43. The most frequent reason for employing contrivances for diminishing velocity, arises from the necessity of overcoming great resistances with small power. Systems of pulleys, the crane, and many other illustrations, might also be adduced here as examples; but they belong more appropriately to some of the other causes which we have assigned for the advantages of machinery. The common smoke-jack is an instrument in which the velocity communicated is too great for the purpose required, and it is transmitted through wheels which reduce it to a more moderate rate.
44. Telegraphs are machines for conveying information over extensive lines with great rapidity. They have generally been established for the purposes of transmitting information during war, but the increasing wants of man will probably soon render them subservient to more peaceful objects.
A few years since the telegraph conveyed to Paris information of the discovery of a comet, by M. Gambart, at Marseilles: the message arrived during a sitting of the French Board of Longitude, and was sent in a note from the Minister of the Interior to Laplace, the President, who received it whilst the writer of these lines was sitting by his side. The object in this instance was, to give the earliest publicity to the fact, and to assure to M. Gambart the title of its first discoverer.
At Liverpool a system of signals is established for the purposes of commerce, so that each merchant can communicate with his own vessel long before she arrives in the port.
1. See Transactions of the Society of Arts, 1826.
Extending the Time of Action of Forces
45. This is one of the most common and most useful of the employments of machinery. The half minute which we daily devote to the winding-up of our watches is an exertion of labour almost insensible; yet, by the aid of a few wheels, its effect is spread over the whole twenty-four hours. In our clocks, this extension of the time of action of the original force impressed is carried still further; the better kind usually require winding up once in eight days, and some are occasionally made to continue in action during a month, or even a year. Another familiar illustration may be noticed in our domestic furniture: the common jack by which our meat is roasted, is a contrivance to enable the cook in a few minutes to exert a force which the machine retails out during the succeeding hour in turning the loaded spit; thus enabling her to bestow her undivided attention on the other important duties of her vocation. A great number of automatons and mechanical toys moved by springs, may be classed under this division.