Daniel Drawbaugh

ABOUT three miles west from the city of Harrisburg, Penn., is a little hamlet sometimes called Milltown, but commonly known as Eberly’s Mills. The adjacent country consists of arable land, owned chiefly by well-to-do farmers of Dutch descent. The village is a very small one, the greater part of it being included in the grist-mill property from which the name is derived, and which comprises the mill itself, a stone house, and two or three wooden houses with the grounds appurtenant, the whole covering about ten acres.

The inhabitants of the village are of a miscellaneous character, and not nearly so well off as the neighboring farmers. Besides the miller and his assistant, there were, early in the seventies, Daniel Fetrow, the blacksmith; Amos Frownfelter, a day laborer; Norman Kahney, the cooper; old John Heck, who “worked around with the farmers ; ” the shopkeeper, and a few others. Henry Yetter once kept a small tavern at Eberly’s Mills, and also “ carried on butchering.” Scarcely anybody stayed there long, and the residents changed entirely at least as often as the human skin is said to renovate itself. There was no carpenter or shoemaker ; but, as one of the witnesses stated, in the case of the American Bell Telephone Company v. The People’s Telephone Company, “ a good many cobbled around a little sometimes,”

Eberly’s Mills is not on the line of any railroad, but the villagers take the cars at the White Hill station, on the Cumberland Valley road, only a mile or so distant, whence also they get their mail every day by “ foot-power,” as another witness, who himself had been “ honored with the mail-messengership,” facetiously remarked.

The centre of gossip was, of course, the “ store ; ” which, as is usual in such neighborhoods, served as a sort of clubhouse for the male inhabitants. On Saturday night, they used to have “ icecream and so on ” there, and the attendance was always large. As a commercial depot it does not seem to have been a success. It changed hands pretty often, and once was almost annihilated by an explosion. This was in the time of Abner Wilson, who, to quote again from the testimony, " had store there for a while, but having a keg of powder too near the fire, blowed him up, or the goods. Some lit, and some did not; some burnt up before they lit. It so completely busted the shell of the house in which it was that he left, and never returned. After which, perhaps a year, a new shell was prepared to keep store, in which Jeremiah Fry kept Some few articles. That is all I recollect of the store business at Eberly’s Mills.”

There was another spot which furnished a meeting-ground for the villagers and out-of-town people. On Saturday nights especially, “ we boys and a party that usually congregated in there ” often enjoyed a quiet game of “ seven-up ; ” and it is on record that once a turkeyshoot was “ played off ” at the same resort. This was the shop of Daniel Drawbaugh, mechanic and inventor. Its situation was picturesque. Back of the grist-mill, a road, bordered by grass and shaded by trees, runs down through a short distance to an old, unused mill, in one part of which was Drawbaugh’s shop. Cedar Run, the stream which turns the grist-mill, flows close to the shop, and just below it unites with the Yellow Breeches Creek, so that the old Clover Mill, as it is called, stands on a peninsula.

Here it was that “ Dan,” as everybody called him, mended the clocks and tools of the country-side, and invented, or at least manufactured, those devices which were the admiration of the villagers. Like other historical personages, Daniel Drawbaugh has been painted in colors so diverse that the two portraits can scarcely be referred to the same original. It was, of course, the object of the Bell Telephone Company to represent him as an impostor and a charlatan, and it was also for their interest to prove that he had plenty of money at all times, and could easily have afforded a patent for his alleged invention of the telephone. The Bell Company’s Drawbaugh, therefore, is the richest man in the village, but an ignorant, unscrupulous, vain, and meretricious character. The other picture is the work of the People’s Telephone Company, a corporation which in the year 1879 bought up Drawbaugh’s claim to the telephone, and which consisted at first of Messrs. Klemm, Loth, Marx, Wolf, Levy, and a few others. According to their story, the mechanic at Eberly’s Mills is a man of wonderful inventive genius, the creator of numerous valuable contrivances ; a simple - minded, ingenuous, strictly honorable person, who for many years devoted himself to the invention of the telephone with such ardor that he fell into abject poverty, and his family were continually in want of the necessaries of life. In fact, he was so poor, they say, that he could not afford to take out a patent, and it is for this reason that, although he made the invention at least as early as 1874, it was not heard of in the world at large until 1879.

It will be obvious that both of these portraits are merely outlines, and that many details can be filled in without necessarily doing violence to either. It is clear from Drawbaugh’s testimony that whatever else he may be, he is an intelligent man, who talks well and has no lack of humor. He has read such books, especially scientific or mechanical treatises, as have come in his way, and is mainly self-taught. When asked if in his youth he attended an academy or only the common schools, he said, “Just common schools; and when I went, they were very common.” He is also, without doubt, an industrious man, though much of his industry has been of the puttering kind, and productive of very little benefit to himself or to others. He was continually taken to task for throwing away his time in fruitless labors, when he might have been following, his trade as a mechanic. His brother John, commonly known as “ Squire ’ Drawbaugh, often remonstrated with him on this score. “ When I first discovered,” he says, “that he was working on this talking-machine, as it was then called, I accused Dan’l quite severely of wasting his time on foolish inventions. I told him that they would amount to nothing, and that he had a large family, and that he should turn his attention to something that would support his family better than by working at these foolish things; and that it would amount to nothing in the end, and that he was an extraordinary good mechanic, and that the people knew him to be that ; that he could get employment readily, and could make a good living for his family.” Mrs. Drawbaugh is mentioned only incidentally, here and there, but enough appears to show that she was the mainstay of the household. It was probably owing to her efforts that the children were neatly dressed and the house well kept. She took boarders, occasionally ; and, like a wise and prudent wife, would not consent to a sale of the homestead unless the purchase money should be put into another house. Mrs. Drawbaugh naturally disapproved, more emphatically than any one else, of her husband’s vagaries at the shop ; and, as is not unusual with thrifty, energetic women, she had perhaps a little of the shrew in her disposition.

All the inhabitants of Eberly’s Mills obtained their drinking-water from a spring which was close to the wall of Ephraim Holsinger’s house. This was bad from a sanitary point of view, but it was conducive to gossip, and Holsinger repeats some remarks that Mrs. Drawbaugh made in his hearing, while she rested a moment after filling her pail. " I heard her say,” he testifies,

“ that Dan was at that舒old shop, fooling his time away, while they, the family, hardly knew how to get anything to eat. She also told me in my office that she smashed up a lot of photographing and other things about the house, in order to stop Dan from fooling with them.”

It is in evidence, also, that Daniel Drawbaugh was a temperate man. Nobody testifies to the contrary, and one witness says: “ I don’t think that I ever seen him drink a drink of whiskey : chance times he would take a glass of beer, but not unless somebody bought it for him.”

Drawbaugh, then, was certainly intelligent, humorous, hard-working, sober. Wbat bis character was otherwise, whether or not he had inventive genius of a high order, and how poor he may have been, I shall try to discover presently ; but first it might be well to let him speak for himself. In 1878, some years after the time when, according to his story, he had invented the telephone, a history of Cumberland County, which includes Eberly’s Mills, was published, and in an appendix a short biography of Drawbaugh was printed. For this privilege the subject of the sketch paid ten dollars, furnishing the manuscript himself. He employed a school-teacher to write the account, and rewrote it with his own hand.1

The original (from which the printed copy differs very little) is in part as follows : —

“ Daniel Drawbaugh, one of the greatest inventive geniuses of this age (so prolific of great men), is the subject of this sketch. Daniel Drawbaugh was born in the year舒, in the quiet, secluded village of Milltown, three miles southwest of Harrisburg, where he has spent the greater portion of an active life, conceiving and producing, as a result of the conceptions of an unusually fertile brain, a score of useful inventions, machines, and devices. It appears by an examination of a list of his inventions that the manufacturing interests of the place in his boyhood days gave direction to his thoughts and incentive to his actions.” He proceeds to enumerate a list of his inventions as follows: “ His first invention was an automatic sawing machine ; then a number of machines used in wagon-making; then a machine for boring spoke tenets ; then a machine for sawing tenets ; a barrel stave jointing machine, patented in 1851. This machine was pretty generally introduced, and its merits appreciated. An automatic grinding machine was next invented, to meet a demand created by the introduction of the jointer ; then followed several machines for making stave headings and shingles, all of which were patented in 1855; after which machines for rounding, heading, crozing, dressing, and finishing outside of barrels were invented ; these were again followed by a device for running mill-stones, one for dressing mill-stones, a device for elevating grain in mills. He then invented and had patented four improvements in nail plate feeding ; next a tack machine and a new design in tacks. Photography next engaged his attention. He fitted himself for action in this field by manufacturing his own camera, ground and fitted achromatic lenses for camera, prepared the necessary chemicals, and improved the process for enlarging pictures. Next electricity and electrical machinery attracted his attention, and an electric machine was produced throwing out of consideration the galvanic battery and electric pile ; then a machine for alphabetical telegraphing; then the justly celebrated electric clock, and the machinery necessary for its construction ; and several kinds of telephones, one of which is operated by battery and another by induction.” He concludes as follows: “It will be seen from the foregoing that Mr. Drawbaugh has penetrated vast fields in search of information, and with what success we leave it to the readers to determine. We are proud to own Mr. D. as a citizen of our township, and deem him worthy of a position at the head of the list of our prominent men, and are happy to accord him that position.”

This sketch was not referred to in the Supreme Court opinion, but it was quoted by Judge Wallace, who decided the case against Drawbaugh in the court below, as being very significant. It will be noticed that several kinds of telephones are mentioned in a cursory way at the end of the list, as if they were improvements upon what Bell or others had done, rather than original discoveries due to the genius of Drawbaugh himself. This, however, admits of an explanation. In 1879, when the biography was written, the commercial value of the telephone was appreciated by very few persons, and could not have been imagined at Eberly’s Mills. Even if Drawbaugh had made the invention, it is possible that he should have thought it of less importance than some of the other contrivances which he enumerated, although this theory was not put forward.

But there is no mistaking the tone of the autobiography. It indicates that the writer was vain, ignorant, and fantastic ; nor does the formidable list of inventions turn out well, when it comes to be examined. None of them ever proved to be of much value, and the electric clock was filched from an encyclopædia which Drawbaugh had in his house, a slight improvement only being invented and patented by him. And yet this clock was regarded as his great achievement. He dealt with it as an original invention, selling it to a company organized for its manufacture, and receiving $500 and a share of the prospective profits in return. There are contemporary references to it in the local newspapers, of which the following is an example (it should be premised that the “ Lower End ” means that part of Lower Allen Township, Cumberland County, in which Eberly’s Mills is situated) : " Daniel Drawbaugh, of Eberly’s Mills, has invented a clock that just suits the ' Lower End,’ as it requires no winding up, the motive power being a very small wire, running into the cellar, which is connected with a small magnet between the arms of the pendulum. He has one of these clocks in his shop that has been running continuously for two years, and, unless some spiritual or temporal brokers get up a corner in electricity, it is bound to keep running until the wheels wear out. He has also invented a compensating pendulum, which is not affected by extremes of heat and cold, and the clock, being very simple in its construction, is bound to keep the most perfect time. Dan has invented many things, both useful and ornamental, but he cries ‘ Eureka ' over the clock, and it will richly reward both the curious and practical to go to his shop and see it in motion. Another thing that will surprise them is the quality of the work done. The cases are covered and finished in the very best style, and the work is all done by himself. This is the nearest approach to perpetual motion that has been effected yet, and there is no nonsense about it.”

Drawbaugh’s next - door neighbor, Ephraim Holsinger, whom I have quoted before, wrote a little article about him in 1875, which was published in another country paper, and the only invention that he alluded to was the " electric clock without a battery which is being gotten up in our town by Daniel Drawbaugh, to be exhibited at the Centennial next Fourth. It will be one of the things not dreamt of by every one, and be a credit to the nation, for its wonderful simple workings and great convenience.”

It appears, then, that Drawbaugh, though a skillful and ingenious mechanic, never exhibited — the telephone apart — any creative ability ; and it might be inferred also, from the episode of the clock, that he was not above palming off as his own, by implication at least, an invention which he had derived from a book. The next consideration is that of his alleged poverty. On this score a vast amount of evidence was taken by one side and the other, and every dollar that he received, and every cent that he paid out from 1867 to 1879 were ascertained and set down in the proper columns, so far as the task could be accomplished. This, as I have suggested already, was an important matter in the case; for the People’s Company, and Drawbaugh himself, explained his neglect to apply for a patent on the ground that he was absolutely incapable of doing so by reason of extreme penury. It was shown by the Bell Company that during the period mentioned Drawbaugh received a few considerable sums. In 1867 and 1869 he was paid $5000 by the Drawbaugh Pump Company for his faucet invention. In April, 1869, he received $1000 for the sale of another faucet contrivance; but this sum he generously applied to the purchase of a house and lot for his father. Of the $5000, he invested $2000 in real estate, and lost $400 in an apple speculation. Between 1867 and 1873 he paid $1200 to the Drawbaugh Manufacturing Company for assessments on stock held by him. In July, 1873, he received $425 in cash from the company upon its winding up, and in April, 1878, as we have seen already, he was paid $500 for the electric clock. If we deduct from the sums thus received the $2000 which Drawbaugh paid for his house, the $1000 that he gave to his father, the $400 that he lost in the apple investment, and the $1200 that he paid in stock assessments, there remains the amount of $2325 which he received in ten years, or an average of $235 per annum. This sum is not a large one, considering that Drawbaugh had a family to support, but it was in addition to his wages as a mechanic. He paid no rent, and received $110 a year from a tenant. Moreover, it seems to have been proved beyond a doubt that there were various ways in which he might have obtained the thirty-five dollars or the fifty dollars necessary for patenting his telephone. Daniel Fetrow, the blacksmith, had annual dealings with Drawbaugh from 1869 to 1876, and at the end of every year, when the account was settled, the balance was always in Drawbaugh’s favor, sometimes to the extent of fifty dollars. He had also a running account with a lumber firm, which dissolved in 1877, owing him seventy-seven dollars.

His credit was good. Jacob Reneker, for example, testified that Drawbaugh was poor, and was in debt to him at one time, and that he had much difficulty in obtaining payment. But the question was asked, “ How did he come to owe you the money ? ” “ Why,” said Mr.

Reneker, “ he came to me one day in the field, when I was ploughing, and said he wanted twenty dollars ; and I pulled it out of my pocket and lent it to him, and I was quite a while getting it back.” Of the $425 which he received July 1, 1873, $300 were immediately applied to the payment of a lien on his house. If, then, as Drawbaugh and the People’s Telephone Company asserted, he had in his shop an invention which he knew was capable of making him the richest man in Cumberland Valley, it is hardly credible that he should not have obtained a patent for it with some of the money at his command now and again. Poverty, be it remembered, is the only excuse that he offers. Undoubtedly he was poor. His house, however, was well furnished : when he moved, as he did in 1873, from Milltown to Mechanicsburg, and back again, it took twelve or fourteen horses to haul his goods and chattels ; but he was often in want of ready money. Much of his time was taken up in profitless experiments, when he should have been working at his trade.

He was shiftless, improvident, and always in debt. If he outran the constable it was only by a neck. Judgments against Daniel Drawbaugh were frequently recorded in the local courts; his taxes were in arrears, and he was sometimes hard pushed for a dollar. Samuel Hertzler, a farmer at Eberly’s Mills, has a pathetic story to tell: —

“ Dan came to my place in the evening,” he says, “when the next day the funeral of his father was to be, and wanted to know if I would give him money enough to pay his way. I then asked him whether he was going alone. He said his wife should go, but he was afraid he could not get the money for them both. I asked him about the children. He said that they had not got the clothes. I think that was the excuse he made about the children, — that they had not clothes suitable. I then asked him how much the fare would be to Newville, where his father lived, and he thought about ninety cents one way would be the cost of a ticket. Then I asked him whether he thought five dollars would be enough. He said that it would. I gave him five dollars, and he gave me a due-bill, and promised that he would pay it in a very short time. He never paid it in money; he spoke of it at different times, and said that he was ashamed that he could not pay me, but that he would pay it. before long.”

“ How did he pay that, if he ever did ? ”

“ I don’t think he ever gave full value for it; he filed my saws several times, and done me favors in that way,” etc.

George Free sold Drawbaugh a coat for $2.50, and he gives the following account of his third attempt to obtain payment: —

“ Dan tried to draw my attention to this machine, and my attention was after the $2.50. This instrument that he had I thought was so insignificant, in my estimation I thought it was hardly anything. Says he, ‘ George, if I have this thing accomplished . . . I then told him this: I still had in my mind that he was drawing my attention to this kind of foolery. I was after the $2.50 ; did n’t care about his infernal machine. I then said, ' Dan, if you don’t make a fool of yourself, as you did about the faucet ’ — ' It is better than the telegraph; it works by electricity,’ I think he said. I did n’t pay attention ; it was the $2.50 I was after. Says I, ‘ Dan, I am after the $2.50.’ Says he, ‘You must be damned hard run.’

' Not so very, Dan,’ says I. Says he,

' If you are so very hard run, I will get it for you.’ ' All right,’ says I ; ' that is business on the first floor.’ Then he says, 'Come along; I will get the money for you.’ And we went to Yetter’s Hotel, where he borrowed the $2.50, and gave it to me.”

One of his nephews testified as follows : —

“ He buried two children, I think, in one day, or near; and for a long time he had a daughter living, a living skeleton. I never heard of any person so light as she was. He had another daughter who might be called an invalid, as she was subject to spasms. She told me that they had been getting her a great deal of medicine from New York, and it was doing her a great deal of good, and it was very expensive, and she wanted some more, but they had not the money to get it. Dan told me this, too.”

It must be remembered that the object of these witnesses was to represent Drawbaugh as reduced to the lowest possible state of penury ; but it is probable that the facts which they related were substantially true. Some evidence, also, was given showing that he applied to others to assist him with money in obtaining a patent; but, on the whole, his case failed on this crucial point. The theory was, as has been stated already, that Drawbaugh knew the value of his invention, and that poverty alone stood in the way of his turning it to account. This degree of poverty was not established by the witnesses; and although his reputation as an inventor stood high in the community, and a great deal of money had been expended in manufacturing his other contrivances, not a cent was devoted to the telephone. If the case had been put in a different way it might have been easier to believe. It would, for example, have been not absolutely impossible that an ingenious mechanic, with no higher intellect and no more information than Drawbaugh had, should, by experimenting with the Reis apparatus for the reproduction of pitch, have stumbled upon the invention of the telephone. The contrivance of Reis can, by a slight change, be made to transmit speech; and although this change was the very one which those best informed in the matter would not have introduced, still it might have been reached by accident or by a lucky guess. But it is nowhere stated that Drawbaugh knew anything about the invention of Reis until the year 1876. The assertion is that the telephone came full-fledged from his own unaided brain. Nor does the improbability stop here, for he is said to have produced not only the telephone, but the microphone and the carbon transmitter. Before Bell’s day, he had accomplished, if his witnesses are correct, not only what Bell had done, but what Blake and Edison subsequently achieved. In view of Drawbaugh’s character, of his past life, and more especially of his conduct after the time of these alleged inventions, the Supreme Court rejected this story as incredible.

Three judges, however, dissented. They could not believe that the great cloud of witnesses (honest men, too, for the most part, as the Bell people admitted) who testified that they had heard speech through Drawbaugh’s telephone prior to 1876 could be in error. This is the difficult feature of the case. Mr. Justice Field, one of the three dissenting members of the court, expressed his feeling in regard to it at the argument. Interrupting one of the counsel for the Bell Company, he said : —

“ I want you to explain the possible concurrence of two or three hundred witnesses in regard to a fact which they could not be mistaken about, — that they heard speech. Because there are some facts that are so striking themselves, as that once seen they are never forgotten ; as, for instance, in my own experience: I have seen stones — a meteor fall. I never shall forget it, though I cannot tell now, if you put me under oath, on what occasion, in crossing the continent, I saw it; but I did see it. I never shall forget that. And I don’t think anybody that ever heard speech between distant places, conveyed by electricity, would ever forget it. although they might be mistaken in every other detail.”

In putting this question the learned judge partly suggested the answer, for the reply of the Bell Company was, first, that some of these witnesses had erred as to the date of the event which they recollected, having in reality heard speech through a telephone at Drawbaugh’s shop after the time of Bell’s invention, not before it; and, secondly, that Drawbaugh must have had a string-telephone on his premises. There is no proof of this latter fact, but it is in evidence that such a telephone was used, in 1872 and 1873, at a wheelwright’s shop, just opposite his, and occupied by his brother John, or “Squire” Drawbaugh.

The contest raged about this point: whether or not Daniel Drawbaugh had a practicable electric telephone at the Clover Mill prior to 1876. Six hundred persons were examined; many months were consumed in taking their testimony. The agents of both parties scoured the county in search of witnesses, and Lower Allen Township had for years a sensation such as few farming communities ever enjoyed. All the inhabitants took sides, and “ Dan’s ” suit with the Bell Company was debated nightly at every store and tavern within twenty miles of Eberly’s Mills.

Some idea of the thoroughness with which the subject was investigated, and of the conflicting nature of the testimony evoked, may be gathered from the episode of the hydraulic ram. A farmer who lived at Marysville, which is not far from Eberly’s Mills, swore that he heard speech through Drawbaugh’s telephone at the Clover Mill in May or June, 1874. He was sure of this date, because in the same year an hydraulic ram was ordered by him from Drawbaugh, and he was never in the Clover Mill shop on any other occasion. The defense thereupon brought evidence to prove that the ram was not purchased until 1878. Seventy-five persons, for one side and the other, were examined upon this collateral point, all the neighbors for miles around being called into court. “ The ram and telephones,” said one witness from Marysville, “ is about all that is talked of up there now.”

Other witnesses were brought from the West, and one was sent for from Dakota to testify that he saw the hydraulic ram at Kissinger’s farm one Sunday afternoon in 1876, when he went to walk with a friend. He knew that it was in 1876, because he was married in 1877, and he remembers that the subject of conversatioh between himself and his friend on this particular Sunday was the cost of washing, whereas after his marriage that topic ceased to have in his eyes any practical interest. At one time, indeed, an indifferent spectator would have supposed that the question of the telephone had been abandoned by mutual consent, and that Cyrus Kissinger’s ram had been substituted as the bone of contention. To every proposition proved by one side there was an answer from the other. If the Bell people brought a witness to testify that in 1878, while driving along the highway, he saw log pipes ready to be connected with the ram, the defense showed that the point in question was not visible from the road. The reply to this evidence was a photograph of the farm taken from the highway, especially to prove its incorrectness ; and the rejoinder to this reply was that the distance is too great to permit a log to be distinguished from a barn or a cow. When the Kissingers’ pastor testified that he never saw an hydraulic ram on the premises prior to 1878, it appeared on cross-examination that his visits were confined to the parlor, and that inasmuch as he did not prowl about the rear of the house, there might have been a thousand rams on the farm, for aught that he knew. So the dispute went on, and to this day it is undecided. It is not mentioned in Chief Justice Waite’s opinion, and it is doubtful if the Supreme Court weighed the evidence in regard to it, — doubtful even if they read the evidence through. One fact, however, was clearly established by this episode, namely, the extreme fallibility of human testimony ; and the same remark might be applied generally to the seven thousand printed pages which constitute the evidence in the suit.

“ In cases,” said Judge Wallace, “ where such a chaos of oral testimony exists, it is usually found that the judgment is convinced by a few leading facts and indicia [he refers chiefly to Drawbaugh’s conduct], outlined so clearly that they cannot be obscured by prevarication or the aberrations of memory. Such facts and indicia are found here, and they are so persuasive and cogent that the testimony of a myriad of witnesses cannot prevail against them.” The Supreme Court looked at the matter from substantially the same point of view. “ We do not doubt,” the opinion said, “ that Drawbaugh may have conceived the idea that speech could be transmitted to a distance by means of electricity, and have experimented upon that subject. But to hold that he discovered the art of doing it before Bell did would be to construe testimony without regard to the ordinary laws that govern human conduct.”

This conclusion is just and reasonable, and yet it might not have been reached so easily a hundred years ago. During the present century the value of human testimony has been examined as it never was before, and its estimation has sunk not a little. Historical researches and historical criticism have both contributed to this result. At the same time, the uniformity of human conduct has been observed and ascertained to a degree not imagined hitherto, and this tends to impair the force of cumulative testimony. It is less difficult now than formerly to perceive that where one witness has fallen into error, the same or similar causes may have led other witnesses to make the same mistake, and thus the evidence of a dozen men to a particular point may weigh but little more than that of one or two. I do not mean to imply that the Supreme Court decided against Drawbaugh solely on the ground that his conduct was inconsistent with his pretensions, and that his case was so improbable that the testimony to support it must be rejected as incredible. There was positive evidence against him, to part of which I have not alluded. For example, the court placed much reliance on the fact that Drawbaugh’s reproduced instruments (the originals of which made a perfect telephone, according to the testimony of his witnesses) failed to transmit speech, except in the most imperfect and fragmentary manner, when they were tested in presence of both parties. It is significant, also, that Drawbaugh himself does not fix even the year in which his telephone was perfected; that is done by other persons. Still, in the main, the case was decided on the ground that it was more likely that many honest men should be in error as to a fact, concerning which they swore positively, than that one man should have acted as Drawbaugh is represented to have done. This principle is a sound one, but it is so easy to apply that it might also easily be abused. Much must be allowed to the eccentricities of human conduct, especially when a “ genius,” whether he be an inventor or a poet, is the person under investigation. Daniel Drawbaugh must be either a genius, and a deeply injured one, or else (and this is the implication of the Supreme Court opinion) an easy-going, vain, goodnatured, intelligent mechanic, who, being subjected to a great temptation, fell, as other men have fallen.

H.C. Merwin.

  1. The defense denied that this sketch was Drawbaugh’s work, but Drawbaugh himself was not called to dispute it, and Judge Wallace concluded that he was virtually the author.