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Lord Stanhope. He spoke with awful forebodings, in the House of Lords, of the sub-marine preparations which were to blow the English fleet to atoms, without the possibility of its offering the least resistance of an avatar of Archimedes in the shape of an American engineer, &c.; the result of all which was, if we are to credit Mr. Cadwallader Colden, ' a communication from Lord Sidmouth to Mr. Fulton, which had for its object to deprive France of the benefit of his invention and services, (which, be it observed, had been already rejected,) and give England the advantage of them, by inducing him to withdraw from France.' Many have thought,' says his biographer, that consistency and morality did not leave Mr. Fulton at liberty to listen to these proposals;' but this only proves that these scrupulous reasoners entered very little into the sublime views which influenced the conduct of Mr. Fulton-he, good man, was persuaded that his conduct, on this occasion, if rightly considered, would not only be pronounced excusable, but justifiable, and even meritorious; for he actually hoped that, by England's adopting his infernal machines, she would work out her own destruction, and thus an end would eventually be put to that maritime superiority with which they were contending for the dominion of the eastern world.' Such pure and patriotic motives are more than sufficient to canonize Mr. Fulton in the hearts of his countrymen; and his conscientious and consistent friend Cadwallader might therefore have spared his apology. But such was the advantage' to be conferred on England!
We remember how greatly the late Mr. Pitt and Lord Melville were ridiculed in the opposition journals for the supposed encouragement given to the Catamaran expedition, as the trial of Fulton's machines against the Boulogne flotilla was called. It now appears that it was a legacy left to them by their predecessors in office, and so left as not to be shaken off in a moment; for it is well known that, when a projector is once fairly fastened upon a patron, and more especially if that patron be a minister, he clings to him like a leech.
Lord St. Vincent, however, appears to have set his face against this unworthy mode of warfare; feeling, as we believe every British officer would feel, that, setting aside the intent, such devices were for the weak, and not for the strong. Fulton says, 'I explained to him a torpedo he reflected for some time, and then said, “Pitt was the greatest fool that ever existed to encourage a mode of war which they who commanded the seas did not want;' but Mr. Fulton soon found that Pitt' was no such fool. To satisfy his noisy relation in the House of Lords, he appointed, it is true, a commission to examine Mr. Fulton's projects. It consisted of Sir Joseph Banks, Mr. Cavendish, Sir Home Popham, Major Con
greve, and Mr. John Rennie. Friend Cadwallader' complains that many weeks passed before Mr. Fulton could prevail upon them to do any thing, and, finally, that when they met, without calling on him for any explanation, they reported against the marine boat as being impracticable. Now this we KNOW to be false. The commissioners never saw Fulton, never knew any thing of Fulton;-a packet of sealed papers and drawings were sent to them as coming from a person of the name of Francis, and on these documents alone they delivered, as they were desired to do, and as all who know them personally or by reputation will readily admit they would do, a sound and honest opinion.
We now find that, in the first interview which Mr. Fulton had with Mr. Pitt and Lord Melville, the latter condemned the torpedo without a moment's consideration.' In his own mind we dare say he did condemn it, as every man of sense and honour would; but at the same time, out of deference to those who had been instrumental in bringing the proprietor into this country, he did not object to afford him the means of making a harmless experiment on the powers of his machine. He was accordingly allowed to operate on an old Danish brig in Walmer Roads; and, with the assistance of Sir Home Popham and two boats' crews, succeeded, after an unresisted attack of two days, in blowing up this poor old carcass.
It is not true, however, as stated by the author, that Mr. Pitt and Lord Melville entered into any engagement with him; and therefore 'Lord Grenville and his cabinet' could not be unwilling to fulfil the engagements which their predecessors had made.' Indeed, so far from any engagement' on the part of the British government, his biographer himself says, that when it was proposed that he should, for a considerable reward, suppress his inventions, so that they might be buried, and that neither his own country nor the rest of the world could derive from them those advantages which he thought they would afford, he indignantly rejected the overture.'
The tone of humanity and justice. adopted by this vagrant adventurer is quite intolerable. Having failed in selling his infernal machines, first to the French, next to the Dutch, and lastly to the English, he sets himself to prove, in a high stream of moral pathos, that blowing up ships of war (so as not to leave a man to relate the dreadful catastrophe) are humane experiments! We ought not to wonder, after this, perhaps, that the character of Mr. Fulton has survived in America as that of an honest, conscientious, and consistent man, especially as Mr. Cadwallader Colden has materially supported his claim to it by the gratuitous insertion of two documents; the first, addressed to Lord Melville in 1804, in which, speaking of the tyrannic principles of Buonaparte, who had set himself above all law,' Mr. Fulton adds,' he is therefore in that state which Lord
Somers compares to that of a wild beast, unrestrained by any rule, and he should be hunted down as the enemy of mankind. This however is the business of Frenchmen: with regard to the nations of Europe, they can only hold him in governable limits by fencing him round with bayonets.' The second, written in 1810, and addressed to the President of the United States, in which, after earnestly recommending the adoption of the torpedo system' by France, he thus proceeds then the Emperor of France (the wild beast' just mentioned) would have a noble opportunity to display a magnanimity of soul, a goodness of heart, which would add lustre to his great actions, and secure to him the admiration of the civilized world.'
It is not however the invention of the torpedo system that has enrolled the name of Fulton as the third in the list of transatlantic worthies, so much, perhaps, as the establishment of navigation by steam, for which,' says his biographer, we and all the world are indebted to him.' This is supposed to be proved by a letter from Lord Stanhope, dated in 1798, in answer to one respecting the moving of ships by the means of steam;' which however appears to be nothing new to his lordship, for he observes- it is a subject on which I have made important discoveries.' But the fact is, that neither Mr. Fulton nor Lord Stanhope has the slightest pretension to the discovery of a method for propelling boats by steam; several attempts, and successful ones too, having been made many years before either of them had thought of the subject. Fulton, though considered by those of his own profession, in this country, as a person of very slender abilities, yet possessed sufficient shrewdness to avail himself of the invention of another, and did not want the talent occasionally to improve it; and it is certain that if he had conceived any distinct idea of rendering practicable the navigation of boats by steam in 1793, he would not have omitted the mention of it in his treatise on Canal Navigation,' published in London in 1796, in which all sorts of boats and locks, and levels and inclined planes, and every aid that could be devised for water communication,' are detailed with wearisome minuteness;-but in which we do not find a single hint to shew that the power of steam, as applicable to a boat, had ever entered his imagination-though the preface, which is always the part of a book last written, certainly notices his having had some communication' with Lord Stanhope on the practicability of navigating vessels by steam.
There can be little doubt that this communication' was from and not to Lord Stanhope, as his lordship had for two or three years before the publication of Fulton's book been occupied in experiments with a steam-boat in the Greenland dock. But the idea, as we have said, did not originate with him. Patrick
Miller, Esq. of Dalswinton, had published a book at Edinburgh, in the year 1787, containing experiments made by him on triple-vessels, and the application of wheels to work them on canals, in which, after mentioning the trials he had made of working the wheels by cranks, he observes when the movement of the wheel comes to be aided by mechanical powers, so as to accelerate its revolutions, the before-mentioned rate of the vessel (three and four miles an hour) will be in proportion to the power used. I have also reason to believe that the power of the STEAM-ENGINE may be applied to work the wheels, so as to give them a quicker motion, and consequently to increase that of the ship. In the course of the summer I intend to make the experiment; and the result, if favourable, shall be communicated to the public.' That Lord Stanhope should have been ignorant of this work in 1795, is not very probable; and still less so that Mr. Livingstone should not have heard of it in 1803, when Mr. Fulton, in conjunction with that gentleman, is said to have made some experiments on the Seine; for Mr. Miller had transmitted a copy of his book to General Washing
Be this as it may, there are other proofs that Mr. Fulton has not the slightest claim to the invention of applying either steam or wheels to the propelling of boats. Mr. Miller, immediately after the publication of his book, set about the construction of a model of a boat with its engine, which model is at this moment in the possession of his son. He also constructed a double-boat with a wheel in the centre, (the plan to which we are now returning,) and this boat made a safe passage to Sweden and back in the year 1789. Though Mr. Miller did not succeed to his entire satisfaction, yet another person of the name of Symington, who had been employed by Mr. Miller to superintend and conduct his experiments, was so convinced of the practicability of employing steam and wheels in canal navigation, that he submitted his ideas on the subject to the present Lord Dundas, who took him under his patronage, and enabled him, by advances of money, to carry his plan into execution. A boat, with a steam-engine, was accordingly built and navigated on the Forth and Clyde canal, and fully answered the expectations that had been formed of it; but the canal not being sufficiently wide to allow of its working freely, and the great undulation, occasioned by the water-wheels, injuring the banks, it was laid aside.
About this time Mr. Fulton, who happened to be travelling in Scotland, paid a visit to Symington, examined his boat, and saw it work. Mr. Fulton also learned from him the objection made to it, on account of the narrowness of the canal; on which he observed that this objection would not apply to the wide rivers of America. It was two years after this that the experiments were made by Mr. Livingstone and himself on the Seine; and many years
after the latter period that he ordered an engine to be constructed by Bolton and Watt, which should be applicable to a boat. This, when finished, was sent out to America, and was the first engine used with success for this purpose on the Hudson, in 1807. The description of the astonishment created by the appearance and progressive motion of this ignivomous monster' on the water, is interesting and amusing.
She had the most terrific appearance, from other vessels which were navigating the river, when she was making her passage. The first steam boats, as others yet do, used dry pine wood for fuel, which sends forth a column of ignited vapour many feet above the flue, and whenever the fire is stirred, a galaxy of sparks fly off, and in the night have a very brilliant and beautiful appearance. This uncommon light first attracted the attention of crews of other vessels. Notwithstanding the wind and tide were adverse to its approach, they saw with astonishment that it was rapidly coming towards them; and when it came so near as that the noise of the machinery and paddles were heard, the crews (if what was said in the newspapers of the time be true) in some instances shrunk beneath their decks from the terrific sight, and left their vessels to go on shore, while others prostrated themselves, and besought Providence to protect them from the approaches of the horrible monster, which was marching on the tides and lighting its path by the fires which it vomited.' ―p. 172, 173.
We understand, however, that eleven years before this period, Mr. Livingstone had made some attempts on the Hudson to build a steam-boat, and with the assistance of a person of the name of Nesbet, who went from this country to America, endeavoured to construct an engine, which, however, was found incapable of driving the boat through the water. If we mistake not, Mr. Brunel, then a very young man, was associated with the projectors on this occa
But the real truth, as we have said, is, that neither Mr. Fulton, nor Lord Stanhope, nor even Patrick Miller, has any claim either to the invention of applying a steam-engine to a boat, or the apparatus of wheels or other machinery to propel her through the water. We have now before us a very humble treatise, printed in London in the year 1737, the title of which is, 'Description and Draught of a new-invented MACHINE, for carrying vessels or ships, out of or into any harbour, port, or river, against wind and tide, or in a calm: for which his Majesty, George II., has granted letters-patent for the sole benefit of the author, for the space of fourteen years. By JONATHAN HULLS.' The 'draught' prefixed is a plate of a stout boat, with a chimney (as at present) smoking, a pair of wheels rigged out over each side of the stern, moved by means of ropes passing round their outer rims; and to the axis of these wheels are fixed six paddles to propel the boat. From the stern of the boat, a tow-line