I’ve read a lot of engineering history books in my time, but rarely have they evoked Mills & Boon so strongly as this gem:
“He realized a machine to draw the wire from the reel, cut and shape it, pierce the holes in the leather, and place the staples in the sheet; but the forming of the second and final bend in the teeth was a problem that vexed his very soul as one of insurmountable difficulty. Hope was followed by despair, and the most glorious prize of all that would crown his machine with perfection, hovered around him like a phantom, enticing him on to further exertion, yet eluding his grasp. He did not lack, however, the support of encouraging friends, who believed in his ultimate success if he would only persevere believingly and courageously. To the cheerful assurances of his friends may be attributed much of his resolution and unremitting ardor in forcing his scheme to a successful finality.
While in this maze of doubt, his brain hot with feverish uncertainty, his thoughts dwelling vaguely on a theory of possibilities, his exhausted strength permitted the solution to come to him in a dream. Such is the testimony of some, and, whether it be true or not, it is not outside a common experience of many, to retire at night with a mind confused and mystified by unabated application to a single idea, and wake up in the morning with it fresh and clear with the mystery revealed and elucidated, as if it were the work of a vision. He arose at early dawn with a heart full of emotion, and a face beaming with joy, and eagerly sought his workshop to place on his machine the last piece of mechanism that was to transform it into a magnificent consummation”
(from the 1885 book, History of the American card-clothing industry)