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EARLY INVENTORS IN LOCOMOTION.

――――♦――――

RICHARD TREVITHICK C.E.
(1771-1833)
INVENTOR, AND BUILDER OF THE FIRST
WORKING STEAM RAILWAY LOCOMOTIVE.

"He was full of speculative enthusiasm, a great theorist, and yet
an indefatigable experimenter."


CHAPTER I.

SCHEMERS AND PROJECTORS.


    IT is easy to understand how rapid transit from place to place should, from the earliest times, have been an object of desire.  The marvellous gift of speed conferred by Fortunatus's Wishing Cap was what all must have envied: it conferred power.  It also conferred pleasure.  "Life has not many things better than this," said Samuel Johnson as he rolled along in the post-chaise.  But it also conferred comfort and well-being; and hence the easy and rapid transit of persons and commodities became in all countries an object of desire in proportion to their growth in civilization.

    We have elsewhere [p.47] endeavoured to describe the obstructions to the progress of society occasioned by the defective internal communications of Britain in early times, which were to a considerable extent removed by the adoption of the canal system, and the improvement of our roads and highways, toward the end of last century.  But the progress of industry was so rapid—the invention of new tools, machines, and engines so greatly increased the productive wealth of the nation—that some forty years since it was found that these roads and canals, numerous and excellent though they might be, were altogether inadequate for the accommodation of the traffic of the country, which was increasing in almost a direct ratio with the increased application of steam-power to the purposes of productive industry.

    The inventive minds of the nation, always on the alert—the "schemers" and the "projectors," to whom society has in all times been so greatly indebted—proceeded to apply themselves to the solution of the problem of how the communications of the country were best to be improved; and the result was, that the power of steam itself was applied to remedy the inconveniences which it had caused.

    Like most inventions, that of the Steam Locomotive was very gradually made.  The idea of it, born in one age, was revived in the ages that followed.  It was embodied first in one model, then in another—the labours of one inventor being taken up by his successors—until at length, after many disappointments and many failures, the practicable working locomotive was achieved.

    The locomotive engine was not, however, sufficient for the purposes of cheap and rapid transit.  Another expedient was absolutely essential to its success—that of the Railway: the smooth rail to bear the load, as well as the steam-engine to draw it.

    Expedients were early adopted for the purpose of diminishing friction between the wheels of vehicles and the roads along which they were dragged by horse-power.  The Romans employed stone blocks with that object; and the streets of the long-buried city of Pompeii still bear the marks of the ancient Roman chariot-wheels, as the stone track for heavy vehicles on our modem London Bridge shows the wheel-marks of the wagons which cross it.  These stone blocks were merely a simple expedient to diminish friction, and were the first steps toward a railroad.

    The railway proper doubtless originated in the coal districts of the North of England and Wales, where it was found useful in facilitating the transport of coals from the pits to the shipping-places.  At an early period the coal was carried to the boats in panniers, or in sacks upon horses' backs.  Next carts were used, and tram-ways of flag-stone were laid down, along which they were easily hauled.  The carts were then converted into wagons, and mounted on four wheels instead of two.

    Still farther to facilitate the haulage of the wagons, pieces of planking were laid parallel upon wooden sleepers, or imbedded in the ordinary track.  It is said that these wooden rails were first employed by a Mr. Beaumont, a gentleman from the South, who, about the year 1630, adventured in the northern mines with about thirty thousand pounds, and after introducing many improvements in the working of the coal, as well as in the methods of transporting it to the staithes on the river, was ruined by his enterprise, and "within a few Years," to use the words of the ancient chronicler, "he consumed all his Money, and rode Home upon his light Horse." [p.49-1]

 

COAL-STAITH ON THE TYNE [By R. P. Leitch.]


    The use of wooden rails gradually extended, and they were laid down between most of the collieries on the Tyne and the places at which the coal was shipped.  Roger North, in 1676, found the practice had become extensively adopted, and he speaks of the large sums then paid for way-leave—that is, the permission granted by the owners of lands lying between the coal-pits and the river-side to lay down a tram-way for the purpose of connecting the one with the other.

    A century later, Arthur Young observed that not only had these roads become greatly multiplied, but formidable works had been constructed to carry them along upon the same level.  "The coal wagon-roads from the pits to the water," he says, "are great works, carried over all sorts of inequalities of ground, so far as the distance of nine or ten miles.  The tracks of the wheels are marked with pieces of wood let into the road for the wheels of the wagons to run on, by which one horse is enabled to draw, and that with ease, fifty or sixty bushels of coals." [p49-2]

    Saint Fond, the French traveller, who visited Newcastle in 1791, described the colliery wagon-ways in that neighbourhood as superior to any thing of the kind he had seen.  The wooden rails were formed with a rounded upper surface, like a projecting moulding, and the wagon-wheels being "made of cast iron, and hollowed in the manner of a metal pulley," readily fitted the rounded surface of the rails.  The economy with which the coal was thus hauled to the shipping-places was urged by Saint Font as an inducement to his own countrymen to adopt a like method of transit. [p50]

    Similar wagon-roads were early laid down in the coal districts of Wales, Cumberland, and Scotland.  At the time of the Scotch rebellion in 1745, a tram-road existed between the Tranent coal-pits and the small harbour of Cockenzie, in East Lothian; and a portion of the line was selected by General Cope as a position for his cannon at the battle of Prestonpans.

    In these rude wooden tracks we find the germ of the modern railroad.  Improvements were gradually made in them.  Thus, at some collieries, thin plates of iron were nailed upon their upper surface, for the purpose of protecting the parts most exposed to friction.  Cast-iron rails were also tried, the wooden rails having been found liable to rot.  The first iron rails are supposed to have been laid down at Whitehaven as early as 1738.  This cast-iron road was denominated a "plate-way," from the plate-like form in which the rails were cast.  In 1767, as appears from the books of the Coalbrookdale Iron Works, in Shropshire, five or six tons of rails were cast, as an experiment, on the suggestion of Mr. Reynolds, one of the partners; and they were shortly after laid down to form a road.
 

    In 1776, a cast-iron tram-way, nailed to wooden sleepers, was laid down at the Duke of Norfolk's colliery near Sheffield.  The person who designed and constructed this coal line was Mr. John Curr, whose son has erroneously claimed for him the invention of the cast-iron railway.  He certainly adopted it early, and thereby met the fate of men before their age; for his plan was opposed by the labouring people of the colliery, who got up a riot, in which they tore up the road and burned the coal-staith, while Mr. Curr fled into a neighbouring wood for concealment, and lay there perdu for three days and nights, to escape the fury of the populace. [p.51]  The plates of these early tram-ways had a ledge cast on their outer edge to guide the wheel along the road, after the manner shown in the preceding cut.

    In 1789, Mr. William Jessop constructed a railway at Loughborough, in Leicestershire, and there introduced the cast-iron edge-rail, with flanches cast upon the tire of the wagon-wheels to keep them on the track, instead of having the margin or flanch cast upon the rail itself; and this plan was shortly after adopted in other places.  In 1800, Mr. Benjamin Outram, of Little Eaton, Derbyshire (father of the distinguished General Outram), used stone props instead of timber for supporting the ends or joinings of the rails.  Thus the use of railroads, in various forms, gradually extended, until they became generally adopted in the mining districts.

    Such was the growth of the railroad, which, it will be observed, originated in necessity, and was modified according to experience; progress in this, as in all departments of mechanics, having been effected by the exertions of many men; one generation entering upon the labours of that which preceded it, and carrying them onward to farther stages of improvement.  The invention of the locomotive was in like manner made by successive steps.  It was not the invention of one man, but of a succession of men, each working at the proper hour, and according to the needs of that hour; one inventor interpreting only the first word of the problem which his successors were to solve after long and laborious efforts and experiments. "The locomotive is not the invention of one man," said Robert Stephenson at Newcastle, "but of a nation of mechanical engineers."

    Down to the end of last century, and indeed down almost to our own time, the only power used in haulage was that of the horse.  Along the common roads of the country the poor horses were "tearing their hearts out" in dragging cumbersome vehicles behind them, and the transport of merchandise continued to be slow, dear, and in all respects unsatisfactory.  Many expedients were suggested with the view of getting rid of the horse.  The power of wind was one of the first expedients proposed.  It was cheap, though by no means regular.  It impelled ships by sea; why should it not be used to impel carriages by land?  The first sailing-coach was invented by one Simon Stevinius, or Stevins, a Fleming, toward the end of the sixteenth century.  Pierre Gassendi gives an account of its performances as follows:


    "Purposing to visit Grotius, Peireskius went to Scheveling that he might satisfy himself of the carriage and swiftness of a coach a few years before invented, and made with that artifice that with expanded sails it would fly upon the shore as a ship upon the sea.  He had formerly heard that Count Maurice, a little after his victory at Nieuport [1600], had put himself thereinto, together with Francis Mendoza, his prisoner, on purpose to make trial thereof, and that, within two hours, they arrived at Putten, which is distant from Scheveling fourteen leagues, or two-and-forty miles.  He had, therefore, a mind to make the experiment himself, and he would often tell us with what admiration he was seized when he was carried with a quick wind and yet perceived it not, the coach's motion being equally quick."[p52-1]


    The sailing-coach, however, was only a curiosity.  As a practicable machine, it proved worthless, for the wind could not be depended upon for land locomotion.  The coach could not tack as the ship did.  Sometimes the wind did not blow at all, while at other times it blew a hurricane.  After being used for some time as a toy, the sailing-coach was given up as impracticable, and the project speedily dropped out of sight.

    But, strange to say, the expedient of driving coal-wagons by the wind was revived in Wales about a century later.  On this occasion, Sir Humphry Mackworth, an ingenious coal-miner at Neath, was the projector.  Waller, in his "Essay on Mines," published in 1698, takes the opportunity of eulogizing Sir Humphry's "new sailing-wagons, for the cheap carriage of his coal to the water-side, whereby one horse does the work of ten at all times; but when any wind is stirring (which is seldom wanting near the sea), one man and a small sail do the work of twenty."[p52-2]  It does not, however, appear that any other coal-owner had the courage to follow Sir Humphry's example, and the sailing-wagon was forgotten until, after the lapse of another century, it was revived by Mr. Edgeworth.

    The employment of steam-power as a means of land locomotion was the subject of much curious speculation long before any practical attempt was made to carry it into effect.  The merit of promulgating the first idea with reference to it probably belongs to no other than the great Sir Isaac Newton.  In his "Explanation of the Newtonian Philosophy," written in 1680, he figured a spherical generator, supported on wheels, and provided with a seat for a passenger in front, and a long jet-pipe behind, and stated that "the whole is to be mounted on little wheels, so as to move easily on a horizontal plane, and if the hole, or jet-pipe, be opened, the vapour will rush out violently one way, and the wheels and the ball at the same time will be carried the contrary way.''  This, it will be observed, was but a modification of the earliest known steam-engine, or Œolopile, of Hero of Alexandria.  It is not believed that Sir Isaac Newton ever made any experiment of his proposed method of locomotion, or did more than merely throw out the idea for other minds to work upon.

    The idea of employing steam in locomotion was revived from time to time, and formed the subject of much curious speculation.  About the middle of last century we find Benjamin Franklin, then agent in London for the United Provinces of America, Matthew Boulton, of Birmingham, and Erasmus Darwin, of Lichfield, engaged in a correspondence relative to steam as a motive power.  Boulton had made a model of a fire-engine, which he sent to London for Franklin's inspection; and though the original purpose for which the engine had been contrived was the pumping of water, it was believed to be practicable to employ it also as a means of locomotion.  Franklin was too much occupied at the time by grave political questions to pursue the subject; but the sanguine and speculative mind of Erasmus Darwin was inflamed by the idea of a "fiery chariot," and he pressed his friend Boulton to prosecute the contrivance of the necessary steam machine.[p.54]

    Erasmus Darwin was in many respects a remarkable man.  In his own neighbourhood he was highly esteemed as a physician, and by many intelligent readers of his day he was greatly prized as a poet.  Horace Walpole said of his "Botanic Garden" that it was "the most delicious poem upon earth," and he declared that he "could read it over and over again forever."  The doctor was accustomed to write his poems with a pencil on little scraps of paper while riding about among his patients in his "sulky."  The vehicle, which was worn and bespattered outside, had room within it for the doctor and his appurtenances only.  On one side of him was a pile of books reaching from the floor to nearly the front window of the carriage, while on the other was a hamper containing fruit and sweetmeats, with a store of cream and sugar, with which the occupant regaled himself during his journey.  Lashed on to the place usually appropriated to the "boot" was a large pail for watering the horses, together with a bag of oats and a bundle of hay.  Such was the equipage of a fashionable country physician of the last century.

    Dr. Darwin was a man of large and massive person, bearing a rather striking resemblance to his distinguished townsman, Dr. Johnson, in manner, deportment, and force of character.  He was full of anecdote, and his conversation was most original and entertaining.  He was a very outspoken man, vehemently enunciating theories which some thought original and others dangerous.  As he drove through the country in his "sulky," his mind teemed with speculation on all subjects, from zoonomy, botany, and physiology, to physics, æsthetics, and mental philosophy.  Though his speculations were not always sound, they were clever and ingenious, and, at all events, they had the effect of setting other minds a-thinking and speculating on science and the methods for its advancement.  From his "Loves of the Plants"—afterward so cleverly parodied by George Canning in his "Loves of the Triangles"—it would appear that the doctor even entertained a theory of managing the winds by a little philosophic artifice.  His scheme of a steam locomotive was of a more practical character.  This idea, like so many others, first occurred to him in his "sulky."

    "As I was riding home yesterday," he wrote to his friend Boulton in the year 1766,


"I considered the scheme of the fiery chariot, and the longer I contemplated this favourite idea, the more practicable it appeared to me.  I shall lay my thoughts before you, crude and undigested though they may appear to be, telling you as well what I thought would not do as what would do, as by those hints you may be led into various trains of thinking upon this subject, and by that means (if any hints can assist your genius, which, without hints, is above all others I am acquainted with) be more likely to improve or disapprove.  And as I am quite mad of this scheme, I beg you will not mention it, or show this paper to Wyat or any body.

    "These things are required: 1st, a rotary motion; 2d, easily altering its direction to any other direction; 3d, to be accelerated, retarded, destroyed, revived instantly and easily; 4th, the bulk, the weight, and expense of the machine to be as small as possible in proportion to its use." [p.55]


    He then goes on to throw out various suggestions as to the form and arrangement of the machine, the number of wheels on which it was to run, and the mode of applying the power.  The text of this letter is illustrated by rough diagrams, showing a vehicle mounted on three wheels, the foremost or guiding wheel being under the control of the driver; but in a subsequent passage he says, "I think four wheels will be better."

    "Let there be two cylinders," he proceeds.  "Suppose one piston up, and the vacuum made under it by the je d'eau froid.  That piston can not yet descend because the cock is not yet opened which admits the steam into its antagonist cylinder.  Hence the two pistons are in equilibrio, being either of them pressed by the atmosphere.  Then I say, if the cock which admits the steam into the antagonist cylinder be opened gradually and not with a jerk, that the first-mentioned [piston in the] cylinder will descend gradually and not less forcibly.  Hence, by the management of the steam cocks, the motion may be accelerated, retarded, destroyed, revived instantly and easily.  And if this answers in practice as it does in theory, the machine can not fail of success!  Eureka!

    "The cocks of the cold water may be moved by the great work, but the steam cocks must be managed by the hand of the charioteer, who also directs the rudder-wheel.  [Then follow his rough diagrams.]  The central wheel ought to have been under the rollers, so as it may be out of the way of the boiler." [p.56-1]


    After farther explaining himself, he goes on to say:


    "If you could learn the expense of coals to a common fire-engine and the weight of water it draws, some certain estimate may be made if such a scheme as this would answer.  Pray don't show Wyat this scheme, for if you think it feasible and will send me a critique upon it, I will certainly, if I can get somebody to bear half the expense with me, endeavour to build a fiery chariot, and, if it answers, get a patent.  If you choose to be partner with me in the profit, and expense, and trouble, let me know, as I am determined to execute it if you approve of it.

    "Please to remember the pulses of the common fire-engines, and say in what manner the piston is so made as to keep out the air in its motion.  By what way is the jet d'eau froid let out of the cylinder?  How full of water is the boiler?  How is it supplied, and what is the quantity of its waste of water?" [p.56-2]


    It will be observed from these remarks that the doctor's notions were of the crudest sort, and, as he obviously contemplated but a modification of the Newcomen engine, then chiefly employed in pumping water from mines, the action of which was slow, clumsy, and expensive, the steam being condensed by injection of cold water, it is clear that, even though Boulton had taken up and prosecuted Darwin's idea, it could not have issued in a practicable or economical working locomotive.

    But, although Darwin himself—his time engrossed by his increasing medical practice—proceeded no farther with his scheme of a "fiery chariot," he succeeded in inflaming the mind of his young friend, Richard Lovell Edgeworth, who had settled for a time in his neighbourhood, and induced him to direct his attention to the introduction of improved means of locomotion by steam.  In a letter written by Dr. Small to Watt in 1768, we find him describing Edgeworth as "a gentleman of fortune, young, mechanical, and indefatigable, who has taken a resolution to move land and water carriages by steam, and has made considerable progress in the short space of time that he has devoted to the study.''

    One of the first-fruits of Edgeworth's investigations was his paper "On Railroads" which he read before the Society of Arts in 1768, and for which he was awarded the society's gold medal.  He there proposed that four iron railroads be laid down on one of the great roads out of London; two for carts and wagons, and two for light carriages and stage-coaches.  The post-chaises and gentlemen's carriages might, he thought, be made to go at eight miles an hour, and the stage-coaches at six miles an hour, drawn by a single horse.  He urged that such a method of transport would be attended with great economy of power and consequent cheapness.  Many years later, in 1802, he published his views on the same subject in a more matured form.  By that time Watt's steam-engine had come into general use, and he suggested that small stationary engines should be fixed along his proposed railroad, and made, by means of circulating chains, to draw the carriages along with a great diminution of horse labour and expense.

    It is creditable to Mr. Edgeworth's forethought that both the models proposed by him have since been adopted.  Horse-traction of carriages on railways is now in general use in the towns of the United States; and omnibuses on the same principle regularly ply between the Place de la Concorde at Paris and St. Cloud, both being found highly convenient for the public, and profitable to the proprietors éd.—horse trams].  The system of working railways by fixed engines was also regularly employed on some lines in the infancy of the railway system, though it has since fallen into disuse, in consequence of the increased power given to the modern locomotive, which enables it to surmount gradients formerly considered impracticable.

    Besides his speculations on railways worked by horse and steam power, Mr. Edgeworth—unconscious of the early experiments of Stevins and Mackworth—made many attempts to apply the power of the wind with the same object.  It is stated in his "Memoirs" that he devoted himself to locomotive traction by various methods for a period of about forty years, during which he made above a hundred working models, in a great variety of forms; and though none of his schemes were attended with practical success, he adds that he gained far more in amusement than he lost by his unsuccessful labours.  "The only mortification that affected me," he says, "was my discovery, many years after I had taken out my patent [for the sailing-carriage], that the rudiments of my whole scheme were mentioned in an obscure memoir of the French Academy."

    The sailing-wagon scheme, as revived by Mr. Edgeworth, was doubtless of a highly ingenious character, though it was not practicable.  One of his expedients was a portable railway, of a kind somewhat similar to that since revived by Mr. Boydell.  Many experiments were tried with the new wagons on Hare Hatch Common, but they were attended with so much danger when the wind blew strong—the vehicles seeming to fly rather than roll along the ground—that farther experiments were abandoned, and Mr. Edgeworth himself at length came to the conclusion that a power so uncertain as that of the wind could never be relied upon for the safe conduct of ordinary traffic.  His thoughts finally settled on steam as the only practicable power for this purpose; but, though his enthusiasm in the cause of improved transit of persons and of goods remained unabated, he was now too far advanced in life to prosecute his investigations in that direction.  When an old man of seventy he wrote to James Watt (7th August, 1813): "I have always thought that steam would become the universal lord, and that we should in time scorn post-horses.  An iron railroad would be a cheaper thing than a road on the common construction.  Four years later he died, and left the problem, which he had nearly all his life been trying ineffectually to solve, to be worked out by younger men.

    Dr. Darwin had long before preceded him into the silent land.  Down to his death in 1802, Edgeworth had kept up a continuous correspondence with him on his favourite topic; but it does not appear that Darwin ever revived his project of the "fiery chariot."  He was satisfied to prophesy its eventual success in the lines which are perhaps more generally known than any he has written—for, though Horace Walpole declared that he could ''read the Botanic Garden over and over again forever," the poetry of Darwin is now all but forgotten.  The following was his prophecy, published in 1791, before any practical locomotive or steam-boat had been invented:


"Soon shall thy arm, unconquered steam, afar
 Drag the slow barge, or drive the rapid car;
 Or on wide-waving wings expanded bear
 The flying chariot through the fields of air.
 Fair crews triumphant, leaning from above,
 Shall wave their flutt'ring kerchiefs as they move;
 Or warrior bands alarm the gaping crowd.
 And armies shrink beneath the shadowy cloud."


    The prophecy embodied in the first two lines of the passage has certainly been fulfilled, but the triumph of the steam balloon has yet to come.


 
CHAPTER II.

EARLY LOCOMOTIVE MODELS.


    THE application of steam-power to the driving of wheel-carriages on common roads was in 1759 brought under the notice of James Watt by his young friend John Robison, then a student at the University of Glasgow.  Robison prepared a rough sketch of his suggested steam-carriage, in which he proposed to place the cylinder with its open end downward, to avoid the necessity for using a working beam.  Watt was then only twenty-three years old, and was very much occupied in conducting his business of a mathematical instrument maker, which he had only recently established.  Nevertheless, he proceeded to construct a model locomotive provided with two cylinders of tin-plate, intending that the pistons and their connecting-rods should act alternately on two pinions attached to the axles of the carriage-wheels.  But the model, when made, did not answer Watt's expectations; and when, shortly after, Robison left college to go to sea, he laid the project aside, and did not resume it for many years.

    In the mean time, an ingenious French mechanic had taken up the subject, and proceeded to make a self-moving road engine worked by steam-power.  It has been incidentally stated that a M. Pouillet was the first to make a locomotive machine,[p.60] but no particulars are given of the invention, which is more usually attributed to Nicholas Joseph Cugnot, a native of Void, in Lorraine, where he was born in 1729.  Not much is known of Cugnot's early history beyond that he was an officer in the army, that he published several works on military science, and that on leaving the army he devoted himself to the invention of a steam-carriage to be run on common roads.

    It appears from documents collected by M. Morin that Cugnot constructed his first carriage at the Arsenal in 1769, at the cost of the Comte de Saxe, by whom he was patronized and liberally helped.  It ran on three wheels, and was put in motion by an engine composed of two single-acting cylinders, the pistons of which acted alternately on the single front wheel.  While this machine was in course of construction, a Swiss officer, named Planta, brought forward a similar project; but, on perceiving that Cugnot's carriage was superior to his own, he proceeded no farther with it.

    When Cugnot's carriage was ready, it was tried in the presence of the Duc de Choiseul, the Comte de Saxe, and other military officers.  On being first set in motion, it ran against a stone wall which stood in its way, and threw it down.  There was thus no doubt about its power, though there were many doubts about its manageableness.  At length it was got out of the Arsenal and put upon the road, when it was found that, though only loaded with four persons, it could not travel faster than about two and a quarter miles an hour; and that, the size of the boiler not being sufficient, it would not continue at work for more than twelve or fifteen minutes, when it was necessary to wait until sufficient steam had been raised to enable it to proceed farther.

    The experiment was looked upon with great interest, and admitted to be of a very remarkable character; and, considering that it was a first attempt, it was not by any means regarded as unsuccessful.  As it was believed that such a machine, if properly proportioned, might be employed to drag cannon into the field independent of horse-power, the Minister of War authorized Cugnot to proceed with the construction of a new and improved machine, which was finished and ready for trial in the course of the following year.  The new locomotive was composed of two parts, one being a carriage supported on two wheels, somewhat resembling a small brewer's cart, furnished with a seat for the driver, while the other contained the machinery, which was supported on a single driving-wheel 4 ft. 2 in. in diameter.  The engine consisted of a round copper boiler with a furnace inside provided with two small chimneys, two single-acting 13-in. brass cylinders communicating with the boiler by a steam-pipe, and the arrangements for communicating the motion of the pistons to the driving-wheel, together with the steering-gear.

 


    The two parts of the machine were united by a movable pin and a toothed sector fixed on the framing of the front or machine part of the carriage.  When one of the pistons descended, the piston-rod drew with it a crank, the catch of which caused the driving-wheel to make a quarter of a revolution by means of the ratchet wheel fixed on the axle of the driving-wheel.  At the same time, a chain fixed to the crank on the same side also descended and moved a lever, the opposite end of which was thereby raised, restoring the second piston to its original position at the top of the cylinder by the interposition of a second chain and crank.  The piston-rod of the descending piston, by means of a catch, set other levers in motion, the chain fixed to them turning a half-way cock so as to open the second cylinder to the steam and the first to the atmosphere.  The second piston, then descending in turn, caused the driving-wheel to make another quarter revolution, restoring the first piston to its original position; and the process being repeated, the machine was thereby kept in motion.  To enable it to run backward, the catch of the crank was arranged in such a manner that it could be made to act either above or below, and thereby reverse the action of the machinery on the driving-wheel.  It will thus be observed that Cugnot's locomotive presented a simple and ingenious form of a high-pressure engine; and, though of rude construction, it was a highly-creditable piece of work, considering the time of its appearance and the circumstances under which it was constructed.

    Several successful trials were made with the new locomotive in the streets of Paris, which excited no small degree of interest.  Unhappily, however, an accident which occurred to it in one of the trials had the effect of putting a stop to farther experiments.  Turning the corner of a street near the Madeleine one day, when the machine was running at a speed of about three miles an hour, it became overbalanced, and fell over with a crash; after which, the running of the vehicle being considered dangerous, it was thenceforth locked up securely in the Arsenal to prevent its doing farther mischief.

    The merit of Cugnot was, however, duly recognized.  He was granted a pension of 300 livres, which continued to be paid to him until the outbreak of the Revolution.  The Girondist Roland was appointed to examine the engine and report upon it to the Convention; but his report, which was favourable, was not adopted; on which the inventor's pension was stopped, and he was left for a time without the means of living.  Some years later, Bonaparte, on his return from Italy after the peace of Campo Formio, interested himself in Cugnot's invention, and expressed a favourable opinion of his locomotive before the Academy; but his attention was shortly after diverted from the subject by the Expedition to Egypt.  Napoleon, however, succeeded in restoring Cugnot's pension, and thus soothed his declining years.  He died in Paris in 1804, at the age of seventy-five.  Cugnot's locomotive is still to be seen in the Museum of the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers at Paris; and it is, without exception, the most venerable and interesting of all the machines extant connected with the early history of locomotion.

    While Cugnot was constructing his first machine at Paris, one Francis Moore, a linen-draper, was taking out a patent in London for moving wheel-carriages by steam.  On the 14th of March, 1769, he gave notice of a patent for "a machine made of wood or metal, and worked by fire, water, or air, for the purpose of moving bodies on land or water," and on the 13th of July following he gave notice of another "for machines made of wood and metal, moved by power, for the carriage of persons and goods, and for accelerating boats, barges, and other vessels."  But it does not appear that Moore did any thing beyond lodging the titles of his inventions, so that we are left in the dark as to what was their precise character.

    James Watt's friend and correspondent, Dr. Small, of Birmingham, when he heard of Moore's intended project, wrote to the Glasgow inventor with the object of stimulating him to perfect his steam-engine, then in hand, and urging him to apply it, among other things, to purposes of locomotion.  "I hope soon," said Small, "to travel in a fiery chariot of your invention."  Watt replied to the effect that "if Linen-draper Moore does not use my engines to drive his carriages, he can't drive them by steam.  If he does, I will stop them."  But Watt was still a long way from perfecting his invention.  The steam-engine capable of driving carriages was a problem that remained to be solved, and it was a problem to the solution of which Watt never fairly applied himself.  It was enough for him to accomplish the great work of perfecting his condensed engine, and with that he rested content.

    But Watt continued to be so strongly urged by those about him to apply steam-power to purposes of locomotion that, in his comprehensive patent of the 24th of August, 1784, he included an arrangement with that object.  From his specification we learn that he proposed a cylindrical or globular boiler, protected outside by wood strongly hooped together, with a furnace inside entirely surrounded by the water to be heated except at the ends.  Two cylinders working alternately were to be employed, and the pistons working within them were to be moved by the elastic force of the steam; "and after it has performed its office," he says, "I discharge it into the atmosphere by a proper regulating valve, or I discharge it into a condensing vessel made air-tight, and formed of thin plates and pipes of metal, having their outsides exposed to the wind;" the object of this latter arrangement being to economize the water, which would otherwise be lost.  The power was to be communicated by a rotative motion (of the nature of the "sun and planet" arrangement) to the axle of one or more of the wheels of the carriage, or to another axis connected with the axle by means of toothed wheels; and in other cases he proposed, instead of the rotative machinery, to employ "toothed racks, or sectors of circles, worked with reciprocating motion by the engines, and acting upon ratched wheels fixed on the axles of the carriage."  To drive a carriage containing two persons would, he estimated, require an engine with a cylinder 7in. in diameter, making sixty strokes per minute of 1ft. each, and so constructed as to act both on the ascent and descent of the piston; and, finally, the elastic force of the steam in the boiler must be such as to be occasionally equal to supporting a pillar of mercury 30in. high.

    Though Watt repeatedly expressed his intention of constructing a model locomotive after his specification, it does not appear that he ever carried it out.  He was too much engrossed with other work; and, besides, he never entertained very sanguine views as to the practicability of road locomotion by steam.  He continued, however, to discuss the subject with his partner Boulton, and from his letters we gather that his mind continued undetermined as to the best plan to be pursued.  Only four days after the date of the above specification (i.e. on the 28th of August, 1784) we find him communicating his views on the subject to Boulton at great length, and explaining his ideas as to how the proposed object might best be accomplished.  He first addressed himself to the point of whether 80lbs. was a sufficient power to move a post-chaise on a tolerably good and level road at four miles an hour; secondly, whether 8ft of boiler surface exposed to the fire would be sufficient to evaporate a cube foot of water per hour without much waste of fuel; thirdly, whether it would require steam of more than eleven and a half times atmospheric density to cause the engine to exert a power equal to 6lbs. on the inch.  "I think," he observed, "the cylinder must either be made larger or make more than sixty strokes per minute.  As to working gear, stopping and backing, with steering the carriage, I think these things perfectly manageable."

    "My original ideas on the subject," he continued, "were prior to my invention of these improved engines, or before the crank, or any other of the rotative motions were thought of.  My plan then was to have two inverted cylinders, with toothed racks instead of piston-rods, which were to be applied to two ratchet-wheels on the axle-tree, and to act alternately; and I am partly of opinion that this method might be applied with advantage yet, because it needs no fly and has some other conveniences.  From what I have said, and from much more which a little reflection will suggest to you, you will see that without several circumstances turn out more favourable than has been stated, the machine will be clumsy and defective, and that it will cost much time to bring it to any tolerable degree of perfection, and that for me to interrupt the career of our business would be imprudent; I even grudge the time I have taken to make these comments on it.  There is, however, another way in which much mechanism might be saved if it be in itself practicable, which is to apply to it one of the self-moving rotatives, which has no regulation, but turns like a mill-wheel by the constant influx and efflux of steam; but this would not abridge the size of the boiler, and I am not sure that such engines are practicable."

 


    It will be observed from these explanations that Watt's views as to road locomotion were still crude and undefined; and, indeed, he never carried them farther.  While he was thus discussing the subject with Boulton, William Murdock, one of the most skilled and ingenious workmen of the Soho firm—then living at Redruth, in Cornwall—was occupying himself during his leisure hours, which were but few, in constructing a model locomotive after a design of his own.  He had doubtless heard of the proposal to apply steam to locomotion, and, being a clever inventor, he forthwith set himself to work out the problem.  The plan he pursued was very simple and yet efficient.  His model was of small dimensions, standing little more than a foot high, but it was sufficiently large to demonstrate the soundness of the principle on which it was constructed.  It was supported on three wheels, and carried a small copper boiler, heated by a spirit-lamp, with a flue passing obliquely through it.  The cylinder, of ¾in. diameter and 3in. stroke, was fixed in the top of the boiler, the piston-rod being connected with the vibrating beam attached to the connecting-rod which worked the crank of the driving-wheel.  This little engine worked by the expansive force of the steam only, which was discharged into the atmosphere after it had done its work of alternately raising and depressing the piston in the cylinder.

    Mr. Murdock's son informed the author that this model was invented and constructed in 1781, but, from the correspondence of Boulton and Watt, we infer that it was not ready for trial until 1784.  The first experiment with it was made in Murdock's own house at Redruth, when it successfully hauled a model wagon round the room—the single wheel placed in front of the engine, and working in a swivel frame, enabling it to run round in a circle.

    Another experiment was made out of doors, on which occasion, small though the engine was, it fairly outran the speed of its inventor.  It seems that one night, after returning from his duties at the Redruth mine, Murdock determined to try the working of his model locomotive.  For this purpose he had recourse to the walk leading to the church, about a mile from the town.  It was rather narrow, and was bounded on each side by high hedges.  The night was dark, and Murdock set out alone to try his experiment.  Having lit his lamp, the water soon boiled, when off started the engine, with the inventor after it.  Shortly after he heard distant shouts of terror.  It was too dark to perceive objects; but he found, on following up the machine, that the cries proceeded from the worthy pastor of the parish, who, going toward the town, was met on this lonely road by the hissing and fiery little monster, which he subsequently declared he had taken to be the Evil One in propria persona!

    Watt was by no means pleased when he learned that Murdock was giving his mind to these experiments.  He feared that it might have the effect of withdrawing him from the employment of the firm, to which his services had become almost indispensable; for there was no more active, skilful, or ingenious workman in all their concern.  Watt accordingly wrote to Boulton, recommending him to advise Murdock to give up his locomotive-engine scheme; but, if he could not succeed in that, then, rather than lose Murdock's services, Watt proposed that he should be allowed an advance of £100 to enable him to prosecute his experiments, and if he succeeded within a year in making an engine capable of drawing a post-chaise carrying two passengers and the driver at four miles an hour, it was suggested that he should be taken as partner into the locomotive business, for which Boulton and Watt were to provide the necessary capital.

    Two years later (in September, 1786) we find Watt again expressing his regret to Boulton that Murdock was "busying himself with the steam-carriage."  "I have still," said he, "the same opinion concerning it that I had, but to prevent as much as possible more fruitless argument about it, I have one of some size under hand, and am resolved to try if God will work a miracle in favour of these carriages.  I shall in some future letter send you the words of my specification on that subject.  In the mean time I wish William could be brought to do as we do, to mind the business in hand, and let such as Symington and Sadler throw away their time and money in hunting shadows."  In a subsequent letter Watt expressed his gratification at finding "that William applies to his business."  From that time Murdock as well as Watt dropped all farther speculation on the subject, and left it to others to work out the problem of the locomotive engine.  Murdock's model remained but a curious toy, which he himself took pleasure in exhibiting to his intimate friends; and though he long continued to speculate about road locomotion, and was persuaded of its practicability, he refrained from embodying his ideas of it in any more complete working form.

    Symington and Sadler, the "hunters of shadows" referred to by Watt, did little to advance the question.  Of Sadler we know nothing beyond that in 1786 he was making experiments as to the application of steam-power to the driving of wheel-carriages.  This came to the knowledge of Boulton and Watt, who gave him notice, on the 4th of July of the same year, that "the sole privilege of making steam-engines by the elastic force of steam acting on a piston, with or without condensation, had been granted to Mr. Watt by Act of Parliament, and also that among other improvements and applications of his principle he hath particularly specified the application of steam-engines for driving wheel carriages in a patent which he took out in the year 1784."  They accordingly cautioned him against proceeding farther in the matter; and as we hear no more of Sadler's steam-carriage, it is probable that the notice had its effect.

    The name of William Symington is better known in connection with the history of steam locomotion by sea.  He was born at Leadhills, in Scotland, in 1763.  His father was a practical mechanic, who superintended the engines and machinery of the Mining Company at Wanlockhead, where one of Boulton and Watt's pumping-engines was at work.  Young Symington was of an ingenious turn of mind from his boyhood, and at an early period he seems to have conceived the idea of employing the steam-engine to drive wheel-carriages.  His father and he worked together, and by the year 1786, when the son was only twenty-three years of age, they succeeded in completing a working model of a road locomotive.  Mr. Meason, the manager of the mine, was so much pleased with the model, the merit of which principally belonged to young Symington, that he sent him to Edinburg for the purpose of exhibiting it before the scientific gentlemen of that city, in the hope that it might lead, in some way, to his future advancement in life.  Mr. Meason also allowed the model to be exhibited at his own house there, and he invited many gentlemen of distinction to inspect it.

 


    This machine consisted of a carriage and locomotive behind, supported on four wheels.  The boiler was cylindrical, communicating by a steam-pipe with the two horizontal cylinders, one on each side of the engine.  When the piston was raised by the action of the steam, a vacuum was produced by the condensation of the steam in a cold-water tank placed underneath the engine, on which the piston was again forced back by the pressure of the atmosphere.  The motion was communicated to the wheels by rack-rods connected with the piston-rod, which worked on each side of a drum fixed on the hind axle, the alternate action of which rods upon the tooth and ratchet wheels with which the drum was provided producing the rotary motion.  It will thus be observed that Symington's engine was partly atmospheric and partly condensing, the condensation being effected by a separate vessel and air-pump, as patented by Watt; and though the arrangement was ingenious, it is clear that, had it ever been brought into use, the traction by means of such an engine would have been of the very slowest kind.

    But Symington's engine was not destined to be applied to road locomotion.  He was completely diverted from employing it for that purpose by his connection with Mr. Miller, of Dalswinton, then engaged in experimenting on the application of mechanical power to the driving of his double paddle-boat  The power of men was first tried, but the labour was found too severe; and when Mr. Miller went to see Symington's model, and informed the inventor of his difficulty in obtaining a regular and effective power for driving his boat, Symington—his mind naturally full of his own invention—at once suggested his steam-engine for the purpose.  The suggestion was adopted, and Mr. Miller authorized him to proceed with the construction of a steam-engine to be fitted into his double pleasure boat on Dalswinton Lock, where it was tried in October, 1788.  This was followed by farther experiments, which eventually led to the construction of the Charlotte Dundas in 1801, which may be regarded as the first practical steam-boat ever built.

    Symington took out letters patent in the same year, securing the invention, or rather the novel combination of inventions, embodied in his steam-boat, but he never succeeded in getting it introduced into practical use.  From the date of completing his invention, fortune seemed to run steadily against him.  The Duke of Bridgewater, who had ordered a number of Symington's steamboats for his canal, died, and his executors countermanded the order.  Symington failed in inducing any other canal company to make trial of his invention.  Lord Dundas also took the Charlotte Dundas off the Forth and Clyde Canal, where she had been at work, and from that time the vessel was never more tried.  Symington had no capital of his own to work upon, and he seems to have been unable to make friends among capitalists.  The rest of his life was for the most part thrown away.  Toward the close of it his principal haunt was London, amid whose vast population he was one of the many waifs and strays.  He succeeded in obtaining a grant of £100 from the Privy Purse in 1824, and afterward an annuity of £50, but he did not live long to enjoy it, for he died in March, 1831, and was buried in the church-yard of St. Botolph, Aldgate, where there is not even a stone to mark the grave of the inventor of the first practicable steam-boat.

 


    While the inventive minds of England were thus occupied, those of America were not idle.  The idea of applying steam-power to the propulsion of carriages on land is said to have occurred to John Fitch in 1785; but he did not pursue the idea "for more than a week," being diverted from it by his scheme of applying the same power to the propulsion of vessels on the water.[p.71]  About the same time, Oliver Evans, a native of Newport, Delaware, was occupied with a project for driving steam-carriages on common roads; and in 1786 the Legislature of Maryland granted him the exclusive right for that state.  Several years, however, passed before he could raise the means for erecting a model carriage, most of his friends regarding the project as altogether chimerical and impracticable.  In 1800 or 1801, Evans began a steam-carriage at his own expense; but he had not proceeded far with it when he altered his intention, and applied the engine intended for the driving of a carriage to the driving of a small grinding-mill, in which it was found efficient.  In 1804 he constructed at Philadelphia a second engine of five-horse power, working on the high-pressure principle, which was placed on a large flat or scow, mounted upon wheels.  "This," says his biographer, "was considered a fine opportunity to show the public that his engine could propel both land and water conveyances.  When the machine was finished, Evans fixed under it, in a rough and temporary manner, wheels with wooden axle-trees.  Although the whole weight was equal to two hundred barrels of flour, yet his small engine propelled it up Market Street, and round the circle to the water-works, where it was launched into the Schuylkill.  A paddle-wheel was then applied to its stem, and it thus sailed down that river to the Delaware, a distance of sixteen miles, in the presence of thousands of spectators.[p.72]  It does not, however, appear that any farther trial was made of this engine as a locomotive; and, having been dismounted and applied to the driving of a small grinding-mill, its employment as a travelling engine was shortly forgotten.


 
CHAPTER III.

THE CORNISH LOCOMOTIVE—MEMOIR OF RICHARD TREVITHICK.


    WHILE the discussion of steam-power as a means of locomotion was proceeding in England, other projectors were advocating the extension of wagon-ways and railroads.  Mr. Thomas, of Denton, near Newcastle-on-Tyne, read a paper before the Philosophical Society of that town in 1800, in which he urged the laying down of railways throughout the country, on the principle of the coal wagon-ways, for the general carriage of goods and merchandise; and Dr. James Anderson, of Edinburg, about the same time published his "Recreations of Agriculture,'' wherein he recommended that railways should be laid along the principal turnpike-roads, and worked by horse-power, which, he alleged, would have the effect of greatly reducing the cost of transport, and thereby stimulating all branches of industry.

    Railways were indeed already becoming adopted in places where the haulage of heavy loads was for short distances; and in some cases lines were laid down of considerable length.  One of the first of such lines constructed under the powers of an Act of Parliament was the Cardiff and Merthyr railway or tram-road, about twenty-seven miles in length, for the accommodation of the iron-works of Plymouth, Pen-y-darran, and Dowlais, all in South Wales, the necessary Act for which was obtained in 1794.  Another, the Sirhoway railroad, about twenty-eight miles in length, was constructed under the powers of an act obtained in 1801; it accommodated the Tredegar and Sirhoway Iron-works and the Trevill Lime-works, as well as the collieries along its route.

    In the immediate neighbourhood of London there was another very early railroad, the Wandsworth and Croydon tram-way, about ten miles long, which was afterward extended southward to Merstham, in Surrey, for about eight miles more, making a total length of nearly eighteen miles.  The first act for the purpose of authorizing the construction of this road was obtained in 1800.

    All these lines were, however, worked by horses, and in the case of the Croydon and Merstham line, donkeys shared in the work, which consisted chiefly in the haulage of stone, coal, and lime.  No proposal had yet been made to apply the power of steam as a substitute for horses on railways, nor were the rails then laid down of a strength sufficient to bear more than a loaded wagon of the weight of three tons, or, at the very outside, of three and a quarter tons.

    It was, however, observed from the first that there was an immense saving in the cost of haulage; and on the day of opening the southern portion of the Merstham Railroad in 1805, a train of twelve wagons laden with stone, weighing in all thirty-eight tons, was drawn six miles in an hour by one horse, with apparent ease, down an incline of 1 in 120; and this was bruited about as an extraordinary feat, highly illustrative of the important uses of the new iron-ways.

    About the same time, the subject of road locomotion was again brought into prominent notice by an important practical experiment conducted in a remote corner of the kingdom.  The experimenter was a young man, then obscure, but afterward famous, who may be fairly regarded as the inventor of the railway locomotive, if any single individual be entitled to that appellation.  This was Richard Trevithick, a person of extraordinary mechanical skill but of marvellous ill fortune, who, though the inventor of many ingenious contrivances, and the founder of the fortunes of many, himself died in cold obstruction and in extreme poverty, leaving behind him nothing but his great inventions and the recollection of his genius.

    Richard Trevithick was born on the 13th of April, 1771, in the parish of Illogan, a few miles west of Redruth, in Cornwall.  In the immediate neighbourhood rises Castle-Carn-brea, a rocky eminence, supposed by Borlase to have been the principal seat of Druidic worship in the West of England.  The hill commands an extraordinary view over one of the richest mining fields of Cornwall, from Chacewater and Redruth to Camborne.

    Trevithick's father acted as purser at several of the mines.  Though a man in good position and circumstances, he does not seem to have taken much pains with his son's education.  Being an only child, he was very much indulged—among other things, in his dislike for the restraints and discipline of school; and he was left to wander about among the mines, spending his time in the engine-rooms, picking up information about pumping-engines and mining machinery.

    His father, observing the boy's strong bent toward mechanics, placed him for a time as pupil with William Murdock, while the latter lived at Redruth superintending the working and repairs of Boulton and Watt's pumping-engines in that neighbourhood.  During his pupilage, young Trevithick doubtless learned much from that able mechanic.  It is probable that he got his first idea of the high-pressure road locomotive which he afterward constructed from Murdock's ingenious little model above described, the construction and action of which must have been quite familiar to him, for no secret was ever made of it, and its performances were often exhibited.

    Many new pumping-engines being in course of erection in the neighbourhood about that time, there was an unusual demand for engineers, which it was found difficult to supply; and young Trevithick, whose skill was acknowledged, had no difficulty in getting an appointment.  The father was astonished at his boy's presumption (as he supposed it to be) in undertaking such a responsibility, and he begged the mine agents to reconsider their decision.  But the result showed that they were justified in making the appointment; for young Trevithick, though he had not yet attained his majority, proved fully competent to perform the duties devolving upon him as engineer.

    So long as Boulton and Watt's patent continued to run, constant attempts were made in Cornwall and elsewhere to upset it.  Their engines had cleared the mines of water, and thereby rescued the mine lords from ruin, but it was felt to be a great hardship that they should have to pay for the right to use them.  They accordingly stimulated the ingenuity of the local engineers to contrive an engine that should answer the same purpose, and enable them to evade making any farther payments to Boulton and Watt.  The first to produce an engine that seemed likely to answer the purpose was Jonathan Hornblower, who had been employed in erecting Watt's engines in Cornwall.  After him one Edward Bull, who had been first a stoker and then an assistant-tender of Watt's engines, turned out another pumping-engine, which promised to prove an equally safe evasion of the existing patent.  But Boulton and Watt having taken the necessary steps to defend their right, several actions were tried, in which they proved successful, and then the mine lords were compelled to disgorge.  When they found that Hornblower could be of no farther use to them, they abandoned him—threw him away like a sucked orange; and shortly after we find him a prisoner for debt in the King's Bench, almost in a state of starvation.  Nor do we hear any thing more of Edward Bull after the issue of the Boulton and Watt trial.

    Like the other Cornish engineers, young Trevithick took an active part from the first in opposing the Birmingham patent, and he is said to have constructed several engines, with the assistance of William Bull (formerly an erector of Watt's machines), with the object of evading it.  These engines are said to have been highly creditable to their makers, working to the entire satisfaction of the mine-owners.  The issue of the Watt trial, however, which declared all such engines to be piracies, brought to an end for a time a business which would otherwise have proved a very profitable one, and Trevithick's partnership with Bull then came to an end.

    While carrying on his business, Trevithick had frequent occasion to visit Mr. Harvey's iron foundry at Hayle, then a small work, but now one of the largest in the West of England, the Cornish pumping-engines turned out by Harvey and Co. being the very best of their kind.  During these visits Trevithick became acquainted with the various members of Mr. Harvey's family, and in course of time he contracted an engagement with one of his daughters, Miss Jane Harvey, to whom he was married in November, 1797.

    A few years later we find Trevithick engaged in partnership with his cousin, Andrew Vivian, also an engineer.  They carried on their business of engine-making at Camborne, a mining town situated in the midst of the mining district, a few miles south of Redruth.  Watt's patent-right expired in 1800, and from that time the Cornish engineers were free to make engines after their own methods.  Trevithick was not content to follow in the beaten paths, but, being of a highly speculative turn, he occupied himself in contriving various new methods of employing steam with the object of economizing fuel and increasing the effective power of the engine.

    From an early period he entertained the idea of making the expansive force of steam act directly on both sides of the piston on the high-pressure principle, and thus getting rid of the process of condensation as in Watt's engines.  Although Cugnot had employed high-pressure steam in his road locomotive, and Murdock in his model, and although Watt had distinctly specified the action of steam at high-pressure as well as low in his patents of 1769, 1782, and 1784, the idea was not embodied in any practicable working engine until the subject was taken in hand by Trevithick.  The results of his long and careful study were embodied in the patent which he took out in 1802, in his own and Vivian's name, for an improved steam-engine, and "the application thereof for driving carriages and for other purposes."

    The arrangement of Trevithick's engine was exceedingly ingenious.  It exhibited a beautiful simplicity of parts; the machinery was arranged in a highly effective form, uniting strength with solidity and portability, and enabling the power of steam to be employed with very great rapidity, economy, and force.  Watt's principal objection to using high-pressure steam consisted in the danger to which the boiler was exposed of being burst by internal pressure.  In Trevithick's engine, this was avoided by using a cylindrical wrought-iron boiler, being the form capable of presenting the greatest resistance to the expansive force of steam.  Boilers of this kind were not, however, new.  Oliver Evans, of Delaware, had made use of them in his high-pressure engines prior to the date of Trevithick's patent; and, as Evans did not claim the cylindrical boiler, it is probable that the invention was in use before his time.  Nevertheless, Trevithick had the merit of introducing the round boilers into Cornwall, where they are still known as "Trevithick boilers."  The saving in fuel effected by their use was such that in 1812 the Messrs. Williams, of Scorrier, made Trevithick a present of £300, in acknowledgment of the benefits arising to their mines from that source alone.

 

Trevithick and Vivian's steam-carriage, 1803.


    Trevithick's steam-carriage was the most compact and handsome vehicle of the kind that had yet been invented, and, indeed as regards arrangement, it has scarcely to this day been surpassed.  It consisted of a carriage capable of accommodating some half-dozen passengers, underneath which was the engine and machinery inclosed, about the size of an orchestra drum, the whole being supported on four wheels—two in front, by which it was guided, and two behind, by which it was driven.  The engine had but one cylinder.  The piston-rod outside the cylinder was double, and drove a cross-piece, working in guides, on the opposite side of the cranked axle to the cylinder, the crank of the axle revolving between the double parts of the piston-rod.  Toothed wheels were attached to this axle, which worked into other toothed wheels fixed on the axle of the driving-wheels.  The steam-cocks were opened and shut by a connection with the crank-axle; and the force-pump, with which the boiler was supplied with water, was also worked from it, as were the bellows to blow the fire and thereby keep up the combustion in the furnace.

    The specification clearly alludes to the use of the engine on railroads as follows: "It is also to be noticed that we do occasionally, or in certain cases, make the external periphery of the wheels uneven by projecting heads of nails or bolts, or cross grooves or fittings to railroads where required, and that in cases of hard pull we cause a lever, belt, or claw to project through the rim of one or both of the said wheels, so as to take hold of the ground, but that, in general, the ordinary structure or figure of the external surface of those wheels will be found to answer the intended purpose."

    The specification also shows the application of the high-pressure engine on the same principle to the driving of a sugar-mill, or for other purposes where a fixed power is required, dispensing with condenser, cistern, air-pump, and cold-water pump.  In the year 1803, a small engine of this kind was erected after Trevithick's plan at Marazion, which worked by steam of at least 30lbs. on the inch above atmospheric pressure, and gave much satisfaction.

    The first experimental steam-carriage was constructed by Trevithick and Vivian in their workshops at Camborne in 1803, and was tried by them on the public road adjoining the town, as well as in the street of the town itself.  John Petherick, a native of Camborne, who was alive in 1858, stated in a letter to Mr. Edward Williams that he well remembered seeing the engine, worked by Mr. Trevithick himself, come through the place, to the great wonder of the inhabitants.  He says, "The experiment was satisfactory only as long as the steam pressure could be kept up.  During that continuance Trevithick called upon the people to 'jump up,' so as to create a load on the engine; and it soon became covered with men, which did not seem to make any difference to the power or speed so long as the steam was kept up.  This was sought to be done by the application of a cylindrical horizontal bellows worked by the engine itself; but the attempt to keep up the power of the steam for any considerable time proved a failure."

    Trevithick, however, made several alterations in the engine which had the effect of improving it, and its success was such that he determined to take it to London and exhibit it there as the most recent novelty in steam mechanism.  It was successfully run by road from Camborne to Plymouth, a distance of about ninety miles.  At Plymouth it was shipped for London, where it shortly after arrived in safety and excited considerable curiosity.  It was run on the waste ground in the vicinity of the present Bethlehem Hospital, as well as on Lord's cricket-ground.  There Sir Humphry Davy, Mr. Davies Gilbert, and other scientific gentlemen inspected the machine and rode upon it.  Several of them took the steering of the carriage by turns, and they expressed their satisfaction with the mechanism by which it was directed.  Sir Humphry, writing to a friend in Cornwall, said, "I shall soon hope to hear that the roads of England are the haunts of Captain Trevithick's dragons—a characteristic name."  After the experiment at Lord's, the carriage was run along the New-road, and down Gray's-Inn Lane, to the premises of a carriage-builder in Long Acre.  To show the adaptability of the engine for fixed uses, Trevithick had it taken from the carriage on the day after this trial and removed to the shop of a cutler, where he applied it with success to the driving of the machinery.


    The steam-carriage shortly became the talk of the town, and the public curiosity being on the increase, Trevithick resolved on inclosing a piece of ground on the site of the present Euston station of the London and North-western Railway, and admitting persons to see the exhibition of his engine at so much a head.  He had a tram-road laid down in an elliptical form within the inclosure, and the carriage was run round it on the rails in the sight of a great number of spectators.  On the second day another crowd collected to see the exhibition, but, for what reason is not known, although it is said to have been through one of Trevithick's freaks of temper, the place was closed and the engine removed.  It is, however, not improbable that the inventor had come to the conclusion that the state of the roads at that time was such as to preclude its coming into general use for purposes of ordinary traffic.

    While the steam-carriage was being exhibited, a gentleman was laying heavy wagers as to the weight which could be hauled by a single horse on the Wandsworth and Croydon iron tram-way; and the number and weight of wagons drawn by the horse were something surprising.  Trevithick very probably put the two things together—the steam-horse and the iron-way—and kept the performance in mind when he proceeded to construct his second or railway locomotive.  In the mean time, having dismantled his steam-carriage, sent back the phaeton to the coach-builder to whom it belonged, and sold the little engine which had worked the machine, he returned to Camborne to carry on his business.  In the course of the year 1803 he went to Pen-y-darran, in South Wales, to erect a forge engine for the iron-works there; and, when it was finished, he began the erection of a railway locomotive—the first ever constructed.  There were already, as above stated, several lines of rail laid down in the district for the accommodation of the coal and iron works.  That between Merthyr Tydvil and Cardiff was the longest and most important, and it had been at work for some years. It had probably occurred to Trevithick that here was a fine opportunity for putting to practical test the powers of the locomotive, and he proceeded to construct one accordingly in the workshops at Pen-y-darran.

 


    This first railway locomotive was finished and tried upon the Merthyr tram-road on the 21st of February, 1804.  It had a cylindrical wrought-iron boiler with flat ends.  The furnace and flue were inside the boiler, the flue returning, having its exit at the same end at which it entered, so as to increase the heating surface.  The cylinder, 4¾in. in diameter, was placed horizontally in the end of the boiler, and the waste steam was thrown into the stack.  The wheels were worked in the same manner as in the carriage engine already described; and a fly-wheel was added on one side, to secure a continuous rotary motion at the end of each stroke of the piston.  The pressure of the steam was about 40lbs. on the inch.  The engine ran upon four wheels, coupled by cog-wheels, and those who remember the engine say that the four wheels were smooth.

    On the first trial, this engine drew for a distance of nine miles ten tons of bar iron, together with the necessary carriages, water, and fuel, at the rate of five and a half miles an hour.  Rees Jones, an old engine-fitter, who helped to erect the engine, and was alive in,1858, gave Mr. Menelaus the following account of its performances: "When the engine was finished, she was used for bringing down metal from the old forge.  She worked very well; but frequently, from her weight, broke the tram-plates, and also the hooks between the trams.  After working for some time in this way, she took a journey of iron from Pen-y-darran down the Basin Boad, upon which road she was intended to work.  On the journey she broke a great many of the tram-plates; and, before reaching the Basin, she ran off the road, and was brought back to Pen-y-darran by horses.  The engine was never used as a locomotive after this; but she was used as a stationary engine, and worked in this way for several years."

    So far as the locomotive was concerned it was a remarkable success.  The defect lay not in the engine so much as in the road.  This was formed of plate-rails of cast iron, with a guiding flange upon the rail instead of on the engine wheels, as in the modem locomotive.  The rails were also of a very weak form, considering the quantity of iron in them; and, though they were sufficient to bear the loaded wagons mounted upon small wheels, as ordinarily drawn along them by horses, they were found quite insufficient to bear the weight of Trevithick's engine.  To relay the road of sufficient strength would have involved a heavy outlay, which the owners were unwilling to incur, not yet perceiving the advantage, in an economical point of view, of employing engine in lieu of horse power.  The locomotive was accordingly taken off the road, and the experiment, successful though it had been, was brought to an end.

    Trevithick had, however, by means of his Pen-y-darran engine, in a great measure solved the problem of steam locomotion on railways.  He had produced a compact engine, working on the high-pressure principle, capable of carrying fuel and water sufficient for a journey of considerable length, and of drawing loaded wagons at five and a half miles an hour.  He had shown by his smooth-wheeled locomotive that the weight of the engine had given sufficient adhesion for the haulage of the load.  He had discharged the steam into the chimney, though not for the purpose of increasing the draught, as he employed bellows for that purpose.  It appears, however, that Trevithick's friend, Mr. Davies Gilbert, afterward President of the Royal Society, especially noticed the effect of discharging the waste steam into the chimney of the Pen-y-darran engine.  He observed that when the engine moved, at each puff the fire brightened, while scarcely any visible steam or smoke came from the chimney.

    Mr. Gilbert published the result of his observations in "Nicholson's Journal" for September, 1805, and the attention of Mr. Nicholson, the editor, having thereby been called to the subject, he proceeded to make a series of experiments, the result of which was that in 1806 he took out a patent for a steam-blasting apparatus, by which he proposed to apply high-pressure steam to force along currents of air for various useful purposes, including the urging of furnace and other fires.  It is thus obvious that the principle of the blast-pipe was known to both Gilbert and Nicholson at this early period; but it is somewhat remarkable that Trevithick himself should have remained skeptical as to its use, for as late as 1815 we find him taking out a patent, in which, among other improvements, he included a method of urging his fire by fanners, similar to a winnowing machine.

    In the mean time Trevithick occupied himself in carrying on the various business of a general engineer, and was ready to embark in any enterprise likely to give scope for his inventive skill.  In whatever work he was employed, he was sure to introduce new methods and arrangements, if not new inventions.  He was full of speculative enthusiasm, a great theorist, and yet an indefatigable experimenter.  At the beginning of 1806—the year after the locomotive had been taken off the Merthyr Tydvil tram-road—he made arrangements for entering into a contract for ballasting all the shipping in the Thames.  At the end of a letter written by him on the 18th of February in that year to Davies Gilbert, respecting a puffer engine, he said, "I am about to enter into a contract with the Trinity Board for lifting up ballast out of the bottom of the Thames for all the shipping.  The first quantity stated was 300,000 tons a year, but now they state 500,000 tons.  I am to do nothing but wind up the chain for 6d, per ton, which is now done by men.  They never lift it above twenty-five feet high—a man will now get up ten tons for 7s.  My engine at Dalcoath has lifted about 100 tons that height with one bushel of coals.  I have two engines already finished for the purpose, and shall be in town in about fifteen days for to set them to work.  They propose to engage with me for twenty-one years." [p.83]  The contract was not, however, entered into.  Trevithick quarrelled with the capitalists who had found the money for the trials, and the "Blazer" and "Plymouth," the vessels in which his engines and machinery had been fitted, fell into other hands.

    Trevithick, nevertheless, seems to have been on the highway to fortune, for, at the beginning of 1806, he had received orders for nine engines in one month, all for Cornwall; and he expected orders for four others.  He had also in view the construction of a railway; but nothing came of this project.  More hopeful still, as regarded immediate returns, was the Cornish engine business, which presented a very wide field.  Now that the trade had been thrown open by the expiry of Boulton and Watt's patent, competition had sprung up, and many new makers and inventors of engines were ready to supply the demand.

    Among the most prominent of these were Trevithick and Woolf.  Trevithick was the most original and speculative, Woolf the most plodding and practical, and the most successful.  Trevithick's ingenuity exhibited itself in his schemes for working Boulton and Watt's pumping-engine by high-pressure steam, by means of his cylindrical wrought-iron boiler.  He proposed to expand the steam down to low pressure previous to condensation, thereby anticipating by many years the Cornish engine now in use.  The suggestion was not, however, then acted on, and he fell back on his original design of a simple non-condensing high-pressure engine.  One of these was erected at Dalcoath mine to draw the ores there.  It was called "the puffer" by the mining people, from its puffing the steam direct into the air; but its performances did not compare favourably with those of the ordinary condensing engines of Boulton and Watt, and the engine did not come into general use.

    Trevithick was not satisfied to carry on a prosperous engine business in Cornwall.  Camborne was too small for him, and the Cornish mining districts presented too limited a field for his ambitious spirit.  So he came to London, the Patent-office drawing him as the loadstone does the needle.  In 1808 he took out two patents, one for "certain machinery for towing, driving, or forcing and discharging ships and other vessels of their cargoes," and the other for "a new method of stowing cargoes of ships."  In 1809 he took out another patent for constructing docks, ships, etc., and propelling vessels.

    In these patents, Trevithick was associated with one Robert Dickinson, of Great Queen Street, but his name stands first in the specification, wherein he describes himself as "of Rotherhithe, in the county of Surrey, engineer."  By the first of these patents he proposed to tow vessels by means of a rowing wheel shaped like an undershot water-wheel furnished with floats placed vertically in a box, and worked by a steam-engine, which he also proposed to employ in the loading and unloading of the vessel, but it is not known that the plan was ever introduced into practical use.  The patent of 1809 included a floating dock or caisson made of wrought-iron plates, in which a ship might be docked while afloat, and, after the water had been pumped out of the caisson, repaired without moving her stores, masts, or furniture.  This invention has since been carried out in practice by the Messrs. Rennie in the floating iron dock which they have recently constructed for the Spanish government.  Another invention included in the specification was the construction of merchant and war ships of wrought-iron plates strongly riveted together, with their decks supported by wrought-iron beams, and the masts, bowsprits, and booms also of tubular wrought iron, thereby anticipating by many years the form and structure of vessels now in common use.

    While Trevithick lived at Rotherhithe, he entered upon a remarkable enterprise—no less than the construction of a tunnel under the Thames—a work which was carried out with so much difficulty by Sir Isambard Brunel some twenty years later.  Several schemes had been proposed at different times for connecting the two banks of the river by an underground communication.  As early as 1798, Ralph Dodd suggested a tunnel under the Thames between Gravesend and Tilbury, and in 1802 Mr. Vazie projected a tunnel from Rotherhithe to Limehouse.  A company was formed to carry out the latter scheme, and a shaft was sunk, at considerable expense, to a depth of 76 feet below high water.  The works were from time to time suspended, and it was not until the year 1807, when Trevithick was appointed engineer of the work, that arrangements were made for proceeding with the driftway under the bed of the Thames.  After about five months' working, the drift was driven for a length of 953 feet, when the roof gave way and the water burst in.  The opening was, however, plugged by clay in bags thrown into the river, and the work proceeded until 1028 feet had been accomplished.  Then the water burst in again, and the process of plugging and pumping the water out of the drift was repeated.  After seventy more feet had been added to the excavation, there was another irruption, which completely flooded the driftway, and the water rose nearly to the top of the shaft.  This difficulty was, however, again overcome, and with great danger twenty more feet were accomplished; but the bursts of water became so frequent and unmanageable that at length the face of the drift was timbered up and the work abandoned.  Trevithick, who had been promised a reward of £1000 if the tunnel succeeded, thus lost both his labour and his reward.  The only remuneration he received from the Company was a hundred guineas, which were paid to him according to agreement, provided he carried the excavation to the extent of 1000 yards, which he did.

 

Trevithick's locomotive 'Catch me who can' exhibited at Euston in 1808.


    Trevithick returned to Camborne in 1809, where we find him busily occupied with new projects, and introducing his new engine worked by water-power, the first of which was put up at the Druid mine, as well as in perfecting his high-pressure engine and its working by expansion.  One of the first of such engines was erected at the Huel Prosper mine, of which he was engineer; and this, as well as others subsequently constructed on the same principle, proved quite successful.

    In 1815 Trevithick took out a farther patent, embodying several important applications of steam-power.  One of these consisted in "causing steam of a high pressure to spout out against the atmosphere, and by its recoiling force to produce motion in a direction contrary to the issuing steam, similar to the motion produced in a rocket, or to the recoil of a gun."  This was, however, but a revival of the ancient Œolipile described by Hero, and known as "Hero's engine."

    In another part of his specification Trevithick described the screw-propeller as "a screw or a number of leaves placed obliquely round an axis similar to the vanes of a smoke-jack, which shall be made to revolve with great speed in a line with the required motion of the ship, or parallel to the same line of motion."  In a second part of the specification, he described a plunger or pole-engine in which the steam worked at high-pressure.  The first engine of this kind was erected by Trevithick at Herland in 1815, but the result was not equal to his expectations, though the principle was afterward successfully applied by Mr. William Sims, who purchased the patent-right.

    In this specification Trevithick also described a tubular boiler of a new construction for the purpose of more rapidly producing high-pressure steam, the heating surface being extended by constructing the boiler of a number of small perpendicular tubes, closed at the bottom, but all opening at the top into a common reservoir, from whence they received their water, and into which the steam of all the tubes was united.

    While Trevithick was engaged in these ingenious projects, an event occurred which, though it promised to issue in the most splendid results, proved the greatest misfortune of his life.  We refer to his adventures in connection with the gold mines of Peru.  Many of the richest of them had been drowned out, the pumping machinery of the country being incapable of clearing them of water.  The districts in which they were situated were almost inaccessible to ordinary traffic, all transport being conducted on the backs of men or of mules.  The parts of an ordinary condensing engine were too ponderous to be carried up these mountain heights, and it was evident that, unless some lighter sort of engine could be employed, the mines in question must be abandoned.

    Mr. Uvillé, a Swiss gentleman interested in South American mining, came over from Peru to England in 1811 for the purpose of making inquiries about such an engine, but he received no encouragement.  He was about to return to Lima, in despair of accomplishing his object, when, one day, accidentally passing a shop-window in Fitzroy Square, he caught sight of an engine exposed for sale which immediately attracted his attention.  It was the engine constructed by Trevithick for his first locomotive, which he had sold some years before, on the sudden abandonment of the exhibition of its performances in London.  Mr. Uvillé was so much pleased with its construction and mode of action that he at once purchased it and took it out with him to South America.  Arrived there, he had the engine transported across the mountains to the rich mining district of Pasco, about a hundred miles north of Lima, to try its effects on the highest mountain ridges.

    The experiment was so satisfactory that an association of influential gentlemen was immediately formed to introduce the engine on a large scale, and enter into contracts with the mine-owners for clearing their shafts of the water which drowned them.  The Viceroy of Peru approved the plan, and the association dispatched Mr. Uvillé to England to purchase the requisite engines.  He took ship for Falmouth about the end of 1812 for the purpose of finding out Trevithick.  He only knew of Trevithick by name, and that he lived in Cornwall, but nothing farther.  Being full of his subject, however, he could not refrain from conversing on the subject with the passengers on board the ship by which he sailed, and it so happened that one of them—a Mr. Teague—was a relative of Trevithick, who promised, shortly after their landing, to introduce him to the inventor. [Ed.—Teague was the maiden name of Trevithick's wife.]

    Mr. Teague was as good as his word, and in the course of a few days Uvillé was enabled to discuss the scheme with Trevithick at his own house at Camborne, where he still resided.  The result was an order for a number of high-pressure pumping-engines, which were put in hand at once; and on the 1st of September, 1814, nine of them were shipped at Portsmouth for Lima, accompanied by Uvillé and three Cornish engineers, one of whom was William Bull, of Chasewater, Trevithick's first partner.

    The engines reached Lima in safety, and were welcomed by a royal salute and with public rejoicings.  Such, however, was the difficulty of transporting the materials across the mountains, that it was not until the middle of the year 1816 that the first engine was erected and set to work to pump out the Santa Rosa mine, in the royal mineral territory of Yaüricocha.  The association of gentlemen to whom the engines belonged had entered into a contract to drain this among other mines, on condition of sharing in the gross produce of the ores to the extent of about 25 per cent of the whole amount raised.  The result of the first working of the engine was so satisfactory that the projectors were filled with no less astonishment than delight, and they characterized the undertaking as one from which they "anticipated a torrent of silver that would fill surrounding nations with astonishment"

    In the mean time Trevithick was proceeding at home with the manufacture of the remaining engines, as well as new coining apparatus for the Peruvian mint, and furnaces for purifying silver ore by fusion; and with these engines and apparatus he set sail for America in October, 1816, reaching Lima in safely in the following February.  He was received with almost royal honours.  The government "Gazette" officially announced "the arrival of Don Ricardo Trevithick, an eminent professor of mechanics, machinery, and mineralogy, inventor and constructor of the engines of the last patent, and who directed in England the execution of the machinery now at work in Pasco."  The lord warden was ordered by the viceroy to escort Trevithick to the mines accompanied by a guard of honour.  The news of his expected arrival there occasioned great rejoicings, and the chief men of the district came down the mountains to meet and welcome him.  Uvillé wrote to his associates that Trevithick had been sent out "by heaven for the prosperity of the mines, and that the lord warden proposed to erect his statue in solid silver."  Trevithick himself wrote home to his friends in Cornwall that he had before him the prospect of almost boundless wealth, having, in addition to his emoluments as patentee, obtained a fifth share in the Lima Company, which, he expected, on a moderate computation, would yield him about £100,000 a year!

    But these brilliant prospects were suddenly blasted by the Peruvian revolution which broke out in the following year.  While Mr. Boaze was reading his paper [p.89] before the Royal Geological Society of Cornwall, in which these anticipations of Trevithick's fame and fortune were so glowingly described, Lord Cochrane was on his way to South America to take the command of the Chilean fleet in its attack of the ports of Peru, still in the possession of the Spaniards.

    Toward the end of 1818, Lord Cochrane hoisted his flag, and shortly after proceeded to assail the Spanish fleet in Callao Harbour.  This proved the signal for a general insurrection, during the continuance of which the commercial and industrial affairs of the province were completely paralyzed.  The pumping-engines of Trevithick were now of comparatively little use in pumping water out of mines in which the miners would no longer work.  Although Lima was abandoned by the Spaniards toward the end of 1821, the civil war continued to rage for several years longer, until at length the independence of Peru was achieved; but it was long before the population were content to settle down as before, and follow the ordinary pursuits of industry and commerce.

    The result to Trevithick was, that he and his partners in the Mining Company were consigned to ruin.  It has been said that the engineer joined the patriotic party, and invented for Lord Cochrane an ingenious gun-carriage centred and equally balanced on pivots, and easily worked by machinery; but of this no mention is made by Lord Cochrane in his "Memoirs."  The Patriots kept Trevithick on the mountains as a sort of patron and protector of their interests; but for this very reason he became proportionately obnoxious to the Royalists, who, looking upon him as the agent through whom the patriotic party obtained the sinews of war, destroyed his engines, and broke up his machinery wherever they could.  At length he determined to escape from Peru, and fled northward across the mountains, accompanied by a single friend, making for the Isthmus of Panama.  In the course of this long, toilsome, and dangerous journey, he encountered great privations; he slept in the forest at night, travelled on foot by day, and crossed the streams by swimming.  At length, his clothes torn, worn, and hanging almost in shreds, and his baggage all lost, he succeeded in reaching the port of Cartagena, on the Gulf of Darien, almost destitute.

    Here he encountered Robert Stephenson, who was waiting at the one inn of the place until a ship was ready to set sail for England.  Stephenson had finished his engagement with the Colombian Mining Company for which he had been working, and was eager to return home.  When Trevithick entered the room in which he was sitting, Stephenson at once saw that he was an Englishman.  He stood some six feet in height, and, though well proportioned when in ordinary health, he was now gaunt and hollow, the picture of privation and misery.

    Stephenson made up to the stranger, and was not a little surprised to find that he was no other than the famous engineer, Trevithick, the builder of the first patent locomotive, and who, when he last heard of him, was accumulating so gigantic a fortune in Peru.  Though now penniless, Trevithick was as full of speculation as ever, and related to Stephenson that he was on his way home for the purpose of organizing another gold-mining company, which should make the fortunes of all who took part in it.  He was, however, in the mean time, unable to pay for his passage, and Stephenson lent him the requisite money for the purpose of reaching his home in Cornwall.

    As there was no vessel likely to sail for England for some time, Stephenson and Trevithick took the first ship bound for New York.  After a stormy passage, full of adventure and peril, the vessel was driven on a lee-shore, and the passengers and crew barely escaped with their lives.  On reaching New York, Trevithick immediately set sail for England, and he landed safe at Falmouth in October, 1827, bringing back with him a pair of silver spurs, the only remnant which he had preserved of those "torrents of silver" which his engines were to raise from the mines of Peru.

    Immediately on his return home, Trevithick memorialized the government for some remuneration adequate to the great benefit which the country had derived from his invention of the high-pressure steam-engine, and his introduction of the cylindrical boiler.  The petition was prepared in December, 1827, and was cheerfully signed by the leading mine-owners and engineers in Cornwall; but there their efforts on his behalf ended.

    He took out two more patents—one in 1831, for a new method of heating apartments, and another in 1832, for improvements in the steam-engine, and the application of steam-power to navigation and locomotion; but neither of them seems to have proved of any service to him.  His new improvement in the steam-engine was neither more nor less than the invention of an apparatus similar to that which has quite recently come into use for employing superheated steam as a means of working the engine more effectively and economically.  The patent also included a method of propelling ships by ejecting water through a tube with great force and speed in a direction opposite to the course of the vessel, a method since reinvented in many forms, though not yet successfully introduced in practice.

    Strange to say, though Trevithick had been so intimately connected with the practical introduction of the Locomotive, he seems to have taken but little interest in its introduction upon railways, but confined himself to advocating its employment on common roads as its most useful application. [p.91]  Though in many things he was before his age, here he was unquestionably behind it.  But Trevithick was now an old man; his constitution was broken, and his energy worked out.  Younger men were in the field, less ingenious and speculative, but more practical and energetic; and in the blaze of their fame the Cornish engineer was forgotten.

    During the last year of his life Trevithick resided at Dartford, in Kent.  He had induced the Messrs. Hall, the engineers of that place, to give him an opportunity of testing the value of his last invention—that of a vessel driven by the ejection of water through a tube—and he went there to superintend the construction of the necessary engine and apparatus.  The vessel was duly fitted up, and several experiments were made with it in the adjoining creek, but it did not realize a speed of more than four miles an hour.  Trevithick, being of opinion that the engine-power was insufficient, proceeded to have a new engine constructed, to the boiler of which, within the furnace, numerous tubes were attached, round which the fire played.  So much steam was raised by this arrangement that the piston "blew;" but still the result of the experiments was unsatisfactory.  While labouring at these inventions, and planning new arrangements never to be carried out, the engineer was seized by the illness of which he died, on the 22d of April, 1833, in the 62d year of his age.

    As Trevithick was entirely without means at his death, besides being some sixty pounds in debt to the landlord of the Bull Inn, where he had been lodging for nearly a year, he would probably have been buried at the expense of the parish but for the Messrs. Hall and their workmen, who raised a sum sufficient to give the "great inventor" a decent burial; and they followed his remains to the grave in Deptford Church-yard, where he lies without a stone to mark his resting-place.


    There can be no doubt as to the great mechanical ability of Trevithick.  He was a man of original and intuitive genius in invention.  Every mechanical arrangement which he undertook to study issued from his hands transformed and improved.  But there he rested.  He struck out many inventions, and left them to take care of themselves.  His great failing was the want of perseverance.  His mind was always full of projects; but his very genius led him astray in search of new things, while his imagination often outran his judgment.  Hence his life was but a series of beginnings.

    Look at the extraordinary things that Trevithick began.  He made the first railway locomotive, and cast the invention aside, leaving it to others to take it up and prosecute it to a successful issue.  He introduced, if he did not invent, the cylindrical boiler and the high-pressure engine, which increased so enormously the steam-power of the world; but he reaped the profits of neither.  He invented an oscillating engine and a screw propeller; he took out a patent for using superheated steam, as well as for wrought-iron ships and wrought-iron floating docks; but he left it to others to introduce these several inventions.

    Never was there such a series of splendid mechanical beginnings.  He began a Thames Tunnel and abandoned it.  He went to South America with the prospect of making a gigantic fortune, but he had scarcely begun to gather in his gold than he was forced to fly, and returned home destitute.  This last event, however, was a misfortune which no efforts on his part could have prevented.  But even when he had the best chances, Trevithick threw them away.  When he had brought his road locomotive to London to exhibit, and was beginning to excite the curiosity of the public respecting it, he suddenly closed the exhibition in a fit of caprice, removed the engine, and returned to Cornwall in a tiff.  The failure, also, of the railroad on which his locomotive travelled so provoked him that he at once abandoned the enterprise in disgust.

    There may have been some moral twist in the engineer's character, into which we do not seek to pry; but it seems clear that he was wanting in that resolute perseverance, that power of fighting an up-hill battle, without which no great enterprise can be conducted to a successful issue.  In this respect the character of Richard Trevithick presents a remarkable contrast to that of George Stephenson, who took up only one of the many projects which the other had cast aside, and by dint of application, industry, and perseverance, carried into effect one of the most remarkable but peaceful revolutions which has ever been accomplished in any age or country.

    We now proceed to describe the history of this revolution in connection with the Life of George Stephenson, and to trace the locomotive through its several stages of development until we find it recognized as one of the most vigorous and untiring workers in the entire world of industry.



[Life of George Stephenson]

 



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