Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/376

This page has been validated.

of Prendice and the neighboring places ascribed to Divis's machine! One day an angry crowd came to the parsonage and tore down the iron bars. The authorities then ordered Divis to take away his machine, and he accordingly removed it and deposited it at Brack, where it has been kept to this day.

There is a marked similarity between the treatment which the invention of Divis suffered at the hands of his neighbors and that accorded to Franklin's conductor in America. When, in 1755, Massachusetts had experienced a sharp shock of an earthquake, the judgment of the public opinion was pronounced upon Franklin's rods as the direct cause of the earthquake. As late as 1770 a Boston clergyman preached against the lightning-rods as "impious contrivances to prevent the execution of the wrath of Heaven." The difference between the relative positions of the two inventors was that in America a divine denounced a layman, whereas in Moravia laymen denounced a divine. We unwillingly recall the words of Mädler: "In all times and in all countries the enemies of truth and light pretend to be fighting for the honor and glory of God."

Thus Divis was prevented from perfecting his machine, which would have doubtless been wrought by him into a different, more advantageous, shape but for the official order. Divis felt himself obliged to give up his studies and experiments in electricity, and his versatile genius turned to a new field—music. He was well acquainted with acoustics, and as a Bohemian he possessed likewise a personal liking for music; and before long his creative genius enriched the musical world with a new instrument which he named "denis d'or."[1] This instrument is played by both hands and feet, like an organ, and it can give the sound of almost any stringed or wind instrument, from the pianissimo to the fortissimo, as it has as many as one hundred and thirty registers. In its effect this instrument is equal to a full orchestra.

This was the last great work of Divis, and on the 25th of December, 1765, the untiring worker quietly departed his life.

Personally, Divis had the true appearance of a thinker. In his early youth his health was rather delicate, but it improved steadily after he began his electrical experiments and never failed him again, although he was constantly at work. Oftentimes he was so deeply absorbed in his experiments or observations that he would not notice his friends coming to see him, until a servant reminded him of their presence by pulling his sleeve. The steady mental work gave his face a serious, unfriendly mien, which disappeared, however, whenever he happened to be in a circle of his friends. His guests, among whom there were many distinguished

  1. Denis is a French translation of the Bohemian name Divis. D'or means "of gold."