Read CHAPTER V : ON MECHANICS. of Practical Education‚ Volume II, free online book, by Maria Edgeworth, on

Parents are anxious that children should be conversant with Mechanics, and with what are called the Mechanic Powers.  Certainly no species of knowledge is better suited to the taste and capacity of youth, and yet it seldom forms a part of early instruction.  Every body talks of the lever, the wedge, and the pulley, but most people perceive, that the notions which they have of their respective uses, are unsatisfactory, and indistinct; and many endeavour, at a late period of life, to acquire a scientific and exact knowledge of the effects that are produced by implements which are in every body’s hands, or that are absolutely necessary in the daily occupations of mankind.

An itinerant lecturer seldom fails of having a numerous and attentive auditory; and if he does not communicate much of that knowledge which he endeavours to explain, it is not to be attributed either to his want of skill, or to the insufficiency of his apparatus, but to the novelty of the terms which he is obliged to use.  Ignorance of the language in which any science is taught, is an insuperable bar to its being suddenly acquired; besides a precise knowledge of the meaning of terms, we must have an instantaneous idea excited in our minds whenever they are repeated; and, as this can be acquired only by practice, it is impossible that philosophical lectures can be of much service to those who are not familiarly acquainted with the technical language in which they are delivered; and yet there is scarcely any subject of human inquiry more obvious to the understanding, than the laws of mechanics.  Only a small portion of geometry is necessary to the learner, if he even wishes to become master of the more difficult problems which are usually contained in a course of lectures, and most of what is practically useful, may be acquired by any person who is expert in common arithmetic.

But we cannot proceed a single step without deviating from common language; if the theory of the balance, or the lever, is to be explained, we immediately speak of space and time.  To persons not versed in literature, it is probable that these terms appear more simple and unintelligible than they do to a man who has read Locke, and other metaphysical writers.  The term space to the bulk of mankind, conveys the idea of an interval; they consider the word time as representing a definite number of years, days, or minutes; but the metaphysician, when he hears the words space and time, immediately takes the alarm, and recurs to the abstract notions which are associated with these terms; he perceives difficulties unknown to the unlearned, and feels a confusion of ideas which distracts his attention.  The lecturer proceeds with confidence, never supposing that his audience can be puzzled by such common terms.  He means by space, the distance from the place whence a body begins to fall, to the place where its motion ceases; and by time, he means the number of seconds, or of any determinate divisions of civil time which elapse from the commencement of any motion to its end; or, in other words, the duration of any given motion.  After this has been frequently repeated, any intelligent person perceives the sense in which they are used by the tenour of the discourse; but in the interim, the greatest part of what he has heard, cannot have been understood, and the premises upon which every subsequent demonstration is founded, are unknown to him.  If this be true, when it is affirmed of two terms only, what must be the situation of those to whom eight or ten unknown technical terms occur at the commencement of a lecture?  A complete knowledge, such a knowledge as is not only full, but familiar, of all the common terms made use of in theoretic and practical mechanics, is, therefore, absolutely necessary before any person can attend public lectures in natural philosophy with advantage.

What has been said of public lectures, may, with equal propriety, be applied to private instruction; and it is probable, that inattention to this circumstance is the reason why so few people have distinct notions of natural philosophy.  Learning by rote, or even reading repeatedly, definitions of the technical terms of any science, must undoubtedly facilitate its acquirement; but conversation, with the habit of explaining the meaning of words, and the structure of common domestic implements, to children, is the sure and effectual method of preparing the mind for the acquirement of science.

The ancients, in learning this species of knowledge, had an advantage of which we are deprived:  many of their terms of science were the common names of familiar objects.  How few do we meet who have a distinct notion of the words radius, angle, or valve.  A Roman peasant knew what a radius or a valve meant, in their original signification, as well as a modern professor; he knew that a valve was a door, and a radius a spoke of a wheel; but an English child finds it as difficult to remember the meaning of the word angle, as the word parabola.  An angle is usually confounded, by those who are ignorant of geometry and mechanics, with the word triangle, and the long reasoning of many a laborious instructer has been confounded by this popular mistake.  When a glass pump is shown to an admiring spectator, he is desired to watch the motion of the valves:  he looks “above, about, and underneath;” but, ignorant of the word valve, he looks in vain.  Had he been desired to look at the motion of the little doors that opened and shut, as the handle of the pump was moved up and down, he would have followed the lecturer with ease, and would have understood all his subsequent reasoning.  If a child attempts to push any thing heavier than himself, his feet slide away from it, and the object can be moved only at intervals, and by sudden starts; but if he be desired to prop his feet against the wall, he finds it easy to push what before eluded his little strength.  Here the use of a fulcrum, or fixed point, by means of which bodies may be moved, is distinctly understood.  If two boys lay a board across a narrow block of wood, or stone, and balance each other at the opposite ends of it, they acquire another idea of a centre of motion.  If a poker is rested against a bar of a grate, and employed to lift up the coals, the same notion of a centre is recalled to their minds.  If a boy, sitting upon a plank, a sofa, or form, be lifted up by another boy’s applying his strength at one end of the seat, whilst the other end of the seat rests on the ground, it will be readily perceived by them, that the point of rest, or centre of motion, or fulcrum, is the ground, and that the fulcrum is not, as in the first instance, between the force that lifts, and the thing that is lifted; the fulcrum is at one end, the force which is exerted acts at the other end, and the weight is in the middle.  In trying, these simple experiments, the terms fulcrum, centre of motion, &c. should be constantly employed, and in a very short time they would be as familiar to a boy of eight years old as to any philosopher.  If for some years the same words frequently recur to him in the same sense, is it to be supposed that a lecture upon the balance and the lever would be as unintelligible to him as to persons of good abilities, who at a more advanced age hear these terms from the mouth of a lecturer?  A boy in such circumstances would appear as if he had a genius for mechanics, when, perhaps, he might have less taste for the science, and less capacity, than the generality of the audience.  Trifling as it may at first appear, it will not be found a trifling advantage, in the progress of education, to attend to this circumstance.  A distinct knowledge of a few terms, assists a learner in his first attempts; finding these successful, he advances with confidence, and acquires new ideas without difficulty or disgust.  Rousseau, with his usual eloquence, has inculcated the necessity of annexing ideas to words; he declaims against the splendid ignorance of men who speak by rote, and who are rich in words amidst the most deplorable poverty of ideas.  To store the memory of his pupil with images of things, he is willing to neglect, and leave to hazard, his acquirement of language.  It requires no elaborate argument to prove that a boy, whose mind was stored with accurate images of external objects, of experimental knowledge, and who had acquired habitual dexterity, but who was unacquainted with the usual signs by which ideas are expressed, would be incapable of accurate reasoning, or would, at best, reason only upon particulars.  Without general terms, he could not abstract; he could not, until his vocabulary was enlarged, and familiar to him, reason upon general topics, or draw conclusions from general principles:  in short, he would be in the situation of those who, in the solution of difficult and complicated questions relative to quantity, are obliged to employ tedious and perplexed calculations, instead of the clear and comprehensive methods that unfold themselves by the use of signs in algebra.

It is not necessary, in teaching children the technical language of any art or science, that we should pursue the same order that is requisite in teaching the science itself.  Order is required in reasoning, because all reasoning is employed in deducing propositions from one another in a regular series; but where terms are employed merely as names, this order may be dispensed with.  It is, however, of great consequence to seize the proper time for introducing a new term; a moment when attention is awake, and when accident has produced some particular interest in the object.  In every family, opportunities of this sort occur without any preparation, and such opportunities are far preferable to a formal lecture and a splendid apparatus for the first lessons in natural philosophy and chemistry.  If the pump belonging to the house is out of order, and the pump-maker is set to work, an excellent opportunity presents itself for variety of instruction.  The centre pin of the handle is taken out, and a long rod is drawn up by degrees, at the end of which a round piece of wood is seen partly covered with leather.  Your pupil immediately asks the name of it, and the pump-maker prevents your answer, by informing little master that it is called a sucker.  You show it to the child, he handles it, feels whether the leather is hard or soft, and at length discovers that there is a hole through it which is covered with a little flap or door.  This, he learns from the workmen, is called a clack.  The child should now be permitted to plunge the piston (by which name it should now be called) into a tub of water; in drawing it backwards and forwards, he will perceive that the clack, which should now be called the valve, opens and shuts as the piston is drawn backwards and forwards.  It will be better not to inform the child how this mechanism is employed in the pump.  If the names sucker and piston, clack and valve, are fixed in his memory, it will be sufficient for his first lesson.  At another opportunity, he should be present when the fixed or lower valve of the pump is drawn up; he will examine it, and find that it is similar to the valve of the piston; if he sees it put down into the pump, and sees the piston put into its place, and set to work, the names that he has learned will be fixed more deeply in his mind, and he will have some general notion of the whole apparatus.  From time to time these names should be recalled to his memory on suitable occasions, but he should not be asked to repeat them by rote.  What has been said, is not intended as a lesson for a child in mechanics, but as a sketch of a method of teaching which has been employed with success.

Whatever repairs are carried on in a house, children should be permitted to see:  whilst every body about them seems interested, they become attentive from sympathy; and whenever action accompanies instruction, it is sure to make an impression.  If a lock is out of order, when it is taken off, show it to your pupil; point out some of its principal parts, and name them; then put it into the hands of a child, and let him manage it as he pleases.  Locks are full of oil, and black with dust and iron; but if children have been taught habits of neatness, they may be clock-makers and white-smiths, without spoiling their clothes, or the furniture of a house.  Upon every occasion of this sort, technical terms should be made familiar; they are of great use in the every-day business of life, and are peculiarly serviceable in giving orders to workmen, who, when they are spoken to in a language that they are used to, comprehend what is said to them, and work with alacrity.

An early use of a rule and pencil, and easy access to prints of machines, of architecture, and of the implements of trades, are of obvious use in this part of education.  The machines published by the Society of Arts in London; the prints in Desaguliers, Emerson, Spectacle de la Nature, Machines approuvees par l’Academie, Chambers’s Dictionary, Berthoud sur l’Horlogerie, Dictionaire des Arts et des Metiers, may, in succession, be put into the hands of children.  The most simple should be first selected, and the pupils should be accustomed to attend minutely to one print before another is given to them.  A proper person should carefully point out and explain to them the first prints that they examine; they may afterwards be left to themselves.

To understand prints of machines, a previous knowledge of what is meant by an elevation, a profile, a section, a perspective view, and a (vue d’oiseau) bird’s eye view, is necessary.  To obtain distinct ideas of sections, a few models of common furniture, as chests of drawers, bellows, grates, &c. may be provided, and may be cut asunder in different directions.  Children easily comprehend this part of drawing, and its uses, which may be pointed out in books of architecture; its application to the common business of life, is so various and immediate, as to fix it for ever in the memory; besides, the habit of abstraction, which is acquired by drawing the sections of complicated architecture or machinery, is highly advantageous to the mind.  The parts which we wish to express, are concealed, and are suggested partly by the elevation or profile of the figure, and partly by the connection between the end proposed in the construction of the building, machine, &c. and the means which are adapted to effect it.

A knowledge of perspective, is to be acquired by an operation of the mind directly opposite to what is necessary in delineating the sections of bodies; the mind must here be intent only upon the objects that are delineated upon the retina, exactly what we see; it must forget or suspend the knowledge which it has acquired from experience, and must see with the eye of childhood, no further than the surface.  Every person, who is accustomed to drawing in perspective, sees external nature, when he pleases, merely as a picture:  this habit contributes much to form a taste for the fine arts; it may, however, be carried to excess.  There are improvers who prefer the most dreary ruin to an elegant and convenient mansion, and who prefer a blasted stump to the glorious foliage of the oak.

Perspective is not, however, recommended merely as a means of improving the taste, but as it is useful in facilitating the knowledge of mechanics.  When once children are familiarly acquainted with perspective, and with the representations of machines by elevations, sections, &c. prints will supply them with an extensive variety of information; and when they see real machines, their structure and uses will be easily comprehended.  The noise, the seeming confusion, and the size of several machines, make it difficult to comprehend and combine their various parts, without much time, and repeated examination; the reduced size of prints lays the whole at once before the eye, and tends to facilitate not only comprehension, but contrivance.  Whoever can delineate progressively as he invents, saves much labour, much time, and the hazard of confusion.  Various contrivances have been employed to facilitate drawing in perspective, as may be seen in “Cabinet de Servier, Mémoires of the French Academy, Philosophical Transactions, and lately in the Repertory of Arts.”  The following is simple, cheap, and portable.


A B C, three mahogany boards, two, four, and six inches long, and of the same breadth respectively, so as to double in the manner represented.


The part A is screwed, or clamped to a table of a convenient height, and a sheet of paper, one edge of which is put under the piece A, will be held fast to the table.

The index P is to be set (at pleasure) with it sharp point to any part of an object which the eye sees through E, the eye-piece.

The machine is now to be doubled as in Fi, taking care that the index be not disturbed; the point, which was before perpendicular, will then approach the paper horizontally, and the place to which it points on the paper, must be marked with a pencil.  The machine must be again unfolded, and another point of the object is to be ascertained in the same manner as before; the space between these points may be then connected with a line; fresh points should then be taken, marked with a pencil, and connected with a line; and so on successively, until the whole object is delineated.

Besides the common terms of art, the technical terms of science should, by degrees, be rendered familiar to our pupils.  Amongst these the words Space and Time occur, as we have observed, the soonest, and are of the greatest importance.  Without exact definitions, or abstract reasonings, a general notion of the use of these terms may be inculcated by employing them frequently in conversation, and by applying them to things and circumstances which occur without preparation, and about which children are interested, or occupied.  “There is a great space left between the words in that printing.”  The child understands, that space in this sentence means white paper between black letters.  “You should leave a greater space between the flowers which you are planting” ­he knows that you mean more ground.  “There is a great space between that boat and the ship” ­space of water.  “I hope the hawk will not be able to catch that pigeon, there is a great space between them” ­space of air.  “The men who are pulling that sack of corn into the granary, have raised it through half the space between the door and the ground.”  A child cannot be at any loss for the meaning of the word space in these or any other practical examples which may occur; but he should also be used to the word space as a technical expression, and then he will not be confused or stopped by a new term when employed in mechanics.

The word time may be used in the same manner upon numberless occasions to express the duration of any movement which is performed by the force of men, or horses, wind, water, or any mechanical power.

“Did the horses in the mill we saw yesterday, go as fast as the horses which are drawing the chaise?” “No, not as fast as the horses go at present on level ground; but they went as fast as the chaise-horses do when they go up hill, or as fast as horses draw a waggon.”

“How many times do the sails of that wind-mill go round in a minute?  Let us count; I will look at my watch; do you count how often the sails go round; wait until that broken arm is uppermost, and when you say now, I will begin to count the time; when a minute has past, I will tell you.”

After a few trials, this experiment will become easy to a child of eight or nine years old; he may sometimes attend to the watch, and at other times count the turns of the sails; he may easily be made to apply this to a horse-mill, or to a water-mill, a corn-fan, or any machine that has a rotatory motion; he will be entertained with his new employment; he will compare the velocities of different machines; the meaning of this word will be easily added to his vocabulary.

“Does that part of the arms of the wind-mill which is near the axle-tree, or centre, I mean that part which has no cloth or sail upon it, go as fast as the ends of the arms that are the farthest from the centre?”

“No, not near so fast.”

“But that part goes as often round in a minute as the rest of the sail.”

“Yes, but it does not go as fast.”

“How so?”

“It does not go so far round.”

“No, it does not.  The extremities of the sails go through more space in the same time than the part near the centre.”

By conversations like these, the technical meaning of the word velocity may be made quite familiar to a child much younger than what has been mentioned; he may not only comprehend that velocity means time and space considered together, but if he is sufficiently advanced in arithmetic, he may be readily taught how to express and compare in numbers velocities composed of certain portions of time and space.  He will not inquire about the abstract meaning of the word space; he has seen space measured on paper, on timber, on the water, in the air, and he perceives distinctly that it is a term equally applicable to all distances that can exist between objects of any sort, or that he can see, feel, or imagine.

Momentum, a less common word, the meaning of which is not quite so easy to convey to a child, may, by degrees, be explained to him:  at every instant he feels the effect of momentum in his own motions, and in the motions of every thing that strikes against him; his feelings and experience require only proper terms to become the subject of his conversation.  When he begins to inquire, it is the proper time to instruct him.  For instance, a boy of ten years old, who had acquired the meaning of some other terms in science, this morning asked the meaning of the word momentum; he was desired to explain what he thought it meant.

He answered, “Force.”

“What do you mean by force?”


“Of what?”

“Of gravity.”

“Do you mean that force by which a body is drawn down to the earth?”


“Would a feather, if it were moving with the greatest conceivable swiftness or velocity, throw down a castle?”


“Would a mountain torn up by the roots, as fabled in Milton, if it moved with the least conceivable velocity, throw down a castle?”

“Yes, I think it would.”

The difference between an uniform, and an uniformly accelerated motion, the measure of the velocity of falling bodies, the composition of motions communicated to the same body in different directions at the same time, and the cause of the curvilinear track of projectiles, seem, at first, intricate subjects, and above the capacity of boys of ten or twelve years old; but by short and well-timed lessons, they may be explained without confounding or fatiguing their attention.  We tried another experiment whilst this chapter was writing, to determine whether we had asserted too much upon this subject.  After a conversation between two boys upon the descent of bodies towards the earth, and upon the measure of the increasing velocity with which they fall, they were desired, with a view to ascertain whether they understood what was said, to invent a machine which should show the difference between an uniform and an accelerated velocity, and in particular to show, by occular demonstration, “that if one body moves in a given time through a given space, with an uniform motion, and if another body moves through the same space in the same time with an uniformly accelerated motion, the uniform motion of the one will be equal to half the accelerated motion of the other.”  The eldest boy, H ­, thirteen years old, invented and executed the following machine for this purpose: 

Plate I, Fi. b is a bracket 9 inches by 5, consisting of a back and two sides of hard wood:  two inches from the back two slits are made in the sides of the bracket half an inch deep, and an eighth of an inch wide, to receive the two wire pivots of a roller; which roller is composed of a cylinder, three inches long and half an inch diameter; and a cone three inches long and one inch diameter in its largest part or base.  The cylinder and cone are not separate, but are turned out of one piece; a string is fastened to the cone at its base a, with a bullet or any other small weight at the other end of it; and another string and weight are fastened to the cylinder at c; the pivot p of wire is bent into the form of a handle; if the handle is turned either way, the strings will be respectively wound up upon the cone and cylinder; their lengths should now be adjusted, so that when the string on the cone is wound up as far as the cone will permit, the two weights may be at an equal distance from the bottom of the bracket, which bottom we suppose to be parallel with the pivots; the bracket should now be fastened against a wall, at such a height as to let the weights lightly touch the floor when the strings are unwound:  silk or bobbin is a proper kind of string for this purpose, as it is woven or plaited, and therefore is not liable to twist.  When the strings are wound up to their greatest heights, if the handle be suddenly let go, both the weights will begin to fall at the same moment; but the weight 1, will descend at first but slowly, and will pass through but small space compared with the weight 2.  As they descend further, N still continues to get before N; but after some time, N begins to overtake N, and at last they come to the ground together.  If this machine is required to show exactly the space that a falling body would describe in given times, the cone and cylinder must have grooves cut spirally upon their circumference, to direct the string with precision.  To describe these spiral lines, became a new subject of inquiry.  The young mechanics were again eager to exert their powers of invention; the eldest invented a machine upon the same principle as that which is used by the best workmen for cutting clock fusees; and it is described in Berthoud.  The youngest invented the engine delineated, Plate 1, Fi.

The roller or cone (or both together) which it is required to cut spirally, must be furnished with a handle, and a toothed wheel w, which turns a smaller wheel or pinion w.  This pinion carries with it a screw s, which draws forward the puppet p, in which the graver of chisel g slides without shake.  This graver has a point or edge shaped properly to form the spiral groove, with a shoulder to regulate the depth of the groove.  The iron rod r, which is firmly fastened in the puppet, slides through mortices at mm, and guides the puppet in a straight line.

The rest of the machine is intelligible from the drawing.

A simple method of showing the nature of compound forces was thought of at the same time.  An ivory ball was placed at the corner of a board sixteen inches broad, and two feet long; two other similar balls were let fall down inclined troughs against the first ball in different directions, but at the same time.  One fell in a direction parallel to the length of the board; the other ball fell back in a direction parallel to its breadth.  By raising the troughs, such a force was communicated to each of the falling balls, as was sufficient to drive the ball that was at rest to that side or end of the board which was opposite, or at right angles, to the line of its motion.

When both balls were let fall together, they drove the ball that was at rest diagonally, so as to reach the opposite corner.  If the same board were placed as an inclined plane, at an angle of five or six degrees, a ball placed at one of its uppermost corners, would fall with an accelerated motion in a direct line; but if another ball were made (by descending through an inclined trough) to strike the first ball at right angles to the line of its former descent, at the moment when it began to descend, it would not, as in the former experiment, move diagonally, but would describe a curve.

The reason why it describes a curve, and why that curve is not circular, was easily understood.  Children who are thus induced to invent machines or apparatus for explaining and demonstrating the laws of mechanism, not only fix indelibly those laws in their own minds, but enlarge their powers of invention, and preserve a certain originality of thought, which leads to new discoveries.

We therefore strongly recommend it to teachers, to use as few precepts as possible in the rudiments of science, and to encourage their pupils to use their own understandings as they advance.  In mechanism, a general view of the powers and uses of engines is all that need be taught; where more is necessary, such a foundation, with the assistance of good books, and the examination of good machinery, will perfect the knowledge of theory and facilitate practice.

At first we should not encumber our pupils with accurate demonstration.  The application of mathematics to mechanics is undoubtedly of the highest use, and has opened a source of ingenious and important inquiry.  Archimedes, the greatest name amongst mechanic philosophers, scorned the mere practical application of his sublime discoveries, and at the moment when the most stupendous effects were producing by his engines, he was so deeply absorbed in abstract speculation as to be insensible to the fear of death.  We do not mean, therefore, to undervalue either the application of strict demonstration to problems in mechanics, or the exhibition of the most accurate machinery in philosophical lectures; but we wish to point out a method of giving a general notion of the mechanical organs to our pupils, which shall be immediately obvious to their comprehension, and which may serve as a sure foundation for future improvement.  We are told by a vulgar proverb, that though we believe what we see, we have yet a higher belief in what we feel.  This adage is particularly applicable to mechanics.  When a person perceives the effect of his own bodily exertions with different engines, and when he can compare in a rough manner their relative advantages, he is not disposed to reject their assistance, or expect more than is reasonable from their application.  The young theorist in mechanics thinks he can produce a perpetual motion!  When he has been accustomed to refer to the plain dictates of common sense and experience, on this, as well as on every other subject, he will not easily be led astray by visionary theories.

To bring the sense of feeling to our assistance in teaching the uses of the mechanic powers, the following apparatus was constructed, to which we have given the name Panorganon.

It is composed of two principal parts:  a frame to contain the moving machinery; and a capstan or windlass, which is erected on a sill or plank, that is sunk a few inches into the ground:  the frame is by this means, and by six braces or props, rendered steady.  The cross rail, or transom, is strengthened by braces and a king-post to make it lighter and cheaper.  The capstan consists of an upright shaft, upon which are fixed two drums; about which a rope may be wound up, and two levers or arms by which it may be turned round.  There is also a screw of iron coiled round the lower part of the shaft, to show the properties of the screw as a mechanic power.  The rope which goes round the drum passes over one of the pulleys near to the top of the frame, and under another pulley near the bottom of the frame.  As two drums of different sizes are employed, it is necessary to have an upright roller to conduct the rope in a proper direction to the pulleys, when either of the drums is used.  Near the frame, and in the direction in which the rope runs, is laid a platform or road of deal boards, one board in breadth, and twenty or thirty feet long, upon which a small sledge loaded with different weights may be drawn.  Plate 2.  Fi.

F. F. The frame.

b. b.  Braces to keep the frame steady.

a. a. a.  Angular braces to strengthen the transom; and also a king-post.

S. A round, taper shaft, strengthened above and below the mortises with iron hoops.

L L. Two arms, or levers, by which the shaft, &c. are to be moved round.

D D. The drum, which has two rims of different circumferences.

R. The roller to conduct the rope.

P. The pulley, round which the rope passes to the larger drum.

P 2.  Another pulley to answer to the smaller drum.

P 3.  A pulley through which the rope passes when experiments are tried with levers, &c.

P 4.  Another pulley through which the rope passes when the sledge is used.

Ro.  The road of deal boards for the sledge to move on.

Sl.  The sledge, with pieces of hard wood attached to it, to guide it on the road.

Uses of the Panorganon.

As this machine is to be moved by the force of men or children, and as their force varies not only with the strength and weight of each individual, but also according to the different manner in which that strength or weight is applied; it is, in the first place, requisite to establish one determinate mode of applying human force to the machine; and also a method of determining the relative force of each individual whose strength is applied to it.

To estimate the force with which a person can draw horizontally by a rope over his shoulder.

Hang a common long scale-beam (without scales or chains) from the top or transom of the frame, so as that one end of it may come within an inch of one side or post of the machine.  Tie a rope to the hook of the scale-beam, where the chains of the scale are usually hung, and pass it through the pulley P 3, which is about four feet from the ground; let the person pull this rope from 1 towards 2, turning his back to the machine, and pulling the rope over his shoulder ­P.  Fi.  As the pulley may be either too high or too low to permit the rope to be horizontal, the person who pulls it should be placed ten or fifteen feet from the machine, which will lessen the angular direction of the cord, and the inaccuracy of the experiment.  Hang weights to the other end of the scale-beam, until the person who pulls can but just walk forward, pulling fairly without propping his feet against any thing.  This weight will estimate the force with which he can draw horizontally by a rope over his shoulder. Let a child who tries this, walk on the board with dry shoes; let him afterwards chalk his shoes, and afterwards try it with his shoes soaped:  he will find that he can pull with different degrees of force in these different circumstances; but when he tries the following experiments, let his shoes be always dry, that his force may be always the same.

To show the power of the three different sorts of levers.

Instead of putting the cord that comes from the scale-beam, as in the last experiment, over the shoulder of the boy, hook it to the end 1 of the lever L, Fi.  Plate 2.  This lever is passed through a socket ­Plate 2.  Fi. ­in which it can be shifted from one of its ends towards the other, and can be fastened at any place by the screw of the socket.  This socket has two gudgeons, upon which it, and the lever which it contains, can turn.  This socket and its gudgeons can be lifted out of the holes in which it plays, between the rail R R, Plate 2.  Fi. and may be put into other holes at R R, Fi.  Loop another rope to the other end of this lever, and let the boy pull as before.  Perhaps it should be pointed out, that the boy must walk in a direction contrary to that in which he walked before, viz. from 1 towards 3.  The height to which the weight ascends, and the distance to which the boy advances, should be carefully marked and measured; and it will be found, that he can raise the weight to the same height, advancing through the same space as in the former experiment.  In this case, as both ends of the lever moved through equal spaces, the lever only changed the direction of the motion, and added no mechanical power to the direct strength of the boy.

Shift the lever to its extremity in the socket; the middle of the lever will be now opposite to the pulley, P.  Fi. ­hook to it the rope that goes through the pulley P 3, and fasten to the other end of the lever the rope by which the boy is to pull.  This will be a lever of the second kind, as it is called in books of mechanics; in using which, the resistance is placed between the centre of motion or fulcrum, and the moving power.  He will now raise double the weight that he did in Experiment II, and he will advance through double the space.

Shift the lever, and the socket which forms the axis (without shifting the lever from the place in which it was in the socket in the last experiment) to the holes that are prepared for it at R R, Plate 2.  Fi.  The free end of the lever E will now be opposite to the rope, and to the pulley (over which the rope comes from the scale-beam.) Hook this rope to it, and hook the rope by which the boy pulls, to the middle of the lever.  The effect will now be different from what it was in the two last experiments; the boy will advance only half as far, and will raise only half as much weight as before.  This is called a lever of the third sort.  The first and second kinds of levers are used in quarrying; and the operations of many tools may be referred to them.  The third kind of lever is employed but seldom, but its properties may be observed with advantage whilst a long ladder is raised, as the man who raises it, is obliged to exert an increasing force until the ladder is nearly perpendicular.  When this lever is used, it is obvious, from what has been said, that the power must always pass through less space than the thing which is to be moved; it can never, therefore, be of service in gaining power.  But the object of some machines, is to increase velocity, instead of obtaining power, as in a sledge-hammer moved by mill-work. (V. the plates in Emerson’s Mechanics, N.)

The experiments upon levers may be varied at pleasure, increasing or diminishing the mechanical advantage, so as to balance the power and the resistance, to accustom the learners to calculate the relation between the power and the effect in different circumstances; always pointing out, that whatever excess there is in the power, or in the resistance, is always compensated by the difference of space through which the inferiour passes.

The experiments which we have mentioned, are sufficiently satisfactory to a pupil, as to the immediate relation between the power and the resistance; but the different spaces through which the power and the resistance move when one exceeds the other, cannot be obvious, without they pass through much larger spaces than levers will permit.

Place the sledge on the farthest end of the wooden road ­Plate 2.  Fi. ­fasten a rope to the sledge, and conduct it through the lowest pulley P 4, and through the pulley P 3, so as that the boy may be enabled to draw it by the rope passed over his shoulder.  The sledge must now be loaded, until the boy can but just advance with short steps steadily upon the wooden road; this must be done with care, as there will be but just room for him beside the rope.  He will meet the sledge exactly on the middle of the road, from which he must step aside to pass the sledge.  Let the time of this experiment be noted.  It is obvious that the boy and the sledge move with equal velocity; there is, therefore, no mechanical advantage obtained by the pulleys.  The weight that he can draw will be about half a hundred, if he weigh about nine stone; but the exact force with which the boy draws, is to be known by Experiment I.

The wheel and axle.

This organ is usually called in mechanics, The axis in peritrochio.  A hard name, which might well be spared, as the word windlass or capstan would convey a more distinct idea to our pupils.

To the largest drum, Plate 2.  Fi. fasten a cord, and pass it through the pulley P downwards, and through the pulley P 4 to the sledge placed at the end of the wooden road, which is farthest from the machine.  Let the boy, by a rope fastened to the extremity of one of the arms of the capstan, and passed over his shoulder, draw the capstan round; he will wind the rope round the drum, and draw the sledge upon its road.  To make the sledge advance twenty-four feet upon its road, the boy must have walked circularly 144 feet, which is six times as far, and he will be able to draw about three hundred weight, which is six times as much as in the last experiment.

It may now be pointed out, that the difference of space, passed through by the power in this experiment, is exactly equal to the difference of weight, which the boy could draw without the capstan.

Let the rope be now attached to the smaller drum; the boy will draw nearly twice as much weight upon the sledge as before, and will go through double the space.

Where there are a number of boys, let five or six of them, whose power of drawing (estimated as in Experiment I) amounts to six times as much as the force of the boy at the capstan, pull at the end of the rope which was fastened to the sledge; they will balance the force of the boy at the capstan:  either they, or he, by a sudden pull, may advance, but if they pull fairly, there will be no advantage on either part.  In this experiment, the rope should pass through the pulley P 3, and should be coiled round the larger drum.  And it must be also observed, that in all experiments upon the motion of bodies, in which there is much friction, as where a sledge is employed, the results are never so uniform as in other circumstances.

The Pulley.

Upon the pulley we shall say little, as it is in every body’s hands, and experiments may be tried upon it without any particular apparatus.  It should, however, be distinctly inculcated, that the power is not increased by a fixed pulley.  For this purpose, a wheel without a rim, or, to speak with more propriety, a number of spokes fixed in a nave, should be employed. (Plate 2.  Fi.) Pieces like the heads of crutches should be fixed at the ends of these spokes, to receive a piece of girth-web, which is used instead of a cord, because a cord would be unsteady; and a strap of iron with a hook to it should play upon the centre, by which it may at times be suspended, and from which at other times a weight may be hung.

Let the skeleton of a pulley be hung by the iron strap from the transom of the frame; fasten a piece of web to one of the radii, and another to the end of the opposite radius.  If two boys of equal weight pull these pieces of girth-web, they will balance each other; or two equal weights hung to these webs, will be in equilibrio.  If a piece of girth-web be put round the uppermost radius, two equal weights hung at the ends of it will remain immoveable; but if either of them be pulled, or if a small additional weight be added to either of them, it will descend, and the web will apply itself successively to the ascending radii, and will detach itself from those that are descending.  If this movement be carefully considered, it will be perceived, that the web, in unfolding itself, acts in the same manner upon the radii as two ropes would if they were hung to the extremities of the opposite radii in succession.  The two radii which are opposite, may be considered as a lever of the first sort, where the centre is in the middle of the lever; as each end moves through an equal space, there is no mechanical advantage.  But if this skeleton-pulley be employed as a common block or tackle, its motions and properties will be entirely different.

Nail a piece of girth-web to a post, at the distance of three or four feet from the ground; fasten the other end of it to one of the radii.  Fasten another piece of web to the opposite radius, and let a boy hold the skeleton-pulley suspended by the web; hook weights to the strap that hangs from the centre.  The end of the radius to which the fixed girth-web is fastened, will remain immoveable; but, if the boy pulls the web which he holds in his hand upwards, he will be able to lift nearly double the weight, which he can raise from the ground by a simple rope, without the machine, and he will perceive that his hand moves through twice as great a space as the weight ascends:  he has, therefore, the mechanical advantage which he would have by a lever of the second sort, as in Experiment III.  Let a piece of web be put round the under radii, let one end of it be nailed to the post, and the other be held by the boy, and it will represent the application of a rope to a moveable pulley; if its motion be carefully considered, it will appear that the radii, as they successively apply themselves to the web, represent a series of levers of the second kind.  A pulley is nothing more than an infinite number of such levers; the cord at one end of the diameter serving as a fulcrum for the organ during its progress.  If this skeleton-pulley be used horizontally, instead of perpendicularly, the circumstances which have been mentioned, will appear more obvious.

Upon the wooden road lay down a piece of girth-web; nail one end of it to the road; place the pulley upon the web at the other end of the board, and, bringing the web over the radii, let the boy, taking hold of it, draw the loaded sledge fastened to the hook at the centre of the pulley:  he will draw nearly twice as much in this manner as he could without the pulley.

Here the web lying on the road, shows more distinctly, that it is quiescent where the lowest radius touches it; and if the radii, as they tread upon it, are observed, their points will appear at rest, whilst the centre of the pulley will go as fast as the sledge, and the top of each radius successively (and the boy’s hand which unfolds the web) will move twice as fast as the centre of the pulley and the sledge.

If a person, holding a stick in his hand, observes the relative motions of the top, and the middle, and the bottom of the stick, whilst he inclines it, he will see that the bottom of the stick has no motion on the ground, and that the middle has only half the motion of the top.  This property of the pulley has been dwelt upon, because it elucidates the motion of a wheel rolling upon the ground; and it explains a common paradox, which appears at first inexplicable.  “The bottom of a rolling wheel never moves upon the road.”  This is asserted only of a wheel moving over hard ground, which, in fact, may be considered rather as laying down its circumference upon the road, than as moving upon it.

The inclined Plane and the Wedge.

The inclined plane is to be next considered.  When a heavy body is to be raised, it is often convenient to lay a sloping artificial road of planks, up which it may be pushed or drawn.  This mechanical power, however, is but of little service without the assistance of wheels or rollers; we shall, therefore, speak of it as it is applied in another manner, under the name of the wedge, which is, in fact, a moving inclined plane; but if it is required to explain the properties of the inclined plane by the panorganon, the wooden road may be raised and set to any inclination that is required, and the sledge may be drawn upon it as in the former experiments.

Let one end of a lever, N. Plate 2.  Fi. with a wheel at one end of it, be hinged to the post of the frame, by means of a gudgeon driven or screwed into the post.  To prevent this lever from deviating sideways, let a slip of wood be connected with it by a nail, which shall be fast in the lever, but which moves freely in a hole in the rail.  The other end of this slip must be fastened to a stake driven into the ground at three or four feet from the lever, at one side of it, and towards the end in which the wheel is fixed (Plate 2.  Fig 10. which is a vue d’oiseau) in the same manner as the treadle of a common lathe is managed, and as the treadle of a loom is sometimes guided.

Under the wheel of this lever place an inclined plane or half-wedge (Plate 2.  Fi.) on the wooden road, with rollers under it, to prevent friction; fasten a rope to the foremost end of the wedge, and pass it through the pulleys (P 4. and P 3.) as in the fifth experiment.  Let a boy draw the sledge by this rope over his shoulder, and he will find, that as it advances it will raise the weight upwards; the wedge is five feet long, and elevated one foot.  Now, if the perpendicular ascent of the weight, and the space through which he advances, be compared, he will find, that the space through which he has passed will be five times as great as that through which the weight has ascended; and that this wedge has enabled him to raise five times as much as he could raise without it, if his strength were applied, as in Experiment I, without any mechanical advantage.  By making this wedge in two parts hinged together, with a graduated piece to keep them asunder, the wedge may be adjusted to any given obliquity; and it will be always found, that the mechanical advantage of the wedge may be ascertained by comparing its perpendicular elevation with its base.  If the base of the wedge is 2, 3, 4, 5, or any other number of times greater than its height, it will enable the boy to raise respectively 2, 3, 4, or 5 times more weight than he could do in Experiment I, by which his power is estimated.

The Screw.

The screw is an inclined plane wound round a cylinder; the height of all its revolutions round the cylinder taken together, compared with the space through which the power that turns it passes, is the measure of its mechanical advantage. Let the lever, used in the last experiment, be turned in such a manner as to reach from its gudgeon to the shaft of the Panorganon, guided by an attendant lever as before.  (Plate 2.  Fi.) Let the wheel rest upon the lowest helix or thread of the screw:  as the arms of the shaft are turned round, the wheel will ascend, and carry up the weight which is fastened to the lever. As the situation of the screw prevents the weight from being suspended exactly from the centre of the screw, proper allowance must be made for this in estimating the force of the screw, or determining the mechanical advantage gained by the lever:  this can be done by measuring the perpendicular ascent of the weight, which in all cases is better, and more expeditious, than measuring the parts of a machine, and estimating its force by calculation; because the different diameters of ropes, and other small circumstances, are frequently mistaken in estimates.

The space passed through by the moving power, and by that which it moves, are infallible data for estimating the powers of engines.  Two material subjects of experiments, yet remain for the Panorganon; friction, and wheels of carriages:  but we have already extended this article far beyond its just proportion to similar chapters in this work.  We repeat, that it is not intended in this, or in any other part of our design, to write treatises upon science; but merely to point out methods for initiating young people in the rudiments of knowledge, and of giving them a clear and distinct view of those principles upon which they are founded.  No preceptor, who has had experience, will cavil at the superficial knowledge of a boy of twelve or thirteen upon these subjects; he will perceive, that the general view, which we wish to give our pupils of the useful arts and sciences, must certainly tend to form a taste for literature and investigation.  The sciolist has learned only to talk ­we wish to teach our pupils to think, upon the various objects of human speculation.

The Panorganon may be employed in trying the resistance of air and water; the force of different muscles; and in a great variety of amusing and useful experiments.  In academies, and private families, it may be erected in the place allotted for amusement, where it will furnish entertainment for many a vacant hour.  When it has lost its novelty, the shaft may from time to time be taken down, and a swing may be suspended in its place.  It may be constructed at the expense of five or six pounds:  that which stands before our window, was made for less than three guineas, as we had many of the materials beside us for other purposes.