페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

the water flowed out of the open end of the tunnel by its own gravity. The blasting-work of this tunnel was so enormous that not less than three thousand five hundred barrels of gunpowder, weighing about one hundred and sixty tons, were used in its formation. The average number of men employed was about a thousand ; and during the six years the works were in progress twenty-six men were killed, of whom sixteen were miners. One fell down an air-shaft into the lower gallery when getting out of the way of a blast, his candle having gone out; three were killed by a discharge of gunpowder, in consequence of their stemming the blast-hole with rock instead of shale or other soft material; another had the stemmer blown clean through his head, while looking over another miner's shoulder, who was carelessly ramming down the powder with the head of his drill ; another returned to the blasting-place before one of the shots had exploded, and was killed on the spot. There were about four hundred minor accidents, many of them attended with loss of limb, and the sum total of the casualties, in proportion to the men employed, was greater, according to Mr. Edwin Chadwick, than was suffered by the British army in the battles of Talavera, Salamanca, Vittoria, and Waterloo.

The lives of workmen have occasionally been lost in other tunnels by sudden irruptions of water, the enemy most dreaded by miners. In excavating the tunnel of the Edinburgh and Granton Railway, directly under the New Town of Edinburgh, the driftway, about six feet square, which had been driven from both ends, was completed, with the exception of a barrier of earth about the middle of the work. The tunnel was on a heavy incline, and it was known that a considerable quantity of water had accumulated in the upper excavation. peared, however, that the drift had not been driven true, and that the southern and northern portions passed each other at the point where they should have met. The men in the lower drift were working by double-shifts'--that is, night and day-and one morning, about six, when the night-shift was about to come off, a flood of water burst in upon them and drowned the two miners, with the ganger or foreman, and the brother of one of the contractors, who had gone to ascertain the progress of the work. A boy, who had been sent down the shaft in Dublin-street, about seventy yards below where the barrier was, suddenly heard the fearful rumbling noise like thunder, and, fearing that the waters had burst, he instantly gave the signal to be pulled up. It was just in time; for he had no sooner been drawn out than the water came rushing up the shaft, which was about sixty feet deep, struck off the roof of the wooden

shed directors,

It ap

6

shed which covered the opening, and rushed down Dublin-street in a torrent.

Another water-difficulty occurred in constructing the Kilsby Tunnel of the London and North-Western Railway. The railway was forced in the direction of Kilsby by the opposition of powerful landowners in the counties of Northampton and Buckingham, who had not yet discovered the advantages of railways. A tunnel two thousand four hundred yards long, passing one hundred and sixty feet below the surface, was thus rendered necessary. The ridge under which it runs is of considerable extent, the famous battle of Naseby having been fought upon one of its spurs some seven miles to the eastward. Previous to the letting of the work to the contractors, the character of the underground soil was tested by trial-shafts, which indicated that it consisted of shale of the lower oolite. But scarcely had the job been commenced when it was discovered that, at an interval between the trial-shafts which had been sunk about two hundred yards from the south end of the tunnel, there existed an extensive quicksand under a bed of clay forty feet thick, which the borers had just missed. The excavation and building of the tunnel were proceeding at the bottom of one of these shafts, when a place in the roof suddenly gave way, a deluge of water burst in, and the party of workmen with the utmost difficulty escaped with their lives. They were only saved by means of a raft, on which they were towed by one of the engineers swimming, with the rope in his mouth, to the lower end of the shaft, out of which they were safely lifted to terra firma. Pumping-engines were erected for the purpose of drawing off the water; but for a long time the water prevailed, and sometimes even rose in the shafts. It was then thought expedient to run a drift which might act as a drain along the heading from the south end of the tunnel. The drist had nearly reached the sand-bed when, one day that the engineer, his assistants, and the workmen, were clustered about its entrance, they heard a sudden roar as of distant thunder. It was hoped that the water had burst in-for all the workmen were out of the drift—and that the sand-bed would now drain itself in a natural way. Very little water, however, made its appearance, and it was found that the loud noise had been caused by the sudden discharge of an immense mass of sand, which had completely choked up the passage. No other plan was now left than to bave recourse to numerous additional shafts and pumpingengines placed over the line of the tunnel where it crossed the quicksand, which involved a large additional expenditure. As for the contractor, he gave up the work in despair, and died shortly after, killed, it was said, by the anxiety he had suffered. The

a

directors, in this perplexity, called to their aid certain engineers of the highest erinence at that day, who advised the abandonment of the work, wbile Mr. Robert Stephenson, the Company's chief engineer, strongly urged its prosecution. His plan was at length adopted by a majority of the directors. A line of pumping-engines, having an aggregate power of 160 horses, was erected at short intervals ; shafts were simultaneously sunk down through the sand, and the pumping went on for eight continuous months until the tunnel at that part was completed. It was found that the water with which the bed of sand, extending over many miles, was charged was to a certain extent held back by the particles of the sand itself, and that it could only percolate through it at a certain average rate. Hence the distribution of

the pumping power at short intervals along the line of the tunnel • had a much greater effect than the concentration of that power

at any one spot. The workmen, protected by the pumps, which cleared a space for their operations in the midst of two walls of water and sand, proceeded with the tunnel at numerous points. Every exertion was used to build along the dangerous part as quickly as possible, the excavators and bricklayers working night and day until the whole was finished. Even with the enormous pumping power employed, it often happened that the bricks were scarcely covered with cement before they were washed clean by the streams of water which poured down overhead. The workmen were accordingly under the necessity of holding over their work large whisks of straw and other appliances to protect the bricks and cement at the moment of setting. The quantity of water thrown out of the sand-bed during the eight months of incessant pumping averaged two thousand gallons per minute, raised from an average depth of 120 feet. It is difficult to form an adequate idea of the bulk of the water thus raised ; but it may be stated that, if allowed to flow for three hours only, it would fill a lake one acre square to the depth of one foot; and if allowed to flow for one entire day, it would fill the lake to over eight feet in depth, or sufficient to float vessels of a hundred tons burthen. The water pumped out of the tunnel during the entire period of the works would be equivalent to the contents of the Thames between London Bridge and Woolwich. Notwithstanding the quantity of water raised, the level of the surface in the tunnel was only lowered about two and a half to three inches per week, proving the vast extent of the quicksand, which probably extended along the entire ridge of land under which the railway passed.

Such are only a few of the more prominent instances of the difficulties encountered in the formation of British railways. We

а

have scarcely so much as alluded to the construction of viaducts and bridges, in which our engineers have also displayed the very highest skill in overcoming the obstacles interposed by nature. But the stupendous magnitude of these works is perhaps less remarkable than the rapidity of their execution, the amount of capital which they have absorbed, and the still greater amount of capital they have created. Taken as a whole, they bear stamped upon them an impress of power unequalled by the structures of any other era and nation; and future generations may point to them as eminently characteristic of the iron age of England.

a

Art. II.-- The Historic Peerage of England ; exhibiting under

Alphabetical Arrangement the Origin, Descent, and Present State of every Title of Peerage which has existed in this country since the Conquest. Being a New Edition of the 'Synopsis of the Peerage of England' by the late Sir Harris Nicolas, G.C.M.G. Revised, corrected, and continued to the present time by

William Courthope, Esq., Somerset Herald.' London. 1857. THIS is a handsome and improved edition of the valuable work

of a great antiquary. Mr. Courthope has done justice to Sir Harris Nicolas, as Sir Harris Nicolas to his subject. Few men of modern times have attained greater proficiency than he attained, in those genealogical studies which Leibnitz did not disdain, which were loved by Cecil and Fuller, and which amused the leisure of Gibbon and Gray. In this volume the reader can see, in the course of a reference of a few minutes, the history of any title ever borne in England since the days of William the Norman; and we do not hesitate to pronounce it as necessary a companion to the student of English history, as Johnson's Dictionary to the student of the English language.

Mr. Thackeray observed in a satirical mood that the ‘Peerage' was the Englishman's 'other Bible.' But this is not one of the common Peerages which lie on the tables of Tyburnia to tell who is the wife, and what the age of the last Whig nobleman appointed to the government of a colony. This portly volume, bright as is its exterior, is most rigidly business-like in its contents. Age by age, date by date, each title is traced from its creation, either to its extinction or its present possessor. It is essentially what its title imports, a historic work; and contains, therefore, many names not to be found in our day in the English libro d'oro. Now, while this constitutes great part of its value to the student, it is likewise the feature which requires to be

brought

a

brought prominently before the world. It is the historical aspect of Aristocracy of which the public knows least; yet this is the element which makes the study of it wise, and the respect for it generous, and we are glad that Mr. Courthope has given us an occasion for a colloquy with a wider public on some of the points of interest which the appearance of his book suggests.

Though the English Peerage was founded by the Normans, aristocracy as an institution was far earlier amongst us, and, indeed, is to be traced in the very first accounts we have of our northern ancestors. It is to be seen in the Agricola.' It was brought into Britain by the Saxons. How it originated nobody can tell. The definition of Aristotle that suyévelc, or nobility of birth, is αρχαίος πλούτος και αρετή- ancient wealth and virtue-is admirable, but the process by which these organised themselves into governing orders is not so easy to see. An age restlessly impatient of individual superiority finds it difficult even to imagine early hero-worship, and turns from the pedigrees in the Saxon Chronicle with incredulity and weariness. Yet then were laid the foundations of the state of society during which Europe became civilized; and all the institutions of life, and law, and politics grew up during times when respect for personal and hereditary superiority was strongest.

Certain it is, that though any definite history of the present Peerage must begin, as the work before us begins, with the Conquest, hereditary nobility then existed as an established and understood thing. We find chroniclers of quite early times, , such as Ordericus Vitalis, speaking of ancient families' in the same matter of course way that we do. William of Malmesbury tells us that Rollo sprang from a noble race of Northmen, that had become obsolete through length of time. The knight who carried William's gonfanon at Hastings enjoyed that honour (says the Roman de Rou) from his 'antecessours,' or ancestors. Wherefore we must not suppose that the nobility of the best houses dates only from 1066, though the plasticity of the Normans had made them adapt themselves in some three generations so completely to their new land, that they made litile account of the details of their Scandinavian extraction. And, indeed, when they put out on the blue Channel on that memorable year, they might well be excused for taking a new point of departure. Discoverers of America, conquerors of Russia, founders of dynasties in England, Scotland, Italy, Jerusalem, the feat of that year remains still the most important event in the history of their race.

No wonder that the ambition of gentlemen long was – nay, in our age even still is-to trace themselves to some one of those who, when the great battle was over, gathered round

Duke

« 이전계속 »