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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1841, by
ALEXANDER V. BLAKE,
It is singular that so little interest should heretofore have been taken in the history of those to whom we are indebted for the arts and inventions constituting the glory of our time. The pen has ever been more ready to record the brilliant than the useful. To this is to be attributed the neglect heretofore manifested in relation to these subjects. Indeed, so little regard has been evinced, that a late foreign writer, who happened incidentally to be " thrown upon
some incidents in the life of an eminent mechanician, considered it due to the fastidiousness of public taste, to claim indulgence for diverging into so obscure and tasteless a path of biographical research. But, thanks to the more general diffusion of knowledge and the light of Christianity, this false taste is rapidly dissipating, and mankind are beginning to appreciate the labors of those to whom we are indebted for our present unparalleled state of intellectual and social advance. ment.
The memoirs of the benefactors of our race, in påst ages, are often histories of wrong; and those who have labored in the department of mechanical invention, may truly be termed the martyrs of civilization! The causes producing this state of
things are fading away before the intelligence of the times, and wise and just laws are in operation to protect the defenceless. As has been aptly observed," the strife of trade has superseded the strife of war,"—the clash and din of arms has given place to the busy hum of industry, the ringing of the anvil, the melody of the waterfall, and the puff of the steam engine. The days of tournaments are past,--the mechanic fairs are our tilting grounds," where the conflict is not for physical superiority, but for inventions best promoting the comfort and elegance of life. Although much has been done, more remains to be accomplished. This new world is to be a theatre of mighty structures for the development of resources, advancing, beyond present conception, the welfare and happiness of our race
Biographies of public individuals have their peculiar advan. tages; but examples drawn from the common walks prove of more practical utility. Such are here presented; and it is judged that their perusal will be found at least as useful as tracing the progress of a military hero through scenes of blood, or witnessing the more peaceful triumphs of some champion in the field of political strife.
With these views we have prosecuted this undertaking, in the hope of producing a series of memoirs, which, while of general interest, would be useful to the mechanic: and the aim being to give as much variety as possible within our assigned limits, we have reluctantly excluded several characters, who, but for their similarity of pursuit, would have adorned our pages.
The materials are drawn from a variety of sources; but we are principally indebted to the various mechanical journals of the day, including the publications of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful
Knowledge. Most of the memoirs, however, in the American department were written expressly for the work, while several of the others in this as well as in the other portion have undergone more or less modification.
To those who have kindly furnished us with notices of their respective friends, we feel duly grateful. To the public we present the result of our labors, with the desire that it may excite emulation, and illustrate and encourage the talent and perseverance required for a successful cultivation of the mechanic arts.