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I HAVE been over, in my time (and it has
not been so extended a one, either) a good
many " works." Works for making gas, and
cotton sheetings, and lump sugar, and ladies'
bonnet ribbons, and gutta percha tubing, and
biscuits for the use of Her Majesty's navy.
I have seen innumerable jennies, cranks,
chucks (excentric and otherwise), lathes,
screws, and endless straps. I have heard, at
the Polytechnic and the Panopticon, learned
professors explain multifarious varieties of
machinery in motion, and have come away
I am ashamed to confess itnot much wiser
for the explanation. Yet I have learnt
one thing, although the extent of my
mechanical knowledge is very limited. Wherever
I have seen machinery in motion; wherever
there was a snorting, jarring, oscillating,
whizzing, buzzing, screaming, groaning,
whistling noise of wheels and levers,
cranks and piston-rods, I have always
remarked a very strong, warm, oleaginous
smell, variating between that of a cookshop
and a tallow manufactory. I have learnt
that this fatty odour arises from the grease
with which the machinery is lubricated, and
that the wheels, the cranks, the whole
machine cannot go on comfortably or safely at
all, without this unctuous relief. I suppose
it is the same with the axle-boxes of the
railway carriages, which swallow up the
yellow compound administered to them by
railway-porters so greedily; I suppose it is
the same with the I-don't-know-how-many-
horse-power engines on board Waterman
Number Four, which cry out for grease so
continually, and make the engineer so shiny in
appearance and powerful in smell; I
suppose it is the same with the obstinate
lock of my parlour door, which in its rebellious
rustiness sets up its tumblers to every
ward of every key in the picklock's huge
bunch, until one drop of oil being gently
insinuated into its cavities on the top of a
goose-quill, it yields to the magical power of
grease in a moment, and becomes as easy as
a glove immediately.

This human machine, which goes on the
whole with so much regularity, and turns
out so large a quantity of work, material and
intellectual, with such satisfaction to society,
requires a little grease, too, sometimes. That
cunning engineer, Nature, has of herself
provided a natural spontaneous oil for the
lubrication of the joints of the body, else would
the muscles grow rigid and the sinews
crack. But the joints of the mind: do
not they require to be greased occasionally?
Is that machinery which works in
cellular tissues, and beneath mucous
membranes, and in a network of so many
thousand exquisitely delicate meshes, so easily
broken, so hardly repaired, in no need
of relief? Is the brain not in some
danger of growing rusty, and out of order,
of stopping altogether for lack of oil, or,
through ceaseless and intolerable
friction, of going (which is worse) to all sorts of
blazes of discontent, hatred, and angry
madness, if a drop of oil on a goose-quill be
not tenderly administered now and then?
When that big ship the Royal Albert was
launched at Woolwich the other day,
unnumbered pounds of tallow were employed to
grease her false keel, and the ways down
which she slid. Else would she have stuck
in the slip till this day, and forty-thousand
dogshores might have been knocked away in
vain. The ship of life will stick in the mud
too, if a little grease be not judiciously
employed to get her off.

The elders of this nation, until very lately,
would not seem to have had much faith in the
efficacy of any lubricant for the well-going of
the machine public. They barely acknowledge,
even now, that grease may be a good
thing: leaving the public to supply its
own grease (if it can) according to its own
imaginations. Thus one citizen has mixed
his lubricant with scented bear's grease.
another with brandy and water, another with
raw gin, a fourth with vinegar, a fifth
with gall and wormwood. Another and a
far more numerous class, who cannot always
help or choose for themselves, and do require
a little help sometimes, have taken any grease
that came to hand just as they could get it, and
have got on as well as they couldrunning
off the road and coming iuto dangerous
collision now and then, to the great astonishment
and indignation of the aforesaid elders.

The few can grease their wheels any day
in the week, and all day long, if they like.
The many have only the one day, Sunday,