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seem to give undeserved countenance to the mechanical tendency of the age. On the contrary, I look upon the intellectual and moral influence of the useful arts, as the most important aspect, in which the subject can be contemplated. The immediate result of every improvement in these arts, as has been already stated, often is, and always might and should be, by making less labor and time necessary for the supply of human wants, to raise the standard of comfortable living, — increase the quantity of leisure time applicable to the culture of the mind, — and thus promote the intellectual and moral progress of the mass of the community. That this is the general tendency of a progress
in the useful arts, no one can doubt, who compares the present condition of the world with its condition in the middle ages; and the fact is confirmed by the history of single inventions. I have already spoken of alphabetical writing. Pliny remarks of the Egyptian reed, (the first material of which paper was made,) that on this reed rested the immortality of man. The thought, though savoring of heathenism in the expression, is just. This single art of alphabetical writing was a step absolutely essential in the moral and intellectual progress of our race. To speak of the art of printing, in its connection with morals and mind, would be as superfluous as it would be difficult to do justice to the topic. Its history is not so much an incident as the summary of modern civilization. — Vast as the influence of this art of arts has been, it may well be doubted whether improvements will not yet be made, in the mechanism connected with it, which will incalculably increase its efficiency. If I mistake not, the trumpet-voice of Truth from this machine is yet destined to reach to distances and depths of society, which have hitherto remained unexplored and neglected.
Again, in reference to the intimate connection of the useful and mechanic arts with intellectual progress, let us but advert for a moment to the mariner's compass, the telescope, the quadrant. For myself, I never reflect upon their influence on the affairs of man, and remember that they are, after all, merely mechanical contrivances, without emotions of admiration bordering upon awe.
This sentiment, I
know, is so worn away by habit, that it seems almost to run into sentimentality. But let us not be ashamed to reproduce the emotions that spring from the freshness of truth and nature. What must not have been Galileo's feelings when he pointed the first telescope to the heavens, and discovered the phases of Venus and the moons of Jupiter! When I behold the touched needle trembling to the pole, when I know that, beneath the utter blackness of the midnight storm, when every star in heaven is quenched, and the laboring vessel, in mid-ocean, reels like a drunken man on the crested top of the mighty waves, that little bar of steel will guide the worn and staggering helmsman on his way, — I feel that there is a holy philosophy in the arts of life, which, if I cannot comprehend, I can reverence.
Consider the influence on the affairs of men, in all their relations, of the invention of the little machine which I hold in my hands ; and the other modern instruments for the measurement of time, various specimens of which are on exhibition in the halls. To say nothing of the importance of an accurate measurement of time in astronomical observations, — nothing of the application of timekeepers to the purposes of navigation, — how vast must be the aggregate effect on the affairs of life, throughout the civilized world, and in the progress of ages, of a convenient and portable apparatus for measuring the lapse of time!-- Who can calculate in how many of those critical junctures when affairs of weightiest import hang upon the issue of an hour, Prudence and Forecast have triumphed over blind Casualty, by being enabled to ineasure with precision the flight of time, in its smallest subdivisions ! Is it not something more than mere mechanism, which watches with us by the sick-bed of some dear friend, through the livelong solitude of night, enables us to count, in the slackening pulse, nature's trembling steps toward recovery, and to administer the prescribed remedy at the precise, perhaps the critical, moment of its application ? By means of a watch, punctuality in all his duties, — which, in its perfection, is one of the incommunicable attributes of Deity, - is brought, in no mean measure, within the reach of man. He is enabled, if he will be guided
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
* 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.
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.
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
• 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.
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 wholly 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