Early man sought always methods of capturing time more precisely than casting the shadows of Apollo's chariot upon a graded iron disk (for when the sun sank behind the hills in the west, what then?), or burning oil in a glass lamp maked at intervals so the crude hours might be gleaned from the disappearing fuel. The reasonable, sensitive soul who perhaps one day while taking his rest along the banks of a bubbling brook came to hear, in that half-dream, half-wakeful state during which so many men seem most receptive to perceiving the pulleys and winches that hoist the clouds, the heavenly bellows that push the winds, the cogs and wheels that turn the globe, came to hear a regularity in the slivery song of water over pebbles, that soul is unknown to us. Let us remark, then, that it is good enough to induce him out of the profusions of the past, perhaps fit him with thick sandals and a steady hand, a heart open to nature and a head devoted to the advancement of men, and watch in admiration as he pokes and fiddles and persists at various machines until he arrives at a device which marks time by a steady flow of water through its guts.
Tinkers, Paul Harding