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Title: Smeaton and Lighthouses - A Popular Biography, with an Historical Introduction and Sequel
Author: Smeaton, John
Language: English
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                     A POPULAR BIOGRAPHY, WITH AN
                        HISTORICAL INTRODUCTION
                              AND SEQUEL.

                     JOHN W. PARKER, WEST STRAND.


One of the most useful and pleasing forms under which knowledge can be
presented to the general reader, is that of the biography of
distinguished men who have contributed to the progress of that
knowledge in some one or other of its various departments. But it too
frequently happens that the biographical notices of great men consist
rather of personal, trivial, and unimportant details, than of a clear
and broad outline of the influence which they exerted upon the pursuit
and upon the age in which they were distinguished. The true object of
biography is, in tracing the progress of an individual, to show
clearly what result his active life has produced on the well-being of
his fellow-men, and also what is the position which he occupies as one
of the ‘great landmarks in the map of human nature[1].’

Yet we are not satisfied with a biography which regards its subject in
his public capacity alone: we are naturally curious to ascertain
whether the same qualities which rendered him celebrated in public
followed him likewise into private life, and distinguished him there.
We regard with interest in his private capacity the man who has been
the originator of much public good; we look with an attentive eye on
his behaviour when he stands alone, when his native impulses are under
no external excitement, when he is, in fact, ‘in the undress of one
who has retired from the stage on which he felt he had a part to

But a detail of the public and private events in the life of a
distinguished man do not alone suffice to form a just estimate of his
character. The reader requires to be made acquainted with the state of
a particular branch of knowledge at the time when the individual
appeared whose efforts so greatly extended its boundaries;--without
this it is quite impossible to estimate the worth of the man whose
life is being perused, or the blessings and advantages conferred upon
society by his means.

On the other hand, in tracing the history of any particular branch of
knowledge, unless connected with biography, we lose sight of
individual efforts;--they are mingled with the labours of others, or
are absorbed into the history of the whole, and are consequently no
longer individualized:--hence we are likely to fail in recognizing the
obligations due to our distinguished countrymen, or to deprive of
their just merit those of our foreign brethren whose useful lives have
influenced distant lands, as well as their own.

With these views we propose to connect the name of SMEATON with the
interesting subject of LIGHTHOUSES. In the _first_ place, we propose
to present a brief history of Lighthouses, up to the time when Smeaton
gave a type for this peculiar class of buildings upon dangerous and
difficult points of coast; _secondly_, a general sketch of the life of
Smeaton, so far as his very brief biographers will allow; and
_thirdly_, a history of the improvements in Lighthouses which have
been effected since the erection of the Eddystone.

In this compilation, the writer desires to express his obligations to
the following works: _A Narrative of the Building, and a Description
of the Construction of the Eddystone Lighthouse with Stone_, by JOHN
SMEATON, fol. London, 1791;--Mr. HOLMES’s short _Memoir of_
SMEATON;--The Communication of Mrs. DIXON, Smeaton’s daughter, to the
Institution of Civil Engineers;--_An Account of the Bell-Rock
Lighthouse, including the Details of the Erection, and peculiar
Structure of that Edifice_, by ROBERT STEVENSON, 4to. Edin.
1824;--_The Edinburgh Encyclopædia_, and the _Encyclopædia
Britannica_;--An article _on Lighthouses_, by M. ARAGO, in the
_Annuaire_;--_The Civil Engineer’s and Architect’s Journal_;--_The
Nautical Magazine_;--and the _Annual Reports of the Trinity House_
presented to the House of Commons.


[Footnote 1: Coleridge.]

[Footnote 2: Coleridge.]





Origin of Lighthouses--Beacon Fires--Character of the Early
Watch-towers--Cressets--Colossus of Rhodes--The Pharos of
Alexandria--Epitome of Ancient Lighthouses--The Tour de
Corduan                                                              9



Management of English Lighthouses--The Trinity House--Early
History of this Corporation--Management of Lighthouses vested
in--The Power of the Crown to grant Patents for Lighthouses--
Recent Law for the Regulation of Lighthouses--Revenue of
Corporation--Rates of Dues--How collected and disbursed--
Constitution of the Corporation--The Public Lights of England       15



The Eddystone Rocks--Their Situation and dangerous Character--The
first Lighthouse by Winstanley--Its Progress and Completion--Its
awful Fate--Rudyerd’s Lighthouse--Description of--Its Destruction
by Fire--Smeaton appointed to construct a New Edifice               21



Birth of Smeaton--His early Character and Employments--Educated
for an attorney--His dislike of that profession--Becomes
Philosophical Instrument Maker--His Scientific Inquiries--Is
appointed to build the Eddystone Lighthouse--His subsequent
Employments--Public Works designed and completed by him--His
Literary Works--His last Illness and Death--His Character--
Illustrative Anecdotes                                              40



A Stone Lighthouse proposed--Smeaton’s first Visit to the
Rock--Operations of the First Season--Second Season--Structure
of the Foundation--Ingenious Mode of securing the Stones--Third
Season--State of the Work--Progress and Description of the
Work--Accidents to the Engineer--Proposal to exhibit a Light
before the completion of the Building refused--Fourth Season--
Completion of the Work--Appearance of the Lighthouse during a
Storm--Situation of the Light-keepers                               50



Importance of Lighting the Scottish Coast--Formation of
Board of Commissioners of Northern Lighthouses--Early
Proceedings of the Board--Principal Northern Lighthouses--The
Isle of May Lighthouse--Loss of two Frigates--Application of
the Admiralty to the Lighthouse Board, by whom the Duties
and the Island of May are purchased--Numerous Shipwrecks
on the Island of Sanday--Foundation-stone of Start-Point
Lighthouse laid--Rev. W. Traill’s Address upon the occasion--
Subsequent Proceedings on Sanday Island--North Ronaldsay
Lighthouse--Melancholy Accident--Importance of the Northern
Lighthouses                                                         64



History of the Inch-Cape or Bell-Rock Lighthouse as a
Type of the Northern Lighthouses--Position and Dangerous
Character of the Bell Rock--Ballad of Sir Ralph the Rover--
Proposal to erect a Lighthouse--Mr. Robert Stevenson selected
as Engineer--Survey of the Rock--Exhibition of a Floating
Light--Preparations for the Lighthouse--First Season on the
Rock--Alarming Situation of the Engineer and Men--Effects
of the Stormy Sea on the Rock--Erection of Beacon--Winter
Employment--The Second Season--A new Tender employed--Praam-boats
and Stone-lighters--Progress of the Work--Remarkable appearance
of the Rock--Foundation Stone laid--First continuous Course of
Masonry--Its Contents--Third Season--Progress of the Work--Winter
Operations--Fourth Season--The Beacon used as a Dwelling--Its
Interior described--The Engineer’s Cabin--The Lighthouse nearly
finished--Mr. Smeaton’s Daughter visits the Works--Last Stone
laid--Light advertized--Lighthouse described--Action of the
Sea and of Stormy Weather upon the Lighthouse--Internal Economy
of the Lighthouse--Arrangements on Shore--Signals--Curious
Accident--The Carr Rock Beacon                                      74



Floating Lights--Objections to--Mitchell’s Screw-moorings--
Experiments on the Maplin Sand--Foundation--Erection of
Screw-pile Lighthouse--Details of the Wyre Lighthouse--Proposed
Lighthouse on the Goodwin Sands--Metallic Lighthouses--Advantages
of Metal over Stone--Details of Cast-iron Lighthouse at Morant
Point, Jamaica                                                     101



Imperfect Illumination of the old Lighthouses--First
Improvements--The Argand Lamp and Reflecting Mirrors--Revolving
Lights--The Catoptric System--Varieties of Lights--The Dioptric
System--Its Details--Introduction of this Method into Great
Britain--Comparison of the two Methods--The Drummond and Voltaic
Lights--Gurney’s Lamp--Captain Basil Hall’s Experiments--Ventilation
of Lighthouses                                                     110




     Origin of Lighthouses--Beacon Fires--Character of the Early
     Watch-towers--Cressets--Colossus of Rhodes--The Pharos of
     Alexandria--Epitome of Ancient Lighthouses--The Tour de

There is perhaps nothing better calculated to impress us with the
skill and ingenuity of man, and the power which scientific knowledge
imparts, than the sight of one of the beautiful Lighthouses of modern
times. Rising, it may be, from the point of a jutting rock amidst the
dashing and roaring of the breakers, it is exposed to the utmost fury
of the storm: graceful in its proportions, and uniting the elements of
security and beauty, it resists the terrific assaults of the winds and
waves, and bears aloft to the help of the tempest-tossed mariner, the
warning light that bids him shun the rocky shore. The skill now
attained in the construction of Lighthouses has been of slow and
difficult acquirement, the fruit of much patient and persevering toil,
and of many painful experiences: it will, therefore, be interesting to
trace the steps by which a result so important in the history of
commerce has been successfully achieved.

At a very early period it was customary to light up beacon-fires along
the most frequented coasts. These fires were kindled on the summits of
lofty towers, which served the double purpose of lighthouses, and
temples dedicated to the gods. Here sacrifices were offered to appease
the storm, and prayers were made for the safety of the mariner. Thus
these lighthouse-towers were invested with a sacred character: their
beacon-fires were said to be inextinguishable; their priests performed
the rites and practised the arts of divination, inquiring into the
success of a proposed voyage, and making votive offerings for past

Hence it may naturally be supposed, that within these watch-towers was
to be found most of the nautical knowledge of the time; that here were
deposited such observations on the heavenly bodies as were attainable
at that early period; also rude charts of the coast, originally
perhaps traced upon the walls, and afterwards formed into primitive
maps by being transferred and extended upon papyrus leaves. Here too
the young seaman might come for instruction in the art of navigation,
simple and imperfect as it must have been. Here too the aged seaman
buffetted by the storm might seek refuge from its fury, obtain rest
and refreshment, and instructions for the continuance of his voyage.

These ancient lighthouses appear to have consisted of a tower of
masonry of large dimensions; circular or square in form; containing
numerous apartments and a battlemented top, within which was raised a
kind of altarpiece covered with a plate of brass. Upon this brazen
hearth a chauffer of curious workmanship was placed: it was in some
cases supported upon dolphins; and the grating was decorated with
foliage and emblematical devices.

The materials employed for maintaining a light in this chauffer were,
doubtless, similar to those in the ancient cressets, or lights of the
watch, which were in use not only as beacons, but as common
street-lights, before either oil or gas-lights were known. Some of
these cressets were formed of a wreathed rope, smeared over with
pitch, and placed in an elevated cage of iron, others contained
combustible materials in a hollow pan. Occasionally these primitive
street-lights were placed at the summit of a pole, from either side of
which, projecting pieces of wood formed a ready mode of ascent to trim
the light, and obviated the need of a ladder for that purpose.

Before the discovery of the magnetic needle or its application at sea,
the towers above referred to were very numerous; so much so that
nearly every promontory is said to have been decorated with its
lighthouse or temple, and this was the more necessary, since the
mariner dared not venture out of sight of the coast, but followed with
attention all its little windings and bendings.

There is every reason to believe, that the gigantic figure known as
the Colossus of Rhodes formed one of the most celebrated beacon-fires
of antiquity. About three hundred years before the Christian era,
Charles the disciple of Lysippus constructed this brazen statue, the
dimensions of which were so vast that a vessel could sail into the
harbour between its legs, which spanned the entrance. It was partly
demolished by an earthquake about eighty years after its completion;
and so late as the year 672 of the Christian era, the brass of which
it was composed was sold by the Saracens to a Jewish merchant of
Edessa, for a sum, it is said, equal to thirty-six thousand pounds.

But the most celebrated lighthouse of antiquity was that erected about
the year 283 B. C. by order of Ptolemy Philadelphus, on the island of
Pharos, opposite to Alexandria. It is from the name of this island
that lighthouses have received their generic name of Pharos. Strabo
records, that the architect Sostratus, having first secretly carved
his own name on the solid walls of the building, covered the words
with plaster, and in obedience to Ptolemy’s command inscribed thereon,
‘King Ptolemy to the gods the preservers, for the benefit of sailors.’
The height of this building is stated at four hundred feet; but this,
as well as many other accounts relating to it, must be an
exaggeration. A more modest account, given by the historian Josephus,
is likely to be accurate; but even he states that the fire which was
kept constantly burning at the top was visible by seamen at a distance
equal to about forty miles.

The most remarkable lighthouses of ancient times were situated in and
about the Mediterranean sea; they were generally placed upon
extensive moles, or near the entrance of harbours: some of them still
remain. The Pharos of Alexandria, and that of Messina, still display
their fires, but it is stated that they have shared in none of the
improvements of modern science; that even in Spain and Portugal the
lighthouse of Corunna, or famous tower of Hercules, exhibits merely a
coal-fire with so faint a light that ships can scarcely perceive it
until they are in danger of striking against the shores. Of these
ancient lights there yet remain those on either side of the
Dardanelles; one in the archipelago on the island of Milo, two in the
gulf of Salonica, and one near Lagos in Romania; Malta, Leghorn,
Civita Vecchia, Genoa, Malaga, Cape Tarifa, and other places, still
preserve the fires which guided the prow and the galley of the masters
of the old world.

The sum of our knowledge of the ancient history of lighthouses is
neither accurate nor extensive: we proceed, therefore, to notice those
of modern times. Passing by the many rude contrivances for lighting up
a coast, consisting as they did chiefly of pots of fire mounted on
poles or rocks, the first lighthouse which merits attention is the
Tour de Corduan, which, on account of its architectural magnificence
was long regarded as one of the wonders of the world, in the same way
as the Pharos of Alexandria had been in ancient times.

The Tour de Corduan is situated on an extensive reef about three miles
from land, at the mouth of the river Garonne, and from its position
serves as an important guide to the shipping of Bordeaux, the
Languedoc Canal, and all that part of the Bay of Biscay. It was
founded in the year 1584, but was not completed until 1610, in the
time of Henry IV. Its style of architecture is a mixture of classic
and gothic, and so very elaborate, that a just idea cannot be formed
of it without reference to drawings in detail. The building is one
hundred and ninety-seven feet in height, and consists of a number of
galleries rising above each other, and gradually diminishing in
diameter. The base consists of an immense platform of solid masonry,
surrounded by a wall one hundred and thirty-four feet in diameter, so
placed as to act as an outwork of defence to receive the chief shock
of the waves. The light-keeper’s houses and the store-rooms form a
detached range of buildings on the great platform, from which a
private staircase conducts to the light-room. At the entrance door of
the main tower, the busts of Henry II. and Henry IV. are placed in
niches, over these are the arms of France, and an emblematical figure
of St. Mary, to whom the building is dedicated; there is also another
female figure, holding a branch of palm in one hand and a crown in the

In the solid masonry of the platform is the fuel-store; over this is
the great hall, twenty-two feet square with an arched roof twenty feet
high. On this floor are also two wardrobes and other conveniences.
Over the hall is the king’s apartment, twenty-one feet square, with an
elliptical roof twenty feet in height. This floor has also a
vestibule, two wardrobes, &c. The third floor contains the chapel, in
which a priest occasionally performs mass. Its diameter is twenty-one
feet, and from the floor to the centre of the dome-roof the height is
forty feet. It is highly adorned with mosaic, and is lighted by eight
lantern windows. In the crown of the dome-roof is a circular opening
surrounded by a balustrade, through which is seen the ornamental roof
of the room above. This room is fourteen feet in diameter and
twenty-seven feet high; it is used as a watch-room by the
light-keepers, and was probably intended as a place to which they
could be admitted to hear prayers or mass on the occasion of a royal
visit. Over this room is an apartment capable of containing a stock of
fuel sufficient for one night’s consumption, and is so constructed as
to be convertible into a room for the exhibition of a light, in case
of accident or repairs being required in the main light-room. This is
situated over the store-room just referred to, and is surrounded by a
balcony and a circular stone parapet. The original lantern, or
light-room, was constructed for the combustion of oak wood, exposed
in a kind of chauffer raised six feet above the floor. The room was
not glazed, so that the smoke was carried out sideways in the
direction of the wind. The roof was furnished with a sort of chimney
in the shape of a spire, which terminated the building with a ball.
The whole light-room was of stone, and its height to the top of the
spire-funnel was thirty-one feet.

From the rude mode by which light was obtained, the stone mullions
which supported the cupola-roof became so much damaged, that in 1717
it was necessary to remove the light to the apartment below, till the
light-room and upper works were restored. But the new light being so
defective that it could not be seen at sea at a greater distance than
six miles, many accidents and complaints arose, when it was determined
to construct the light-room of iron instead of stone. By this means
the light passed with less obstruction, and in 1727, after a lapse of
ten years, it was again exhibited at its accustomed height and with
increased brilliancy. The light was further improved in consequence of
pit-coal being used instead of timber; and the interior of the roof
was converted into a kind of inverted conical reflector, the point of
which projected downwards, and its base extended nearly to the full
size of the roof. Still, however, the light being exposed in an open
chauffer, was little to be depended on at any great distance from the
shore, so that about the year 1780 reflectors and lamps were
introduced, and in 1822 the light received its last improvement by the
introduction of Fresnel’s beautiful apparatus.



     Management of English Lighthouses--The Trinity House--Early
     History of this Corporation--Management of Lighthouses
     vested in--The Power of the Crown to grant Patents for
     Lighthouses--Recent Law for the Regulation of
     Lighthouses--Revenue of Corporation--Rates of Dues--How
     collected and disbursed--Constitution of the
     Corporation--The Public Lights of England.

It will now be necessary to give some account of the important
institution to whose members is entrusted the management of
Lighthouses, and of various interests connected with the Seamen and
Shipping of this country. This is the Corporation of the Trinity House
of Deptford Strond, whose full title is as follows:--‘The Master,
Wardens, and Assistants of the Guild, Fraternity, or Brotherhood of
the most glorious and undivided Trinity, and of St. Clement, in the
parish of Deptford Strond, in the county of Kent.’

The early records of this corporation were destroyed by fire in 1714,
so that the origin of the institution cannot be precisely stated. But
it appears that the purpose for which it was first established was,
for the increase of correct information of the intricacies of
navigation connected with the channels leading into the Thames, and
with the river itself, and that the society was originally an
association of seamen formed for the purpose of forwarding and
assisting the attainment of the object.

In the reign of Henry VIII. the arsenals of Woolwich and Deptford were
founded, the latter being afterwards put under the direction of the
Trinity House. It is in this reign that we meet with the first
official document relating to the establishment at Deptford Strond. A
royal charter of incorporation was granted in the sixth year of the
reign, wherein Henry grants license to his beloved people and
subjects, the shipmen and mariners of England, to _new begin_, erect,
create, ordain, found, unite, and establish a certain guild or
perpetual fraternity of themselves and other persons, as well men as
women, in the parish-church of Deptford Strond, in the county of Kent.
This charter permits the brethren to elect one master, four wardens,
and eight assistants, to govern and oversee the guild, and have the
custody of the lands and possessions thereof, &c. Queen Elizabeth, in
the first year of her reign, recognised all the rights and immunities
of the corporation, and in the eighth of her reign an act was passed
enabling them to preserve ancient sea-marks, to erect beacons, marks,
and signs for the sea, and to grant licenses to mariners during the
intervals of their engagements to ply for hire as watermen on the
river Thames. This act recites the destruction of steeples, woods, and
other marks on the coasts, whereby divers ships had been lost, to the
great detriment and hurt of the common weal, and the perishing of no
small number of people, and forbids the destruction of any existing
marks after notice under a penalty of one hundred pounds.

In the reign of James I. a question arose as to whether the privileges
granted to the Trinity House by the act of 8th of Elizabeth included
_lighthouses_, which, it would appear, were not introduced in England
at the time it was passed. The opinion of Sir Francis Bacon was sought
in the matter, and on it an order in council was founded, 26th March,
1617. The opinion was,--‘That lighthouses are marks and signs within
the meaning of the statute and charter. That there is an authority,
mixed with a trust settled in that corporation, for the erection of
such lighthouses, and other marks and signs as may serve from time to
time, as the accidents and moveable nature of the sands and channels
doth require, grounded upon the skill and experience which they have
in marine service, and this authority and trust cannot be transferred
from them by law, but as they only are answerable for the defaults, so
they only are trusted with the performance, it being a matter of a
high and precious nature, in respect of the salvation of ships and
lives, and a kind of starlight in that element.’

There is reason to believe that this sensible decision of the
attorney-general was not altogether pleasing to the king, whose habit
of selling monopolies and patents was thereby checked. That this was
the case appears from the fact, that, on Sir Francis Bacon becoming
lord-keeper, the same point of law was revived before his successor in
the office of attorney-general, Sir Henry Yelverton. The result of
this was a report that suited the king’s purposes better at the time,
but was subsequently the cause of much evil, loss, and expense,
because the management of several lighthouses was thenceforth
entrusted to individuals. Without interfering with the authority
already possessed by the Trinity House, this report states that the
crown had also a power and right by the common-law to erect such
houses. ‘And therefore,’ says the report, ‘howsoever the ordinary
authority and trust for the performance of this service is committed
to the said corporation alone, as persons of skill and trust to that
purpose, yet if they be not vigilant to perform it in all places
necessary, his majesty is not restrained to provide them according to
his regal power and justice, for the safety of his subjects’ lives,
goods, and shipping, in all places needful.’

Thus patents for and leases of lighthouses were granted to private
individuals, and were no longer the exclusive right of the Trinity
House. This state of things continued from that period nearly to the
present time. But the inconvenience and disadvantage resulting from
the measure had long been felt, and it was found that the lighthouse
system was, in too many instances, conducted with a view to private
interest rather than public good. An act was therefore passed, in the
sixth and seventh years of the reign of his late majesty William IV.,
in order to the attainment of uniformity of system in the management
of lighthouses, and the reduction and equalization of tolls payable in
respect thereof. By this act provision was made for vesting all the
lighthouses on the coast of England in the corporation of the Trinity
House, and placing those of Scotland and Ireland also under their
supervision. All the interest of the crown in lighthouses possessed by
his majesty was vested in the corporation, in consideration of three
hundred thousand pounds allowed to the Commissioners of Crown Land
Revenue for the same, and the corporation were permitted to buy up the
interests of the various lessees of the crown and of the corporation,
as well as to purchase the other lighthouses from the proprietors of
them, subject in case of dispute to the assessment of a jury. Under
this act purchases have been made by the corporation of nearly the
whole of the lighthouses not before in their possession, the sum
expended for that purpose amounting to nearly a million of money.

The revenues of the corporation, which are very considerable, are
derived from tolls paid by the shipping deriving benefit from the
lights, beacons, and buoys, and from the ballast supplied. Also from
lands, stock, &c. held by the corporation, partly by purchase, partly
from legacies, &c. and donations of private individuals. The whole of
these revenues are employed in necessary expenses, such as
constructing and maintaining their lighthouses, and lights, beacons,
and buoys, and the buildings and vessels belonging to the corporation,
in the salaries of the officers of their different establishments, and
in relieving decayed seamen and ballastmen and their widows. Many
almshouses have been erected and are maintained from the same funds.

The present house of the corporation is on Tower Hill. It was built by
Wyatt in 1793. It is of Portland stone, with a rustic basement, over
which is one story adorned with Ionic columns and pilasters. The
Trinity House was formerly in Water Lane, where it was twice destroyed
by fire. The members of the corporation are chosen from among the
highest ranks: of the thirty-one elder brethren, eleven are noblemen
and heads of the government departments, admirals, &c. These are
styled honorary members, and have no pecuniary advantage from their
connection with the institution. The present master is the Duke of
Wellington. Mr. Pitt filled that office for seventeen years, and
William IV. was master at the time of his accession to the throne.
Different committees are appointed for attending to the various duties
of the corporation. The deputy master and elder brethren are from time
to time employed in making voyages of inspection of their lighthouses
and lights, beacons and buoys, and in making surveys &c. on the coast,
and reports on maritime matters. The salary of the deputy master is
six hundred pounds per annum, and of the elder brethren three hundred
pounds each per annum. The duties of the corporation also extend to
the examination of such boys of Christ’s Hospital as shall be willing
to become seamen, and to apprentice them to commanders of ships. Also,
the appointment of all pilots into and out of the Thames, prohibiting
under penalties all other persons from exercising the office; the
punishment of seamen deserting, &c. All masters of the Navy, as well
as the pilots, also undergo examination before this corporation.

The rate of dues chargeable by the Trinity House before the passing of
the Act of 1836, varied from one sixth of a penny to one penny per
ton, on each light passed; and it appears from the Parliamentary
Report, that in 1832 the net amount of revenue was seventy-seven
thousand three hundred and seventy-one pounds, and the expense of
maintaining the lights thirty-six thousand nine hundred and four
pounds, leaving a surplus of forty thousand four hundred and
sixty-seven pounds, to be expended in charity to the amount of
thirty-five thousand, and the rest in the erection of new lighthouses,
and the maintenance of the general establishment. By the new Act the
duties levied under former Acts were repealed, and it was enacted that
every British vessel, and every private foreign vessel should pay the
toll of one half-penny per ton for every time of passing, or deriving
advantage from any light, with the exception of the Bell-Rock, for
which one penny per ton is the toll. Every foreign vessel not
privileged must pay double toll. Exemptions were made in favour of the
King’s vessels, those of Trinity House, and all vessels going in
ballast or engaged in the herring fishery. Power was given to the
commissioners of northern lighthouses to erect beacons, and moor
buoys, and the harbour-lights on the Scotch coast were placed under
their controul. This Act also confers on the Trinity House the power
of entering any lighthouse under the charge of other boards, to
inspect their condition, and it gives them a controul as to the
erection of new lighthouses, or the alteration of those already
existing, both in Scotland and Ireland. In the event of any
differences of opinion between the three boards, appeal is to be made
to the Privy Council. It is also enacted, that accounts of the receipt
of all monies, and a report of all alterations made during the
preceding year, be annually laid before each House of Parliament.

The public lights of England, including Heligoland (a small island
belonging to England situate about twenty-five miles from the mouth of
the Elbe), amount to seventy-one in number, and have been arranged in
the following classes.

  1. Those belonging to and under the management of the
     Corporation of the Trinity House                       55 lights

  2. Those in the charge of individuals under lease from
     the Trinity House, and having different periods to
     run                                                     3    "

  3. Those let by the Crown to individuals for a period of
     years on leases renewed since the year 1822             7    "

  4. Lights originally held under patents subsequently
     sanctioned by Acts of Parliament, and now in the
     hands of proprietors                                    4    "

  5. At Heligoland                                           1 light

  6. One floating light at Benbridge Lodge                   1    "
  Total number of public general lights in England          71 lights

A list of the lighthouses of the British Islands, corrected to July,
1836, is published at the Hydrographic Office, Admiralty.



     The Eddystone Rocks--Their situation and dangerous
     Character--The first Lighthouse by Winstanley--Its progress
     and Completion--Its awful Fate--Rudyerd’s Lighthouse--Description
     of--Its Destruction by Fire--Smeaton appointed to construct a
     New edifice.

The Eddystone Rocks are situated nearly S. S. W. from the middle of
Plymouth Sound, and at a distance from the port of Plymouth of nearly
fourteen miles. They are remarkable for the great variety of contrary
sets of the tide or current among them, and hence it is supposed they
derived their appellation. From various causes the currents in the
district of the channel where these rocks lie are so exceedingly
irregular, that it requires much knowledge of the local situation to
shun the dangers connected with them. Supposing a line to be drawn
between the Lizard and the Start points, the Eddystone rocks would be
found nearly on, or a little within that line. The nearest point of
land to these rocks is the promontory called Ram-head.

As the Eddystone rocks lie nearly in the direction of ships coasting
up and down the channel, they were, previous to the erection of the
lighthouse, extremely dangerous, and often fatal to ships,
particularly to such as were homeward bound from foreign parts; so
that many rich vessels were actually lost on these rocks, it being not
unusual for the most careful mariner to run his vessel upon them
during the night, or in foggy weather at high water, when the whole
ranges of the rocks are entirely covered.

If the situation of the Eddystone rocks be considered with reference
to the ocean and the Bay of Biscay, it will be seen that they lie
exposed to the great and heavy swells which come in from all the
south-western points of the compass. Indeed, it is a fact well known
to mariners, that all the heavy seas from those quarters come
uncontrolled upon these rocks, and break on them with the utmost fury.
The particular conformation of the rocks also tends to augment the
force and height of the seas, for they not only stretch across the
channel in a north and south direction to the length of above one
hundred fathoms, but they lie in a sloping manner toward the
south-west quarter. The effect of this slope in stormy weather is to
increase the swell of the seas to a frightful extent; and even in calm
weather, when the sea is to all appearance smooth and unruffled, the
ground-swell from the ocean continues, and meeting the slope of these
rocks, the waves often break upon them with great violence.

The largest and highest of the Eddystone rocks is now called the
House-rock, because every building which has been attempted has had
its foundation there; but even on this the most favourable spot for
such efforts, there is a peculiar difficulty, arising out of its shape
and position. There is a sudden drop in the surface of the rock,
forming a step of about four and a half or five feet high, the upper
part somewhat over-hanging the perpendicular, so that the seas, which
in moderate weather come swelling towards that step, meet so sudden a
check thereby that they frequently fly to the height of thirty or
forty feet. This proved a great interruption to the works during the
building of the lighthouse, for the water coming down from this height
on the area of the building completely wetted the work-people, and
either suspended their employment or caused them to execute it in a
very uncomfortable situation. This is not the case at all times, but
only when the ground-swell comes in from the bay, which, however, is
constant during south-westerly winds, and for some time after they
have subsided.

It would appear that the many fatal accidents which occurred to
homeward-bound ships had long made it much desired, as it was highly
necessary, that some beacon should be erected on the Eddystone rocks.
The formidable nature of the undertaking, and the almost insuperable
difficulties connected with it, may be supposed to have long repressed
the ardour of the zealous and the humane; but at length, in the year
1696, a person was found hardy enough to undertake the task, and he
was soon invested with the necessary powers to put it in execution.

This person was Mr. Henry Winstanley, of Littlebury, Essex, whose
mechanical abilities had previously been known rather by a series of
eccentric contrivances than by any remarkable proof of skill. For
instance:--in his house at Littlebury, if a visitor entered an
apartment and saw an old slipper lying on the floor, and very
naturally proceeded to kick it aside with his foot, a ghost-like
figure would immediately start up before him, and if he retreated from
it and took his seat in a chair, a couple of arms would immediately
clasp him in, so that it would be impossible to disengage himself
without the assistance of an attendant.

These unpleasant jokes were not confined to the house; for if the
unfortunate guest took refuge in the garden, and unwittingly entered
the summer-house by the side of the canal, immediately he was sent out
afloat to the middle of the water, and could not possibly make his
escape without the intervention of the manager. These tricks were
apparently played for mere amusement; but Mr. Winstanley at one time
turned his mechanical contrivances to account, by establishing an
exhibition at Hyde-Park Corner, called ‘Winstanley’s Water-Works,’ the
price of admission being one shilling each person.

Unimportant as these particulars may appear, they serve to mark the
turn of mind of the first engineer of the Eddystone, and to account in
some degree for the whimsical nature of the buildings erected by him.

From Winstanley’s own narrative, we find that he began his lighthouse
in 1696, and that it took more than four years in building, both on
account of the greatness of the work, and the difficulty and danger
of getting backwards and forwards to the place. Though nothing was
attempted except in the summer season, yet even then, the weather at
times would prove so unfavourable that for ten or fourteen days
together, owing to the ground-swell from the main ocean, the sea would
be raging about these rocks, while calm elsewhere, and fly up more
than two hundred feet, burying all the works, and making it impossible
for the engineer to approach.

The first summer was spent in making twelve holes in the rock, and
fastening twelve large irons to hold the work that was to be done
afterwards. It appears that Winstanley and his party made single
journies every time from Plymouth, and had not any store-ship lying at
moorings as a place of constant retreat. This was a great oversight,
and unnecessarily retarded his work. Many journies were taken in vain,
when no landing could be effected, and during the work the hours of
labour were needlessly curtailed by preparations for the safety of the
materials during their absence, and also for their own departure.

The second summer was employed in making a solid round pillar, twelve
feet high and fourteen in diameter. This was an important step: the
workmen had now some small shelter, and something to hold by. The
season also proved rather more favourable than the preceding; but the
labour of conveying materials, and making them secure, or returning
them to the boats every night when they left work, was very great.

During the third year, this pillar was made good at the foundation
from the rock to sixteen feet in diameter, and the edifice was raised
to the height of eighty feet. ‘Being all finished,’ says the engineer,
‘with the lantern, and all the rooms that were in it, we ventured to
lodge there soon after Midsummer, for the greater dispatch of the
work. But the first night the weather came bad, and so continued, that
it was eleven days before any boats could come near us again; and not
being acquainted with the height of the sea’s rising, we were almost
drowned with wet, and our provisions in as bad a condition, though we
worked night and day as much as possible to make shelter for
ourselves. In this storm we lost some of our materials, although we
did what we could to save them; but the boat then returning, we all
left the house to be refreshed on shore: and as soon as the weather
did permit we returned and finished all, and put up the light on the
14th November 1698; which being so late in the year, it was three days
before Christmas before we had relief to go on shore again, and were
almost at the last extremity for want of provisions; but by good
Providence, then two boats came with provisions and the family that
was to take care of the light, and so ended this year’s work.’

The fourth year was spent in strengthening and enlarging the
structure. The sea had considerably damaged the building during the
winter, and at times the lantern was so completely buried beneath the
waves, that it was thought expedient to raise the height of the
edifice. Early in the spring the building was encompassed with a new
work of four feet thickness from the foundation, and all was made
solid nearly twenty feet high. The upper part of the building was
taken down, and every part was enlarged in its proportion. The height
was increased forty feet; and yet the sea, in stormy weather, flew, to
all appearance, one hundred feet above the vane. Mr. Winstanley has
left no description of this structure; but a print, from a drawing
said to have been made on the spot, was extant in Smeaton’s time, so
that he describes it as consisting of a store-room, with a projecting
cabin to the south-east, a kitchen, a state-room, a lodging-room, an
open gallery or platform, an attending or look-out room, and a lantern
for the lights surrounded by a gallery or balcony[3].

Thus Mr. Winstanley’s lighthouse was completed in 1700, and though
destined to remain but a short time, it was a most important and
heroic step accomplished. Mankind were now convinced that the erection
of a building upon the Eddystone rocks was not an impracticable thing,
though long deemed so; and if experience now proved that the shock of
the surges was augmented, by the interposition of the building, to a
furious extent, it also led the way to further trials and expedients
to counteract that shock.

In November 1703 Mr. Winstanley went down to Plymouth to superintend
some repairs that had become necessary to the lighthouse; and when he
was about to proceed with his workmen to the spot, some of his
friends, convinced from the structure of the lighthouse that it could
not last long, ventured to intimate their suspicions to him, and to
warn him of danger. His reply was, that he felt so convinced of the
strength of his building, that he only wished he might be there in the
greatest storm that ever blew under the face of heaven, that he might
see what effect it would have upon the structure. It is painful to
record this presumptuous wish, and still more so to relate its

Mr. Winstanley with his work-people and light-keepers had taken up
their abode at the lighthouse, when a dreadful storm began, and in the
night of the 26th of November reached a terrific height. Indeed of all
the accounts which history furnishes of storms in Great Britain, none
is to be found of a more awful and devastating nature than this.
Plymouth itself suffered severely; and when morning came, and the
height of the tempest was past, there was an eager look out in the
direction of the lighthouse, to see what injury it might have
sustained. But the waters rushed on over the Eddystone rocks, no
longer impeded by the lofty structure that had been reared with such
pains and cost. Winstanley, his work-people, his light-keepers, his
boasted structure--all had been swept away by the resistless fury of
the winds and waves; and not only this, but a homeward-bound vessel,
the ‘Winchelsea,’ deprived of the warning light that might have
averted her fate, struck upon these rocks, and lost nearly her whole
crew. This lamentable event is detailed in most of the public papers
of the day; and the loss to the nation, as it respected Winstanley
himself, who was deemed the only person able to reconstruct the
edifice, deeply deplored.

Three years elapsed ere the necessary steps were taken fur commencing
anew this most useful work. It appears from this that some
obstructions to the undertaking were offered, since it was not until
the 4th of Queen Anne that an Act of Parliament was obtained for the
better enabling the Master, Wardens, and Assistants of Trinity House,
Deptford Strand, to rebuild the Lighthouse. The act runs thus: ‘And
whereas there now is, and time out of mind has been, a very dangerous
rock, called the Edystone lying off of Plymouth, in the county of
Devon, upon which divers ships and vessels have been cast away and
destroyed: and whereas upon application some time since made to the
said Master, Wardens, and Assistants, by great numbers of masters and
owners of shipping to have a lighthouse erected upon the said rock,
offering and agreeing in consequence of the great charge, difficulty,
and hazard of such an undertaking, to pay the said Master, &c. one
penny per ton outwards, and the like inwards, for all ships and
vessels which should pass such lighthouse, (coasters excepted, which
should pay twelve pence only for each voyage,) they, the said Master,
&c. having a due regard to the safety and preservation of the shipping
and navigation of this kingdom, did in the year 1696 cause a
lighthouse to be begun to be erected upon the said rock, and in three
years a light was placed therein; and the said lighthouse in the term
of five years was with much hazard and difficulty, and at a very great
expense, fully built and completed, to the great satisfaction of the
flag-officers and commanders of the fleet and ships of war, and of all
other concerned in trade and navigation, the same being not only
useful for avoiding the dangerous rock upon which it was built, but
also as a guide and direction to ships passing through the channel
from and to all parts of the world. And whereas the said lighthouse
was preserved and kept up for several years, notwithstanding the great
force and violence of the wind and sea, (to which it was exposed,)
until the late dreadful storm in November 1703, when the same was
blown down and destroyed: and whereas it was found by experience that
the said lighthouse (during the standing thereof) was of public use
and benefit to this kingdom, a means to preserve her Majesty’s ships
of war, and the shipping, lives, and estates of her subjects. And
forasmuch as the speedy rebuilding the said lighthouse is absolutely
necessary for avoiding the dangers attending the trade and navigation
of this kingdom, and in regard the same work is of great charge,
hazard, and expense, and all due and proper encouragement ought to be
given thereto; to the end therefore that the said Master, &c. may be
encouraged to new-erect and build, or cause to be new-erected and
built, the said lighthouse with all convenient speed, and constantly
keep and maintain the same for the benefit of the navigation and trade
of this kingdom, be it enacted, &c.’ It then proceeds to enact the
payment of the duties above mentioned, and double on foreign vessels,
‘from and after the kindling or placing a light useful for shipping in
the said lighthouse.’ In 1706 a lease of ninety-nine years was granted
by the corporation of Trinity House to a Captain Lovet, who undertook
the management of the affairs connected with the building. The choice
Captain Lovet made of an engineer, or architect and surveyor, may seem
a strange one. He deputed to that office John Rudyerd, a silk-mercer
who kept a shop on Ludgate Hill.

It does not appear that this Rudyerd had been bred to any scientific
profession. On the contrary, it is reported that his parents and
family were vagrants, and notorious for the badness of their
characters; but that from something promising in the aspect of this
boy, a gentleman took him into his service, and gave him instruction
in reading, writing, accounts, and mathematics, in all which the boy
made ready progress; so that his master was enabled to gratify his
benevolent intention of advancing him in life, and recommending him to
some employment above the rank of a servant. Thus was laid the
foundation of his future success.

No doubt Captain Lovet had become well assured of the genius of this
man, ere he entrusted him with a work for which no previous experience
had qualified him. At any rate, the choice was a wise one. Rudyerd’s
designs proved admirable, and his want of personal experience was in a
great degree supplied by the help of Messrs. Smith and Norcutt,
shipwrights from Woolwich, who worked with him the whole time.

Rudyerd saw the errors in Winstanley’s building, and avoided them:
instead of a polygon, he chose a circle for the outline of his
building, and carried up the elevation in that form. He studied use
and simplicity instead of ornament; therefore he dispensed with the
open gallery and other unnecessary appendages of the former building.
After the completion of his work, Rudyerd published a print of his
lighthouse, entitled ‘A Prospect and Section of the Lighthouse on the
Edystone Rock off of Plymouth;’ with the motto, _Furit natura coercet
ars_, dedicated to Thomas Earl of Pembroke, then Lord High Admiral.

Rudyerd did not fail to observe that owing to the very considerable
slope of the surface of the Eddystone rock, nothing would stand upon
it without artificial means: he therefore concluded, that if the rock
were reduced to level bearings, the heavy bodies to be placed upon it
would then have no tendency to slide. He therefore intended to have
reduced the inclined surface to a set of regular steps, which would
have been attended with the same good effect, as if the whole could
have been reduced to one level; but in consequence of the hardness of
the rock, the shortness and uncertainty of the intervals in which this
part of the work was performed, and the great tendency of the laminæ
of the rock to rise in _spawls_, according to the inclined surface
when acted upon by tools with sufficient force to make an impression,
this part of the work, _i. e._ the reducing of the rock to steps, was
never perfectly carried out. The face of the rock was, however,
divided into seven rather unequal ascents: thirty-six holes were cut
in the rock, to the depth of from twenty to thirty inches. These holes
were six inches square at the top, gradually narrowing to five inches,
and then spreading again and flattening to nine inches by three at the
bottom. They were all cut smooth within, and with great dispatch, as
Rudyerd himself informs us, (though the stone was harder than any
marble or stone thereabouts,) with engines for that purpose. Every
cramp or bolt was forged exactly to the size of the hole it was
designed to fill, weighing from two to five hundred weight, according
to its different length and substance. These bolts or branches served
to fasten the foundation to the rock.

The method of fixing these branches in the rock was ingenious, and
proved quite effectual; so that when Smeaton took out some of these
branches more than forty years afterwards, they were perfectly sound,
and the iron had not even rusted. When the holes were finished and
cleared of water, Rudyerd caused a considerable quantity of melted
tallow to be poured into each hole: the iron branch was then heated to
a blue heat, and being put down into the tallow, the key was firmly
driven in. Thus all the space unfilled by the iron would become full
of tallow even to overflowing. While all remained hot, a quantity of
melted pewter was poured into the chinks, and drove out the remainder
of the tallow, thus effectually filling up every crevice.

When all the iron branches were thus made fast in the solid rock,
Rudyerd proceeded to fix a course of squared oak timbers lengthwise
upon the lowest step, so as to reach to the level of the step above.
Another set of timbers were then laid crosswise, so as to cover those
already laid down, and also to carry the level surface to the height
of the third step. The third stratum was again laid lengthwise, the
fourth crosswise, &c., until a basement of solid wood was raised, two
complete courses higher than the highest part of the rock; the whole
being fitted together, and to the rock (by means of the branches) as
closely as possible; while all the timbers, in their intersections
with each other, were trenailed together.

The branches originally let into the solid rock were perforated in
their upper parts, some with three and some with four holes, so that
in every pair (collectively called a branch) there would be about
seven holes; and as there were at least thirty-six original branches,
there would be two hundred and fifty-two holes, which were about
seven-eighths of an inch in diameter; and consequently were capable of
receiving as many large bearded spikes or _jag-bolts_, which being
driven through the branches into the solid timber held the mass firmly
down; while a great multiplicity of trenails in the intersections
confined the strata closely and compactly together.

In this way, by fixing layer upon layer of solid squared oak-timber of
the best quality, Rudyerd was enabled to make a solid basement of the
required height; but in addition to this he judiciously acted upon the
principle that _weight is most naturally and effectually resisted by
weight_. He considered that all the joints of these timbers were
pervious to water, and that it was not possible that every portion of
the ground layer should be precisely and entirely in contact with the
rock; and he was well aware that where the contact was not perfect, so
as to exclude the water therefrom, though the separation was only of
the thickness of writing-paper, yet the action of a wave upon it
edgewise would produce an equal effect towards lifting it upwards, as
if it acted immediately upon so much area of the bottom as was not in
close contact. To counteract therefore every tendency of the seas to
move the building in any direction, he interposed strata of Cornish
Granite. Thus the foundation was of oak as far as two courses above
the top of the rock, then five courses of stone were added, of a foot
each in thickness, and these were kept together and secured by cramps
of iron. Two more courses of timber then followed, and thus was
finished the entire solid portion of the basement.

Rudyerd’s lighthouse was begun in July 1706, and completely finished
in 1709. The entry door was full eight feet above the highest part of
the rock, and therefore an iron ladder of great strength was employed
as the mode of ascent. The floor of the store-room was laid at the
height of twenty-seven feet above the rock. Four rooms, one above
another, and the lantern, with its balcony, completed the edifice. The
main column of the building consisted of one simple figure, being an
elegant frustum of a cone, unbroken by any projecting ornament, or any
thing whereon the violence of the storms could lay hold, being,
exclusive of its sloping foundation, twenty-two feet eight inches upon
its largest circular base; sixty-one feet high above that circular
base; and fourteen feet three inches in diameter at the top. The whole
edifice, with the exception of the courses of granite at the base,
which may be regarded as ballast, was composed of timber, skilfully
joined and fitted, and exhibiting an excellent specimen of
shipwrights’ work. All the window-shutters, doors, &c. were so formed
as when shut to fall in with the general surface, without making any
unevenness or projection. The only projecting parts in the whole
building were a simple cornice nine inches wide, for the protection of
the windows of the lantern, which could not of course be defended by
shutters, and another cornice of similar width at the base, which
filled up the angle between the upright timbers of the building and
the sloping surface of the rock. The lantern was an octagon of ten
feet six inches in diameter, externally, and above it, was a ball of
two feet three inches diameter. The whole height of the lighthouse,
from the lowest side to the top of the ball, was ninety-two feet.

Rudyerd’s lighthouse stood in need of no material repairs for some
years; but at length the upright timbers were considerably damaged by
the attacks of a small worm, and were consequently subject to
extensive reparation. For many years after the establishment of the
lighthouse, it was attended by two light-keepers only, whose duty it
was to keep the windows of the lantern clean, and to watch four hours
alternately, for the purpose of snuffing and renewing the candles.
Each at the conclusion of his watch took care to call the other, and
see him on duty before he retired. The duties of the lighthouse did
not actually require more than two men for this service; but a painful
incident which occurred at the period we are referring to, caused a
change in this respect. One of the two light-keepers was taken
suddenly ill, and died; and the survivor had no means of making any
one acquainted with the circumstance. The signal, when anything was
wanted by the light-keepers, was to hoist a large flag upon a
flag-staff from the balcony rails, so as to be fully extended in the
wind, clear of the building. This flag-staff could be seen in moderate
weather from the heights about Ram-head; and that it might never be
hung out in vain, a reward of half a guinea was given to the first
person who brought tidings of the fact to the agent at Plymouth; and
this agent immediately sent out a boat, to land at the rock (if
possible), and ascertain what was wanted. The remaining light-keeper,
on this occasion, hoisted the accustomed signal, which was also
observed on shore; but so boisterous was the weather, that, for a long
time, it was impossible for a boat to approach within speaking
distance of the rocks. During this period, the living man found
himself in a most awful and distressing situation: he knew not how to
dispose of the corpse; for if he threw it into the waves, which was
his only means of getting rid of it, he feared that he might be
charged with the murder of his companion; and yet each day that it
remained, it was endangering his own life, by the extremely offensive
condition to which it was reduced. When, at last, the people from the
boat effected a landing, they found the whole building filled with the
most insufferable odour, and the dead body in such a state that it was
impossible to remove it to Plymouth for interment: they therefore
consigned it to the sea; but it was a long time before the rooms
could be purified or made healthful.

This circumstance induced the proprietors of the lighthouse to employ
a third man; so that, in case of a future accident of the same nature,
or the sickness of either, there might be constantly one to supply the
place. This regulation afforded a seasonable relief to the
light-keepers; for as soon as three were appointed to the service, a
rule was made that in summer each man in his turn should be permitted
to go on shore, and spend a month with his friends and acquaintance.

That a residence in the lighthouse, solitary and desolate as it must
have been, was considered no hardship by those who undertook the
office, the following anecdote will prove. A skipper was once carrying
out in his boat a new light-keeper to the rock. The man had been a
shoemaker, and the skipper said to him, ‘Friend Jacob, how is it that
you choose to go out to be a light-keeper, when you can earn, as I
have been told, half-a-crown or three shillings a day on shore, by
making leathern hose,--the light-keeper’s salary is but twenty-five
pounds a year, which, you know, is scarce ten shillings a week?’ ‘I am
going to be a light-keeper,’ said the shoemaker, ‘because I don’t like
_confinement_.’ This answer naturally excited the skipper’s merriment,
and the shoemaker explained his meaning to be that he did not like to
be _confined to work_.

These dwellers on the rock were cut off from all communication with
their fellow-creatures for weeks and months together during stormy
weather; and it might naturally be expected that under these
circumstances they should be bound to each other by ties of brotherly
feeling and goodwill. But dissension and strife are not shut out from
the human bosom by mere retirement from the busy scenes of life. When
only two light-keepers inhabited the building, it happened that some
visitors, who had repaired thither to gratify their curiosity by an
examination of the lighthouse, observed to one of the men, how very
comfortably they might live there in a state of retirement. ‘Yes,’
said the man, ‘we might live comfortably enough, if we could have the
use of our tongues; but it is now a full month since my partner and I
have spoken to each other.’

Connected with Rudyerd’s lighthouse an anecdote is told of Louis XIV.
which is honourable to his feelings. During the progress of the work
at the Eddystone rocks, a French privateer seized the men employed on
the building, and took them, together with their tools, to France,
expecting to be handsomely rewarded. While the captives lay in prison,
the transaction reached the ears of the monarch. He immediately
ordered them to be released, and the captors put in their place,
declaring, that though he was at war with England, he was not at war
with mankind. He observed that the Eddystone lighthouse was so
situated as to be of equal service to all nations having occasion to
navigate the channel that divides France from England, and he
therefore directed the men to be sent back to their work with

The value of the principles on which Rudyerd had conducted his work
was abundantly proved by the fact, that his lighthouse continued to
brave the force of the storms for upwards of forty-six years, and at
the end of that period was destroyed, not by water, but by fire. This
sad calamity happened on the 2nd of December, 1755. It has never been
possible fully to investigate the cause of the building taking fire,
but it appears to have commenced in the very top of the lantern or
cupola. As the whole building was of wood, it is possible that the
heat of the candles in the lantern, continued during the long period
of between forty and fifty years, might have brought the thin boards
which lined the cupola to such a state of dryness and inflammability,
that, together with the soot which encrusted it, and which was formed
from the smoke of the candles, it might have been as liable to take
fire as a mass of tinder, and a single spark from one of the candles
would be sufficient to effect the mischief. The light-keepers
themselves attributed the fire to the copper funnel of the kitchen
chimney which passed through the cupola. However this might be, the
three light-keepers alone remained in the edifice, and when one of
them, whose turn it was to watch, went into the lantern at about two
o’clock in the morning to snuff the candles he found a dense smoke,
and upon his opening the door of the lantern into the balcony, a flame
instantly burst from the inside of the cupola. The man alarmed his
companions, and they used their utmost endeavours to extinguish the
fire, but on account of the difficulty of getting a sufficient supply
of water to the top of the building, they soon found their efforts
vain, and were obliged to retreat downwards from room to room as the
fire gathered strength. Early in the morning the fire was perceived by
some fishermen, and intelligence being given, a boat and men were sent
out to the relief of the poor light-keepers. The boat reached the
place at ten o’clock, after the fire had been burning eight hours. The
light-keepers had been driven not only from all the rooms and the
staircase, but to avoid the red hot timber, and the falling of the
bolts upon them, they had been forced to creep into a hole or cave on
the east side of the rock, where they were found almost in a state of
stupefaction. There was great difficulty in getting them off the rock,
for the surf was too high to enable the boat to effect a landing; but
the men themselves becoming conscious of their perilous situation, and
of the efforts that were being made to save them, adopted the only
means of escape which now remained. By great efforts, a small boat had
been got near enough to throw a coil of rope upon a projection of the
rock, and the sufferers had sufficient remaining energy to lay hold of
it, and one by one to fasten it round their bodies and jump into the
sea. Thus they were towed into the small boat, and thence delivered to
the large one, which returned with them to Plymouth. No sooner,
however, were they set on shore than one of them made off, and was
never afterwards heard of. This suspicious circumstance would
naturally induce the idea that the man had himself originated the
conflagration; but the fact of its being a lighthouse with no means
of retreat for the inmates, and every reason to believe that they must
perish with the building, is much opposed to this idea. In giving an
account of this circumstance, Smeaton says, ‘I would rather impute his
sudden flight to that kind of panic which sometimes, on important
occasions, seizes weak minds; making them act without reason, and in
so doing commit actions whose tendency is the very reverse of what
they desire.’

Of the other two light-keepers, one, named Henry Hall, had received
injuries of a most serious nature; and his case is not a little
extraordinary. At the time of the fire, there was, according to the
usual custom, a tub of water standing in the lantern of the
lighthouse; and when this man perceived the flames, he immediately
exerted himself to the utmost in throwing buckets of water up into the
roof of the cupola. As he was doing this, and looking upwards to see
the effect of his endeavours, a quantity of lead, dissolved by the
heat of the flames, suddenly rushed from the roof, and fell upon his
head, face, and shoulders, burning him in a severe manner. At this
moment his mouth happened to be open, and he persisted in declaring
that some lead had gone down his throat, and was the cause of violent
internal pain. When removed to his cottage at Stonehouse, he
invariably told Dr. Spry, the medical man who attended him, and who
constantly administered the proper remedies for the burns and injuries
he had received, that if he would do anything effectual to his
recovery, he must relieve his stomach of the lead, which he was sure
it contained. This story appeared quite incredible to Dr. Spry, who
did not believe that any human being could exist after receiving
melted lead into the stomach; much less that he should afterwards be
able to bear towing through the sea from the rock; and also the
fatigue and inconvenience from the length of time employed in getting
him ashore, before any remedies could be applied. The man went on
without much change for the better or for the worse. He took
medicines, and swallowed many things both liquid and solid, until the
tenth or eleventh day, when he suddenly grew worse, and on the twelfth
day, being seized with cold sweats and spasms, he soon afterwards
expired. On a subsequent examination of the stomach, Dr. Spry found,
to his astonishment, a solid piece of lead of a flat oval form, which
weighed seven ounces and five drachms. Smeaton saw this piece of lead,
and observed that part of the coat of the stomach had firmly adhered
to the convex side of it. Dr. Spry transmitted an account of this very
singular case to the Royal Society: but it was not received with
entire belief until he had, by subsequent experiments upon animals,
borne out the fact that it is _possible_ for melted lead to be
received into the stomach without the immediate death of the sufferer;
though more probable that, in the great majority of cases, instant
death would be the result.

But to return to the Eddystone rock. Notwithstanding every exertion
was made to subdue the flames, the lighthouse was totally consumed,
even to the massive foundations, and nothing was left upon the rock
but a number of the iron cramps and branches.

The value of a lighthouse on the Eddystone rock had now been so fully
proved, that no time was to be lost in endeavouring to build a new one
in the place of that which had been so unfortunately destroyed. An
application was made to the President of the Royal Society, requesting
him to point out a person who might appear worthy to be entrusted with
the work. Lord Macclesfield (the then president) replied ‘that there
was one of their own body whom he could venture to recommend to the
work; yet that the most material part of what he knew of him was his
having within the compass of the last seven years recommended himself
to the society by the communication of several mechanical contrivances
and improvements; and though he had at first made it his business to
execute things in the instrument way (without ever having been bred to
the trade), yet on account of the merit of his performances he had
been chosen a member of the society; and that for about three years
past, having found the business of a philosophical instrument maker
not likely to afford an adequate recompence, he had wholly applied
himself to various branches of mechanics.’ The earl went on to say
that this person was then in Scotland, or in the north of England, and
he should recommend the statement of the business to him, being fully
confident that he would undertake nothing which he did not feel
himself competent to perform.

The person thus referred to was John Smeaton, whose history, so far as
the scanty materials will allow, shall here be given to the reader.


[Footnote 3: It was commonly said at the time, that during a hard gale
the sea ran so high that it was very possible for a six-oared boat to
be lifted by the waves, and driven through the open gallery of the



     Birth of Smeaton--His early Character and Employments--Educated
     for an attorney--His dislike of that profession--Becomes
     Philosophical Instrument Maker--His Scientific Inquiries--Is
     appointed to build the Eddystone Lighthouse--His subsequent
     Employments--Public Works designed and completed by him--His
     Literary Works--His last Illness and Death--His Character--
     Illustrative Anecdotes.

John Smeaton was born the 28th of May, 1724, at Ansthorpe, near Leeds,
Yorkshire. Little is recorded of his parentage or early education: but
we find that his father was a respectable attorney, and that the
family lived in a house built by the grandfather of the younger

Smeaton seems to have been born an engineer. The originality of his
genius and the strength of his understanding appeared at a very early
age. His playthings were not the toys of children, but the tools men
work with; and his greatest amusement was to observe artificers at
work, and to ask them questions. Having watched some millwrights at
work, he conceived the idea of constructing a windmill, and to the
alarm of his friends was one day perceived on the top of his father’s
barn attempting to fix his model. On another occasion he accompanied
some men who went to fix a pump at a neighbouring village, and
observing them cut off a piece of bored pipe, he managed to procure
it, and made a working model of a pump that raised water very well.
These anecdotes are related of him while he was yet a mere child in
petticoats, and probably before he had attained his sixth year. At the
age of fourteen or fifteen he had made for himself an engine to turn
rose-work, and he made several presents to his friends of boxes in
wood and ivory, as specimens of its operation.

In the year 1742, Mr. Holmes, afterwards his partner in the Deptford
Water-works, visited Smeaton and could not conceal his astonishment at
the mechanical skill displayed by the young engineer; he forged his
iron and steel, and melted his metal; he had tools of every sort for
working in wood, ivory, and metals. He had made a lathe, by which he
had cut a perpetual screw in brass, a thing very little known at that
day. All these resources were not furnished to him by rich and wealthy
parents, nor had he the advantage of masters in his various pursuits;
on the contrary, by the strength of his genius, and by indefatigable
industry, he acquired at the age of eighteen an extensive set of
tools, and the art of working in most of the mechanical trades, and
Mr. Holmes, himself a good mechanic, says that few men could work

Astronomy was one of his most favourite studies, and he contrived and
made several astronomical instruments for himself and friends. In
later years, after fitting up an observatory at his house at
Ansthorpe, he devoted much time to it when he was there, even in
preference to engineering.

Smeaton’s father being an attorney was desirous to educate his son for
the same profession. He was therefore sent to London in 1742, where
during a few terms he attended court; but finding the legal profession
distasteful to him, and not to suit “the bent of his genius,” he wrote
a strong memorial on the subject to his father, who had the good sense
to allow him from that time to pursue the path which nature pointed
out to him. He continued to reside in London, and about the year 1750
he commenced the business of mathematical instrument maker. In 1751 he
invented a machine to measure a ship’s way at sea, and a compass of
peculiar construction, touched by Dr. Knight’s artificial magnet. He
made two voyages in company with Dr. Knight for the purpose of
ascertaining the merits of these contrivances.

In 1753 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society, and his
admirable papers inserted in the Transactions of that body
sufficiently evince how highly he deserved that distinction. In 1759
he received by an unanimous vote their gold medal, for his paper
entitled ‘An Experimental Inquiry concerning the natural powers of
wind and water to turn mills and other machines depending on a
circular motion.’ This paper was the result of experiments made on
working models in 1752 and 1753, but not communicated to the society
till 1759, by which time he had had abundant opportunity of applying
these experiments to practice in a variety of cases, and for various
purposes, so as to assure the society that he had found them to
answer. He discovered by these means that wind and water could be made
to do one third more than was before known. In the year 1754 he made a
voyage to Holland, travelling for the most part on foot, or in the
trekschuiten or drag-boats, the national conveyance of the country,
and thus made himself acquainted with the most remarkable works of art
in the low countries.

In December 1755 the Eddystone lighthouse was burnt down. Mr. Weston
the chief proprietor, and others, were desirous of rebuilding it in
the most substantial manner, and through the recommendation of the
Earl of Macclesfield, whose friendly conduct to Smeaton we have
already noticed, they were induced to appoint Smeaton as the most
proper person to rebuild it.

Smeaton undertook the work, and completed it in the summer of 1759.
The history of this great undertaking belongs to another section of
this notice. The completion of the work does not seem to have had the
immediate effect of procuring him full employment as a civil engineer:
in 1764, being in Yorkshire, he offered himself a candidate for the
office of one of the receivers to the Greenwich Hospital estates[4];
and on the 31st December in that year he was appointed, at a full
board at Greenwich Hospital, in a manner highly flattering to himself.
In this appointment he was greatly assisted by his partner Mr. Walter,
who managed the accounts, and left Smeaton leisure and opportunity to
exert his abilities on public works, as well as to make many
improvements in the mills, and in the estates of Greenwich Hospital.
By the year 1775 he had so much business as an engineer, that he
wished to resign this appointment, but was prevailed upon to continue
in the office about two years longer.

Among the many valuable public services of Smeaton a few only can be
mentioned in this place. He completed the erection of new lighthouses
at Spurn Head at the mouth of the Humber: he built the fine bridge
over the Tay at Perth: he laid out the line of the great canal
connecting the Forth and Clyde; and made the river Calder navigable; a
work that required great skill and judgment, on account of its
impetuous floods. On the opening of the great arch at London Bridge by
throwing two arches into one, and the removal of a large pier, the
excavation around and under the starlings was so considerable, that
the bridge was thought to be in great danger of falling. Smeaton was
then in Yorkshire, but was sent for by express, and arrived with the
utmost dispatch: on his arrival the fear that the bridge was about to
fall prevailed so generally, that few persons would pass over or under
it. Smeaton applied himself immediately to examine it, and to sound
about the starlings as minutely as possible: his advice to the
committee was to repurchase the stones which had been taken from the
middle pier, then lying in Moorfields, and to throw them into the
river to guard the starlings. This advice was adopted with the utmost
alacrity, by which simple means the bridge was probably saved from
falling, and time afforded for securing it in a more effectual manner.
‘This method of stopping the impetuous ravages of water,’ says Mr.
Holmes, ‘he had practised before with success on the river Calder; on
my calling on him in the neighbourhood of Wakefield, he shewed me the
effects of a great flood, which had made a considerable passage over
the land; this he stopped at the bank of the river, by throwing in a
quantity of large rough stones, which with the sand, and other
materials washed down by the river, filling up their interstices, had
become a barrier to keep the river in its usual course.’

In 1771 Smeaton and Holmes made a joint purchase of the water-works
for supplying Deptford and Greenwich with water. On examining the
books of the former proprietors, it appeared to have been a losing
concern during many years; but the skill of Smeaton soon brought the
undertaking into such a state as to be of general use to those for
whom it was intended, and moderately profitable to himself and
partner. In noticing this subject Mr. Holmes makes a few general
remarks on the character of Smeaton:--‘His language either in speaking
or writing was so strong and perspicuous, that there was no
misunderstanding his meaning, and I had that confidence in his
abilities as never to consider any plan of improvement which he
proposed, but only to see it executed with scrupulous exactness; at
the same time, he was so open to reason in all matters, that during a
constant communication of our opinions for upwards of twenty years,
after we had laid them fully before each other we always agreed, and
never had the slightest difference.’

It must be remembered that Smeaton lived before the time when the
genius of Watt had rendered the steam-engine the useful and obedient
servant of man; and consequently that much of the power now furnished
by steam was then supplied by the wind. Hence the mechanics of
windmills was an important study to the engineer, and Smeaton erected
a vast variety of mills in which he turned to useful account the
results of his experiments in 1752 and 1753. His usual habit was to
confirm the conclusions of theory by direct experiment. He also
erected a steam-engine at Ansthorpe, and made experiments thereon to
ascertain the power of Newcomen’s engine, which he improved and
brought to a far greater degree of certainty both in its construction
and powers.

During many years the opinion of Smeaton was held in such high esteem,
that no great works were undertaken throughout the kingdom without
first applying to him; he was constantly consulted in parliament, and
was regarded as an ultimate reference on all difficult questions
connected with his profession. It was his constant practice to make
himself fully acquainted with every subject before he would engage in
it, and then his known integrity and lucid powers of description
secured the respect and attention of all. In the courts of law he was
frequently complimented by Lord Mansfield and others for the new light
he threw on difficult subjects.

About the year 1785 Smeaton’s health began to decline, and he then
endeavoured to retire from business in order to gain time to publish
an account of his inventions and works. This was one of the wishes
nearest to his heart, for, as he often said, ‘he thought he could not
render better service to his country than by doing that.’ He had just
completed his account of the Eddystone lighthouse when he was
prevailed on to continue his services as engineer to the trustees for
Ramsgate harbour. The works at Ramsgate were begun in 1749, but had
been conducted with very indifferent success until Smeaton was called
in to superintend them in 1774. He completed the magnificent pier and
harbour of this place in 1791, and thus established a secure and much
needed place of shelter in the Downs.

A man whose life is so beneficially devoted to the service of the
public can scarcely hope to enjoy leisure and retirement during which
he may look back upon the past, and leave a written record of his
exertions. Smeaton was so constantly and urgently employed that he
could not achieve much with his pen. On the 16th September 1792, he
was seized with an attack of paralysis induced by over-exertion, and
this attack carried him to the grave on the 28th of the next month, in
the 69th year of his age.

During his illness he dictated several letters to his old friend Mr.
Holmes. In one of them he describes minutely his health and feelings,
and says, ‘in consequence of the foregoing, I conclude myself
nine-tenths dead, and the greatest favour the Almighty can do (as I
think) will be to complete the other part, but as it is likely to be a
lingering illness, it is only in His power to say when that is likely
to happen.’ His daughter, Mrs. Dickson, says that he always
apprehended the attack which terminated his life, as it was hereditary
in his family. He dreaded it only as it gave the melancholy
possibility of outliving his faculties, or the power of doing good;
or, to use his own words, ‘lingering over the dregs after the spirit
had evaporated.’ Indeed, the decay of his mental faculties seems to
have been that which he most dreaded. He would sometimes complain of
slowness of apprehension, and would then excuse it with a smile,
saying, ‘it could not be otherwise, the shadow must lengthen as the
sun went down.’ When seized with paralysis he was resigned to the
event, anxious to soften any alarm to his family, and was thankful
that his intellect was spared. But his invariable wish was to be
released. He expressed particular pleasure in seeing the usual
occupations of his family resumed; and reading, drawing, music, and
conversation excited the same interest and the same cheerful and
judicious observations as ever. One evening he was requested to
explain some phenomena respecting the moon, which was seen from the
room shining brightly. He gave a full explanation, then fixed his eyes
full upon the object in question, and after regarding it stedfastly
for some time, he observed, ‘How often have I looked up to it with
inquiry and wonder, and to the period when I shall have the vast and
privileged views of an hereafter, and all will be comprehension and

We learn from his daughter Mrs. Dickson, that early in life Smeaton
attracted the notice of the eccentric Duke and Duchess of Queensbury,
on account of the strong personal likeness which he bore to their
favourite Gay the poet. Their first acquaintance was made in a
singular manner: it was at Ranelagh when walking with Mrs. Smeaton, he
observed an elderly lady and gentleman gaze steadily upon him, they
stopped and the duchess said, ‘Sir, I don’t know who you are, or what
you are, but so strongly do you resemble my poor dear Gay, that we
_must_ be acquainted; you shall go home and sup with us, and if the
minds of the two men accord as do the countenance, you will find two
cheerful old folks who can love you well, and I think, (or you are an
hypocrite) you can as well deserve it.’ The invitation was accepted,
and as long as the duke and duchess lived the friendship was cordial
and uninterrupted. During his visits cards were sometimes introduced.
Smeaton detested cards, and could not confine his attention to the
game. On one occasion the stakes were already high, and it fell to
Smeaton to double them when, neglecting to deal the cards, he was
busily occupied in making some calculations on paper which he placed
upon the table. The duchess asked eagerly what it was, and Smeaton
replied coolly, ‘You will recollect the field in which my house stands
may be about five acres three roods and seven perches, which, at
thirty years’ purchase, will be just my stake, and if your grace will
make a duke of me, I presume the winner will not dislike my mortgage.’
The joke and the lesson had their effect, for they never played again
but for the merest trifle.

Smeaton procured a situation in a public office for a clerk in whom he
placed the greatest confidence, and jointly with another became
security for him to a considerable amount. This man committed the
crime of forgery, was detected and given up to justice. Mrs. Dickson
says, ‘The same post brought news of the melancholy transaction, of
the man’s compunction and danger, of the claim of the bond forfeited,
and of the refusal of the other person to pay the moiety! Being
present when he read his letters, which arrived at a period of Mrs.
Smeaton’s declining health, so entirely did the command of himself
second his anxious attention to her, that no emotion was visible on
their perusal, nor, till all was put into the best train possible, did
a word or look betray the exquisite distress it occasioned him. In the
interim, all which could soothe the remorse of a prisoner, every means
which could save (which did, at least from public execution,) were
exerted for him, with a characteristic benevolence, active and

Smeaton was a man of indefatigable industry and great moral probity.
With ample opportunity of amassing wealth, he rendered its acquisition
but a secondary object on all occasions; his first aim always being to
execute the task intrusted to him in the most skilful and perfect
manner. Had his object been to amass a fortune, he might have received
many lucrative appointments besides those which he actually held. The
empress Catherine of Russia attempted to secure his services for her
own country by most magnificent offers; but Smeaton preferred to
dedicate his time and talents to the service of his country. ‘The
disinterested moderation of his pecuniary ambition,’ says his
daughter, ‘every transaction in private life evinced; his public ones
bore the same stamp; and after his health had withdrawn him from the
labours of his profession, many instances may be given by those whose
concerns induced them to press importunately for a resumption of it;
and when some of them seemed disposed to enforce their entreaties by
further prospects of lucrative recompense, his reply was strongly
characteristic of his simple manners and moderation. He introduced the
old woman who took care of his chambers in Gray’s Inn, and showing
her, asserted ‘that her attendance sufficed for all his wants.’ The
inference was indisputable, for money could not tempt that man to
forego his ease, leisure, or independence, whose requisites of
accommodation were compressed within such limits!’ Before this, the
princess Daschkaw made an apt comment upon this trait of his
character; when, after vainly using every persuasion to induce him to
accept a carte blanche from the empress of Russia as a recompense for
directing the vast projects in that kingdom--she observed ‘Sir, you
are a great man, and I honour you! you may have an equal in abilities,
perhaps, but in character you stand single. The English minister, Sir
Robert Walpole, was mistaken, and my sovereign has the misfortune to
find one man who has not his price.’

In all the social duties of life Smeaton was most exemplary; and he
was a lover and encourager of real merit in whatever station of life
he found it. To strangers his mode of expression appeared warm and
even harsh; but Mr. Holmes refers it to the intense application of his
mind, which was always in the pursuit of truth, or engaged in
investigating difficult subjects: hence, when anything was said that
did not tally with his ideas, he would sometimes break out hastily. As
a friend, he was warm, zealous, and sincere; as a companion, always
entertaining and instructive, and none could spend their time in his
company without improvement. In his person Smeaton was of middle
stature, but broad and strong-made, and possessed of an excellent
constitution. He was remarkable for the plainness and simplicity of
his manners.

After his death, his papers consisting of plans, reports, and
treatises, on almost every branch of engineering, were published by
the Society of Civil Engineers.


[Footnote 4: This was the Derwentwater Estate which was forfeited in
the year 1715, and its revenues applied by Parliament towards the
funds of Greenwich Hospital. It consists of mines of lead, containing
much silver, as well as lands. It required careful management, and the
knowledge of mining details to make it profitable. Smeaton contrived
more efficient machines and better modes of working the mines and
managing the estate.]



     A Stone Lighthouse proposed--Smeaton’s first Visit to the
     Rock--Operations of the First Season--Second Season--Structure
     of the Foundation--Ingenious Mode of securing the Stones--Third
     Season--State of the Work--Progress and Description of the
     Work--Accidents to the Engineer--Proposal to exhibit a Light
     before the completion of the Building refused--Fourth Season--
     Completion of the Work--Appearance of the Lighthouse during a
     Storm--Situation of the Light-keepers.

To return to the history of the Eddystone Lighthouse. When the
proposal relating to the rebuilding of this edifice was made to
Smeaton, and when he had duly weighed the subject in his own mind, he
delivered his decided opinion that the building ought to be
constructed _entirely of stone_. Some opposition was at first raised
against this idea, but the proprietors were at length so well
satisfied with the plans submitted to their inspection, and with the
plain, straightforward reasoning of Smeaton on the matter, that they
left the whole affair in his hands. Their chief objection had arisen
from the opinion, supported by that of the best judges, that the
safety and continuance of Rudyerd’s lighthouse during so many years,
had in a great measure depended on the elasticity of the materials of
which it was composed, which enabled it to give way to the shocks of
the sea. Indeed it was affirmed, that in violent storms the motion of
that wooden edifice was so great that trenchers and other articles
were thrown from the shelves in the upper rooms. Smeaton answered to
this, that the great agitation of the late building arose from its
want of _weight_, as well as want of strength; that the edifice he had
in view would be much _heavier_ and much stronger, so that the
building would not give way to the sea, but the sea would give way to
the building.

In the spring of 1756 Smeaton first visited and examined the Eddystone
rock, proving, as his predecessors had done, the extreme difficulty of
gaining a landing, or of remaining long enough on the rock to carry on
his observations. These difficulties suggested to him the important
and valuable expedient of keeping a vessel fixed within a quarter of a
mile of the rock, which should be capable of lodging the workmen and
their tools, and thus enable them to take immediate advantage of any
favourable opportunity of putting out their boat and conveying
materials at once to the Eddystone, instead of having to take the
voyage from Plymouth on each occasion.

The first actual work done on the rock was in August, 1756. Two
companies of workmen were employed, each remaining at the work a week,
that every opportunity might be made the most of, and the men relieved
by visits to the shore. A sloop, a large yawl with sails and oars, and
a boat, were employed to expedite the work. The sloop formed the
lodging for the company working at the rock, and was anchored at a
short distance from it. The sloop was afterwards replaced by a larger
store vessel, called the Neptune Buss. The weather from the 27th of
August to the 14th of September happened to be favourable to the work,
so that the companies were employed on it at every tide. After this,
unsettled weather began to prevail, so that Smeaton was obliged to be
satisfied with the progress already made, which consisted in the mere
preparation of the House-rock for the intended edifice, by cutting two
new steps in the lowest part of the sloping side of the rock, and
forming anew the five steps which remained of the efforts of Rudyerd.
Dove-tailed recesses were also cut in all these steps for the
reception of the stone-work. The remaining part of the autumn was
spent in expediting necessary work on shore, such as completing the
work-yard with its machinery and conveniences, and then preparing the
granite and Portland stone, of which the lighthouse was to be made.
The desirability of doing as much of the work as possible on shore,
became more and more apparent, as experience showed the dangers and
accidents likely to occur at the rock. During this winter Smeaton
began seriously to consider the great importance to his work, of
getting the most perfect cement possible, to resist the extreme
violence of the sea. He found that nothing of the resinous or oily
kind would answer, as it was impossible to get a dry surface at the
rock. He therefore went through a complete set of experiments on
cements with a view to produce one which would, in despite of water
almost continually driven against it with every degree of violence,
become so firm in its consistence and adhesion to the stone, that it
should compose one even regular surface with the stone, without
needing hoops of iron or copper to surround the horizontal joints. In
this endeavour he considered himself at length completely successful.

At the beginning of June, 1757, Smeaton renewed his work at the
Eddystone rock. The first proceedings were to fix some timbers to the
east side of the rock merely as a defence to the boats, which were
frequently damaged by running against the sharp edges; and also to
erect shears, windlass, &c. The first stone was laid in its place on
the 12th of June. This stone weighed two tons and a quarter, though
the ordinary weight of the stones did not exceed one ton each. The
first course consisting of four stones was finished during the next
day. By Smeaton’s plan the stones were most ingeniously dove-tailed
together and into the rock, so that when once fixed, it was impossible
for one stone to be separated from the rest. The second course of
stones was not completed until the 30th of the same month; several
accidents having occurred to hinder the progress of the work; yet
Smeaton was in no wise disheartened, for in establishing these two
courses he considered the most difficult and arduous part of the work
to be already accomplished, since these courses brought him up to the
same level where his predecessor Mr. Rudyerd had begun. On the 11th of
July the third course, consisting of twenty-five pieces, was
completed, and on the 31st the fourth course of twenty-three pieces.
The fifth course was closed in on the 5th of August. When the sixth
course was completed, which was on the 11th of that month, Smeaton had
the satisfaction to find that the sea did not now invariably wash over
every part of their work at each tide, which had always hitherto been
the case in the course of laying the previous courses. The greatest
difficulties were now considered to be successfully surmounted, as
each succeeding course gave them more time and more room, and they had
brought their work to a level with the highest part of the rock.

Up to this point all the courses had been begun by the stones that
were securely dove-tailed into the rock, and further made fast by
oak-wedges and cement. To receive these wedges, two grooves were cut
in the waist of each stone, from the top to the bottom of the course,
of an inch in depth and three inches in width. The care with which the
foundation-work was carried on may be gathered from Smeaton’s
description of the manner of laying each stone. ‘The stone to be set
being hung in the tackle, and its bed of mortar spread, was then
lowered into its place, and beat with a heavy wooden maul, and
levelled with a spirit level; and the stone being accurately brought
to its marks, it was then considered as set in its place. The business
now was to retain it exactly in that position, notwithstanding the
utmost violence of the sea might come upon it, before the mortar was
hard enough to resist it. The carpenter now dropped into each groove
two of the oaken wedges, one upon its head, the other with its point
downwards, so that the two wedges in each groove would lie heads and
points. With a bar of iron about two inches and a half broad, a
quarter of an inch thick, and two feet and a half long, the ends being
square, he could easily (as with a rammer) drive down one wedge upon
the other; very gently at first, so that the opposite pairs of wedges
being equally tightened, they would equally resist each other, and the
stone would therefore keep place. A couple of wedges were also, in
like manner, pitched at the top of each groove; the dormant wedge, or
that with the point upward, being held in the hand, while the
drift-wedge, or that with its point downward, was driven with a
hammer. The whole of what remained above the upper surface of the
stone was then cut off with a saw or chisel: and generally, a couple
of thin wedges were driven very moderately at the butt-end of the
stone; whose tendency being to force it out of its dove-tail, they
would, by moderate driving, only tend to preserve the whole mass
steady together, in opposition to the violent agitation that might
arise from the sea.’ In addition to this, a couple of holes having
been bored through every piece of stone, one course was bound to
another by oak trenails driven stiffly through, and made so fast that
they could more easily be torn asunder than pulled out again. ‘No
assignable power,’ says Smeaton, ‘less than what would by main stress
pull these trenails in two could lift one of these stones from their
beds when so fixed, exclusive of their natural weight, as all
agitation was prevented by the lateral wedges.’ The stone being thus
fixed, a proper quantity of mortar was liquefied; and the joints
having been carefully pointed, up to the upper surface, this mortar or
cement was poured in with iron ladles so as to occupy every void
space. The more consistent parts of this cement naturally settled to
the bottom, and the watery parts were absorbed by the stone: the
vacancy thus left at the top was repeatedly refilled, until all
remained solid; the top was then pointed, and, when necessary,
defended by a coat of plaster. When the whole of the foundation was in
this manner brought to a level, some other means was necessary of
attaining the like degree of security. For this purpose the central
stone of the sixth course had a hole of one foot square cut quite
through the middle. Eight other depressions of one foot square and six
inches deep were also sunk at equal distances in the circumference. A
plug of strong hard marble, from the rocks near Plymouth, one foot
square and twenty-two inches in length, was set with mortar in the
central cavity, and fixed firmly therein with their wedges. This
course was thirteen inches in height, so that the marble plug, which
reached through it, stood nine inches above the surface. Upon this the
centre-stone of the seventh course was fixed, having a similar hole
made in its centre, bedded with mortar and wedged as before. By this
means no force of the sea acting horizontally upon the centre-stone,
less than what was capable of cutting the marble plug in two, was able
to move it from its place; and to prevent the stone the more
effectually from being lifted, in case its bed of mortar should happen
to be destroyed, it was fixed down by four trenails. The stones
surrounding the central stone were dove-tailed to it in the same
manner as before, and thus the courses proceeded with no other
interruption than arose from the nature of the situation.

Smeaton tells us that when the work had proceeded so far as to afford
a level platform, the pleasure he took in it, and the novelty of the
thing, led him to walk to and fro upon it with much complacency. But
making a false step, and not being able to recover himself, he tumbled
over the brink of the work down among the rocks on the west side. The
tide had then retreated, so that no serious result happened, but in
his fall he dislocated his thumb, and as no medical aid could be
procured, he set it himself, and then returned to his work. It was
more than six months, however, before he recovered the full use of his

Owing to very boisterous weather, and repeated losses of the necessary
materials left on the rock, the seventh course was not laid until the
7th of September. But Smeaton had the satisfaction to find that all
the work actually completed, stood the utmost severity of the weather
unmoved. At this time the sea became so calm that the work proceeded
rapidly, and for three days in succession the top of the work was not
wetted. The eighth course was completed on the 13th, but the weather
again becoming unfavourable, the ninth was not finished until the
30th, and here Smeaton found it desirable to close the operations for
this year.

The ensuing winter was of so stormy a nature as severely to test the
strength of the work at the Eddystone. Smeaton went early in the
spring to view it, and says, ‘I was much surprised, notwithstanding
what had been reported of the soundness of the work, to find it so
perfectly entire, for, except a small spawl which had been washed from
the rock itself, the whole did not seem to have suffered a diminution
of so much as a grain of sand since I left it on the 1st of October:
on the contrary, the cement, and even the grouted part, appeared to be
as hard as the stone itself, the whole having become one solid mass,
and, indeed, it had quite that appearance, as it was covered with the
same coat of sea-weed as the rock, the top of the work excepted, which
was washed clean and white.’

Various disasters to the vessels, moorings, &c. near the rock retarded
the work in the spring of 1758. It was not till the 10th of July that
the eleventh course was finished. Twelve days afterwards the twelfth
course was laid down. After this the work went on better, so that on
the 8th of August the fourteenth course was completed, and with it
what was called the fundamental solid. From hence begins the building
also called the Solid, which includes the passage from the entry-door
to the well-hole for the stairs. It was now necessary for the sake of
the well-hole to omit the centre-stone. The four stones surrounding
the centre were therefore fastened together by what are called
hook-scarf joints, so as to compose, in effect, one stone. Means were
also taken to prevent them from shifting, or being lifted out of their

From the 9th to the 20th of August there was an uninterrupted
continuance of fine weather, so that great progress was made. By the
latter day the eighteenth course was completed, which reunited the
building into a complete circle, by covering the passage to the
staircase. Over the head of the entry-door the figures 1758 were cut
in deep characters. During another month, by great exertions, the
twenty-fourth course was reached and completed. This course finished
the Solid, and formed the floor of the store-room, so that Smeaton had
every reason to be satisfied with the work of this season; yet as he
had been long meditating on the advantage to the public which would
accrue from setting up a light during that very winter, he resolved to
make a vigorous effort to get the store-room completed and a light
erected above it.

The building had hitherto been carried up solid as high as there was
any reason to suppose it exposed to the heavy stroke of the sea, _i.
e._ to thirty-five feet four inches above its base, and twenty-seven
feet above the top of the rock, on the common spring-tide high-water
mark. At this height it was reduced to sixteen feet eight inches
diameter; and it was necessary to make the best use of this space, and
make all the room and convenience therein that was possible,
consistent with the still necessary strength. The rooms being made
twelve feet four inches in diameter would leave twenty-six inches for
the thickness of the walls. These walls were made of single blocks in
the thickness, so shaped that sixteen pieces formed a complete circle,
and from their figure composed a stout wall. These pieces were cramped
together with iron, and also secured to the lower courses by marble
plugs as before. To hinder the passage of wet through the upright
joints, flat stones were introduced into each joint so as partly to be
lodged in one stone, partly in another, thus making it tolerably
certain that the rooms would be kept comfortable and dry in all
weathers. On the 30th of September the twenty-eighth course was
completely set. This and the next course received the vaulted floor,
which made the ceiling of the store-room and floor of the upper
store-room. For further security, therefore, there was a groove cut
round the upper surface of this course, in which was placed a circular
chain of great strength. Upon this chain, in the groove, was poured
melted lead, until the cavity was filled up. The next course was then
laid on, and this was also secured by a chain in like manner, it
being considered that the courses on which the floors rested demanded
every possible security. The formation of the floors, and the care
taken to avoid the danger of lateral pressure on the walls, is worthy
of notice. Each floor rested upon two courses; being firmly supported
by a triple ledge going circularly round the two supporting courses.
‘Had each floor,’ says the architect, ‘been composed of a single
stone, this lying upon the horizontal bearings furnished by these
ledges, would, while it remained entire, have no lateral pressure or
tendency to thrust out the sides of the encompassing walls; and that
in effect the several pieces of which the floors were really composed
might have the same property as whole stones, the centre stone was
made large enough to admit of an opening, from floor to floor, to be
made through it; and being furnished with dove-tails on its four
sides, like those of the entire solid, it became the means by which
all the stones in each floor were connected together; and
consequently, the whole would lie upon the ledges like a single stone,
without any tendency to spread the walls. But if by the accident of a
heavy body falling, or otherwise, any of those stones should be
broken, though this might not destroy its use as a floor; yet the
parts would then exert their lateral pressure against the walls; and,
therefore, as a security against this, it became necessary that the
circle of the enclosing walls should be bound together, and the
building, as it were, _hooped_.’ Thus assiduously did Smeaton urge
forward the work, yet without neglecting any of the necessary
precautions for its safety. By the 10th of October he had nearly
completed all the necessary arrangements for establishing a light and
light-keepers at the Eddystone during the same winter, when he
received an unexpected and painful refusal from the Corporation of
Trinity-House, to the effect that ‘on reading the Acts of Parliament,
the application from the merchants and owners of ships, and
Winstanley’s narrative of the first lighthouse erected there, they are
of opinion that a light cannot be exhibited on the Eddystone Rock till
the lighthouse is re-built.’

Smeaton employed the winter of 1758-9 in London, preparing everything
for the final work at the Eddystone the ensuing season. He formed and
made out designs for the iron rails of the balcony, the cast iron, the
wrought iron, and the copper-works of the lantern, &c. There was a
violent storm on the 9th of March, 1759, which it was supposed might
have damaged the unfinished lighthouse, as it had done very great
damage to the ships and houses at Plymouth. As soon as it was possible
to effect a landing the works were visited and a report sent to
Smeaton. From this he found, with pleasure, that not only the solid
but the hollow work remained perfectly sound and firm; all the mortar
having become quite hard, and every part of the work just as it was
left by the workmen in October.

The commencement of the work for the next and last season, took place
on the 5th of July. On the 21st of the same month the second floor was
finished, and by the 29th the fortieth course of stone was laid down,
and the third floor finished.

The main column of the lighthouse was completed on Friday, August
17th. It contained in all forty-six courses of stone, and reached the
height of seventy feet. The beds for the light-keepers were fixed in
the uppermost room, and the kitchen with its fire-place in the room
below it, whereas in the former house, the kitchen had been the upper
room, doubtless, because the funnel for the smoke would be shorter.
But Smeaton having been informed that with the former arrangement the
beds and bedding were in a very damp and disagreeable state, proposed
to remedy the evil by allowing the copper funnel to pass through the
bed-room, and thus to dry the air. This plan completely answered the
desired end; though it must be observed, that the whole edifice, even
those portions of it which were continually subject to the action of
the waves, were much more impervious to moisture than Rudyerd’s
edifice; as may naturally be imagined from the difference of material
used in the building of the lighthouse, and the well-known quality of
granite to resist humidity. In the upper room, therefore, were fixed
three cabin-beds to hold one man each, with three drawers and two
lockers in each to hold his separate property. In the kitchen, besides
the fire-place and sink, were two settles with lockers, a dresser with
drawers, two cupboards and one platter-case. In the lantern a seat was
fixed to encompass it all round, except at the doorway, and this
served equally to sit upon, or to stand and snuff the candles; also to
enable a person to look through the lowest tier of glass-panes at
distant objects, without having occasion to go on the outside of the
lantern into the balcony.

Besides the windows of the lantern ten other windows were constructed
for the edifice, namely, two for the store-room, and four each for the
other two rooms. In fixing the bars for these windows, an accident
occurred which had nearly proved fatal to Smeaton, and which he thus
describes:--‘After the boat was gone, and it became so dark that we
could not see any longer to pursue our occupations, I ordered a
charcoal-fire to be made in the upper store-room, in one of the
iron-pots we used for melting lead, for the purpose of annealing the
blank ends of the bars; and they were made red hot altogether in the
charcoal. Most of the workmen were set round the fire, and by way of
making ourselves comfortable, by screening ourselves and the fire from
the wind, the windows were shut; and, as well as I remember, the
copper cover or hatch put over the man-hole of the floor of the room
where the fire was; the hatch above being left open for the heated
vapour to ascend. I remember to have looked into the fire attentively
to see that the iron was made hot enough, but not over-heated: I also
remember I felt my head a very little giddy; but the next thing of
which I had any sensation or idea, was finding myself upon the floor
of the room below, half drowned with water. It seems, that without
being further sensible of anything to give me warning, the effluvia of
the charcoal so suddenly overcame all sensation that I dropped down
upon the floor; and had not the people hauled me down to the room
below, where they did not spare for cold water to throw in my face
and upon me, I certainly should have expired upon the spot.’

By unremitting exertions on the part of Smeaton and his work-people,
the balcony-rails, the lantern, with the cupola and gilt ball, the
lightning-conductor, and, in fact, all the remaining parts of the
lighthouse, with the stores and necessary furniture, were set in their
places by the 16th of October, on which day a light was once more
exhibited on the Eddystone Rock.

It may be imagined that Smeaton took peculiar pleasure in this
beautiful monument of his skill and ingenuity. He slept in the
lighthouse, viewed it from sea and land, and made every observation
that an ingenious and clever man might be expected to make. The
account he gives of its appearance after a storm, as he viewed it with
his telescope from the garrison at Plymouth, is this: ‘Though I had
had many opportunities of viewing the unfinished building, when buried
in waves in a storm at S. W., yet never having before had a view of it
under this circumstance in its finished state, I was astonished to
find that the account given by Mr. Winstanley did not appear to be at
all exaggerated. At intervals of a minute, and sometimes two or three,
I suppose when a combination happens to produce an overgrown wave, it
would strike the rock and the building conjointly, and fly up in a
white column, enwrapping it like a sheet, rising at least to double
the height of the house, and totally intercepting it from sight; and
this appearance being momentary, both as to its rising and falling,
one was enabled to judge of the comparative height very nearly, by the
comparative spaces alternately occupied by the house, and by the
column of water, in the field of the telescope.’

The year 1759 closed with a series of very stormy weather, and as this
was the first winter’s trial of the lighthouse, it may be supposed
that there was some anxiety among the more timid and doubting of those
concerned in it. Especially was the courage of the light-keepers put
to the test. When a boat could come near them after one of these
storms, a letter was sent by Henry Edwards, one of the light-keepers,
to the manager of the works acquainting him that they had had such bad
weather, and that the sea ran over the house in such a manner, that
for twelve days together they could not open the door of the lantern
or any other. ‘The house did shake,’ says the poor light-keeper, ‘as
if a man had been up in a great tree. The old men were almost
frightened out of their lives, wishing they had never seen the place,
and cursing those that first persuaded them to go there. The fear
seized them in the back, but rubbing them with oil of turpentine gave
them relief.’

Meanwhile the lighthouse itself bore the storm admirably, and suffered
nothing from it. Two years afterwards a tempest of unusual violence
occurred, causing much loss of life and property at Plymouth. Eighty
thousand pounds’ worth of damage were done in the harbour and sound,
and a friend of Smeaton’s, after writing a full description of the
several disasters, adds, ‘In the midst of all this horror and
confusion, my friend may be assured that I was not insensible to his
honour and credit, yet in spite of the high opinion that I had of his
judgment and abilities, I could not but feel the utmost anxiety for
the fate of the Eddystone. Several times in the day I swept with my
telescope from the garrison, as near as I could imagine, the line of
the horizon, but it was so extremely black, fretful, and hazy, that
nothing could be seen, and I was obliged to go to bed that night with
a mortifying uncertainty. But the next morning early, I had great joy
to see that the gilded ball had triumphed over the fury of the storm,
and such an one as I had no conception of. I saw the whole so
distinctly from the bottom to the top, that I could be very sure the
lantern had suffered nothing. It is now my most steady belief, as well
as everybody’s here, that its inhabitants are rather more secure in a
storm, under the united force of wind and water, than we are in our
houses from the former only.’

After this trial of the strength of the lighthouse, there seems no
longer to have been any apprehension concerning it. The light-keepers
even became attached to the spot, and found it a remarkably healthy
and comfortable abode. There were often as many as half a dozen
applications for the office, although the salary was only twenty-five
pounds per annum.

One of the light-keepers, after a residence of fourteen years on the
rock, became so much attached to the place, that for two summers he
gave up his turn of going on shore to his companions, and declared his
intention of doing so on the third; but being over-persuaded he went
on shore to take his month’s turn. At the lighthouse he had always
been a decent, sober, well-behaved man; but he had no sooner got on
shore than he went to an alehouse and became intoxicated. This he
continued the whole of his stay; which being noticed, he was carried
in an intoxicated state on board the Eddystone boat and delivered in
the lighthouse, where he was expected to grow sober; but after
lingering for two or three days, he expired. Vacancies, however,
seldom occurred in the lighthouse. Smeaton mentions several men who
had served there to his knowledge ten, fifteen, or twenty years.

Having thus conducted our readers to the close of Smeaton’s arduous
undertaking, and noticed its complete success, we may proceed to
describe the more remarkable lighthouses erected in other portions of
the kingdom subsequent to the labours of this celebrated engineer.



     Importance of Lighting the Scottish Coast--Formation of
     Board of Commissioners of Northern Lighthouses--Early
     Proceedings of the Board--Principal Northern
     Lighthouses--The Isle of May Lighthouse--Loss of two
     Frigates--Application of the Admiralty to the Lighthouse
     Board, by whom the Duties and the Island of May are
     purchased--Numerous Shipwrecks on the Island of
     Sanday--Foundation-stone of Start-Point Lighthouse
     laid--Rev. W. Traill’s Address upon the occasion--Subsequent
     Proceedings on Sanday Island--North Ronaldsay
     Lighthouse--Melancholy Accident--Importance of the Northern

The coast of Scotland is deservedly celebrated for the skill and
enterprise of its lighthouse system. This coast, extending to about
two thousand miles in circuit, is, perhaps, the most dangerous of any
in Europe. Previous to the erection of efficient lighthouses, it was
frequently strewed with wrecks, and proved how inadequate to the
protection of the mariner were the few feeble lights which were then
under the controul of private or local trusts. Accordingly, in the
year 1786, the Commissioners of Northern Lighthouses were, by Act of
Parliament, erected into a board, consisting of his Majesty’s advocate
and solicitor-general, the chief magistrates of the principal burghs
of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Inverness, Campbeltown, and the
sheriffs or judges ordinary of maritime counties. The preamble to the
act states, ‘That it would conduce greatly to the security of
Navigation and the Fisheries if _four_ lighthouses were erected in the
northern parts of Great Britain;’ namely, one on Kinnaird Head, in
Aberdeenshire, one on the Orkney Islands, one on the Harris Isles, and
one at the Mull of Kintyre, in Argyleshire. Such appears to have been
the state of trade in Scotland about sixty years ago, that the
erection of four lighthouses was all that was contemplated. But no
sooner were these four lights erected than their importance to
navigation was immediately acknowledged, and frequent applications
were made on the part of the shipping interest to erect others.
Accordingly as the funds of the board allowed, lighthouses or other
means of exhibiting lights have been erected upon many promontories of
the main land, or upon islands and reefs lying off the coast of
Scotland, including the Isle of Man.

These lighthouses being for the most part situated in remote and
inaccessible districts, it was resolved ‘that the engineer should
charter a vessel annually, to carry a full complement of stores and
other necessaries for the use of the lights, and such artificers,
implements, and materials, as might from time to time be found
necessary for making repairs at the lighthouses;’ the engineer was
also to pay an annual visit to each lighthouse, and report upon the
state and condition of the buildings, and the conduct of the

No public lights on the Scotch coast are in the hands of private
individuals. All the light-dues collected from the general shipping in
Scotland are received by the commissioners for public use. There are
now twenty-five land-lights under the charge of the commissioners, for
which due-lights are levied; and there are twenty-eight local or
harbour-lights under the management of trustees and corporate bodies,
maintained by the dues levied on the trade of the respective ports
where the lights are situated, and on vessels resorting to them. Some
of these lights are established by Acts of Parliament, others are
secured by ancient charters to the fraternities of the ports, and
others were erected and are maintained by the ship-owners and
merchants of the ports.

The earliest public light on the Scottish shores is that situated on
the Island of May. This island holds a prominent position at the
entrance of the Frith of Forth, and from its connection also with the
estuary leading to the capital of Scotland and the principal ports of
her commerce, the want of a light seems to have been experienced at an
early period. Over the entrance-door of the old lighthouse-tower a
stone, neatly cut into the figure by which the sun is usually
represented, bears the date 1635.

Much dissatisfaction was produced after the Union, in consequence of
English and Irish vessels being charged with double rates as
foreigners. The light being also a coal-fire exposed in an open
chauffer, was found to be insufficient. Accordingly, in the year 1786
the Chamber of Commerce of Edinburgh made certain representations to
the proprietor which induced him to increase the magnitude of the
light; the chauffer was accordingly enlarged to the capacity of a
square of three feet; and instead of about two hundred tons of coal
per annum, formerly consumed, the quantity of fuel was now doubled.
From this period the light of May became the most powerful coal-light
in the kingdom, although from its exposure it was still found to be
very unsteady in bad weather, when most required by the mariner.
Lime-kilns and other accidental open fires upon the neighbouring
shores, were also apt to be mistaken for the Isle of May chauffer. To
obviate such dangerous mistakes, there was no other method but the
introduction of a light from oil, with reflectors inclosed in a glazed
light-room. Related ineffectual applications to the Duke of Portland
(who by marriage had obtained possession of the light and Isle of May)
served only to illustrate how very objectionable it is to allow
lighthouses and other public works to be carried on by a private
individual for his sole profit. It happened, however, that among
numerous other disasters, two of his Majesty’s ships, valued at not
less than a hundred thousand pounds, were, on the 19th December, 1810,
wrecked near Dunbar, in consequence, it is believed, of the light of a
lime-kiln on the coast of Haddingtonshire having been mistaken for the
coal-light of the Isle of May. This disaster attracted the notice of
the Admiralty to the Isle of May light, when it was proposed to place
it under the control of the Commissioners of Northern Lighthouses.
After many negotiations an Act of Parliament was passed in the session
of 1814, empowering the commissioners to purchase the light duties and
the Island of May, for the sum of sixty thousand pounds. This was
accordingly done, and on the completion of the purchase, the first act
of the commissioners was to reduce the light-duty to all British
vessels, so that English and Irish ships were no longer treated as
foreigners, by paying double duty. Immediate measures were also taken
for altering and improving the light; a new lighthouse was erected,
and a light from oil, with reflectors, was exhibited on the 1st
February, 1816, after the existence of a coal-light during one hundred
and eighty-one years. The old lighthouse-tower was reduced in height,
and converted into a guard-room for the use and convenience of pilots
and fishermen.

Soon after the establishment of the Board of Commissioners, repeated
applications were made for the erection of new lighthouses, in order
to avert the misfortunes which occurred every year, especially on the
low shores of the northern isles of Orkney. In the year 1789 a
lighthouse had been completed at North Ronaldsay, but the experience
of twelve years had proved that this was not calculated to prevent the
numerous wrecks on the islands of Sanday and Stronsay. In 1796, when
the engineer was on his annual visit, he was struck at seeing the
wreck of three homeward-bound ships upon the island of Sanday, though
situate only about eight miles southward of the lighthouse of North
Ronaldsay. In the three following years no fewer than eight ships were
wrecked upon the same fatal island. It was therefore resolved, in
1801, that a stone-tower or beacon should be erected upon the Start
Point, which forms the eastern extremity of the low shores of the
Island of Sanday; the building to be constructed in such a manner that
it might, if necessary, be converted into a lighthouse.

In the year 1802, Mr. Stevenson, the engineer of the Northern
Lighthouses, sailed on his annual voyage of inspection, taking with
him a foreman and sixteen artificers to commence the works at Start
Point. The vessel reached Orkney by the 20th April, and even at this
advanced part of the season the islands were covered to the depth of
six inches with snow. This, at any time, is rather uncommon in Orkney;
but such had been the severity of this season in the northern regions,
that a flock of wild swans, which in severe winters visit these
islands, were still seen in considerable numbers upon the fresh-water
lakes of Sanday. Those large birds are supposed to migrate from
Iceland, but are rarely seen in Orkney later than the month of March;
so that their appearance in the latter end of April was regarded as a
mark of a very severe and long-continued winter in the higher

There being no workable sand-stone on Sanday island, a quarry was
opened on the contiguous island of Eda, where it occurred of a
tolerably good quality. In order to render the building substantially
water-tight, it had been originally intended to make it wholly of
hewn-stone built in regular courses; but the quarry of Eda being about
fourteen miles distant from the works, the stones had to be conveyed
by sea through rapid tides; and there being but indifferent creeks or
havens, both at the quarry and at the Start Point, it was found
necessary to make only the principal stones of hewn work, while the
body of the work was executed in rubble building, for which excellent
materials were at hand, consisting of a sort of sand-stone slate or
micaceous schist. The encroachments of the sea had heaped up immense
quantities of these stones at high-water mark all round the Start
Point, the shores of which appeared like the ruins of the wall of some
large city.

By the middle of the month of May sufficient materials were collected
for commencing the building. The workmen having expressed a wish to
have the foundation-stone of the beacon laid with masonic ceremony,
preparations were accordingly made. ‘The year of our Lord 1802’ was
cut upon the foundation-stone, in which a hole was perforated for
depositing a glass phial containing a small parchment-scroll, setting
forth the intention of the building, the official constitution of the
Commissioners of Northern Lighthouses, and the name of their engineer.
It also contained several of the current coins of George III. in gold,
silver, and copper. The day fixed for the ceremony was the 15th of
May. The weather was dry and tolerably agreeable, though cold with
snow upon the ground; the thermometer stood at 35° in the shade at
noon. The influx of so many strangers to the island for this work, and
the novelty of the intended ceremony, caused most of the inhabitants
to be present to witness it. Every thing being prepared, the engineer,
assisted by the foreman of the works, applied the square and
plummet-level to the foundation-stone in compliance with ancient
custom. The phial was then deposited in the cavity prepared for it in
the stone, and carefully covered up with sand, when the masonic
ceremony was concluded in the usual manner. The Rev. Walter Traill,
minister of the parish, then offered up a most impressive prayer,
imploring the blessing of heaven upon the intended purposes of the
building, and then delivered the following address:--

‘This moment is auspicious. The foundation-stone is laid of a building
of incalculable value;--a work of use, not of luxury. Pyramids were
erected by the pride of kings, to perpetuate the memory of men, whose
ambition enslaved and desolated the world. But it is the benevolent
intention of our government, on this spot, to erect a tower--not to
exhaust, but to increase the wealth and protect the commerce of this
happy kingdom. To the goodness of GOD, in the first place, we are
indebted for a degree of prosperity unknown to other nations. In the
next place, we owe our happiness to our insular situation, and
attention to maritime affairs. Faction and civil war have at this
period laid waste the fairest countries of Europe; while peace has
flourished within our walls. Agriculture, commerce, and their kindred
arts, have prospered in our land. British oak hath triumphed; victory
hath been attached to the British flag; and British fleets have
ridden triumphant on the wings of the wind. Consider the great
national objects for which this building will be erected. To protect
commerce, and to guard the lives of those intrepid men who for us
cheerfully brave the fury of the waves and the rage of battle. The
mariner when he returns to the embraces of his wife and children,
after ascribing praise to the Great Giver of safety, shall bless the
friendly light which guided him over the deep, and recommend to the
protection of heaven those who urged, who planned, and who executed
the work. This day shall be remembered with gratitude. It shall be
recorded, that at the beginning of a new century the pious care of
government was extended to this remote island. These rocks, so fatal
to the most brave and honourable part of the community, shall lose
their terror, and safety and life shall spring from danger and death.
Even you, my friends, who are employed in the execution of this work,
are objects of regard and gratitude. You have, for a season, left the
society of your families and friends, to perform a work of high
interest to your country and to mankind. I am confident that you will
act, in all respects, so as to deserve and obtain the esteem of the
people who now surround you. I hope that they will discharge to you
every duty of Christian hospitality, and that you will have no
occasion to feel that you are strangers in a strange land. It becomes
us to remember that all the affairs of men are dependent on
Providence. We may exert talents and industry, but God only can bless
our exertions with success. Let our trust be in Him. Let us humbly
hope that He will bless this day and this undertaking. Through His aid
may there arise from this spot a tower of safety and protection to the
mariner of every tongue and nation.’

The whole of this scene is described as being very impressive; to
which the plain, decent, and respectable appearance of the people
collected on the occasion not a little contributed.

By continuing steadily at work during the summer-months, the beacon
was finished in September. It was terminated, at the height of one
hundred feet above the medium level of the sea, with a circular ball
of masonry measuring fifteen feet in circumference.

The completion of this beacon did not, however, prevent the frequent
occurrence of shipwreck upon the island. It had even become proverbial
with some of the inhabitants to observe, ‘that if wrecks were to
happen, they might as well be sent to the poor island of Sanday as
anywhere else.’ ‘On this and the neighbouring islands,’ says Mr.
Stevenson, ‘the inhabitants have certainly had their share of wrecked
goods; for here the eye is presented with these melancholy remains in
almost every form. For example, although quarries are to be met with
generally in these islands, and the stones are very suitable for
building dikes, yet instances occur of the land being enclosed, even
to a considerable extent, with ship-timbers. The author has actually
seen a park paled round, chiefly with cedar-wood and mahogany from the
wreck of a Honduras built ship; and in one island, after the wreck of
a ship laden with wine, the inhabitants have been known to take claret
to their barley-meal porridge, instead of their usual beverage. On
complaining to one of the pilots of the badness of his boat’s sails,
he replied to the author with some degree of pleasantry, “Had it been
His (God’s) will that you came na here wi’ these lights, we might a’
had better sails to our boats, and more o’ other things.” It may
further be noticed, that when some of Lord Dundas’s farms are to be
let in these islands, a competition takes place for the lease; and it
is understood that a much higher rent is paid than the lands would
otherwise give, were it not for the chance of making considerably by
the agency and advantages attending shipwrecks on the shores of the
respective farms.’

In his Report to the Board in the year 1805, Mr. Stevenson proposed
that the Start Point beacon should be converted into a lighthouse, and
that the north Ronaldsay light should be discontinued, and its tower
converted into a beacon, as wrecks were found to happen comparatively
seldom upon that island, while hardly a year passed without instances
of this kind in the Island of Sanday; for owing to the projecting
points of this strangely formed island, the lowness and whiteness of
its eastern shores, and the wonderful manner in which the scanty
patches of land are intersected with lakes and pools of water, it
becomes even in day-light a deception, and has often been fatally
mistaken for an open sea. After taking the opinion of persons
acquainted with the navigation of these seas, the change was adopted;
the works at the Start Point were commenced early in the summer of
1805; by the month of November the light-room was finished, and the
light exhibited on the 1st January, 1806.

A melancholy story is connected with the completion of the lighthouse
on this fatal island. The principal mason and his assistants being
desirous of returning home, proceeded to Stromness on the mainland of
Orkney, from whence they were most likely to get a passage to the
southward. The party consisted of six in number; and the foreman’s
brother, wishing to go directly to his native place, took his passage
in a vessel bound from Stromness to Anstruther, while the rest
embarked on board a schooner bound for Leith.

The vessel sailed with a fair wind early on the 24th December, 1806.
On the following morning they got sight of Kinnaird Head lighthouse in
Aberdeenshire, and had the prospect of speedily reaching the Frith of
Forth; but the wind having suddenly shifted to the south-east, and
increased to a tremendous gale, the vessel immediately put about, and
steered in quest of some safe harbour in Orkney. At two o’clock in the
afternoon she passed the Portland Frith, and got into the bay of Long
Hope, but could not reach the proper anchorage; and at three o’clock
both anchors were let go in an outer roadstead. The storm still
continuing with unabated force, the cables parted or broke, and the
vessel drifted on the island of Flotta. The utmost efforts of those on
board to pass a rope to the shore, with the assistance of the
inhabitants of the island, proved ineffectual; the vessel struck upon
a shelving rock, and, night coming on, sunk in three fathoms water.

Some of the unfortunate crew and passengers attempted to swim ashore,
but in the darkness of the night they either lost their way, or were
dashed upon the rocks by the surge of the sea; while those who
retained hold of the rigging of the ship, being worn out with fatigue
and the piercing coldness of the weather during a long winter night,
died before morning,--when the shore presented the dreadful spectacle
of the wreck of no fewer than five vessels, with many lifeless bodies.

During successive years the commissioners erected a number of
lighthouses, and laboured with anxious care to render them as
efficient as possible. In some cases where the nature of the
accommodation at the lighthouse stations would permit, a guard-room
was provided for pilots, and shipwrecked mariners were lodged, and, in
necessitous cases, they have even been allowed a sum of money to
clothe and carry them to their respective homes. ‘In this way,’ says
Mr. Stevenson, ‘it has not unfrequently fallen to the lot of the
keepers of the northern lighthouses, to save the lives of perishing
seamen, to succour many poor fishermen and pilots, as well as the
half-starved and unlucky individuals of water-parties, when driven by
stress of weather to these lone places of abode for safety and
shelter. In these varied forms, it will not be too much to suppose,
that the practice of protecting the navigator in distress, which is
said to have formed a chief part of the design of the fire-towers and
nautical colleges of the ancients, is thus in some measure restored.’



     History of the Inch-Cape or Bell-Rock Lighthouse as a Type
     of the Northern Lighthouses--Position and Dangerous
     Character of the Bell Rock--Ballad of Sir Ralph the
     Rover--Proposal to erect a Lighthouse--Mr. Robert Stevenson
     selected as Engineer--Survey of the Rock--Exhibition of a
     Floating Light--Preparations for the Lighthouse--First
     Season on the Rock--Alarming Situation of the Engineer and
     Men--Effects of the Stormy Sea on the Rock--Erection of
     Beacon--Winter Employment--The Second Season--A new Tender
     employed--Praam-boats and Stone-lighters--Progress of the
     Work--Remarkable appearance of the Rock--Foundation Stone
     laid--First continuous Course of Masonry--Its Contents--Third
     Season--Progress of the Work--Winter Operations--Fourth
     Season--The Beacon used as a Dwelling--Its Interior
     described--The Engineer’s Cabin--The Lighthouse nearly
     finished--Mr. Smeaton’s Daughter visits the Works--Last
     Stone laid--Light advertized--Lighthouse described--Action
     of the Sea and of Stormy Weather upon the Lighthouse--Internal
     Economy of the Lighthouse--Arrangements on Shore--Signals--Curious
     Accident--The Carr Rock Beacon.

                  ‘_Pharos loquitur._

    ‘Far in the bosom of the deep
    O’er these wild shelves my watch I keep,
    A ruddy gem of changeful light,
    Bound in the dusky brow of night.
    The seaman bids my lustre hail,
    And scorns to strike his timorous sail’[5].

The most celebrated lighthouse in Scotland is that situated on the
dangerous reef called the Inch Cape or Bell Rock. This lighthouse may
fairly aspire to the title of the Eddystone of Scotland, whether we
regard its high importance to navigation, the danger and difficulty of
its erection, the beauty of its form, or its interesting history.

The Inch Cape or Bell Rock is situated on the northern side of the
entrance of the Frith of Forth at a distance of eleven miles from the
promontory called the Red Head, in Forfarshire. The dimensions of the
north-eastern or higher compartment of the rock where the lighthouse
is built are about four hundred and twenty-seven feet in length and
two hundred and thirty feet in breadth. Besides these dimensions, the
south-western reef extends about one thousand feet from the main rock.
The greatest length of the rock, which may be said to be dangerous to
shipping, is about one thousand four hundred and twenty-seven feet,
and its greatest breadth about three hundred feet. It is about twelve
feet under water at the ordinary height or perpendicular rise of
spring tides. In point of situation, this rock is one of the most
dangerous on the coast of Great Britain; for while it lies in one of
the most frequented estuaries, it is much lower in the water than any
rock on which lighthouses are usually erected; and hence the mariner
had formerly no warning of his danger when in its vicinity. Indeed, in
fine weather the sea is often so smooth, that the place of the rock
could not be pointed out from the appearance of the surface. The Bell
Rock was therefore considered for ages as the chief obstruction to the
navigation of the Frith of Forth, and the want of some mark to point
out its position was long lamented. Tradition says, that the abbots of
the ancient monastery of Aberbrothock succeeded in fixing a bell upon
it in such a way as to be rung by the agitation of the waves. It is
further stated, that a band of pirates having carried off the bell,
were in a subsequent voyage all lost on the Bell Rock. This legend is
beautifully told by Mr. Southey in the following ballad.


    No stir in the air, no stir in the sea,
    The ship was still as she could be;
    Her sails from heaven received no motion,
    Her keel was steady in the ocean.

    Without either sign or sound of their shock,
    The waves flow’d over the Inchcape Rock;
    So little they rose, so little they fell,
    They did not move the Inchcape bell.

    The abbot of Aberbrothok
    Had placed that bell on the Inchcape Rock;
    On a buoy in the storm it floated and swung,
    And over the waves its warning rung.

    When the rock was hid by the surge’s swell,
    The mariners heard the warning bell;
    And then they knew the perilous rock,
    And blest the abbot of Aberbrothok.

    The sun in heaven was shining gay,
    All things were joyful on that day;
    The sea-birds scream’d as they wheel’d round,
    And there was joyaunce in their sound.

    The buoy of the Inchcape bell was seen,
    A darker speck on the ocean green;
    Sir Ralph the Rover walk’d his deck,
    And he fix’d his eye on the darker speck.

    He felt the cheering power of spring,
    It made him whistle, it made him sing;
    His heart was mirthful to excess,
    But the Rover’s mirth was wickedness.

    His eye was on the Inchcape float,
    Quoth he, ‘My men, put out the boat,
    And row me to the Inchcape Rock,
    And I’ll plague the abbot of Aberbrothok.’

    The boat is lower’d, the boatmen row,
    And to the Inchcape Rock they go;
    Sir Ralph bent over from the boat,
    And he cut the bell from the Inchcape float.

    Down sunk the bell with a gurgling sound,
    The bubbles rose and burst around;
    Quoth Sir Ralph, ‘The next who comes to the rock
    Won’t bless the abbot of Aberbrothok.’

    Sir Ralph the Rover sail’d away,
    He scour’d the seas for many a day;
    And now grown rich with plunder’d store,
    He steers his course for Scotland’s shore.

    So thick a haze o’erspreads the sky,
    They cannot see the sun on high;
    And the wind hath blown a gale all day,
    At evening it hath died away.

    On the deck the Rover takes his stand,
    So dark it is they see no land:
    Quoth Sir Ralph, ‘It will be lighter soon,
    For there is the dawn of the rising moon.’

    ‘Canst hear,’ said one, ‘the breakers roar?
    For methinks we should be near the shore;’
    ‘Now where we are I cannot tell,
    But I wish we could hear the Inchcape bell!’

    They hear no sound, the swell is strong,
    Though the wind hath fallen they drift along,
    Till the vessel strikes with a shivering shock,
    ‘Oh Christ! it is the Inchcape Rock.’

    Sir Ralph the Rover tore his hair,
    He curst himself in his despair;
    The waves rush in on every side,
    The ship is sinking beneath the tide.

    But even in his dying fear
    One dreadful sound could the Rover hear,
    A sound as if with the Inchcape bell,
    The devil below was ringing his knell.

But whatever may be the truth of these traditions, it is certain that
for a long period, perhaps centuries, no permanent distinguishing mark
was attached to the rock until the building of the present lighthouse,
whose history we have now briefly to state.

On the appointment of a board for the erection of lighthouses in
Scotland, the public anxiously expected that some means would be taken
to guard the mariner from this fatal rock; but the difficulties of the
undertaking, the great expense, and the inadequate funds of the board,
all contributed to promote delay. In the winter of 1799 the northern
coast of Great Britain was visited with a dreadful storm, and no less
than seventy vessels were wrecked upon the coast of Scotland. This
calamity excited so strong a sensation that the attention of the board
was at once directed to this object; and in 1802 application was made
to Parliament to enable the commissioners of the northern lighthouses
to levy certain additional duties, and empower them to borrow a sum of
money for this work. The Act was not obtained until 1806; but when
obtained, this highly important work was immediately undertaken.

A variety of plans were submitted to the consideration of the
lighthouse board. The beacons of spars which had been erected on the
rock had been washed away, and many persons feared that a more solid
structure would share the same fate. Considering that the rock was
frequently under water to the depth of twelve feet, some proposed to
erect a building which should stand on pillars of cast-iron or of
stone. The commissioners, however, wisely referred the matter to Mr.
Robert Stevenson the engineer, who was to survey the rock, and report
upon the practicability of erecting a lighthouse upon it. The survey
was accordingly made; and during its progress, many instances were
discovered of the extent of loss which this reef had occasioned, and
many articles of ships’ furnishings were found, as well as various
coins, a bayonet, a silver shoe-buckle, and many other small objects.
The result of this survey was a report from Mr. Stevenson to the
effect, that a work of stone similar to that of the Eddystone
lighthouse was practicable; and having sent in his plans, the
commissioners submitted them to Mr. Rennie, who gave them his cordial
concurrence; and the work was accordingly proceeded with.

The time that remained after the passing of the Act in 1806 was
employed in making the necessary preparations for the summer of the
next year; and the commissioners being authorized to collect duties on
the exhibition of a floating light, a vessel was employed to serve the
double purpose of a floating light, and a tender for the workmen
employed in the building. Accordingly in July a Dutch fishing vessel
was moored off the Bell Rock, at the distance of about two miles, in a
depth of about twenty fathoms water; her crew consisting of a master,
eight able seamen, and a boy. This strong crew was necessary, in case
the vessel should accidentally drift from her station, and to enable
them to light or lift their moorings after every gale of wind. The
vessel was rigged with three masts, on each of which a lantern was so
placed that the light could be seen in all directions.

The stones and machinery were prepared in a work-yard provided for the
purpose at Arbroath, the nearest harbour on the adjacent coast. In
this place barracks were erected for the workmen, that they might at
all times be ready night or day to go off to the Bell Rock. A sloop,
named the ‘Smeaton,’ (in honour of the great engineer who had left so
splendid a pattern for the present structure,) had been built
expressly for the Bell-Rock service, to be employed as a tender for
the floating light, and as a stone-lighter for the use of the work: it
served also to convey the workmen to and from the rock.

On the 17th August 1807 the work on the rock was begun. The first
employment was to bore a sufficient number of holes for receiving the
ends of beams, for the support of a wooden beacon or workshop and
temporary residence for the workmen. But this was no easy task. The
hard compact nature of the sand-stone of which the rock is composed
soon blunted the tools, and rendered necessary the constant employment
of a smith with his forge. But the operations of this useful artificer
were even more difficult than those of the stone-cutters. It often
happened that after the flood-tide had obliged the pickmen to strike
work, a sea would come rolling over the rocks, while the smith was in
the middle of a ‘favourite heat,’ dashing out the fire, and
endangering his indispensable instrument, the bellows; or if the sea
was smooth, the smith had often to stand at work knee deep in water,
and the tide would rise imperceptibly, first cooling the exterior of
the fire-place or hearth, and then quickly blackening and
extinguishing the fire from below. Mr. Stevenson describes it as
amusing to witness the perplexing anxiety of the smith when coaxing
his fire, and endeavouring to avert the effects of the rising tide.
Sometimes, while his feet were immersed in water, his face was not
only scorched but continually exposed to volumes of smoke and sparks
of fire. A great object therefore, of the beacon was to remove the
smith above the reach of the highest tide.

One effect of visiting the rock at every tide, and carrying on this
noise and traffic, was to banish the herd of seals which had hitherto
frequented it as a resting-place during low water. As many as fifty
or sixty of these animals had been seen at one time on the rock, but
now not more than one or two occasionally appeared, and these confined
their visits to the detached outlayers of the rock, from whence they
would gaze on the workmen with that look of curiosity so remarkable in
this animal. Mr. Stevenson was desirous of protecting them, in hopes
of taming them, so as to gain that facility of studying their habits
which was afforded at Small’s Lighthouse, off the coast of
Pembrokeshire, a favourite resort of seals, where, by gentle
treatment, they had become so tame and familiar as to eat bread out of
the hands of the light-keepers.

The operations of this season were difficult and hazardous, the men
having to row in boats at every tide from the rock to the
floating-light; and the wind often shifting suddenly, the exertion of
rowing was very great, although the distance was but two miles. When
at the rock, the men had presently to work knee-deep in water; and the
roughness of the sea was often such as to suspend the work for days
together, during which time the floating-light would roll so
unmercifully, that to put out a boat would have probably ensured its
instant destruction.

During this early stage of the work there was a moment of appalling
danger, which must be noticed in detail. On the 2nd of Sept. 1807,
there were thirty-two persons upon the rock; and while all the
artificers were busily occupied, a gale arose, during which the
‘Smeaton’ broke adrift from her moorings. In this perilous
predicament, placed upon an insulated rock far out in the ocean,
which, in the progress of the flood-tide, was to be laid under water
to the depth of at least twelve feet, in a stormy sea, the feelings of
the engineer may be better conceived than described. There were, at
this period, only two boats attached to the rock, whose complement,
even in fair weather, did not exceed twenty-four sitters; but to row
to the floating-light, with so much wind, and so heavy a sea, a
complement of eight men for each boat was as much as could possibly
be attempted, so that, in this way, about one half of those employed
on the rock must be left unprovided for. Under these circumstances,
had Mr. Stevenson ventured to despatch one of the boats, in
expectation of either working the ‘Smeaton’ sooner up towards the
rock, or in hopes of getting her boat brought to the assistance of the
rest, this must have given an immediate alarm to the artificers, each
of whom would have insisted upon taking to his own boat, and leaving
the eight artificers belonging to the ‘Smeaton’ to their chance.

The unfortunate circumstance of the ‘Smeaton’ and her boat having
drifted, was for a considerable time, known only to Mr. Stevenson and
to the landing-master, who removed to the further part of the rock,
where he kept his eye steadily upon the progress of the vessel. While
the artificers were at work, chiefly in sitting and kneeling postures,
excavating the rock, or boring with the tools, and while their
numerous hammers, and the sound of the smith’s anvil continued, the
situation of things did not appear so awful. In this state of
suspense, with almost certain destruction at hand, the water began to
rise upon those who were at work on the lower parts of the sites of
the beacon and lighthouse. From the run of the sea upon the rock, the
forge-fire was sooner extinguished than usual; and the volumes of
smoke having ceased, objects in every direction became visible from
all parts of the rock. After having had about three hours’ work, the
men begun, pretty generally, to make towards their respective boats
for their jackets and stockings, when, to their astonishment, instead
of three, they found only two boats, the third being adrift with the
‘Smeaton.’ Not a word was uttered by any one, but all appeared to be
silently calculating their numbers, and looking to each other with
evident marks of perplexity depicted on their countenances. The
landing-master, conceiving blame might be attached to him for allowing
the boat to leave the rock, still kept at a distance. At this critical
moment Mr. Stevenson was standing upon an elevated part of the rock,
where he endeavoured to mark the progress of the ‘Smeaton,’ not a
little surprised that her crew did not cut the praam adrift which
greatly retarded her way. The workmen looked steadfastly at their
leader, and turned occasionally towards the vessel still far to
leeward. All this passed with the most perfect silence, and the
melancholy solemnity of the group was such that, Mr. Stevenson states,
it left an impression never to be effaced from his mind.

In the meantime Mr. Stevenson was considering various schemes which
might be adopted for the general safety of the party, in hopes that
the ‘Smeaton’ might be able to pick up the boats to leeward when they
were obliged to leave the rock. He was, accordingly, about to address
the artificers on the perilous nature of their situation, and to
propose that all should unstrip their upper clothing, when the higher
parts of the rock were laid under water,--that the seamen should
remove every unnecessary weight and encumbrance from the boats, and a
specified number of men should go into each boat, and that the
remainder should hang by the gunwales, while the boats were to be
rowed gently towards the ‘Smeaton,’ as the course of the ‘Pharos’ or
floating-light lay rather to windward of the rock. But, when he
attempted to speak, his mouth was so parched that his tongue refused
utterance, and he says, ‘I now learned by experience that the saliva
is as necessary as the tongue itself for speech.’ He then turned to
one of the pools on the rock, and drank a little salt-water, which
produced immediate relief; and his delight was in no small degree
increased when, on rising from this nauseous beverage, some one called
out, ‘A boat!’ ‘A boat!’ and on looking round, at no great distance, a
large boat was seen through the haze making towards the rock.

The effect of this accident was, that when the bell rung next morning,
and the workmen were mustered, out of twenty-six, only eight, besides
the foreman and seamen, appeared on deck to accompany the engineer to
the rock. ‘The use of argument to persuade the men to embark in cases
of this kind would have been out of place, as it is not only
discomfort, or even the risk of the loss of a limb, but life itself,
that becomes the question.’ The boats proceeded with the eight willing
workmen: four hours were passed upon the rock, and, on returning to
the ‘Pharos,’ the eighteen men who remained on board seemed quite
ashamed of their cowardice; and on again proceeding to the rock, they
were the first to embark. This was the only instance of refusal to go
to the rock.

Shortly after this occurrence, the whole party on board the Pharos was
exposed to a fearful gale, which kept them from the rock during ten
days and exposed them to imminent danger. The floating-light broke
adrift, but, providentially, no damage was sustained. This
circumstance, however, imparted a character of extreme hazard to life
on board the floating-light, that it was difficult to provide sailors
to man her. On landing upon the rock the effects of the gale were at
once apparent. Six large blocks of granite, which had been landed by
way of experiment, had been removed from their places, and by the
force of the sea thrown over a rising ledge into a hole at the
distance of twelve or fifteen paces; a sufficient evidence of the
violence of the storm and the agitation of the sea on the rock. The
smith’s forge was also shifted from its place--the ash-pan of the
hearth with its ponderous cast-iron back had been washed from their
places of supposed security, the chains of attachment broken, and
these weighty articles found at a very considerable distance in a hole
of the rock.

Although the sea often had a most frightful appearance, yet the beacon
divested the Bell Rock of many of its terrors: its beams afforded an
excellent guide to shipping, and old sailors frequently expressed
their admiration at the change of circumstances which led to their
cruising with so much confidence both by day and night in the
immediate vicinity of this dangerous rock. It also had a beneficial
influence on all who were actively engaged about the lighthouse by
inducing a greater confidence of safety, so that at all times when a
boat could be put to sea or approach this sunken reef, there was not
that actual danger in landing which formerly presented itself, because
in the event of the tender going adrift or a boat happening to be
wrecked upon the rock, the beacon could be looked to as a refuge till
assistance arrived.

On the 6th October, 1807, the works were relinquished for the season.
The time which had been spent in the rock amounted only to one hundred
and eighty hours, of which one hundred and thirty-three, or about
thirteen and a half days of ten hours each, could be said to have been
actively employed, and yet during this period, besides the erection of
the principal beams of the beacon-house, some considerable progress
had been made in preparing the site of the lighthouse. ‘This reason’s
work,’ says the engineer, ‘affords a good example of what may be
executed under similar circumstances, when every heart and hand is
anxiously and zealously engaged, for the artificers wrought at the
erection of the beacon as for life; or somewhat like men stopping a
breach in a wall to keep out an overwhelming flood.’

During winter the men were busy in the work-yard preparing the stones
and laying them course by course upon a stone basement, equal to the
foundation course of the lighthouse. Here the stones were fitted into
their places, and carefully numbered and marked as they were to lie in
the building; a necessary operation, the several courses being
dove-tailed and connected together, so as to form one mass from the
centre to the circumference of the building. The stones were also
bored or fixed with trenails of oak and joggles of stone, after the
manner of the Eddystone lighthouse, and in this state they were laid
aside, and in readiness for being shipped in lighters for the rock.

Considering the importance of a light on the Bell Rock, it was at
first determined that the whole outward casing of the lighthouse
should be of granite, and that sand-stone should be used only for the
interior work; but from the difficulty of procuring a sufficient
supply of granite, it was afterwards found necessary to restrict the
use of it to the lower courses of the building. The granite was from
the Rubislaw quarry, and was so compact, that it contained only about
thirteen and a half cubic feet to the ton. The sand-stone was from the
Mylnefield quarry, and contained fifteen feet to the ton.

As soon as the weather would permit, the operations of the second
season commenced at the rock. The arrangements for carrying on the
works were made on an improved scale. A new vessel (named the Sir
Joseph Banks) was provided as a tender for lodging the workmen off the
rock, instead of the floating-light. The new tender was well supplied
with cooking apparatus, provisions, water, fuel, &c.; the space not
used as birthage, &c. was occupied with casks of lime, cement, and
other articles required for the work. The advantage of this new
arrangement was, the ease with which the tender could be brought to
the lee side of the rock, to take the people on board at any
emergency; whereas, the floating-light, being moored as a guide to
shipping, could not be moved about so easily, to serve the purposes of
the workmen. Every precaution was also taken to render the praam-boats
or stone-lighters buoyant, for such was the presentiment of danger
attached to the landing department, that, in addition to a water-tight
lining, each praam was provided with twelve strong empty casks, which
were stored in the hold, and were sufficient to float and render her
buoyant in case of accident. The praams therefore became so many
life-boats, moored in the neighbourhood of the rock. The Sir Joseph
Banks was also furnished with large landing boats and a life-boat.

The beacon had resisted the wintry storms tolerably well. Indeed, the
force of the waves upon the rock was not so great as might have been
expected, from an interesting and unlooked-for cause, namely, the
extensive beds of marine plants which grow upon it. ‘It often
happened,’ says Mr. Stevenson, ‘when heavy seas were rolling along the
Bell Rock, which at a distance threatened to overrun the whole, that,
upon reaching these beds of fuci, with which the flat and level parts
of the rock were thickly coated, the velocity and force of the waves
were immediately checked, and in a great measure destroyed.’

On the 25th of May 1808, the operations of the second season were
commenced with very different feelings, to those experienced during
the previous year, when every step was attended with a great degree of
doubt, uncertainty, and danger; but the preparations and precautions,
which had been so wisely adopted, gave a security and promptness to
the work, which relieved all concerned in it of much anxiety. Landing
upon the rock was at all times difficult, but, so long as the boats
were kept from striking upon it, the spray which came on board was but
little heeded.

During the early part of this season the work proceeded as follows:
The workmen landed on the rock at low water, and immediately began to
bale out the water from the foundation pit, while the pumps were also
kept in action. The work was proceeded with on the higher parts of the
foundation as the water left them. The pumps being placed diagonally,
about twenty men were employed to work each pump; and thus this great
body of water, extending over a circular area of forty-two feet
diameter, and of the average depth of two feet, could be drawn off in
half an hour. The men then proceeded, for about two hours and a half,
to level the foundation with their picks, some of the sailors being
employed in clearing away the chips, and conveying the iron tools to
and from the smiths on the beacon, where they were sharpened. When the
sea broke in and overflowed the pit, the party returned in boats to
the tender.

The appearance of the rock about this time is thus described: ‘Its
surface was crowded with men, the two forges flaming, the one above
the other, upon the beacon, while the anvils thundered with the
rebounding noise of their wooden supports, and formed a curious
contrast with the clamour of the surges.’ Sometimes, when the sea was
smooth, the beacon had the appearance of being afloat upon the water,
with a number of men supporting themselves in every variety of
attitude and position; while from the upper part of this wooden house,
such volumes of smoke ascended from the forges, that strangers at a
distance often mistook it for a ship on fire. When working by such
light at night, the rock presented a remarkable aspect to the distant
shipping, the numerous lights flitting about, apparently below the
surface of the water, having a curious and fanciful appearance. To the
workmen themselves, the effect of extinguishing the torches was
sometimes startling, and made the darkness of the night quite
horrible, while the sea would assume that phosphoric appearance so
familiar to the sailor, and dash upon the rock like so much liquid

As the work proceeded, the smiths were sometimes left on the beacon
throughout the day, and the noise of their anvils was an excellent
guide to the boats in foggy weather. This circumstance confirmed the
engineer, as to the propriety of erecting in the lighthouse large
bells, to be tolled by machinery day and night, during the continuance
of foggy weather, by which the mariner may be forewarned of too near
an approach to the rock.

The foundation pit having assumed the appearance of a large even
platform, and the tides being favourable, it was determined to lay
down the first course, which consisted of a few irregular and detached
stones for making up certain inequalities in the interior parts of the
site of the building. Having taken the dimensions of the first or
foundation stone, a model of its figure was made, and this was taken
by the engineer in a fast-rowing boat to the work-yard at Arbroath:
two men were immediately set to work upon one of the blocks from the
Mylnefield quarry, and as the stone-cutters relieved each other, and
worked without intermission, the stone was soon prepared, and sent off
next day in one of the stone-lighters. On the 9th July the stone was
placed in a praam-boat, decorated with colours for the occasion. Flags
were also displayed upon the beacon and from the shipping in the
offing. The stone was gently lowered into the water, which occupied
the site of the building, amidst the cheering of all present. The
stone was necessarily landed at high water, for want of a sufficient
length of railway for conveying it along the rock at low water to the
site of the building.

On the 10th July the sailors displayed their flags at all points, and
as many as could be spared from the floating-light and the tenders
landed to witness the long desired ceremony of laying the first stone
of the lighthouse. The importance of the building was such, that but
for the perilous and uncertain nature of any arrangement which could
have been made for this ceremony, instead of its having been performed
only in the presence of those immediately connected with the work, and
a few casual spectators from the neighbouring shore, reckoning in all
about eighty persons, many thousands would have attended upon an
occasion which must have called forth the first dignitaries of the
country in conferring upon it the highest honours of masonry.

At eleven o’clock the foundation stone was laid to hand. It was square
in form, and contained about twenty cubic feet, and had no other
inscription than the date 1808. The engineer, attended by his three
assistants, applied the square, the level, and the mallet, and
pronounced the following benediction: ‘May the Great Architect of the
universe complete and bless this building.’ Three hearty cheers were
then given, and success to future operations drunk with the greatest
enthusiasm. When the tide began to overflow the site the whole party
returned to the ship; prayers were read, and every heart, doubtless,
felt more than usually thankful.

The first continuous course was now landed on the rock and laid down.
Mr. Stevenson gives an enumeration of the various kinds and quantity
of the work in this single course. Although only one foot in thickness
it contained five hundred and eight cubic feet of granite in outward
casing; eight hundred and seventy-six cubic feet of Mylnefield stone
in the hearting; one hundred and four tons of solid contents; one
hundred and thirty-two superficial feet of hewing in the face-work;
four thousand five hundred and nineteen superficial feet of hewing in
the beds, joints, and joggles; four hundred and twenty lineal feet
boring of trenail holes; three hundred and seventy-eight feet lineal
cutting for wedges; two hundred and forty-six oaken trenails; three
hundred and seventy-eight oak-wedges in pairs.

In the work-yard about sixty men were employed in hewing and preparing
the various courses of the solid part of the building. The second
course, which contained some very weighty stones, was laid down upon
the platform in the middle of the yard, each stone being carefully
fitted and marked as it was to lie in the building.

By the end of this season the building was brought to a level with the
highest part of the margin of the foundation pit, or about five and a
half feet above the lower bed of the foundation-stone. The number of
hours work upon the rock this season at low water amounted to about
two hundred and sixty-five, of which number only eighty were employed
in building.

The third season was commenced early in the spring of 1809. The first
works consisted in laying down mooring-chains with floating-buoys, for
mooring the stone-lighters and praam-boats; the beacon was also fitted
out as a more permanent residence for the workmen, in order to lessen
the amount of sickly motion which is so distressing to landsmen in a
rough sea. By the end of June the men were able to work upon the
masonry while the rock was under water; and on the 8th July, for the
first time, the tide ceased to overflow the building at low water.
With considerable exertion the solid part of the building, which
reached to the height of thirty feet, was completed by September. By
continuing the works a month or two longer a much greater height might
have been attained, but as the engineer foresaw that a diligent
employment of the next season would suffice for the completion of the
work, he deemed it advisable to leave the house in its present solid
defensible posture, on which the sea had much less hold, than if part
of the hollow portion had been built.

The winter months were occupied in preparing the upper courses; but in
consequence of severe frosts, several excellent and valuable stones
from the Mylnefield quarry were destroyed by absorption of moisture
from the air, which moisture expanding in the act of freezing, split
the stones, and rendered them useless. It was therefore determined to
construct the cornice of the building, and the parapet of the
light-room of the Liver Rock, of the Craig-Leith quarry, celebrated
for its durability and beauty, and for its property of not being
liable to be affected by the action of frost. These stones were
prepared at Edinburgh during the winter, and the iron frame-work, and
the several compartments of the light-room got ready.

Having during two seasons landed and built upwards of one thousand
four hundred tons of stone upon the rock, while the work was low down
in the water, and before the beacon was habitable; and finding that it
did not now require more than about seven hundred tons to complete the
masonry, there was every prospect of finishing the lighthouse during
the season. But as the success of the work depended wholly upon the
stability of the beacon, every possible attention was bestowed upon
it, and visits made to the rock during the winter months when the
weather would allow.

On the 10th of May operations for the season were commenced. The
building to the height of fifteen feet above the rock was found to be
thickly covered with fuci: on the east side the growth of sea-weed was
observed to the full height of thirty feet, and even on the top or
upper bed of the last-laid course it had grown so as to render walking
somewhat difficult. The men therefore set to work to scrape off the
sea-weed, in order to apply the moulds of the first course of the
staircase. The engineer had also to fix the position of the
entrance-door, which was regulated chiefly by the appearance of the
growth of the sea-weed on the building, indicating the direction of
the heaviest seas, on the opposite side of which the door was placed.

The artificers now took permanent possession of the beacon, and were
all heartily rejoiced at getting rid of the trouble of boating, and
the sickly motion of the tender. The beacon, which has been so often
named, and which proved a source of so much comfort to the men, and of
benefit and dispatch to the work, stood well during the five years
that its services were required. In its present complete form it
consisted of three floors, one of which was occupied as the cook-house
and provision store; the second, which was much encumbered by the
meeting of the principal beams, formed only two cabins, one for the
engineer, and the other for the foreman. In the third compartment were
three rows or tiers of beds, capable of accommodating about thirty
men. Below these three floors was the temporary floor at the height of
twenty-five feet above the rock, used for preparing mortar and for the
smith’s workshop. The beacon was connected with the building by a
gangway, or bridge of timber.

Mr. Stevenson has given an interesting description of his cabin in the
beacon, where he had passed many weeks ‘in a kind of active
retirement, making practical experiment of the fewness of the positive
wants of man.’ This cabin measured not more than four feet three
inches in breadth on the floor; and though, from the oblique direction
of the beams of the structure, it widened towards the top, yet it did
not admit of the full expansion of his arms when he stood on the
floor, while its length was little more than sufficient for suspending
a cot-bed during the night. This was tied up to the roof during the
day, thus leaving free room for the admission of occasional visitants.
‘His folding-table was attached with hinges immediately under the
small window of the apartment, and his books, barometer, thermometer,
portmanteau, and two or three camp-stools, formed the bulk of his
moveables. His diet being plain, the paraphernalia of the table were
proportionably simple, though every thing had the appearance of
comfort, and even of neatness, the walls being covered with green
cloth formed into panels with red tape, and his bed festooned with
curtains of yellow cotton-stuff. If, in speculating upon the absolute
wants of man in such a state of seclusion, one was reduced to a single
book, the Sacred Volume, whether considered for the striking divinity
of its story--the morality of its doctrine--or the important truths of
its Gospel, would have proved by far the greatest treasure.’

As the building rose in height the action of the sea upon it was
regarded with much interest. When the wind was blowing, accompanied
with a heavy surf upon the rock, the appearance towards high water is
described as being very grand and wonderful. Waves of considerable
magnitude rose as high as the solid or level of the entrance-door
which was to the leeward; but on the windward side the sprays flew
like lightning up the sloping sides of the building, occasionally
wetting the artificers, and interrupting their operations on the top
of the walls.

In the early part of July, the works being nearly completed, great
interest was excited by a visit from Mrs. Dickson, the only daughter
and surviving relative of Mr. Smeaton. She was conveyed to the
building on board the ‘Smeaton,’ which had been thus spontaneously
named by the engineer from the sense of the obligation which a public
work of the description of the Bell Rock owed to the labours and
abilities of Mr. Smeaton. Mrs. Dickson seemed to be quite overcome
with the many concurrent circumstances which tended in a peculiar
manner to revive and enliven the memory of her departed father.

The 29th of July was a day of great rejoicing at the Bell Rock. The
last stone was landed, and that it might lose none of its honours, the
same praam-boat with which the first stone of the building had been
landed was appointed also to carry the last. The weather being
remarkably fine, all the ships and the craft hoisted flags; the praam
which carried the stone was towed by the seamen in gallant style to
the rock, and on its arrival cheers were given as a finale to the
landing department. On the next day, the ninetieth or last course of
the building having been laid, the lintel of the light-door room,
being the finishing stone of the exterior walls, was laid with due
formality by the engineer, who at the same time pronounced the
following benediction, ‘May the Great Architect of the Universe, under
whose blessing this perilous work has prospered, preserve it as a
guide to the mariner.’

The remaining details, referring chiefly to the completion of the
interior of the lighthouse, are not of general interest. They were so
far advanced by the end of the year 1810, that the light was
advertised to the public to be exhibited every night from the 1st of
February 1811. The advertisement stated the following particulars:--‘The
light will be from oil, with reflectors placed at the height of about
one hundred and eight feet above the medium level of the sea. To
distinguish this light from others on the coast, it is made to revolve
horizontally, and to exhibit a bright light of the natural appearance,
and a red-coloured light alternately, both respectively attaining
their greatest strength, or most luminous effect, in the space of
every four minutes; during that period the bright light will, to a
distant observer, appear like a star of the first magnitude, which
after attaining its full strength is gradually eclipsed to total
darkness, and is succeeded by the red-coloured light, which in like
manner increases to full strength and again diminishes and disappears.
The coloured light, however, being less powerful, may not be seen for
a time after the bright light is first observed. During the
continuance of foggy weather and showers of snow, a bell will be
tolled by machinery, night and day, at intervals of half a minute.’ By
this management the light was found to be so powerful as to be seen
and readily distinguished at the distance of six or seven leagues in
a clear atmosphere. On the exhibition of this light the floating light
was discontinued.

Having thus traced the building through some of its principal stages,
a brief view in its complete state may here be desirable. This
lighthouse is a circular building, forty-two feet in diameter at the
base and thirteen feet in diameter at the top. The masonry is one
hundred feet high, and the whole structure, with the light-room,
measures one hundred and fifteen feet. The ascent from the rock to the
entrance-door is by a kind of trap-ladder, which is a difficult mode
for any but the light-keepers, who are accustomed to it. Other persons
are generally hoisted up in a chair by a moveable crane. From the
entrance a circular stair leads to the first apartment, which contains
the water, fuel, &c. The communication with the other apartments is by
means of wooden steps. The three lower apartments have two windows
each, and the upper rooms four windows each. All the windows have
double sash-frames, glazed with plate-glass, besides storm-shutters of
timber. The light-room is octagonal, twelve feet across and fifteen
feet high. It is framed of cast iron and glazed with polished
plate-glass, each plate measuring two feet six inches by two feet
three inches, and being one-fourth of an inch thick. It is covered
with a dome and terminates in a ball. It is also furnished with a
lightning-conductor. In the year 1816, the whole exterior surface
having become much discoloured by the sprays of the sea, was painted
in oil of one uniform tint.

In the course of the first winter some interesting observations were
made upon the action of the weather and the general appearance of the
lighthouse. During rough weather a tremulous vibratory motion was
found to affect the whole house. The tremour was especially felt in
leaning against the walls in the upper apartments when the wind was
blowing fresh, or when the house was struck by a sea or by a boat
coming suddenly against it, and might be compared to that which is
perceptible in a common house upon the slamming of particular doors,
or when a carriage makes a rattling noise in passing along the
streets. But this effect is attended with no real danger. The late
eminent Professor Robison told Mr. Stevenson that when he visited the
Eddystone Lighthouse, something having forcibly struck the building,
he was sensible of a vibratory motion in one of the rooms in which he
was then sitting; but instead of producing any alarm in his mind, he
assured his friends that it was to him the strongest proof of the
unity and connection of the fabric in all its parts.

During the storms of winter, Mr. Stevenson says that from the
Forfarshire coast ‘the lighthouse appeared in one of its most
interesting aspects, standing proudly among the waves while the sea
around it was in the wildest state of agitation. The light-keepers did
not seem to be in motion, but the scene was by no means still, as the
noise and dashing of the waves were unceasing. The seas rose in the
most surprising manner to the height of about seventy feet above the
rock, and after expending their force in a perpendicular direction,
fell in great quantities round the base of the lighthouse, while
considerable portions of the spray were seen adhering, as it were, to
the building, and gathering down its sides in the state of froth as
white as snow. Some of the great waves burst and were expended upon
the rock before they reached the building; while others struck the
base, and embracing the walls, met on the western side of the house,
where they dashed together and produced a most surprising quantity of

The regulations observed in attending the Bell-Rock may be briefly
stated. The nearest town to the lighthouse is that of Aberbrothock, or
Arbroath, in Forfarshire, about eleven miles distant. A handsome
cutter, called ‘The Pharos,’ is stationed here as a tender to the
lighthouse. This vessel goes off to the rock every fortnight, or in
the course of each set of spring-tides, to relieve the light-keepers
and to supply the house with fuel, provisions, &c. There are four
lighthouse-keepers, three of whom are always on duty, while one is
ashore. If the weather offers no impediment, the light-keepers are
each six weeks at the rock and a fortnight ashore with their
families. The salaries are from fifty to sixty guineas per annum, with
a stated allowance for each man of bread, beef, butter, oatmeal,
vegetables, and small-beer, with fourpence a day extra for tea, &c.
They have also a suit of uniform clothes every third year. Mr.
Stevenson says that the light-keepers were, upon the whole, pleased
with their situation, and talked in a feeling manner of the hardships
of mariners whom they often saw tossed about during the storms of

According to the present system of Northern lighthouses, the watches
in the light-room are as regularly relieved as on ship-board. The
keeper is liable to immediate dismissal if he leave the light-room
before being regularly relieved; and for securing order and regularity
in this respect a time-piece is placed in each light-room, and bells
are hung in the bed-rooms of the dwelling-houses. At some of the
stations the light-room and the bed-rooms are connected by a set of
tubes, by blowing gently into which the keepers on watch can sound an
alarum-bell in the room below, and rouse his comrade to change guard.
The man below answers this call by a counterblast through the tubes,
and a small index in the light-room is thereby raised to signify that
the signal has been obeyed.

At Arbroath suitable buildings are erected for the light-keepers’
families, with each a piece of enclosed ground, and a seat in the
parish-church. Connected with these buildings are store-houses, a room
for the master and crew of the attending vessels, and a signal-tower
fifty feet high, at the top of which is a small observatory furnished
with an excellent achromatic telescope, a flag-staff, and a copper
signal-ball measuring eighteen feet in diameter. By means of this and
a corresponding ball at the lighthouse, daily signals are kept up to
signify when _all is well_. Should the ball at the rock be allowed to
remain down, as is the case when anything is particularly wanted, or
in the event of sickness, the tender immediately puts out to sea.

The expense of this great national undertaking, together with the
buildings at Arbroath, the attending vessel, and the first year’s
stores, amounted to about sixty-one thousand three hundred and fifty

We cannot close this notice of the Bell Rock lighthouse without
recording a curious accident which occurred on the night of the 9th
February, 1832, about 10 o’clock. A large-herring gull struck one of
the south-eastern mullions of the light-room with such force, that two
of the polished plates of glass measuring about two feet square and a
quarter of an inch thick, were shivered to pieces, and scattered over
the floor, to the great alarm of the keeper on watch, and the other
two inmates, who rushed instantly into the light-room. It happened
fortunately, that although one of the red shaded sides of the
reflector-frame was passing in its revolution at the moment, the
pieces of broken glass were so minute, that no injury was done to the
valuable red glass. The gull was found to measure five feet between
the tips of the wings. In its gullet was found a large herring, and in
its throat a piece of plate-glass about an inch in length.

       *       *       *       *       *

While the Bell-Rock lighthouse was in progress, Mr. Stevenson was
often struck with the frequent and distressing occurrence of
shipwrecks at the Carr Rock. The Carr forms the seaward termination of
a reef of sunken rocks which appear at low water, extending about a
mile and three quarters from the shore of Fifeness, on the northern
side of the entrance of the Frith of Forth. The very dangerous
position of this rock, as a _turning point_ in the navigation of the
northern-bound shipping of the Frith, required that this rock, in
connection with the several lighthouses of the Bell Rock, Isle of May,
and Inchkeith, should be made as easily distinguishable to the mariner
as possible. In the course of nine years no fewer than sixteen vessels
had been either lost or stranded on the Carr Rocks. Therefore, in
1809, moorings were laid down for a floating buoy, ‘but owing to the
heavy swell of sea and the rocky sand-stone bottom on this part of the
coast, it was found hardly possible to prevent the buoy from
occasionally drifting, even although it had been attached to part of
the great chain made from bar-iron an inch and a half square, with
which the Bell-Rock floating-light had been moored for upwards of four
years without injury. The moorings of the Carr Rock buoy, from the
continual rubbing upon the sand-stone bottom, were worn through with
the friction in the course of ten months; and during the four years
which it rode here, though regularly examined and replaced in the
proper season of the year, it was no less than five times adrift, to
the great inconvenience and hazard of shipping.’

Such being the case, it was resolved, however difficult and perilous
the undertaking, to erect a beacon of masonry upon the rock. The
length of the Carr Rock, from north to south, measures seventy-five
feet, but its greatest breadth, as seen at low-water of spring-tides,
is only twenty-three feet; hence it was not possible to obtain a base
for a building of greater diameter than eighteen feet. The surface of
the rock was also so rugged that it was necessary to excavate part of
the foundation-pit of the building to the depth of seven feet. The
difficulties were still further increased on account of the foundation
being partly under the level of the lowest tides, so that a coffer-dam
was required. It was further necessary, after each tide’s work, to
remove and carry ashore part of this coffer-dam; so that on the return
of the workmen at ebb-tide much time was lost in readjusting the
coffer-dam, and in pumping the water out of the foundation-pit.

Some idea may be formed of the difficulties attending the early stages
of this work, from the fact that during the whole of the first season,
or summer of 1813, the workmen could not command more than forty-one
hours’ work upon the rock; during the second season the time was only
fifty-three hours. These two years were entirely occupied in
excavating and preparing the foundation, and in laying ten stones, or
the half course of masonry, which brought the foundation to a uniform
level for the first entire course of the building. Mr. Stevenson
contrasts this slow progress with that made at the Bell Rock during
the first two seasons. Although this building was situated twelve
miles from the shore, three courses were erected, the diameter of the
base being forty-two feet, besides the erection of a beacon-house or
barrack for the workmen. ‘The establishment for the works at the Bell
Rock was of course on a much larger scale than that of the Carr Rock;
but still the latter was equally effective, and the same apparatus,
artificers, and seamen, were employed at both.’

During the third year’s work, the second course of the masonry was
completed upon the Carr; and nine stones of the third course were laid
by the 3rd of October, when a heavy ground-swell obliged the workmen
precipitately to leave the rock and take to their boats. Before the
cement was fixed, the surge of the sea had washed it out; the oaken
trenails were wrenched off, and the whole of the nine blocks of stone
swept off the rock and lost in deep water, though they had been
completely dove-tailed and fitted on the same principles as the
masonry of the Bell-Rock lighthouse, where not a single stone was lost
during the whole progress of the work.

During the fourth season, the operations were retarded by several
untoward accidents. The wind and the waves sometimes destroyed in a
moment the labour of weeks; but by dint of skill and untiring patience
and industry, they succeeded by the month of November in completing
the sixteenth course, which raised the building to the height of about
twenty feet.

The fifth year was particularly unfortunate. The whole of the masonry
having been completed, the coast was visited in November with a gale
of wind, accompanied with a heavy swell of sea, which washed down the
upper part of the building, and reduced it to the height of the fifth
course, which formed part of the fourth year’s work. It was therefore
determined to modify the original design of the work. Instead of
completing this beacon with masonry, and providing the machine and
large bell, which was to have measured five feet across the mouth, to
be tolled by the alternate rise and fall of the tide, it was now
determined to erect six columns of cast iron upon the remaining
courses of masonry, to terminate in a cast iron ball of the diameter
of three feet, formed in ribs, elevated about twenty-five feet above
the medium level of the sea. This beacon was completed in September


[Footnote 5: Lines written by Sir Walter Scott in the Album of the
Bell-Rock Lighthouse, when he visited it in 1814.]



     Floating Lights--Objections to--Mitchell’s Screw-moorings--
     Experiments on the Maplin Sand--Foundation--Erection of
     Screw-pile Lighthouse--Details of the Wyre Lighthouse--Proposed
     Lighthouse on the Goodwin Sands--Metallic Lighthouses--Advantages
     of Metal over Stone--Details of Cast-iron Lighthouse at Morant
     Point, Jamaica.

Those dangerous approaches to a coast which, from the nature of the
soil, have not till very lately admitted of the erection of a
permanent lighthouse, are usually indicated to the navigator by
floating lights; but these being nothing more than large lanterns
suspended in the rigging of a vessel, necessarily possess but feeble
illuminating power. This power is still further diminished in a gale
of wind, when it is most wanted, by the pitching and floundering about
of the vessel: every now and then she is submerged in the trough of
the sea, covered with spray and drift, or, what is most to be dreaded,
she is liable to be blown away from her moorings; an accident which
has been productive of the most disastrous consequences to life and

The details already given will convey some notion of the difficulty
and danger of planting a lighthouse on the solid rock in a stormy sea;
we may naturally suppose that this difficulty and danger must be
enormously increased in erecting a permanent residence on the shifting
sands. Such, however, is by no means the case; one of the recent
triumphs of engineering has proved that it is not always folly to
build a house upon the sand.

This remarkable result has been accomplished chiefly by means of
Mitchell’s screw-mooring, an instrument which consists essentially of
an enormous cast-iron screw of about one turn and a half, having a
hollow cylindrical centre; a wrought-iron spindle passes through the
cylindrical socket; it is somewhat tapering in form, and when driven
up tight is fixed thereto by a forelock passing through both; it is
formed with a square head to receive the key for screwing it into the
ground. It is also furnished with a collar of wrought iron fitted so
as to turn freely on the upper part of the shaft of the spindle below
the collar.

The attention of the Trinity House having been called to this
instrument, it was considered applicable to the establishment of
lighthouses on sands; and accordingly a series of experiments was
undertaken at the cost of that honourable body. The spot selected for
the purpose was on the verge of the Maplin Sand lying at the mouth of
the Thames, about twenty miles below the Nore, forming the north side
of the Swin or King’s Channel, which, on account of its depth, is much
frequented by large ships, as also by colliers and other vessels from
the north sea. The sand is shifting, and is dry at low water
spring-tides, and hitherto a floating light has been maintained upon
it. On this spot it was proposed to erect a fixed lighthouse of timber
framing, with a lantern and residence for the attendants.

In the month of August 1838, operations were commenced by inserting
nine of Mitchell’s patent mooring-screws, each four feet and a half in
diameter, and furnished with shafts of wrought iron about twenty-five
feet in length and five inches thick. One of these screws served as a
centre to the remainder, which occupied the angles of an octagon
forty-two feet in diameter. The screws were turned into the sands to
the depth of twenty-one feet and a half, the upper extremities being
left standing about five feet above the surface of the sands. For the
purpose of fixing the screws, a stage or raft of timber, thirty feet
square, was floated over the spot, with a capstan in the centre, which
was made to fit on the top of the iron shaft, and firmly keyed to it.
A power of about thirty men was employed for driving the screws, and
their labours were continued until their united force could scarcely
turn the capstan. This stage or raft, which had been formed in two
thicknesses crossing each other at right angles, and bolted at their
intersection, was, as a precautionary measure, allowed to remain. It
covered the whole site within the piles, and also extended some
distance beyond them. A curb about eighteen inches high was raised
round this stage; on its surface was arranged a quantity of brushwood,
and then about two hundred tons of rough stone, which sunk the stage
into the sand and prevented it from being displaced. Between the
spaces of the stage and the brushwood the sand was allowed to wash its
way, and it soon filled the interstices of the stone. The whole mass
soon became embedded below the surface of the sand, and gave
considerable lateral support to the piles, and formed a solid body for
the water to wash upon.

In this state the whole was allowed to remain for about two years,
during which time every change in the surface of the sand was
observed, and although early in the year 1839 violent storms occurred,
yet the screw-piles stood firmly, and the sand at no time was lowered
more than three feet. In August 1840 the raft was found to have
completely settled down, the piles were as firm as if they had been
screwed into clay; a lighthouse was therefore erected within the short
space of three months; and on the 16th February, 1841, a dioptric
fixed light was exhibited off this dangerous spot, and was visible ten
miles off in all directions.

But while the preparatory steps for this lighthouse were being taken,
a screw-pile lighthouse was begun and completed at Port Fleetwood on
the Wyre, near Lancaster; which being the first of the kind ever
constructed, deserves particular notice.

The preparatory stages were of a similar nature to those already
described. The foundation was formed of seven screw-piles, six
occupying the angles of a hexagon forty-six feet in diameter, and the
seventh being placed in the centre. From each screw proceeded a pile
fifteen feet in length, at the upper end of which was another screw
for securing a wooden column. These columns were prepared of Baltic
timber; the one in the centre was fifty-six feet, and each of the
remainder forty-six feet in length, bound firmly round with iron hoops
and coated with pitch.

The framing upon which the house stands is firmly secured round the
centre column and to the heads of the outer columns by means of hollow
cast-iron capitals let down over the heads of the columns and secured
with screw-bolts. To give lateral strength to the building, round iron
angle-braces were applied, by which means a resisting power equal to
at least three hundred and fifty tons is presented in every direction.

The platform upon which the house stands is twenty-seven feet in
diameter. The dwelling-house is twenty feet in diameter, and nine feet
high: it has an outside door, and three windows, and is divided into
two apartments, one having a fire-place; the floor is tiled, and the
walls and ceiling lathed and stuccoed. Access to the platform is
secured by means of a Jacob’s ladder of wrought iron secured to one of
the columns: access to the lantern is by a winding stair within the

From the summit of the house rises the lantern; it is twelve-sided,
ten feet in diameter, and eight feet high. The light is thus elevated
about forty-six feet above low-water level. It is of the dioptric
kind, and is bright, steady, and uniform, ranging over an horizon of
eight miles, and visible at the distance of ten miles from a coaster’s
deck. During foggy weather a bell is tolled by machinery. Tide-time
for vessels of twelve feet draft is also denoted by signals. Signals
put out by vessels requiring a Wyre pilot will also be understood at
this lighthouse, where corresponding signals are hoisted until the
pilot is provided.

This admirable and useful structure was erected in two of the shortest
day months of the year, in which time day-light did not occur at any
low-water period; the workmen therefore had to depend on torches and
moonlight. Nor is the portability of this form of building its least
advantage: should there occur any local changes which might threaten
the safety of the house, it can be taken down, and erected in another
site within a month.

Perhaps one of the boldest schemes ever devised for lighthouses was
the structure proposed to be erected by Mr. Bush, on a plan patented
by him, on the Goodwin Sands, or on the Varne in the channel between
Folkestone and Cape Grisnez, in four fathoms water. This plan, was
recommended to the consideration of parliament by several merchants,
ship-owners, and other influential persons. The building proposed to
be called ‘The Light of all Nations,’ was to consist of a Doric column
one hundred and twenty-five feet high supporting a lantern twelve feet
in diameter, surmounted by a colossal statue of the Queen, her sceptre
being the point of a lightning-conductor. This column was to rise from
a base one hundred feet in height, and fifty in diameter, to be formed
by a caisson composed of cast-iron plates bolted together: the part
under water was to be divided into four pyramidal chambers, opening
into and supporting one another; the lower one resting on the rock
beneath the sands, and the whole forming a conical core to the
cylindrical base. The only part of this plan that was executed was the
cast-iron caisson, which was deposited in its place among the sands.
In this situation, during one dark and stormy night, it was struck by
a ship and shivered to a thousand fragments. This untoward accident
has led to the abandonment of the design.

One of the characteristics of this country is the mode in which we lay
out the mineral wealth which nature has bestowed upon us so liberally
in the shape of coal and iron. With the assistance of the former we
mould the latter into a thousand shapes of usefulness, neatness, and
durability, and so much attached are we to this material, that it is
daily superseding the use of the more cumbrous wood and stone, and
other substances which were once in great demand. Iron furnishes most
of the multifarious instruments required in the mechanical and
agricultural arts--it ministers alike to war and to peace, by
furnishing the sword and the ploughshare. It supplies some of the most
useful domestic apparatus for the kitchen, the parlour, and the
bed-room, and now even the bedstead itself may be formed of iron. It
has been long used in some of our great public works: we have iron
roads--iron bridges--iron statues--steam-boats of iron--houses of
iron, and lastly, iron lighthouses.

The suggestion of metallic lighthouses originated a few years ago with
Captain Sir Samuel Brown, when it was proposed to place a lighthouse
on the Wolf Rock near Land’s End, a position where it would be exposed
to the most violent storms of the Atlantic. A plan for the erection of
a stone lighthouse on this point had already been drawn up by Mr.
Stevenson, which plan, Captain Brown thinks would require fifteen
years for its execution, and cost one hundred and fifty thousand
pounds. Captain Brown undertook to erect one of bronze ninety feet
high for fifteen thousand pounds, and to complete it in four months.
This plan, from whatever cause, was not entertained, and with the
exception of a small lighthouse erected on the Gravesend pier,
metallic lighthouses excited no attention until the year 1840, when
application was made to Mr. Alexander Gordon, the eminent engineer, by
the commissioners appointed by the House of Assembly, in the island of
Jamaica, to light a dangerous point in that island, called Morant
Point, for the erection of a suitable lighthouse at the smallest
possible cost. On this occasion Mr. Gordon proposed the erection of a
cast-iron structure, resembling in outline that of the Celtic towers
of Ireland. His plans and estimates having been accepted, they were
executed with remarkable celerity; and from an account furnished by
Mr. A. R. Renton, (the manager of the factory at which the work for
the lighthouse was done,) we derive most of the following particulars.

The advantage which iron, when not in contact with sea-water,
possesses over stone or other materials, is that upon a given base a
much larger internal capacity for dwellings and stories can be
obtained, with equal stability. With this material plates can be cast
in large surfaces, and with but few joints. A system of bonding the
plates may also be adopted, which will ensure the perfect combination
of every part, so as to form an entire mass, and thus the best form
for strength and stability can easily be obtained. From the
comparatively small bulk and weight of the component parts of the
structure great facilities are afforded for transporting and erecting
it. Thus, in less than three months from the date of the contract, the
lighthouse about to be described was cast and erected on the
contractor’s premises, and it was expected to have the light exhibited
in Jamaica in three months more. The whole expense was said not to
exceed one-third the cost of a similar building in stone.

The structure was to be founded on a coral rock a little above the
level of the sea; the face of the rock is about ten feet below the
surface of the sand, and was to be excavated to receive the base of
the tower, resting on and cased with granite, to prevent the natural
filtration of the sea-water from acting upon the iron. This course of
granite is grooved to receive the flange of the lower plates of the
tower, from which lightning-conductors are to be continued to the sea.
The tower is of course itself a lightning-conductor of the best kind.
The diameter of the tower-shaft is eighteen feet six inches at its
base, diminishing to eleven feet under the cap; it is formed of nine
tiers of plates each ten feet in height, varying from one to three
quarters of an inch thick. The circumference is formed of eleven
plates at the base, and nine at the top: they are cast with a flange
all round the inner edges; and when put together these flanges form
the joints, which are fastened together with nut and screw-bolts, and
caulked with iron cement. The cap consists of ten radiating plates,
which form the floor of the light-room; they are screwed to the tower
upon twenty pierced brackets, and are finished by an iron railing.
The lower portion, namely, twenty-seven feet, is filled up with
masonry and concrete, weighing about three hundred tons, and so
connected with the rock itself as to form a solid core of resistance.
The remaining portion of the building is divided into store-rooms and
berths for the attendants in the lighthouse.

The light-room consists of cast-iron plates five feet high, on which
are fixed metal sash-bars filled with plate-glass; these, terminating
with a point, are covered with a copper roof, whence rises a short
lightning-rod, trebly gilt at the point. The light is of the revolving
kind, consisting of fifteen Argand lamps and reflectors, five in each
side of an equilateral triangle, and so placed as to constitute a
continuous light, but with periodical flashes. The Admiralty notice
which announced the light for exhibition on the 1st November, 1842,
states that the centre of the light is ninety-six feet above the level
of the sea, and in clear weather the light can be seen from a distance
of twenty-one miles.

To preserve as low a temperature as the circumstances and climate will
permit, the iron shell was lined with a non-conducting material, as
slate or wood, leaving an annular interstice, through which a constant
ventilation is effected, so as to carry off the excessive heat.

To preserve the two lower tiers from rusting, they are coated with
coal-tar. The tower itself is painted white. The only brasing which
has been thought necessary is a few cross tiers at each horizontal
joint, over which the iron-tongued wood-floors are laid.

The several rooms are provided with fire apertures, fitted with oak
sashes filled with plate-glass. The approach to the doorway, which is
about ten feet above the level of the sand, is by means of
stone-steps; ladder-irons are also provided in the event of the
stone-steps being carried away by a hurricane.

Over the entrance is a large tablet of iron supported by two smaller
ones; and on them, on bas-relief, are inscribed the date of erection
(1842), the names of the commissioners, of the engineer, founder, &c.

The whole of the castings were executed at the foundry (late Bramah
and Robinson’s) at Pimlico, and put together in the yard of the
manufactory, prior to their removal to Jamaica, where the work was
re-erected by a derrick and crab from the inside, without the aid of
any external scaffolding.

It is said that the whole expense of the lighthouse, including the
passage over the Atlantic, did not exceed seven thousand pounds, and
that the entire weight of the iron-work is about one hundred tons. The
masonry was also prepared in this country, which (from the absence of
building-stone in Jamaica) was found to be more economical than if the
work had been done on the spot. Mr. Grove, as clerk of the works, and
two labouring engineers, who had attended to the execution of the work
in England, were sent out for the purpose of erecting the lighthouse,
and the necessary apparatus upon the site which had been selected. The
elevation of the lighthouse above the level of the sea is one hundred
and three feet.

Since the completion of this lighthouse, Mr. Gordon has been employed
by the Ordnance Office to furnish designs and specifications for a
tower on the same principle, but of larger dimensions and improved
details, which is to be erected on Gibbs’ Hill, in the island of



     Imperfect Illumination of the old Lighthouses--First
     Improvements--The Argand Lamp and Reflecting Mirrors--Revolving
     Lights--The Catoptric System--Varieties of Lights--The Dioptric
     System--Its Details--Introduction of this Method into Great
     Britain--Comparison of the two Methods--The Drummond and Voltaic
     Lights--Gurney’s Lamp--Captain Basil Hall’s Experiments--Ventilation
     of Lighthouses.

Since there is something more or less common in the modes of lighting
and in the general economy of all lighthouses, a general view of the
subject is likely to prove of more interest than particular details.

In consequence of the rotundity of the earth, the distance at which a
beacon light ceases to be visible depends upon its elevation. The
height to which a lighthouse may be carried is a simple question of
expense. The greater part of the pharos of the Romans were much higher
than the most celebrated modern towers. Yet, as it respects optical
effect, the feeble rays which were diffused from the wood or
coal-fires at their summits, could never have traversed the thick fogs
which in all climates occasionally overspread the lower regions of the

Nevertheless, as to the strength of the light, the modern lighthouses
were, until lately, little superior to the ancient. At the time of the
erection of the Eddystone lighthouse civil engineering was greatly in
advance of practical optics. That noble structure was lighted by
tallow candles, without reflectors or the aid of any kind of apparatus
for concentrating the light. ‘For more than half a century this feeble
light was all that directed the mariner in the very high-road of
commerce.’ So late as the year 1811 it was lighted with twenty-four
wax candles. In 1812 the Lizard lighthouse, certainly one of the most
important in the kingdom, was maintained with coal-fires. The
Bidstone, a leading light to the port of Liverpool, was furnished with
an enormous spout lamp, with a wick twelve inches in width, the smoke
from which was so great as to completely darken the upper surface of
its reflector. The first important improvement was the introduction of
that admirable invention the Argand Lamp, with a double stream of air.
Four or five of these lamps would doubtless give as much light as the
large fires kept by the Romans; but if those lamps are furnished with
reflecting mirrors, the luminous effect is prodigiously increased.

The light of inflamed bodies spreads itself equally in all directions.
One portion is absorbed by the ground, another is dissipated in space.
The navigator, whose route we are anxious to enlighten, profits only
by the rays that proceed in a horizontal direction, or nearly so, from
the lamp to the sea. But such of the horizontal rays as are directed
towards the land are of course entirely lost to the purposes of the
lighthouse. This zone of horizontal rays forms not only a very small
portion of the total light, but has also the serious inconvenience of
becoming much weaker by divergence, so as to convey to a distance but
a very feeble light. To destroy this divergence, and to profit by all
the light of the lamp, was the task to be accomplished, before
lighthouses could be rendered useful to the full extent.

The application to this purpose of deep metallic mirrors, known under
the name of parabolic mirrors, has been found effectual to the
purposes required. When a lamp is placed in the focus of such a
mirror, all the rays which emanate from it are reflected from the
polished surface, and converge in one direction: their original
divergence is destroyed, and they form, as they issue from the
apparatus, a cylinder of light, parallel with the axis of the mirror.
This light would be transmitted with undiminished brilliancy to a
great distance, did not the atmosphere absorb a portion of it.

It must, however, be admitted, that this method is not free from
defect. It is true, we direct towards the horizon of the sea, a vast
number of rays, which would have been lost upon the ground, in space,
or landward; we also destroy the primitive divergence of those rays
which fall within the range of the seaman; but the cylinder of
reflected light is of no greater size than that of the mirror; the
zone which it illuminates has precisely the same dimensions, at
whatever distance, and, unless we employ a number of similar
reflectors differently inclined, there will be a number of large
spaces in the horizon completely obscure, from which the pilot will
never see any signal whatever. This serious objection has been removed
by imparting, by means of clock-work, a uniform rotatory motion to the
reflector. The collection of rays proceeding from the mirror is thus
directed to all the points of the horizon in succession. Every vessel
perceives the signal-light during one instant, and immediately after
it is seen to disappear; and if, in a great extent of coast, the
different lights revolve in different times, the various signals
become thus individualized. According to the interval of time, which
elapses between two successive appearances or eclipses of the light,
does the sailor recognize the part of the coast which is in view: he
is thus no longer liable to mistake a planet, or a star of the first
magnitude, at its rising or setting, or a fire lighted on the coast by
fishermen, charcoal-burners, &c. for the light of the lighthouse;
mistakes, which have often led to the most deplorable wrecks.

The reflectors originally employed were casts in plaster of Paris,
from a mould formed to the parabolic curve, and lined with facets of
mirror-glass. The power of these reflectors, however, was
comparatively small, from the reflecting surface being composed of
numerous pieces, in each of which only one point coincided with the
curve of the parabola.

The Trinity House having been at great pains to improve the reflecting
apparatus on the coast of England, with the advice and assistance of
eminent scientific men, adopted parabolic reflectors made of silvered
copper; and these, from their superior effects, have ultimately been
introduced into all the lighthouses of the united kingdom. In the
northern lighthouses, the reflectors consist of copper coated with
silver, in the proportion of six ounces of silver to one pound
avoirdupois of copper, which are rolled together, and then, with much
labour and great nicety, by a process of hammering and polishing,
formed to the parabolic curve of a mould made with mathematical
precision. The focal distance of the curve is four inches. The diagram
for the Bell-Rock reflectors was drawn by Professor Leslie, and the
mould was made by Mr. Adie the optician. The powers of this elegant
production of the mechanical art are said to be quite astonishing; and
by comparing its highly-polished and regularly-curved surface with the
previous glass reflector, the superiority of the former seems to be
immense: indeed, its influence extends to the horizon formed by the
height of the lighthouse-tower and the earth’s curvature. The
reflectors in general use measure over the tips twenty-one inches as
applicable to stationary, and twenty-live inches for revolving lights.

The Catoptric or reflecting system was first adopted under the
direction of Borda, at the Corduan Lighthouse, probably about the year
1780. The system was soon introduced into England; and one of the
first acts of the Northern Lights’ Board, so early as 1786, was to
substitute reflectors in place of coast-lights, which till then had
been the only beacons on the Scotch coast.

In the improved lights the best spermaceti oil and the Argand lamp
have been introduced. The keepers are professionally adepts in the
management of lamps; and should a drop of oil be spilt, the floor is
covered with painted floorcloth to receive it. The Argand lamp-burners
are tipped with silver, to prevent the waste and imperfection to which
copper is subject, from the excessive heat of the burner.

In appearance the lights may be classed as _stationary_, _revolving_,
_flashing_, and _intermittent_. In the first, as its name implies, the
light has a steady and uniform appearance, and the reflectors, which
are smaller than those used for revolving lights, are ranged in
circular zones upon a chandelier or piece of iron frame-work, with
their axes inclined at such an angle as shall enable them to
illuminate every part of the horizon. The _revolving_ light consists
of a frame built upon a perpendicular shaft, and the reflectors, which
are of large size, are ranged on perpendicular planes or faces, which
are made to revolve in periodic times, by means of a train of
machinery kept in motion by a weight. When one of those illuminated
planes or faces is brought towards the eye of the observer, the light
gradually increases to full strength: when, on the contrary, the angle
between two of these faces comes round, the observer is in darkness.
By these alternate changes, the characteristic of the lighthouse is as
distinctly marked to the eye of the mariner as the opposite extremes
of light and darkness can make it. The _flashing_ light is a
modification of the revolving light, and is practically a beautiful
example of the infinite celerity of the passage of light. The
reflectors are here also ranged upon a frame, with faces which are
made to revolve with considerable rapidity; and the light thus
emerging from a partial state of darkness exhibits a momentary flash,
resembling a star of the first magnitude, and thereby produces a very
striking effect. The _intermittent_ light bursts suddenly into view,
like a star of the first magnitude, and continues a stationary light a
minute and a half, when it is as suddenly eclipsed for half a minute;
and by this simple arrangement a strongly marked distinction in the
lights of the coast is introduced. This is accomplished by the
perpendicular motion of shades before the lights. A variety of all
these lights is introduced by interposing before the reflectors plates
of red glass, which produce the beautiful red light alluded to in the
lines of Sir Walter Scott, when he notices the ‘ruddy gem of changeful
light.’ The red and white light is caused by the revolution of a frame
on the sides of which the lights are placed alternately, with and
without coloured media. There are varieties in this kind of light,
some being so arranged that two white lights should be seen in
succession, and then one red; and others, that two red should be
seen, and then one white. When there is a necessity for what is called
a _leading-line_, as a guide for taking some channel, or avoiding some
danger, _double lights_ are exhibited from two towers, one of which is
higher than the other; and when seen in one line, these form a
direction for the course of the shipping.

When the French were recovering from the long night of terror, during
which their commerce had been ruined and their ships disabled, they
directed attention to lighthouses, and resolved to discard the very
imperfect and insignificant reflectors then in use. They investigated
the subject with their usual scientific skill, and the result was the
invention and adoption of the system of lenses instead of reflectors,
known as the Dioptric system.

A transparent lens reduces to parallelism all the luminous rays which
traverse it, whatever be their original amount of divergence, provided
these rays proceed from a point or focus suitably situated. The
substitution of glass lenses for reflectors is not a new idea, since
we find that a proposal to that effect was made by a London optician
to Mr. Smeaton, in 1759, for illuminating the Eddystone lighthouse,
but was not adopted by him. M. Fresnel mentions that lenses had been
used in England so far back as 1789, in the tower light-room at
Portland Island, but from some cause or other were discontinued.

On account of the great loss of light by reflexion at the surface of
mirrors, the French adopted the lenses, and they soon discovered the
source of failure in our use of them; they saw that, in order to
render lenses superior to reflectors, the intensity of the
illuminating flame must be considerably increased, as well as the size
of the lenses; also, that these lenses must have a very short focus;
and that, if constructed by the ordinary rules, their thickness would
be great, their transparency diminished, and their weight far too
great for the safety of the machinery whereby the lights were
revolved. Fresnel therefore adopted the ingenious device proposed by
Condorcet, that of constructing a lens of a number of distinct
pieces. This method was also proposed by Dr. Brewster, in 1811.
Fresnel also invented a lamp, with a number of concentric wicks, the
lustre of which was twenty-five times greater than the best lamps then

In a lighthouse on the dioptric system, the lantern is constructed
with eight sides, which form an octagonal prism around the lamp in the
centre. The centre of each side is occupied by a plano-convex lens,
something similar to a burning-glass, having a diameter of about
fifteen inches. This central lens is not sufficient to cover the
entire side. Indeed, a lens of sufficient size for the purpose would
be very costly and bulky, even supposing it could be manufactured. To
remedy this defect, the central lens is surrounded by a series of
glass rings, the external surface of which is so formed as to have
precisely the same optical effect as the great central lens. A
transverse section of one of these zones or rings presents the form of
a wedge, one side of which is slightly curved.

By this arrangement each lens transmits to all the points of the
horizon in succession a light equivalent to that of from three to four
thousand lamps with double currents, and eight times greater than the
light produced by the silver parabolic reflectors; it is, according to
Arago, the same amount of light as would be obtained if it were
possible to bring together the third of the whole number of gas-lights
which illumine the streets, the shops, and the theatres of Paris; and
this wonderful result is obtained from a single lamp.

This lamp has four concentric burners, which are defended from the
action of the excessive heat produced by their united flames, by means
of a superabundant supply of oil, which is thrown up from the cistern
below by a clock-work movement, and constantly overflows the wicks. A
very tall chimney is necessary in order to supply fresh currents of
air to each wick with sufficient rapidity to support the combustion.
The carbonization of the wicks is not very rapid; and after they have
been burning a long time, the flame is not sensibly diminished, as
the great heat evolved from the mass of flame promotes the rising of
the oil in the cotton.

In the year 1820, in the course of some investigations connected with
the Trigonometrical Survey of Great Britain, and conducted by a
deputation of scientific persons from London and Paris, M. Fresnel
exhibited from the French side of the channel, by means of his lens
and a large lamp, a powerful light which was observed by the English
across the channel. The brilliancy of this light so struck Lieut.-Col.
Colby, of the Royal Engineers, who was engaged in these observations,
that he immediately corresponded with Mr. Stevenson as to its probable
use upon the Scottish coast. A considerable time was occupied in
inquiry and negotiation, when at length, on the 26th October, 1836,
the light at the Isle of May was changed from the catoptric to the
dioptric system, and a committee of the Royal Society of Edinburgh met
at Dunbar, a distance of thirteen miles from the lighthouse, to make
observations on the two lights, which were exhibited in contrast. In
their report they conclude:--

‘1. That at a distance of thirteen miles the mean effect of the new
light is very much superior to the mean effect of the old light
(perhaps in the ratio of two to one). 2. That at _all_ distances the
new light has a prodigious superiority to the old, from the equality
of its effects in all azimuths. 3. That the new light fulfils
rigorously the conditions required for the distribution of light to
the greatest advantage. 4. That at distances much exceeding thirteen
miles, the new light must still be a very effective one, though to
what extent the committee have not observed. The light is understood
to be still a good one, when seen from Edinburgh at a distance of
about thirty miles.’

On a further comparison of results, it was found that the light of one
of the great annular lenses, used in the revolving lights of the first
order, was equal to the united effect of about eight of the large
reflectors employed in the revolving lights on the Scottish coast. At
the Isle of May and Inchkeith the quantity of sperm-oil consumed by
the great lamp is equal to that burned by fourteen of the Argand lamps
used in the Scotch lights. Hence by dioptric means the consumption of
oil necessary for the fourteen reflectors will produce almost as
powerful a light as that which would require the oil of twenty-four
reflectors in the catoptric system, and consequently there is an
excess of oil equal to that consumed by ten reflectors, or four
hundred gallons in the year against the Scotch system.

The Dutch were the first to adopt Fresnel’s system. In the year 1834
the Commissioners of Northern Lighthouses sent Mr. Alan Stevenson to
Paris to inspect the system, and his report was so favourable, that
the reflecting apparatus of the revolving light at Inchkeith was
removed, and the dioptric instruments substituted. The new light was
exhibited on the evening of the 1st of October, 1835, and so great was
the satisfaction afforded, that a similar change was made at the fixed
light of the Isle of May. The Trinity-House of London followed next in
adopting the improved system, and a revolving dioptric light of the
first order was erected at the Star Point in Devonshire.

In the lighthouses of this country sperm-oil is the most usual fuel.
In France[6] an oil is burned called Colza oil, expressed from the
seeds of a species of wild cabbage. In the lighthouses on the
Mediterranean olive-oil is used. In a few lighthouses near large towns
coal-gas has been advantageously adopted. Much also has been said in
favour of the Drummond and Voltaic lights, which, on account of their
prodigious intensity would appear to be most desirable; but the
uncertainty which attends their exhibition renders it at present
impossible to adopt them: but there is a yet more fatal objection--the
smallness of the flame renders them wholly inapplicable to dioptric
instruments, which require a great body of flame in order to produce a
degree of divergency sufficient to render the duration of the flash
in revolving lights long enough to answer the purpose of the mariner.

In the year 1835, Mr. Gurney proposed a lamp of great power in which
the flame of oil or wax was sustained by streams of oxygen gas, a
method said to be more economical than the combustion of oil in
atmospheric air. The Trinity House entertained the proposal, and
instituted a number of experiments. In applying this light to
reflectors it is intended to use three small flames, each about
three-eighths of an inch in diameter, productive, it is said, of an
effect equal to that of ten Argand lamps. But for lenses the burner
has seventeen films of flame, and is said to possess six times the
power of the Fresnel lamp.

In the year 1840, Captain Basil Hall instituted a series of
experiments to ascertain whether the well-known superior brilliancy of
a revolving light could not be obtained for a fixed or continuous
light, that is, for one equally visible in all directions at the same
moment. His idea was, that by giving a certain velocity of revolution
to a series of lenses round a fixed light, as in Fresnel’s
arrangement, a continuity of illuminative power, equal almost in
brilliancy to that of a slowly revolving light, might be produced. The
apparatus was arranged so as to cause a series of eight lenses one
foot in diameter and three feet focal distance to revolve with any
velocity up to sixty revolutions per minute round a central lamp. The
light from this lamp being concentrated by refraction through the
eight lenses into eight pencils, having a divergence of about eight
degrees each, illuminated when at rest not quite fifty degrees of the
horizon; but when this system of lenses was put into rapid motion,
every degree of the three hundred and sixty degrees of the horizon
became illuminated, so that to spectators placed all round the horizon
the light would appear continuous and equally brilliant in every
direction. The only question would be, whether or not this continuous
light is essentially less intense than the light seen through the
lenses at intervals when in slow motion; and this is a point which
further inquiry must decide.

One of the causes which has tended to improve the brilliancy of
lighthouses, has produced inconveniences, which long existed without
remedy. During the combustion of a pound of oil, the union of its
hydrogen with the oxygen of the air produces more than a pound of
water in the state of vapour. When a cold wind is blowing upon the
lantern of the lighthouse from without, this vapour is condensed into
water upon the inner surface of the glass, and in very severe weather
forms a crust of ice, in some cases, as much as four inches thick in
the course of one night. This not only very much dims the brilliancy
of the light to the sailor, but also entails a great amount of labour
on the light-keepers, and injury to the lantern. The combustion of the
oil also produces a large quantity of carbonic acid gas, which is of a
very deleterious nature, and in many cases rendered the light-keepers’
rooms almost uninhabitable. Under these circumstances, the Trinity
House made application to Dr. Faraday to investigate the subject, with
a view to the discovery of some remedy. With his usual skill and
sagacity, Dr. Faraday instituted a number of inquiries and
experiments, and visited some of the principal lighthouses. The result
was the contrivance of a complete method of ventilating lighthouses.
On the dioptric system, the remedy was simple: it was merely to erect
a tall chimney over the central lamp, and lead it out at the roof; by
which means, the draught of the lamp was improved, and all the
products of combustion carried off. On the catoptric system, with
revolving lights, each lamp was furnished with a chimney, which passed
out at its upper extremity, through a small hole in the reflector into
a fixed central hollow shaft, which served the purpose of a
ventilating chimney to all the lamps. These plans are said to have
been eminently successful in removing the inconveniences, which
rendered the light less efficient, and the lighthouse an unwholesome
and even dangerouse place of abode.

[Footnote 6: In the year 1836 the coast of France were provided with
no less than ninety-six lighthouses.]


                        Collections in Popular

                  Collections in Popular Literature,
                             publishing by
                     John W. Parker, West Strand,

It has frequently been suggested to the Publisher, that he might
render an acceptable service to the friends of Education, and greatly
assist those who desire to promote the intellectual amusement of the
people, by producing a series of Popular Books, at low prices,
calculated, by their unexceptionable tendency, for general use in
families; from which School Libraries might be formed, Reward Books
selected, and Lending Libraries supplied; which, on account of their
convenient form and size, would be welcome as Fireside and Travelling
Companions; books, in short, which might be found instructive and
entertaining wherever introduced.

These suggestions he is now carrying out, in compliance with certain
conditions, namely, that the works produced shall be unexceptionable
in subject and in treatment; that the series be sufficiently varied to
meet the requirements of all classes of readers; and that each book
shall be complete in itself, and procurable for a very small sum.

The COLLECTIONS IN POPULAR LITERATURE will, therefore, embrace most of
the features of an Encyclopædia, though the subjects will not be
divided into fragments, or scattered over many volumes; each subject
being treated with fulness and completeness, and its information
brought up to the present time.

The Plan will embrace new and improved Editions of certain Standard
English books, but the majority of the works will be newly written,
translated, compiled, or abridged, for the present purpose; and the
volumes will appear from time to time in sufficient variety to extend
simultaneously, and in due proportion, the various branches of Popular
Literature. The whole will be prepared with an especial view to the
diffusion of sound opinions--to the promulgation of valuable facts and
correct principles--and to the due indulgence of general literary

It is not intended that this series shall form a periodical, according
to the strict acceptation of that term. Several works are already
published, and others will quickly follow; they will all be uniformly
bound in cloth and lettered. There will be no necessary connection
between the various works, except as regards general appearance, and
each, being complete in itself, may be had separately; nevertheless,
the volumes, distinct, yet uniform in their object, will together form
a valuable library, and may be collected and classified under the
following heads:

I. Popular History.

Under the comprehensive title of History, we purpose giving an
extensive series of interesting and instructive works. Among these
will be carefully-considered narratives of some of those moral
tempests which have so often agitated the world, when men have
continued a long course of disobedience to the laws of God and the
recognised laws of man. We shall make it our business to record the
change of a dynasty, the rise and career of a monarch, a usurper, or a
ruler, whose actions have thrown a new aspect on the political
institutions of a country; we shall trace the rise and progress of
great commercial or manufacturing enterprises, whereby the wealth and
prosperity of a nation have been obviously increased; we shall notice
the train of events whereby the prevalent or established religion of
a country has been changed. These and other subjects of a like
character will enable us to bring up many stores from a mine
peculiarly rich in instructive and entertaining matter.

It is of course impossible, in such a notice as this, to include all
the features of so important a division of our COLLECTIONS IN POPULAR
LITERATURE as History; but some idea may be formed of it from the
following list of works which are nearly ready for publication:

     A History of the Invasion of Russia by Napoleon Bonaparte;
     its Causes and Consequences. 2_s._ 6_d._

     The Lord and his Vassal: a Familiar Exposition of the Feudal
     System in the Middle Ages; with its Causes and Consequences.

     A History of the French Revolution; its Causes and
     Consequences. Newly written for this Collection.

     The Ruins of Rome and their Historical Associations;
     including an Account of the Modern City and its Inhabitants.

     The Private Life, Manners, and Customs of the Ancient
     Romans. From the French of D’Arnay; carefully edited, and
     forming a valuable work for study or amusement.

     Constantinople and its Historical Associations; with some
     Account of its Institutions and the Manners and Customs of
     the People.

     History of the Rise and Progress of the Trading Communities
     of the Middle Ages.

     Trading Communities of Modern Times; a Popular View of the
     Origin, Structure, and General Tendency of the Joint-Stock
     Trading and Commercial Bodies of Modern Times.

     The Ruins of Athens and their Historical Associations; with
     Notices of the Modern City and its Inhabitants.

     A History of London, Ancient and Modern.

     A History of the Endowed Schools of Great Britain.

     The Incas of Peru, with some Account of the Ruins of their

     A popular History of the British Army.

     A popular History of the British Navy.

II. Popular Biography.

One of the most useful and pleasing forms under which knowledge can be
presented to the general reader is that of the Biography of
distinguished men, who have contributed to the progress of that
knowledge in some one or other of its various departments. But it too
frequently happens, that the biographical notices of great men consist
rather of personal, trivial, and unimportant details, than of a clear
and broad outline of the influence which they exerted upon the pursuit
and upon the age in which they were distinguished. The true object of
Biography is, while tracing the progress of an individual, to show not
only what result his active life has produced on the well-being of his
fellow-men, but also the position which he occupies as one of the
“great landmarks in the map of human nature.”

Yet we are not satisfied with a biography which regards its subject in
his public capacity alone: we are naturally curious to ascertain
whether the same qualities which rendered him celebrated in public,
followed him likewise into private life, and distinguished him there.
We regard with interest, in his private capacity, the man who has been
the originator of much public good: we look with an attentive eye on
his behaviour when he stands alone, when his native impulses are under
no external excitement; when he is, in fact, “in the undress of one
who has retired from the stage on which he felt he had a part to

But a detail of the public and private events in the life of a
distinguished man, do not alone suffice to form a just estimate of his
character. The reader requires to be made acquainted with the state of
a particular branch of knowledge, at the time when the individual
appeared, whose efforts extended its boundaries. Without this it is
impossible to estimate the worth of the man, or the blessings and
advantages conferred upon society by his means.

On the other hand, in tracing the history of any particular branch of
knowledge, unless connected with Biography, we lose sight of
individual efforts; they are mingled with the labours of others, or
are absorbed into the history of the whole, and are consequently no
longer individualized: hence we are likely to fail in recognising the
obligations due to our distinguished countrymen, or to deprive of
their just merit those of our foreign brethren, whose useful lives
have influenced distant lands as well as their own.

With these views it is proposed that each Biography shall consist of
three distinct portions:

1 The history of a particular department of knowledge, up to the time
when the individual appeared by whom its boundaries were extended.

2 A _general_ sketch of the life of such individual, with _particular_
details of the improvements effected by him.

3 The progress of such branch of knowledge, from the date of such
improvements up to our own times.

The following subjects will be immediately published:

     Smeaton and Lighthouses.

     Sir Joseph Banks and the Royal Society.

     Sir Humphrey Davy and the Safety Lamp.

     Linnæus and Jussieu; or, the Rise and Progress of Systematic

     Cuvier and his Works; or the Rise and Progress of Zoology.

     Brindley and Canals.

     Watt and the Steam-engine.

     Wedgwood and Pottery.

     Telford and Roads and Bridges.

     Caxton and the Printing Press.

     Galileo and the Telescope.

     Sir Isaac Newton and the Progress of Astronomical Discovery.

     Sir Christopher Wren and St. Paul’s Cathedral.

     Addison and the English Essayists.

     Jeremy Taylor and some Account of his Times and Works.

     Wilberforce and the Slave Trade.

Each work being a Popular Biography, with an Historical Introduction
and Sequel.

III. Popular Science and Art.

When we contemplate the arts and processes of civilized life, we
cannot but be struck with the vast amount of invention and ingenuity
required for their gradual development. Not an article of clothing or
of furniture, not an instrument, implement, or machine, could have
been brought to the state in which we find it, without many successive
steps of invention, due to different minds, supplied at different
times, and brought to light in different countries. But in devoting
several of our volumes to the Useful Arts, we shall not be unmindful
of the fact, that Art is the application of Science to a practical
end. It is proposed, therefore, under the comprehensive title of
_Popular Science and Art_, to include portions of our knowledge of
animate and inanimate nature. The object will be to assist the general
reader to regard with an intelligent eye the varied phenomena of
nature, to gratify the laudable desire of understanding what he sees,
and of preparing him in some measure to enter more fully upon the
study of a given subject. In this way, it is hoped to effect a useful
purpose, by connecting Science and the Useful Arts; for “it is not,
surely, in the country of Arkwright, that the Philosophy of Commerce
can be thought independent of Mechanics; and where Davy has delivered
lectures on Agriculture, it would be folly to say that the most
philosophic views of Chemistry were not conducive to the making our
valleys laugh with corn.”

The works already prepared, or in course of preparation, for this
division, comprise the following subjects:

     The Useful Arts employed in the Production of Food. 2_s._ 6_d._

     The Useful Arts employed in the Production of Clothing.
     2_s._ 6_d._

     The Useful Arts employed in the Construction of Dwelling Houses.

     The Writing-Desk and its Contents, taken as a Text for the
     Familiar Illustration of many important Facts in Experimental
     Science. 2_s._

     Examples of Mechanical Ingenuity.

     The Philosophy of the External Senses.

     Ancient and Modern Modes of Measuring Time, with curious
     Illustrations of the application of Clockwork.

     The Rise and Progress of Agriculture.

     The Natural History of Birds and Insects injurious to Farming
     and Gardening.

     The Wonders of the Microscope.

     Mathematical Magic.

The Fine Arts will also form an interesting portion of this division.
The object will be, in a few popular histories, to trace the origin,
rise, and progress of Sculpture, Painting, Engraving, Music, &c., and
their influence on mankind.

IV. Popular Voyages and Travels.

Few subjects are more attractive than the narratives of celebrated
travellers. Although they tell us of beings who speak another tongue,
inhabit a different clime, differ altogether from ourselves in
manners, customs, dress, and institutions--yet the sympathy which man
feels for his fellows makes us delight in all the details which talent
and enterprise procure for us. The personal narrative of the traveller
has also a great charm; we seem to participate in his dangers,
excitements, and pleasures; we add to our knowledge in his company;
and the truth and sincerity which pervade the narrative, make us feel
a personal interest in the narrator. It is intended to reprint some of
the narratives of our old English Navigators, especially those of
Discoveries, which have had most influence on the progress of
Geographical Knowledge. It will not be an objection that these eminent
men lived at a period of time distant from our own; for their
Narratives are full of truths, told with plain simplicity.

But the important labours of modern travellers will not be forgotten.
In describing several interesting portions of the earth’s surface, we
shall avail ourselves of the most trustworthy individuals, and by a
careful comparison of statements and details, we hope to present
graphic descriptions of some of the most celebrated countries of the
world; as well as of those which have only of late years been
explored. Many voyages of discovery have had their proceedings
recorded in large quartos, the price of which places them above the
reach of the general reader, while their scientific details render
them unfit for popular use: a digest of these works, containing an
epitome of the lighter portions, and the results of the scientific
discoveries, may prove acceptable.

The following works are being prepared for publication:

     The Life, Adventures, and Discoveries of Captain William
     Dampier; including a History of the Buccaneers of America.

     Captain Cook and the Circumnavigation of the Globe.

     An Overland Journey and a Steam Voyage to India.

     Voyages and Discoveries in the South Polar Regions.

     Voyages and Discoveries in the Northern Polar Regions.

     Voyages and Discoveries in Australasia and Polynesia.

To these will be added digests of Travels and Adventures in various
Countries of the Old and New Worlds.

V. Popular Tales and Fiction.

The design of this Collection embraces many favourite old works,
which, though containing much that has instructed and delighted our
predecessors, are, nevertheless, but ill adapted in their original
form for general perusal. Among these may be reckoned some works of
fiction, the excellencies of which are often obscured by a grossness
of style not uncommon at the time when they were composed, but which
justly excludes them from family-reading in the present day. Such
works would be acceptable if freed from objectionable passages; and in
undertaking to accomplish this reform, without detriment to the spirit
of the original, the Publisher relies on the approbation of a large
class of persons, who will thus be enabled to place in the hands of
the young, purified editions of those romantic and interesting tales
which are naturally sought for by youthful readers, whose hands they
might otherwise reach, tainted with their original impurities. Every
work will be prepared for this series by a careful editing, in order
to suit the general tone of thought, principle, and feeling which will
pervade the whole Collection, and no work will be admitted, the name
of whose author is associated with considerations painful to Christian
feeling, good taste, or propriety.

Among the new works intended to be included in this division, may be
mentioned a series of tales, illustrative of the manners and customs
of the people of different climes. Of these, the following, among
others, are ready for early publication:

     Norah Toole, a Tale of Ireland; My Son Mike, or, the Irish
     Emigrant in the United States; and Rob Maxwell, a Tale of
     the Highlands of Scotland.

     The Spanish Merchant and his Daughter, or, Life in Spain; a
     Tale illustrative of Domestic Manners and Customs.

     Van-ti, or, Life in China; The Leicesters, or, Life in

     The Merchant and the Friar; or, Truths and Fictions of the
     Middle Ages. A New Edition, revised by the Author.

     The Life and Adventures of Peter Wilkins, a Cornish Man.
     Carefully revised and corrected.

     The most Delectable History of Reynard the Fox; an old
     Romance, thoroughly revised and corrected.

     The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, newly revised;
     with a new Introduction, and Illustrations.

VI. Popular Miscellanies.

Under this head will be published, works of a miscellaneous nature
which do not fall strictly under any of the foregoing divisions, or
which may include several of those divisions. Among the former may be
mentioned a short series of works on in-door and out-door amusements,
the object of which is to furnish young persons with sources of
amusement, innocent in their kind, and healthful in their application
both to mind and body. Among the in-door amusements may be mentioned a
volume which is nearly ready for publication on the game of Chess.
Experience has shown that where Chess is introduced as an amusement
into families and schools, it exerts a highly beneficial influence, by
exciting a taste for more exalted sources of recreation than are
afforded by _games of chance_, which so far from producing a
beneficial influence on the mind, are apt to disturb the temper,
excite animosity, and foster a spirit of gambling. Chess, on the
contrary, is an effort of pure skill; it gives healthy exercise to the
mental powers; it requires caution and forbearance on the part of both
players; it leaves the victor satisfied with having won the game
without the additional stimulus of ‘a stake;’ and it entails no
humiliation on the vanquished, but rather prompts him to greater
exertions. We propose, therefore, to give the history and antiquities
of the game of Chess, together with a series of Easy Lessons, the
object of which will be to make the young student acquainted with a
few of the leading features of the principal openings, that he may
form some idea of the richness of the territory of Chess, and to add a
selection of Chess Problems. Chess Problems form one of the most
attractive departments of the game; they enable us, more perhaps than
anything else, to appreciate the subtle skill and resources of a
first-rate player, and tend to elevate Chess to the rank of
mathematical science.

Among the works which include several of the foregoing divisions, is
one in four volumes, illustrating the Progress of the Year, wherein
the information given is arranged under the form of Daily Headings.
All the varied phenomena of nature; the animals, the plants, the
minerals, assume different phases, according to the means and
acquirements of the observer, the progress of science, and the climate
under which the descriptions are given. As science advances, the
descriptions of naturalists admit of modification and addition, in
order to keep pace with the progress of discovery; hence our
Year-books require renewal from time to time. The present is an
attempt to furnish a seasonal account of the natural phenomena of the
year, in conformity with the present state of knowledge. The work,
however, will not be confined to natural history, but will be varied
with notices of the arts, antiquities, manners and customs of our
native country; choice selections from our prose writers and poets;
and a series of papers expressly adapted for Sunday reading, so that
on whatever day, and at whatever season, the book be taken up,
something appropriate of an instructive and amusing nature may be
found, calculated either for family reading, or solitary perusal, as a
fireside manual, or a travelling pocket companion.

The following works are intended for early publication:

     Chronicles of the Seasons, or the Progress of the Year;
     being a Course of Daily Instruction and Amusement from the
     Popular Details of the Natural History, Science, Art,
     Antiquities, and Biography of our Father Land. In Four
     Books. Book the First, containing the Months of January,
     February, and March. 3_s._ 6_d._

     The History, Antiquities, and Curiosities of the Game of
     Chess; including a Selection of Games, illustrative of the
     Various Openings, Analyzed and Explained for the use of
     Young Players; together with a Choice Selection of Chess

     The Sea--the Highway of the World; or the History and
     Practice of Navigation, in Ancient and Modern Times,
     familiarly explained.

     The Houses of all Nations; or some Account, Historical and
     Descriptive, of the Progress of National and Domestic
     Architecture in all Parts and Ages of the World.

     The Games and Sports of the Ancients and Moderns.

     An Account of Shipwrecks, Fires, and other Calamities, at Sea.

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