« ElőzőTovább »
Harrison, who has been for so many years connected with the Cunard line; and his staff will consist of twelve officers in addition to the chief, sixteen engineers, a sailing-master, purser, two or more surgeons, &c. &c. It is, of course, only the saloons or general rooms of assemblage that have so remarkable a height as 13 or 14 feet; but even the sleeping-cabins have (the better class of them) a height of 74 feet, with 14 feet of length and 11 of breadth. These berths are ranged in veritable streets and squares, right and left of the various saloons; there are long corridors, out of which short passages branch; and each of these passages gives access to four cabins, with all the conveniences that can add to the comfort of the passengers. There are 500 side lights or windows in the upper part of the hull of the ship, each consisting of a circular piece of very thick plate glass, from 8 to 14 inches in diameter, nicely wedged into a circular brass rim, and this rim held in a cast-iron frame. When the passengers emerge from their cabins and saloons, and ascend to the deck, a superb promenade is before them; the upper deck is more than an eighth of a mile in length, flush from end to end, except skylights, staircases, and ventilating openings. These ventilating openings are square vertical shafts, carrying fresh air and light to the boiler-rooms far down in the bowels of the monster ship. So vast are the arrangements, that there are even staircases in the paddle-boxes, to give passage for domestics without walking the decks. That gas for lighting the ship will be made on board; that electric telegraphs will be employed to communicate signals from the captain to his subordinates far ahead or astern, or far down in the depths of the monster; that electric lights will be hoisted at main-top as night-signals on the ocean; that compasses are to be hoisted high aloft, out of the way of the attraction of the iron of the ship-these are among the on dits of the Great Eastern; and it will be safer to treat them, at present, only as such.
The constructors have calculated the probable weight of this leviathan, in tons, when provided with everything which belongs to it as a ship, but without what may be called the vital organisation -that is, without the crew, the passengers, the provisions, the personal effects, the water, or the coals. The weights are estimated thus:
Iron hull of the ship
Timber work, fittings, &c. .
Boilers for ditto (empty)
Paddle-boxes and sponsons
Screw shaft and bearings
If this ship should be destined ever to start for Australia with the full complement of everything intended by her owners, the stupendous floating fabric would weigh very little short of 30,000 tons.
The Launching. And now how is this mass to be launched ?* How are these 12,000 tons (the launching weight) to be slid quietly into the river Thames? If launched endwise, as usual, it would imperil everything in the ship and on the opposite shore of the river; the water would be too shallow, the vessel too long, the stream too narrow, for any such plan. Mr. Brunel saw this from the outset, and he resolved to adopt the novelty of launching her broadside on. The appliances for this are necessarily as novel as the plan itself. The length of the vessel being parallel with the course of the river, and about 300 feet beyond the line of low-water mark, the ship will need to be slid down this distance before touching water; for the launching is to be effected while the tide is flowing out, instead of at the hour of high water, as is the usual manner. The first consideration was, therefore, how to prepare the strand or beach for the support of such an enormous mass; how to enable soft mud to bear twenty or thirty millions pounds weight. To effect this, two launchways have been built by Messrs. Treadwell; each a quadrangular structure or platform, measuring 120 feet lengthwise of the river, and 300 feet in the transverse direction, down to low-water mark. Each is constructed of enormous piles of timber, so driven into the ground as to penetrate through the soft soil down to the hard gravel. On these piles, which are about twelve inches square in section, and some driven down to a depth of thirty feet, are bolted balks of timber one over another, longitudinal and transversal, so thick and so strong as to constitute a platform nearly as solid as rock itself. Each launchway inclines gently from the ship to the water, at a slope of about 1 in 12; consequently the upper end is about twenty-five feet higher than the lower, and it is this inclination which is to give descensive power to the ship. On the uppermost course or floor of timbers are placed railway irons, of the same form as those on the Great Western railway: they are placed at eighteen inches apart, and extend down the launchway the whole distance from one end to the other. Each launchway will thus have about 80 lines of parallel rail.
Next, the adaptation of the ship to this novel railway. Under the vessel have been temporarily built two enormous timber cradles, corresponding in position with the two launchways; that is, one between the head and the midship, and one between the midship and the stern-230 feet from centre to centre of the cradles. The bottom of each cradle consists of a plain surface, about 120 feet by 80, inclined to the horizon at the same angle as the upper surface of the launchways, that is, 1 in 12; and the rest consists of a solid mass of timber, packed under and around the hull as close as the bulks can lie. Each cradle will thus be a perfectly solid mass of wood. The bottom of each is shod with long plates of thick iron
*The launching not having yet taken place at the time when this sheet is being written, the proposed plan is described in the future tense. For anything further in this matter, we will refer to a note at the end of this article.
about seven inches broad and one inch thick, with their edges rounded, and their lower surfaces ground as smooth as possible, to avoid scraping the metal of the rails during the descent. In ordinary launching, wood slides upon wood, but here iron will slide upon iron about 60 iron plates will slide over 80 iron bars, the plates being at right angles with the bars. The cradles, although jammed up closely to the hull, are still wholly distinct from it; it rests on them, but is not fastened to them.
And now let us try to picture the launching. On a certain morning, the day of spring tide, when low water descends lower than at any other time, all supports will be removed from beneath the ship except the cradles, on which the ponderous mass will then rest, overhanging at the two ends, and unsupported in the middle, but sufficiently held up at the points already indicated. Without any stays or tackle the irons of the cradles would slide down the irons of the launchways, and the cradles and ship would probably be carried into the river with such an accelerated velocity as to endanger the whole proceeding; but to obviate this, chains and blocks of vast strength will be attached to the cradles and to windlasses; in such way that bodies of men, working at the windlasses, may regulate the descent of the moving mass to any required degree. The operations will be further governed by cables stretched in various directions across the river. The future must determine the minute details of the plan; but according to the engineer's intention, the descent or launching will be going on during the whole of one ebb tide, in such manner that the ship shall arrive at the bottom of the launchways by the time of lowest water. The vessel being thus carried down by mechanical means to the lowest point that ever becomes dry, the water is left to do the rest; the Leviathan will be gradually lifted from her cradles by the rising tide during the next six hours, and fairly floated on the bosom of the Thames, with a launchweight draught of 15 feet. This position obtained, the ship will be warped or towed gradually over towards the other side of the river, where, at a point a little lower down, there is deep water. In this new home the Great Eastern will probably remain until her various fittings and appointments are nearly completed.
It is left to the year 1858 to show what will be the fruit of these remarkable labours; what the return for four years of time and thought, and more than half a million of capital. It is of no avail attempting short passages and moderate trade; these would not pay the interest of capital spent, even if they paid working expenses. For long voyages the ship has been designed, and long voyages will alone develope her qualities. When, under the best appointments, and by the costly Suez route, a voyage is made to Australia in 50 days, the achievement is justly regarded as creditable to the companies concerned; but if the Great Eastern should accomplish the distance in 40 days or less, and if cheap fares and cheap freight should result from the large amount of passengers and goods taken, then there will be every kind of saving effected at once-time, money, provisions; and, we may perhaps add, the dread of seasickness, and the physical and mental exhaustion attendant on a long
ocean voyage. There is talk of a trial trip to America; this may be, but we must look further for the real glories of the Great Eastern. A ship that could take out guests enough to people a small town, goods enough to supply all the shops in that town, and coals enough to serve the town with fuel for three or four years-ought to have a mighty future before it.*
THE MANCHESTER EXHIBITION.
THE Art Treasures Exhibition at Manchester could not fail to recall to the memory a still more famous exhibition of the works of the great masters of the arts of painting and sculpture. At the termi nation of the long series of hostilities which grew out of the first French Revolution, the artists and connoisseurs of England, and indeed of every part of Europe, flocked to Paris to examine the treasures of art then accumulated in the Louvre. With that collection this of Manchester will not in one respect bear comparison. Not only were there in the Louvre more works of art than had ever before been brought together, but among them were the greatest works of which the world knew. There were to be seen the Venus de' Medici, the Apollo Belvidere, the Laocoon, Raffaelle's Transfiguration, Titian's Pietro Martire,' Veronese's Marriage at Cana,' and many another masterwork worthy to be named even with these. Manchester had no work which the world has agreed to regard as the type of its class-alone and unapproachable.
But if in this respect the comparison is to the disadvantage of the Manchester Exhibition, there is another in which it is eminently favourable those were the spoils of war add rapine; these are the willing offerings of peace. To bring them together, every church and convent and gallery in Europe, where great works of art were deposited, and which the arms of the empire could reach, was forcibly despoiled of its most cherished treasures. Here indeed were only contributions from the private stores of this one little island but in looking at them there was no drawback in the recollection of the violence and wrong of which their presence was at once the result and the symbol-no feeling that their dispersion, as it were at the bayonet's point, would lead alike to the renewal and the maintenance of those feelings of anger, mortification, and hatred which their forcible collection in the first instance evoked. Here at any rate the collection and exhibition have only elicited and diffused kindly feelings and mutual good-will, and the remembrance we may fairly hope will be one of almost unmingled pleasure.
The Manchester Exhibition was truly what it professed to be-an "Exhibition of the Art Treasures of the United Kingdom." Till
*The launching-after the vessel, popularly known as the Great Eastern, had formally received the name of the Leviathan-was attempted on the 3rd of November, but without success. The difficulties in the adjustment of the two sets of apparatus-to hasten the descent if too slow, and to retard it if too quick-were not fully appreciated by some of the numerous persons employed. The descent was at first too rapid; an accident to several men occurred while checking it; the stoppage was too sudden; and the advantages of a high spring tide were lost before the operation could be renewed. The vessel remains on the cradles, within about four feet of its former position, waiting for the opportunity afforded by another spring tide. Meanwhile the vast fabric exhibits admirable strength and rigidity, while supported only on the cradles,
the building at Old Trafford was opened we scarcely knew how rich we were. Foreigners, looking at our unadorned churches and meagre public galleries, have been accustomed to regard us as caring little for art; and have seldom failed to level a few easily-framed sarcasms at our indifference. The Manchester Exhibition-which after all was far from being even a tithe-offering of our actual wealth-will probably have taught such as visited it to hesitate if asked what other country could, out of its private stores, have furnished such a display. We have said indeed that it was deficient in works of the grandest class. That it should be so is, however, easy to understand. Painting in its earliest developments was confined almost entirely to the service of religion. It was in truth the handmaid of the Romish church. It reached its highest point at the period of the Reformation. Luther was the contemporary of Michael Angelo and Raffaelle, and Titian. Born the same year as Raffaelle, Michael Angelo survived him eighteen, and Titian thirty years, though both were some years his senior. With the doctrines of the Reformation, the people of England adopted to the full the reformers' horror of altarpieces, and those pictorial representations of the persons of the Trinity, the Virgin Mary, and actual or legendary saints, which formed the staple of the decorations of churches and religious houses in Roman Catholic countries. Yet these were just what for many years chiefly called forth the highest powers of the great painters. For English churches no such works were required. Religious houses were abolished, and there were no ecclesiastical communities to offer commissions for important works; while religious pictures found no purchasers among the laity. Picture galleries were then unknown, and such patronage as there was for art, was for many a day expended on portraiture. The first to form a collection of paintings in England was the unhappy Charles I., and perhaps even his fondness for pictures, and his choice of them, may have tended to increase the Puritan's abhorrence. The general ignorance of art was plainly shown at the sale of the royal collection. After the Restoration, Clarendon began to collect portraits. A little later Marlborough eagerly purchased any paintings he could obtain of a high order of excellence, and willingly accepted the masterpieces of Flemish art, which the cities he had saved gratefully pressed upon him and what he had purchased or accepted he strictly entailed on his heirs. Gradually the passion spread, and at length in the eighteenth century an English school of painting arose. But almost necessarily paintings being still excluded from churches and public buildings the pictures which were imported, as well as those of home production, were for the most part of comparatively small size. The possessors of stately galleries might now and then purchase a work of large dimensions, though, as such works were generally executed for a particular church or convent or public hall, and were often mural paintings, their guardians were usually unable or unwilling to dispose of them, and when they did sell one, it was mostly into a royal or national collection-any selection from the private picturegalleries of England must therefore be wanting in those works which impose by their magnitude, as well as by their excellence. While,