Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/282

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preceding complex automatic tools of various kind, that cooperated to make their component parts—each larger, or more accurate, lathe or planing-machine having been made possible by preexisting lathes and planing-machines, inferior in size or exactness. And so if he traces back the whole contents of the machine-shop, with its many-different instruments, he comes in course of time to the blacksmith's hammer and anvil, and even, eventually, to still ruder appliances. The explanation is now completed, he thinks. Not at all. No such process as that which the "Walter Press" shows us was possible until there had been invented, and slowly perfected, a paper-machine capable of making miles of paper without break. Thus there is the genesis of the paper-machine involved, and that of the multitudinous appliances and devices that preceded it, and are at present implied by it. Have we now got to the end of the matter? No; we have just glanced at one group of the antecedents. All this development of mechanical appliances—this growth of the iron-manufacture, this extensive use of machinery made from iron, this production of so many machines for making machines—has had for one of its causes the abundance of the raw materials, coal and iron; has had for another of its causes the insular position which has favored peace and the increase of industrial activity. There have been moral causes at work too. Without that readiness to sacrifice present ease to future benefit, which is implied by enterprise, there would not only have never arisen the machine in question, but there would never have arisen the multitudinous improved instruments and processes that have made it possible. And, beyond the moral traits which enterprise presupposes, there are those presupposed by efficient cooperation. Without mechanical engineers who fulfilled their contracts tolerably well, by executing work accurately, neither this machine itself nor the machines that made it could have been produced; and, without artisans having considerable conscientiousness, no master could insure accurate work. Try to get such products out of an inferior race, and you will find defective character an insuperable obstacle. So, too, will you find defective intelligence an insuperable obstacle. The skilled artisan is not an accidental product, either morally or intellectually. The intelligence needed for making a new thing is not everywhere to be found; nor is there everywhere to be found the accuracy of perception and nicety of execution without which no complex machine can be so made that it will act. Exactness of finish in machines has developed pari passu with exactness of perception in artisans. Inspect some mechanical appliance made a century ago, and you may see that, even had all other requisite conditions been fulfilled, want of the requisite skill in workmen would have been a fatal obstacle to the production of an engine requiring so many delicate adjustments. So that there are implied in this mechanical achievement, not only our slowly-generated industrial state, with