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finished them with his own hands, and, at
length, was able to put the whole together.
His first experiment was made in a long,
narrow, empty outhouse. Into this outhouse,
when every one was away on the farm, he
conveyed with a wheelbarrow as much earth
as covered the floor to the depth of six
inches, and pressed it down with his
feet, then drew a sheaf of oats from the
barn-yard, and planted its stubbly stalk in
the mould. He then shut and barred the
door; and, putting himself in the horse's
place, pushed the machine through the
artificial crop. On arriving at the end of the
shed, the young student found the crop all
cut, but lying higgledy-piggledy. A distributor
was required.

The signs of the artificial harvest were
cleared away; and, after many trials, he
invented a canvass sheet, stretched on rollers,
something on the same principle as the tapes
which deliver the sheets on a steam printing
machine, which delivered the cut corn in a
regular swathe. He next devised the
well-known reel for collecting the corn against the
cutter. The whole machine was ready for work
in the summer of eighteen hundred and twenty-
eight, and the harvest-time was impatiently
expected. Before the corn was perfectly ripe,
about eleven o'clock at night, when every
woman and child was safe in bed, the
machine was drawn from its place of concealment,
harnessed to the good horse Jock, and
the young student with his brother, a future
farmer, made their way to a field of wheat, talking
in whispers. The first experiment was
successful. After a few more private trials,
the machine was exhibited before a party
of farmers, on the farm of Pourie, near
Dundee. A copy of the original invention
was made at a foundry at Dundee, exhibited
before the Highland Society in the same year
at Glasgow, and received a prize of fifty
pounds; although, from imperfect fitting, it
would not work, and some eighteen machines,
made by different hands, without the inventor's
supervision, equally failed.

The late Lord Panmure volunteered to
advance the cost of a patent, but Mr. Bell
declined the kind offer: not being desirous, as
he stated, of retaining any exclusive rights over
an agricultural improvement. The probability
is, that if he had patented his reaping-machine,
it would have been brought to perfection,
and into notice many years earlier; for
inventions open to every one are, like common
ground unfenced, worth cultivating.

But the time had not come for such an agricultural machine;
unskilled labour was too cheap; and, if such a
machine had been ordered, there was no class
of implement-makers able to supply it. It is
only on a large scale that such implements
can be profitably manufactured.

From that time, the invention slept and was forgotten,
although one machine , (Jl . WUitvlJl ,, t ,,, lu w ^,*,
was preserved, and was occasionally worked
at Inchmichael by Mr. Bell, the farmer,
and a complete description of it, with
drawings, was inserted in London's Magazine
of Agriculture, in eighteen hundred and
thirty, and afterwards in his Encyclopaedia.
But, for twenty subsequent years, the
question was, not how to supersede, but
how to employ the labour which the late
war, the English poor-laws, and Irish
rack-rented potato-gardens had created. The
labour-saving reaping-machine was not
wanted, and remained unknown to all but
the curious, until eighteen hundred and fifty-
one brought round general prosperity, and
the Exhibition in Hyde Park. Of course,
the competing nations were the

States men, with an immense
space, very imperfectly filled with
discordant violin-pianos, Excelsior bedsteads,
artificial legs, false teeth, chewing tobacco
for the Duke of Wellington, india-rubber in
all manner of forms, photographs, rocking-
chairs, and M'Cormick's reaping-machine.
That reaping-machine was one of the
greatest successes of the whole exhibition.
The sensation it created among the poverty-
stricken collection from one of the wealthiest
and most ingenious countries in the world, was
immense; very soon it was flanked by
another implement on a different plan by
another American, Gideon Hussey; and our
farmers learned to their astonishment, that
these same machines had been in use in
America for fifteen years, and were sold by
thousands. The newspaper sensation woke
up our Scotch friends, and the original Bell
was disinterred. Trials followed, in which
the Scotch minister's invention was not


In eighteen hundred and fifty-three, Mr.
Crosskill, who had purchased from Mr. Bell,
the farmer, his machine, and the right to use
his name, won the gold medal of the
Yorkshire Agricultural Society, and presented it
to the inventor, Patrick Bell his first
reward after fifteen years.

not always considered

Mr. Bell fancies, very naturally, that
pirated or oral accounts of his reaper
originated the American invention. This may
or may not be; but it is unlikely that
M'Cormick did copy Bell, as his machine
is so different as to have the merit of
originality. His cutting action was a tooth-
edged knife, instead of shears, and it has
since been adopted by Crosskill. Hussey's
also differs from M'Cormick's. The
probability is, that in the United States, as
elsewhere, necessity was the mother of invention;
that the farmers, having no travelling
Irishmen to depend on, were driven to
their wit's end, to cut a crop that grew
and ripened with no aid from skill, and
very little care, on a virgin soil under a
burning sun. If Hussey or M'Cormick heard
that a reaping-machine had been invented in
Scotland, that information would be enough

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