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by this half-rational machine, creature of a' day as he is, to imitate that sublime precision which leads the earth, after a circuit of five hundred millions of miles, back to the solstice at the appointed moment, without the loss of one second, no, not the millionth part of a second, for the ages on ages during which it has travelled that empyreal road.* What a miracle of art, that a man can teach a few brass wheels, and a little piece of elastic steel, to out-calculate himself; to give him a rational answer to one of the most important questions which a being travelling toward eternity can ask! What a miracle, that a man can put within this little machine a spirit † that measures the flight of time with greater accuracy than the unassisted intellect of the profoundest philosopher; which watches and moves when sleep palsies alike the hand of the maker and the mind of the contriver, nay, when the last sleep has come over them both! I saw the other day, at Stockbridge, the watch which was worn on the 8th of September, 1755, by the unfortunate Baron Dieskau, who received his mortal wound on that day, near Lake George, at the head of his army of French and Indians, on the breaking out of the seven years'
This watch, which marked the fierce, feverish moments of the battle as calmly as it has done the fourscore years which have since elapsed, is still going; but the watch-maker and baron have now for more than three fourths of a century been gone where time is no longer counted. Frederic the Great was another and a vastly more important personage of the same war. His watch was carried away from Potsdam by Napoleon, who, on his rock in mid-ocean, was wont to ponder on the hours of alternate disaster and triumph, which filled up the life of his great fellow-destroyer, and had been equally counted on its dial-plate. The courtiers used to say, that this watch stopped of its own accord, when Frederic died. Short-sighted adulation ! for if it stopped at his death, as if time was no longer worth measuring, it was soon put in motion, and went on, as if nothing had happened. Portable watches were probably introduced into England in the time of Shakspeare; and he puts one into the hand of his fantastic jester, as the text of his morality. In truth, if we wished to borrow from the arts a solemn monition of the vanity of human things, the clock might well give it to us. How often does it not occur to the traveller in Europe, as he hears the hour told from some ancient steeple, — that iron tongue in the tower of yonder old cathedral, unchanged itself, has had a voice for every change in the fortune of nations! It has chimed monarchs to their thrones, and knelled them to their tombs; and, from its watch-tower in the clouds, has, with the same sonorous and impartial stoicism, measured out their little hour of sorrow and gladness to coronation and funeral, abdication and accession, revolution and restoration ; victory, tumult, and fire: * — and, with like faithfulness, while I speak, the little monitor by my side warns me back from my digression, and bids me beware lest I devote too much of my brief hour, even to its own commendation.
* It is not, of course, intended that the sidereal year is always of precisely the same length, but that its variations are subject to a fixed law. See Sir John Herschel's treatise on Astronomy, $ 563.
+ Inclusus variis famulatus spiritus astris
Claudian. in Sphær. Archimedis.
Let me follow the silent monition, sustained, perhaps, by the impatience of the audience, and hasten to the last topic of my address. The object of our present exhibition is not mere show, however innocent and gratifying. It is to make the community better acquainted with the state of the arts, by a public display of their products; to excite a generous emulation, by their comparison : and thus to lead on our ingenious artificers, improvers, and inventors, to higher degrees of excellence. The astonishing progress of the arts, in modern times, is a subject of the most familiar remark. It would require a volume even to enumerate the most considerable improvements. So numerous are the inventions and discoveries that have been made in every department, and to such perfection have many arts been carried, that we may, perhaps, be inclined to think that, in the arts, as on the surface of the globe after all the brilliant discoveries in navigation in the last three centuries, there is nothing left to find out. Though it is probable that, in particular things, no further progress can be made, (and even this I would not affirm, with any confidence,) yet, so far from considering invention as exhausted, or art at a stand, I believe there never was a moment when greater improvements were to be expected: and this for the very reason that so much has already been done,- that truth, in its nature, is at once boundless and creative, and that every existing art, invention, and discovery, is but an instrument of further improvement. — Even when any particular art or machine seems to have reached the highest attainable point of excellence, nothing is more likely than that it will, by some wholly unexpected discovery or improvement, be greatly advanced; or that, by accidental or natural association, it will lead to some other very important improvement in a branch of art wbolly dissimilar; or, finally, that it will be superseded by something quite different, but producing the same result. - Take, as an example, the art of printing. — The simple process of printing with movable types and a press moved by hand, does not seem, in the lapse of four hundred years, to have undergone any very material improvement;but the introduction of solid plates, and the application of artificial power to the press, are improvements wholly disconnected, in their nature, from the art of printing, and yet adding incalculably to its efficacy and operative power. — In a word, the products of art are the creations of rational mind, working with intelligent and diversified energy, in a thousand directions ;— bounding from the material to the moral world, and back from speculation to life; producing the most wonderful effects on moral and social relations by material means, and again, in an improved political and moral condition, finding instruments and encouragement for new improvements in mechanical art. — In this mighty action and reaction, we are continually borne on to results the most surprising. Physical and moral causes and effects produce moral and physical effects and causes, and every
* The associations here alluded to have lately been rendered familiar to the public by the Mayor's spirited translation and adaptation to music of Schiller's splendid poem of The Bell. The idea was originally glanced at in one of Mrs. Elizabeth Montague's Letters.
thing discovered tends to the discovery of something yet unknown. It rarely, perhaps never, happens that any discovery or invention is wholly original ;—as rarely, that it is final. As some portion of its elements lay in previously existing ideas, so it will waken new conceptions in the inventive mind. The most novel mechanical contrivance contains within itself much that was known before; and the most seemingly perfect invention--if we may judge the future by the past — admits of further improvements.
For this reason,
the more that is known, discovered, and contrived, the ampler the materials out of which new discoveries, inventions, and improvements, may be expected.
Perfect as the steam engine seems, it is a general persuasion that we are in the rudiments of its economical uses. The prodigious advances made in the arts of locomotion teach nothing more clearly than the probability, that they will be rendered vastly more efficient. The circulation of ideas by means of the press is probably destined to undergo great enlargement. Analytical chemistry has, within the last thirty years, acquired instruments which enable the philosopher to unlock mysteries of nature before unconceived of. Machinery of all kinds, and for every purpose, is daily simplified and rendered more efficient. Improved manipulations are introduced into all the arts, and each and all of these changes operate as efficient creative causes of further invention and discovery. - Besides all that may be hoped for by the diligent and ingenious use of the materials for improvement afforded by the present state of the arts, the progress of science teaches us to believe that principles, elements, and powers, are in existence and operation around us, of which we have a very imperfect knowledge, perhaps no knowledge whatever. Commencing with the mariner's compass in the middle ages, a series of discoveries has been made connected with magnetism, electricity, galvanism, the polarity of light, and the electro-magnetic phenomena which are occupying so much attention at the present day, all of which are more or less applicable 10 the useful arts, and which may well produce the
conviction that, if in some respects we are at the meridian, we are in other respects in the dawn of science.
In short, all art, as I have said, is a creation of the mind of man; of infinite capacity for improvement. And it is of the nature of every intelligence endowed with such a capacity, however mature in respect to the past, to be at all times, in respect to the future, in a state of hopeful infancy. However vast the space measured behind, the space before is immeasurable; and though the mind may estimate the progress it has made, the boldest stretch of its powers is inadequate to
measure the progress of which it is capable.
Let me say, then, Mr. President, and Gentlemen of the Mechanic Association, PERSEVERE. Do any ask what
ask what you have done, and what you are doing for the public good; send them to your exhibition rooms, and let them see the walls of the temple of American Liberty fitly covered with the products of American Art. And while they gaze with admiration on these creations of the mechanical arts of the country, bid them remember that they are the productions of a people whose fathers were told by the British ministry they should not manufacture a hob-nail! Does any one ask in disdain for the great names which have illustrated the Mechanic Arts; tell him of Arkwright and Watt, of Franklin, of Whitney, and Fulton, whose memory will dwell in the grateful recollections of posterity, when the titled and laureled destroyers of mankind shall be remembered only with detestation. - Mechanics of America, respect your calling, respect yourselves. The cause of human improvement has no firmer or more powerful friends. In the great Temple of Nature, whose foundation is the earth, whose pillars are the eternal hills, — whose roof is the star-lit sky, – whose organ-tones are the whispering breeze and the sounding storm,
whose architect is God,- there is no ministry more sacred than that of the intelligent mechanic !