On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 313 pages of information about On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures.

54.  Clocks occupy a very high place amongst instruments by means of which human time is economized:  and their multiplication in conspicuous places in large towns is attended with many advantages.  Their position, nevertheless, in London, is often very ill chosen; and the usual place, halfway up on a high steeple, in the midst of narrow streets, in a crowded city, is very unfavourable, unless the church happen to stand out from the houses which form the street.  The most eligible situation for a clock is, that it should project considerably into the street at some elevation, with a dial-plate on each side, like that which belonged to the old church of St Dunstan, in Fleet Street, so that passengers in both directions would have their attention directed to the hour.

55.  A similar remark applies, with much greater force, to the present defective mode of informing the public of the position of the receiving houses for the twopenny and general post.  In the lowest corner of the window of some attractive shop is found a small slit, with a brass plate indicating its important office so obscurely that it seems to be an object rather to prevent its being conspicuous.  No striking sign assists the anxious enquirer, who, as the moments rapidly pass which precede the hour of closing, torments the passenger with his enquiries for the nearest post-office.  He reaches it, perhaps, just as it is closed; and must then either hasten to a distant part of the town in order to procure the admission of his letters or give up the idea of forwarding them by that post; and thus, if they are foreign letters, he may lose, perhaps, a week or a fortnight by waiting for the next packet.

The inconvenience in this and in some other cases, is of perpetual and everyday occurrence; and though, in the greater part of the individual cases, it may be of trifling moment, the sum of all these produces an amount, which it is always worthy of the government of a large and active population to attend to.  The remedy is simple and obvious:  it would only be necessary, at each letter-box, to have a light frame of iron projecting from the house over the pavement, and carrying the letters G. P., or T. P., or any other distinctive sign.  All private signs are at present very properly prohibited from projecting into the street:  the passenger, therefore, would at once know where to direct his attention, in order to discover a post-office; and those letter-boxes which occurred in the great thoroughfares could not fail to be generally known.

Chapter 7

Exerting Forces Too Great for Human Power, and Executing Operations Too Delicate for Human Touch

56.  It requires some skill and a considerable apparatus to enable many men to exert their whole force at a given point; and when this number amounts to hundreds or to thousands, additional difficulties present themselves.  If ten thousand men were hired to act simultaneously, it would be exceedingly difficult to discover whether each exerted his whole force, and consequently, to be assured that each man did the duty for which he was paid.  And if still larger bodies of men or animals were necessary, not only would the difficulty of directing them become greater, but the expense would increase from the necessity of transporting food for their subsistence.

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