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Granted that we can annex England to the Continent by a channel railway for £12,000,000, it will be readily conceded that the undertaking would be highly profitable. Mr. Chalmers, we think, places his estimate of a total annual revenue of £1,300,000 far too low. We cannot estimate the amount of either passenger or goods traffic that would flow by such a line. It would be limited, we believe, only by the mechnical capabilities of its trains. The rails which spread out upon either shore with such placenta-like ramifications, only require some medium of direct communication to exchange the very life-blood of the Continent with our own.
If one of the chief recommendations advanced by the proprietors of the Great Eastern was her freedom from motion and the abolition of sea-sickness, what may not be said in favour of a rail that would sweep away for ever that terrible affliction at present interposed between the personal communication of ourselves and the rest of Europe ? The accomplishment of such an undertaking would indeed confer honour on any engineer. Already Mont Cenis is half drilled, and we see no reason why that greater Mont Cenis, the British Channel, should not be penetrated by some genius, backed by sufficient sinews of war.
HALF-HOURS AT THE KENSINGTON
THE MUSEUM OF PATENT MACHINES, ETC.
OUR museums are getting so extensive that it is becoming a most wearisome task to attempt to master their contents in the limited time sight-seers are generally able to devote to a stroll through them. All the world knows it is one of the most headachey things imaginable to spend a couple of hours among the miles of galleries in the British Museum; and the South Kensington Museum is becoming almost as confusing a place of amusement. We may have half-hours with the different departments, however, without coming away with that sense of mental prostration which invariably attends any attempt to “do" the Museum in one afternoon. There is one room in it, but not of it, which always throws open its doors free of charge — the Museum of the Commissioners of Patents, in which a whole Noah's Ark of machines and models meets the eye of the visitor. This exhibition is totally distinct from the South Kensington Museum, and only occupies a room temporarily until a building is erected by the Commissioners with the £90,000 and upwards they have in hand for that purpose.
In taking our survey of the riches of invention which meet the eye on overy hand, let us first glance at its curiosities. In a glass case at the top of the room are several worm-eaten wooden pieces of machinery, which do not look unliko portions of Dutch clockwork on a large scale. On the foundation of these crumbling fragments the great staple of English manufacture has been built : these are the original spinning and carding machines of the barber Arkwright. When he used to leave his basin and his lather to plot and plan wheels and cogs, his wifo used to scold him for not attending to his business. If that old damo could have seen in a dream the mighty results these ugly-looking ongines were destined to give rise to in the course of a century--could see the millions of slaves enthralled to grow cotton for its delicate fingers to spin-could seo the fleets of ships they called into existence to supply it with foodcould see the great port of Liverpool they had created, the great city of palaces, Manchester, which they had built, the enormous fortunes which they had earned, and the comfort they had conferred on millions-sho would have dreamed a dream which surpasses anything related in the “ Arabian Nights," and with the addition that the dream was destined to come true. Let us make our bow, therefore, to those wormeaten old engines, and be grateful that their inventor had a mind superior to taking his. customers by the nose.
By way of contrast to the rude models of Arkwright, we see close at hand a spinning-machine of the present day. The clumsy beams have given place to light ironwork, finished with the delicacy of a clock movement. Arkwright himself would scarcely recognize the transmutations his own germ has passed through in the course of a century. Not far off we see another of those great mother-thoughts which have moved the world during the present century: there is the original model of the first locomotive that ever ran. Mr. Trevethick, in 1802, conceived the plan of substituting steam for horse-power on the Cornish tramways; and here is the original idea of a power which has since revolutionized society. The original locomotive had but two large wheels and a small guiding wheel, like a perambulator, and was called by the country people the Puffing Billy!
The machinery was confined to a cylinder, a piston-rod with a cross-tree head, which communicated the motion by two shafts to cranks on the wheels ; this was the original germ which developed into the existing complicated locomotive, a model of which is placed opposite to it. Trevethick's engine worked at the moderate pace of three and a half miles an hour, and carried coals only. George Stephenson improved upon this, and produced his engine, which carried passengers for the first time in 1829 on the Stockton and Darlington line, and continued working until the year 1850. This locomotive would have been an interesting addition to the machines in this room, but it is, perhaps, better where it is, mounted on a
pedestal at the entrance to the Darlington Station, where it takes its stand as the premier locomotive of the world. As it cannot be removed, an excellent photograph does duty for it, and clearly shows that its machinery was only an amplification of Trevethick's idea, the piston-rods, cross-pieces, &c., working perpendicularly over the boiler. But a still greater rarity is the beam-engine model made by Watt himself. This model works the steam-valve by what is termed the tippit motion. An additional interest attaches to it over and above the fact that it is one of the first ideas of the great motive power of the present day, inasmuch as Watt always kept it under his own observation in his drawing-room. It is but rudely finished, but the very fact that its great inventor's eye dwelt upon it with pride and triumph invests it with a poetry all its own. Another beam-engine, once belonging to Watt, with parallel motion attached to the piston-rod, is a better example of mechanical skill.
We have not far to look for the first germ of steam navigation. That huge model which appears to be a combination of two funnels and a number of chains working over wheels is the parent marine engine. As early as the year 1787, Patrick Miller, of Dalswinton, Scotland, engaged himself in making experiments with double and treble boats, which he propelled by means of wheels placed between them worked by manual labour; in the following year he induced one Symington, an engineer, at Wenlock Head, to apply to it a marine steam-engine he had