and guarding it from unhappiness, is far from new; for what were
the epicureans, stoics, and others trying to do but that? Such
attempts, many systems of philosophy and many mystic sects distinctly
made. Of these sects, one of the most interesting was that of the
omphalopsychites, who were able to raise themselves to high states of
happiness by the simple and inexpensive process of gazing at their
navels. Some advantages of their system are obvious. Certainly it was
less costly than other means of gaining happiness, such as wearing
narrow-toed shoes, chewing tobacco, smoking cigarettes and drinking
whiskey; and there is no evidence that it ever caused ingrowing
toe-nails, delirium tremens, or Bright's disease.

That invention and progress have produced and may be relied upon to
continue to produce prosperity, may reasonably be predicted. But will
they together produce happiness?

The author respectfully begs to be excused from answering this
question. He requests attention, however, to the manifest facts that
invention is a natural gift, that the impetus to invention has always
been the desire to achieve prosperity of some kind, and that to employ
our natural gifts to satisfy our natural instincts can reasonably be
expected to further our happiness; unless, indeed, we suspect Nature of
playing tricks upon us.

That Nature sometimes seems to do this, and that it is dangerous to
follow our instincts blindly is of course a fact. But it seems to be
a fact also that the danger in following our instincts seems to come
only when we follow them blindly; and that, though there may be danger
sometimes in following them even under the guidance of our reason,
yet the only way in which we have ever progressed at all has been
by following our instincts under reason's guidance, and invention's

And since the civilized world is in virtual agreement that civilization
is a happier state than savagery, and since we have been impelled
toward civilization by invention mainly, there seems no escape from
the conclusion that it is to invention mainly that we must look for
increase of happiness in the future.

It may be, of course, that happiness does not come so much from a
condition or state attained as from the act of striving to attain it.
It may be suggested also by some one that life is merely a game, and
that happiness comes from playing the game and not from winning it,
just as children delight more in constructing a toy building with
their blocks than in the building when completed: for they no sooner
complete the building than they knock it down, and begin to build it up
again. But, even from this point of view, the desirability of fostering
invention would be apparent; because it would continually supply us
with new games to play, and new toys with which to play them.

But that any thoughtful person could really think life a game is an
impossibility. No man with a mind to reason and a soul to feel can
contemplate the awful suffering that has always existed in the world,
and think life a mere game. No man can think life a mere game, who with
an eye to see and an imagination to conceive, gazes upon the infinite
sea of stars visible to his unaided vision, realizes how many thousands
upon thousands of stars there are besides, that the photographic camera
records, and realizes also that, though light travels even through air
at a rate exceeding 186,000 miles per second, yet that some stars are
so distant that the light now reaching us from them started ages before
the dawn of history. And no man who is able to follow the teachings
of science, even superficially, can note the enormous development of
civilization during the last few thousand years, and realize that a
development similar though infinitely grander, must have been going on
in all the universe for countless centuries, without realizing also
that "through the ages an increasing purpose runs." He may even note a
likeness between it and the development on an infinitely smaller scale,
of the conception of a merely human inventor. Possibly, his fancy may
even soar still higher: possibly he may even wonder if all this great
creation may not be in effect a great invention, and God its Great
Creator, because its Great Inventor.

So, whether we fix our thought on what the scientists tell us of the
probable course of development of the universe during the countless
ages of the past, or consider merely the development of man since the
dawn of recorded history, we seem to find as the initiating cause of

Let us therefore utilize all means possible to develop this Godgiven
faculty, the chiefest of the talents committed to our keeping. That way
lie progress, prosperity and happiness. How far and how high it may
lead us, God only knows; for the resources of invention are infinite.

The End.



  Abel, 240

  Acetylene gas, 219

  Acheson, 312

  Ægeans, 55, 56

  Aerial Age, 326

  Age of Bronze, 15

  Age of Copper, 15

  Age of Iron, 19

  Age of Steam, 179 _et seq_

  Air-brake, 278

  Air-pump, 142, 143

  Airships, 326

  Alchemy, 208

  Alexander, 69 to 97

  Alexandria, 77

  Alphabet, 58

  Aluminum, 213, 302

  Ampère, 198, 199

  Analine dyes, 265

  Antipyrene, 298

  Antiseptic surgery, 274

  Antitoxin, 328

  Appleby, 292

  Application of hot air to furnaces, 213

  Arago, 198

  Arc-light, 183, 235

  Archimedes, 78, 79, 149, 176

  Aristotle, 139

  Arithmetic, 35

  Arkwright, 172

  Artificial limbs, 239

  Artificial silk, 304

  Assur, 38

  Assyria, 39, 40

  Astrology, 31

  Astronomy, 24, 29

  Atlantic cable, 266

  Atomic Theory, 210

  Atwood's machine, 163

  Automatic arc-light, 235

  Automatic car-coupler, 285

  Automatic grain-binder, 273, 292

  Automatic piano, 221

  Autoplate, 318


  Babbage, 201

  Babbitt metal, 220

  Babylonian measures, 32

  Babylonian religion, 38

  Bacillus of cholera, 298

  Bacillus of diphtheria, 298

  Bacillus of hydrophobia, 298

  Bacillus of infantile paralysis, 329

  Bacillus of lockjaw, 298

  Bacillus of tuberculosis, 298

  Bacillus of typhus fever, 329

  Bacon, Francis, 139, 140, 162

  Bacon, Roger, 124

  Baldwin, 217

  Balista, 44

  Band wood-saw, 184, 302

  Barbed-wire fence, 273

  Barometer, 142

  Battle of the Nile, 189, 190

  Bazaine, 281

  Bémont, 314

  Becquerel Rays, 313, 314

  Behel, 273

  Bell, 287, 302

  Berliner, 292

  Bernoulli, 164

  Bessemer's process, 248

  Bicycle, 265

  Bismarck, 283

  Black, 171, 175

  Blake telephone-transmitter, 294

  Bonaparte, 177, 178

  Bourdon, 244

  Bow and arrow, 4, 5

  Bowers, 302

  Boyle, 141

  Braithwaite, 214

  Branca, 152

  Brandenburg, 164

  Branly's coherer, 305

  Brewster, 186, 244

  Britain, 91, 92

  Brugnatelli, 182

  Buddhism, 39, 263

  Bullock, 274

  Bunsen, 266

  Burden, 218

  Burleigh, 275


  Cable-car, 265

  Cæsar, 7, 85 to 95, 279

  Calculating machine, 201

  Carbide of calcium, 273

  Carbolic acid, 218

  Carbon telephone-transmitter, 292

  Carborundum, 312

  Carré, 269

  Carthage, 83, 84, 85

  Cartwright, 175

  Cash-carrier, 286

  Cash-register, 286

  Catapult, 44

  Cathode rays, 292

  Caus, 151

  Cavallo, 175

  Cavendish, 170, 171, 175

  Cawley, 153

  Celluloid, 284

  Cerebro-spinal meningitis antitoxin, 328

  Channing, 246

  Charlotte Dundas, 180

  Chemistry, 208

  Chloral hydrate, 217

  Chloroform, 215

  Christian Science, 277

  Christianity, 50, 263

  Chrome process of tanning, 302

  Cigarette machine, 291

  Circulation of blood, 140

  Civil War in America, 269 _et seq_

  Clay tablets, 24

  Clerk Maxwell, 284, 285

  Clermont, 180

  Clock, 162

  Coal-gas, 184

  Cocaine, 248

  Coins, 48

  Color photography, 327

  Colt, 219

  Columbus, 125 _et seq_

  Compressed-air rock drill, 275, 284

  Confucianism, 39

  Congress of Vienna, 260

  Congress, U. S. S., 270, 271, 272

  Constant battery, 219

  Constantinople, 96, 97, 113

  Constitution of the United States, 263

  Cooke, 220

  Copenhagen, 192

  Copernicus, 132, 133, 134

  Corliss cut-off, 244

  Cornwallis, 174, 175

  Cortez, 128, 129

  Corvus, 84, 85

  Cowles, 302

  Craske, 269

  Crawford, 220

  Cretans, 48

  Croesus, 48

  Crookes, 292

  Cumberland, U. S. S., 270, 271, 272

  Cuneiform writing, 28

  Curie, 314

  Curtiss, Glenn, 327

  Curved stereoplates, 269

  Customs union, 261

  Cyanide process, 303

  Cyrus, 39


  Dædalus, 57

  Daguerre, 181, 182

  Dalton, 210, 211

  Daniell, 219

  Daniels, 328, 330

  Darius, 59

  Davy, 181, 182, 183

  Davy, Edmund, 219

  De Chardonnet, 304

  De Grasse, 174, 175

  De Lesseps, 237

  Decimal system, 32

  Deisel Engine, 291

  Della Porta, 151

  Dennison, 242

  Depth bomb, 339

  Dewar, 201

  Dias, Bartholomew, 125

  Diet at Spires, 131

  Diet at Worms, 131

  Disc for polishing, 43

  Divine Right of kings, 146, 147

  Dodge, 274

  Domestication of brutes, 13

  Drager, 327

  Draper, 221

  Drebel, 142

  Dry-plate photography, 265

  Duodecimal system, 31, 32

  Duplex telegraph, 285

  Dynamics, 159

  Dynamite, 277

  Dynamo electric machine, 275


  East India Company, 257

  Eastman, 304

  Eberth, 295

  Eddy, 277

  Edison, 123, 292, 310, 328, 285

  Egyptian religion, 38

  Electric light, 149
    Telegraph, 215
    Cautery, 239
    Locomotive, 245
    Candle, 290
    Railway, first, 293
    Welding, 302
    Furnace, 312
    Motor, 217, 218

  Electrically propelled boat, 221

  Electricity, 148 _et seq_

  Electromagnetic theory of light, 284

  Electron, 293

  Electroplating, 182

  Electrostatic induction, 247

  Elevator, 272

  Embalming, 35

  Ericsson, 10, 68, 214, 220, 270, 271, 272

  Ether as an anæsthetic, 221


  Fahrenheit, 142

  Faraday, 138, 199, 214, 247

  Farmer, 246

  Faure storage battery, 294

  Feudal system, 145, 146

  Field, Cyrus, 266

  Finlay, 327

  Finsen, 313

  Fire alarm telegraph, 247

  Fire, 5

  First American locomotive, 217

  First electric telegraph, 232

  First successful aeroplane flight, 326

  Fiske, 312, 326, 328

  Fitch, 180

  Flexner, 328, 329

  Flute, 49

  Flying boat, 327

  Foucault, 235

  Fox, Talbot, 247

  Foy, 294

  Franklin, 168, 169, 170, 256

  Frederick the Great, 166 _et seq_

  Frederick William, 165, 166, 279

  French Revolution, 260

  Friction matches, 213

  Fulton, 180


  Galileo, 135, 136

  Galvani, 138, 200

  Galvanization, 220

  Galvanometer, 200

  Gardner, 265

  Gas engine, 291

  Gas mantle, 302

  Gatling gun, 273

  Gaul, 86 to 95

  Gaza, 73

  Ged, 164

  Geometry, 37

  German Confederation, 261

  Giffard, 265

  Gilbert, 137, 138

  Gimlet, 57

  Goldschmidt, 327

  Goodyear, 220, 284

  Gorham, 286

  Gorrie, 245

  Gramme, 283

  Graphophone, 302

  Gravitation, Law of, 144

  Great Eastern, 266

  Greece, 45

  Greek fire, 96, 97

  Green, 269

  Greener's hammerless gun, 294

  Groves gas battery, 267

  Guericke, 142, 143, 148, 149, 216

  Gun carriage, 108

  Gun-cotton, 240

  Gun director system, 312

  Gun, 101 to 110

  Gunpowder, 39

  Guthrie, 215

  Guttenberg, 7, 111

  Gyroscopic compass, 326

  Gyroscopic stabilizer, 327


  Hadley, 145

  Hales, 184

  Hall, 308

  Hammurabi, 38

  Hanaman, 327

  Hand photographic camera, 298

  Hannibal, 84, 85

  Hargreaves, 172

  Harvey, 140, 141

  Harveyized armor, 304

  Heat, a measure of work, 212

  Hebrews, 45

  Hellenistic civilization, 76, 77

  Helmholtz, 246

  Henry, 214, 216, 252

  Herman, 247

  Hero, 149, 150, 151

  Hertz, 304, 305

  Hewitt, 326

  Hibbert, 244

  High speed printing press, 327

  Hoe, 235, 242

  Holy Alliance, 260

  Homer, 205

  Hooke, 145, 162

  Horseshoe machine, 218

  Howe, 236

  Huygens, 162

  Hyatt, 284

  Hydraulic dredge, 302

  Hydraulic jack, 176


  Ice machine, 245, 287

  Illuminating water-gas, 286

  Image making, 117, 118

  Incandescent lamp, 292

  Induced currents, 214

  Induction transmitter, 293

  Ingersoll, 284

  Internal combustion engine, 291

  Interrupted thread screw, 242

  Invasion of England, 193, 194

  Ironclads, 248


  Jablochkoff, 290

  Jacobi, 218, 221

  James, 217

  Janney, 285

  Jansen, 135

  Jewish religion, 45, 46

  Joly, 327

  Judaism, 263


  Kaleidoscope, 186, 187

  Kepler, 134

  Kinetograph and kinetoscope, 310, 328

  Kingsland, 265

  Kirchoff, 266

  Knitting machine, 184

  Koch, 295, 298

  Kodak camera, 304

  König, 186

  Königgratz, 280

  Krag-Jorgensen rifle, 309

  Krupp, 243

  Kuno, 298


  La Gloire, 265

  Laennec, 197

  Laplace, 209

  Laughing gas, 234

  Lavoisier, 171, 172, 208, 211

  Laws of electrolysis, 247

  Laws of electromagnetic induction, 247

  Laws of electrostatic induction, 247

  League of Armed Neutrality, 192

  Lee magazine rifle, 294

  Leges Juliæ, 85

  Legion, 83

  Leibig, 215, 217

  Leupold, 153

  Leyden jar, 168, 169

  Liberal government, 255 _et seq_

  Light, 235

  Linde, 312

  Link motion, 217

  Linotype machine, 301

  Lippman, 327

  Liquefaction of air, 312

  Liquefaction of gases, 201

  Lister, 274

  Lithography, 177

  Locomotive, 185

  Loeffler, 298

  Long, 221

  Loom, positive motion weaving, 284

  Lowe, 286

  Lumière, 327

  Lundstrom, 247

  Luther, 130 _et seq_

  Lyall, 284


  Machine for making barbed-wire, 286

  Mack, 194

  Maddox, 284

  Magazine gun, 243

  Magellan, 128

  Magneto electric machine, 216, 217

  Malleable iron castings, 184

  Marathon, 59, 60

  Marble, 302

  Marconi, 306, 313

  Martel, Charles, 110

  Martin's steel process, 274

  Match-making machine, 242

  Matteson, 302

  Maxim, 327

  McCormick Reaper, 218

  McMahon, 281

  Melhuish, 247

  Merchant adventurers, 257

  Mercury-vapor light, 326

  Mergenthaler, 301, 308

  Merkle, 177

  Merrimac, C. S. S., 68, 270, 271, 272

  Metternich, 261, 262

  Michoux, 265

  Middlings purifier, 287

  Militarism, 282

  Military machine, 279 _et seq_

  Miller, 180

  Miltiades, 59, 60

  Milton, 205

  Miners' safety lamp, 183, 184

  Mohammedanism, 263

  Moltke, 279

  Moncrief's disappearing gun-carriage, 276

  Monitor, 68, 270, 271, 272

  Monroe Doctrine, 256

  Montgolfier, 175

  Morse, 215, 232, 233, 234

  Morton, 215

  Motion, Laws of, 144

  Multiphase currents, 303

  Mungo Ponton, 221

  Murdock, 184

  Muschenbroek, 168

  Musical telephone, 267

  Muybridge, 310

  Mythology, 53


  Napier, 136, 137

  Napoleon, 187 _et seq_, 257

  Nasmyth, 221

  Needle telegraph, 220

  Nege, 277

  Neilson, 213

  Nelson, 190, 192, 194, 197

  Newcomer, 153

  Newton, Isaac, 143, 144, 145

  Nicholson, 186

  Nickel steel, 308

  Nicolaier, 298

  Niepce, 181

  Nineveh, 39

  Nitroglycerin, 241

  Nobel, 277


  Oersted, 198, 199, 200

  Ohm, 213

  Oleomargarine, 277

  Omphalopsychites, 345

  Open-hearth process for steel-making, 274

  Ophthalmoscope, 245

  Otis, 272

  Otto, 291


  Pacinnotti, 217, 283

  Page, 245

  Painting, 56

  Paper, 101

  Papin, 153

  Papyrus, 25, 33

  Parson's steam turbine, 309

  Pasteur, 298

  Patent office, 111

  Paul, 172

  Peloponnesian War, 63, 66

  Pericles, 62

  Perkins, 265

  Perry, 315

  Persian Gates, 74

  Phalanx, 68, 69

  Philip of Macedon, 66, 67

  Phoenicians, 45

  Phoenix, 181

  Phonetic writing, 27

  Phonograph, 291

  Photographic roll films, 247

  Photography, 181, 221

  Photometer, 212

  Pictet, 287

  Picture-writing, 27

  Pitt, 261, 262

  Pixii, 216

  Pizarro, 129

  Planté, 266

  Platinotype process, 285

  Plotz, 329

  Pneumatic caissons, 221

  Pneumatic tire, 235

  Pneumonia bacillus, 295

  Poetry, 62

  Portable fire engine, 214

  Portland cement, 291

  Porus, 75

  Potassium, 182

  Power-loom, 175

  Prehistoric inventor, 23

  Prescott, 302

  Priestley, 171

  Primeval weapons, 1 to 20

  Princeton, U. S. S., 220

  Principia, 143

  Printing press, 186

  Printing telegraph, 237

  Printing, 110 to 115

  Pulmotor, 327

  Pump, 243

  Punic Wars, 84, 85

  Pyramids, 35, 36


  Quadruplex telegraphy, 285


  Radio activity, 314

  Radio control of moving vessels, 326

  Radium, 314

  Ramsay, 180

  Rear driven chain for bicycles, 302

  Reece, 298

  Regenerative furnace, 265

  Reis, 267

  Renaissance, 112

  Revolver, 219

  Rock drill, 247

  Rocket, 185

  Röntgen, 293, 312

  Rubicon, 94

  Ruhmkorff coil, 246, 293

  Ruin of the machine of civilization, 226-230

  Rumford, 212

  Runge, 218

  Russian campaign, 196, 197


  Sadowa, 280

  Safety matches, 247

  Sailing vessels, 47

  Salamis, 61

  Santos Dumont, 326

  Sargon, 41

  Savage, 241

  Savannah, first ocean steamship, 202

  Savery, 152, 153

  Schmid, 298

  Schneider, 308

  Schonbein, 240

  Schultz, 302

  Schultze, 273

  Schweigg, 200

  Scott Archer, 245

  Screw propeller, 220

  Sculpture, 62

  Secondary battery, 266

  Seebeck, 200

  Self-binding reaper, 286

  Self-induction, 215

  Selligne, 221

  Senefelder, 177

  Sennacherib, 41

  Sewing-machine, 236

  Sextant, 145

  Seymour, 245

  Seytre, 221

  Shakespeare, 205

  Shell ejector, 274

  Shintoism, 263

  Shoemaking machine, 269

  Sholes, 276

  Siemens, 216, 265, 275, 294

  Silencer for fire arms, 327

  Sleeping-car, 265

  Smeaton, 153

  Smith and Wesson revolver, 247

  Smokeless gunpowder, 273

  Sobrero, 241

  Sodium, 182

  Soubeiran, 215

  Sparta, 62

  Spectroscope, 266

  Sperry, 326

  Spinning machine, 172

  Sprague electric railway and motor, 303

  St. Vincent, 190

  Statuary, 56

  Steam engine, 150 _et seq_

  Steam hammer, 221

  Steam plough, 294

  Steam presser gauge, 244

  Steam saw-mill, 291

  Steam whistle, 218

  Steel pen, 184

  Stephenson, 185, 218

  Stereoscope, 244

  Stereotyping, 164

  Sternberg, 295

  Stethoscope, 197, 246

  Stevens, 181

  Sturgeon, 217

  Suez Canal, 237

  Sulphite process, 276

  Syphon, 286

  Syria, 45


  Tainter, 302

  Talbot, 221

  Talleyrand, 261, 262

  Taoism, 39, 263

  Taupenot, 265

  Telephone, 287

  Telescope sight for ships' guns, 312

  Telescope, 135, 136

  Tesla, 303

  Themistocles, 61

  Thermit welding, 327

  Thermometer, 142

  Thermopile, 200, 201

  Thermos bottle, 201

  Thompson, Elihu, 302

  Thomson, Benjamin, 212

  Thomson, Sir William, 286

  Thorium, 314

  Threshing-machine, 177

  Thurber, 231

  Tilghman, 276

  Time-lock, 241

  Torpedoplane, 328

  Torricelli, 142

  Toulon, 177

  Trafalgar, 195

  Triger, 221

  Tubular boiler, 214

  Tungsten electric light, 327

  Turtle for printing presses, 245

  Twine-binder, 286

  Typewriter, 231, 276

  Typhoid bacillus, 295

  Tyre, 72, 73

  Tyrian Dyes, 48


  Ulm, 194

  Uranium, 314

  Use of collodion in photography, 245

  Uxian pass, 74


  Van Depoele, 302

  Vasco da Gama, 128

  Veneti, 90

  Vercingetorix, 93, 94

  Vieille, 273

  Villeneuve, 193, 194

  Visibility of objects, 116, 117

  Volta, 138, 170, 171

  Voltaic arc, 182, 183

  Vulcanizing rubber, 220


  Walker, 213

  Walkers, 304

  War-chariot, 42

  Washington, 173 _et seq_

  Watch, 162

  Watch-making machine, 245

  Water-gas, 221

  Watt, 154 _et seq_

  Webb-feeding printing press, 274

  Wedgwood, 181

  Wegmann, 286

  Wells, 234

  Welsbach, 302

  Westinghouse, 278, 285

  Wheatstone bridge, 285

  Wheatstone, 220

  Wheel, 42, 43

  Whitehead torpedo, 275

  Whitney, 177

  Wilde, 275

  Willis, 285

  Wireless telegraph, 305, 306

  Wöhler, 213

  Wood pulp, 247

  Wood, Henry A. Wise, 318, 327

  Woodruff, 265

  Worm, 245

  Wright, Orville and Wilbur, 326


  X-Rays, 293, 312, 313

  Xerxes, 60


  Zankerode, 293

Transcriber's Notes:

Punctuation and spelling were made consistent when a predominant
preference was found in this book; otherwise they were not changed.

Simple typographical errors were corrected; occasional unbalanced
quotation marks retained.

Inconsistent hyphenation, e.g., "co-operation" and "cooperation", has
been retained unless one form predominated.

Ambiguous hyphens at the ends of lines were retained.

Page 174: "and sheet force of will" is misprint for "sheer".

Page 249: Several colons would be semi-colons in modern practice.

Index was not well-alphabetized; corrected here. Diacriticals and
ligatures have been alphabetized as plain letters.

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