A large crowd was present recently at the inauguration of the statue of Denis Papin, which took place in the court of the Conservatoire des Arts et Metiers, under the presidency of Mr. Lockroy, Minister of Commerce and the Industries.
In the large hall in which the addresses were made there were several municipal counselors, the representatives of the Minister of War, Captains Driant and Frocard, several members of the Institute, and others. A delegation from the Syndical Chamber of Conductors, Enginemen, and Stokers, which contributed through a subscription toward the erection of the statue, was present at the ceremony with its banner. Mr. Lanssedat, superintendent of the Conservatoire, received the guests, assisted by all the professors. Mr. Lanssedat opened the proceedings by an address in which he paid homage to the scientists who were persecuted while living, to Denis Papin, who did for mechanics what Nicolas le Blanc did for chemistry, and to those men whose entire life was devoted to the triumph of the cause of science.
After this, an address was delivered by Mr. Lockroy, who expatiated upon the great services rendered by the master of all the sciences known at that epoch, who was in turn physician, physicist, mechanician, and mathematician, and who, in discovering the properties of steam, laid the foundation of modern society, which, so to speak, arose from this incomparable discovery.
Speeches were afterward made by Mr. Feray d'Essonnes, president of the Syndical Chamber of Conductors, Enginemen, and Stokers, and by Prof. Comberousse, of the Central School, who broadly outlined the life of Papin.
Along about four o'clock, the Minister of Commerce and the Industries, followed by all the invited guests, repaired to the court, and the veil that hid the statue was then lifted amid acclamation.
Papin is represented as standing and performing an experiment.
Upon the pedestal is the following inscription:
DENIS PAPIN BORN IN 1647, DIED ABOUT 1714, INVENTED THE STEAM ENGINE IN 1690
NATIONAL SUBSCRIPTION, 1886.
The inauguration is due to the initiative of Mr. Lanssedat, for it was he who in 1885 suggested the national subscription, which was quickly raised.
Denis Papin was born at Blois on the 22d of August, 1647. He was the son of a physician. After the example of his father and of several of his relatives, he studied medicine and took his degree; but his taste for mathematics, and especially for experimental physics, soon led him to abandon medicine.
It was in 1690 that he published in the Actes of Leipsic the memoir which will forever and irrevocably assign to him the priority in the invention of steam engines and steamboats, and the title of which was: "New method of cheaply obtaining the greatest motive powers."
In 1704, Papin, poor and obliged to do everything for himself, finished his first steamboat; but for want of money he was unable to make a trial of it until August 15, 1707. The trial was made upon the Fulda and Wera, affluents of the Weser.
The operation succeeded wonderfully, and, shortly afterward, Papin, being desirous of rendering the experiment complete, put his boat on the Weser; but the stupid boatmen of this river drew his craft ashore and broke it and its engine in pieces.
This catastrophe ruined Papin, and annihilated all his hopes. The great man, falling into shocking destitution, broken down and conquered by adversity, returned to England in 1712 to seek aid and an asylum.
Everywhere repulsed, he returned to Cassel about 1714, sad and discouraged; and the man to whom we owe that prodigy, the steam engine, that instrument of universal welfare and riches, disappeared without leaving any trace of his death. - Le Monde Illustre.