« AnteriorContinuar »
we have a word to say of its ingratitude. No, no! good reader
-We don't mean that. We were never scalded by steam, nor blown, like Lieutenant O'Brien, in such hot haste from a steamer that we had not time to shift ourself. We had no loved or loving wife, nor helpless cherub, on the ill-fated steamer Henry Clay. Nor father, nor mother, sister, brother nor friend on board the mystic shrouded President, which went out on that fathomless tomb, that gives us no return of its dead, and never came back again, not even with a word of mournful certainty to break the cruel grief of suspense. Nor were we ever hurled, with reckless violence in a steam car, down an awful chasm, recovering our stupified senses in time to behold the mangled corpse of an idolized son, and hear the frantic wailings of a heart-riven, now childless mother. Steam never thus injured us in person or estate, and our charge of ingratitude cannot therefore spring from "malice aforethought.” Nevertheless, if Caloric insures us all the benefits of Steam, without a sad stereotype of its awful calamities by sea and land, surely no one will moisten its tomb with tears of regret.
The closing age of Steam, with all its triumphs of Progress and attendant civilization, has been marked with the basest ingratitude to the Genius which discovered and proclaimed its practical usefulness. The history of FITCH, FULTON and Evans, is well known. The trials, privations and neglect endured by “Poor John Fitch" have been elaborately and faithfully laid before the readers of the Guardian by a master mind. The question of right to the credit of inventing the steamboat we will not attempt to discuss at this time. It is sufficient that we know the world now admits great and irreparable injustice was done to the noble genius who first successfully combatted wind and tide with an artificial motor—whichever of the three that man may have been. Then eglected grave of poor Fitch, beside the waters of the Ohio, "with no monument save the wild flowers about his grave, no requiem save the monotonous sound of her perpetual flow,” is disgraceful evidence that Steam Progress has shamefully outran national justice and gratitude. Yet, in the sentiment of a beautiful writer, even now, though then unforeseen, that neglected spot on the banks of the Ohio has become poor Fitch's most appropriate resting-place. His prophecy is fulfilled. Each day, each night, at all hours, great argosies, that put to shame the fleet of Xerxes, pass and repass that shore -one continual procession, keeping eternal music with stentorian voices through iron valves, and charming far echo with the constant chime of passing bells.
The records of our National Legislature, as well as those of the State which enjoyed the first-fruits of his genius, are blotted with the traces of foul ingratitude to the memory and family of Fulton. Although General Jackson seized a steamboat which Fulton had placed upon the Mississippi and Ohio, at a heavy expense to himself, the only one then on the Western waters, and rendered it valueless by damage sustained in the public service, Congress for years refused to acknowledge the right of his surviving children to a fair compensation for losses sustained by their father, after he had laid his genius and his life (for the disease of which he died was contracted through exposure in serving the public,) an offering on the altar of his country! The popular thunder of an age of steam hushed the modest plea of poor inventive genius.
Nor are these the worst instances of the blind ingratitude of Steam Progress. Fitch and Fulton had, after all, greater pretensions to talent than genius. They merely applied a great Idea to a practical purpose. The theory of Steam as a motor was furnished them by another. They berrowed the idea and made it the foundation of their own fame. They only worked beneath the light of a greater intellect!
And where did that greater light shine ? History, with her easy virtue and gossiping tongue, has given the MARQUIS OF WORCESTER the credit of first promulging the theory of steampower, in his Century of Inventions, a book published by him in the year 1663. But the Marquis of Worcester was an impostor. The only claim on which his historical and scientific fame is based was a stolen idea. And that idea was stolen from one whom an imperial court wrote down a madman, and, lest the justice of their judgment should be questioned, persecuted him until his mighty genius was dethroned and he became a madman indeed!
In the Bicetre, or Bedlam, of Paris, in the year 1641, confined in a madman's cage, behold the genius who first conceived the great idea that has since wrought a civil revolution in the affairs of men! Poor SALOMON DE Caus! For saying, in the modest confidence of that true genius which ever feels its own superiority, “I have made a discovery which will enrich any country that will put it in operation," you were accused of insanity, shut up in a Bedlam, and kept there until madness did indeed eclipse the light of intellect forever! "Such is the fate of genius !" For to accident rather than history are we indebted for what little we know of poor De Caus. Fulton and Fitch have at least been honored with steamboats known by their re
spective names. A few magnanimous pens have moved over the record in justice to their memory, and an enterprising citizen of Fulton's native county, has ventured to name our beautiful Fulton Hall in honor to his memory. But poor De Caus, to whom they were actually indebted for the grand idea of this new motor, has not so much as been honored by having his name placed upon a canal propellor! Where is the gratitude-the justice—the sense of shame-of steam civilization ? Poor DE Caus, raving, and pining, and dying, in the Bicetre of Paris, because Monsieur Cardinal Richelieu mistook a genius for a madman, and gave him a cell in Bedlam in lieu of a seat with kings and wise men, will form our only and best answer to this question.
To the private correspondence of the celebrated Marion Delorme, with the Marquis de Cinq Mars, who was beheaded at Lyons in 1642 for suspected court intrigues, and to whom it is supposed M’lle Delorme was secretly married, we are indebted for the only authentic account of the manner in which Edward Somerset, the Marquis of Worcester, availed himself of De Caus’ theory of steam-power. In the beginning of the year 1641, the Marquis was in Paris, and in visiting various places of interest and curiosity he was accompanied by the charming Marion. In a letter to her presumed husband, the Marquis de Cinq Mars, dated Feb. 3, 1641, she gives a full and minute account of the interview between De Caus and Worcester, from a translation of which we make the following extracts :
"As we crossed the lunatic quarters, of the Bicetre, and I, more dead than alive with fear, leaned on my companion, an ugly face showed itself behind great bars, and commenced crying, in a broken voice-'I am not mad! I have made a discovery which will enrich any country that will put it in operation.' And what is the discovery? said I to our guide. * * * This man,' said he, 'is Salomon De Caus. He came from Normandy four years since, to present to the notice of the King a treatise on the marvelous effects that can be obtained by his invention—that is by Steam, to propel machines, drive carriages, and do, for aught I know, a thousand other miracles. The Cardinal dismissed the madman without an answer ; but Salomon de Caus, instead of being discouraged, commenced fol. lowing Monseigneur the Cardinal, everywhere, until he, tired of finding him at his heels, and importuned by his follies, ordered him to be shut up in the Bicetre, where he has now been three years and a half, and where, as you have heard, he cries to every stranger that he is not mad, and that he has made a wonderful discovery. To prove this, he has even written a book, which I have here.' My Lord Worcester, who had been all attention, demanded the book, and after having read some pages in it, said, “This man is not mad; and when you threw him into that cell, you shut up the greatest genius of the age ! After this we left; and since that time the Marquis has continually spoken of Salomon De Caus.”
About the authenticity of the letter from which we have made this extract, there can be no doubt. It was written by Marion to illustrate (to her husband or lover, we have no evidence as to which he was in reality,) Worcester's singular turn of mind, "how he led her from one object of curiosity to another, always choosing the saddest and most serious, and fixing his large blue eyes on those he questioned as if to penetrate their inmost thoughts-how he was never contented with the explanations given him, and never regarded objects in the same light with those who showed them to him." The original manuscript of the letter was found among the effects of the Marquis de Cinq Mars, some years after his execution, all the material facts of it being corroborated by the Private Memoirs of the French Court; and it also formed the text for the much admired painting by Lecurieux of “De Caus in Bedlam," which appeared in the Louvre in 1845, and was copied into Volume IX of the Union Magazine, which first attracted our attention to the interesting subject.
The Marquis of Worcester, having read enough of De Caus' manuscript to convince him of the practicability of converting steam into a motive power, went home to England and commenced his experiments : but with the sad fate of poor De Caus constantly before him, and being unable to interest even his friends and acquaintances in his aileged discovery, he did not venture before the public with his treatise until twenty-two years after he had read the manuscript of De Caus in the Bicetre. From this period, (1663) history erroneously dates the discovery of Steam as a motor. The progress made in practicalizing the great theory of De Caus may not be uninteresting to the general reader, and will enable him to form some idea of the real claims of different experimentors. 1641. De Caus' discovery of steam as a motor first made
known to the Marquis of Worcester. 1663. Marquis of Worcester published his theory of sa way
to drive up water by fire." 1681. Papin invented his Steam Digester. 1698. Captain Savery constructed an engine for raising water. 1699. Papin's engine exhibited to the Royal Society.
his experime power, weneracticability of co
1713. Atmospheric engine invented by Savery and Newcomen. 1736. First idea of steam navigation set forth in Hull's patent. 1769. Watt's invention of condensing in a steam-chamber dis
tinct from the cylinder. 1768. Watt's first patent granted. 1775. Watt's engines erected on a large scale in manufactories,
and his patent renewed by Parliament. 1778. Thomas Paine proposed the application of Steam in
America. Watt's Expansive, and the Rotary Motion Engine,
were also constructed this year. 1779. Dr. Falck proposed the construction of double-acting En
gines on Newcomen's principle. 1781. Watt's first patent for his Double Engine granted. The
Marquis Jouffroy constructed an engine on the Saone. 1783-4. “Poor John Fitch" experimented in steam navigation
on the river Delaware. 1785-6. Oliver Evans made similar experiments. 1787. Rumsey made similar experiments in Virginia. 1789. Symington made a passage on the Forth and Clyde canal. 1791. Henry Jackson erected the first steam engine in Dublin. 1792. Jouffroy experimented in France. 1797. Chancellor Livingston built a steamer on the Hudson. 1801. First experiment on the river Thames. 1802. Symington's experiment repeated with success. Trove
thick's high-pressure engine invented. 1804. Oliver Evans experimented in locomotive engines, and
Woolf constructed his double-cylinder expansion engine. 1806. Manufactories first warmed by steam. 1807. Fulton performed the first successful trip in steam navi
gation on record, on the Hudson river, making the passage
to Albany in 33 hours. 1811. Blenkinsop first applied steam power (to convey coals)
on a railway. 1812. The first steam vessel in Europe commenced plying on
the Clyde. 1814. Fulton constructed the first steam frigate ever built,
named “Fulton the First.” Steam was applied to Printing
the same year in the London Times office. 1819. The ocean first crossed by a steamer, (the Savannah,)
which went from New York to Liverpool in 26 days. 1825. The steamer Enterprise sailed from Falmouth to India
—the first steam voyage to that region. 1829. Locomotive engines used on the Liverpool railroad. 1838. War steamers built in England. The Great Western