« VorigeDoorgaan »
Smile, lady, smile!-for who would win
One jerk, and there a lady lay,
A lady wondrous fair;
But the rose of her lip had faded away,
And her cheek was as white and cold as clay,
And torn was her raven hair.
Ah ha!' said the Fisher, in merry guise,
And the Abbot heav'd some piteous sighs,
There was turning of keys, and creaking of locks,
Tomes of heresy, loaded dice,
And golden cups of the brightest wine
That ever was pressed from the Burgundy vine
There was a perfume of sulphur and nitre,
As the Fishermen armed his golden hook ;
On the scaffold his country's vengeance raises,
As the swaling wherry settles down,
When peril has numbed the sense and will,
Deeper far was the Abbot's trance :
Fixed as a monument, still as air,
He bent no knee, and he breathed no prayer;
There was turning of keys, and creaking of locks,
'Oh ho! Oh ho!
The cock doth crow;
It is time for the Fisher to rise and go.
Fair luck to the Abbot, fair luck to the shrine!
He hath gnawed in twain my choicest line;
Let him swim to the north, let him swim to the south,
The Abbot will carry my hook in his mouth !'
The Abbot had preached for many years,
With as clear articulation
As ever was heard in the House of Peers
His words had made battalions quake,
But ever, from that hour, 'tis said,
He stammered and he stuttered,
As if an axe went through his head,
He stuttered o'er blessing, he stuttered o'er ban,
And none but he and the Fisherman
Could tell the reason why!
46.-PROGRESS OF THE MECHANICAL ARTS.
[THE following is extracted from a Lecture delivered before the Boston Mechanics' Institution, in 1828. Mr. Webster is one of the most distinguished living orators of the United States, and, what is higher praise, a man of benevolent and pacific views.]
Human sagacity, stimulated by human wants, seizes first on the nearest natural assistant. The power of his own arm is an early lesson among the studies of primitive man. This is animal strength; and from this he rises to the conception of employing, for his own use, the strength of other animals. A stone, impelled by the power of his arm, he finds will produce a greater effect than the arm itself; this is a species of mechanical power. The effect results from a combination of the moving force with the gravity of a heavy body.. The limb of a tree is a rude but powerful instrument; it is a lever. And the mechanical powers being all discovered, like other natural qualities, by induction, (I use the word as Bacon used it,) or experience, and not by any reasoning à priori, their progress has kept pace with the general civilization and education of nations. The history of mechanical philosophy, while it strongly illustrates, in its general results, the force of the human mind, exhibits, in its details, most interesting pictures of ingenuity struggling with the conception of new combinations, and of deep, intense, and powerful thought, stretched to its utmost to find out, or deduce, the general principle from the indications of particular facts. We are now so far advanced beyond the age when the principal, leading, important mathematical discoveries were made, and they have become so much matter of common knowledge, that it is not easy to feel their importance, or be justly sensible what an epoch in the history of science each constituted. The half frantic exultation of Archimedes, when he had solved the problem respecting the crown of Hiero, was on an occasion and for a cause certainly well allowing very high joy. And so also was the duplication of the cube.
The altar of Apollo, at Athens, was a square block or cube, and to double it required the duplication of the cube. This was a process involving an unascertained mathematical principle.
It was quite natural,
therefore, that it should be a traditional story, that by way of atoning for some affront to that god, the oracle commanded the Athenians to double his altar; an injunction, we know, which occupied the keen sagacity of the Greek geometricians for more than half a century before they were able to obey it. It is to the great honour, however, of this inimitable people, the Greeks, a people whose genius seems to have been equally fitted for the investigations of science and the works of imagination, that the immortal Euclid, centuries before our era, composed his Elements of Geometry; a work which, for two thousand years, has been, and still continues to be, a text book for instruction in that science.
A history of mechanical philosophy, however, would not begin with Greece. There is a wonder beyond Greece. Higher up in the annals of mankind, nearer, far nearer, to the origin of our race, out of all reach of letters, beyond the sources of tradition, beyond all history except what remains in the monuments of her own art, stands Egypt, the mother of nations! Egypt! Thebes! the Labyrinth! the Pyra mids! Who shall explain the mysteries which these names suggest? The Pyramids! Who can inform us whether it was by mere numbers, and patience, and labour, aided perhaps by the simple lever; or if not, by what forgotten combinations of power, by what now unknown machines, mass was thus aggregated to mass, and quarry piled on quarry, till solid granite seemed to cover the earth and reach the skies?
The ancients discovered many things, but they left many things also to be discovered; and this, as a general truth, is what our posterity, a thousand years hence, will be able to say, doubtless, when we and our generation shall be recorded also among the ancients. For, indeed, God seems to have proposed his material universe as a standing perpetual study to his intelligent creatures; where, ever learning, they can yet never learn all; and if that material universe shall last till man shall have discovered all that is unknown, but which, by the progressive improvement of his faculties, he is capable of knowing, it will remain through a duration beyond human measurement, and beyond human comprehension.
The ancients knew nothing of our present system of arithmetical notation; nothing of algebra, and, of course, nothing of the important application of algebra to geometry. They had not learned the use of logarithms, and were ignorant of fluxions. They had not attained to
any just method for the mensuration of the earth, a matter of great moment to astronomy, navigation, and other branches of useful knowledge. It is scarcely necessary to add, that they were ignorant of the great results which have followed the development of the principle of gravitation.
In the useful and practical arts, many inventions and contrivances, to the production of which the degree of ancient knowledge would appear to us to have been adequate, and which seem quite obvious, are yet of late origin. The application of water, for example, to turn a mill, is a thing not known to have been accomplished at all in Greece, and is not supposed to have been attempted at Rome till in or near the age of Augustus. The production of the same effect by wind, is a still later invention. It dates only in the seventh century of our era. The propulsion of the saw by any other power than that of the arm is treated as a novelty in England so late as in the middle of the sixteenth century. The Bishop of Ely, ambassador from the Queen of England to the Pope, says he saw, "at Lyons, a saw-mill driven with an upright wheel, and the water that makes it go is gathered into a narrow trough, which delivereth the same water to the wheels. This wheel hath a piece of timber put to the axletree end, like the handle of a broch (a hand organ), and fastened to the end of the saw, which being turned with the force of water, hoisteth up the saw, that it continually eateth in, and the handle of the same is kept in a rigall of wood from severing. Also the timber lieth, as it were, upon a ladder, which is brought by little and little to the saw by another vice." From this description of the primitive power-saw, it would seem that it was probably fast only at one end, and that the broch and rigall performed the part of the arm in the common use of the hand-saw.
It must always have been a very considerable object for men to possess, or obtain, the power of raising water otherwise than by mere manual labour. Yet nothing like the common suction-pump has been found among rude nations. It has arrived at its present state only by slow and doubtful steps of improvement; and, indeed, in that present state, however obvious and unattractive, it is something of an abstruse and refined invention. It was unknown in China until Europeans visited the "Celestial Empire ;" and is still unknown in other parts of Asia, beyond the pale of European settlements, or the reach of Eu