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POSSIBLY, N. or M., you never have
invented anything; possibly you are the fortunate,
or it may be unfortunate, originator of
some bright mechanical idea. We will adopt
the latter possibility, and, for the sake of
some precision, we will state the exact nature
of the idea which it has been your good or
evil fortune to work out.

You have invented a small apparatus, which
you design to fix by the side of a locomotive;
and this apparatus, which is very simple, you
adapt to a system of railway signals: so
contrived, that before every station, junction, or
siding, if "caution" be required, your
apparatus blows a loud alarum on a whistle; and,
if "danger" be signalled, it shuts off the
steam, reverses the engine, and puts on the
break. All this it does in perfect independence
of the engine-driver, if it should happen
that this functionary has not seen the signal.

Your machine not only does this; but,
whereas a self-acting apparatus might lead
engine-drivers to relax in vigilance, and it is
always the driver's duty when the signal can
be seen to obey its warning before machinery
can take the acts of obedience out of his
hands, your machine is made to be a tell-tale,
and records inexorably all the duty it has
done. This, N. or M., is your invention; don't
deny it; if it be not yours, it will belong to
some one else, and for our present purpose,
that is altogether the same thing.

You have made a hobby of this your invention;
you have improved upon and matured
it, increasing at the same time its power and
its simplicity. You have contrived so that if
a truck be moved from a siding to a main line,
the danger signal is inevitably set, that a railway
train cannot pass without setting the
danger signal as it passes, leaving the guard
only responsible for the time which he shall
suffer to elapse before he indicates "All Right"
to its successor. You have your apparatus so
contrived, that any breakage of the signal wire
can only cause the telegraph to blazon
"danger." Your whole contrivance for the
locomotive and the stations is so simple, that only
breakage of material can put it out of order;
you have no wheels, or delicate and complex
work; you effect all by the action on each
other of a few levers, and by a small double-
inclined plane upon the line of road. Every
man who examines its construction pronounces
immediately that the device is effective, and
up to this date you have put it to the test of
experiment more than a thousand times, and it
has not failed in a single instance. You think
you have invented, therefore, an apparatus
which will completely strike out of existence
the most dangerous and frequent class of
railway accidents, rendering those points
along a line which now are the most dangerous
sidings, stations, and junctionsthe
points at which an accident will be least
likely to occur.

Having invented this apparatus, which you
believe to be "a great boon to the public,"
you wish to get it patronised by Railway
Companies. Its expense to them will not be
greatabout twenty to twenty-five pounds
per enginean outlay less than the average
amount lost by the preventible crashing and
smashing of the railway property. For the
sake of the public, you desire this thing of
yours to be adopted on the railway lines; and
not a little for your sake too. You never
were rich, and now you are much poorer than
you might have been, had you not been
afflicted with this hobby. Your invention
has swallowed up your time for the last five
years, and has swallowed up your money.
You have taken patents out, and Deputy Chaff
Wax and Company have taken what your
butcher and your baker want. The founder
who makes your little machines has had
money which you have been wanting sadly
for your tailor. You are an obscure man;
you have no powerful friend to take you
by your hand, and introduce you to the
public. You are also somewhat of a
disappointed man. You walk about with your
unrecognised idea, which eats your bread and
cheese, instead of putting meat and wine into
your cupboardyou walk about, indignant at
the cold behaviour of society. You have read
up, and can cite at will, the histories of all the
great inventors who have died in poverty, and
have left their devices, and designs, and
knowledge, which they could not take into the
grave, to be a source of property to others,
who come after them. You are fast losing
your pristine faith in the power of human
energy; having yourself been energetic for