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Captains Of Industry Or Men Of Business Who Did Something Besides Making Money - Michael Reynolds

1. Preface

2. David Maydole

3. Ichabod Washburn

4. Elihu Burritt

5. Michael Reynolds

6. Major Robert Pike

7. George Graham

8. John Harrison

9. Peter Faneuil

10. Chauncey Jerome

11. Captain Pierre Laclede Liguest

12. Israel Putnam

13. George Flower

14. Edward Coles

15. Peter H. Burnett

16. Gerrit Smith

17. Peter Force

18. John Bromfield

19. Frederick Tudor

20. Myron Holley

21. The Founders Of Lowell

23. John Smedley

24. Richard Cobden

25. Henry Bessemer

26. John Bright

27. Thomas Edward

28. Robert Dick

29. John Duncan

30. James Lackington

31. Horace Greeley's Start

32. James Gordon Bennett

33. Three John Walters

34. George Hope

35. Sir Henry Cole

36. Charles Summers

37. William B. Astor

38. Peter Cooper

39. Paris Duverney

40. Sir Rowland Hill

41. Marie-Antoine Careme

42. Wonderful Walker

43. Sir Christopher Wren

44. Sir John Rennie

45. Sir Moses Montefiore

46. Marquis Of Worcester

47. An Old Dry-goods Merchant's Recollections



Literature in these days throws light into many an out-of-the-way
corner. It is rapidly making us all acquainted with one another. A
locomotive engineer in England has recently written a book upon his art,
in order, as he says, "to communicate that species of knowledge which it
is necessary for an engine-driver to possess who aspires to take high
rank on the footplate!" He magnifies his office, and evidently regards
the position of an engineer as highly enviable.

"It is very _natural_," he remarks, "for those who are unacquainted with
locomotive driving to admire the life of an engine-man, and to imagine
how very pleasant it must be to travel on the engine. But they do not
think of the gradations by which alone the higher positions are reached;
they see only on the express engine the picturesque side of the result
of many years of patient observation and toil."

This passage was to me a revelation; for I had looked upon an engineer
and his assistant with some compassion as well as admiration, and have
often thought how extremely disagreeable it must be to travel on the
engine as they do. Not so Michael Reynolds, the author of this book, who
has risen from the rank of fireman to that of locomotive inspector on
the London and Brighton railroad. He tells us that a model engineer "is
possessed by a master passion--a passion for the monarch of speed." Such
an engineer is distinguished, also, for his minute knowledge of the
engine, and nothing makes him happier than to get some new light upon
one of its numberless parts. So familiar is he with it that his ear
detects the slightest variation in the beats of the machinery, and can
tell the shocks and shakes which are caused by a defective road from
those which are due to a defective engine. Even his nose acquires a
peculiar sensitiveness. In the midst of so much heat, he can detect that
which arises from friction before any mischief has been done. At every
rate of speed he knows just how his engine ought to sound, shake, and

Let us see how life passes on a locomotive, and what is the secret of
success in the business of an engineer. The art of arts in
engine-driving is the management of the fire. Every reader is aware that
taking care of a fire is something in which few persons become expert.
Most of us think that we ourselves possess the knack of it, but not
another individual of our household agrees with us. Now, a man born
with a genius for managing a locomotive is one who has a high degree of
the fire-making instinct. Mr. Reynolds distinctly says that a man may be
a good mechanic, may have even built locomotives, and yet, if he is not
a good "shovel-man," if he does not know how to manage his fire, he will
never rise to distinction in his profession. The great secret is to
build the fire so that the whole mass of fuel will ignite and burn
freely without the use of the blower, and so bring the engine to the
train with a fire that will last. When we see an engine blowing off
steam furiously at the beginning of the trip, we must not be surprised
if the train reaches the first station behind time, since it indicates a
fierce, thin fire, that has been rapidly ignited by the blower. An
accomplished engineer backs his engine to the train without any sign of
steam or smoke, but with a fire so strong and sound that he can make a
run of fifty miles in an hour without touching it.

The engineer, it appears, if he has an important run to make, comes to
his engine an hour before starting. His first business, on an English
railroad, is to read the notices, posted up in the engine house, of any
change in the condition of the road requiring special care. His next
duty is to inspect his engine in every part: first, to see if there is
water enough in the boiler, and that the fire is proceeding properly;
then, that he has the necessary quantity of water and coal in the
tender. He next gets into the pit under his engine, with the proper
tools, and inspects every portion of it, trying every nut and pin within
his reach from below. Then he walks around the engine, and particularly
notices if the oiling apparatus is exactly adjusted. Some parts require,
for example, four drops of oil every minute, and he must see that the
apparatus is set so as to yield just that quantity. He is also to look
into his tool-box, and see if every article is in its place. Mr.
Reynolds enumerates twenty-two objects which a good engineer will always
have within his reach, such as fire implements of various kinds,
machinist tools, lamps of several sorts, oiling vessels, a quantity of
flax and yarn, copper wire, a copy of the rules and his time-table; all
of which, are to be in the exact place designed for them, so that they
can be snatched in a moment.

One of the chief virtues of the engineer and his companion, the fireman,
is one which we are not accustomed to associate with their profession;
and that is cleanliness. On this point our author grows eloquent, and he
declares that a clean engineer is almost certain to be an excellent one
in every particular. The men upon a locomotive cannot, it is true, avoid
getting black smudge upon their faces. The point is that both the men
and their engines should be clean in all the essential particulars, so
that all the faculties of the men and all the devices of the engine
shall work with ease and certainty.

"There is something," he remarks, "so very degrading about dirt, that
even a poor beast highly appreciates clean straw. Cleanliness hath a
charm that hideth a multitude of faults, and it is not difficult to
trace a connection between habitual cleanliness and a respect for
general order, for punctuality, for truthfulness, for all placed in

Do you mark that sentence, reader? The spirit of the Saxon race speaks
in those lines. You observe that this author ranks among the virtues "a
respect for all placed in authority." That, of course, may be carried
too far; nevertheless, the strong races, and the worthy men of all
races, do cherish a respect for lawful authority. A good soldier is
_proud_ to salute his officer.

On some English railroads both engineers and engines are put to tests
much severer than upon roads elsewhere. Between Holyhead and Chester, a
distance of ninety-seven miles, the express trains run without stopping,
and they do this with so little strain that an engine performed the duty
every day for several years. A day's work of some crack engineers is to
run from London to Crewe and back again in ten hours, a distance of
three hundred and thirty miles, stopping only at Rugby for three minutes
on each trip. There are men who perform this service every working day
the whole year through, without a single delay. This is a very great
achievement, and can only be done by engineers of the greatest skill and
steadiness. It was long, indeed, before any man could do it, and even
now there are engineers who dare not take the risk. On the Hudson River
road some of the trains run from New York to Poughkeepsie, eighty miles,
without stopping, but not every engineer could do it at first, and very
often a train stopped at Peekskill to take in water. The water is the
difficulty, and the good engineer is one who wastes no water and no

Mr. Reynolds enumerates all the causes of accidents from the engine,
many of which cannot be understood by the uninitiated. As we read them
over, and see in how many ways an engine can go wrong, we wonder that a
train ever arrives at its journey's end in safety. At the conclusion of
this formidable list, the author confesses that it is incomplete, and
notifies young engineers that _nobody_ can teach them the innermost
secrets of the engine. Some of these, he remarks, require "years of
study," and even then they remain in some degree mysterious.
Nevertheless, he holds out to ambition the possibility of final success,
and calls upon young men to concentrate all their energies upon the

"Self-reliance," he says, "is a grand element of character: it has won
Olympic crowns and Isthmian laurels; it confers kinship with men who
have vindicated their divine right to be held in the world's memory. Let
the master passion of the soul evoke undaunted energy in pursuit of the
attainment of one end, aiming for the highest in the spirit of the
lowest, prompted by the burning thought of reward, which sooner or later
will come."

We perceive that Michael Reynolds possesses one of the prime requisites
of success: he believes in the worth and dignity of his vocation; and in
writing this little book he has done something to elevate it in the
regard of others. To judge from some of his directions, I should suppose
that engineers in England are not, as a class, as well educated or as
intelligent as ours. Locomotive engineers in the United States rank very
high in intelligence and respectability of character.

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