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Belles Lettres, showing that their owner, however devoted to science, is yet addicted to occasional indulgence in “Shakspeare and the musical glasses.” The other appointments of this room are correspondingly sumptuous. The carpet is rich and soft-the furniture is carved and valuable. In the centre of the apartment stands a handsome writing. table, littered with papers and drawings. Near this, in a comfortable arm chair, sits a man of singular appearance, and, as the reader will presently perceive, of still more singular talents. He is the hero of this tale.
To him has entered the seedy stranger.
They talk. “I am an inventor, sir,-a poor man; but I have a fortune in these plans. You are rich-you are influential. I have come to ask your aid in presenting my invention to the notice of the United States Navy Department."
“What is your name, sir ? and what is the nature of your invention ?”
“My name, sir, is
My invention is a steam cut-off for application to marine engines."
“Sir," said the great man, "you have come to the right shop. My foot is on my native heath, and my name is D -n.”
The seedy inventor bowed, and deposited his roll of paper upon the table.
“Sit, my friend," said the magnanimous D-n. “I will cast my eye over your drawings. The subject of economizing steam and coal has long been familiar to my thoughts. I am a devout student of Watt, and I know all about water. Mariotte is my vade mecum, and I abhor the very name of Isherwood. (A.) Likewise, I am a reader of the Hebrew melodies of the gifted Lord Byron. I will read them to you, if you like; but not immediately. Amuse yourself for a few moments, while I glance at these papers.”
The inventor again bowed, sat down, and picking up a pamphlet, devoted his mind to the “Tenth Annual Report of the Board of Water Commissioners to the Common Council of the City of Detroit.” (B.)
Let us not dwell upon what he found therein; at least not yet. Suffice it to say, that he had not long to read nor long to wait for the reply of his heroic companion.
“I will take this invention, sir, under my patronage and supervision. It is not exhaustive, but it is a step in advance. So far as it goes, it harmonizes with my own views. But I warn you beforehand, that mighty obstacles must be overcome ere it can be made a practical
Be re-assured, however! Those obstacles are not invulnerable. It was, as remarked by the erudite Game Chicken, “within the resources of science to double up Mr. Dombey:" it is equally within the resources of science to double up Isherwood. (C.) That fellow is very destructive on coals, and it is high time that something wer done about it. I behold in this cut-off the immediate means of doing something, I will let loose upon the Navy Department the entire strength of my inspiration--the whole vast power of Mariotte's Law and of Lord Byron's melodies. Nay, sir, I will even press Shakspeare into this service. So shall the cut-off carry the day. Trust yours truly for that. But, in the meanwhile, we must agree, sir, upon terms -upon terms, sir, and conditions. A cut-off is, as it were, a machine; but, as noticed by the subtle Mr. Hazlitt, a man of genius is not.Modesty forbids me to employ more definite language. I see in your intelligent countenance that you perceive the application of this remark. I shall stipulate, sir, for an interest in this invention-an interest of liberal scope and of large possible value. Upon that wall, before you, hangs a map of the United States of America, a great and
glorious Republic, my friend, founded at an early period by the Father of his Country, and popularly known as an asylum for the oppressed of all nations. Those States, sir, are numerous and wealthy. These upon the northern Atlantic sea-board are peculiarly so. I stipulate for the exclusive right of applying this invention in those States. I appropriate to myself New England, New York, Pennsylvania, the Middle States, and those that extend westward along the lakes. The remainder I leave to you. Accept these terms, and I lift you at once from the slough of obscurity to the heights of fame. Reject them, and I leave you to chance.
There is a tide in the affairs of men,
That tide, sir, is now at the flood with you. Will you take it or no? I pause for a reply.”
The seedy inventor, overwhelmed by this eloquence, could only bow and point to his plans.
“I accept the terms, sir,” he said, at length, "and leave my fate in
“In my hands," responded the heroic D-n,"your fate is glory. You have heard, no doubt, of the star of purest ray serene. I am that star. Henceforth it will be my vocation to shine upon you. Be happy in that reflection! And now, sir, before we part, permit me to read a paraphrase of one of those Byronic melodies to which I have made allusion. Its application will, I think, be sufficiently evident. Here
it is: (D.)
I walk in lonely beauty bright!
The breath of steam around me flies;
I see the brazen dash-pots rise-
As purple peaks of Paradise !
One pot the more, one pot the less,
Would make no difference in the view;
And all that's best of science too,
In dash-pots of the brazen hue.
The happy thought around me coils,
And cheers me on at every turn;.
And stokers make their coals to burn;
Within my dash-pot's portly urn!
“There, my friend," added this bard of science and of dash-pots, " that will suffice. You are now acquainted with me, and with my sentiments. Haec olim meminisse juvabit. Leave me your address. I shall write to you from Washington City-from the capital—whither my steps now tend. Consider the cut-off a fixed fact. I will not say that I shall not improve upon your design. Non tetigit, non ornavit. But its success is all the more certain. Give me your hand, sir. Good morning!"
The dilapidated inventor withdrew, and the hero was left alone. A moment he seemed transfixed as by a mighty thought; then his tall form relaxed, and he sank back into the arm chair and closed bis eyes. The recent effort of eloquence had overpowered him. The great man slept—slept and dreamed.
And this was his vision.
A golden cloud seemed floating in mid-air, upborne at its four corners by Watt and Mariotte, Brunel and Samuel Smiles. Upon that cloud rested an enormous throne, made of variously colored and strongly welded dash-pots. Upon that throne, in royal state, sat the august D
—n. At his feet, and serving for a footstool, appeared the scientific writings of the hated Isherwood. In his hands was upreared a gigantic brazen dash-pot, whereinto fell a continual shower of golden eagles, poured from above by Clio, the muse of bistory,—a figure, however, closely resembling that of Secretary
Around him, in every direction, floated the shapes of war-vessels, provided with the s -8 cut-off. Beneath the cloud, on which rested this imposing monarchy, appeared the wretched Isherwood and the Water Commissioners of Detroit, pendant, heads downward, and grasping frantically at nothing. A gentle breeze, as of windy and ever-blowing Fame, impelled this pageant through the heavens. And thus the sleeper beheld, prefigured in light and shadow, his own immortality.