A Marvellous Invention by Eugene Field

Story type: Literature

It is narrated, that, once upon a time, there lived a youth who required so much money for the gratification of his dissolute desires, that he was compelled to sell his library in order to secure funds. Thereupon, he despatched a letter to his venerable father, saying, “Rejoice with me, O father! for already am I beginning to live upon the profits of my books.”

Professor Andrew J. Thorpe has invented an ingenious machine which will be likely to redound to the physical comfort and the intellectual benefit of our fellow-citizens. We are disposed to treat of this invention at length, for two reasons: first, because it is a Chicago invention; and, second, because it seems particularly calculated to answer an important demand that has existed in Chicago for a long time. Professor Thorpe’s machine is nothing less than a combination parlor, library, and folding bedstead, adapted to the drawing-room, the study, the dining-room, and the sleeping apartment–a producer capable of giving to the world thousands upon thousands of tomes annually, and these, too, in a shape most attractive to our public.

Professor Thorpe himself is of New-England birth and education; and, until became West, he was called “Uncle Andy Thorpe.” For many years he lived in New Britain, Connecticut; and there he pursued the vocation of a manufacturer of sofas, settees, settles, and bed-lounges. He came to Chicago three years ago; and not long thereafter, he discovered that the most imperative demand of this community was for a bed which combined, “at one and the same time” (as he says, for he is no rhetorician), the advantages of a bed and the advantages of a library. In a word, Chicago was a literary centre; and it required, even in the matter of its sleeping apparata, machines which, when not in use for bed-purposes, could be utilized to the nobler ends of literary display.

See also  A Woman is only a Woman by P G Wodehouse

In this emergency the fertile Yankee wit of the immigrant came to his assistance; and about a year ago he put upon the market the ingenious and valuable combination which has commanded the admiration and patronage of our best literary circles, and which at this moment we are pleased to discourse of.

It has been our good fortune to inspect the superb line of folding library-bedsteads which Professor Thorpe offers to the public at startlingly low figures, and we are surprised at the ingenuity and the learning apparent in these contrivances. The Essay bedstead is a particularly handsome piece of furniture, being made of polished mahogany, elaborately carved, and intricately embellished throughout. When closed, this bedstead presents the verisimilitude of a large book-case filled with the essays of Emerson, Carlyle, Bacon, Montaigne, Hume, Macaulay, Addison, Steele, Johnson, Budgell, Hughes, and others. These volumes are made in one piece, of the best seasoned oak, and are hollow within throughout; so that each shelf constitutes in reality a chest or drawer which may be utilized for divers domestic purposes. In these drawers a husband may keep his shirts or neckties; or in them a wife may stow away her furs or flannel underwear in summer, and her white piques and muslins in winter.

These drawers (each of which extends to the height of twelve inches) are faced in superb tree-calf, and afford a perfect representation of rows of books, the title and number of each volume being printed in massive gold characters. The weight of the six drawers in this Essay bedstead does not exceed twelve pounds; but the machine is so stoutly built as to admit of the drawers containing a weight equivalent to six hundred pounds without interfering with the ease and nicety of the machine’s operation. Upon touching a gold-mounted knob, the book-case divides, the front part of it descends; and, presto! you have as beautiful a couch as ever Sancho could have envied.

See also  Ireland’s Alternatives by Henry Thring

This Essay bedstead is sold for four hundred and fifty dollars. Another design, with the case and bed in black walnut, the books in papier mache, and none but English essayists in the Collection, can be had for a hundred dollars.

A British Poets’ folding-bed can be had for three hundred dollars. This is an imitation of the blue-and-gold edition published in Boston some years ago. Busts of Shakespeare and of Wordsworth appear at the front upper corners of the book-case, and these serve as pedestals to the machine when it is unfolded into a bedstead. This style, we are told by Professor Thorpe, has been officially indorsed by the poetry committee of the Chicago Literary Club. A second design, in royal octavo white pine, and omitting the works of Chaucer, Spenser, Ben Jonson, and Herrick, is quoted at a hundred and fifty dollars.

The Historical folding-bed contains complete sets of Hume, Gibbon, Guizot, Prescott, Macaulay, Bancroft, Lingard, Buckle, etc., together with Haines’s “History of Lake-County Indians” and Peck’s “Gazetteer of Illinois,” bound in half calf, and having a storage space of three feet by fourteen inches to each row, there being six rows of these books. You can get this folding-bed for two hundred dollars, or there is a second set in cloth that can be had for a hundred dollars.

The Dramatists’ folding-bed (No. 1) costs three hundred dollars, bound in tree-calf hard maple, the case being in polished cherry, elaborately carved. The works included in this library are Shakespeare’s, Schiller’s, Moliere’s, Goethe’s, Jonson’s, Bartley Campbell’s, and many others. Style No. 2 of this folding-bed has not yet been issued, owing to some difficulty which Professor Thorpe has had with eastern publishers; but when the matter of copyright has been adjusted, the works of Plautus, Euripides, Thucydides, and other classic dramatists will be brought out for the delectation of appreciative Chicagoans.

See also  The Ruins Of San Francisco by Bret Harte

The Novelists’ bed can be had in numerous styles. One contains the novels of Mackenzie, Fielding, Smollett, Walpole, Dickens, Thackeray, and Scott, and is bound in tree-calf: another, better adapted to the serious-minded (especially to young women), is made up of the novels of Maria Edgeworth, Miss Jane Porter, Miss Burney, and the Rev. E. P. Roe. This style can be had for fifty dollars. But the Novelists’ folding-bed is manufactured in a dozen different styles, and one should consult the catalogue before ordering.

Leave a Reply 0

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *