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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 78

The Human Engine

The Human Engine.

But it is to the engineer that I must turn again for simpler illustrations, which should enable anyone to grasp the fast that the first duty of every schoolmaster is to gain some elementary knowledge of the general laws of the growth and development of body and mind—to know how his boilers and engines are made; to acquaint himself as far as possible with the strenght and resistiveness of the various materials and working parts of the particular [unclear: ma] chines entrusted to his care; to adjust the work imposed in every case, so as to leave a wide margin between the "working stress" and the "breaking strain"; and finally, to educate and practise all his senses and powers of observation so as to ensure his detecting at once any indications that particular portions of his machinery are being subjected to undue stress by the work imposed. By his trained [unclear: sen] of hearing alone the competent engineers can tell approximately whether every [unclear: es] sential part of a complex system of [unclear: machi] nery is doing its appointed task as it should, or is beginning to show signs [unclear: of] defect or stress in any direction. I have known an engineer stop suddenly on a still night hundreds of yards away from a humming engine shed, and say- "Yes; they're going all right." This "simple re-mark has led to explanations regarding the infinite delicacy of appreciation and power of analysis which can be acquired by [unclear: care] ful attention and observation as to [unclear: the] composition and causation of each factor concerned in a complex assemblage [unclear: of] noises, which has astonished me, in [unclear: spite] of what is familiar to all of us in the [unclear: cas] of the conductor of an orchestra. So [unclear: int] tive does the faculty of detecting [unclear: stress] become that the machinery may seen [unclear: al] most a living organism to the engineer [unclear: in] charge, and he will start out of his sleep at sea on the slightest unusual sound of throb, and may know before he has [unclear: left] his cabin what has gone wrong. As [unclear: Kip] ling says in 'M'Andrew's Hymn':

The crank-throws give the double base the feed-pump sobs an' heaves,
An' now the main eccentrics start their quarrel on the sheaves;
Her time, her own appointed time, the rocking link-head bides,
Till—hear that note?—the rods return whing's glimerin' through the guides.
page 35 They;re all awa'! True beat, full power, the clang in' chorus goes
Clear to the tunnel where they sit, my purrin' dynamos.
Interdependence, absolute, foreseen, or-dained, decreed,
An' singin' like the mornin' stars for joy that they are made;
Now, a' together, hear them lift their lesson—theirs an' mine:
"Law, Order, Duty, an' Restraint, Obedience, Discipline."
Mill, forge, an' try-pit taught them that when roarin' they arose,
An' whiles I wonder if a soul was gied them wi' the blows.

We cannot expect, and we do not need, in the part of the ordinary teacher such a delicate training of special faculties as I have indicated, but there is surely no reason why he should not come to know his pupils in much the same way as a shepherd, interested in a small flock, will ecognise the individual sheep, and notice their peculiarities or defects without appreciable effort.