What some call " great discoveries " are not produced every day, week, nor year, and yet the progress of invention is as steady as the march of time itsell. It is certainly true that the boundaries of human knowledge are constantly extending, and this never could happen if new discoveries were not continually unfolded. A new discovery is something brought to light which had not been observed before, and a new invention is its application to a useful purpose. We are liable to overlook the progress that is continually making in science and art, and to forget the benefits which inventors have conferred and are conferring upon community. It is our duty to call in our wandering thoughts from time to time, and not forget the debt ol gratitude which we owe, (and which is continually accumulating upon us) to the inventors who are living and acting among us. We cannot allude to and name all the men who are now thinking and working out plans and improvements, but the number is not small, and they all deserve to be highly esteemed and rewarded. We now see a message sent from j one end of our continent to another in a j few seconds; a few years ago it required , more weeks than it now does moments to ac- , complish the same feat. Here we see a dangerous whirlnool destroyed by the electric spark and a few canisters of gun powder, and , there we behold an iron tube thrown across a , strait of the sea for the iron horse with his huge train to thunder through it. A short ; time ago an ingenious inventor discovered a method of sinking iron foundations for bridges by the simple operation of an air pump, and now we see the same principle applied in our cities for the most useful and sanitory purposes. In one place an inventor makes a loom and weaves the most intricate and beautiful patterns ; in another place an inventor constructs a machine which performs the most delicate needle work, and at once relieves woman from the most tedious and confining household drudgery. We might mention : many other important inventions which are now conferring blessings upon community, but our object principally, is to direct attention to their merits, as particular information can be obtained respecting their nature and j operations by examining the columns of the j Scientific American. What we hope from ! community is not to forget living inventors ; j let them have their reward while they are I with us. It is too often the case that nations raise monuments to men when they are dead after having allowed them to suffer and die in penury. It is exceedingly easy to pass complements to deceased benefactors, because such praise costs nothing. Men have starved in garrets who have had statues erected to their memory. We hope the like will never occur again. In this age, with a free press to make hidden things public, we conceive it to be our duty to tell the community from time time, of their duty, to be just and generous to those living benefactors of our race—discoverers and inventors.
This article was originally published with the title "The Progress of Inventions and Inventors" in Scientific American 8, 38, 301 (June 1853)