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disputes which embittered his life and wasted his substance and his time. The Honorable Joseph Holt, the Commissioner who granted an extension to the vulcanizing patent in 1858, has suffi ciently characterized them in one of the most eloquent papers ever issued from the Patent Office:
“No inventor probably has ever been so harassed, so trampled upon, 80 plundered by that sordid and licentious class of infringers known in the parlance of the world, with no exaggeration of phrase, aspirates. The spoliations of their incessant guerilla warfare upon his defenceless rights have unquestionably amounted to millions. In the very front rank of this predatory band stands one who sustains in this case the double and most convenient character of contestant and witness; and it is but a subdued expression of my estimate of the deposition he has lodged, to say that this Parthian shaft — the last that he could hurl at an invention which he has so long and so remorselessly pursued — is a fitting finale to that career which the public justice of the country has bo signally rebuked.”
Mr. Holt paid a noble tribute to the class of men of whose rights he was the official guardian:
"All that is glorious in our past or hopeful in our future is indissolubly linked with that cause of human progress of which inventors are the preux chevaliers. It is no poetic translation of the abiding senti. ment of the country to say, that they are the true jewels of the nation to which they belong, and that a solicitude for the protection of their rights and interests should find a place in every throb of the national heart. Sadly helpless as a class, and offering, in the glittering creations of their own genius, the strongest temptations to unscrupulous cupidity, they, of all men, have most need of the shelter of the public law, while, in view of their philanthropic labors, they are of all men most entitled to claim it. The schemes of the politician and of the statesman may subserve the purposes of the hour, and the teachings of the moralist may remain with the generation to which they are addressed, but all this must pass away; while the fruits of the inventor's genius will endure as imperishable memorials, and, surviving the wreck of creeds and systems, alike of politics, religion, and philosophy, will diffuse their blessings to all lands and throughout all ages."
When Mr. Goodyear had seen the manufacture of shoes and fabrics well established in the United States, and when his rights appeared to have been placed beyond controversy by the Trenton
decision of 1852, being still oppressed with debt, he went to Europe to introduce his material to the notice of capitalists there. The great manufactories of vulcanized India-rubber in England, Scotland, France, and Germany are the result of his labors; but the peculiarities of the patent laws of those countries, or else his own want of skill in contending for his rights, prevented him from reaping the reward of his labors. He spent six iaborious years abroad. At the Great Exhibitions of London and Paris, he made brilliant displays of his wares, which did honor to his country and himself, and gave an impetus to the prosperity of the men who have grown rich upon his discoveries. At the London Exhibition, he had a suite of three apartments, carpeted, furnished, and decorated only with India-rubber. At Paris, he made a lavish display of India-rubber jewelry, dressing-cases, work-boxes, picture frames, which attracted great attention. His reward was, a four days' sojourn in the debtors' prison, and the cross of the Legion of Honor. The delinquency of his American ljcensees procured him the former, and the favor of the Emperor the latter.
We have seen that his introduction to India-rubber was through the medium of a life-preserver. His last labors, also, were consecrated to life-saving apparatus, of which he invented or suggested a great variety. Ilis excellent wife was reading to him one evening, in London, an article from a review, in which it was stated that twenty persons perished by drowning every hour. The company, startled at a statement so unexpected, conversed upon it for some time, while Mr. Goodyear aimself remained silent and thoughtful. For several nights he was restless, as was usually the case with him where he was medstating a new application of his material. As these periods of incubation were usually followed by a prostrating sicknese, his wife urged him to forbear, and endeavor to compose his mind to sleep. “Sleep!” said he, “ how can I sleep while twenty human beings are drowning every hour, and I am the man who can save them?” It was long his endeavor to invent some are ticle which every man, woman, and child would necessarily wear, and which would make it impossible for thein to sink.
He experimented with hats, cravats, jackets, and petticoats and, though he left his principal object incomplete, he contrived many of those means of saving life which now puzzle the occupants of state-rooms. He had the idea that every article on board a vessel seizable in the moment of danger, every chair, table, sofa, and stool, should be a life-preserver.
He returned to his native land a melancholy spectacle to his friends, - yellow, emaciated, and feeble, — but still devoted to his work. He lingered and labored until July, 1860, when he died in New York, in the sixtieth year of his age. Almost to the last day of his life he was busy with new applications of his discovery. After twenty-seven years of labor and investigation, after having founded a new branch of industry, which gave employment to sixty thousand persons, he died insolvent, leaving to a wife and six children only an inheritance of debt. Those who censure him for this should consider that his discovery was not profitable to himself for more than ten years, that he was deeply in debt when he began his experiments, that his investigations could be carried on only by increasing his indebtedness, that all his bargains were those of a man in need, that the guilelessness of his nature made him the easy prey of greedy, dishonorable men, and that his neglect of his private interests was due, in part, to his zeal for the public good.
Dr. Dutton of New Haven, his pastor and friend, in the Sernon dedicated to his memory, did not exaggerate when he spoke of him as “ one who recognized his peculiar endowment of inventive genius as a divine gift, involving a special and defined responsibility, and considered himself called of God, as was Bezaleel, to that particular course of invention to which he devoted the chief part of his life. This he often expressed, though with his characteristic modesty, to his friends, especially his religious friends. ... . His inventive work was his religion, and was pervaded and animated by religious faith and devotion. He felt like an apostle commissioned for that work; and he said to his niece and her husband, who went, with his approbation and sympathy as missionaries of the Gospel to Asia, that he was God's missionary as truly as they were.”
Nothing more true. The demand for the raw gum, almost
created by him, is introducing abundance and developing in dustry in the regions which produce it. As the culture of cot ton seems the predestined means of improving Africa, so the gathering of caoutchouc may procure for the inhabitants of the equatorial regions of both continents such of the blessings of civilization as they are capable of appropriating.
An attempt was made last winter to procure an act of Con. gress extending the vulcanizing patent for a further period of seven years, for the benefit of the creditors and the family of the inventor. The petition seemed reasonable. The very low tariff paid by the manufacturers could have no perceptible effect upon the price of articles, and the extension would provide a competence for a worthy family who had claims upon the gratitude of the nation, if not upon its justice. The manufacturers generally favored the extension, since the patent protected them, in the deranged condition of our currency, from the competition of the foreign manufacturer, who pays low wages and enjoys a sound currency. The extension of the patent would have harmed no one, and would have been an advantage to the general interests of the trade. The son of the inventor, too, in whose name the petition was offered, had spent his whole life in assisting his father, and had a fair claim upon the consideration of Congress. But the same unscrupulous and remorseless men who had plundered poor Goodyear living, hastened to Washington to oppose the petition of his family. A cry of “monopoly ” was raised in the newspapers to which they had access. The presence in Washington of Mrs. Goodyear, one of the most retiring of women, and of her son, a singularly modest young man, who were aided by one friend and one professional agent, was denounced as “ a powerful lobby, male and female,” who, having despoiled the public of “ twenty millions,” were boring Congress for a grant of twenty millions more, - all to be wrung from an India-rubberconsuming public. The short session of Congress is unfavorable to private bills, even when they are unopposed. These arts sufficed to prevent the introduction of the bill desired, and the patent has since expired. The immense increase in the demand for the gum has fre
quently suggested the inquiry whether there is any danger of the supply becoming unequal to it. There are now in Europe and America more than a hundred and fifty manufactories of India-rubber articles, employing from five to five hundred operatives each, and consuming more than ten millions of pounds of gum per annum. The business, too, is considered to be still in its infancy. Certainly, it is increasing. Nevertheless, there is no possibility of the demand exceeding the supply. The belt of land round the globe, five hundred miles north and five hundred miles south of the equator, abounds in the trees producing the gum, and they can be tapped, it is said, for twenty successive seasons. Forty-three thousand of these trees were counted in a tract of country thirty miles long and eight wide. Each tree yields an average of three table-spoonfuls of sap daily, but the trees are so close together that one man can gather the sap of eighty in a day. Starting at daylight, with his tomahawk and a ball of clay, he goes from tree to tree, making five or six incisions in each, and placing under each incision a cup made of the clay which he carries. In three or four hours he has completed his circuit and comes home to breakfast. In the afternoon he slings a large gourd upon his shoulder, and repeats his round to collect the sap. The cups are covered up at the roots of the tree, to be used again on the following day. In other regions the sap is allowed to exude from the tree, and is gathered from about the roots. But, however it is collected, the supply is superabundant; and the countries which produce it are those in which the laborer needs only a little tapioca, a little coffee, a hut, and an apron. In South America, from which our supply chiefly comes, the natives subsist at an expense of three cents a day. The present high price of the gum in the United States is principally due to the fact that greenbacks aro not current in the tropics ; but in part, to the rapidity with which the demand has increased. Several important applications of the vulcanized gum have been deferred to the time when the raw material shall have fallen to what Adam Smith would style its natural price.”
Charles Goodyear's work, therefore, is a permanent addition to the resources of man. The latest posterity will be indebted to bim.