On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 358 pages of information about On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures.

327.  The arts of contriving, of drawing, and of executing, do not usually reside in their greatest perfection in one individual; and in this, as in other arts, the division of labour must be applied.  The best advice which can be offered to a projector of any mechanical invention, is to employ a respectable draughtsman; who, if he has had a large experience in his profession, will assist in finding out whether the contrivance is new, and can then make working drawings of it.  The first step, however, the ascertaining whether the contrivance has the merit of novelty, is most important; for it is a maxim equally just in all the arts, and in every science, that the man who aspires to fortune or to fame by new discoveries, must be content to examine with care the knowledge of his contemporaries, or to exhaust his efforts in inventing again, what he will most probably find has been better executed before.

328.  This, nevertheless, is a subject upon which even ingenious men are often singularly negligent.  There is, perhaps, no trade or profession existing in which there is so much quackery, so much ignorance of the scientific principles, and of the history of their own art, with respect to its resources and extent, as are to be met with amongst mechanical projectors.  The self-constituted engineer, dazzled with the beauty of some, perhaps, really original contrivance, assumes his new profession with as little suspicion that previous instruction, that thought and painful labour, are necessary to its successful exercise, as does the statesman or the senator.  Much of this false confidence arises from the improper estimate which is entertained of the difficulty of invention in mechanics.  It is, therefore, of great importance to the individuals and to the families of those who are too often led away from more suitable pursuits, the dupes of their own ingenuity and of the popular voice, to convince both them and the public that the power of making new mechanical combinations is a possession common to a multitude of minds, and that the talents which it requires are by no means of the highest order.  It is still more important that they should be impressed with the conviction that the great merit, and the great success of those who have attained to eminence in such matters, was almost entirely due to the unremitted perseverance with which they concentrated upon their successful inventions the skill and knowledge which years of study had matured.

Chapter 28

Proper Circumstances for the Application of Machinery

329.  The first object of machinery, the chief cause of its extensive utility, is the perfection and the cheap production of the articles which it is intended to make.  Whenever it is required to produce a great multitude of things, all of exactly the same kind, the proper time has arrived for the construction of tools or machines by which they may be manufactured.  If only a few pairs of cotton

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On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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