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toil of them, and if, when the young have wine and food,

time:2023-11-30 23:32:01source:android

In 1847 Bain devised an automatic method of playing on wind instruments by moving a band of perforated paper which controlled the supply of air to the pipes; and likewise proposed to play a number of keyed instruments at a distance by means of the electric current. Both of these plans are still in operation.

toil of them, and if, when the young have wine and food,

These and other inventions in the space of six years are a striking testimony to the fertility of Bain's imagination at this period. But after this extraordinary outburst he seems to have relapsed into sloth and the dissipation of his powers. We have been told, and indeed it is plain that he received a considerable sum for one or other of his inventions, probably the chemical telegraph. But while he could rise from the ranks, and brave adversity by dint of ingenuity and labour, it would seem that his sanguine temperament was ill-fitted for prosperity. He went to America, and what with litigation, unfortunate investment, and perhaps extravagance, the fortune he had made was rapidly diminished.

toil of them, and if, when the young have wine and food,

Whether his inventive genius was exhausted, or he became disheartened, it would be difficult to say, but he never flourished again. The rise in his condition may be inferred from the preamble to his patent for electric telegraphs and clocks, dated May 29, 1852, wherein he describes himself as 'Gentleman,' and living at Beevor Lodge, Hammersmith. After an ephemeral appearance in this character he sank once more into poverty, if not even wretchedness. Moved by his unhappy circumstances, Sir William Thomson, the late Sir William Siemens, Mr. Latimer Clark and others, obtained from Mr. Gladstone, in the early part of 1873, a pension for him under the Civil List of L80 a year; but the beneficiary lived in such obscurity that it was a considerable time before his lodging could be discovered, and his better fortune take effect. The Royal Society had previously made him a gift of L150.

toil of them, and if, when the young have wine and food,

In his latter years, while he resided in Glasgow, his health failed, and he was struck with paralysis in the legs. The massive forehead once pregnant with the fire of genius, grew dull and slow of thought, while the sturdy frame of iron hardihood became a tottering wreck. He was removed to the Home for Incurables at Broomhill, Kirkintilloch, where he died on January 2, 1877, and was interred in the Old Aisle Cemetery. He was a widower, and had two children, but they were said to be abroad at the time, the son in America and the daughter on the Continent.

Several of Bain's earlier patents are taken out in two names, but this was perhaps owing to his poverty compelling him to take a partner. If these and other inventions were substantially his own, and we have no reason to suppose that he received more help from others than is usual with inventors, we must allow that Bain was a mechanical genius of the first order --a born inventor. Considering the early date of his achievements, and his lack of education or pecuniary resource, we cannot but wonder at the strength, fecundity, and prescience of his creative faculty. It has been said that he came before his time; but had he been more fortunate in other respects, there is little,doubt that he would have worked out and introduced all or nearly all his inventions, and probably some others. His misfortunes and sorrows are so typical of the 'disappointed inventor' that we would fain learn more about his life; but beyond a few facts in a little pamphlet (published by himself, we believe), there is little to be gathered; a veil of silence has fallen alike upon his triumphs, his errors and his miseries.

THE leading electrician of Germany is Dr. Ernst Werner Siemens, eldest brother of the same distinguished family of which our own Sir William Siemens was a member. Ernst, like his brother William, was born at Lenthe, near Hanover, on December 13, 1816. He was educated at the College of Lubeck in Maine, and entered the Prussian Artillery service as a volunteer. He pursued his scientific studies at the Artillery and Engineers' School in Berlin, and in 1838 obtained an officer's commission.

Physics and chemistry were his favourite studies; and his original researches in electro-gilding resulted in a Prussian patent in 1841. The following year he, in conjunction with his brother William, took out

another patent for a differential regulator. In 1844 he was appointed to a post in the artillery workshops in Berlin, where he learned telegraphy, and in 1845 patented a dial and printing telegraph, which is still in use in Germany.

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