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could produce splendid cast -steel at about the cost of
making iron. The announcement was received with
much incredulity; but the "Bessemer converter" was
exhibited, the new process shown, and the result seemed
to confirm the verity of the claim of the inventor. Prac-
tical difficulties, however, postponed its complete success
till 1860, when the new process supplanted all others.

Mr. Bessemer now stood at the head of the inventors
of the world, and Mr. Gladstone, as Chancellor of the
Exchequer under Lord Palmerston, had come to be re-
garded as one of the most skilful governmental financiers
in Europe, which meant that he was an adept in devising
schemes of taxation calculated to yield the most revenue
with the least popular discontent. When it is considered
that it is necessary for the English Minister of Finance
to draw from the British people more than a million dol-
lars every morning of the year, including Sundays, before
either the English lord or the English peasant can indulge
in a free breakfast, so to speak, the extreme delicacy of
the duties devolving upon him will be understood and
appreciated. If he proposes the repeal of the soap tax
in order to extinguish the slave-trade, he must impose
an additional penny in the pound on malt liquors in
order to put an end to the vice of drunkenness. He is
constantly between Scylla and Charybdis in keeping

as the oxidizing agent is dated October 17, 1855, and other three
months were spent in experimenting before the idea of introducing
the air from the bottom of a large converter struck him. The patent
embodying the latter idea is dated February 11, 1856." " The Cre-
ators of the Age of Steel," note to p. 38. By W. T. Jeans. New
York : Charles Scribner's Sons, 1884.


off the one he is in danger of being swallowed up in the
other. And if he can, at the end of the fiscal year, find
a million dollars to apply to the liquidation of the public
debt, he is extremely fortunate. From 1836, about the
time Mr. Gladstone began his public career, down to ten
years ago, the several chancellors of the English Excheq-
uer, including Mr. Gladstone, contrived to save, in the
aggregate, about thirteen million dollars for this purpose.

Let us recur a moment to the subject of the invention
of Mr. Bessemer. It went into operation in 1860. The
temptation to reproduce Mr. Bessemer's own description
of his process, which revolutionized the manufacture of
steel, is irresistible. It is as follows :

"The converting vessel is mounted on an axis at or
near its centre of gravity. It is constructed of boiler-
plates, and is lined either with fire-brick, road-drift, or
gannister, which resists the heat better than any other
material yet tried, and has also the advantage of cheap-
ness. The vessel, having been heated, is brought into the
requisite position to receive its charge of melted metal,
without either of the tuyeres (or air-holes) being below
the surface. No action can therefore take place until
the vessel is turned up (so that the blast can, enter
through the tuyeres). The process is thus in an instant
brought into full activity, and small though powerful
jets of air spring upward through the fluid mass. The
air, expanding in volume, divides itself into globules, or
bursts violently upward, carrying with it some hundred-
weight of fluid metal, which again falls into the boiling
mass below. Every part of the apparatus trembles un-
der the violent agitation thus produced ; a roaring flame
rushes from the mouth of the vessel, and as the process
advances it changes its violet color to orange, and finally


to a voluminous pure white flame. The sparks, which
at first were large, like those of ordinary foundery iron,
change into small hissing points, and these gradually
give way to soft floating specks of bluish light as the
state of malleable iron is approached. There is no
eruption of cinder as in the early experiments, although
it is formed during the process ; the improved shape of
the converter causes it to be retained, and it not only
acts beneficially on the metal, but it helps to confine the
heat, which during the process has rapidly risen from
the comparatively low temperature of melted pig-iron to
one vastly greater than the highest known welding heats,
by which malleable iron only becomes sufficiently soft
to be shaped by the blows of the hammer ; but here it
becomes perfectly fluid, and even rises so much above
the melting point as to admit of its being poured from
the converter into a founder's ladle, and from thence
to be transferred ta several successive moulds." *

What is the value of this process? What is the ex-
tent of the service rendered by Mr. Bessemer to man?
It is estimated that in the twenty-one years first elapsing
after the successful working of the Bessemer process, the
production of steel by it, notwithstanding its necessarily
slow progress, amounted to twenty-five million tons. At
$200 a ton, the alleged saving in cost as compared with
the old process, this represents an aggregate saving of
$5,000,000,000. In 1882 the world's production was
four million tons, which at the rate named yields a
saving of the enormous aggregate of $800,000,000 in a
single year. These sums seem almost fabulous, especial-
ly so since they result from simply blowing air through

* " The Creators of the Age of Steel," p. 71. By W. T. Jeans.
New York : Charles Scribner's Sons, 1884.


crude melted iron for a quarter of an hour! But the
radical character of the change wrought in the metal by
the air-blowing process is shown by the fact that a steel
rail is worth as much as twenty iron rails.*

All the governments of Europe honored Mr. Bessemer
for his great invention, some by medals and orders of
merit, and others by appropriating without compensa-
tion his process of steel-making. Of these latter Prussia
stood in the front rank. England alone stood aloof.
" A prophet is not without honor save in his own coun-
try and among his own kin." From 1860 to 1872 Eng-
land continued to load Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Disraeli
with honors, but not until the latter year did the govern-
ment recognize Mr. Bessemer, when the Prince of Wales
presented him with the Albert gold medal, and in 1879
he was knighted by the Queen.

A comparison between the lives and services to man
of two of the most distinguished statesmen of England,
with the life and services, to man, of Sir Henry Bessemer,
cannot fail to be of great value to every young man who
possesses the power of just discrimination. But can just
discrimination be expected of any young man entering

* "At the Birmingham meeting of the British Association in 1865,
Sir Henry Bessemer explained that at Chalk Farm steel rails -were
laid down on one side of the line and iron rails on the other, so that
every engine and carriage there had to pass over both steel and iron
rails at the same time. When the first face was worn off an iron rail
it was turned the other way upward, and when the second face was
worn out it was replaced by a new iron rail. When Sir Henry ex-
hibited one of these steel rails at Birmingham only one face of it was
nearly worn out, while on the opposite side of the line eleven iron
rails had in the same time been worn out on both faces. It thus ap-
peared that one steel rail was capable of doing the work of twenty-
three iron ones." "The Creators of the Age of Steel, "p. 93. By
W. T. Jeans. New York: Charles Scribuer's Sons, 1884.


upon the stage of active life when such discrimination
is not possessed by the public at large ? For example :
The question being propounded, What is the value of the
combined services to man of Mr. Gladstone and Mr.
Disraeli, as compared with those of Sir Henry Besse-
mer? ninety-nine out of a hundred men of sound judg-
ment would doubtless say, " The value of the services of
the two statesmen is quite unimportant, while the value
of the services of Mr. Bessemer is enormous, incalcula-
ble." But how many of these ninety-nine men of sound
judgment could resist the fascination of the applause
accorded to the statesmen ? How many of them would
have the moral courage to educate their sons for the
career of Mr. Bessemer instead of for the career of Mr.
Disraeli or of Mr. Gladstone?* Not many in the present
state of public sentiment. It will be a great day for
man, the day that ushers in the dawn of more sober
views of life, the day that inaugurates the era of things
in the place of words.

Mr. Gladstone stands for politics and statesmanship at
their best, and his career is the product of the old system
of education at its best. Mr. Bessemer stands for science
and art united, and his career is the product of the new

* "If there were two valleys in California or Australia with two
different kinds of gravel in the bottom of them, and in the one stream-
bed you could dig up, occasionally and by good-fortune, nuggets of
gold, and in the other stream-bed, certainly and without hazard, you
could dig up little caskets containing talismans which gave length of
days and peace, and alabaster vases of precious balms which were
better than the Arabian dervish's ointment, and made not only the
eyes to see, but the mind to know whatever it would I wonder
in which of the stream-beds there would be most diggers ?" "Time
and Tide," p. 100. By John Ruskin, LL.D. New York: John
Wiley & Sons, 1883.




A Trade is better than a Profession. The Railway, Telegraph, and
Steamship are more Potent than the Lawyer, Doctor, and Priest.
Book-makers writing the Lives of the Inventors of last Century.
The Workshop to be the Scene of the Greatest Triumphs of Man.
The Civil Engineers of England the Heroes of English Progress.
The Life of James Brindley, the Canal-maker; his Struggles and
Poverty. The Roll of Honor. Mr. Gladstone's Significant Admis-
sion that English Triumphs in Science and Art were won without
Government Aid. Disregarding the Common-sense of the Savage,
Legislators have chosen to learn of Plato, who declared that "The
Useful Arts are Degrading." How Improvements in the Arts have
been met by Ignorant Opposition. The Power wielded by the

THE young man with a mechanical trade is better
equipped for the battle of life than the young man with
a learned profession. The prizes may not be so dazzling,
but they are more numerous, and they are within reach.
The skilled mechanic, with industry and prudence, is sure
of a cottage, and the cottage may grow into a mansion,
while the man of letters struggles so often in vain to
mount the steps of a palace. The railroad, the telegraph,
and the steamship exert a more potent influence upon
the destinies of mankind than the lawyer, the doctor, and
the priest. The giants, steam and electricity, which bear
the great burdens of commerce, have to be harnessed to
enable them to do their work ; and to make this harness,
the furnace, the forge, and the shop are brought into


requisition. The railroad alone taxes to the utmost nearly
every department of the useful arts. To the construc-
tion of the passenger -coach, for instance, more than a
hundred trades contribute the varied cunning and skill
of their workmanship.

This is the age of steel, and lie who knows how to
mould the king of metals into puissant forms has his
hand nearest the rod of empire. "Who would not rather
be able to construct a Corliss engine than learn the trick
of drawing a bill in chancery ?

There was a time, not long ago, when inventors and
discoverers were little recognized and poorly compen-
sated for their splendid achievements. But that time is
past. The book-makers of to-day are groping about the
old shops where the inventors of last century worked,
and the cottages where they lived, in order to tell the
simple story of their lives, and write their names in the
temple of fame. Huntsman, who emerged from long
seclusion over the furnace and crucible, and presented
to his fellow -workmen a piece of steel which rivalled
that of old Damascus, and drove from the British mar-
kets all other steels how resplendent his name is now !
How every incident in the life of Watt is sought for
his struggles, his disappointments, and his final success !
And so of Mushet, Neilson, Bramah, Maudslay, Clement
Murray, Nasmyth, Stephenson, and Fulton. When Watt
had devised his engine he found no workmen expert
enough to make it. Then Maudslay, Clement, and Mur-
ray invented automatic iron hands and fingers, and en-
dowed them with almost human intelligence, and far more
than human precision, and Watt's difficulty was removed.

The greasy mechanics did more to hasten the world's
progress in a century 1740 to 1840 than had been ac-


complished up to that time by all the statesmen of all
the dead ages. But those heroes of the workshop had
none of the opportunities afforded by the manual train-
ing school of the present age. They toiled many hours
each day for a shilling or two, and lived in stuffy hovels
and puzzled over the a b c of mechanics by the light of
a tallow-candle. Some of them gained fortunes, while
others were robbed of the fruits of genius, and slept in
unknown graves, but all their names are treasured and
honored now. The world moves, and in this age it
moves always towards a higher appreciation of the value
of the useful arts. This country is destined to become
a vast workshop, and in this workshop the best energies,
the strongest vital forces of the American people are
eventually to be exerted. How necessary, then, to edu-
cate the hands as well as the brain of the youth of the

Mr. Smiles, in his " Lives of the Engineers," has shown
us the true springs of English greatness. In telling the
story of the struggles and triumphs of the canal-makers,
the bridge-builders, the coal-miners, the millwrights, the
road-makers, the harbor and dock makers, the ship-build-
ers, the iron and steel makers, and the railway-builders
in telling this story of persistence, of nerve, and " pluck,"
he has sketched the career of the real heroes of English
progress. A brief sketch of the life of James Brindley
will serve to show how these noble men wrought, how
they suffered, and how they conquered.

James Brindley was born in 1716. His parents were
poor. His father was a ne'er-do-well. His mother taught
him to be honest and industrious. James worked as a
common laborer till he was seventeen years of age. In
1733 he became a millwright's apprentice bound for


seven years. He was a dull boy, learning slowly, but
before the end of his " bound " term he became the best
workman in the neighborhood. He helped the now cel-
ebrated Wedgwoods out of a difficulty by inventing and
constructing flint -mills for their works. He invented
and constructed pumps for clearing the Clifton coal-
mines of water an entirely new device that opened coal
chambers which had long been completely drowned out.
His compensation for this class of work the work of
genius was two shillings a day !

In 1755 he built a silk-mill, in which he made several
important improvements in machinery, etc. But this
man, who possessed inventive genius of a high order and
large executive ability, could neither write legibly nor
spell correctly, and his charge for almost inestimable serv-
ices was still, in 1757, only two to four shillings a day.
His struggles to improve the steam-engine form a curious
chapter in the story of his life. It was to him that the
Duke of Bridgewater owed his success in canal-making.

The duke was born in 1736. He was a weak and sick-
ly child, his mental capacity being apparently defective
to a degree sufficient to debar him from his inheritance
of the family title and estates. An affair of the heart
which resulted unfavorably rendered him morose, and
changed his whole course of life. He abruptly quitted
the race-track, where he had condescended even to play
the role of "jockey," and turned his attention to the im-
provement of his estates. .They contained coal depos-
its, which he undertook to develop through cheapening
transportation, and Brindley became his engineer. His
first canal, consisting largely of aqueducts, was called
"Brindley's castle in the air," and his "river hung in
the air." It was this " river hung in the air " the first


English canal that made the Manchester of to-day pos-
sible. Another canal enterprise of the duke cost more
than a million dollars that connecting Liverpool with
Manchester. This latter canal yielded 80,000 per an-
num income, and it was constructed by Brindley at a
salary of 3s. Qd. a day !

Brindley was obstinate, and often quarrelled with his
employer about the methods of construction of great
works ; and what is more, the duke always submitted.
He humbly submitted to every demand made by his
engineer except a demand for compensation. Brindley's
"wage" rate during the many years occupied in the
duke's great canal enterprises was 3s. Qd. per day. This,
at all events, is the price named by Smiles in his life
of Brindley. In a note to the work it is, however, stated
that his stipulated pay was a guinea a day. It is agreed
on all hands, nevertheless, that whatever the rate agreed
upon was, Brindley was not paid, and that his heirs were
begging unsuccessfully for his just dues long after his
death. In a word, Brindley's honor as an engineer being
at stake, and it being dearer to him than any money
consideration, he worked for nothing rather than allow
the enterprise to fail. And the duke was parsimonious
enough to take the engineer's services for nothing, and
his heirs were mean enough to refuse payment for such
services when demanded by his widow.

In a literary point of view Brindley was ignorant, but
in no other respect. This was said of him by one of his
contemporaries :

"Mr. Brindley is one of those great geniuses whom
Nature sometimes rears by her own force, and brings to
maturity without the necessity of cultivation. His whole
plan is admirable, and so well calculated that he is never


at a loss ; for if any difficulty arises he removes it with a
facility which appears so much like inspiration that you
would think Minerva was at his fingers' ends."*

The life of Brindley is typical of a score of biogra-
phies presented in the " Lives of the Engineers," among
which the following are especially worthy of mention:
"William Edwards, John Metcalf, John Perry, Sir Hugh
Myddelton, Cornelius Yermuyden, Andrew Yarranton,f
Andrew Meikle, John Rennie, John Smeaton, Thomas
Telford, William Murdock, Dr. D. Papin, Thomas Savery,
Dud Dudley, Matthew Boulton, and William Symington.
These, and their natural coadjutors, the discoverers of new
forces in nature and the inventors of new things in art, the
iron-workers and tool-makers these are the great names
in English history. They are the names without which
there would have been no English history worth writing.
Mr. Gladstone once said of them, naming Brindley, Met-
calf, Smeaton, Eennie, and Telford, "These men who
have now become famous among us had no mechanics'
institutes, no libraries, no classes, no examinations to
cheer them on their way. In the greatest poverty, diffi-
culties, and discouragements their energies were found
sufficient for their work, and they have written their
names in a distinguished page of the history of their

* "Lives of the Engineers." By Samuel Smiles. London: John
Murray, 1862. Vol. I., "Life of James Brindley."

f "He was the founder of English political economy, the first man
in England who saw and said that peace is better than war, that trade
is better than plunder, that honest industry is better than martial
greatness, and that the best occupation of a government is to secure
prosperity at home, and let other nations alone." "Elements of Po
litical Science." By Patrick Edward Dove. Edinburgh: 1854.


The admission of Mr. Gladstone that the great achieve-
ments of these heroes of invention and discovery were
won without any aid whatever, either from the govern-
ment or the people of England, is a pregnant fact. It is
the key-note of this work, the reason why it is written
and published.

The neglect of the useful arts by all the governments
of the world, from the dawn of civilization down to the
present time, is an impeachment of the common-sense of
mankind as shown in the conduct of public affairs. The
civilized man might have learned wisdom from the sav-
age, who is taught to fight, to hunt, and to fish, the brain,
the hand, and the eye being trained simultaneously. But
he chose to learn of Plato, who in the "Kepublic" says to
Glaucon, " All the useful arts, I believe, we thought de-
grading." And further in the same work: "We shall
tell our people, in mythical language, you are doubtless
all brethren as many as inhabit the city, but the God
who created you, mixed gold in the composition of such
of you as are qualified to rule, which gives them the
highest value, while in the auxiliaries he made silver an
ingredient, assigning iron and copper to the cultivators of
the soil and the other workmen. Therefore, inasmuch as
you are all related to one another, although your children
will generally resemble their parents, yet sometimes a
golden parent will produce a silver child, and a silver
parent a golden child, and so on, each producing any.
The rulers, therefore, have received this in charge first
and above all from the gods, to observe nothing more
closely, in their character of vigilant guardians, than the
children that are born, to see which of these metals en-
ters into the composition of their souls ; and if a child
be born in their class with an alloy of copper or iron,


they are to have no manner of pity upon it, but giving
it the value that belongs to its nature, they are to thrust
it away into the class of artisans or agriculturists. And
if, again, among these a child be born with an admixture
of gold or silver, when they have assayed it they are to
raise it either to the class of guardians or to that of aux-
iliaries, because there is an oracle which declares that
the city shall then perish when it is guarded by iron or

So ingrained in the public mind has this contempt for
the artisan and laborer become in the course of ages, that
notwithstanding the fact of the admitted kingship of
iron among metals, and notwithstanding the fact that
without iron the world would almost sink into a state of
barbarism, still the opposition to the introduction of tool
practice into the public schools is violent, and most vio-
lent among those classes who would be most benefited
by it. During the pendency of a bill in the Massachu-
setts Assembly in 1883, providing for the admission of
manual training to the public-school curriculum, an op-
ponent of the measure said : " The introduction of the
use of tools is only another attempt to deprive the poor-
er classes of a good education. It is simply an attempt
to overload the course of studies in the schools so that
children shall not learn anything ; so that the poor may
be made poorer, while the children of the rich having a
good time in the public schools may have their thought
and health preserved for higher or special education."

This is a repetition of the old answer of the Inquisition
to Galileo upon the announcement and defence of his

* "The Republic of Plato," p. 114. London: Macmillan & Co.,


great discovery. He was summoned to Rome, and " ac-
cused of having taught that the earth moves, that the
sun is stationary, and of having attempted to reconcile
these doctrines with the Scriptures." Bruno had been
driven to and fro over the face of the civilized world,
and finally burned in the year 1600 for teaching the sys-
tem of Copernicus. Having the fear of Bruno's fate be-
fore his eyes, Galileo recanted, and promised neither to
publish nor defend his great discoveries. But his love
of science overcame his fear of oppression, and in 1632
he published his " System of the World." Again he
was summoned before the Inquisition, which was des-
tined forever after to torment and persecute him. He
was driven to his knees before the cardinals, consigned

Online LibraryCharles Henry HamManual training : the solution of social and industrial problems → online text (page 12 of 30)