A New Keely Motor Raid


The credulity of American capitalists has become a by-word among the nations of the earth, and the supposition is very general that in this country money can always be had to float any kind of a scheme which shows on the surface the barest possibility of profit in the future. Such visionary projects as perpetual motion, the Keely motor, and other propositions to revolutionize the laws of nature have always found advocates in America who were willing and anxious to support their faith by dollar, and millions of American capital have been sunk in them to the advantage of the men who are always just on the point of inventing, but who somehow never seen to invent. Whether this credulity is the result of a national weakness, or simply the effect of the speculative enterprise which is a feature of American life, and which induces large investments in anything giving the least promise of an ultimate return, it is not important to inquire. The fact is patent that the United States of America has been the most fertile field in the world for the cultivation of so-called inventors who depend upon the credulity of the public to enable them to live in luxury while professedly working out problems which they insist are to change the entire operation of natural forces.

There are indications, however, that the American people are opening their eyes to the nature of the plots to which they have been victims in the past, and that the reign of the visionary - to assume that these inventors are honest in their professions, and victims to themselves - is drawing to a close. One of the pleasantest of these indications is the fact that the "discoverer" of the Keely motor has apparently at last exhausted his means of drawing money from a gullible American people. The absurdly of Mr. Keely's pretensions has been exposed by THE TIMES more than once, and the unsatisfactory nature of his exhibitions, made in a workshop, the secrets of which he invariably declined to reveal, and where he had every opportunity to deceive the expectators, has been fully explained. But for years he has managed to extract plenty of money from his stockholders, and the work of mystifying them and the general public has gone on, while his "motor" has always been just on the point of being fully developed, but has never got beyond that point. Now, judging from the fact that a series of articles devoted to the mysterious motor is appearing in the Pall Mall Gazette, Mr. Keely and his backers are preparing to swoop down upon the British public and work a new and hitherto untrodden field. It is quite evident that America has had enough of the "motor." To use a slangy, but expressive phrase, it has become "tired" of Mr. Keely, and Mr. Keely has reluctantly awoke to the fact.

The articles in the Pall Mall Gazette are of precisely the kind calculated to tempt capitalists to invest in the Keely motor. They profess to be the work of "an almost-persuaded correspondent," and they give sketches of such parts of the machine as Mr. Keely dares to show, and describes his idiotic experiments with the "tuning fork" in detail. They tell just enough to awaken interest in the so-called theories of the self-styled inventor, and leave just enough unsaid to surround the "motor" with an attractive air of mystery. They are imitations in all essential features of the early Keely motor literature, and are calculated to do in England what that literature did in America, awaken an interest in the scheme which is to be turned to financial account when the British bird is deemed ready for plucking. Whether the scheme is successful or not, it is creditable to our national character that the American bird refuses to be plucked longer. It is an evidence that the days of our youthful credulity as a nation are rapidly passing away, and that future visionaries will not find American capitalists so ready to invest in bubbles like the Keely motor. The New York Times, October 23, 1887

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