Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/546

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530
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

to take in resisting the probate of a will. To do so would be to fly directly in the face of the decision of Delafield vs. Parrish (22 N. Y., 9), where the question of incapacity was so ably and exhaustively presented to the Court of Appeals by Mr. Evarts, Mr. O'Conor, and other illustrious counsel. No one can fairly doubt, after reading the able opinion of the Court in that celebrated case, that Henry Parrish was incompetent to execute the last two codicils to his will. It is true he had been a keenly intelligent man; he had amassed a large fortune; he had never acted in life from impulse, for wisdom, discretion, and reflection prevailed in his counsels. Yet, after his paralytic stroke, he became a changed man. The quiet, urbane gentleman became a fretful invalid, forgetful of even the proprieties of life. Idiotic dementia took possession of his once-active brain. It was in this condition, and after the stroke of paralysis, that the last two codicils were executed. It should occasion no surprise that the courts utterly refused to receive them. Still, that much abuse of this objection to the probate of a will is prevalent, is undeniable. Nor does there seem to be any cure for the disease, unless the theory "omne testamentum morte consummation est; et voluntas testatoris est ambulatoria usque ad mortem" be changed, and every man allowed to probate his own will before he dies, if he desire. Let him summon all who have the right to contest his ability, etc., to execute a will, and, if they do not appear, or if they do not succeed in showing his inability so to do, they shall be forever estopped from attacking the will thereafter. Of course, there are serious objections to this course, for all beneficiaries would then know the contents of the document, and few men care to let the world into the secret of their final intentions or ulterior purposes; still this law has been tried in some of the States successfully and satisfactorily. Whatever is contained in this paper on last wills and testaments applies with equal force to codicils.

 
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FIFTY YEARS OF MECHANICAL ENGINEERING.[1]
By ABNER C. HARDING.

I WILL begin by referring to the steam-plant employed for manufacturing purposes. In 1832 the stationary engine was commonly the beam-engine, often condensing but seldom compounded. Steam was supplied by boilers having but little resemblance to the boilers which most of us are familiar with. The name given the boilers explains their form; they were variously called tun, hay-stack, balloon, elephant, chimney, and ring boiler, to each of which they severally bore a striking resemblance. They were built in utter disregard of all

  1. Read before the Peoria Scientific Society, March 24, 1883.