Samuel G. (Samuel Griswold) Goodrich.

Lives of benefactors; online

. (page 16 of 21)
Online LibrarySamuel G. (Samuel Griswold) GoodrichLives of benefactors; → online text (page 16 of 21)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

facturer, who had been a director of the Helvetic
republic, introduced the weaving of silk ribands into
the district.

The people of the Ban de la Roche for eighty
years had been in dispute with the seigneurs about the
rights of the forest, to which each party laid claim.
This dispute was carried on sometimes with furious
violence, but habitually with expensive litigation. In
1813, Oberlin persuaded his flock to come to an
accommodation, which should at the same time have
respect to the claims of the owners, and secure a due


portion of their own proper privileges. He convinced
them that this ruinous contest was the scourge of the
country, and that it was the duty of all men to live in
peace. The parties agreed to an accommodation
advantageous to both sides ; and the pen Avith which
the deed of pacification was signed, was solemnly
presented to him by the mayors of the canton. It
was for that pen to record, as clearly as facts can
speak, that an educated people are the truest respect-
ers of the rights of property !

Oberlin died in the year 1827, when he had
attained a very great age. The difficulties which he
surmounted, and the actual good which he did, should
be a lesson of encouragement to all. He doubtless
made great personal sacrifices ; but he had a reward
amply compensating his self-denial. In the fulness
of his heart, the venerable man, looking round upon
the valleys which he had filled with the peacefulness
of contented industry, and upon the people Avhom he
had trained to knoAvledge, and to virtue — the best fruit
of knowledge — exclaimed, " Yes ! I am happy ! " And
when he died, he was followed to the grave by an
entire population, upon whom he, a poor but industri-
ous and benevolent clergyman, had showered innu-
merable blessings.

VI.— 21


John Guttenberg, to whom the honor is due of
having invented the art of printing, Avas born at May-
ence, or Mentz, in Germany, in the year 1400. Of
the early part of his life nothing is now known.
There is reason to suppose, however, that he possessed
a genius for mechanical pursuits, and was not defi-
cient in the elements of literature, as his professional
avocations sufficiently testify. Up till the period in
which he appeared, printing was unknoAvn. All
books were written and circulated on a limited scale
in manuscript, and were sold at immensely high


prices. The Chinese, from early times, had used
carved stamps to impress upon paper instead of
writing ; the Romans likewise used stamps and seals
in order to produce impressions ; but the idea of form-
ing individual letters or characters, capable of being
arranged in every kind of combination, does not
appear to have occurred to any of the ancient nations,
and was left to be first thought of by the ingenious
Guttenberg, in the early part of the fifteenth century.

Having struck out the grand idea of forming letters
or types, wherewith to produce any given number of
impressions, and upon any subject, he kept the dis-
covery a profound secret, and removed to Strasburg
about the year 1424. Unfortunately for Guttenberg,
he was poor, and unable, by his own efforts, to render
his discovery practically beneficial. By this means
he was led into many difficulties, and in some measure
robbed of the merit of his invention. In 1435, he
entered into partnership with Andrew Drozhennis, or
Dritzehen, John Riff, and Andrew Heelman, citizens
of Strasburg, binding himself thereby to disclose cer-
tain important secrets connected with the art of print-
ing, by which they should attain opulence.

The workshop was in the house of Dritzehen, who
dying shortly after the work was commenced, Gutten-
berg immediately sent his servant, Lawrence Beildich,
to Nicholas, the brother of the deceased, and requested
that no person might be admitted into the workshop,
lest the secret should be discovered, and the forms, or
fastened-together types, stolen. But they had already
disappeared ; and this fraud, as well as the claims of
Nicholas Dritzehen to succeed to his brother's share.


produced a lawsuit among the surviving partners.
Five witnesses were examined ; and from the evidence
of Beildich, Guttenberg's servant, it was incontro-
vertibly proved that Guttenberg was the first who
practised the art of printing with movable types, and
that, on the death of Andrew Dritzehen, he had ex-
pressly ordered the forms to be broken up, and the
characters dispersed, lest any one should discover his
secret. The result of this lawsuit, which occurred in
1439, was a dissolution of partnership ; and Gutten-
berg, after having exhausted his means in the effort,
proceeded, in 1445-6, to his native city of Mentz,
where he resumed his typographic labors.

Being ambitious of making his extraordinary inven-
tion known, and of value to himself, but being at the
same time deficient in the means, he opened his mind
to a wealthy goldsmith and worker in precious metals,
named John Fust, or Faust, and prevailed on him to
advance large sums of money, in order to make fur-
ther and more complete trials of the art. Guttenberg
being thus associated with Fust, the first regular
printing establishment was begun, and the business
of printing carried on in a style corresponding to the
infancy of the art. After many smaller essays in
trying the capabilities of his press and movable
types, Guttenberg had the hardihood to attempt an
edition of the Bible, which he succeeded in printing
complete, between the years 1450 and 1455. This
celebrated Bible, which was the first important speci-
men of the art of printing, and which, judging from
what it has led to, we should certainly esteem as the
most extraordinary and praiseworthy of human pro-


ductions, was executed with cut metal types, on six
hundred and thirty-seven leaves ; and, from a copy
still in existence in the Royal Library of Berlin, some
of these appear to have been on vellum. The work
was printed in the Latin language.

The execution of this, the first printed Bible, which
has justly conferred undying honors on the illustrious
Guttenberg, was, most unfortunately, the immediate
cause of his ruin. The expenses incident to carrying
on a fatiguing and elaborate process of workmanship,
for a period of five years, being much more considera-
ble than what were originally contemplated by Fust,
he instituted a suit against poor Guttenberg, who, in
consequence of the decision against him, was obliged
to pay interest, and also a part of the capital that had
been advanced. This suit was followed by a dissolu-
tion of partnership ; and the whole of Guttenberg's
apparatus fell into the hands of John Fust, who, from
being the ostensible agent in the business of printing,
and from the wonder expressed by the vulgar in see-
ing printed sheets, soon acquired the name of a magi-
cian, or one in compact with the devil; and under
this character, with the appellation of Dr. Faustus, he
has for ages enjoyed an evil notoriety.

Besides the above-mentioned Bible, some other
specimens of the work of Guttenberg have been dis-
covered to be in existence. One in particular, v^rhich
is worthy of notice, was found some years ago among
a bundle of old papers in the archives of Mayence.
It is an almanac for the year 1457, which served as
wrapper for a register of accounts that year. This,
says Hansard, would most likely be printed towards


the close of 1456, and may consequently be deemed
the most ancient specimen of typographic printing
extant, with a certain date. That Guttenberg was a
person of refined taste in the execution of his works,
is sufficiently obvious. Adopting a very ancient cus-
tom, common in the written copies of the Scriptures
and the missals of the church, he used a large orna-
mental letter at the commencement of books and
chapters, finely embellished, and surrounded with a
variety of figures as in a frame. The initial letter
of the first psalm thus forms a beautiful specimen of
the art of printing in its early progress. It is richly
ornamented with foliage, flowers, a bird, and a grey-
hound, and is still more beautiful from being printed
in a pale blue color, while the embellishments are red,
and of a transparent appearance. What became of
Guttenberg immediately after the unsuccessful termi-
nation of his lawsuit with Fust, is not well known.
Like the discoverer of the great Western Continent,
he seems to have retired almost broken-hearted from
the world, and to have spent most of the remainder
of his days in obscurity. It is ascertained, however,
that in the year 1465, he received an annual pension
from the Elector Adolphus, but that he only enjoyed
this small compensation for his extraordinary inven-
tion during three years, and died in the month of
February, 1468.

It long formed a subject of contention amongst
antiquaries and bibliomaniacs, by what means Gutten-
berg formed his tj'pes, but it is now pretty clearly
ascertained that they Avere at first all individually cut
by the hand. The mode of castiiig types in moulds


has been very generally, and witli apparent truth,
assigned to Guttenberg's successor, Schocffer. This
individual was an industrious young man of inventive
genius, an apprentice with Fust, who took him into
partnership immediately after his rupture with Gutten-
berg, and who is supposed to have been initiated into
the mysteries of the art by the latter. The first joint
publication of Fust and SchoefTer was a beautiful edi-
tion of the Psalms, which came out only about eigh-
teen months after their going into partnership. Along
with it appeared a declaration by them, claiming the
merit of inventing the cut-metal types with which it
was printed ; but this pretension was evidently false ;
and, in fact, it afterwards appeared that the book had
been four years in the press, and must consequently
have been chiefly executed by Guttenberg. It is
worthy of notice, that the above publication was the
very first to Avhich the date, printer's name, and place
of publication, were affixed.

To Schocffer, however, as said before, must be
awarded the honor of completmg Guttenberg's inven-
tion, by discovering the method of casting the charac-
ters in a matrix. In an account of SchoefTer, given
by Jo. Frid. Faustus, of Aschaffenburg, from papers
preserved in his family, Ave are informed that the
artist privately prepared matrices for the whole alpha-
bet ; and when he showed his master. Fust, the letters
cast from them, he was so well pleased that he gave
his daughter Christina to him in marriage. Fust and
Schoeffer concealed the new improvement, by admin-
istering an oath of secrecy to all whom they entrusted,


till the year 1462, when, by the dispersion of their
servants into different countries at the sacking of
Mentz, by the Archbishop Adolphus, the invention
was publicly divulged, and the art was spread through-
out Europe.


The period at which the cotton manufacture was
first introduced into Great Britain is conjectured to
have been in the early part of the seventeenth cen-
tury, and there is reason to believe that Manchester
was the first seat of the art. As a source of commer-
cial profit, however, this species of trade remained
long very insignificant — the only mechanical power
employed in the fabrication of the yarn being the
common one-thread spinning wheel. Moreover, for
the period of a century at least, the weft or transverse
threads of the web, only, were cotton, it having been
found difficult, if not reckoned impossible, owing to
the want of proper machinery, to manufacture cotton
warp — that is, the longitudinal threads of the web — of
sufficient strength ; and in place of which, linen yarn,
principally from Germany and Ireland, was substi-
tuted. The cotton manufacture was then wholly
conducted on the system of cottage industry. Every
weaver was a master manufacturer ; his cottage was
his factory, and himself the sole artisan. He pro-
vided himself with the weft and warp as he best
could, wove them into a web, and disposed of it at
market to the highest bidder.

About 1760, merchants in England began to employ
weavers to work up the prepared material, and the
business of exporting cottons, both to the continent of
Europe and to America, began to be carried on on a


larger scale than formerly. As the demand for the
manufactured article continued to increase, a greater
and greater scarcity of weft was experienced, till, at
last, although there were fifty thousand spindles con-
stantly at work in Lancashire alone, each occupying
an individual spinner, they were found quite inade-
quate to supply the quantity of thread required. It
may here be -mentioned, that already the art of weav-
ing had been considerably improved. The old plan,
of throwing the shuttle containing the weft, from side
to side of the web, by the hand, was superseded, in
1738, by a person of the name of John Kay, a native
of Bury in Lancashire, who invented a new method
of casting the shuttle, by an extremely simple and
effectual mechanical contrivance, Avherein one hand
of the weaver did the work of both. In 1760, Robert
Kay of Bury, a son of John, invented the drop-box,
a contrivance by means of Avhich a weaver can at
pleasure use any one of the three shuttles without
stopping, and can thereby produce a fabric of various
colors, almost with the same facility that he can
weave a common calico.

While the art of weaving was thus considerably
improved, the process of carding the cotton avooI was
yet clumsy and expensive. At length, this also was
remedied. The first improvement on carding was
made, as almost every improvement in the cotton
manufacture has been, by a person in humble life —
James Hargraves, a carpenter at Blackburn in Lan-
cashire. This illiterate, but most ingenious and
inventive person, adapted the stock-cards used in the
woollen manufacture to the carding of cotton, and


greatly improved them. In consequence, a workman
Avas enabled to execute about double the work, and
with greater ease, than by means of hand cards — the
only instrument previously in use. Hargraves' inven-
tions were soon succeeded by the cylindrical cards, or
carding machine.

But the tedious and expensive method of spinning
by the hand, was the grand obstacle in the way of
the extension and improvement of the manufacture.
Insurmountable, however, as this obstacle must, at
first sight, have appeared, it was completely overcome
by the unparalleled ingenuity, talent, and persever-
ance of a few self-taught individuals. Hargraves
seems to have led the way in this career of discovery.
In 1767, he had constructed a machine called a spin-
ning-jenny, which enabled a spinner to spin eight
threads with the same facility that one had been pre-
viously spun; and the machine was subsequently
brought to such perfection as to enable a little girl to
work no fewer than from eighty to one hundred
and tioenty spindles ! There are few individuals
to whom the manufacture of cotton is so largely
indebted as Hargraves. It is true that his machine
was of very inferior powers to those by which it was
immediately followed. But it is not, perhaps, too
much to say, that it was one great cause of their
being introduced. No sooner had it been seen what
a simple mechanical contrivance could effect, than
the attention of the most ingenious individuals was
immediately drawn to the subject ; and the path was
opened, by following which so many splendid inven-
tions and discoveries have been made.


However much Hargraves' inventions may have
tended to enrich others, to himself they were produc-
tive only of bankruptcy and ruin. The moment the
intelligence transpired that he had invented a ma-
chine by which the spinning of cotton was greatly
facilitated, an ignorant and infuriated mob, composed
chiefly of persons engaged in that employment,
broke into his house, and destroyed his machine;
and some time after, when experience had completely
demonstrated the superiority of the jenny, the mob
again resorted to violence, and not only broke into
Hargraves' house, but into the houses of most of
those who had adopted his machines, Avhich were
everywhere proscribed.

In consequence of this persecution, Hargraves
removed to Nottingham, where he took out a patent
for his invention. But he was not, even there,
allowed to continue in the peaceable enjoyment of
his rights. His patent was invaded, and he found it
necessary to apply to the courts for redress. A
numerous association Avas in consequence formed to
defeat his efforts ; and being, owing to a want of suc-
cess in an attempt to establish himself in business,
unable to contend against the wealth and influence
of the powerful combination arrayed against him, he
was obliged to give up the unequal contest, and to
submit to see himself robbed of the fruits of his inge-
nuity. He soon after fell into a state of extreme
poverty, and, to the indelible disgrace of his age and
country, was permitted to end his days in the work-
house at Nottingham, even after the merit of his
invention had been universally acknowledged.


The spinning'-jenny of the unfortunate Hargraves
was applicable only to the spinning of cotton for weft,
being unable to give to yarn that degree of firmness
and hardness which is required in the longitudinal
threads or warp. But this deficiency was soon after
supplied by the invention of the spinning-frame, by
Eichard Arkwright, an individual whose biography
is full of interest.

Richard Arkwright was born on the 23d of Decem-
ber, 1732, at Preston, in Lancashire. His parents
were very poor, and he was the youngest of a family
of thirteen children ; so that we may suppose the
school education he received, if he ever was at school
at all, was extremely limited. Indeed, but little learn-
ing would probably be deemed necessary for the pro-
fession to which he was bred — that of a barber. This
business he continued to follow till he was nearly
thirty years of age ; and this first period of his history
is of course obscure enough. About the year 1760,
however, or soon after, he gave up shaving, and com-
menced business as an itinerant dealer in hair, col-
lecting the commodity by travelling up and down the
country, and then, after he had dressed it, selling it
again to the wig-makers, with whom he very soon
acquired the character of keeping a better article than
any of his rivals in the same trade. He had obtained
possession, too, we are told, of the secret method of
VI.— 22


dyeing hair, by which he doubtless contrived to aug-
ment his profits. It is unfortunate that very little is
known of the steps by Avhich he was led to those
inventions that raised him to affluence, and have
immortalized his name.

Residing in a district where a considerable manu-
facture of linen goods, and of linen and cotton mixed,
was carried on, he had ample opportunities of becom-
ing acquainted with the various processes that were
then in use ; and being endowed with a most original
and inventive genius, and having sagacity to perceive
what was likely to prove the most advantageous pur-
suit in which he could embark, his attention was
naturally drawn to the improvement of the method of
spinning practised in his neighborhood. He stated
that he accidentally derived the first hint of his great
invention from seeing a red-hot iron bar elongated, by
being made to pass between rollers ; and though there
is no mechanical analogy between that operation and
his process of spinning, it is not difficult to imagine,
that, by reflecting upon it, and placing the subject in
different points of view, it might lead him to his
invention. The precise era of the discovery is not
known ; but it is most probable that the felicitous idea
of spinning by rollers had occurred to his mind as
early as the period when Hargraves was engaged in
the invention of the jenny, or almost immediately
after. Not being himself a practical mechanic, Ark-
wright employed a person by the name of John Kay,
a watchmaker at Warrington, to assist him in the pre-
paration of the parts of his machine. Having made
some progress towards the completion of hi«> inven-


lions, he applied, in 1767, to Mr. Atherton, of Liver-
pool, for pecuniary assistance, to enable him to carry
them into effect; but this gentleman declined embark-
ing his property in what appeared so hazardous <i
speculation, though he is said to have sent him some
workmen to assist in the construction of his machine;
the first model of Avhich was set up in the parlor of
the house belonging to the Free Grammar School, at
Preston. His inventions being at length brought into
a pretty advanced state, Arkwright, accompanied by
Kay, and a Mr. Smalley, of Preston, removed to Not-
tingham, in 1768, in order to avoid the attacks of the
same lawless rabble that had driven Hargraves out ol
Lancashire. Here his operations were at first greatly
fettered by a want of capital. But Mr. Strutt, of
Derby, a gentleman of great mechanical skill, and
largely engaged in the stocking manufacture, having
seen Arkwright's inventions, and satisfied himself of
their extraordinary value, immediately entered, con-
jointly with his partner, Mr. Need, into partnership
with him.

Before going farther, let us say a word regarding
the Mr. Strutt here alluded to. Jedediah Strutt was
the son of a farmer, and was born in 1726. His
father paid little attention to his education ; but, under
every disadvantage, he acquired an extensive knowl-
edge of science and literature. He was the first indi-
vidual who succeeded in adapting the stocking-frame
to the manufacture of ribbed stockings. The manu-
facture of these stockings, Avhich he established at
Derby, was conducted on a very large scale — first, by
himself and his partner, Mr. Need, and subsequent.y


by his sons, until about 1S05, when they withdrew
from this branch of business.

The command of the necessary funds being ob-
tained by means of a connection with Strutt and
Need, Arkwright erected his first mill, which was
driven by horses, at Nottingham, and took out a
patent for spinning by rollers, in 1769. But, as the
mode of working the machinery by horse-power was
found too expensive, Sir Richard built a second fac-
tory, on a much larger scale, at Cromford, in Derby-
shire, in 1771, the machinery of which was turned
by a water-wheel. Having made several additional
discoveries and improvements in the processes of
carding, roving, and spinning, he took out a fresh
patent for the whole m 1775 ; and thus completed a
series of machinery so various and complicated, yet
so admirably combined, and Avell adapted to produce
the intended effect, in its most perfect form, as to
excite the astonishment and admiration of every one
capable of appreciating the ingenuity displayed and
the difficulties overcome.

The machinery for which Arkwright took out his
patents consisted of various parts, his second specifi-
cation enumerating no fewer than ten different con-
trivances ; but, of these, the one that Avas of by far
the greatest importance was a device for drawing out
the cotton from a coarse to a finer and harder twisted
thread, and so rendering it fit to be used for warp as
well as weft. This was most ingeniously managed
by the application of a principle which had not yet
been introduced in any other mechanical operation.
The cotton was in the first place drawn off* from the


skewers on which it was fixed, by one pair of rollers,
which were made to move at a comparatively slow
rate, and which formed it into threads of the first and
coarser quality ; but, at a little distance from the first,
was placed a second pair of rollers, revolving three,
four, or five times as fast, which took it up when it
had passed through the others, the effect of which
would be to reduce the thread to a degree of fineness
so many times greater than that which it originally
had. The first pair of rollers might be regarded as
the feeders of the second, which could receive no
more than the others sent to them ; and that, again,
could be no more than these others themselves took
up from the skewers. As the second pair of rollers,
therefore, revolved, we will say, five times for every
revolution of the first pair, or, which is the same

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 16 18 19 20 21

Online LibrarySamuel G. (Samuel Griswold) GoodrichLives of benefactors; → online text (page 16 of 21)