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that the specimens he could take with him would con rin je some one of the superiority of his new method. He was begi ming to understand the causes of his many failures, but he saw clearly that his compound could not be worked with certainty without expensive apparatus. It was a very delicate operation, i equiring
1 exactness and promptitude. The conditions upon which success depended were numerous, and the failure of one spoiled all. To vulcanize India-rubber is about as difficult as to make perfect bread; but the art of bread-making was the growth of ages, and Charles Goodyear was only ten years and a half in perfecting his process. Thousands of ingenious men and women, aided by many happy accidents, must have contributed to the successive invention of bread; but he was only one man, poor and sick. It cost him thousands of failures to learn that a little aciue in his sulphur caused the blistering ; that his compound must be heated almost immediately after being mixed, or it would nerer vulcanize; that a portion of white lead in the compound greatly facilitated the operation and improved the result; and when he had learned these facts, it still required costly and laboriovs experiments to devise the best methods of compounding his ingredients, the best proportions, the best mode of heating, the proper duration of the heating, and the various useful effects that could be produced by varying the proportions and the degree of heat. He tells us that many times, when, by exhausting every resource, be had prepared a quantity of his compound for heating, it was spoiled because he could not, with his inadequate apparatus, apply the heat soon enough.
To New York, then, he directed his thoughts. Merely to get there cost him a severer and a longer effort than men in general are capable of making. First he walked to Boston, ten miles distant, where he hoped to be able to borrow from an old acquaintance fifty dollars, with which to provide for his family and pay his fare to New York. He not only failed in this, but he was arrested for debt and thrown into prison. Even in prison, while his father was negotiating to secure his release, he labored to interest men of capital in his discovery, and made proposals for founding a factory in Boston. Having obtained his liberty, he
went to a hocel, and spent a week in vain efforts to effect a small loan. Saturday night came, and with it his hotel bill, which he had no means of discharging. In an agony of shame and anxiety, he went to a friend, and entreated the sum of five dollars to enable him to return home. He was met with a point-blank refusal. In the deepest dejection, he walked the streets till late in the night, and strayed at length, almost beside himself, to Cambridge, where he ventured to call upon a friend and ask shelter for the night. He was hospitably entertained, and the next morning walked wearily home, penniless and despairing. At the door of his house a member of his family met him with the news that his youngest child, two years of age, whom he had left in perfect health, was dying. In a few hours he had in his house a dead child, but not the means of burying it, and five living dependants without a morsel of food to give them. A storekeeper near by had promised to supply the family, but, discouraged by the unforeseen length of the father's absence, he had that day refused to trust them further. In these terrible circumstances, he applied to a friend upon whose generosity he knew he could rely, one who had never failed him. He received in reply a letter of severe nd cutting reproach, enclosing seven dollars, which his friend explained was given only out of pity for his innocent and suffering family. A stranger, who chanced to be present when this letter arrived, sent them a barrel of flour, - a timely and blessed relief. The next day the family followed on foot the remains of the little child to the grave.
A relation in a distant part of the country, to whom Goodyear revealed his condition, sent him fifty dollars, which enabled him to get to New York. He had touched bottom. The worst of his trials were over. In New York, he had the good fortune to nake the acquaintance of two brothers, William Rider and Emory Rider, men of some property and great intelligence, who examined his specimens, listened to his story, believed in him, and agreed to aid him to continue his experiments, and to supply his family until he had rendered his discovery available. From that time, though he was generally embarrassed in his circumstances, his family never wanted bread, and he was never obliged to sus
pend his experiments. Aided by the capital, the sympathy, and the ingenuity of the brothers Rider, he spent a year in New York in the most patient endeavors to overcome the difficulties in heating his compound. Before he had succeeded, their resources failed. But he had made such progress in demonstrating the practicability of his process, that his brother-in-law, William De Forrest, a noted woollen manufacturer, took hold of the project in earnest, and aided him to bring it to perfection. Once more, however, he was imprisoned for debt. This event conquered his scruples against availing himself of the benefit of the bankrupt act, which finally delivered him from the danger of arrest. We should add, however, that, as soon as he began to derive income from his invention, he reassumed his obligations to his old creditors, and discharged them gradually.
It was not till the year 1844, more than ten years after he began to experiment, and more than five years after discovering the secret of vulcanization, that he was able to conduct his process with absolute certainty, and to produce vulcanized Indiarubber with the requisite expedition and economy. We can form some conception of the difficulties overcome by the fact, that the advances of Mr. De Forrest in aid of the experiment reached the sum of forty-six thousand dollars, an amount the inventor did not live long enough to repay.
His triumph had been long deferred, and we have seen in part how much it had cost him. But his success proved to be richly worth its cost. He had added to the arts, not a new material merely, but a new class of materials, applicable to a thousand diverse uses. His product had more than the elasticity of Indiarubber, while it was divested of all those properties which had lessened its utility. It was still India-rubber, but its surfaces would not adhere, nor would it harden at any degree of cold, nor soften at any degree of heat. It was a cloth impervious to water. It was paper that would not tear. It was parchment that would not crease. It was leather which neither rain nor sun would in jure. It was ebony that could be run into a mould. It was ivory chat could be worked like wax. It was wood that never cracked, shrunk, nor decayed. It was metal, “elastic metal,” is Daniel Webster termed it, that could be wound round the finger or tied into a knot, and which preserved its elasticity almost like steel. Trifling variations in the ingredients, in the proportions, and in the heating, made it either as pliable as kid, tougher than ɔx-hide, as elastic as whalebone, or as rigid as flint.
All this is stated in a moment, but each of these variations in the material, as well as every article made from them, cost this indefatigable man days, weeks, months, or years of experiment. It cost him, for example, several years of most expensive trial to obviate the objection to India-rubber fabrics caused by the liability of the gum to peel from the cloth. He tried
known textile fabric, and every conceivable process before arriving at the simple expedient of mixing fibre with the gum, by which, at length, the perfect India-rubber cloth was produced. This invention he considered only second in value to the discovery of vulcanization. The India-rubber shoe, as we now have it, is an admirable article, — light, strong, elegant in shape, with a fibrous sole that does not readily wear, cut, or slip. As the shoe is made and joined before vulcanization, a girl can make twenty-five pairs in a day. They are cut from the soft sheets of gum and joined by a slight pressure of the hand. But almost every step of this process, now so simple and easy, was patiently elaborated by Charles Goodyear. A million and a half of pairs per annum is now the average number made in the United States by his process, though the business languishes somewhat from the high price of the raw materials. The gum, which, when Goodyear began his experiments, was a drug at five cents a pound, has recently been sold at one dollar and twenty cents a pound, with all its impurities. Even at this high price the annual import ranges at from four to five millions of pounds.
Poor Richard informs us that Necessity never makes a good bargain. Mr. Goodyear was alwavs a prey to necessity. Nor was he ever a good man of business. He was too entirely an inventor to know how to dispose of his inventions to advantage; and he could nerer feel that he had accomplished his mission with regard to India-rubber. As soon as he had brought his khoemaking process to the point where other men could make it
profitable, he withdrew from manufacturing, and sold rights to manufacture for the consideration of half a cent per pair. Five cents had been reasonable enough, and would have given him ample means to continue his labors. Half a cent kept him subject to necessity, which seemed to compel him to dispose of other rights at rates equally low. Thus it happened that, when the whole India-rubber business of the country paid him tribute, or ought to have paid it, he remained an embarrassed
He had, too, the usual fate of inventors, in having to contend with the infringers of his rights, - men who owed their all to bis ingenuity and perseverance. We may judge, however, of the rapidity with which the business grew, by the fact that, six years after the completion of his vulcanizing process, the holders of rights to manufacture shoes by that process deemed it worth while to employ Daniel Webster to plead their cause, and to stimulate his mind by a fee of twenty-five thousand dollars. It is questionable if Charles Goodyear ever derived that amount from his patents, if we deduct from his receipts the money spent in further developing bis discovery. His ill-health obliged him to be abstemious, and he had no expensive tastes. It was only in his laboratory that he was lavish, and there he was lavish indeed.
His friends still smiled at his zeal, or reproached him for it. It has been only since the mighty growth of the business in his products that they have acknowledged that he was right and that they were wrong. They remember him, sick, meagre, and yellow, now coming to them with a walking-stick of India-rubber exulting in the new application of his material, and predicting its general use, while they objected that his stick had cost him fifty dollars ; now running about among the comb factories, trying to get reluctant men to try their tools upon hard India-rubber, and producing at length a set of combs that cost twenty times the price of ivory ones; now shutting himself up for months, endeavoring to make a sail of India-rubber fabric, impervious to water that should never freeze, and to which no sleet or ice should ever cling; now exhibiting a set of cutlery with India-rubber handles, or a picture set in an India-rubber frame, or a book with India rubber covers, or a watch with an India-rubber case; now exper