Imatges de pÓgina

again. During this interval the price of the new instrument would be enormously enhanced. We should again hear men speak, like Malvolio, of winding up their watches' as a token of magnificent wealth. Thus in our complicated state of society, even machines in process of time come to surround themselves with a circle of vested interests,' which embarrass all our attempts at improvement.

Looking back on what we have written as to the limits of improvement, we come to the conclusion that it is impossible to lay down any general law upon the subject. Every invention must be judged by its own merits, and according to the special object in view. Nine times out of ten, probably, the object will be nothing more than economy, in a reduction of cost. In the tenth case, it may be for increased safety, simplicity, velocity, or power.

But each case requires to be calculated for itself; and some of the elements for such calculations we have now endeavoured to give. These elements are sometimes simple enough: yet it is astonishing how often they are overlooked. To give a familiar illustration. The art of flying has more or less occupied the inventive power of man, since the days of Dedalus. Here we may allow that cost and even danger may be left out of consideration, and that the question is one of simple practicability. The balloon offers the nearest approximation to a successful solution ; since, though we could not properly fly, we might float suspended to those buoyant spheres : and efforts to steer balloons have accordingly been innumerable.

Now a very simple calculation will show that a wind of fifteen miles an hour would exert, upon any sphere of useful size, a pressure greater than the weight it could sustain in the air. The

power consequently which would be required to retain the machine stationary against such a wind- or, what is the same thing, propel it at a like rate through a still atmosphere—must be greater than that which would keep it up in the air without a balloon at all. A good three-fourths of prospective aëronauts, therefore, surrounded their task with unnecessary difficulty. And the remainder, who devised so many varieties of imitative plumage and pinions, might have saved their labour if they had but reflected that, before they could use their ingenious apparatus, they must possess some motive power which could support its own weight and something more, for a reasonable time. They were constructing new wings, while the thing wanted was a new steam engine.

In many branches of manufacture mechanical improvement has been so rapid, that Mr. Babbage estimated the average duration of the machinery at only three years; by the expiration of



which time it was superseded by new apparatus. This ratio was of course temporary and accidental. Many of the large manufacturers in Lancashire and the West Riding find it worth their while to employ skilful mechanics at high salaries, for no other purpose than to suggest improvements in the machinery. The result is that their factories contain specimens of contrivance surpassing any other in the world. Some of the mechanism used in cotton printing, or in the differential box’ for supplying cotton to the spinning frames, is beyond comparison superior, in delicacy and ingenuity, to the most complex movements of a chronometer. And the human operative, in imitation and by the aid of the machine, acquires a perfection little less marvellous. The rapidity of his motion, the acuteness of his perception, render him a fitting companion for the intricate mechanism he employs. In astronomical observations, the senses of the operator are rendered so acute by habit, that he can estimate differences of time to the tenth of a second; and adjust his measuring instrument to graduations of which 5000 occupy only an inch. It is the same throughout the commonest processes of manufacture. A child who fastens on the heads of pins will repeat an operation requiring several distinct motions of the muscles one hundred times a minute for several successive hours. In a recent Manchester paper, it was stated that a peculiar sort of twist or .gimp, which cost three shillings making when first introduced, was now manufactured for one penny; and this not, as usually, by the invention of a new machine, but solely through the increased dexterity of the workman.

To the inventive genius of her sons England owes the founda- . tion of her commercial greatness. We will not go the length of asserting that she retains her proud pre-eminence solely upon the condition of keeping twenty years ahead of other nations in the practice of the mechanical arts; but there is no question that a fearful proportion of our fellow subjects hold their prosperity upon no other tenure. And quite independently of what may

be done by our rivals in the markets of the world, it is of vast importance to our increasing population that the conquest over nature should proceed unchecked. Towards this object we have thought we might contribute some slight assistance by indicating some of the principles upon which the warfare must be conducted, and the mental training of those engaged in carrying it on. That there should be so little provision for this training among our ordinary establishments for education, shows a neglect, at which, if any anomaly of the sort could surprise us, we might well be surprised. With the exception of the College at Putney, confined to a few aspirants to




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the honorary degree of C. E.--for practically the profession is not limited to such -- the scientific education of the young mechanist must be self-acquired, or, at best, irregularly obtained in the classes voluntarily formed among the members of literary institutions. Yet every day the necessity for practical and technical instruction is becoming more manifest. We see it marked as strongly in the success of the few who succeed, as in the failure of the many efforts of ignorant and mistaken ingenuity.

Blind intuition has now little hope of success in the work of invention. Mere chance has still less: it never, indeed, had so much as popular reputation gave it credit for. Chance might have set in motion the chandelier suspended in the Pisa cathedral; but if chance also suggested to Galileo the laws of the pendulum, it must have belonged to that multitudinous order of casualties, by which ideas are ordinarily propagated in fit and fertile minds. Two generations ago Mr. Watt observed, that he had known many workmen who had suggested some improved adaptation of mechanism, but never one who invented an instrument involving a principle, like that of his centrifugal “governor. Machines that do not involve a principle are now grown so rare, that the range of invention is almost annihilated for the mere workman. On the other hand, we observe how singularly, when the principle is once fairly studied, mechanical inventions are simultaneously made in many places at once. The honours of the electrotype processes, of the Daguerreotype, the electric telegraph, the screw-propeller, and a host besides, are disputed by a hundred rival claimants. Chance, we thus perceive, did not produce those discoveries ; and from the same facts we obtain a gratifying assurance that it could not have prevented their production. Well directed education will make the creations of the human mind more abundant, as printing has already secured their indestructibility.

Of the legal aids or hindrances to invention, it is not now our purpose to speak, although the anomalies of the laws in relation to the subject are confessedly flagrant. One suggestion for improvement we have already referred to. It is that every petitioner for a patent should deposit in a gallery or museum, accessible to the public, a working model, drawing, or specimen of his invention whether in mechanism, art, or manufacture. Museums of this description would prove of infinite assistance towards that scientific education in which we are now so lamentably deficient. The public would then obtain some countervailing advantage from a system, of which it is hard to say whether it is more injurious by the monopoly that it confers or the privileges it denies ; by the difficulties it imposes on an inventor who seeks to profit by his discovery, or by the hindrances which it puts in the way of his successors, who have devised improvements on the first invention.


ART. III. - Charles Vernon: a Transatlantic Tale. By Lieut.

Colonel SENIOR. 2 vols. London: 1848. FI "ICTIONS may be divided and again cross-divided into many

different genera, according to the principles on which the different classifications are founded.

They may be divided, for instance, as to their form, into narrative and dramatic; as to the emotions which they propose to excite, into serious, comic, and satirical; as to the instrument which they employ, into verse and prose; as to the subjects which they paint, into elevated and familiar; as to their matter, into allegorical, historical, and purely invented; as to their premises, or the state of things which they presuppose, into supernatural and real; and, lastly, as to their peculiar merits, into those whose principal aim is excellence in plot, in characters, or in


To the last of these classifications we propose to devote a few pages before we consider the work with which this article is headed.

We must begin by explaining that we use the word Scenery in rather an extended sense, to express all the peculiarities, material and moral, which give a general character to the events. It includes, therefore, not only the attributes which distinguish the place and the time of their occurrence, but also those which mark the class or sort of persons who participate in them. Ariel, Caliban, and even Miranda, are parts of the scenery of the · Tempest.' So is the lime-grove which weatherfends Prospero's cell. So are the nimble marmosets, the clustering filberts, and the young sea-mews from the rocks. So are the sounds and sweet airs that fill the island, and give delight, and hurt not. And such especially was the chorus of the Greek drama, which was local opinion personified. At first it may appear that moral peculiarities form a part, not of the scenery, but of the characters of a fiction. And this is true, when those peculiarities give individuality to the persons to whom they are ascribed. For this purpose, however, they must be not only marked, but numerous and distinct. In real life, every man belongs to many classes, according to the portion of his character which, for the time being, is under view. As civilisation in

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creases, as the intellectual powers become more extensive, the
moral perceptions more sensitive, and the external relations
more complicated, these classes increase in number: but even in
savage life, or in the less educated portion of civilised nations,
they are so numerous that no two men can be found possessing
precisely the same combination of precisely similar qualities.
When a man, however, is ascribed to merely one of these classes

- when he is only the fortis Gyas, or the good Horatio, no
definite idea is presented to us. And, even when several qua-
lities are attributed to him, still, if those qualities all belong to
one class or genus, the picture, though it may be more brilliant,
continues indistinct.

Such characters we venture to call Scenic, as opposed to those which, possessing complicated and different, though not inconsistent, qualities, and belonging (as real men and women do) to many different classes, we term Individual.

Thus the suitors in the Odyssey, however vividly coloured, are not individualised. They are the idle aristocracy of a barbarous age, and have only the peculiarities of their time and their caste - sensuality, insolence, rapacity, unconsciousness of responsibility, and absence of self-control. Eurymachus, Antinous, and Agelaus, are distinguished from one another only by name. On the other hand, the heroes of the Iliad are individuals. They have all, indeed, some common attributes-bravery, pride, and indifference to human suffering. But each of the principal actors has also other qualities, which, modifying one another, form combinations, like those of actual life, and distinguish him from all his associates.

We may illustrate this by comparing the two most elaborately drawn characters, Achilles and Hector. They are each men of extraordinary courage, strength, and skill; each is the great warrior of his party, and each is aware that he will not witness the triumph of his cause.

Achilles knows that he is to die before the walls of Troy. Hector

· foresees a day
When Ilium, Ilium's people, and himself,

Her warlike king, shall perisi.'*
With so many points of resemblance, in the hands of

ordinary poet, they would have been duplicates. As painted by
Homer, they are not only dissimilar, but opposed in almost every

Both, as we have said, are brave. The courage of Achilles is founded on insensibility to danger. Except in the struggle

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