Happy 198th birthday to Charlotte Brontë, and happy manuscript Monday! Here's one of the most famous items in the collections: a manuscript by Charlotte herself, written at age 17. Believe it or not, if you're on a desktop computer, the scans below are probably displayed on your monitor at larger than actual size. The original manuscript is only about 5 inches tall. Its eight leaves contain not just one, but two short stories – "The Secret" and "Lily Hart." What's amazing to note is that Charlotte actually edited this manuscript. If you look really closely, you can see where she's crossed out some phrases and added others.
Can you read it? If not, never fear: this manuscript was published by William Holtz in 1979 in facsimile and transcription, for those of us whose eyesight isn't quite as keen as Charlotte's must have been. This manuscript also has an amazing history; see a past Mizzou Wire article for more information, or find it in the MERLIN catalog.
Continuing our theme of engines, this week's pamphlet is Power without Fuel by James Baldwin, published in New York in 1869. In this pamphlet, Baldwin explains his attempts to design an engine that isn't dependent on coal, wood, oil, gas, or other combustible fuel. His idea (he wasn't the first to think of it) was a variation on the carbonic acid motor: an engine that would run on a solution of carbon dioxide in water. Engineers investigated carbonic acid engines as a possible replacement for steam power in the nineteenth century. While the gasoline engine won out in the end, there are several turn-of-the-century patents for carbonic acid motors in the United States and Europe. Today, we'd probably say that Baldwin was attempting to develop alternative energy, an endeavor which is one of the University of Missouri's four strategic research areas.
MERLIN catalog record
Yes, you read that title right – this week we're sharing a selection from the collection of British pamphlets, and it's a sermon claiming that the steam engine was revealed in biblical prophecy. It appears to survive in only a few copies (perhaps unsurprisingly), and this is one of the few in the United States. The author is Tresham Dames Gregg (1800-1881), a militant protestant clergyman who spent much of his career in the Church of Ireland campaigning against Catholicism. Gregg was popular with the working class in Dublin and was consistently at odds with higher-ranking Church officials throughout his career. Although known for his preaching style and his prolific writings, "in his later years he had strange ideas about the rule of the Antichrist, and his own personal immortality" (source).
Gregg's primary idea in this sermon is that various prophetic visions in the Bible are actually descriptions of steam engines. He goes to great lengths to prove this, even paraphrasing the first chapter of Ezekiel, with the famous vision of God's heavenly chariot, to claim that it is in actuality a vision of a passenger train in the far future. But Gregg doesn't end there. He suggests that locomotives on earth are already "partly realized by human skill… why should we not, thus led, be by the divine goodness, at last enabled to construct locomotives that would connect the earth with the other planets?"