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Centenary of William Symington

Nature volume 127, pages 446455 (21 March 1931) | Download Citation



THE invention of the steam boat, or rather the application of the steam engine to the propulsion of vessels, the successful solution of which involved many problems, will always remain one of the great landmarks of human progress. On no other single project of the same nature, perhaps, was time and thought, energy and wealth, expended so lavishly, and the recognition of the labours of its inventors is, therefore, a moral obligation. Many of the projectors of steam navigation are known to us only by their patents or pamphlets, some are remembered for their ingenious suggestions and inventions, and a few by their persistent efforts to achieve what the majority of their fellows thought impracticable. “Crazy Rumsey” and “Fulton's Folly” are but two of the epithets which remind us of the scepticism the pioneers had to face. But neither derision nor opposition, failure nor disappointment, loss of health nor wealth, could stay the hand of progress. There was always someone to step into the ranks to take the place of the fallen until the final goal was reached.

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