Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 16: No 1) >> Simms as ''Nemo'': The Rediscovered Letters to the Charleston Mercury >> Page 6

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Page 6

Correspondence | [1860]
Transcription I can only give you a faint idea of this remarkable machine; and
though, no doubt, what I have said will be easily understood by the
professional printer, much of it must be obscure to all others. Still, the
general notion of the machine may be gathered from this description. There
are numerous points of equal beauty and utility in its adaptations of means to
ends, and in its general working. Nothing can be more admirable than the
delicacy and fitness of all its parts, and the exquisite nicety with which the
several types, not omitting the slenderest spaces, are kept in place, and made
each to pass to and from its box or groove, and made to rise and lift itself
into proper position, according to the will of him who plays upon the remote
key. The inventor, being a practical painter, as well as a fine inventive and
patiently meditative genius, has introduced to his system for so his
invention may be called all the thousand little conveniences and agencies
for expedition of which the art of type-setting is susceptible.
He was, certainly, as most extraordinary person, and this invention
must be a most enduring monument of his equal patience, steadfastness,
devotion, and large grasp of mechanical genius. But, except the fame, he will
reap none of the fruits of his discovery. TIMOTHY ALDEN was a native of
Massachusetts. It were to be wished that the labors of all her people were as
patient, as innocent, as honorable, if not as fruitful and profitable, as his! For
twenty years of his life did he devote himself to the perfection of his
invention; and, in this concentration of will, and brain, and money, he
exhausted all the resources of his life, and wore out life itself prematurely, in
the labor. The incessant strain, for so long a period, upon nerves, and brain,
and body, proved too exhaustive for a physique naturally feeble, and he sunk
under his task of genius.
But he succeeded. He triumphed even before death; he lived just
long enough to cry "Eureka!" to put the finishing stroke to his labors; to
see his machine in successful and wondrous operation. Twenty years of his
life, and life itself, and some four thousand dollars in money, were consumed
in bringing into successful use a single one of his machines; and then his
eyes closed upon the work forever!
I have but to add that, according to the opinion of some of the
publishers and printers of this city, the "ALDEN Type-setting and
Distributing Machine" must bear the same relation to composition in
printing, that the invention of the ADAMS' Press holds to press work. The
machine will easily do the work of four first-rate compositors, can be made
to do the work of eight; is of the most durable material, and will cost about
fifteen hundred dollars. It is worked by steam, requiring a merely nominal
power as we have phrased it, a cat's-paw power that of a King Charles
spaniel; or, to reach the extreme of diminutive exaggeration, that of
decayed politician of a defunct party, which, in Mississippi parlance, is
whittling the said power down to the leetle end of nothing! NEMO.