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Art. J.-1. Transactions of the Institution of Civil Engineers,
1836 to 1842. 3 vols, 4to., Plates, 1842. 2. Minutes of Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers,
1837 to 1857. 8vo., Plates. Edited by Charles Manby,
F.R.S., C.E., Secretary of the Institution. 3. Account of the Formation of the Railway over Chat Moss,
1826-30. By John Dixon, C.E. (MS.) THE THE traveller by railway sees comparatively little of the
formidable character of the works along which he is carried. His object is merely to pass over a given space in the shortest time and with the greatest comfort. He scarcely bestows a thought upon the amount of hard work that has been done, the anxieties that have been borne, the skill and contrivance that have been exercised, and the difficulties that have been overcome,
providing for him a smooth road through the country, across valleys, under hills, upon bogs, over rivers, or even arms of the sea. Yet for boldness of design, science of construction, and successful completion, the gigantic engineering works executed in connexion with our railways greatly surpass, in point of magnitude as well as utility, those of any former age; and it will not, we believe, be without interest if we pass rapidly in review a few of the more remarkable difficulties with which the engineers of our day have found it necessary to grapple.
It is a remarkable proof of the practical ability of the English people, that the greatest engineering works of the last century have been designed and executed for the most part by selfeducated men. Down to quite a recent date, there was no college or school for engineers in this country; and some of the most eminent practitioners had not even the benefit of ordinary dayschool instruction. Brindley was first a day-labourer, afterwards a working millwright; Telford, a working mason ; John Rennie, a farmer's son apprenticed to a millwright; George Stephenson, a brakesman and engineman. Probably no training would have made them greater than they were. Endowed with abundant genius and perseverance, their best education was habitual encounter with difficulties.
It is also worthy of note, that although the English have Vol. 103.—No. 205.
latterly eclipsed all other nations in engineering, it was the last of the practical sciences to which they applied themselves. Down to the middle of last century, England had not produced a single engineer of note; and we depended for our engineering, even more than we did for our pictures and our music, upon foreigners. Great Britian had then indeed made small progress in material industry compared with continental nations. There was little demand for engineering works of any kind; and when any project of importance was set on foot, it was found necessary to call to our aid some distinguished Dutchman or Frenchman. Thus, the first engine set up in England for supplying houses with water through leaden pipes, was erected on the Thames at London Bridge, by Peter Morris, a Dutchman; and when the embankment of the Great Bedford Level was determined on, Cornelius Vermuyden, another Dutch engineer, was employed to conduct the works. The first extensive bridge erected in England, of superior scientific construction, was Westminster Bridge; and it was erected by M. Labelye, a French engineer. The only Englishman who had at all distinguished himself down to the middle of the century was one John Perry, who successfully stopped an alarming breach of the Thames in the Dagenham Embankment; but his abilities found so little scope at home that he emigrated to Russia, and entered into the service of Peter the Great, then engaged, with his army, in cutting a canal between the Neva and the Volga. Perry styled himself · Adventurer,' which was the term then applied to those who undertook hazardous engineering enterprises; and the word is still in use amongst the Cornish miners.
The first English engineer, properly so called, was Jaines Brindley, the great canal-maker. Although canals had long been employed for commercial purposes in nearly every country in Europe, no work of the kind was commenced in England until 1755, when the Sankey brook Canal in Lancashire was authorized. This formed the beginning of a new era. about this time that the Duke of Bridgewater detected the genius of Brindley, and withdrew him from his occupation of a millwright, for the purpose of constructing his celebrated canal from Worsley to Manchester. While Brindley was thus employed upon his first canal, Sineaton was engaged in constructing that marvel of masonry and architecture—the Eddystone Lighthouse.
James Brindley was much the same to canal that George Stephenson became afterwards to railway engineering. Like Stephenson he was a genius Of mother wit, and wise without the schools.'
His scheme for carrying a navigable water-road over the Irwell upon a viaduct thirty-nine feet above the surface of the river, was received with the same hoot of incredulity as Stephenson's proposal to form a line of railway across Chat Moss. The practical men of the day spoke of it as a "castle in the air,' and the duke, who was considered as mad as Brindley, could not even get his bill discounted for 500l. But he had full confidence in his engineer. He cut down his personal expenses to 4001. a year, that he might be enabled to provide the requisite capital to carry on the works; and Brindley, at the same time that he laid for his employer the foundations of one of the most princely fortunes in England, initiated a series of national works which exercised a most important influence upon its industrial progress.
The success of the Duke's canal was so decided, that numerous similar schemes were projected, and a canal mania set in, of which the railway mania of subsequent times was but a counterpart. The remainder of Brindley's life was employed in excavating his great arterial lines, by means of which an internal water-communication was opened up between the Thames, the Humber, the Severn, and the Mersey. The ports of London, Hull, Bristol, and Liverpool, were thus united by canals passing through the richest and most industrial districts of England. Brindley's conceptions were of the boldest kind. He carried his canals over rivers, across valleys, and along formidable viaducts; and he hewed out long tunnels for them through hills where locks were impracticable. It was said of him, when cutting the Grand Trunk Canal in 1767, ‘Brindley handles rocks as easily as you would plum pies; yet he is as plain a looking man as one of the boors of the Peak.
At an early period of his career, whilst the belief in the superiority of foreign engineering still prevailed, some of Brindley's friends urged him to go to France for the purpose
of visiting the Great Canal of Languedoc. “No, no,' was his reply, ‘I will have no journies to other countries, unless for the purpose of being employed to surpass all that has already been done. Although he himself did not live to repay the debt which his country owed to continental nations for the engineering skill with which they assisted us in former times, his successors have discharged it with interest. English pumping-engines have drained the lake of Haarlem ; English bridges have been erected over the Danube at Pesth, over the Yssel in Holland, and over the Isere in Savoy; English engineers supplied the dock gates for Sebastopol ; the principal towns and cities of the continent are lit by gas manufactured by English machinery;
English steamboats ply in every sea and navigable river of the continent; and English locomotives run upon railways designed and constructed by English engineers in almost every country in Europe.
Brindley and Smeaton were followed by a number of able engineers in rapid succession. From a cattle and corn farm England, by the end of last century, had also become a magazine of trade and commerce. Then the engine invented by James Watt, and first brought into operation about the year 1773, shortly rendered this country a great workshop of steam-power. From a land of bridle-tracks it had advanced to one of wheel-roads and navigable canals. Time had become more precious, and to economize time new high-roads and bridges, superior to all which had preceded them, were constructed by Telford, whose suspension-bridge over the Menai Straits was regarded as a world's wonder. Shipping crowded the English ports, and docks now became necessary. The London Docks, by Rennie, completed in 1805, was the first great work of this kind ; and was succeeded by others constructed by Telford, Walker, and Palmer. Several noble bridges were thrown across the Thames to facilitate the communication between the two sides of the river. The Waterloo Bridge, characterized by Dupin as “a colossal monument worthy of Sesostris and the Cæsars the Southwark Bridge, and the New London Bridge--all by Rennie---were built within a period of twenty years, at an expenditure of about four millions sterling.
Engineers had now acquired importance as a profession; and as the number of those who followed it increased, and the demand for their services extended, they gradually formed themselves into an association. Mr. Palmer brought together a few young men who were the nucleus of the Institution of Civil Engineers. This Society struggled on for several years, and when Mr. Telford accepted the office of President in 1818, it entered upon a career of distinguished usefulness and prosperity. It was incorporated by Royal Charter in 1828.
English engineering had now arrived at the commencement of its grandest era. Trade, commerce, and manufactures had rapidly expanded in all directions, and the public requirements had outgrown the accommodation provided by turnpike-roads and canals. Raw cotton lay upon the canal wharves at Liverpool, and manufactured cotton upon those at Manchester, for weeks together, while operatives and mills were standing idle for want of the material to work up. As at Balaclava, the few miles of inland transport were more difficult to overcome than the thousands of miles of ocean. The contrivance of the railway