« AnteriorContinuar »
which his dinner was cooking suddenly rise, forced up by the vapour of the water which the fire had heated; or, in other words, by steam. “ Then it occurred to him that the same “ force which had lifted the lid might become, in certain cir“ cumstances, a useful and convenient moving power;" and hence-so runs the story-arose the 'Century of Inventions,' with its steam-engine all ready-made and acting ;-at least in the mind of its contriver!
COMPARATIVE CLAIMS OF SOLOMON DE CAUS AND THE MARQUIS OF
WORCESTER NATIONAL CONTROVERSY FICTITIOUS LETTER OF MARION DE L'ORME EXPOSURE OF A LITERARY IMPOSTURE PHILOSOPHICAL DISCOVERIES OF THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY ---GALILEO-TORRICELLI
PASCAL-OTTO DE GUERICKE,
The comparative claims of Solomon De Caus and of the Marquis of Worcester have been a favourite subject of discussion with many writers in both France and England, the countrymen of the one and of the other respectively. We say their countrymen; for, although De Caus published his book Les Raisons des Forces Mouvantes' at Frankfort, and was for some time in the service of Henry, Prince of Wales, at Richmond, and afterwards of the Elector Palatine at Heidelberg, who married the Princess Elizabeth of England, he yet writes in French, calls himself, in the Dedication of the first part of that work to Louis XIII., a subject of that monarch, and is also styled his subject in the Privilege granted to his publication. * But his principal works were published, either in London or “ beyond the Rhine;” † and it is sufficiently singular that the distinguished patronage which he frequently and gratefully acknowledges was conferred on him by the Royal Family of this country; which, in all that relates to mechanical science, seems then, as now, to have asserted a proud pre-eminence.
In the national competition as to those two ingenious projectors, De Caus had clearly the priority in point of time, by a whole half-century. But then he is not even alleged ever to have applied his hollow ball and tube, or,—to dignify them by a name which they could hardly claim,--his boiler
* • La Perspective avec la Raison
vantes, 1613, en la boutique de Jan • Norton, Libraire Anglois.'
and steam-pipe, to any purpose of utility; and in all probability he never either executed them on a great scale, or attempted to regulate the force which on a small scale he may have been able so to exert. The engine devised by Lord Worcester, on the other hand, if we are to believe the concurrent testimony of his own description and prayer,—of the correspondence between his widow and her confessor, of the panegyric of his servant Rollock,-and of the account given by Duke Cosmo de Medicis and his Secretary Magalotti,—would appear to have been at last executed on a scale large enough to produce very considerable hydraulic effects; and, although we must probably ever remain ignorant of the precise manner in which it acted, still there is no doubt that the language used by all parties in regard to it could best be explained, by supposing that steam, in some one or more of its manifold ways of operation, was its moving power. .
Considering the uselessness of the contrivance of De Caus, and the doubtfulness existing as to that of the Marquis, it is, perhaps, rather surprising that “the invention of the steam
engine” should have been attributed to either of them, with such great confidence as both French and English writers have alternately shown. So long, however, as the little national rivalry was characterised by a due regard to controversial fairness, there was nothing either unpleasing in its aspect, or likely to prove hurtful in its consequences. But in all such controversies, whether scientific or literary, where either national or personal glory is concerned, the first requisite is that they be conducted with a strict regard to truth and justice; that no false weapons be used, no foul blows dealt, nor unfair advantage taken ; and, -as a natural corollary from such propositions,—where these rules have been infringed, defeat and ignominy deserve to be the result. These remarks may appear severe; but we shall leave our readers to judge, after having perused the following statement, whether they are uncalled for.
In a work entitled “A Summer amongst the Bocages and * the Vines,' published in 1840, by Miss Louisa Stuart Costello, a lady very favourably known to the world by several of
her writings, appears the following letter, which she states, without hinting a suspicion of the truth of the statement, to have been written by Marion de l'Orme, in 1641, to M. de Cinq-Mars. Mademoiselle de l’Orme, we need scarcely inform our readers, was a lady whose name only too frequently occurs in the scandalous annals of the Court of Louis XIII.; and Cinq-Mars was the hapless d'Effiat, at one time the youthful favourite of that monarch, but also too well known by the recklessness of his life, and the tragic fate which early befell him. There is, we believe, little doubt that between d'Effiat and Marion de l'Orme there were certain passages of love, of which many curious anecdotes have been preserved; and so far there appeared to be some foundation on which the superstructure of the following letter might fairly rest :-“ Paris, Feb. 1611. My dear Effiat,—While you are “ forgetting me at Narbonne, and giving yourself up to the “ pleasures of the Court and the delight of thwarting M. le « Cardinal de Richelieu, I, according to your express desire, “ am doing the honours of Paris to your English lord, the
Marquis of Worcester; and I carry him about, or, rather, “ he carries me, from curiosity to curiosity, choosing always “ the most grave and serious, speaking very little, listening “ with extreme attention, and fixing on those whom he inter“ rogates two large blue eyes, which seem to pierce to the “ very centre of their thoughts. He is remarkable for never
being satisfied with any explanations which are given him; “ and he never sees things in the light in which they are “ shown him: you may judge of this by a visit we made " together to Bicêtre, where he imagined he had discovered a “ genius in a madman.
“ If this madman had not been actually raving, I verily “ believe your Marquis would have entreated his liberty, and “ have carried him off to London, in order to hear his extra
vagances, from morning till night, at his ease. “ crossing the court of the mad-house, and I, more dead than “ alive with fright, kept close to my companion's side, when “ a frightful face appeared behind some immense bars, and “ a hoarse voice exclaimed, 'I am not mad! I am not mad!
“• I have made a discovery which would enrich the country “ • that adopted it.' - What has he discovered ?' I asked of “our guide. Oh,' he answered, shrugging his shoulders,
something trifling enough; you would never guess it; it •ó is the use of the steam of boiling water.' I began to “ laugh. “This man,' continued the keeper, ‘is named Salo“ mon de Caus; he came from Normandy, four years ago, “ « to present to the King a statement of the wonderful effects “ that might be produced from his invention. To listen to “• him, you would imagine that with steam you could navi
gate ships, move carriages, in fact, there is no end to the « « miracles which, he insists upon it, could be performed. “ • The Cardinal sent the madman away without listening to “ • him. Salomon de Caus, far from being discouraged, fol“ "lowed the Cardinal wherever he went, with the most “ • determined perseverance; who, tired of finding him for “ • ever in his path, and annoyed to death with his folly, “ ordered him to be shut up in Bicêtre, where he has now “ been for three years and a half, and where, as you hear, « • he calls out to every visitor that he is not mad, but that “ • he has made a valuable discovery. He has even written
a book on the subject, which I have here.'
“ Lord Worcester, who had listened to this account with “ much interest, after reflecting a time, asked for the book, “ of which, after having read several pages, he said, “ This “man is not mad. In my country, instead of shutting him
up, he would have been rewarded. Take me to him, for “I should like to ask him some questions. He was ac“cordingly conducted to his cell, but after a time he came “ back sad and thoughtful. He is, indeed, mad now,' said
• “he; misfortune and captivity have alienated his reason; “ • but it is you who have to answer for his madness: when
you cast him into that cell, you confined the greatest
genius of the age. After this we went away, and, since " that time, he has done nothing but talk of Salomon de Caus.
* Here Miss Costello, in a note, adds the title of De Caus' book, "Les • Raisons des Forces Mouvantes.'