Scientific American Supplement, No. 530, February 27, 1886(txt+pdf+epub+mobi电子书下载)

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Scientific American Supplement, No. 530, February 27, 1886

Scientific American Supplement, No. 530, February 27, 1886试读:

HON. HIRAM SIBLEY.

Hon. Hiram Sibley, of the city of Rochester, a man of national reputation as the originator of great enterprises, and as the most extensive farmer and seedsman in this country, was born at North Adams, Berkshire County, Mass., February 6, 1807, and is the second son of Benjamin and Zilpha Davis Sibley. Benjamin was the son of Timothy Sibley, of Sutton, Mass., who was the father of fifteen children—twelve sons and three daughters; eight of these, including Benjamin, lived to the aggregate age of 677 years, an average of about seventy-five years and three months. From the most unpromising beginnings, without education, Hiram Sibley has risen to a postion of usefulness and influence. His youth was passed among his native hills. He was a mechanical genius by nature. Banter with a neighboring shoemaker led to his attempt to make a shoe on the spot, and he was at once placed on the shoemaker's bench.

At the age of sixteen he migrated to the Genesee Valley, where he was employed in a machine shop, and subsequently in wool carding. Before he was of age he had mastered five different trades. Three of these years were passed in Livingston County. His first occupation on his own account was as a shoemaker at North Adams; then he did business successfully as a machinist and wool carder in Livingston County, N.Y.; after which he established himself at Mendon, fourteen miles south of Rochester, a manufacturing village, now known as Sibleyville, where he had a foundry and machine shop. When in the wool carding business at Sparta and Mount Morris, in Livingston County, he worked in the same shop, located near the line of the two towns, where Millard Filmore had been employed and learned his trade; beginning just after a farewell ball was given to Mr. Filmore by his fellow workmen.

Increase of reputation and influence brought Mr. Sibley opportunities for office. He was elected by the Democrats Sheriff of Monroe County in 1843 when he removed to Rochester; but his political career was short, for a more important matter was occupying his mind. From the moment of the first success of Professor Morse with his experiments in telegraphy, Mr. Sibley had been quick to discern the vast promise of the invention; and in 1840 he went to Washington to assist Professor Morse and Ezra Cornell in procuring an appropriation of $40,000 from Congress to build a line from Washington to Baltimore, the first put up in America. Strong prejudices had to be overcome. On Mr. Sibley's meeting the chairman of the committee having the matter in charge, and expressing the hope that the application would be granted, he received for answer: "We had made up our minds to allow the appropriation, when the Professor came in and upset everything. Why!he undertook to tell us that he could send ten words from Washington to Baltimore in two minutes. Good heavens!Twenty minutes is quick enough, but two minutes is nonsense. The Professor is too radical and visionary, and I doubt if the committee recommend the sum to be risked in such a manner." Mr. Sibley's sound arguments and persuasiveness prevailed, though he took care not to say what he believed, that the Professor was right as to the two minutes. Their joint efforts secured the subsidy of $40,000.

This example stimulated other inventors, and in a few years several patents were in use, and various lines had been constructed by different companies. The business was so divided as to be always unprofitable. Mr. Sibley conceived the plan of uniting all the patents and companies in one organization. After three years of almost unceasing toil, he succeeded in buying up the stock of the different corporations, some of it at a price as low as two cents on the dollar, and in consolidating the lines which then extended over portions of thirteen States. The Western Union Telegraph Company was then organized, with Mr. Sibley as the first president. Under his management for sixteen years, the number of telegraph offices was increased from 132 to over 4,000, and the value of the property from $220,000 to $48,000,000.

In the project of uniting the Atlantic and Pacific by a line to California, he stood nearly alone. At a meeting of the prominent telegraph men of New York, a committee was appointed to report upon his proposed plan, whose verdict was that it would be next to impossible to build the line; that, if built, the Indians would destroy it; and that it would not pay, even if built, and not destroyed. His reply was characteristic; that it should be built, if he had to build it alone. He went to Washington, procured the necessary legislation, and was the sole contractor with the Government. The Western Union Telegraph Company afterward assumed the contract, and built the line, under Mr. Sibley's administration as president, ten years in advance of the railroad.HIRAM SIBLEY.

Not satisfied with this success at home, he sought to unite the two hemispheres by way of Alaska and Siberia, under P. McD. Collins' franchise. On visiting Russia with Mr. Collins in the winter of 1864-5, he was cordially received and entertained by the Czar, who approved the plan. A most favorable impression had preceded him. For when the Russian squadron visited New York in 1863—the year after Russia and Great Britain had declined the overture of the French government for joint mediation in the American conflict—Mr. Sibley and other prominent gentlemen were untiring in efforts to entertain the Russian admiral, Lusoffski, in a becoming mariner. Mr. Sibley was among the foremost in the arrangements of the committee of reception. So marked were his personal kindnesses that when the admiral returned he mentioned Mr. Sibley by name to the Emperor Alexander, and thus unexpectedly prepared the way for the friendship of that generous monarch. During Mr. Sibley's stay in St. Petersburg, he was honored in a manner only accorded to those who enjoy the special favor of royalty. Just before his arrival the Czar had returned from the burial of his son at Nice; and, in accordance with a long honored custom when the head of the empire goes abroad and returns, he held the ceremony of "counting the emperor's jewels;" which means an invitation to those whom his majesty desires to compliment as his friends, without regard to court etiquette or the formalities of official rank. At this grand reception in the palace at Tsarskozela, seventeen miles from St. Petersburg, Mr. Sibley was the second on the list, the French ambassador being the first, and Prince Gortchakoff, the Prime Minister, the third. This order was observed also in the procession of 250 court carriages with outriders, Mr. Sibley's carriage being the second in the line. On this occasion Prince Gortchakoff turning to Mr. Sibley, said: "Sir, if I remember rightly, in the course of a very pleasant conversation had with you a few days since, at the State department, you expressed your surprise at the pomp and circumstance attending upon all court ceremony. Now, sir, when you take precedence of the Prime Minister, I trust you are more reconciled to the usage attendant upon royalty, which was so repugnant to your democratic ideas." Such an honor was greatly appreciated by Mr. Sibley; for it meant the most sincere respect of the "Autocrat of all the Russias" for the people of the United States, and a recognition of the courtesies conferred upon his fleet when in American waters.

Mr. Sibley was duly complimented by the members of the royal family and others present, including the ambassadors of the great powers. Mr. Collins, his colleague in the telegraph enterprise, shared in these attentions. Mr. Sibley was recorded in the official blue book of the State department of St. Petersburg as "the distinguished American," by which title he was generally known. Of this book he has a copy as a souvenir of his Russian experience. His intercourse with the Russian authorities was also facilitated by a very complimentary letter from Secretary Seward to Prince Gortchakoff. The Russian government agreed to build the line from Irkootsk to the mouth of the Amoor River. After 1,500 miles of wire had been put up, the final success of the Atlantic cable caused the abandonment of the line, at a loss of $3,000,000. This was a loss in the midst of success, for Mr. Sibley had demonstrated the feasibility of putting a telegraphic girdle round the earth. In railway enterprises the accomplishments of his energy and management have been no less signal than in the establishment of the telegraph. One of these was the important line of the Southern Michigan and Northern Indiana Railway. His principal efforts in this direction have been in the Southern States. After the war, prompted more by the desire of restoring amicable relations than by the prospect of gain, he made large and varied investments at the South, and did much to promote renewed business activity. At Saginaw. Mich., he became a large lumber and salt manufacturer. He bought much property in Michigan, and at one time owned vast tracts in the Lake Superior region, where the most valuable mines have since been worked. While he has been interested in bank and manufacturing stocks, his larger investments have been in land. Much of his pleasure has been in reclaiming waste territory and unproductive investments, which have been abandoned by others as hopeless. The satisfying aim of his ambition incites him to difficult undertakings, that add to the wealth and happiness of the community, from which others have shrunk, or in which others have made shipwreck. Besides his stupendous achievements in telegraph and railway extension, he is unrivaled as a farmer and seed grower, and he has placed the stamp of his genius on these occupations, in which many have been content to work in the well-worn ruts of their predecessors.

The seed business was commenced in Rochester thirty years ago. Later, Mr. Sibley undertook to supply seeds of his own importation and raising and others' growth, under a personal knowledge of their vitality and comparative value. He instituted many experiments for the improvements of plants, with reference to their seed-bearing qualities, and has built up a business as unique in its character as it is unprecedented in amount. He cultivates the largest farm in the State, occupying Howland Island, of 3,500 acres, in Cayuga County, near the Erie Canal and the New York Central Railroad, which is largely devoted to seed culture; a portion is used for cereals, and 500 head of cattle are kept. On the Fox Ridge farm, through which the New York Central Railroad passes, where many seeds and bulbs are grown, he has reclaimed a swamp of six hundred acres, making of great value what was worthless in other hands, a kind of operation which affords him much delight. His ownership embraces fourteen other farms in this State, and also large estates in Michigan and Illinois.

The seed business is conducted under the firm name of Hiram Sibley & Co., at Rochester and Chicago, where huge structures afford accommodations for the storage and handling of seeds on the most extensive scale. An efficient means for the improvement of the seeds is their cultivation in different climates. In addition to widely separated seed farms in this country, the firm has growing under its directions several thousands of acres in Canada, England, France, Germany, Holland, and Italy. Experimental grounds and greenhouses are attached to the Rochester and Chicago establishments, where a sample of every parcel of seed is tested, and experiments conducted with new varieties. One department of the business is for the sale of horticultural and agricultural implements of all kinds. A new department supplies ornamental grasses, immortelles, and similar plants used by florists for decorating and for funeral emblems. Plants for these purposes are imported from Germany, France, the Cape of Good Hope, and other countries, and dyed and colored by the best artists here. As an illustration of their methods of business, it may be mentioned that the firm has distributed gratuitously, the past year, $5,000 in seeds and prizes for essays on gardening in the Southern States, designed to foster the interests of horticulture in that section.

The largest farm owned by Mr. Sibley, and the largest cultivated farm in the world, deserves a special description. This is the "Sullivant Farm," as formerly designated, but now known as the "Burr Oaks Farm," originally 40,000 acres, situated about 100 miles south of Chicago, on both sides of the Wabash, St. Louis, and Pacific Railroad. The property passed into the hands of an assignee, and, on Mr. Sullivant's death in 1879, came into the possession of Mr. Sibley. His first step was to change the whole plan of cultivation. Convinced that so large a territory could not be worked profitably by hired labor, he divided it into small tracts, until there are now many hundreds of such farms; 146 of these are occupied by tenants working on shares, consisting of about equal proportions of Americans, Germans, Swedes, and Frenchmen. A house and a barn have been erected on each tract, and implements and agricultural machines provided. At the center, on the railway, is a four-story warehouse, having a storage capacity of 20,000 bushels, used as a depot for the seeds grown on the farm, from which they are shipped as wanted to the establishments in Chicago and Rochester. The largest elevator on the line of the railway has been built, at a cost of over $20,000; its capacity is 50,000 bushels, and it has a mill capable of shelling and loading twenty-five cars of corn a day. Near by is a flax mill, also run by steam, for converting flax straw into stock for bagging and upholstery. Another engine is used for grinding feed. Within four years there has sprung up on the property a village containing one hundred buildings, called Sibley by the people, which is supplied with schools, churches, a newspaper, telegraph office, and the largest hotel on the route between Chicago and St. Louis. A fine station house is to be erected by the railway company.

Mr. Sibley is the president and largest stockholder of the Bank of Monroe, at Rochester, and is connected with various institutions. He has not acquired wealth simply to hoard it. The Sibley College of Mechanic Arts of Cornell University, at Ithaca, which he founded, and endowed at a cost of $100,000, has afforded a practical education to many hundreds of students. Sibley Hall, costing more than $100,000, is his contribution for a public library, and for the use of the University of Rochester for its library and cabinets; it is a magnificent fire-proof structure of brownstone trimmed with white, and enriched with appropriate statuary. Mrs. Sibley has also made large donations to the hospitals and other charitable institutions in Rochester and elsewhere. She erected, at a cost of $25,000, St. John's Episcopal Church, in North Adams, Mass., her native village. Mr. Sibley has one son and one daughter living—Hiram W. Sibley, who married the only child of Fletcher Harper, Jr., and resides in New York, and Emily Sibley Averell, who resides in Rochester. He has lost two children—Louise Sibley Atkinson and Giles B. Sibley.

A quotation from Mr. Sibley's address to the students of Sibley College, during a recent visit to Ithaca, is illustrative of his practical thought and expression, and a fitting close to this brief sketch of his practical life: "There are two most valuable possessions which no search warrant can get at, which no execution can take away, and which no reverse of fortune can destroy; they are what a man puts into his head—knowledge; and in to his hands—skill."—Encyclopædia of Contemporary Biography.

HYDRASTIS IN DYSPEPSIA.—Several correspondents in The Lancet have lauded hydrastis as a most useful drug in dyspepsia.

THE ETHICS OF ENGINEERING PRACTICE.

At the Pittsburg meeting of the American Institute of Mining Engineers, held from the 16th to the 19th of February, Mr. James C. Bayles, the President, delivered the following address:

GENTLEMEN OF THE INSTITUTE: Having availed myself somewhat liberally during the past two years of the latitude which is accorded the president in the selection of the topics presented in addresses from the chair, I do not need to plead safe precedent as my warrant for devoting the address which marks the conclusion of my service in the dignified and honorable office to which, through your unmerited favor, I have been twice chosen, to the consideration of some of the questions in casuistry the answers to which will be found to furnish a basis for a code of professional ethics. It is not asking too much of the engineer that his professional morality shall conform to higher standards than those which govern men who buy and sell with no other object than the getting of gain. The professional man stands in a more confidential relation to his client than is supposed to exist between buyer and seller in trade. He is necessarily more trusted, and has larger opportunities of betraying the confidence reposed in him than is offered the merchant or the business agent. For the reason that he cannot be held to the same strict accountability which law and usage establish in mercantile business, he is under a moral obligation to fix his own rules of conduct by high standards and conform to them under all circumstances. Whatever the measure of his professional success—whether wealth and reputation crown his career, or disappointment and poverty be his constant and unwelcome companions—no taint of suspicion should attach to any professional act or utterance. Not only should we be able to write above the wreck of bright hopes, "Honor alone remains," but upon our great and successful achievements should it be possible for others to inscribe the legend, "In honor wrought; with honor crowned."

It is frequently and confidently asserted that at no time in the history of the world were the standards of business honor so high as now. The prevalence of dishonesty, in one form or another, is held to show that there is a great deal of moral weakness which is unequal to the strain to which principle is subjected in the keenness of business competition, and in the presence of the almost unlimited confidence which apparently characterizes commercial intercourse. The enormous volume of the daily transactions on 'change, where a verbal agreement or a sign made and recognized in the midst of indescribable confusion has all the binding force of a formal contract; the real-estate and merchandise transactions effected on unwitnessed and unrecorded understandings; the certification of checks on the promise of deposits or collaterals, and a hundred other evidences of confidence, are cited as proof that the accepted standards of business honor are high, and are kept so by public opinion. All of this is true, in a certain limited sense; but the confidence which is the basis of all business creates opportunities for dishonesty which changes its shape with more than Protean facility when detected and denounced. The keenness of competition in all departments of professional and business enterprise presents a constant temptation to seize every advantage, fair or unfair, which promises immediate profit. It is unfortunately true that the successful cleverness which sacrifices honor to gain is more easily condoned by public opinion than honest dullness which is caught in the snares laid for it by the cunning manipulators of speculation. The man who fails to deliver what he has bought, to meet his paper at maturity and make good the certifications of his banker, loses at once his business standing, and is practically excluded from business competition; but if he keeps his engagements and is successful, the public is kindly blind to the agencies he may employ to depreciate what he wants to buy or impart a fictitious value to what he wants to sell. Viewed from this standpoint, it may be questioned whether the accepted standards of business morality are not, after all, those fixed by the revised statutes.

In so far as the engineer is brought in contact with the activities of trade, he cannot fail to be conscious of the fact that serious temptations surround him. Such reputation as he has gained is assumed to have a market value, and the price is held out to him on every side. It should not be difficult for the conscientious engineer, jealous of his professional honor, to decide what is right and what is not. He does not need to be reminded that he cannot sell his independence nor make merchandise of his good name. But as delicate problems in casuistry may mislead or confuse him, it is to be regretted that so little effort has been made to formulate a code of professional ethics which would help to right decisions those who cannot reach them unaided.

Standing in the presence of so many of those who have dignified the profession of engineering, I should hesitate to express my views on this subject did I not believe that many earnest and right-minded young men in our active and associate membership will be glad to know what rules of conduct govern those whose example they would willingly follow, and how one not a practicing engineer, but with good opportunities of observation and judgment, would characterize practices which have been to some extent sanctioned by custom. To those who have yet to win the gilded spurs of professional knighthood, but who cherish a high and honorable ambition, my suggestions are

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