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it probable, that in a business where at least that number have been employed for years, any improvement can come to be discovered by chance? Is it not obvious that all the improvements mere chance could bring about, are likely to be discovered at a very early period of such a business ; more especially under the operation of a patent law, to give to every eye the quick-sightedness of self-interest ? Yet persons are heard thoughtless enough to exclaim, of such an improvement as James Watt's on the steam-engine, “How simple ! and, how wonderful nobody ever found it out before !' They that say of such an invention, “How simple !' should consider what they mean. If the simplicity they speak of, refers to the adaptation of the means to the end, they are quite right. In this acceptance, simplicity is the very highest merit of an invention ; for of all the means that can be used to effect a given end, the simplest are evidently the best. But if when they say, 'How simple !' they mean, how easy to be done, and how easy to be found oịt, they are as wrong as they can be. For if the contrivance was thus easy to be hit upon, why had it been missed by the numerous persons engaged for so many years before, in the making, in the working, and even in the improving of steam engines? The very simplicity of an invention, which leads the inexperienced to infer little merit or application in the inventor, is most commonly the sequel of complications, which in succession have been contrived by him, and in succession been rejected. Indeed, who that ever cast a glance of intelligent observation upon our manufactures, or that has ever been struck with the combined simplicity and efficacy of the means employed, can do otherwise than infer that any one of the means that he admires, must have been selected for superiority, when perhaps a thousand others have been rejected ? So far from simple means of effecting an end being proportionably obvious to adopt, whoever has opportunities of watching young persons beginning to cultivate any branch of experimental science, may observe that complicated means to effect an end are those they try first; and indeed, whenever there is witnessed, as in the case of Watt, an early or immediate adoption of simple means to accomplish a desirable end, it is safe to infer the possession of great powers, such as experience, in their exercise, can alone inspire. In the attempt of Watt, the only circumstance that can be attributed to chance, was, that a working model of a steam engine came into his hands to be repaired. But what made that model suggest to his mind, inquiries and doubts that had never struck any mind before? No one can read the simple account of his discovery, as given by himself, in his Notes to Dr. Robinson's Works, without being satisfied that when that model came into his hands, it was to undergo a scrutiny,
such as the steam engine in no form had ever before been subjected to."
Another reason for granting this species of monopoly, is, that the whole community has an interest in the advancement of the useful arts, since the greater the perfection to which they are brought, the greater will be the amount of necessaries, conveniences, comforts, luxuries and amusements, within reach of every one, for the same expense. This presents a good reason, not merely for indemnifying the inventor or improver of an art, for his expense of time, labor and outlay, but also for giving him an absolute reward. It would be considered paltry to maintain that a general, who had achieved a victory, was sufficiently compensated by his pay, during the time he gave to the achievement. He is considered a benefactor to his country, and, as such, entitled not merely to his pay, but to a reward. So is the inventor of a useful art a benefactor to his country, and to the whole civilized world, and as such entitled to a reward. It is a debt due to him; not one that he can demand by virtue of the law of nature, and independently of all civil institutions, but one which it ought to be the early care of the positive laws to acknowledge and satisfy.
Without some encouragement and hope of indemnity for expenses, held out by the law, many inven
6 Westminster Review, No. 43, for January, 1835.
tions, after being made, would not be rendered practically useful. “Very few inventions in manufactures are perfect, when first contrived and introduced into practice. Much further improvement is often needful, in order to overcome unforeseen difficulties, and to meet all the wants of a manufacture conducted on a large scale. Prejudice, too, has to be overcome. The sanction of experience is wanting to confirm the advantage, and still more the permanence of the improvement. After Watt had taken out his patent, he was six years before he succeeded in making one steam engine according to his plan, matured in all its principles at least, as his patent and specification show it to have been. Part of this time was lost, perhaps, by inactivity ; another part by the failure of Roebuck, of the Carron Works, with whom he first associated himself, and perhaps a still greater part was owing to the imperfection of machinery in his time. But, making allowances for these causes of delay, still it is true that at least three or four years were necessary, to obviate the practical difficulties that lay in the way of making such an engine well, for the first time. Such difficulties, and others too, attend all important new inventions in manufactures. The bringing of them into notice, the gaining of confidence in their permanence and worth, and the overcoming of prejudice against them, on account of their very novelty, require time, care, and much outlay. To insure success in such an under
taking, it is not unusual to spend years in overcom-