Chapter 1 - Introductory, 1872-1882

Within the half-century the hypothetical ether has amply vindicated its novel claim to take its place as a mysterious entity side by side with matter and energy among the ultimate components of the objective universe. . . Modern science sets before our eyes the comprehensive and glorious idea of a cosmos which is one and the same throughout, in sun and star and world and atom, in light and heat and life and mechanism, in herb and tree and man and animal, in body, soul, and spirit, mind and matter. - Grant Allen on Evolution.

The man who can demonstrate the existence of an unsuspected and unknown force has a right, in the absence of demonstrative proof to the contrary, to form his own theory of its origin, and to make it the basis of his own system. Keely is looking at physical phenomena and their explanation form a point of view so different from that of the inductive school, that we hardly know how to combine the two, or show their bearings upon each other. For myself, I think now, as I thought and said in my address, that the absolutely exclusive position, taken up by Huxley?, Tyndall, and the so-called Material School, is ludicrously indefensible; and that we should be as perfectly open to evidence in any direction, as we were 2000 years ago. - The Rev. H. W. Watson?. D. Sc., F.R.S.

So many men of learning are now holding Dr. Watson's views that the time seems to have arrived, in which the theories of Keely will receive, from those who are competent to judge of their value, the attention that they deserve. Before entering upon their merits, or setting them down for other to judge of their worth, the way must be prepared by showing the claims which they possess from their correspondence with some of the most advanced ideas of the present day, as well as with the teachings of the wisest men in past centuries.

The mode which is the least laborious to accomplish this end, is by collecting what has been written and printed, which bears upon, and elucidates this subject.

It is now very generally known that Mr. Keely, while pursuing a line of experiment in vibrations, "accidentally" as Edison would say, made his discovery of an energy, the origin of which was unknown to himself; and six years passed, in experiment, before he was able to repeat its production at will. In the meantime he had exhausted his resources and willingly accepted the proposal of men, who, after witnessing the operation of the energy that he was able to show with this unknown force, offered to organize a company to furnish him with the means to construct an engine to use this force as the motive power, anticipating immediate success.

But discovery is one thing, invention quite another thing, and the years rolled on without Mr. Keely's being able to fulfill his promises. In 1882, which was about ten years after the company was formed, an action at law was brought against him for non-fulfillment of his contract. The Evening Bulletin? of March 30th of that year thus explains, truthfully, the position.


A Statement From One of the Inventor's Stockholders

"To the Editor of the Evening Bulletin?: In your issue of last Tuesday appears an article which deserves attention, and also calls for some explanation upon that very much misunderstood question of the Keely motor. From some cause not easy to learn, there seems to be a tendency to keep only one side of that subject before the public.

"Being one of the unfortunates of the Keely motor speculation, interest has led me to investigate not only the invention and the man who has everything to do with it, but also the management of the company, which is equally important to those who put their money into the enterprise as an investment. Permit me, therefore, to state a few of the facts which, if known, would very much change some of the popular views now held.

"There are perhaps a thousand stockholders in the Keely Motor Company. The mass of these, like myself, are not the prosecutors in this case against Mr. Keely. We do not believe that Mr. Keely can be forced to divulge any valuable secrets if he possesses them. We do not believe that a case in court is calculated to prolong the inventor's life, or render it more safe from the accidents to which he is exposed. We do not believe that these proceedings are likely to increase his good will towards the company. Some of us know that by purchasing Keely motor stock, we have not thereby put our money into the invention, nor has Mr. Keely had the benefit of it. We also know that some, if not all of the parties to this prosecutions, especially those who are most vehement in its favour under the pretence of protecting the common stockholders are selfish to the last degree, while for themselves they have the least cause to complain. Their official records show an utter disregard of the interest of stockholders or the rights of the inventor: while the success of the invention is to them a secondary consideration. It is they, and not the inventor, who have drummed up the customers, and recommended and sold the stock. They, and not he are answerable to the purchasers. If Mr. Keely is guilty of deception, they are to say the least equally so. Look at a few statements:

"When the Keely Motor Company was started, in 1874, its organizers received their stock without paying for it. About three-fourths of the whole amount were thus given away by Mr. Keely. He retained about one-seventh, and was cheated out of a good portion of that before he had gone far. Only 400 shares out to 20,000 were retained in the treasury, and that but a short time; for these recipients of the "dead-head stock" made hasty havoc of the market by a rapid unloading of their shares and pocketing the proceeds. So the poor little 400 shares of treasury stock brought only the minimum price to afford temporary relief to a distressed company.

"The bankrupt condition of this incipient corporation threatened it with a cessation of existence, unless somebody came to the rescue, for the 'originals,' who had received a harvest by the sale of their 'free stock,' would not now give a dollar to save the concern. They were all fixed, but what of the innocent stockholders who had purchased this stock? They should not be allowed to suffer, as they must if the company went out. So Mr. Keely came to the rescue, and consented to the following scheme, which was prepared by schemers, as the sequel proved. He had two inventions besides the motor, and they could be handled to advantage in this emergency. These Mr. Keely assigned to the company, and the stock was increased from 20,000 to 100,000 shares. The 80,000 new shares were to be divided equally: 40,000 to pay for the inventions, and 40,000 went to the company without one dollar of pay. So, Mr. Keely received no money in this transactions; and of the 40,000 shares which he should have received, not 5000 ever reached him; fraudulent claims having captured the rest while in the hands of the 'trustee.' Of the 5000 shares also, much had been obligated in advance by the inventor to carry forward the work which otherwise must have been delayed, so that he had less than 1000 shares left when all claims were settled. This grand act is called the 'consolidation,' which took place in 1879, and since which all monies raised by the company have come from the sale of shares of this 40,000, which Mr. Keely then gave to the company. By some mysterious operations in the 'management' this "Treasure Stock' has shrunk away very rapidly, bringing at times only a fraction of the price which other stocks of the same kind were selling for in the market, while the little cash which it has brought has only in part been used by Mr. Keely, and that has been served out to him in a sparing way, which would be shameful even if he had not furnished it all to being with. The company now owe to Mr. Keely fifty thousand dollars loaned outright in its early history. To this indebtedness considerable has since been added. The public statements that Mr. Keely has been supplied with large amounts of money from the company are untrue, while it is true that of those who are regarded as his dupes a half dozen or more have made on an average at least $50,000 each from the 'enterprise.' The money with which Mr. Keely capitalized the company, in the first place, was obtained from the sale of territorial right to men who have formed other companies for the purpose.

"If Mr. Keely deserves prosecution by any parties, it is those who bought these rights, and not the ring who now control the company with stock which has cost them nothing.

"If anybody deserves to be sued by the stockholders it is these very persons who recommended and sold them the stock, and have taken to benefit of it, and who at the same time are responsible for the miserable management which has caused detention of the work, distress in the company, depreciation in the stock and dissatisfaction among stockholders.


The further history of "The Keely Motor Bubble" will be given later on, but it is the position in earlier years that we must first deal with, to get a clear comprehension of the causes of the delays which again and again shattered the hopes of the sanguine inventors just when they were the most buoyant, from an apparent increased control of the mysterious force Keely was handling. Further quotations from the press will best show the light in which Keely work was regarded by those who considered themselves competent to pass judgment upon him and his efforts. The Daily News? in Philadelphia, on May 25th, 1886, contained a most sensible editorial, with the heading.

For a number of years Mr. John W. Keely, of this city, and various associates have occupied the attention of the public to a greater or less extent, from time to time. The claim of behalf of Mr. Keely is that he has discovered a new motive power, so far transcending all previous achievements in this direction, as to overturn most of the universally recognized conclusions regarding dynamics. Of course such a claim was sure to be met with derision, and the derision was sure of continuance until silenced by the most thorough practical demonstration.

"Discussion of the matter has not seemed profitable in the absence of such a demonstration; but now it seems proper to note an apparently new status of Mr. Keely's affairs, as shown by some experiments conducted last Saturday in the presence of a number of visitors. Some, at least, of these visitors were qualified for critical observation, and the note-worthy fact is that Mr. Keely was able to produce, under their close inspection, a dynamic result which none of them pretended to account for by any known law of physics, outside of that which Mr. Keely claims as the base of his operation. He evolved, almost instantaneously, according to the united report of those who were present, a substance having an elastic energy varying from 10,000 to 20,000 pounds per square inch, and instantly discharged or liberated it into the atmosphere, without the evolution of heat in its production, or of cold on its sudden liberation. These phenomena alone would seem to establish that the substance he is dealing with is one hitherto unknown to science.

"It seems rather frivolous to dismiss this matter with the supposition that trained specialists are to be hoodwinked by concealed springs, buried pipes for the introduction of compressed air and the like. Surely such gentlemen ought very easily to determine at once whether the surroundings and conditions of the experiments were such as to favour any kind of legerdemain; and if they found them so, it is strange that they should spend some hours in investigating that which has been asserted to be 'a transparent humbug.'

"The appearances are that Mr. Keely has at least removed his enterprise from the domain of ridicule to that of respectful investigation, and this, after all, is great progress."

On Wednesday, July 28th, 1886, the Public Ledger? had a leader headed,

"With regard to the occasional revivals of the Keely motor, whether annual, semi-annual, or biennial, as they have come along in the last ten or a dozen years, the Ledger has paid but little attention to them for a long time; and possibly this last display last week might have been allowed to take the same unnoticed course, but that the "whizz" of the big sphere seems to have been so rapid, and the racket so stunning, as to more greatly puzzle those present at the exhibition than on any former occasion. The matter for a long time has presented itself to us in but two aspects mainly. First, there was large public interest in the asserted development of physical force by new and very strange means - very interesting if there really was a probability of a new device or new means of developing power that could be harnessed and made to do useful work; and second, so far as the matter took the form of exploiting a private enterprise or stimulating a boom for a private speculation, there was but very limited interest for the public. In this latter aspect it was almost exclusively an affair between Mr. Keely and the stockholders of his company, who felt willing to back their faith in the substantiality of his invention or discovery, by investing their money in the company's stock. This was no affair for a public journal to meddle in, unless some imposture was designed that might affect the general public.

"That in the way the Ledger has regarded the matter for several years; and, as during that period it seemed to be almost exclusively a private matter of little public interest, we have had little or no concern with it. Of course the Ledger stood ready all the time, as it stands now ready, to welcome anything that promises to be useful or of advantage in any way as an addition to the mechanical or other working facilities of our day. That Mr. Keely might have a clue to such an addition we did not dispute on the mere ground that it was new or strange, or because experts pronounced it impossible; for many stranger things have happened. Mankind, even those who are illumined by the highest human knowledge and intelligence, do not yet know all that is to be known,as we are reminded almost every day by the strides of scientific and mechanical progress. We would rather have found Mr. Keely less inclined to be mysterious; we could have wished him to have been less disposed to talk in terms that sound very like meaningless jargon to most well-informed persons; but still we did not think it proper, or fair, or wise, to reject his claims on these grounds, but have simply let them rest in abeyance, so far as the Ledger is concerned, because behind all this, and behind many more such essays, in the possibility that the success of some one of them may solve the problem of what is to be done when the world's supply of fuel, whether in from of wood, or coal, or peat, or gas, is either practically exhausted or to be got at only at a cost that would largely preclude its use. Mr. Keely, we say, may have a clue to that, as also may some one of those who are experimenting with the several manifestation of electric or magnetic force.

"What we would have had Mr. Keely do and, until he does it, his operations have but little practical value in the sight of the Ledger, would have been to harness his motor to do some useful work to gear it by cogwheel or by belt and pulley or by some other mechanical device, to a main shaft that has driving lathes, or planers, or other machines-something that was doing actual useful work, day in and day out, as other machines do. Of machines that will manifest great pressure on a gauge, of contrivances that have enormous lifting power, of explosives that demonstrate stupendous force, the appliances of science and the mechanic arts have large numbers, and they are handier and more manageable than any Mr. Keely has shown. These are not to the point-except, perhaps, to persons endowed with large faith. The machine that will do actual, useful, large work, by a manipulation of new energy or by a display of energy by new and manageable means, this or these are the things the public and the Ledger will be glad to hail."

At this time Mr. Keely had not reached that stage in his researches when he could carry out the suggestions made by the able writer of the Ledger leader; and if our discoverer of an unknown force had not been known to some persons "endowed with large faith" in his discovery, it would have been lost to the world. An anonymous writer has said the idea that living nature is not a collection of dead-heads, never seems to have struck the non-progressivists. The thing that is has been, and the thing that is will continue to be; this is the sum and substance of the doctrine they profess. They commit the mistake of supposing they live in a finished planet when in reality they exist on an orb that has relatively just begun to live. The time allowed us for observation and study of nature and of ourselves, is limited in a marked degree. Just when we are beginning to know to read the book, we are forced to close its pages because the intellectual eyesight finds itself within the trammels of age. All we can do is to make a hit here, and a hit there, and to hand on our little bit of intelligence to those who come after us, in the hope that they also will keep their eyes and ears open, and, in like manner, hand on a cumulative store of knowledge to their heirs and successors. During the brief span of a man's existence, then, it is difficult for him to prove much progress either in himself or in his surroundings. The eternal hills seem the same to him when the light of life dies out, as when first his eyes beheld their outlines. Stern, uncompromising, apparently immutable, the hills remain to him the type of all that is fixed, all that is unchangeable around. Yet this is not the story of science. Tennyson?, who is always true to nature says:-

"The hills are shadows, and they flow
From form to form, and nothing stands;
They melt like mists, the solid lands;
Like clouds they shape themselves and go."
In Memorium, cxxiii, 2nd Stanza.
This is good poetry; better still, it is good science.

The Himalayas, big and grand as they are, must represent mountains whose rise was a thing of a very "recent" date, geologically speaking. This is proved, because we see rocks belonging to a relatively recent age, appearing as part and parcel of their lofty peaks. Very different is the case with the hills and mountains of, say, north-western Scotland. There you come upon peaks of an age well-nigh coeval with the world's earliest setting down to a steady, solid, and respectable existence. The Scottish hills are the old, the very old, aristocrats of the cosmical circle; the Himalayas, Alps, and the rest, are the new race whose origin goes not further back than a generation, as it were.

Yet, about the oldest of the mountains there is nothing which is absolutely enduring. Equally with the newer hills, geological progress and action are written on the face of their history. The hills are only phases of cosmical arrangement; they are here in the to-day of the world; they may be gone in the world's to-morrow. Before Science had learned to lisp this,,, the prophetic word of men moved by the Holy Ghost had said: "Of old Thou hast laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Thy hands. They shall perish, but Thou remainest; yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment, and as a vesture shalt Thou change them and they shall be changed." The world is neither perfect nor finished in a geological sense, any more than it is perfect in an ethical sense. It is full of progressive action everywhere, and, to quote from another author, "our planet and our solar system are but as the small dust of the balance in the colossal scale of the worlds that are."

Had there been no one to read the future in the light of the past, among those who witnessed the production of the force discovered by Keely in 1872, he could not have continued his researches, as he has done during these intervening years, from lack of the funds necessary to carry them on. But there were men who knew the worth of the discovery, and who, sanguine as to almost immediate results, did something more than stand idly "ready to welcome" them when produced. They furnished the money with which Keely laboured year after year, and encouraged him to persevere, when without such aid he might have been forced to abandon his researches for want of the necessaries of life. During this period, Keely's discovery was only thought of in reference to its commercial value, and for a decade he made no progress: but, after his researches led up to the conviction that he was on the road to another and infinitely more important discovery, namely, the source of life and the connecting link between intelligent will and matter, his progress has been almost uninterrupted. His ambition is not only to give a costless motive power to the world, but to make clear to men of science the path he is exploring.

See Also

3.11 - Introductory Impulse
Figure 3.15 - Introductory Affinitizing to Center
Figure 5.10 - Introductory Degeneration of Mass via Interpenetrating Vortices
Figure 6.13 - An Introductory Matrix Structure
Introductory Impulse
Keely and His Discoveries

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