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to become, when we pass out of it, are to him alike unknown. Life, death, the past, and the future, are all a deep and solemn mystery; yet we are gay, as if we knew from whence we came, and whither we are going We are but bubbles, which the stream of time bears on its ruffled breast to the engulfing ocean of eternity!
•The bride of El Sirat, which extends over the midst of Hades, finer than a hair, and sharper than the edge of a sword, over which all must pass, and from which the wicked must fall into bell.'
LANE's 'MODERN EGYPTIANS.'
METHOUGHT a couniless crowd were thronging o'er
Restless and curious, to the brink I drew,
Next on the harsh ordeal, ANGER stood,
Dreadful the doom of the repining crowd,
It is now very generally conceded, that of all the inventions of man, none holds any comparison with the steam-boat. The mind can scarcely combine a calculation which may measure its importance. Some vague estimate may
indeed be formed of it, by imagining what would be the state and condition of the world, at the present day, were there no steam-boats ; were we still to find ourselves on board sloops, making an average passage of a week to Albany, exposed to all the disasters of flaws from the downscomer,' and discomfiture of close cabins; or ascending the Mississippi in a keel-boat, pushed every inch of the way against its mighty current, by long poles, at the rate of fourteen miles in sixteen hours.'
It is now just thirty years, since the first steam-boat ascended the Hudson, being the first practical application of a steam-engine to water-conveyance. Then, no other river had ever seen a steam-boat; and now, what river, capable of any kind of navigation, has not been bepaddled with them? It is not my purpose to enter the list of disputants, lately sprung up, striving to prove that the immortal FULTON was not the first succesful projector of a steam-boat. In common with the world, I can but mourn over the poverty of history, that tells not of any previous successful effort of the kind. Steam, no doubt, was known before. The first tea-kettle that was hung over a fire, furnished a clear development of that important agent. But all I can say now, is, that I never heard of a steam-boat, before the 'North River' moved her paddles on the Hudson; and very soon after that period, when it was contemplated to send a steam-boat to Southern Russia, a distinguished orator of that day, in an address before the Historical Society of this city, eloquently said, in direct allusion to the steam-boat: · The hoary genius of Asia, bigh throned on the peaks of Caucasus, his moist eye glistening as he glances over the destruction of Palmyra and Persepolis, of Jerusalem and of Babylon, will bend with respectful deference to the inventive spirit of this ro. XII,
western world;' thus proving conclusively, that the invention was not
But, as before hinted, it is not my design to furnish a conclusive history of the origin of steam-boats. My text stands at the head of this article ; and I purpose here to record, for the information of all future time, a faithful history of The First Locomotive. I am determined, at least, that ihat branch of the great steam family shall know its true origin.
In the year 1808, I enjoyed the never-to-be-forgotten gratification of a padále up the Hudson, on board the aforesaid first steam-boat that ever moved on the waters of any river, with passengers. Among the voyagers, was a man I had known for some years previous, by the name of Jabez Doolittle. He was an industrious and ingenious worker in sheet-iron, tin, and wire ; but his greatest success lay in wire-work, especially in making 'rat-traps ;' and for his last and best invention in that line, he had just secured a patent; and with a specimen of his work, he was then on a journey through the state of New-York, for the purpose of disposing of what he called county rights;' or, in other words, to sell the privilege of catching rats, according to his patent trap. It was a very curious trap, as simple as it was ingenious; as most ingenious things are, after they are invented. It was an oblong wire box, divided into two compartments; a rat entered one, where the bait was hung, which he no sooner touched, than the door at which he entered, fell. His only apparent escape was by a funnel-shaped hole into the other apartment, in passing which, he moved another wire, which instantly re-set the trap; and thus rat after rat was furnished the means of following in the foot-steps of his illustrious predecessor,' until the trap was full. Thus it was not simply a trap to catch a rat, but a trap by which rats trapped rats, ad infinitum. And now that the recollection of that wonderful trap is recalled to my memory, I would respectfully recommend it to the attention of the treasury department, as an appendage to the subtreasury system. The specification may be found on file in the patent office, number eleven thousand seven hundred and forty-six.
This trap, at the time to which I allude, absolutely divided the attention of the passengers; and for my part, it interested me quite as much as did the steam-engine; because, perhaps, I could more easily comprehend its mystery. To me, the steam-engine was Greek; the trap was plain English. Not so, however, to Jabez Doolittle. I found him studying the engine with great avidity and perseverance, insomuch that the engineer evidently became alarmed, and declined answering any more questions.
Why, you need n't snap off so tarnal short,' said Jabez ; 'a body
you had n't got a patent for your machine. If I can't meddle with you on the water, as nigh as I can calculate, l'll be up to you on land, one of these days.'
These ominous words fell on my ear, as I saw Jabez issue from the engine-room, followed by the engineer, who seemed evidently to have got his steam up.
*Well,' said I, ' Jabez, what do you think of this mighty machine?' • Why,' he replied, “if that critter had n't got riled up so soon, a body could tell more about it; but I reckon I've got a leetle notion on 't;' and then taking me aside, and looking carefully around, lest some one should overhear him, he then and there' assured me in confidence, in profound secresy, that if he did n't make a wagon go by steam, before he was two years older, then he 'd give up invention. I at first ridiculed the idea; but when I thought of that rat-trap, and saw before me a man with sharp twinkling gray eyes, a pointed nose, and every line of his visage a channel of investigation and invention, I could not resist the conclusion, that if he really ever did attempt to meddle with hot water, we should hear more of it.
Time went on. Steam-boats multiplied; but none dreamed, or if they did, they never told their dreams, of a steam-wagon; for even the name of locomotive' was then as unknown as “loco-foco.' When, about a year after the declaration of the last war with England, (and may it be the last!) I got a letter from Jabez, marked private,' telling me that he wanted to see me 'most desperately,' and that I must make him a visit at his place, nigh Wallingford.' The din of arms, and the destruction of insurance companies, the smashing of banks, and suspension of specie payments, and various other inseparable attendants on the show and 'pomp and circumstannce of glorious war,' had in the mean time entirely wiped from memory my friend Jabez, and his wonderful rat-trap. But I obeyed his summons, not knowing but that something of importance to the army or navy might come of it. On reaching his residence, imagine my surprise, when he told me, he believed he had got the notion.'
• Notion ? what notion ? I inquired.
Why,' says he, that steam-wagon I tell’d you about, a spell ago;' 'but,' added he, 'it has pretty nigh starved me out;' and sure enough, he did look as if he had been on the anxious seat,' as he used to say, when things puzzled him.
*I have used up,' said he, 'plaguey nigh all the sheet-iron, and old stove-pipes, and mill-wheels, and trunnel-heads, in these parts; but I've succeeded ; and for fear that some of these 'cute folks about here may have got a peep through the key-hole, and will trouble me when I come to get a patent, I've sent for you to be a witness ; for you was the first and only man I ever hinted the notion to; in fact,' continued he, 'I think the most curious part of this invention is, that as yet I do n't know any one about here who has been able to guess what I'm about. They all know it is an invention, of some kind, for that 's my business, you know; but some say it is a thrashing-machine, some a distillery; and of late, they begin to think it's a shingle-splitter; but they 'll sing another tune, when they see it spinning along past the stage-coaches,' added he, with a knowing chuckle, 'won't they?'
This brought us to the door of an old clap-boarded, dingy, long, one-story building, with a window or two in the roof, the knot-holes
and cracks all carefully stuffed with old rags, and over the door he was unlocking, was written, in bold letters, . No ADMITTANCE.' This was his 'sanctum sanctorum.' I could occupy pages in description of it, for every part exhibited evidences of it uses. The patent-office at Washington, like your Magazine, Mr. Editor, may exhibit ' finished productions,' of 'inventive genius ;' but if you could look into the port-folios of your contributors, in every quarter of the Union, and see there the sketches of half-finished essays, still-born poems, links and fragments of ideas and conceptions, which .but breathed and died,' you might form some 'notion of the accumulation of notions' that were presented to me, on entering the work-shop of Jabez Doolittle. But to my text again, • The First Locomotive. There it stood, occupying the centre of all previous conceptions, rat-traps, churns, apple-parers, pill-rollers, cooking-stoves, and shingle-splitters, which hung or stood around it; or as my Lord Byron says, with reference to a more ancient but not more important invention :
"Where each conception was a heavenly guest,
A ray of immoriality, and stood
Star-like around, until they gathered to a God.' And there it stood, 'the concentrated focus' of all previous rays of inventive genius, The First LOCOMOTIVE.'
An unpainted, unpolished, unadorned, oven-shaped mass, of doubleriveted sheet-iron,with cranks, and pipes, and trunnel-heads,and screws, and valves, all firmly braced on four strongly-made travelling wheels.
• It's a curious crittur to look at,' says Jabez, 'but you 'll like it better, when you see it in motion.'
He was by this time igniting a quantity of charcoal, which he had stuffed under the boiler. "I filled the b'iler,' says he, arter I stopped working her yesterday, and it ha' n't leaked a drop since. It will soon bile up; the coal is first rate.'
Sure enough, the boiler soon gave evidence of troubled waters,' when, by pushing one slide, and pulling another, the whole machine, cranks and piston, was in motion.
It works slick, do n't it ? said Jabez. • But,' I replied, “it do ’nt move.'
• You mean,' said he, “the travelling wheels do n't move ; well, I do n't mean they shall, till I get my patent. You see,' he added, crouching down, that trunnel-head, there — that small cog-wheel ? Well, that's out of gear just yet; when I turn that into gear, by this crank, it fits, you see, on the main travelling wheel, and then the hull scrape
will move, as nigh as I can calculate, a leetle slower than chain lightnin', and a darn’d leetle too! But it wont do to give it a try, afore I get the patent.' There is only one thing yet,' he continued, that I ha’n’t contrived but that is a simple matter — and that is, the shortest mode of stoppin' on her. My first notion is, to see how fast I can make her work, without smashing all to bits, and that 's done by screwing down this upper valve ; and I'll show you
And with that, he clambered up on the top, with a turning screw in one hand, and a horn of soap-fat in the other, and commenced screwing down the valves, and oiling the piston-rod and crank-joints ; and the motion of the mysterious mass increased, until all seemed A BUZ.