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experiments at this time was far from satisfactory; but more successful on the Rhone and the Seine, in the early part of the present century. It was about this period that Sural ti sought in Italy to succeed in the
| production of practical steam-boats.
We now arrive at an important epoch in our
1 bistory; the period when Patrick Miller, of Daltvinton, launched the first successful steam-boat in
1 the world. This gentleman, a man of great enterprise and genius, had devoted considerable attention to wheel-boats, and had constructed a twin-boat, with a wheel in the centre, which had safely voyaged to Sweden and back, in the year 1789. The application of wheels to the propulsion of boats was by no means a new invention, for they had even been employed by the Egyptians, the wheels being moved by oxen working in a gin on the deck of the vessel. Soch boats also were used by the Romans as transports, men or horses driving the wheels. Mr. Miller was so deeply impressed and affected by the sufferings of odors from shipwreck, that he spared no energy or apense in his attempts to improve the art of navigation. He was materially assisted in his experiments by Mr. James Taylor, a gentleman engaged as tutor ia Mr. Miller's family. Mr. Taylor indeed was the first to suggest the application of steam as the motive power in the wheel-boats; the practicability of which proposal was at first much doubted by Mr. Miller, but he subsequently determined upon making the trial, leaving to Mr. Taylor the chief superintendence of the work. The aid of Mr. William Symington, an Edinburgh engineer, was now sought, who undertook to
■ construct the engines required for the boat.
All preparations for the trial were completed in October 17S8, and the boat selected was a twin (or double) pleasure-boat, twenty-five feet in length, and seven feet in breadth: the engine, the cylinders of which were four inches in diameter, was fixed on one side in a strong oak frame; the boiler was placed on the opposite side, and the paddle-wheels were situated a the centre. The experiment was tried at Loch Dalswinton, in Dumfrieshire, and was attended with complete success, the speed obtained being five miles a hour. Encouraged by the very prosperous results i this first attempt, Mr. Miller proceeded to conduct aperiments on a larger scale, and accordingly purposed a gabert at the Forth and Clyde Canal, for viich Mr. Symington constructed a double engine, at the Carron Foundry, with cylinders eighteen inches in diameter. This vessel was submitted to trial in .November 17S9, on a level reach of the Canal at Lock Sixteen, about four miles in length,, and was witnessed by many spectators, but the insufficient r.rtngth of the paddle-wheels precluded a fair experiment. In a memorial to the Chairman of the select committee of the House of Commons, appointed in hii to investigate the subjeet of steam navigation, Mr. Taylor gives the following account of this voyage, sod of the more successful one in the following
1 After passing Lock Sixteen, wc proceeded cau
tiously and pleasantly for some time, but, after giving the engine full play, the arms of the wheels, which had been constructed too slight, began to give way, and one float after another broke off, till we were satisfied no accuracy could be obtained in the experiment, until the wheels were replaced by new ones of a stronger construction. This was done with all possible speed, and upon the 26th of December we again proceeded to action. This day we moved freely without accident, and were much gratified to find our motion nearly seven miles per hour. Next day, we repeated the experiment with the same success and pleasure. Satisfied now that everything proposed was accomplished, it was unnecessary to dwell longer upou the business; for indeed, both this, and the experiment of last year, were as complete as any performance made by steam-boats even to the present day."
The canal was too narrow to admit of this boat working freely, and the banks being injured by the great undulation which the action of the wheels occasioned, it was found necessary to lay it aside.
Satisfied with his success, Mr. Miller relinquished these pursuits in favour of certain branches of agriculture, especially the cultivation of florcne grass. He expended in his experiments no less a sum than thirty thousand pounds. The subject was not, however, abandoned by Symington, who commenced business at Falkirk, and received powerful and effective support from Thomas, Lord Dundas of Kerse. This nobleman, a large shareholder in the Forth and Clyde Canal Company, was desirous of introducing steam tug-boats to supersede the use of horses, for towing vessels on that canal, and accordingly engaged W. Symington in a series of experiments for this purpose, in January 1801. A vessel was launched the following year in the month of March, named the " Charlotte Dundas," in honour of the late Lady Milton, the daughter of Lord Dundas; and his lordship, accompanied by Mr. Symington, and other gentlemen, went on board the vessel at Lock Twenty of the canal, which, Mr. Symington tells us, "took in drag two loaded vessels, (the Active and Enphemia,) each upwards of seventy tons burden, and with great ease carried them through the long reach of the Forth and Clyde Canal to Port Dundas, Glasgow, a distance of nineteen miles and a-half, in six hours, although the whole time it blew a very strong breeze right ahead."
To Symington therefore belongs the honour of having produeed the "first practical steam-boat." The use to which it ufas applied had been recommended sixty years before, as we have seen, by Jonathan Hulls, but had never previously been carried into execution. The engine employed was constructed on the principle of Watt's "double-acting engine," to which was united the oonnecting-rod and crank invented by James Pickard in 1780, and his own patented invention, the union of the crank to the axis of Miller's improved paddle-wheel. "Thus," says Mr. Bonnet Woodcroft, to whom, we are indebted for other inte
resting details—*' Thus had Symington the undoubted merit of having combined together, for the first time, those improvcmeats which constitute the present system of steam navigation." The ingenuity and perseverance of this engineer seemed likely to obtain the reward he merited of personal advantage, by the successful introduction of steam-boats; for he received from the Duke of Bridgewater an order to build eight boats to ply on his canal, such as that he had built for Lord Dundas. His experiments for the latter nobleman occupied him till April 1803; and the expenses incurred amounted to upwards of 7,000/. Alas for the vanity of human expectations! Disappointment was to be the lot of Mr. Symington. The Forth and Clyde Canal Company feared the destruction of the canal banks if steam-vessels were introduced; and "on the same day that Symington was informed by Lord Dundas of the final determination of the committee not to allow steam-boats to be employed on the canal, he received intelligence of the death of the Duke of Bridgewater."
But let us turn our attention to our transatlantic friends, and wc shall find that they have not been backward to lend their aid in promoting the accomplishment of navigation by steam. The aspect of the physical features of the United States of America must itself have been a strong incentive to the prosecution of this art. There was the spectacle of their majestic rivers, which ought to have been (and now are) such valuable instruments of internal intercourse, then comparatively useless for such a purpose. The navigation of these noble waters was beset with difficulties, for it was only with extreme labour that boats could return against the stream; the voyage up the river Mississippi from New Orleans to Pittsburgh, a distance of 2,000 miles, only being accomplished by many efforts of rowing, and warping by successive lines fixed to the trees, and occupying a period of from four to nine months—a distance now achieved in a few days. One class of boatmen, indeed, on the Mississippi, dropped down to New Orleans from the interior with their produce in arks, fastened only by wooden bolts, which they unbuilt at the end of the voyage, and after selling the timber, they returned home slowly overland.
As early as the year 17S3, James Rumsey and John Fitcli conducted experiments on steam-ships in America. Rumsey explained his project of steam navigation to General Washington in 1784, and shortly afterwards Fitch exhibited a model of his proposed boat to the general Not long after this period, Oliver Evans prosecuted the same study, but John Fitch undoubtedly produced the first steam-boat in the United States. He was born at East Windsor, Connecticut, where he was apprenticed to a watchmaker, and before the revolutionary war he had established himself in the business of clock-makiug, and engraving and repairing muskets, at New Brunswick, in New Jersey. When this state was overrun by the British troops, he retired to the interior of Pennsylvania, where he employed himself in repairing
guns for the American army. lie himself states that when the idea first occurred to him of propelling boats by the force of condensed vapour, "he did not know that there was such a thing as a steam-engine in existence." In 1788, he obtained a patent for the application of steam to navigation in the states of Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, &c, and succeeded by unwearied exertion in interesting about twenty persons in his plan, and inducing them to take shares of fifty dollars each. The company was formed under his state patents, the proceedings of which have been recorded by Dr. Thornton, a principal shareholder. He says: " We worked incessantly at the boat to bring it to perfection, and some account of our labours may be seen in the travels of Brissot do Warville in this country; and under the disadvantages of never having seen a steam engine on the principles contemplated, of not having a single engines r in our company, or pay, (we made engineers of common blacksmiths,) and after expending many thousand dollars, the boat did not exceed three miles an hour." Many of the shareholders were discouraged, and wished to abandon the project, but Dr. Thornton and a few others undertook to attain a speed of eight miles an hour within eighteen months, or forfeit all the expenditure on failing.
These terms were accepted, and a second experiment was made. Dr. Thornton says: "I was among the number who proceeded, and in less than twelve months we were ready for the experiment; a mile was measured in Front-street (or Water-street), Philadelphia; every precaution was taken before witnesses, the time was shown to all, the experiments were declared to be fairly made, and the boat was found to go at the rate of eight miles an hour, or one mile within the eighth of an hour." This boat was built in 1787, and subsequently accomplished eighty miles in one day. Govenor Miffliug, attended by the council of Pennsylvania, came in procession, and presented to the company a superb silk flag, prepared expressly for the occasion, and containing the arms of Pennsylvania. About this time Mr. Fitch visited France, hoping to introduce his invention into that country. This hope was disappointed, owing to the unhappy state of France, then plunged in the horrors of the revolution. On his return to America he made improvements in his boat, but was unable to obtain the necessary means for perfecting his invention. Disheartened and impoverished, he abandoned himself for the temporary alleviation of his distresses to excessive indulgence in strong drink, and "retiring to Pittsburg, he ended his.days by plunging into the Alleghany."
Rumsey, a native of Virginia, came to Loudon, where he was backed by a wealthy American merchant, and obtained the support of some enterprising citizens, who defrayed the expenses of his experiments. Unfortunately, the death of Rumsey occurred when his steam-boat was nearly completed, after two years spent in preparations, but his supporters launched the vessel in February 1793, when she was found capable, by repeated trials on the Thames, of attaining the speed of four knots an hour against wind and tide. A boat constructed in 1S04, by John Cox Stevens, propelled by a screw, on the principle of the common smoke-jack, travelled with equal velocity, and for a short distance maintained even seven miles an hour. Mr. Stevens, jun. conducted this vessel from the Hudson to the Delaware, thus performing the first sea-voyage that was made in any steam-boat. Although Mr. Stevens spent sixteen years of his life, and 20,000 dollars upon his experiments, they never tielded him any personal advantage; and Robert Fulton died in embarrassed circumstances, though his name is the one chiefly associated with the practical introduction of steam-boats, and he it was who constructed the first vessel of that class employed for pnblic accommodation.
Fulton's father was a native of Ayrshire, but he was himself bom in America. "He was brought up," Mr.Bell says, "in the line of a painter, and was an excellent hand-sketcher, and likewise a good miniature painter. He was not brought up an engineer, but was employed to come to this country to take drawings of our cotton and other machinery; that led him to become a civil engineer, and he was quick in his uptake of any thing." Chancellor Livingstone vas his great patron, and aided him in building his first boat, which was named the Clermont, after the chancellor's country-seat. His success drew from 1 his biographer, Cadwallader Colden, the following magnificent poetical peroration :—
"Abird hatched on the Hudson will soon people the floods of the Wolga; and cygnets descended i from an American swan will glide along the surface of tie Caspian Sea. Then the hoary genius of Asia, high-throned upon the peaks of Caucasus, his moist eye glistening while it glances over the ruins of Babyion, Persepolis, Jerusalem, and Palmyra, shall bow with grateful reverence to the inventive spirit of the Western World."
The first "American swan," whose metaphorical progeny were to curl their smoke, if not their necks, above the Caspian waters, first sought its native element oa the Hudson River, from the building yard of Charles Brown, in August, 1S07. After some imjrovements in the arrangement of the paddles, the steam-boat built by Livingstone and Pulton was advertised to start for Albany from New York on a certain afternoon. Pulton's narrative to Judge Story, in his own words, will best describe this voyage. "When I was building my first steam-boat," he said, "the project was viewed by the public at New York either with indifference or contempt, as a visionary scheme. My friends, indeed, were civil, but they iere shy. They listened with patience to my explanations, but with a settled cast of incredulity on their countenances. I felt the full force of the lamentation of the poet—
jj "'Truths would yon teach, to save a sinking land, AH shun, none aid you, and few understand.'
"As I had occasion to pass daily to and from the
building-yard while my boat was in progress, I have often loitered, unknown, near the idle groups of strangers gathering in little circles, and heard various inquiries as to the object of this new vehicle. The language was uniformly that of scorn, sneer, or ridicule. The loud laugh rose at my expense; the dry jest, the wise calculation of losses and expenditure; the dull but endless repetition of 'the Fulton fully!' Never did a single encouraging remark, a bright hope, or a warm wish cross my path.
"At length the day arrived when tlie experiment was to be made. To me it was a most trying and interesting occasion. I wanted many friends to go on board and witness the first successful trip. Many of them did me the favour to attend, as a matter of personal respect; but it was manifest they did it with reluctance, fearing to be partakers of my mortification, and not of my triumph. I was well aware that, in my case, there were many reasons to doubt of my own success. The machinery was new, and ill-made; many parts of it were constructed by mechanics unacquainted with such work; and unexpected difficulties might reasonably be presumed to present themselves from other causes. The moment arrived in which the w-ord was to be given for the vessel to move. My friends were in groups on the deck. There was anxiety mixed with fear among them. They were silent, sad, and weary. I read in their looks nothing but disaster, and almost repented of my efforts. The signal was given, and the boat moved on a short distance, and then stopped, and became immovable. To the silence of the preceding moment now succeeded murmurs of discontent and agitation, and whispers and shrugs. I could hear distinctly repeated, 'I told you so,—it is a foolish scheme. 1 wish we were well out of it.' I elevated myself upon a platform, and addressed the assembly. I stated that I knew not what was the matter; but if they would be quiet, and indulge me for half an hour, I would either go ou, or abandon the voyage for that time. This short respite was conceded without objection. I went below, ;tnd examined the machinery, and discovered that the cause was a slight malformation of some of the work. In a short period it was obviated. The boat was put I again in motion; she continued to move ou. All j were still incredulous ;—none seemed willing to trust j the evidence of their own senses. We left the fair city of New York; we passed through the roniaul ic and ever-varying scenery of the Highlands; we descried the clustering houses of Albany; we readied its shores; yet even then imagination superseded the force of fact. It teas doubted if it could be done again, or if, in any case, it could be made of any great value!"
Perhaps the severest struggles of genius are the contentious with unsympathisiug and unreasoning incredulity which the sons of science have continually to undergo. On his return to New York, Mr. Pulton published the following account of his voyage in "The American Citizen," addressing the editor of that journal.
"Sir,—I arrived this afternoon at four o'clock in tlic steam-boat from Albany. As the success of my experiment gives me great hopes that such boats may be rendered of great importance to my country, to prevent erroneous opinions, and give some satisfaction to the friends of useful improvements, you will have the goodness to publish the following statement of facts:—
"I left New York on Monday at 1 o'clock, and arrived at Clermont, the scat of Chancellor Livingstone, at 1 o'clock on Tuesday;—time, 24 hours; distance 110 miles. On Wednesday, I left the Chancellor's at 9 in the morning, and arrived at Albany at 5 in the afternoon ;—distance 40 miles; time 8 hours; equal to nearly 5 miles an hour, &c.
"(Signed) R. Fulton."
Thus this journey of 150 miles was accomplished in the space of thirty-three hours, a distance now occupying considerably less than ten. The Clermont, or North River, as she was also called, was 130 feet in length, and 16J feet in breadth. The engine, made by Boulton & Watt, was of 18-horse power; the boiler of which was 20 feet long, 7 feet deep, and 8 feet broad; the cylinder being 21 inches in diameter, and the stroke of the piston 4 feet. She continued to run between New York and Albany, and was soon crowded with passengers; but the Clermont was not suffered to navigate the Hudson unmolested; for the boatmen plying on the stream, fearing that the intruder would ultimately supersede their slower craft, purposely ran foul of her, seeking to inflict damage; and so persevering were these attempts, that the legislature found it necessary to enact a law "to punish, by fine and imprisonment, any person who attempted to destroy or injure her." Perhaps the boatmen sought also to retaliate for the alarm they suffered on her first appearance, which is thus related by C. Colden:—
"On her passage from New York to Albany, the Clermont excited the astonishment of the inhabitants of the shores of the river, many of whom had never heard even of an engine, much less of a steamboat. She was described by some, who had indistinctly seen her passing in the night, as a monster moving on the waters, defying the winds and tides, and breathing flame and smoke. She had the most terrific appearance from other vessels which were navigating the river when she was making her passage. The first steam-boat (as others yet do) used dry pinewood for fuel, which sends forth a column of flame several feet above the flue; and whenever the fire is stirred, a shower of sparks fly off, which in the night have a brilliant and beautiful appearance. This uncommon light first attracted the attention of the crews of other vessels. Notwithstanding the wind and tide were adverse to its approach, they saw with astonishment that it was rapidly advancing towards them; and when it came so near as that the noise of the machinery and the paddles was heard, the crews, in some instances, shrank beneath their decks from
the terrific sight, and others left their vessels to goon shore; others, again, prostrated themselves, and besought Providence to protect them from the approach of the horrible monster, which was marching on the tides, and lighting its path by the fires which it vomited."
Fulton was by no means the inventor, but he was the successful introducer of steam-boats. He had frequently inspected the Charlotte Dundas of Symington, while she was lying at Lock Sixteen; and had adopted Symington's invention. The engine itself he purchased of Messrs. Boulton & Watt, it is said under an assumed name: and for the forms and proportions of his vessel, lie was indebted to the calculations of Colonel Beaufoy. After the Clermont there followed in succession from Brown's Yard, the Rariton, the Car of Neptune, the Paragon, and the Fire Fly. Before his death, which took place in 1815, Fulton had the satisfaction of seeing steam navigation introduced in both the old and new hemispheres. Thirty years after his first experiment on the Hudson it was computed that 1,300 steamboats had been built in the United States, of which 2G0 had been lost by various accidents. The first explosion, an example since so widely and fearfully followed in America, is believed to have occurred in the Washington on the Ohio River, in the year 1S1G.
A profound thought, issuing from the secluded study of some deep thinker, ofttimes has conferred more benefits upon the world than the life-performances of its most energetic actors. Yet to a casual observer the quiet scholar would be an object of incomparably inferior interest to the successful practitioner. So Symington's Charlotte Dundas, layed up at Lock Sixteen, might have been regarded by careless spectators as a useless abortion. This vessel was, however, the germ of steam navigation in America as well as in Europe. We have seen that the first practical American steam-vessel, the Clermont, originated in Fulton's inspection of the Charlotte Dundas, and in like manner the first boat of this description used for the service of the public in Great Britain, was built by Bell, after the same model. Indeed, Symington's vessel is pronounced "superior in its mechanical arrangements to either Fulton's Clermont, or Bell's Comet."
It would appear that the American was indebted to Mr. Bell for the attraction of his attention to his successful pursuit. The latter had fruitlessly endeavoured to excite the interest of the British Government in his experiments; first in 1S00, afterwards in 1S03, and again in 1813. Conscious of the valuable results which would accrue from the employment of steam as a ship-propelling power, he explained his object to many foreign governments, including that of the United States: and the last-named government, when he explained the great utility that steam navigation would be to them on their rivers, they appointed Mr. Fulton, as he states in a letter written, in 1824, to John Macneil, Esq., of Glasgow, to correspond with him; "so in that way," he concludes, "the Americans got their insight from your humble servant, Henry Bell."
This gentleman, a native of Helensburgh, completed Lis first vessel on the 18th of January, 1812. He built it of 40 feet keel, and 10J feet beam, and fitted it vitli an engine of three horse power. She was named the Comet, (because a comet had appeared that year, in the north-west part of Scotland,) and was established on the Clyde as a passage-boat between Glasgow and Greenock. At first the speculation did not prove very profitable to the proprietors, the expenses being scarcely cleared during the first year; "for so great," says Bell, "was the prejudice against Meam-boat navigation, by the hue and cry raised by the fly-boat and coach proprietors, that for the first six months very few would venture in her. But in the course of the winter of 1812, as she had plied all the year, she began to gain credit; as passengers were carried twenty-four miles as quick as by the coaches, and at a tliird of the expense, besides being warm and comfortable. But even after all, I was a great loser that year. In the second year I made her a jaunting boat all over the coasts of England, Ireland, ad Scotland, to show the public the advantage of steam navigation over the other mode of sailing." The voyage was accomplished in three hours and a half, and the fares demanded were three shillings | for the second, and four for the best cabin.
After the efficiency of the Comet became apparent, tkmmber of travellers speedily increased; for whereas previously eighty up and eighty down formed the average cumber of passengers, four years afterwards, is Swart informs us, "it was not unusual for five or six hundred persons daily to enjoy the healthful amusement of a water excursion, and the enchanting beauties of the Clyde." Emulation was soon excited by this success in many parts of the kingdom: the eScacy of steam-boats was fully established, and they quickly multiplied. In 1812 there was "but one in the United Kingdom, the solitary Comet: in 1820 there were 43; in 1830 there were 315; in 1840 they numbered 821, and in 1848 they had increased to 1,100; when their aggregate length, it has been calculated, was 125,283 feet; their aggregate breadth W,741 feet, their aggregate tonnage 255,371 tons, sad their aggregate of horse-power 92,802. Among other enterprises, Mr. Lawrence of Bristol introduced 2 steam-boat on the Severn, which he afterwards conveyed to London, to ply on the Thames; but met with so much opposition from the watermen, who dreaded such a powerful rival, that he was compelled to withdraw his vessel, which was subsequently sent to Spain. Obstacles of this nature could no more be tolerated on the Thames than on the Hudson; aud accordingly Mr. Dawson, who had previously experimented in Ireland, established a steam-boat on that river in 1818, to run between London and Gravcscnd. She was named the Margery, and started daily from the Dundee Arms, Wapping. Her wheels were uncovered, and afforded a famous subject of ridicule to the watermen by their tremendous splashing.
Sometimes by collision these wheels were broken, and tlie vessel was delayed for an "hour or so," " before a jury duck-foot could be fitted, and, perhaps, before another mile was done, there was another break and another stoppage." This steamer was not well supported; she had many disadvantages in her construction, not the least of which was "shooting off," not only steam but boiling water, which inflicted severe scalds; and after a short trial she was abandoned as a failure. The Old Thames, and afterwards the Majestic, succeeded the Margery, and river steam-boats soon became general.
These earlier ones occupied, it is true, from five to seven hours in their transit from London to Gravcsend, but even this speed was an improvement upou the rates achieved by the sailing-boats, which occupied fourand-twenty hours, and sometimes a day and a half in effecting the voyage. The old *' tilt-boats" are still remembered, which were exactly like the present Trinity House ballast-lighters. These "were succeeded by the Dundee boats," as quoted iu Porter's Progress of the Nation, "which, as fast sailers, were the wonder and admiration of all who witnessed the improvement. They were, however, of the most iuconvcuicnt nature, as the passengers were frequently not only called upon to embark in the middle of the night, in order to have the first of the flood, and after tacking aud beating about, together with sometimes too much wind, sometimes too little wind, or none at all, besides being huddled in a low inconvenient cabin, were frequently, after being six or eight hours on the water, compelled to land at AVoolwich, Blackwall, or Greenwich, aud then have to find their way in the best manner they could to the metropolis." The distance (thirty-one miles) is now performed in less than an hour and a half. The rate of increase in the number of river-steamers has been as follows:—In 1820 there were only four; in 1835 they equalled forty-three in number; and in the present year (1850) they have increased to sixty-nine. We learn from a correspondent of the Morning Chronicle that these steamers perform 120 trips daily up and down the river, the average number of passengers each run being 1,2S0, and the average amount paid during the season in transit by river steamers exceeding 255,170/. These boats have conveyed during the six months this year of "the season," which is supposed to begin on Easter Monday, no fewer than 27,055,200 passengers; the amount thus expended, as we have seen, exceeding a quarter of a million sterling. Nearly 800 persons are now employed in the steam navigation of the Thames, and it is calculated that on this river no less than 8,2S0 miles are performed daily by river steamboats.
In the meantime steam navigation has not been confined to rivers. Steam-vessels were soon adventured, and with complete success, upon the performance of dangerous coasting voyages, connecting all the chief ports in the kingdom; and were boldiy and safely steered across Dover Straits and the Irish aud St. George's Channels. But the noblest triumph