網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

desire for more, and conducts to the higher culture. The intellectual activity of the American people has shown itself largely in discoveries and inventions serviceable to mankind. Franklin had already a European reputation as a philosopher before he appeared on the stage as a statesman; and where he led, in drawing the electricity of the clouds harmless to the earth, there Morse followed, in appropriating electricity to the transmission of thought, and making this intelligible through an alphabet; and Henry, with his application of the helix, and the combination of circuits through the receiving-magnet and the relay; and Field, with his personal magnetism organizing the company for the Atlantic telegraph, and with his indomitable pluck laying the cable when everybody said he had failed. And now comes Gray, with his studies upon the electric current, and his arrangement of batteries, by which the same wire can be made to transmit two, four, and even eight messages at the same instant of time. Eli Whitney invented the cotton-gin, and the heir of his name and genius contrived machinery for making guns in convertible parts. Colt, Remington, Sharps, Maynard, Winchester, and other American names, are known throughout the world for inventions in fire-arms. Hare, the earliest American chemist, invented the oxyhydrogen blow-pipe; and the laboratories of the United States, though but inefficiently equipped, have been tireless in their researches, and productive in results for the service of humanity. Prominent among these is the twin-discovery of Jackson and Wells in anæsthetics, by which the pains of surgery are turned to pleasurable dreams. The war of the Rebellion brought prominently before Europe the skill and tact of American surgeons. The American ambulance and the American field-hospital are extensively copied by foreign armies. The Empress of Germany, who takes a lively interest in the medical service of the army, was desirous of sending to the Philadelphia Exposition a complete assortment of the German field and hospital apparatus. 6. It would hardly be worth while, your Majesty," said a high officer, “ since so many of the best devices are borrowed from the United States.” The organ of the Thuringian Medical Society lately published (from the pen of

Medicinalrath Dr. Meusel of Gotha) a highly favorable notice of the Catalogue of the United States Medical Museum at Washington. Commending this review and the catalogue, a prominent physician of Germany wrote as follows to the editor of “ The Chronicle of the Continent:"—

“ The various reports of celebrated American surgeons which appear from time to time concerning important operations sufficiently indicate the extent to which surgical science and skill in America have been developed, and show also the number of masters in this branch of the profession which your country has produced. The recent consultations and operations in Germany of your esteemed countryman, Dr. B- , have also contributed in no small degree to the high value which is placed upon American surgical practice. Naturally, a surgeon so celebrated as he is an isolated instance. But from this catalogue, which Dr. Meusel has reviewed, we can clearly see what a large number of skilful investigating surgeons America possesses, and what a splendid example was shown by them in the treatment and care of the American armies during the late civil war,— something which has never been properly acknowledged in Europe."

The pre-eminence of Americans in dental surgery is everywhere recognized. Indeed, it was in the United States that this department was first raised to the dignity of a science.

It was an American who discovered the process of vulcanizing caoutchouc; and the pains and privations that Goodyear underwent in making a familiar vegetable substance so widely serviceable to mankind entitle him to a name among the heroic benefactors of the race.

The invention of the cotton-gin was followed by a number of valuable American improvements upon the various English inventions for carding and spinning.

In printing, Adams, Bullock, Hoe, and other American inventors, have carried the press and its accessories to a degree of perfection widely recognized in Europe, and not yet surpassed. American industry and invention have been remarkably developed in the manufacture of iron, which had long been a monopoly of great Britain. Says “ The London Times,” —

“ The Centennial Exhibition at Philadelphia has brought together such an assemblage of the products of American industry as to impress the visitor with a strong sense of the manufacturing activity of the United States. In every department of manufacture, the United States are creditably represented; and the practical result seems to be, that, in the United States, we have now powerful competitors in all branches of industry, and especially in that which we considered our own,- the iron trade. Such a state of affairs deserves the attention of Englishmen. It presents to us important lessons."

Following the experiments of Fitch on the Delaware, Fulton first made the steamboat practicable upon the Hudson; and, since Stephenson invented the locomotive, what valuable improvements have been made by American genius, both in the engine, and in brakes and other appliances for the trains !1 The steam fire-engine is an American invention; as is also the extinguisher, by which a chemical antagonist to combustion is scientifically combined with water for the speedy extinction of flames. Machinery for heading pins and tacks from the body of the wire, for making boots, shoes, and regulation watches, for relieving the household of the drudgery of the needle, and the husbandman of the hard hand-labor of the plough, the spade, the scythe, the sickle, and the rake, machinery for every conceivable purpose of domestic utility and manual dexterity, witnesses for the fruitfulness and the usefulness of American invention. While millions of homes and farms are rejoicing in the sewing-machine, the mowing and reaping machines, by which America has lightened their labor, now comes the writing-machine to turn the drudgery of the composer and the copying-clerk into the pleasure of playing a well-toned piano without the tediousness of that practice. But why need I reproduce the records of the patent-office ? 2 America is bristling with inventions ; and, though she had much to learn, she had little to fear, from competition with other nations in her World Exposition. Nor is the inventive genius to be disparaged as belonging to a lower mechanical grade of culture. It detracts nothing from the scientific genius of Galileo that he invented or copied the telescope, nor from Helmholtz that he invented the ophthalmoscope.3 Not all the valor and discipline of European armies could avail, were not inventors continually improving the weapons of war. What were Moltke without Krupp ? Germany has not hesitated to erect a monument to the genius of Gutenberg, and has grouped Theology, Poetry, Science, and Industry in an attitude of admiration around the inventor of movable type. England has reared monuments to Stephenson; and America may well rear statues of Franklin, Fulton, Morse, Field, as benefactors of mankind.

1 In Russia the American locomotive takes precedence of all others.

2 From 1800 to 1870, 120,298 patents were issued by the United States, of which 79,612 were between 1860 and 1870.

3 See note at the close of the Lecture.

Indeed, it marks the dignity and worth of American civilization, that, from first to last, it has sought the good of diversified and collective humanity, — for mankind in its aims, to mankind in its results. I marvel, that, in his ode to Boston, Emerson should have opened on so low a key: –

“ The merchant was a man.
The world was made for honest trade:
To plant and eat be none afraid."

True, as he advances, he rises to a nobler key, and sings, —

“ Each honest man shall have his vote,
Each child shall have his school;
For what avail the plough or sail,
Or land or life, if freedom fail ? "

Yes, the merchants of Boston were men; and noble, princely men have they been. But, from the first, the glory of Boston was to provide for knowledge and religion, and open to men, of whatever grade, avenues to that selfculture that marks the man. And as of Boston, so of the proper American type of civilization, it is cosmopolitan in the spirit of elevating humanity. I know a civilization where the plough-boy and the smith's apprentice were taught to put all knowledge in their heads, and all virtue in their hearts; and from the plough came the statesmanship of Daniel Webster, and from the anvil came the philology and philanthropy of Elihu Burrit. I know a civilization that taught the factory-girls of Lowell, in the good old times when farmers' daughters went there to spin, to diversify their labor with editing a literary magazine, and learning accomplishments in music and the arts.

in ugot to put all boy and thity. I kno

that taught tipy of Elihu Bo anvil came to

I know a civilization where the farmer sweats over his hard-handed toil, that his son may go to college, and his daughter may have her library and piano; feels that an education is the true patent of nobility, and the best estate for his children; and then is grateful to God, if his children, educated by his toil and theirs, shall go forth as missionaries of Christian civilization. It is because of this view of the worth of the individual and the brotherhood of humanity, that the United States, having set the example of codifying her own laws, has taken the initiative in schemes of arbitration and for the reform of international law in the interest of peace and unity, which shall one day bring in an era of culture such as Europe has not yet seen.

NOTE ON AMERICAN PROGRESS.

In a spoken lecture it was impossible to give more than an outline of the progress of the United States in the century; and no audience would have been patient of an array of statistics which the reader can study at leisure on the printed page. Even the most moderate statement of what has been done in America for learning, science, art, and general culture, is apt to be received in Europe with incredulity or disparagement. But the cultivated American cannot be surprised or annoyed at this. He will remember, that, down to a very recent period, he has had ten reasons for studying the civilization of the Old World where the European had one for studying the civilization of the New. As to England, even if he has had no personal experience of the fact, his Emerson, Lowell, and Hawthorne will have taught him how completely insular is her national spirit and ideal, even to a degree that “ makes existence incompatible with all that is not English ; " but, as he listens to the tone of English criticism upon his country, the honest American will remember how "faithful are the wounds of a friend,” and, pardoning much to a chronic and grotesque dogmatism, will consider, also, that family criticism more often springs from a secret pride than from real bitterness or dislike. Still less can any well-balanced American be affected by the new style of French criticism, represented by Claudio Jannet and Talleyrand-Perigord. He understands perfectly that it is the cue of clericalism in France, as of conservatism in Germany, to disparage the United States as a check to liberal aspirations at home; and he reflects, that, in France, liberty is an imperishable aspiration, and Lafayette, De Tocqueville, and Laboulaye are imperishable names.

But the cultivated American will be especially considerate of the

« 上一頁繼續 »