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Title: Ocean Steamships - A popular account of their construction, development, - management and appliances
Author: Gould, John H., Chadwick, F. E., Kelley, J. D. J., Seaton, A. E., Rideing, William H.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: A DRAMA OF THE SEA.]




  F. E. CHADWICK, U. S. N.
  J. D. J. KELLEY, U. S. N.






  THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE STEAMSHIP                               1



  SPEED IN OCEAN STEAMERS                                       57



  THE BUILDING OF AN “OCEAN GREYHOUND”                          91



  OCEAN PASSENGER TRAVEL                                       112



  THE SHIP’S COMPANY                                           149



  SAFETY ON THE ATLANTIC                                       185


  RECORD OF 1890.




  STEAMSHIP LINES OF THE WORLD                                 253





  A DRAMA OF THE SEA,                               _Frontispiece_


  THE ETRURIA,                                                  37


  THE GIOVANNI BAUSAN, OF THE ITALIAN NAVY,                     49


  THE WHITE STAR STEAMER MAJESTIC,                              75

  THE INMAN LINE STEAMER CITY OF PARIS,                         81

    THE CITY OF NEW YORK—JUNE 25, 1887,                         99

  IN THE GRAND SALOON OF AN INMAN STEAMER,                     115

  THE END OF THE VOYAGE,                                       139

  IN THE STEERAGE,                                             145

  ON THE BRIDGE IN A GALE,                                     161

  “MUSTER, ALL HANDS,”                                         167

  NIGHT SIGNALLING,                                            177

  OUT OF RECKONING.—A NARROW ESCAPE,                           187

  LANDING STAGES AT LIVERPOOL,                                 191

  AT CLOSE QUARTERS, AMONG THE ICEBERGS,                       201

  THE DEEP-SEA SOUNDING MACHINE AT WORK,                       207

  LOADING GRAIN FROM A FLOATING ELEVATOR,                      221

    ELECTRIC LIGHT,                                            227


  UNLOADING A BANANA STEAMSHIP,                                241

  A CATTLE STEAMSHIP AT SEA,                                   249


  DECK QUOITS ON A P. AND O. LINER,                            261

  ENTRANCE TO THE SUEZ CANAL AT PORT SAID,                     267

  THE PORT OF VALPARAISO IN A NORTHER,                         285


  THE GREAT WESTERN, FROM AN OLD PAINTING,                      10

  CROSS-SECTION OF THE GREAT WESTERN,                           11

  THE GREAT BRITAIN,                                            13

  PLAN OF THE HIBERNIA AND CAMBRIA,                             22

  MODEL OF THE PERSIA AND SCOTIA,                               31


  THE BRITANNIC,                                                34

  CROSS-SECTION OF THE OREGON,                                  40

  CROSS-SECTION OF THE SERVIA,                                  40

  LONGITUDINAL SECTION OF THE CHAMPAGNE,                        42

  THE CHILIAN CRUISER ESMERALDA,                                47


  THE CITY OF ROME,                                             54

  H. B. M. S. POLYPHEMUS AT FULL SPEED—18-5/8 KNOTS,            59

  THE IMPÉRIEUSE GOING AT FULL SPEED,                           64

    FULL SPEED—24-1/2 MILES PER HOUR,                           69

  ENGINES OF THE COMET,                                         70

    FULL SPEED—21 MILES PER HOUR,                               71


  THE TWIN SCREWS OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK,                      84



    FULL SPEED—22.3 KNOTS = 25-3/4 MILES PER HOUR,              89

  THE UMBRIA JUST BEFORE LAUNCHING,                             94


    LOOKING FORWARD—JULY 19, 1887,                             103


  A STERN VIEW, SHOWING TWIN SCREWS,                           108

  THE CITY OF NEW YORK READY FOR LAUNCHING,                    109

    IN FIVE DAYS,                                              110

  THE STEAMER’S BARBER-SHOP,                                   121

  MORE COMFORTABLE ON DECK,                                    123

  A QUIET FLIRTATION,                                          125

  SMOKING-ROOM OF A FRENCH LINER,                              127

  THE GANG PLANK—JUST BEFORE SAILING,                          132

  THE SALOON OF A HAMBURG STEAMER,                             134

  THE PILOT BOARDING,                                          135

  REVENUE OFFICER BOARDING, NEW YORK BAY,                      142

  DOWN THE CHANNEL IN A FOG—A NARROW ESCAPE,                   157

  THE SKIPPER,                                                 158

  THE DECK LOOKOUT—“DANGER AHEAD,”                             160

  THE BOATSWAIN’S WHISTLE,                                     164

  THE COOK,                                                    165

  WASHING DOWN THE DECKS,                                      169

  THE STOKE HOLE,                                              172

  IN THE FO’CASTLE,                                            174

  WATCHING FOR THE SUN ON A CLOUDY DAY,                        176

  THE DECK STEWARD,                                            180

  CAPTAIN’S BREAKFAST,                                         181

  THE NIGHT SIGNAL OF A DISABLED STEAMER,                      183

  EDDYSTONE LIGHTHOUSE, ENGLISH CHANNEL,                       194

  A WHISTLING BUOY,                                            195

  LIGHTHOUSE, ATLANTIC CITY, N. J.,                            197

  A BELL BUOY,                                                 199

  LIGHTHOUSE, SANIBEL ISLAND, FLA.,                            205

  OFF FIRE ISLAND, NEW YORK,         210


  THE LIGHTSHIP, OFF SANDY HOOK,                               213

    NEW YORK HARBOR, DECEMBER, 1890,                           214

  A SUNKEN SCHOONER,       215


    EXPANSION TANK,                                            244


  THE PORT OF ADEN, ARABIA,                                    270

  A DECK-BATH IN THE TROPICS,                                  271

  PROMENADE DECK OF AN ORIENT LINER,                           274






It is a wonderful fact in the swift expansion of mechanical knowledge
and appliances of the last hundred years that while for unknown ages
the wind was the only propelling force used for purposes of navigation,
apart from the rude application of power through oars worked by men,
the whole scheme of steam transport has grown, practically, to its
present wonderful perfection within the lifetime of men yet living.

Of course, the idea, as is that of all great inventions, was one of
slow growth. It cropped up at various stages through the eighteenth
century, and there are faint evidences of gropings in this direction in
the latter part of the seventeenth; but these latter were not much more
definite than the embodiment of the idea of the telegraph in Puck’s
girdle round the earth, and the evidence that men really thought of
propelling boats by steam is very meagre until we come to the pamphlet
written by Jonathan Hulls, in 1737, in which he gave utterance to a
very clear and distinct idea in the matter. It struggled through a
very backward infancy of fifty years and more, certain memorable names
appearing now and then to help it along, as that of Watt (without
whose improvements in the steam-engine it must still have remained in
swaddling-clothes), Fitch, De Jouffroy, Rumsey, Symington, and finally
Fulton, who, however much he may have learned from his predecessors,
has unquestionably the credit of putting afloat the first commercially
successful steamboat. He is thus worthy of all the honor accorded him;
much of it came too late, as he died at the comparatively early age of
fifty, after passing through the harassments which seem naturally to
lie in the path of the innovator.

       *       *       *       *       *

A graphic history of the wonderful changes wrought in this great factor
of the world’s progress was set forth during the summer of 1886, at the
International Exhibition at Liverpool, where, by model and drawing,
the various steps were made more completely visible and tangible than,
perhaps, ever before. True, the relics of the earlier phases of the
steamship age, when its believers were but few and generally of small
account, were sparse, but the exhibits of later models, from the date
of the inception of transatlantic traffic, preparations for which were
begun in earnest by laying down the steamship Great Western in 1836,
were frequent enough, and the whole of the steps in the development of
the means of ocean traffic from then till now were sufficiently well

The exhibition, of course, did not confine itself to the steam era
alone. It even had a model of an Egyptian vessel, which was exhibited
by the Liverpool Library Society, as taken from Thebes, and estimated
to date about 1,500 years B.C., and which Moses himself might thus
have seen. It was a long stretch, however, to the next in date, as
no others antedated 1700 A.D. There were many of the handsome and
dignified eighteenth-century men-of-war, built at a time when men began
to preserve a record of their work in the miniature ships which are now
esteemed an essential addition to almost every vessel of importance
put afloat. Firms now exist whose only business it is to make the
various minute fittings—the ports, chains, anchors, blocks, etc.—of the
Liliputian craft, so that every detail of the original is given with an
exact verisimilitude in very often most beautiful and elaborate work.

It would have been very interesting had the early struggles of the
steamboat been thus illustrated _in extenso_, but there is nothing of
its concrete history earlier than a small model of the original Comet,
built by Henry Bell, at Glasgow, in 1812, and so named because of the
extraordinary comet of that year, and the engines of her successor,
built in 1820. These recall, however, the vessel which was the first
steamer engaged in passenger traffic in Europe, and are thus worthy of

In looking over the beautiful array of models then exhibited, which
thus represented almost every stage of progress in British steamship
building, from the Comet onward, one could not help regretting that an
effort had not been made by our government to bring together models,
of which there must have been some, at least, available, illustrative
of our earlier practice, particularly as there is much in it peculiar
to us, and which would have been most interesting to the great public
which visited the exhibition. Models of the Clermont; of the Stevens
experimental screw boat; a later Mississippi steamer; the Savannah—the
first vessel using steam which ever crossed the Atlantic; the
Washington, the pioneer of regular transatlantic steam traffic under
our flag; the Adriatic; the Hudson River and great Sound steamers of
to-day, would, apart from any war-ship models of interest which could
have been sent, have made a most interesting and attractive collection.
The only things, however, which were visible were the drawings of a
New York ferry-boat (the type of which, by the way, we owe to Fulton),
so placed as to be scarcely discoverable. These boats are so typical,
so different from anything found in Europe, and so interesting to any
student of steam ferriage as a thorough adaptation of means to an end,
that a complete model of the boat and its ferry slip would have been a
most satisfactory addition.

It must be remembered that the steamboat had in its earlier days a
much greater extension in America than elsewhere. Our great rivers
were an especially attractive field for its use. The Mississippi had
but lately come under our control, and the beginning of the great tide
of Western emigration and exploration was almost coincident with the
steamboat’s advent, so that through these favoring conditions it had a
much more rapid growth among us than elsewhere.

The display, however, of British models was as complete as it could
well be made. Private owners and builders, the Admiralty, and Lloyds’
Registry, united to make the collection a very complete and perfect
one. Of continental European exhibits, that of the Italian Government,
which sent a very splendid collection of models of its great war-ships,
was the most important. Associated with it was the exhibit of the
Fratelli Orlando of Leghorn, who have done much of both the public
and private building of Italy. The only French exhibit was that of
the Bureau Veritas, which followed the example of its English rival,
Lloyds, in making a very striking and instructive show.

The only exhibits of modern war-ships were those of England and Italy,
unless we except the numerous vessels built for foreign powers by
English builders. The remainder of the display was chiefly connected
with the strife of commerce, and in this it is likely to remain as
complete and comprehensive as can be made in some time to come. It was
one also in which Britain might well take pride, as, however great the
United States were as pioneers or as more than equals in the beginning
of the race, we have long since been distanced by our kinsmen, and we
must refer, for some years at least, to Great Britain to study the
principal changes in hull and machinery of the last half-century,
though the great strides of the last six years, accomplished through
our war-ship construction, bid fair to once more put us in our old and
honorable place.

The Liverpool exhibition was the forerunner of a number of others of
like character, which have culminated in the “Naval Exhibition” of
1891 in London, which, however, is more concerned with war than was
its predecessor, and does not enter so fully into the details of early

It is useless to draw comparisons between the value of claims of
precedence in the history of steam navigation. The fact that Fulton’s
efforts finally started the world to building steamboats for actual
service is indisputable. All preceding cases were simply sporadic, and
had none of the contagious power possessed by the experiments on the
Hudson. Fulton himself had already built six steamboats before one was
built elsewhere than in America. His boats, from the beginning, were
of practical value, and not small experiments, the Clermont herself
being 136 feet long, 18 feet broad, 7 feet deep, of 160 tons; and the
diameter of her wheels was 15 feet.

In 1809 the first steamboat, the Accommodation, was seen on the St.
Lawrence, and in 1811 the first (built at Pittsburgh) appeared on the
Mississippi. A year after this the Comet, already alluded to, was put
upon the Clyde by Henry Bell. She was only 40 feet long on the keel,
and 10-1/2 broad, with two small paddle-wheels on each side, driven
by a gearing which geared into a wheel on the axle of each set of
paddle-wheels. Her original engines are still in existence, and are
deposited in the Museum at South Kensington, where they were set up by
the same engineer (Mr. John Robertson) who placed them in the Comet.

Fulton also has the honor of being the first to design and build a
war steamer, which for her time was a most remarkable production, and
by far the largest steam vessel built before 1838. She was a fitting
monument to the genius of the man who unfortunately did not live to see
her completion and successful trials.

The Demologos, or Fulton the First, was laid down June 20, 1814,
and launched October 29th of the same year. “Her dimensions were:
length, 150 feet; breadth, 56 feet; depth, 20 feet; water-wheel, 16
feet diameter, length of bucket 14 feet, dip 4 feet; engine, 48-inch
cylinder, 5 feet stroke; boiler length 22 feet, breadth 12 feet, and
depth 8 feet; tonnage, 2,475.”

The commissioners appointed to examine her say in their report:

“She is a structure resting upon two boats, keels separated from end to
end by a canal 15 feet wide and 66 feet long. One boat contains the
caldrons of copper to prepare her steam. The vast cylinder of iron,
with its piston, levers, and wheels, occupies a part of its fellow:
the great water-wheel revolves in the space between them: the main or
gun deck supporting her armament is protected by a bulwark _four feet_
ten inches thick of solid timber. This is pierced by 30 port-holes, to
enable as many 32-pounders to fire red-hot balls.

... She is rigged with 2 short masts, each of which supports a large
lateen yard and sails. She has 2 bowsprits and jibs, and 4 rudders, 2
at each extremity of the boat, so that she can be steered with either
end foremost. Her machinery is calculated for the addition of an engine
which will discharge an immense column of water, which is intended to
throw upon the decks and through the ports of an enemy.” She was also
intended to carry four 100-pounders.

She made her first trial on June 1, 1815, and on the Fourth of July she
steamed outside of Sandy Hook and back, a distance of 53 miles, in 8
hours and 20 minutes. She was then supposably light, as it is stated
that she was again tried September 11, 1815, with 26 of her guns on
board, and ammunition and stores to bring her down to nearly 11 feet
draught. She steamed from 4-1/2 to 5 miles an hour, Fulton having only
promised 3, and may certainly be considered to have been a success. She
was never commissioned, but was used as a receiving ship at New York
until June 4, 1829, when she accidentally blew up.

The general slowness with which men in the early part of the century
received the idea of the mighty changes impending may be recognized
when we look over the few publications connected with navigation then
published. Mind seemed to move more slowly in those days; communication
was tedious and difficult. Edinburgh was as far from London in length
of time taken for the journey as is now New York from New Orleans; few
papers were published; there were no scientific journals of value; no
great associations of men given to meeting and discussing scientific
questions excepting the few ponderous societies which dealt more in
abstract questions than in the daily advances of the mechanical world.
It was thus that the steam vessel came slowly to the front, and that
it took more than a third of the whole time which has elapsed since
Fulton’s successful effort to convince men that it might be possible to
carry on traffic by steam across the Atlantic. Dr. Lardner is almost
chiefly remembered by his famous unwillingness to grant the possibility
of steaming directly from Liverpool to New York; and by his remark,
“As to the project, however, which was announced in the newspapers,
of making the voyage directly from New York to Liverpool, it was,
he had no hesitation in saying, perfectly chimerical, and that they
might as well talk of making a voyage from New York or Liverpool to
the moon.”[1] He strongly urged dividing the transit by using Ireland
as one of the intermediate steps, and going thence to Newfoundland.
He curiously limited the size of ships which might be used, and their
coal-carrying powers. Though a philosopher, he did not seem to grasp
that if the steamship had grown to what it was in 1835 from the small
beginnings of 1807 it might grow even more, and its machinery be
subject to development in later times as it had been in the earlier.
Lardner seems to have typified the general state of mind when in 1836
the Great Western Steamship Company was formed, from which really dates
transatlantic traffic.

A slight retrospect is necessary to enable us to understand the
status of steam at the time. Little really had been done beyond the
establishment of coast, river, and lake navigation in the United States
and coastwise traffic in Great Britain; a few small vessels had been
built for the British navy. In 1825 the Enterprise (122 feet length of
keel and 27 feet beam) had gone to Calcutta from London in 113 days, 10
of which had been spent in stoppages; and steam mail communication with
India was about being definitely established when the keel of the Great
Western was laid.

Up to this time America had undergone much the greater development,
both in number of steam vessels and tonnage.

In 1829 our enrolled tonnage was 54,037 tons, or rather more than
twice that of the United Kingdom. Charleston and Savannah had regular
steam communication with our northern ports. A few years later, in
1838, returns show that the former had 14 steamers, the largest being
of 466 tons; Philadelphia had 11, the largest being of 563 tons; New
York had 77, of which 39 were of a large class, exceeding generally
300 tons—the largest was the President, of 615 tons, built in 1829.
Liverpool had at this date 41 steamers; the largest was of 559 tons, 4
others exceeded 200 tons, and all the others were much smaller. London
had 169, of which the largest was the British Queen, just built, of
1,053 tons; the next largest was of 497 tons. Glasgow and Belfast had
been in regular steam communication since 1818; Glasgow and Liverpool,
London and Leith, since 1822. The first ferry-boat on the Mersey,
it may be noted, the Etna, 63 feet long, with a paddle-wheel in the
centre, began her trips in 1816.

       *       *       *       *       *

In 1819 the Atlantic was first crossed by a ship using steam. This was
the Savannah, of 380 tons, launched at Corlear’s Hook, New York, August
22, 1818.[2]

She was built to ply between New York and Savannah as a sailing-packet.
She was, however, purchased by Savannah merchants and fitted with steam
machinery, the paddle-wheels being constructed to fold up and be laid
upon the deck when not in use, her shaft also having a joint for that
purpose. She left Savannah on the 26th of May, and reached Liverpool
in 25 days, using steam 18 days. The log-book, still preserved, notes
several times taking the wheels in on deck in thirty minutes.

In August she left Liverpool for Cronstadt. An effort was made to sell
her to Russia, which failed. She sailed for Savannah, touching at
Copenhagen and Arendal, and arrived in 53 days. Her machinery later was
taken out, and she resumed her original character as a sailing-packet,
and ended her days by being wrecked on the south coast of Long Island.

But steam-power had by 1830 grown large enough to strike out more
boldly. The Savannah’s effort was an attempt in which steam was only
an auxiliary, and one, too, of a not very powerful kind. Our coastwise
steamers, as well as those employed in Great Britain, as also the
voyage of the Enterprise to Calcutta in 1825 (though she took 113
days in doing it), had settled the possibility of the use of steam at
sea, and the question had now become whether a ship could be built
to cross the Atlantic depending entirely on her steam power. It had
become wholly a question of fuel consumption. The Savannah, it may be
said, used pitch-pine on her outward voyage, and wood was for a very
long time the chief fuel for steaming purposes in America. How very
important this question was will be understood when it is known that
Mr. McGregor Laird, the founder of the Birkenhead firm, in 1834, laid
before the Committee of the House of Commons on Steam Navigation to
India the following estimate of coal consumption:

  Under 120 horse-power, 10-1/2 lbs. per horse-power.
        160      „        9-1/2  „            „
        200      „        8-1/2  „            „
        240      „        8      „            „

Or more than four times what is consumed to-day in moderately
economical ships. In other words, to steam at her present rate across
the Atlantic the City of New York, of 18,000 horse-power, would need
to start with something like 7,500 tons of coal on board were her
consumption per indicated horse-power equal to that of the best sea
practice of that date, which could hardly have been under 6 pounds per
indicated horse-power per hour.

This may be said to have been the status of affairs when, in 1836,
under the influence of Brunei’s bold genius, the Great Western
Steamship Company was founded as an off-shoot of the Great Western
Railway, whose terminus was then Bristol. Brunel wished to know why
the line should not extend itself to New York, and the result of his
suggestion was the formation of the steamship company and the laying
down at Bristol of their first ship, the Great Western.

Brunel’s large ideas were shown in this ship, though in comparatively
a less degree, as well as in his later ones. She was of unprecedented
size, determined on by Brunel as being necessary for the requisite
power and coal-carrying capacity. The following were her principal
dimensions: Length over all, 236 ft.; length between perpendiculars,
212 ft.; length of keel, 205 ft.; breadth, 35 ft. 4 in.; depth of hold,
23 ft. 2 in.; draught of water, 16 ft. 8 in.; length of engine-room, 72
ft.; tonnage by measurement, 1,340 tons; displacement at load-draught,
2,300 tons.

[Illustration: The Great Western, from an old painting.]

Dimensions of engines: Diameter of cylinders, 73-1/2 in.; length of
stroke, 7 ft.; weight of engines, wheels, etc., 310 tons; number of
boilers, 4; weight of boilers, 90 tons; weight of water in boilers, 80
tons; diameter of wheel, 28 ft. 9 in.; width of floats, 10 ft.

Her engines (side-lever) were built by the great firm of Maudslay &
Field, who had been for some time one of the most notable marine-engine
building firms of the period in Great Britain. They had, up to 1836,
built 66 engines for steamers; the first being in 1815, when they built
those of the Richmond, of 17 horse-power. The indicated power of the
Great Western was 750; and a notable measure of the stride which steam
has taken in the half-century since they undertook this contract is
that they have since constructed twin-screw engines from which they
have guaranteed to produce 19,500 horse-power. These drive a great
armor-clad, which has six times the displacement of the Great Western
and twice her ordinary speed.

The Great Western was launched on July 19, 1837, and was towed from
Bristol to the Thames to receive her machinery, where she was the
wonder of London. She left for Bristol on March 31, 1838; and arrived,
after having had a serious fire on board, on April 2d.

In the meantime others had been struck with the possibility of steaming
to New York; and a company, of which the moving spirit was Mr. J.
Laird, of Birkenhead, purchased the Sirius, of 700 tons, employed
between London and Cork, and prepared her for a voyage to New York.
The completion of the Great Western was consequently hastened; and she
left Bristol on Sunday, April 8, 1838, at 10 A.M. with 7 passengers
on board, and reached New York on Monday, the 23d, the afternoon of
the same day with the Sirius, which had left Cork Harbor (where she
had touched en route from London) four days before the Great Western
had left Bristol. The latter still had nearly 200 tons of coal, of the
total of 800, on board on arrival; the Sirius had consumed her whole
supply, and was barely able to make harbor.

[Illustration: Cross-section of the Great Western.]

It is needless to speak of the reception of these two ships at New
York. It was an event which stirred the whole country, and with
reason; it had practically, at one stroke, reduced the breadth of the
Atlantic by half, and brought the Old and New World by so much the
nearer together. The Great Western started on her return voyage, May
7th, with 66 passengers. This was made in 14 days, though one was lost
by a stoppage at sea. Her average daily run out was 202 miles, or about
8-1/2 knots per hour; in returning she made an average of close upon
9. Her coal consumption to New York was 655 tons, though in returning
it was 392 tons—due no doubt to the aid from the westerly winds which
generally prevail in the North Atlantic in the higher latitudes. She
made in all, between 1838 and 1843, 64 voyages across the Atlantic, her
average time from Bristol or Liverpool to New York, with an average
distance of 3,062-1/2 knots, being 15 days 12 hours, and from New York
eastward, over an average distance of 3,105 knots, 13 days 6 hours.
Her fastest westward passage was in 12 days 18 hours; her longest in
22 days 6 hours. Her fastest eastward was in 12 days 7-1/2 hours; and
longest, in 15 days. The largest number of passengers carried was 152,
and she averaged throughout 85. In 1847 she was sold to the West India
Steam Packet Company, and in 1857, about the time that Mr. Brunel was
launching his last and greatest ship, she was broken up at Vauxhall;
and her final province no doubt was to feed the drawing-room fires of
the West End of London, a fate to which many a worn-out wayfarer of the
seas is yearly devoted.

[Illustration: The Great Britain.]

Steam communication between England and America had thus been
demonstrated as possible beyond a doubt, and others were not slow to
make the venture. The Great Western Company themselves determined to
lay down a second ship; and it having been quickly seen that the mails
must be henceforth carried by steam, a gentleman from Halifax, Nova
Scotia, appeared upon the scene, who was destined to connect his name
indelibly with the history of steam upon the Atlantic. This was Mr.
Samuel Cunard, who had nursed the idea of such a steam line for some
years, and who now, with Mr. George Burns, of Glasgow, and Mr. David
McIver, of Liverpool, founded the great company known by Mr. Cunard’s
name. The establishment of this line and the building of the Great
Britain by the Great Western Company are two most notable events in
steam navigation the one putting the steam traffic between the two
countries on a firm and secure basis; the other marking a notable step
in the revolution in construction and means of applying the propelling
power, destined before many years to be completely accepted to the
exclusion of the wooden hull and the paddle-wheel. It is not fair
to speak of the use of iron in the Great Britain for the hull, in a
general way, as the beginning of the change; she was only the first
large ship to be built of this material. The credit of the introduction
of iron is largely to be awarded to Mr. John Laird, of Birkenhead, who
in 1829 built a lighter 60 feet long, 13 feet 4 inches in breadth,
and 6 feet depth of hold; and in 1833, a paddle-wheel steamer, the
Lady Lansdowne, of 148 tons, 133 feet long, 17 feet broad and 9 feet
6 inches deep. “In the following year Mr. Laird constructed a second
paddle-steamer, for G. B. Lamar, Esq., of Savannah, United States,
called the John Randolph. This was the first iron vessel ever seen in
American waters. She was shipped in pieces at Liverpool, and riveted
together in the Savannah River, where for several years afterward she
was used as a tug-boat.” Though Mr. Laird was the ablest upholder of
iron as a material for ship-building, and was the largest builder in
it, the idea existed before him—Richard Trevithick and Robert Stevenson
so early as 1809 proposing iron vessels, “and even suggested ‘masts,
yards, and spars to be constructed in plates, with telescope-joints
or screwed together; and in 1815 Mr. Dickenson patented an invention
for vessels, or rather boats, to be built of iron, with a hollow
water-tight gunwale” (Lindsay, vol. iv., p. 85). But nothing came of
these proposals, and the first iron vessel mentioned was built in
1818 by Thomas Wilson, near Glasgow—the first steam vessel being the
Aaron Manby, “constructed in 1821 at Horsley” (Lindsay). “Up to 1834,
Mr. Laird had constructed six iron vessels altogether;” the largest
of these was the Garryowen, of 300 tons, for the City of Dublin Steam
Packet Company. Others of considerable size by the same builder
followed, and the material began to come into use elsewhere. In 1837
the Rainbow, of 600 tons, by far the largest iron steamer which had
yet been built, was laid down at Birkenhead. It will thus be seen how
bold was the step taken by Mr. Brunel when, in 1838, he advised the
Great Western Company to use iron as the material for their new ship,
which was to be of the startling size of 3,443 tons displacement. Nor
were his innovations to stop with size and material. On his earnest
recommendation to the company it was decided, in 1839, to change from
the first design of the usual paddle-wheels to a screw.

[Illustration: Ericsson’s First Arrangement of Underwater Propeller
(Oct. 10, 1834).

Ericsson’s Propeller (July 13, 1836).

Smith’s Amended Specification (May 18, 1839).

Smith’s Specification (May 31, 1836).

Cammerow’s Specification (Dec. 10, 1828).

Specifications of Early Patents taken out in England.]

Three years before (in 1836), a Swede, whose name was destined to
become much more famous in our own land, had successfully shown the
practicability of screw propulsion, in the Francis B. Ogden, on the
Thames. “She was 45 feet long and 8 feet wide, drawing 2 feet 3 inches
of water. In this vessel he fitted his engine and two propellers, each
of 5 feet 3 inches diameter” (Lindsay). She made ten miles an hour, and
showed her capabilities by towing a large packetship at good speed.
There was no question of the success of this little vessel, which was
witnessed on one occasion by several of the lords of the admiralty.
Notwithstanding her unqualified success, Ericsson had no support in
England. It happened, however, that Commodore Stockton, of our navy,
was then in London; and witnessing a trial of the Ogden, ordered two
small boats of him. One, the Robert F. Stockton, was built, in 1838,
of iron, by Laird—63 feet 5 inches in length, 10 feet in breadth, and
7 feet in depth. She was taken—April, 1839—under sail, to the United
States by a crew of a master and four men. This little vessel was
the forerunner of the famous Princeton, built after the designs of
Ericsson, who had been induced by Commodore Stockton to come to America
as offering a more kindly field for his talents.

In the same year with Ericsson’s trial of the Ogden, Mr. Thomas Pettit
Smith took out a patent for a screw; and it was by the company formed
by Smith that the screw propeller was first tried on a large scale, in
the Archimedes, of 237 tons, in 1839. Of course the names mentioned by
no means exhaust the list of claimants to this great invention. Nor can
it be said to have been invented by either of these two, but they were
the first to score decisive successes and convince the world of its

In 1770, Watt wrote to Dr. Smalls (who, a Scot, was at one time a
professor at William and Mary College, in Virginia, but returned to
England in 1785) regarding the latter’s experiments in relation to
canal navigation, asking him, “Have you ever considered a spiral oar
for that purpose, or are you for two wheels?” In the letter is the
sketch, a fac-simile of which is here shown:

[Illustration: Sketch of spiral oar]

Dr. Smalls answers that, “I have tried models of spiral oars, and
have found them all inferior to oars of either of the other forms”
(Muirhead’s “Life of Watt,” p. 203).

Joseph Bramah, in 1785, took out a patent for propelling vessels
by steam, wherein, after describing the method figured in his
specification of using a wheel at the stern of a vessel, in which he
places the rudder at the bow, he proceeds as follows:

  “Instead of this wheel A may be introduced a wheel with inclined
  fans, or wings, similar to the fly of a smoke-jack, or the vertical
  sails of a wind-mill. This wheel, or fly, may be fixed on the spindle
  C alone, and may be wholly under water, when it would, by being
  turned round either way, cause the ship to be forced backward or
  forward, as the inclination of the fans, or wings, will act as oars
  with equal force both ways; and their power will be in proportion
  to the size and velocity of the wheel, allowing the fans to have a
  proper inclination. The steam-engine will also serve to clear the
  ship of water with singular expedition, which is a circumstance of
  much consequence.”

Bramah thus very clearly describes the screw, and in so doing must
unquestionably be numbered as one of the many fathers of this system of
propulsion. Fitch, as before stated, is recorded, on most trustworthy
evidence, to have been another: and Mr. Stevens, of Hoboken, not only
carried out successful experiments with the screw in 1804, at New York,
but even experimented with twin screws. Charles Cummerow, “in the
City of London, merchant,” patented, in 1828, “certain improvements
in propelling vessels, communicated to me by a certain foreigner
residing abroad,” in which the screw is set forth in a manner not to
be questioned. Who the “certain foreigner” was, who communicated the
invention to Mr. Cummerow, has not come down to us.

It had, however, like the steamboat as a whole, to wait for a certain
preparedness in the human intellect. Invention knocked hard, and
sometimes often, in the early years of the century, before the doors
of the mind were opened to receive it; and too frequently then the
reception was but a surly one, and attention deferred from visitor to
visitor until one came, as did Fulton, or Ericsson, who would not be

The transfer of Ericsson to America left an open field for Mr. Pettit
Smith, and the experiments carried out by the Screw Propeller Company
had the effect of permanently directing the attention in Great
Britain of those interested in such subjects. The screw used in the
Archimedes “consisted of two half-threads, of an 8 feet pitch, 5 feet
9 inches in diameter. Each was 4 feet in length, and they were placed
diametrically opposite each other at an angle of about 45 degrees on
the propeller-shaft” (Lindsay). She was tried in 1839, and in 1840 Mr.
Brunel spent some time in investigating her performance. His mind,
bold and original in all its own conceptions, was quick to appreciate
the new method; and, although the engines of the Great Britain were
already begun, designed for paddle-wheels, he brought the directors of
the company, who had undertaken the building of their own machinery, to
consent to a change. The following details of the ship are taken from
the “Life of Brunel:” Total length, 322 ft.; length of keel, 289 ft.;
beam, 51 ft.; depth, 32 ft. 6 in.; draught of water, 16 ft.; tonnage
measurement, 3,443 tons; displacement, 2,984 tons; number of cylinders,
4; diameter of cylinder, 88 in.; length of stroke, 6 ft.; weight of
engines, 340 tons; weight of boilers, 200 tons; weight of water in
boilers, 200 tons; weight of screw-shaft, 38 tons; diameter of screw,
15 ft. 6 in.; pitch of screw, 25 ft.; weight of screw, 4 tons; diameter
of main drum, 18 ft.; diameter of screw-shaft drum, 6 ft.; weight of
coal, 1,200 tons.

“In the construction of the Great Britain, the same care which had been
spent in securing longitudinal strength in the wooden hull of the Great
Western was now given to the suitable distribution of the metal.”

A balanced rudder and bilge keels were parts of her original
construction, and an unusual method of lapping the plates was used.
“Apart from their size, the design of the engines of the Great Britain
necessarily presented many peculiarities. The boilers, which were 6 in
number, were placed touching each other, so as to form one large boiler
about 33 feet square, divided by one transverse and two longitudinal

“It would seem that the boiler was worked with a pressure of about 8
pounds on the square inch.

“The main shaft of the engine had a crank at either end of it, and was
made hollow; a stream of water being kept running through it, so as to
prevent heating in the bearings. An important part in the design was
the method by which motion was transmitted from the engine-shaft to the
screw-shaft, for the screw was arranged to go three revolutions to each
revolution of the engines. Where the engines do not drive the screw
directly, this is now universally effected by means of toothed gearing;
but when the engines of the Great Britain were made, it was thought
that this arrangement would be too jarring and noisy. After much
consideration, chains were used, working round different-sized drums,
with notches in them, into which fitted projections on the chains.”

On July 10, 1843, this (for the time) great ship was floated out of
dock; but it was not until January 23, 1845, that she left Bristol for
London, making on her voyage an average of 12-1/3 knots an hour. She
left Liverpool for New York on August 26th, and arrived on September
10th, having made the passage out in 14 days and 21 hours; she returned
in 15-1/2 days. During the next winter, after one more voyage to New
York, alterations were made, to give a better supply of steam, and a
new screw was fitted. She made two voyages to New York in 1846; and on
September 22d she left Liverpool on a third, but overran her reckoning
and stranded in Dundrum Bay, on the northeast coast of Ireland, when it
was supposed she was only rounding the Isle of Man. This unfortunate
event completed the ruin of the company, already in financial straits
through the competition of the Cunard line; and the ship after her
rescue, effected August 27, 1847, almost a year after grounding, was
“sold to Messrs. Gibbs, Bright & Co., of Liverpool, by whom she was
repaired and fitted with auxiliary engines of 500 nominal horse-power.
On a general survey being made it was found that she had not suffered
any alteration of form, nor was she at all strained. She was taken out
of dock in October, 1851, and since that time she has made regular
voyages between Liverpool and Australia.”

These last few lines appear in the “Life of Brunel,” published in
1870. But she was later changed into a sailing-ship, and only in 1886
stranded again at the Falkland Islands. She was floated; but being
badly injured, was sold to serve as a hulk, and there no doubt will be
passed the last days of what may be regarded one of the famous ships of
the world. She was, for the time, as bold a conception as was her great
designer’s later venture, the Great Eastern.

The acceptance by the English Government of the Cunard company’s bid
for the contract for carrying the mails to America resulted in putting
afloat, in 1840, the Acadia, Britannia, Columbia, and Caledonia. The
first vessels of the Cunard line were all wooden paddle-wheel steamers,
with engines by Napier, of Glasgow, of the usual side-lever class; the
return-flue boilers and jet-condensers were used, the latter holding
their place for many years to come, though surface condensation had
already appeared as an experiment. The company was to carry the mails
fortnightly between Liverpool, Halifax, and Boston, regular sailings to
be adhered to, and four vessels to be employed, for the sum of £81,000
($400,000) per annum. The contract was made for seven years, but was
continued from time to time for forty-six—no break occurring in this
nearly half-century’s service, when the Umbria—November 4, 1886—was
the first ship in the history of the company to leave Liverpool on the
regular day of sailing for America without mails. This break, however,
was but momentary, and the line almost at once resumed its ancient duty.

The Britannia was the first of the fleet to sail; and, strange to say
(from the usual seaman’s point of view), Friday, July 4, 1840, was the
day selected. She arrived at Boston in 14 days and 8 hours, a very
successful passage for the time.

It must have required considerable moral courage in the projectors to
inaugurate such an undertaking on a day of the week which has been so
long on the black-list of sailor superstition, notwithstanding it had
the advantage of being the anniversary of the Declaration of American
Independence. The success of this line ought certainly to rehabilitate
Friday to a position of equality among the more fortunate days, though
it will be observed that none of the transatlantic lines have yet
selected it as a day of sailing.

The Britannia, which was representative of the quartette, was of the
following dimensions: Length of keel and fore rake, 207 ft.; breadth
of beam, 34 ft. 2 in.; depth of hold, 22 ft. 4 in.; mean draught, 16
ft. 10 in.; displacement, 2,050 tons; diameter of cylinder, 72-1/2
in.; length of stroke, 82 in.; number of boilers, 4; pressure carried,
9 lbs. per sq. in.; number of furnaces, 12; fire-grate area, 222 ft.;
indicated horse-power, 740; coal consumption per indicated horse-power
per hour, 5.1 lbs.; coal consumption per day, 38 tons; bunker capacity,
640 tons; cargo capacity, 225 tons; cabin passengers carried, 90;
average speed, 8.5 knots.

It will thus be seen that these ships were not an advance upon the
Great Western, but were even slightly smaller, with about the same coal
consumption and with rather less speed.

[Illustration: Plan of the Hibernia and Cambria.

  A, saloon; B, pantry; C, centre state-rooms; D, gentlemen’s cabin;
  E, ladies’ cabin; S, stairs; F, wine cellar; G, G, G, goods; K,
  stewards’ berths in centre; H, H, coal ho’d; P, P, fore-cabin; Q,
  steerage; L, forecastle; R, store-room; M, mail-room; O, sail-room;
  V, engineers and firemen.]

The Hibernia and Cambria followed in 1843 and 1845, 530 tons larger
in displacement, with 1,040 indicated horse-power, and steaming about
9-1/2 knots per hour. The plan gives an idea of these vessels which is
far from fulfilling the ideas of the present Atlantic traveller, who
considers himself a much-injured person if he has not electric lights
and bells, baths _ad libitum_, and a reasonable amount of cubic space
in which to bestow himself. None of the least of these existed in the
earlier passenger ships; a narrow berth to sleep in and a plentiful
supply of not over well prepared food were afforded, but beyond these
there was little—notwithstanding the whole of the ship was given up to
first-cabin passengers, emigrants not being carried in steamers until
1850, and it was not until 1853 that any steamer of the Cunard line was
fitted for their accommodation.

How little it was possible to do for the wanderer to Europe in those
days may be seen when comparison shows the Britannia to have been
but half the length of the Umbria, but two-thirds her breadth, but
six-tenths her depth, with much less than half her speed, and less than
one-twentieth her power.

The establishment of the Cunard line marked the setting of ocean steam
traffic firmly on its feet. What in 1835 had been stated by one of
the most trusted scientific men of that time as an impossibility, and
even in 1838 was in doubt, had become an accomplished fact; and while
the proof of the practicability of the American route was making,
preparations were in progress for the extension of steam lines which
were soon to reach the ends of the world. A detailed statement of
historic events is, of course, here out of place, but a mere mention of
other prominent landmarks in steam navigation is almost a necessity.
The founding of the Peninsular Company, in 1837, soon to extend its
operations, under the name of the Peninsular and Oriental, to India,
and the establishment, in 1840, of the Pacific Steam Navigation
Company, are dates not to be passed by. The establishment of the
latter line was due to one of our own countrymen—William Wheelwright,
of Newburyport, who, when consul at Guayaquil, grasped the conditions
of the coast, and through his foresight became one of its greatest
benefactors, and at the same time one of its most successful men. He
failed in interesting our own people in the venture, and turned to
London, where his success was greater. The Chili and Peru, the first
vessels of this now great fleet, despatched in 1840, were but 198 feet
long and of 700 tons. It was not until 1868 that the line was brought
into direct communication with England by the establishment of monthly
steamers from Liverpool to Valparaiso, _via_ the Straits of Magellan.
They had to await the diminished fuel consumption, which the company
itself did so much to bring about through compound engines and surface

In the following years we ourselves were not idle. In 1843 the
celebrated screw steamer Princeton—whose name is connected in so
melancholy a manner with the bursting of the “Peacemaker” and the
death of the then Secretary of the Navy, when he and a number of other
high officials were visiting the ship—was built for the navy after
Ericsson’s designs, and fitted with one of his propellers. She was
164 feet long, with 30 feet 6 inches beam, and a displacement, at 18
feet draught, of 1,046 tons. She had a very flat floor, with great
sharpness forward and excessive leanness aft. She may almost be taken
as representative of the later type in model. She had three boilers,
each 26 feet long, 9 feet 4 inches high, and 7 feet wide, with a grate
surface of 134 square feet. In 1845, Mr. R. B. Forbes, of Boston, so
long known for his intimate and successful connection with shipping
interests, built the auxiliary screw steamers Massachusetts and Edith
for transatlantic trade. The former was somewhat the larger, and was
178 feet long and 32 broad. Her machinery was designed by Ericsson, and
had 2 cylinders, 25 inches diameter, working nearly at right angles
to each other. The machinery was built by Hogg & Delamater, of New
York, and had the peculiarity of having the shaft pass through the
stern at the side of the stern-post, under a patent of Ericsson’s. The
propeller, on Ericsson’s principle, was 9-1/2 feet diameter, and could
be hoisted when the ship was under sail. She made but one voyage to
Liverpool, and was then chartered by our Government to carry troops to
Mexico, in 1846; but was later bought into the naval service and known
as the Farralones.

In June, 1847, the same year which witnessed the establishment of the
Pacific Mail Company, the Washington, of 4,000 tons displacement, and
of 2,000 indicated horse-power, was the pioneer of a line between New
York and Bremen, touching at Southampton. The Hermann followed a little
later, but was somewhat larger, the dimensions of the two ships being:

                  Washington. Hermann.
  Total length       236        241
  Beam                39         40
  Depth               31         31

Their displacement was about 4,000 tons. The Franklin followed in 1848,
and the Humboldt in 1850, both being a good deal larger than the two
preceding. The latter two were, however, employed only between New York
and Havre.

In 1850 the Collins line was formed, with a large Government subsidy.
In the same year the Inman line was established, with screw steamers
built of iron—two differences from the prevailing construction, which
were to bear so powerful an influence in a few years against the
success of steamers of the type brought out by the Collins company. In
1858 came the North German Lloyd, with the modest beginnings of its now
great fleet, and in 1861 the French Compagnie Transatlantique. In 1863
the National line was established; in 1866 the Williams & Guion (now
the Guion), which had previously existed as a line of sailing-packets;
and in 1870 the White Star.

These are those in which we are most interested, as they touch our
shores; but in the interval other lines were directed to all parts of
the world, few seaports remaining, of however little importance, or
lying however far from civilization, that cannot now be reached by
regular steam communication.

The establishment of the Collins line was one of the great events of
steamship history. We had been so successful upon our coasts, rivers,
and lakes, that it was but natural we should make some effort to do our
part with steam upon the greater field of international trade. It was
impossible that the monopoly which had existed for ten years in the
hands of the Cunard company should not be combated by some one, and
with the advent of the Collins line came a strife for supremacy, the
memories of which are still vivid in the minds of thousands on both
sides of the Atlantic.

The Cunard company at this time had increased their fleet by the
addition of the America, Niagara, Europa, and Columbia, all built
in 1848. Their machinery did not differ materially from that of the
preceding ships, in general design, but there had, in the course of
practice, come better workmanship and design of parts, and the boiler
pressure had been increased to 13 pounds, bringing the expenditure per
horse-power down to 3.8 pounds per hour. In these ships the freight
capacity had been nearly doubled, fifty per cent. had been added to
their passenger accommodation, and the company was altogether pursuing
the successful career which was due a line which could command $35 a
ton for freight from Liverpool to New York—a reminiscence which must
make it appear the Golden Age to the unfortunate steamship-owner of
to-day, who is now most happy with a seventh of such earnings.

The Collins steamers were a new departure in model and arrangement;
they were built by William H. Brown, a famous builder of the time;
exceeded in size and speed anything then afloat, and reduced the
journey in 1851 and 1852 to about 11 days—though some voyages were made
in less than 10 days. The Cunard line put afloat the Asia and Africa
as competitors, but they neither equalled the American steamers in
size nor speed. The former were of 3,620 tons displacement, with 1,000
indicated horse-power. The comparison of size between them and the
Collins steamers is as follows:

             Length.  Depth.  Beam. Draught.
               ft.    ft. in.  ft.  ft. in.
  Arctic       282    32       45   20
  Asia         266    27   2   40   18   9

The three other vessels of the Collins line were the Baltic, Atlantic,
and Pacific. They formed a notable fleet, and fixed for many years to
come the type of the American steamship in model and arrangement. They
were the work of a man of genius who had the courage to cast aside
tradition where it interfered with practical purposes. The bowsprit was
dispensed with; the vertical stem, now so general, was adopted, and
everything subordinated to the use of the ships as steamers.

But great disaster was in store for these fine ships. The Arctic, on
September 21, 1854, while on her voyage out, was struck by the French
steamer Vesta, in a fog off Cape Race, and but 46 out of the 268
persons on board were saved. The Pacific left Liverpool on June 23,
1856, and was never heard of after. The Adriatic, a much finer ship
than any of her predecessors, was put afloat; but the line was doomed.
Extravagance in construction and management, combined with the losses
of two of their ships and a refusal of further aid from the Government,
were too much for the line to bear, and in 1858 the end came. Ever
since, the European companies, with the exception of the time during
which the line from Philadelphia has been running and the time during
which some desultory efforts have been put forth, have had to compete
among themselves. The sworn statement of the Collins company had shown
the first four ships to have cost $2,944,142.71. The actual average
cost of each of the first 28 voyages was $65,215.64; and the average
receipts, $48,286.85—showing a loss on each voyage of $16,928.79.

To discuss the causes of our failure to hold our own in the carrying
trade of the world may seem somewhat out of place, but the subject is
so interesting in many ways that a few words may not be amiss.

The following is a comparative table showing the steam tonnage of the
United States and of the British Empire, beginning with the year in
which ocean steam navigation may be said to have been put fairly on its
feet. Our own is divided into “oversea,” or that which can trade beyond
United States waters, and “enrolled,” which includes all in home waters:

  Years| United States  |       |British
       |                | Total |Empire
  -----+-------+--------|       |(including
       |Oversea|Enrolled|       | Colonies)
   1838|2,791  |190,632 |193,423|    82,716
   1840|4,155  |198,184 |202,339|    95,807
   1842|4,701  |224,960 |229,681|   118,930
   1844|6,909  |265,270 |272,179|   125,675
   1846|6,287  |341,606 |347,893|   144,784
   1848|16,068 |411,823 |427,891|   168,087
   1850|44,942 |481,005 |525,947|   187,631
   1852|79,704 |563,536 |643,240|   227,306
   1854|95,036 |581,571 |676,607|   326,484
   1855|115,045|  ...   |  ...  |   ...
   1856|89,715 |583,362 |673,077|   417,717
   1858|78,027 |651,363 |729,390|   488,415
   1860|97,269 |770,641 |500,144|   500,144

It will be seen from this table how great the extension of the use of
the steamboat had been in the United States in these earlier years, as
compared with that elsewhere. In 1852 our enrolled tonnage had grown to
more than half a million tons, or well on to three times the whole of
that of the British Empire, and our oversea tonnage was about one-third
of that of Great Britain and her dependencies.

One reason for this very rapid increase in the enrolled tonnage was,
of course, the fact that railroads had not yet begun to seam the West,
as they were shortly to do: the steamboat was the great and absolutely
necessary means of transport, and was to hold its prominence in this
regard for some years yet to come. When this change came, there came
with it a change in circumstances which went far beyond all other
causes in removing our shipping from the great place it had occupied
in the first half of this century. But great as was the effect worked
by this change, there were certain minor causes which have to be taken
into account. We had grown in maritime power through the events of
the Napoleonic wars—which, though they worked ruin to many an unlucky
owner, enriched many more—as we were for some years almost the only
neutral bottoms afloat; we had rapidly increased this power during
the succeeding forty years, during which time our ships were notably
the finest models and the most ably commanded on the seas; the best
blood of New England went into the service, and one has but to read
the reports of the English parliamentary commissions upon the shipping
subject to realize the proud position which our ships and, above all,
our ships’ captains held in the carrying trade. We had entered the
steam competition with an energy and ability that promised much, but
we gave little or no heed to changes in construction until long after
they had been accepted by the rest of the world; and it is to this
conservatism, paradoxical as the expression may seem applied to our
countrymen, that part of our misfortune was due.

The first of the changes we were so unwilling to accept was that from
wood to iron; the other was that from paddle to screw. Even so late as
the end of the decade 1860-70, while all the world else was building
ships of iron, propelled by screws, some of which were driven by
compound engines, our last remaining great company, the Pacific Mail,
put afloat four magnificent failures (from the commercial point of
view), differing scarcely in any point, except in size, from those of
1850-56. They were of wood, and had the typically national over-head
beam engine. They were most comfortable and luxurious boats; but the
sending them into the battle of commerce at such a date, was like
pitting the old wooden three-decker with her sixty-four pounders
against the active steel cruiser of to-day and her modern guns. Many of
the iron screws built at the same time are still in active service; but
the fine old China, America, Alaska, and Japan are long since gone, and
with them much of the company’s success and fortune.

Of course, one great reason for this non-acceptance was the fact that,
with us, wood for ship-building was still plentiful, and that it was
cheaper so to build than to build in iron, to which material English
builders were driven by an exact reversal of these conditions; and the
retention of the paddle over the screw was due in a certain degree to
the more frequent necessity of repair of wooden screw ships, to which
it is not possible to give the necessary structural strength at the
stern to withstand successfully the jarring action of the screw at high

The part in advancing the British commercial fleet played by the
abrogation of the navigation laws, in 1849, which had their birth in
the time of Cromwell (and to which we have held with such tenacity, as
ours were modelled upon theirs), need only be barely mentioned. British
ship-owners were in despair at the change, and many sold off their ship
property to avoid what they expected to be the ruin of the shipping
trade, but the change was only to remove the fetters which they had
worn so long that they did not know them as such.

But the great and overwhelming cause, to which the effect of our
navigation laws were even secondary, was the opening up of the vast
region lying west of the earlier formed States; the building of our
gigantic system of railways; the exploitation, in a word, of the great
interior domain, of the possibilities of which, preceding 1850, we were
only dimly conscious, and so much of which had only just been added by
the results of the Mexican War. It is so difficult, from the present
standpoint, to realize the mighty work which has been done on the
American continent in this short space of forty years, that its true
bearings on this subject are sometimes disregarded. The fact that the
Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, at this date, was not running its trains
beyond Cumberland, Md., will give an impression of the vastness of the
work which was done later.

The period 1850-60 cannot be passed over without a mention of the Great
Eastern, though she can hardly be said to have been in the line of
practical development, which was not so much in enlargement of hull as
in change in character of machinery. Brunel’s son, in his “Life” of his
father, says: “It was no doubt his connection with the Australian Mail
Company (1851-53) that led Mr. Brunel to work out into practical shape
the idea of a great ship for the Indian or Australian service, which
had long occupied his mind.”

The Great Eastern was to attempt to solve by her bulk the problem
of coal capacity which was later to be solved by high pressures and
surface condensation. The ship finally determined on was 680 feet long,
83 feet broad, with a mean draught of 25 feet, with screw engines of
4,000 indicated horse-power and paddle-engines of 2,600, to work with
steam from 15 to 25 pounds pressure—thus curiously uniting in herself
at this transition period the two rival systems of propulsion. She
was begun at Millwall, London, in the spring of 1854, and was finally
launched, after many difficulties, on January 30, 1858. Her history
is too well known to be dwelt upon here. She has experienced many
vicissitudes and misfortunes, and it is well that her great projector
(who paid for her with his life, as he died the year after her
launching) did not live to see her used as an exhibit, in 1886, in the
River Mersey, her great sides serving to blazon the name and fame of a
Liverpool clothing establishment. She was sold the next year for the
pitiful sum of £8,000 and broken up.

The year 1855 marks the high-water mark of the paddle-steamer era. In
that year were built the Adriatic, by the Collins line, and the Persia,
as a competitor (and the twenty-eighth ship of the company), by the
Cunard. But the former was of wood, the latter of iron. She was among
the earlier ships of this material to be built by the Cunard company,
and, with the slightly larger Scotia, built in 1862, was, for some
years after the cessation of the Collins line, the favorite and most
successful steamer upon the Atlantic. She was 376 feet long, 45 feet 3
inches broad, and of about 5,500 tons displacement. Her cylinders were
100-1/2 inches diameter, with 120 inches stroke, and she had—as also
the preceding ship, the Arabia—tubular boilers instead of the old flue.

[Illustration: Model of the Persia and Scotia.]

  1830 +------------------------------------  9    lbs.
  1840 +----------------------                5-1/2 „
  1850 +----------------                      4     „
  1860 +------------                          3.1   „
  1870 +----------                            2.6   „
  1880 +--------                              2.2   „
  1886 +------                                1.5   „
  and  |

  Diagram showing Decrease in Expediture of Coal per indicated
  Horse-power per hour based on Good Average Practice

  1830— 2 @ 3 lbs.      +--
  1835— 5 lbs.          +--
  1840— 8  „            +--
  1845—10  „            +--
  1850—14  „            +---
  1855—21  „            +----
  1860—30  „            +-----
  1865—40  „            +-------
  1870—50  „            +---------
  1875—60  „            +-----------
  1880—70  „            +-------------
  1882—80  „            +---------------
  1885-6—150 @ 180 lbs. +--------------------------------

  Diagram showing increase in Steam-pressures based on good average

How great an advantage she was upon their first ship will be seen by
the following comparison:

                                      Britannia.  Persia.
  Coal necessary to steam to
    New York                           570 tons  1,400 tons
  Cargo carried                        224  „      750 „
  Passengers                            90         250
  Indicated power                      710       3,600
  Pressure per square inch               9 lbs.     33 lbs.
  Coal per indicated horse-power
    per hour                             5.1 „       3.8 „
  Speed                                  8.5 knots  13.1 knots

Thus, for two and a half times the quantity of coal nearly three and
a half times the cargo was carried, and nearly three times the number
of passengers. This result was due partially to increased engine
efficiency, and partially to increased size of ship; and thus to a
relative reduction of the power necessary to drive a given amount of

The Scotia was almost a sister ship to the Persia, slightly exceeding
her in size, but with no radical differences which would mark her
as an advance upon the latter. She was the last of the old régime
in the Atlantic trade, and the same year in which she was built saw
the complete acceptance by the Cunard company of the newer order of
things, in the building of the iron screw steamer China, of 4,000 tons
displacement, with oscillating geared screw engines of 2,200 indicated
horse-power, with an average speed of 12.9 knots on a daily expenditure
of 82 tons of coal. She was the first of their ships to be fitted with
a surface condenser. The Scotia had been built as a paddle steamer
rather in deference to the prejudices of passengers than in conformity
to the judgment of the company, which had put afloat iron screw ships
for their Mediterranean trade as early as 1852 and 1853.

       *       *       *       *       *

The introduction of surface condensation and of higher pressures were
the two necessary elements in a radical advance in marine engineering.
Neither of these was a new proposal;[3] several patents had been taken
out for the former at a very early date, both in America and in
England; and in 1838 the Wilberforce, a boat running between London
and Hull, was so fitted. Very high pressures, from almost the very
beginning, had been carried in the steamers on our Western waters; and
in 1811 Oliver Evans published, in Philadelphia, a pamphlet dealing
with the subject, in which he advocated pressures of at least 100 to
120 pounds per square inch, and patented a boiler which was the parent
of the long, cylindrical type which came into such general use in our
river navigation. The sea-going public resolutely resisted the change
to high pressures for nearly forty years, there being a very slow and
gradual advance from 1 and 2 pounds to the 8 and 9 carried by the Great
Britain and Britannia. In 1850 the Arctic carried 18 and in 1856 25 was
not uncommon. Some of the foremost early engineers favored cast-iron
boilers (see evidence before parliamentary committee, 1817); and the
boiler in general use in England up to 1850 was a great rectangular
box, usually with three furnaces and flues, all the faces of which were

[Illustration: Longitudinal Section of the Warship Duilio.]

Though tubular boilers did not displace the flue boiler in British
practice to any great degree before 1850, many examples were in use in
America at that date, but chiefly in other than sea-going steamers.
Robert L. Stevens, of Hoboken, built as early as 1832 “the now standard
form of return tubular boilers for moderate pressures” (Professor R.
H. Thurston). But it worked its way into sea practice very slowly; and
the multitubular boiler, in any of its several forms, cannot be said to
have been fairly adopted in either American or British sea-going ships
before the date first mentioned, though employed in the Hudson River
and Long Island Sound steamers, in one of the former of which, the
Thomas Powell, built in 1850, a steam pressure of 50 pounds was used.

[Illustration: The Britannic.]

There had been this slow and gradual advance in ocean steam pressures,
with a consequent reduction in coal expenditure, when in 1856 came
a movement in the direction of economy by the introduction of the
compound engine, by Messrs. Randolph Elder & Co. (later John Elder
& Co.), which was soon to develop into a revolution in marine steam
enginery. The Pacific Steam Navigation Company has the credit of first
accepting this change in applying it to their ships, the Valparaiso
and Inca. The original pressure used was 25 pounds to the inch: the
cylinders were 50 and 90 inches in diameter, and the piston speed from
230 to 250 feet per minute. The idea of using steam expansively by this
means was of course not new, as it dates back to Hornblower (1781),
but with the low pressures which had been used at sea there was no
reason for its adoption afloat. Difficulties were experienced by the
Pacific company with their earlier engines, but the line adhered to
their change, and for nearly fourteen years were almost alone in their

These changes made the use of a cylindrical boiler necessary, as the
form best able to withstand the increased pressure. The old box-like
shape has disappeared; and if the shade of Oliver Evans is ever able to
visit us, it must be with an intense feeling of satisfaction to find
his ideas of eighty years since now accepted by all the world.

       *       *       *       *       *

The date 1870 marks the advent of a new type of ship, in those of the
Oceanic Company, better known as the White Star line, built of iron
by Harland & Wolff, of Belfast—engined with compound engines, and of
extreme length as compared with their breadth. They established a new
form, style, and interior arrangement, which has largely been followed
by other lines, though the extreme disproportion of length and beam
is now disappearing. The Britannic and Germanic, the two largest of
the earlier of this line, are 468 feet in length and 45 feet 3 inches
in beam, carrying 220 cabin passengers and 1,100 in the steerage,
besides 150 crew. They develop 5,000 indicated horse-power, and make
their passage, with remarkable regularity, in about 8 days 10 hours to
Queenstown. The earlier ships of this line, when first built, had a
means of dropping their propeller-shaft so as to immerse more deeply
the screw; so many inconveniences, however, were associated with this
that it was given up. Their general arrangement was a most marked
advance upon that of their predecessors—an excellent move was placing
the saloon forward instead of in the stern, a change almost universally

In the same year with the Britannic came out the City of Berlin, of the
Inman line, for some years the largest steamer afloat (after the Great
Eastern), being 520 feet in length by 44 feet beam, of 5,000 indicated
power, and in every way a magnificent ship.

The Bothnia and Scythia were also built in 1874, by the Cunard company,
as representatives of the new type, but were smaller than the ships
of the same period built by the Inman and White Star lines. They were
of 6,080 tons displacement and 2,780 indicated horse-power, with a
speed of 13 knots. The pressure carried was 60 pounds. These ships had
by far the largest cargo-carrying capacity (3,000 tons measurement)
and passenger accommodation (340 first-cabin) of any yet built by the
company. With the addition of this great number of steamers, change
was not to be expected for some years; and it was not until 1879, when
the Guion company put afloat the Arizona, that a beginning was made of
the tremendous rivalry which has resulted in putting upon the seas,
not only the wonderful ships which are now running upon the Atlantic,
but in extending greatly the size and speed of those employed in other

Several things had combined in the latter part of this decade to bring
about this advance. The great change between 1860 and 1872, from the
causes already noted, which had reduced coal consumption by one-half,
was followed by the introduction of corrugated flues and steel as
a material for both boilers and hull. With this came still higher
pressures, which were carried from 60 to 80 and 90 pounds. In August,
1881, a very interesting paper was read by Mr. F. C. Marshall, of
Newcastle, before the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, in which
he showed that a saving of 13.37 per cent. in fuel had been arrived
at since 1872. The general type of engine and boiler had remained the
same in these nine years, but the increased saving had been due chiefly
to increased pressures. It is curious that at the reading of both the
paper by Sir Frederick Bramwell, in 1872, and that of Mr. Marshall, in
1881, there should have been pretty generally expressed a feeling that
something like a finality had been reached. So little was this opinion
true that, though over thirteen per cent. saving had been effected
between these two dates, a percentage of gain more than double this was
to be recorded between the latter date and 1886. In these matters it
is dangerous to prophesy; it is safer to believe all things possible.
Certainly the wildest dreamer of 1872 did not look forward to crossing
the Atlantic at 20 knots as a not unusual speed.

[Illustration: The Etruria]

In 1874 triple-expansion engines had been designed for the Propontis
by Mr. A. C. Kirk, of Napier & Sons, of Glasgow, which, on account
of failure in the boilers which were used, did not give at first the
results hoped for. In 1881 the Messrs. Napier fitted the Aberdeen with
engines of the same kind, steam at 125 pounds pressure per square
inch being used. In the next two years the change proceeded slowly,
but by 1885 the engineering mind had so largely accepted it that
a very large proportion of the engines built in that year were on
this principle, and at the present it may be regarded as being fully
accepted as was the compound engine ten years since. The saving in
fuel is generally reckoned at from twenty to twenty-five per cent.,
or, to put it more graphically, in the words of Mr. Parker, Chief
Engineer Surveyor of Lloyds, in his interesting paper, read in July,
1886, before the Institution of Naval Architects: “Two large passenger
steamers, of over 4,500 gross tonnage, having engines of about 6,000
indicated horse-power, built of the same dimensions, from the same
lines, with similar propellers, are exactly alike in every respect,
except so far as their machinery is concerned. One vessel is fitted
with triple-expansion engines, working at a pressure of 145 pounds per
square inch; while the other vessel is fitted with ordinary compound
engines, working at a pressure of 90 pounds per square inch. Both
vessels are engaged in the same trade and steam at the same rate of
speed, viz., 12 knots an hour. The latter vessel in a round voyage of
84 days burns 1,200 tons more coal than the former.”

In the epoch 1879 to 1887 the following great ships had been placed
upon the Liverpool and New York lines, their best speeds to that date
being as shown:

                                   Days.  Hours.  Minutes.
  1. Etruria                         6       5      31
  2. Umbria (sister ship)             slightly longer
  3. Oregon                          6      10      35
  4. America                         6      13      44
  5. City of Rome                    6      18       0
  6. Alaska                          6      18      37
  7. Servia                          6      23      55
  8. Aurania                         7       1       1

The time had thus been shortened much more than half since 1840, and
had been lessened forty per cent. since 1860.

In addition to the ships mentioned, there had been placed upon the
line from Bremen to New York (between 1879 and 1886) touching at
Southampton, England, eight new ships of the North German Lloyd,
which form 28 altogether, the most compact and uniform fleet upon
the Atlantic. The Trave, Saale, and Aller, were then marvels of
splendor and comfort, ranking in speed and power very little short of
the fastest of the Liverpool ships. They, as were the others of the
company’s eight “express” steamers, were built by the great firm of
John Elder & Co., of Glasgow, their machinery being designed by Mr.
Bryce-Douglas, to whose genius was also due that of the Etruria and
Umbria, the Oregon, Arizona, and Alaska. The engines of the Trave,
Saale, and Aller, however, were triple-expansion, as were the Gascogne,
Bourgogne, and Champagne (their equals in speed and equipment), of the
French Compagnie Transatlantique, which were built in France. All these
steamers are of steel, with cellular bottoms carefully subdivided, and
fitted with a luxury and comfort quite unknown thirty years ago.

[Illustration: Cross-section of the Oregon.]

[Illustration: Cross-section of the Servia.]

[Illustration: Triple-expansion Engine of the Aller, Trave, and Saale.]

It was difficult, if not almost impossible, to go beyond them without
a change to twin screws. If more than the Umbria’s power was to be
developed it was safer to use it through two shafts, and the depth of
water on the New York bar is a hindrance to the use of a much greater
diameter of screw. Mr. Griscom, of Philadelphia, was the bold manager
to take the first step by laying down the Inman Company’s ships in
1887, the first of which, the City of New York, was ready for trial in
thirteen months after the signing of the contract with Messrs. James &
George Thompson, of Clydebank: a wonderful performance. The Teutonic
and Majestic quickly after took shape in the yard of Messrs. Harland &
Wolff, of Belfast, the place of birth of all of the White Star fleet.
These two lines were thus the first to accept the changed conditions,
and the City of New York and City of Paris of the former, and the
Teutonic and Majestic of the latter, still mark the high-water mark of
achievement, both as regards performance as a machine and the comfort
and luxury of the passenger. The “Cities,” as they are familiarly
termed, are 560 feet in length, by 63 feet broad, displace 13,000 tons,
and indicate over 18,000 horse-power. The two White Stars are 582 feet
long, by 57 feet 6 inches broad, of 12,000 tons displacement, and of
nearly equal horse-power with their two great competitors. In less than
twenty years these lines had thus nearly doubled the size of their
ships, and more than tripled their power.

[Illustration: Longitudinal Section of the Champagne.]

It may be of interest to the American public to know that the City
of New York and City of Paris are but two of the largest fleet under
one management on the North Atlantic. Though under one control it is
under three flags—English, Belgian, and American—our own, thanks to
the wisdom of Congress, covering but a small contingent, though our
law-makers for several years have been besieged to allow them to become
American in nationality as well as ownership. It would certainly seem
that they were quite as worthy of it as some of our importations of
another kind, but we shall probably have to wait for a little more
breadth of thought and idea under the dome at Washington before this
change can be brought about.

The building of these four ships seems to have given an impetus to the
whole of the steamship world: the Hamburg-American lines started into
new life with the Columbia, Normannia, Augusta Victoria, and Fuerst
Bismarck, twin screws of 9,500 and 10,500 displacement, which have
averaged in their best runs from New York to Southampton 19.01, 18.91,
18.31, and 19.78 knots in the order named, the distance being about
3,075 knots.

The French Company has added the twin-screw Touraine of 11,675 tons
and 18-1/2 knots sustained speed to their already splendid fleet, and
the North German Lloyds have since 1887 built the Lahn, Spree, and
Havel, all single screws; and the two last of 7,000 tons with 13,000
horse-power and a speed of 18-1/2 knots. These latter ships would
probably have been twin screws had the docks of Bremerhaven afforded
sufficient width of entrance; but whether this be the case or not,
the probability is that in the future it will be the dock which will
yield and not the ship. There is no need to make comparison of these
ships in equipment. Luxury has been carried as far as the present human
invention and imagination can take it. Suites for families are arranged
with private sitting-rooms and private tables, so that, barring the
roll so uneasy to the unhappy landsman, one could scarce know the
change from the most luxurious apartment of the Brevoort.

Such are the ships of to-day, but displacement from their eminence
is already in discussion. The builders of the City of New York are
guaranteeing a vessel to cross the Atlantic in 5 days, or at a speed
of 23-1/2 knots, the probable elements of this projected vessel being
given by _Engineering_ as a length of 630 feet and a beam of 70, with
33,000 indicated horse-power. It is a long step, but one can hardly
doubt it will soon be taken.

But that this step will be greatly aided by any material change in
the marine steam engine in the very near future is not probable,
the difficulty is now not with the engine but with the boiler;
forced draught and the higher pressures call imperatively for a new
development in the steam producer; leaky tubes and joints and a
rapid deterioration through the effort to keep up the high pressures
necessary for the successful performance of the new type of engine are
the shortcomings which must be successfully combated before we can
make another great advance. Unfortunately there is another draw-back,
for which the remedy will be even more difficult, the suffering of the
firemen induced by the greater heat of the higher pressures. Let us
hope that genius will yet invent a mechanical stoker and that we may
not of necessity subject our fellow-beings to the 140° too frequently
found in our modern fire-rooms.

We may fitly place here a tabulation of the very wonderful achievements
of the ships first mentioned, based on official data in _Engineering_
of June 19 and July 10, 1891, and covering, in the case of the
Liverpool ships, the season of 1890, except for the City of Paris,
which is for 1889. (See table on p. 45.)

The coal consumption is also officially stated by the journal from
which the above is compiled as follows: The City of New York, 328 tons:
Teutonic, 316 tons: Etruria, 330 tons. This shows an actual expenditure
of about 1.6 lb. per hour in the case of the Teutonic: slightly greater
for the City of New York, and over 1.9 for the Etruria.

But in the month of August, 1891, both the Teutonic and Majestic won
still greater laurels, the latter crossing from Queenstown to New York
in 5 days 18 hours and 8 minutes; the former in 5 days 16 hours and 31
minutes, and averaging for the run of 2,778 miles 20.35 knots per hour,
the best day’s run being 517 knots.

_Fastest Passages of the more Important Steamers between New York and
English Ports during the Season of 1890._[5]

  Name              |Dimensions:        |Displace-|Piston|Boiler
                    |Length, Breadth,   |ment     |Stroke|Heating
                    |Depth              |         |      |Surface
   New York and     |                   |  Tons.  |Feet. |Sq. Ft.
   Queenstown       |                   |         |      |
  City of Paris     |560 × 63 × 43      | 13,000  |5     |50,265
                    |                   |         |      |
  City of New York  |560 × 63 × 43      | 13,000  |5     |50,040
                    |                   |         |      |
  Majestic          |582×57-1/2×59-1/8  | 12,000  |5     |40,972
  Teutonic          |582×57-1/2×59-1/8  | 12,000  |5     |40,972
  Etruria           |501-1/2×57.2×38.2  | 10,500  |6     |38,817
  Umbria            |501-1/2×57.2×38.2  | 10,500  |6     |38,817
  City of Rome      |546 × 52 × 58-3/4  | 11,230  |6     |29,286
    New York and    |                   |         |      |
    Southampton     |                   |         |Inches|
  Columbia          |480 × 56 × 38      |  9,500  |66    |34,916
  Normannia         |520 × 57-1/4 × 38  | 10,500  |66    |46,490
  Augusta Victoria  |480 × 56 × 36      |  9,500  |63    |36,000
  Lahn              |448 × 49 × 36-1/2  |  7,700  |72    |  ...

  Name              | Grate Area | Steam  |I.H.P.|Fastest |Direction
                    |            |Pressure|      | Trip   |
   New York and     |Square Feet.|Lbs.    |      |D. H. M.|
   Queenstown       |            |        |      |        |
  City of Paris     |was 1,293   |150     |18,350|5 19 18 |Westward
                    |now 1,026   |        |      |        |
  City of New York  |was 1,080   |150     |18,100|5 21 19 |Westward
                    |now 1,096   |        |      |        |
  Majestic          |    1,154   |180     |18,000|5 21 20 |Westward
  Teutonic          |    1,154   |180     |18,000|5 19  5 |Westward
  Etruria           |    1,606   |110     |14,300|6  6 57 |Westward
  Umbria            |    1,606   |110     |14,300|6  3 29 |Westward
  City of Rome      |    1,398   | 90     |11,890|6 22 30 |Eastward
    New York and    |            |        |      |        |
    Southampton     |            |        |      |        |
  Columbia          |    1,226   |150     |13,680|6 15  0 |Eastward
  Normannia         |    1,452   |160     |16,352|6 17  2 |Westward
  Augusta Victoria  |    1,120   |150     |14,110|6 22 32 |Eastward
  Lahn              |    ...     |150     | 9,500|7  3  0 |Eastward

  Name              |  Month  |Distance|Average|Average|Fastest
                    |         |        | Speed |  for  | Day’s
                    |         |        |       | Eight |  Run
                    |         |        |       |Months |during
                    |         |        |       |       |Season
   New York and     |         | Knots  | Knots | Knots | Knots
   Queenstown       |         |        |       |       |
  City of Paris     |August   |  2,788 | 20.01 | 19.02 | 515
                    |         |        |       |       |
  City of New York  |October  |  2,775 | 19.64 | 19.02 | 502
                    |         |        |       |       |
  Majestic          |September|  2,780 | 19.64 | 19.00 | ...
  Teutonic          |August   |  2,806 | 20.18 | 18.84 | 512
  Etruria           |July     |  2,845 | 18.80 | 18.29 | 481
  Umbria            |August   |  2,835 | 19.20 | 18.15 | 498
  City of Rome      |Aug.-Sep.|  2,787 | 16.73 | 16.18 | 424
    New York and    |         |        |       |       |
    Southampton     |         |        |       |       |
  Columbia          |October  |  3,045 | 19.15 | 18.68 | 492
  Normannia         |August   |  3,045 | 18.91 | 18.41 | 486
  Augusta Victoria  |September|  3,049 | 18.31 | 17.52 | 470
  Lahn              |October  |   ...  |  ...  | 17.29 | ...

  NOTE.—The nautical mile is one-sixtieth of a degree of the Equator,
  and is usually reckoned 6,080 feet, the statute mile being 5,280;
  twenty nautical miles are thus about twenty-three statute miles. The
  shortest distance is the arc of the great circle of the Earth passing
  through the two ports; any deviation from this by varying the course
  on account of intervening land or ice increases the distance to be

The crown is thus for the moment with the White Star, nor is it likely
to be torn away by anything short of the tremendous effort involved in
putting afloat a new, a bigger, and a more costly ship. Owners must, of
course, count the cost of such rivalry and must put against the gain
of say sixteen hours, in order to come to the desired five days and
twenty-three knots, the cost of the thousand or twelve hundred tons
more of coal which will have to be burned, the doubled number of engine
and fire-room force, the larger crew, the interest on the greater
investment. It is a large price to pay for a gain of so small a bit of
that we generally hold so cheap—but it will be paid.

       *       *       *       *       *

It has been impossible, of course, in a single chapter to do more than
touch upon the vast changes, and their causes, which have had place
in this great factor of human progress. Higher pressures and greater
expansions: condensation of the exhaust steam, and its return to the
boiler without the new admixture of sea-water, and the consequent
necessity of frequent blowing off, which comparatively but a few
years ago was so common; a better form of screw; the extensive use of
steel in machinery, by which parts have been lightened, and by the
use of which higher boiler-pressures are made possible—these are the
main steps. But in addition to steel, high pressures, and the several
other elements named which have gone to make up this progress, there
was another cause in the work chiefly done by the late W. Froude, to
be specially noticed as being that which has done more than the work
of any other man to determine the most suitable forms for ships, and
to establish the principles governing resistance. The ship-designer
has, by this work, been put upon comparatively firm ground, instead of
having a mental footing as unstable, almost, as the element in which
his ships are destined to float.

It is not possible to go below the surface of such a subject in a
popular paper, and it must suffice to speak of Mr. Froude’s deductions,
in which he divided the resistances met by ships into two principal
parts: the surface or skin friction, and the wave-making resistance
(which latter has no existence in the case of a totally submerged
body—only begins to exist when the body is near the surface, and has
its full effect when the body is only partially submerged). He showed
that the surface friction constitutes almost the whole resistance
at moderate speeds, and a very great percentage at all speeds; that
the immersed midship section area which formerly weighed so much in
the minds of naval architects was of much less importance than was
supposed, and that ships must have a length corresponding in a degree
to the length of wave produced by the speed at which they are to be

[Illustration: The Chilian Cruiser Esmeralda.]

He showed that at high speeds waves of two different characters are
produced: the one class largest at the bow, which separate from the
ship, decreasing in successive undulations without afterward affecting
her progress; the other, those in which the wave-crests are at right
angles to the ship’s course, and the positions of these crests have a
very telling effect upon the resistance.

As the ship’s speed is increased the spaces between the crests of these
lengthen in unison with the speed, and it has been shown that when the
speed is such that a wave-crest would be at the middle point of the
after body (or quarter) the wave-making resistance is least, and that
it is greatest when the hollow appears at this point.

A ship must therefore be of a length that depends largely upon the
length of wave which at a high speed she will tend to produce in order
that she may be driven at such a speed without an expenditure of power
disproportionate to the effect produced. This length, if very high
speeds are desired, is best wholly taken up in fining the entrance
and run, leaving no parallelism of middle body, and broadening and
deepening the ship to keep the necessary displacement. The wave-action
at several speeds is well shown in the illustrations, which are from
instantaneous photographs, showing the Chilian cruiser Esmeralda at
her full speed of 18 knots, when on her trial off Newcastle-upon-Tyne,
the Giovanni Bausan, of the Italian navy (almost a sister ship to the
Esmeralda), at a moderate speed, and H.M.S. Impérieuse, at about 17-1/4
knots. [See illustration, p. 64.] The following are the principal
details of the Esmeralda and Impérieuse:

               Displacement.  Length.  Beam.  Draught.  Horse-power.
  Esmeralda        3,000        270      42     18.3        6,500
  Impérieuse       7,390        315      62     26.0       10,180

The eddy-making resistance is greater or less, of course, as the form
is blunted or finer, and there is less resistance with a blunt bow and
finely formed after-body than were the two reversed. Our practical
towing friends will be glad to know that Mr. Froude substantiates their
oft-reiterated assertion that a log tows more easily butt-end foremost.
In the Merkara, a merchant ship built by Mr. Denny, of 3,980 tons, 360
feet length, 37.2 feet breadth, and 16.25 feet draught, this resistance
is, at all speeds, about eight per cent. of the surface friction, which
at the maximum speed of thirteen knots, at which she was intended to be
run, still formed nearly eighty per cent. of the whole resistance.

A very wonderful result of these experiments has been to show (in the
words of Mr. Froude) “what an exceedingly small force, after all, is
the resistance of a ship compared with the apparent magnitude of the
phenomena involved. Scarcely anyone, I imagine, seeing the new frigate
Shah (of 6,250 tons displacement) steaming at full speed (from sixteen
to seventeen knots) would be inclined, at first sight, to credit what
is nevertheless a fact, that the whole propulsive force necessary to
produce that apparently tremendous effect is only 27 tons—in fact, less
than one two-hundredth part of the weight of the vessel—and of this
small propulsive force at least 15 tons, or more than one-half, is
employed in overcoming surface friction simply.”

[Illustration: The Giovanni Bausan, of the Italian Navy. (From an
instantaneous photograph.)]

Of course, very small vessels, as torpedo-boats, have been driven
at very high speeds, but the power necessary is in enormous
disproportion as compared with the above, a development in 135-foot
torpedo boats of from 1,000 to 1,500 horse-power and more being not

The acceptance of the results of Mr. Froude’s deductions has naturally
led to an increase in the beam of fast ocean steamers; we find all
the later-built to be much broadened, and there is a still increasing
tendency in that direction. It is needless to say how much this means
in many ways to the passenger.

[Illustration: The Belted Cruiser Orlando, with Twin Screws.]

Collision will and must remain the great and really almost the one
danger which the North Atlantic traveller need fear. He can rarely hope
to cross in the usual steam route without experiencing a run of some
hundreds of miles through fog, especially on leaving or approaching
our coast. So long as the Gulf Stream and the cold inlying current
from the north move in juxtaposition as they do, so long will the fog
be almost always present upon the border-land dividing them. How easy
it is for a great ship to be sunk was shown in the case of the Oregon.
A blow from a pygmy schooner not more than one-tenth her size, and
a hole was opened through her side which unfortunate circumstances
combined to make fatal, and the great vessel, a triumph of human skill
in hull and machinery, is lying in a few hours upon the bottom of the
sea, with a million days of skilled labor, as represented by ship and
cargo, in this moment made valueless. Who can over estimate the care
and responsibility upon the man who commands such a ship? In what other
calling are they found as such a constant part of daily life?

The only remedy for such an accident as that which befell the unluckly
Oregon seems to be a subdivision such as is carried out in all the
greater ships of late years; and that this has been carried to a degree
which has made the finer passenger ships practically unsinkable, unless
under most exceptional circumstances, would seem quite sure.[6]

       *       *       *       *       *

How wonderful has been the scale upon which this great industry of
carriage by steam vessels has grown can only be shown by tables of

The steam tonnage in the United States, Great Britain, France, and
Germany, beginning with 1840, was as follows:

        |         United States.        |         |         |
        +----------+----------+---------+         |         |
  Years.|Registered| Enrolled |         |         |         |
        |    for   |   and    |  Total. | United  | France. | German
        | oversea. | licensed.|         | Kingdom.|         | Empire.
        |   Gross  |  Gross   |  Gross  |         |         |
        |   tons.  |  tons.   |  tons.  |Net tons.|Net tons.| Net tons.
  1840  |    4,155 |  198,184 |  202,339|   87,539|   9,535 |   ...
  1850  |   44,942 |  481,005 |  525,947|  167,698|  13,925 |   ...
  1860  |   97,296 |  770,641 |  867,937|  452,352|  68,025 |   ...
  1870  |  192,544 |  882,551 |1,075,095|1,111,375| 154,415 |  81,994
  1875  |  191,689 |  976,979 |1,168,668|1,943,197| 205,420 |  183,569
  1880  |  146,604 |1,064,964 |1,211,558|2,720,551| 277,759 |  215,758
        |          |          |         |         | (1884)  |  (1884)
  1885  |  186,406 |1,308,511 |1,494,917|3,969,728| 511,072 |  413,943
       {|  197,630 |1,661,458 |1,859,088|5,112,683| 503,791 |  722,521
  1890 {|          |          |         |  Gross  | Gross   |  Gross
       {|          |          |         |  tons.  | tons.   |  tons.
       {|          |          |         |8,167,762| 848,522 |1,054,899

This statement, showing our steam tonnage registered for foreign trade
to be 6,000 tons less in 1885 than in 1870, is not an encouraging one,
especially when taken in connection with the fact that our tonnage in
foreign trade has steadily lessened, and the percentage of our imports
carried in American vessels has dwindled from 75.2 per cent. in 1856
to 66.5 in 1860; to 35.6 per cent. in 1870; and to 12.29 per cent. in
1890. Even during the civil war it never fell below 27.5 per cent.

       *       *       *       *       *

The amount of steam tonnage built in the United States and in Great
Britain at intervals of five years from 1855 is as follows:

        |       United States.
  Years.|Number.|  Tonnage.  |Average
        |       |            |tonnage.
        |       |Gross tons. |
  1855  |  246  |   72,760   |   296
  1860  |  275  |   69,370   |   259
  1865  |  411  |  145,696   |   356
  1870  |  290  |   70,621   |   244
  1875  |  323  |   62,460   |   193
  1880  |  348  |   78,853   |   229
  1885  |  338  |   84,333   |   249
  1890  |  410  |  159,045   |
        |       United Kingdom.
  Years.|Number.|  Tonnage.  |Average
        |       |            |tonnage.
        |       | Net tons.  |
  1855  |  278  |  106,872   |   385
  1860  |  234  |   67,699   |   289
  1865  |  453  |  211,665   |   467
  1870  |  512  |  267,896   |   523
  1875  |  428  |  226,701   |   530
  1880  |  629  |  414,831   |   660
  1885  |  487  |  221,918   |   456
        |       |            |
        |       | Gross tons.|
  1890  |  632  |1,076,220[7]| 1,700

The startling steam tonnage of 1883 (nearly three-quarters of a million
tons) built in Great Britain, of which 134,785 were built at Glasgow,
125,870 at the Tyne ports, and 117,776[8] at Sunderland, was followed
by a great depression. In 1884 but a little over half that of the
preceding year was built (415,095 tons); and in 1885 this was again
almost halved, the output falling to only 221,918 tons, and the average
size also falling off from 724 tons in 1883 to 456 in 1885. But in
the last five years Great Britain has moved forward with a constantly
accelerated pace, culminating in the vast figures of 1890, when she put
afloat over 80 per cent. of the world’s production for the year.

Nearly or, practically, quite all of the vast fleet represented by
these figures are of iron or steel; the tonnage of the wooden steamers
generally falling in later years in Great Britain to a total of 1,000
tons or less, and this made up of vessels averaging not more than 30
tons each.

[Illustration: The City of Rome.]

Steel may be said to have almost supplanted iron as a material; in
1880 but 10 per cent. of British steam vessels were built of this,
as against 90 per cent. of iron; in 1890 but 4 per cent. were of
the latter metal. There is, however, a tendency on the part of some
owners to return to iron as less liable to the pitting caused by the
galvanic action arising from want of homogeneity in the steel; a
vessel’s bottom, unless well guarded by protective compositions, being
frequently severely corroded, generally in small pits the size of a
pea, but often extending to large patches.

One would think that this immense yearly addition of steamships
represented in the foregoing tables would soon go beyond the world’s
needs, but the almost incredible losses from wrecks, casualties, and
other reasons for disappearance from the register, must be considered.
There were lost or abandoned, in the fiscal year ending June 1890, 238
steamers and 588 sailing vessels of our fleet, a total of 165,508 tons;
311,220 tons disappearing in the same period from the British Register,
going to swell the gigantic total of 6,795 vessels, representing
2,349,034 tons of British shipping totally lost at sea in the ten years
1880-89 inclusive.

In the face of these tremendous figures the ship-builder need not
despair—he need only wait; a few slack years and the gaps in the ranks
become so great that building of necessity must re-begin. The lives
of ships are indeed more precarious than those of us mortals. They
perish at the annual rate of about 30 in the 1,000, whereas our general
chances are one-third better. But these losses of ships carry with
them the lives of many brave men; with the wrecks above enumerated
more than 20,000 persons perished. In this bald statement what vistas
of suffering, incapacity, carelessness, negligence, misfortune, and
heroism are opened up!

Despite the danger of prophecy it would seem safe to say that we
shall not go, in the next five years, far beyond the changes which
had taken pretty complete shape by 1887. For a while at least the
startling transitions of the last decade are not to be looked for, and
we can only expect greater power in greater ships on the lines already
established. It is well these great transitions should not come too
frequently; the ship-owner should be allowed a little breathing time,
and should not be continually oppressed by a nightmare of obsolete
ships. We may safely say, too, that our own country will have a greater
share in shipbuilding than in past years. Our output since 1885 has
been steadily increasing, and though the amount has not been great, the
change wrought in our shipyards has been revolutionary. The demands
of the navy have enabled them to extend and reorganize their plant
and staff until they are now on a plane with the best of the world.
Coincident with the transformation of the shipyards, and for the same
reason, has been that of our steel industry, whereby we now have
establishments which it is not Chauvinistic to say are more perfectly
equipped than elsewhere.[9] If the rebuilding of the navy had served no
other purpose, it had been money well spent.

Having reached this stage our builders can now take large orders much
more cheaply than a few years since, and which in 1887 they could not
have taken at all had it been required to supply all parts from our
own industrial establishments. This fact, taken with the dawn of a
new era in our commercial relations, wherein the ship-owner will have
a fair chance of carrying both ways, gives good prospect of an early
rehabilitation of our ancient power upon the sea.


[1] Report of Lecture in the Liverpool Albion, delivered in Liverpool,
December, 1835.

[2] The account given of the Savannah is condensed from Admiral
Preble’s Notes for a History of Steam Navigation.

[3] Daniel Dod, an American citizen, was granted a patent November 29,
1811, in which he states: “I form the condenser of a pipe or number of
pipes condensed together; and condense the steam by immersing the pipes
in cold water, either with or without an injection of water.”

The present surface condenser consists essentially of a great number of
small brass tubes, about three-fourths of an inch in diameter, passing
through an air-tight chamber. The exhaust steam from the cylinders
enters the chambers, and cold water is constantly pumped through the
tubes. The steam is condensed by contact with the cold tubes, and the
water thus obtained pumped back to the boiler in a fresh state, instead
of being mixed with about thirty times its weight of salt water, as
in the old jet condenser. Practice varies, the steam sometimes being
passed through the tubes and the water around them.

[4] The Naval Chronicle of 1818, vol. xxxix., p. 277, speaking of
the steamers on the Clyde, says: “No serious accident has occurred
since their introduction, which is more than two years. The secret of
security consists in using large steam-engines of great power and small
pressure. If the boilers of cast-iron should in any part give way, a
piece of cloth is firmly wedged in the hole, and the vessel proceeds
without any danger or inconvenience to the passengers.”

[5] Compiled from official data in Engineering, June 19 and July 10,

[6] A fuller discussion of this subject is given in the chapter on
“Safety on the Atlantic.”

[7] This is as shown by Lloyd’s Register, 1891-92; the official
returns, dealing with the official year, give 609 vessels and 537,605
net tons; our own net tonnage is about 74 per cent, of the gross shown.

[8] The figures for these three ports are exclusive of the tonnage
built on foreign account.

[9] I use here the opinion, expressed to the writer, by a great
English steel manufacturer, whose establishment stands at the head of
the industry abroad.




From the earliest days the question of the speed of ships has been one
of interest to those associated with nautical matters, both from its
commercial value, its value in times of emergency, and its forming the
chief attraction of a pastime common to all maritime nations. There is
no doubt that the emulation excited by the yacht-race of to-day does
not exceed that of the ancients in their galley races. The skill of the
naval architect is always more or less directed to getting the best
possible speed permitted by the other conditions imposed upon him in
the designing of ships of all classes, and his reputation has been, and
is to-day, perhaps, more dependent on this than on any other subject
connected with his profession. To-day he is faced with a competition
that did not exist in the past, and his ears are constantly assailed by
the cry for higher speed; and whereas a few years ago it was a common
impression that the maximum limit had been reached, we have witnessed,
during the past three or four years, performances by ships, both large
and small, of speeds then undreamed of. It is quite true that there has
existed in the minds of visionaries, whose chief occupation is to add
to the receipts of the patent offices, speeds even beyond those now
attained, and although it is possible that some of their predictions
may be verified, it is at the same time certain that success will not
be achieved by the means suggested by these gentlemen. It is common
experience with shipowners and shipbuilders to have propounded to
them means whereby even thirty knots per hour may be realized, and
these backed up by very elaborate calculations as proof, but which,
when investigated, are found, like those of a well-known writer of
scientific romance, to be wanting in some little detail, insignificant
at first sight, but absolutely essential to complete the proof. So
far no great departure from the existing form of ship, nor from the
method of propulsion, has resulted in obtaining a higher speed than
is common with ordinary ships of the same dimensions; and in nearly
every case such departures have mortified the inventors as well as
disappointed the public by turning out absolute failures; and there
is no good reason to suppose that further successes than have already
been attained will be achieved in any other way than by improving the
conditions that now obtain, both as regards form of ship and method of
propulsion, inasmuch as the physical causes which combine to retard
the motion of a vessel, and the physical forces which are employed
in overcoming that resistance, remain to-day as they ever were, and
are—in fact, Nature’s immutable laws. The commercial question is also
one that presses very hardly at all times and must continue to do so
more and more, as will be seen later on. The Atlantic greyhound of
to-day is, in immersed form, substantially that of the viking’s craft
of more than a thousand years ago. And if we look to Nature for our
study we shall find that the swiftest fish are not unlike in general
form to the submerged part of a ship; and the comparison is the more
easily accepted when it is remembered that the fish is wholly submerged
while the ship is only partially so. The one has to contend with
waves and other surface disturbances, and must perforce keep above
the water, while the other is free from such disturbing elements and
conditions, and pursues its course in practically smooth water. H. B.
M. S. Polyphemus is the nearest approach to the fish conditions in a
sea-going ship that has proved successful.

[Illustration: H. B. M. S. Polyphemus at Full Speed—18-5/8 knots.]

In order to produce motion at all, the _inertia_ of the ship, or that
quality which every concrete body possesses of remaining at rest until
disturbed, has to be overcome, and when the ship is in motion through
the water there is resistance of a two-fold kind—that due to the
disturbance of the water, and that due to the frictional resistance
of the immersed surface. If a thin sheet of metal is moved edgewise
through water it offers a decided resistance, even if its surface be
smooth and bright; it will also be noted that this resistance increases
very rapidly as the speed is increased, and that the larger the area
the greater is the resistance. If this sheet of metal is moved in a
direction at right angles to its surface the resistance is of course
great: in fact, it is very great compared with that of the previous
experiment, and the disturbance of the water is considerable. If a log
of timber is to be towed from one place to another, it is a common
observation that an experienced boatman causes it to move with its
big end first, because he finds it easier work that way than with the
smaller end first; in the latter case he has the same section of timber
offering resistance to the log’s passage, but owing to its wedge-like
form the pressure on its long sides is greater than when towed the
other way, and the friction of the water past these sides—which are
generally more or less rough—causes very great resistance; no doubt,
for the same reason, those forms of ships adopted for centuries by
some European nations, and known to mariners as “cod’s-head and
mackerel-tail” shape, were such good sailers; and if to-day we were
content with the maximum speed attained by such vessels, it is
possible we might copy their form with advantage. If, however, we
attempted to move them, either by sail or mechanical power, at a higher
rate, we should find the increase in speed to be of no account, but
the increase in wave disturbance would be great; in other words, the
greater portion of the additional power would be used up in producing
this water disturbance, or waves, instead of propelling the ship.

When the propeller of a steamer is first set in motion it does little
else than project a stream of water in the direction opposite to that
in which it is desired to move the vessel; it is presently seen that
the latter begins to move, indicating that the inertia of the ship
has been overcome by the reaction of that stream of water from the
propeller; the propeller still continues to project the stream, the
ship in the meanwhile increasing in speed, or, as sailors term it,
“gathering way,” showing that the power expended is still in excess
of the resistance of the ship, inasmuch as something is producing
an augmentation of speed; it is afterward noticed that the ship
continues to move at a uniform rate, and that the stream of water is
still projected by the propeller, but at a lower velocity compared
with the surrounding still water than was the case when the vessel
was at rest. This means that the power and the resistance are evenly
balanced, and that the work done by the ship in moving forward is
exactly equal to that of the water moving in the opposite direction
through the surrounding water. The vessel has now stored up in herself
what is called _energy_, which is the power developed in overcoming the
_inertia_, so that if the engine stops she still progresses forward and
does not come to a standstill until the whole of that stored-up power
is expended. If the vessel is a large and heavy one, its speed will
be, when under way, virtually uniform, in spite of casual changes of
resistance due to wind and waves; and this is one of the reasons for
large ships being a necessity for successful passages on stations like
the North Atlantic, and it is likewise one of the reasons why light
craft like torpedo-boats show such a poor performance in stormy weather.

The primary condition for high speed is fineness of form, so that the
water at the bow of the vessel may be separated and thrown to one side,
and brought to rest again at the stern and behind the vessel with the
least possible disturbance, and the measure of efficiency of form for
the maximum speed intended is inversely as the height of the waves of
disturbance. A ship that has been designed to attain a speed of 15
knots will, when moving at 12 knots, show a very slight disturbance
indeed, and in one designed for 18 knots, when moving at this lower
speed, it will be scarcely observable; but however fine the lines of a
ship may be, she must at every speed produce some disturbance, although
it may be very slight, as the water displaced by her must be raised
above the normal level and replaced at the normal level; hence, at or
near the bow of a ship there is always the crest of a wave, and at or
near the stern the hollow of one. When a vessel is going at its maximum
speed, and is properly designed for that speed, the wave should not
be very high, nor should it extend beyond the immediate neighborhood
of the bow; likewise the wave of replacement should be the same at or
near the stern of a ship, and the “wake,” or disturbance of water left
behind in the track of the ship, should be narrow.

Among naval architects and others it is usual to judge of the forms
of ships by the relation they bear to rectangular blocks of the same
dimensions; that is to say, a ship whose dimensions are—length,
100 feet; breadth, 20 feet, and draft of water, 10 feet, and whose
displacement is 12,000 cubic feet, would be said to have a coefficient
of fineness of 0.6, or that her fineness was sixty per cent., inasmuch
as that of a rectangular block[10] of the same dimensions would be
20,000 cubic feet.

Modern experience has shown that for speeds not exceeding 9 knots,
and with ships of the tonnage now common for general ocean work, the
bow may be very bluff and the stern only sufficiently fine to allow
free access of water to the propeller, so that the coefficient of such
vessels is frequently 0.78, whereas that of our fastest warships is
only 0.5, and of our large modern passenger steamers 0.55. As already
stated, in the ship whose coefficient is 0.78 any increase of power
produces very little gain in speed, and if such a ship were fitted with
engines and boilers of the same size and developing the same power as
those of a 20-knot Atlantic greyhound, the increase in speed would be
very insignificant, but the disturbance in its immediate neighborhood
would be very great; in fact, if any vessel is driven beyond a speed
for which her form is suitable, she produces waves[11] both numerous
and high, as may be seen by reference to the

illustration of H. B. M. S. Impérieuse being driven at her full speed of
17-1/4 knots when laden much deeper than the designed draft [p. 64].

As before mentioned, when speaking of the experiment with a thin sheet
of metal, the resistance to passage through the water increases very
rapidly with the increase of speed, and careful observation has shown
that _such increase is proportionate to the square of the speed_, so
that an immersed body has four times the resistance when moving at
twice the speed, and since it will travel double the distance in the
same time the power required is eight times as great; that is, _the
power needed to propel a ship varies as the cube of the speed_. It was
also discovered that the _power varied with the cube root of the square
of the displacement_; although more correct modern experiment has shown
that this variation is not strictly true, it is sufficient for the
purpose of this article to assume that it is so.

[Illustration: The Impérieuse going at Full Speed. (From an
instantaneous photograph.)]

[Illustration: The North German Lloyd Steamer Kaiser Wilhelm II.]

The indicated horse-power [called I. H.-P. for brevity], or that power
developed by the engine as registered by the indicator, is not all
usefully applied to the propulsion of a steamship. A large portion
of it is used up in overcoming the resistance of the engine itself,
as well as the necessary adjuncts of it, amounting often to thirteen
per cent. Then, again, another portion is absorbed in overcoming the
resistance of the propeller and its shafting; and as at present there
is no accurate method of determining these portions, the net effective
horse-power, or that usefully employed in propelling the vessel, can
only be guessed at, or approximated to by calculations more or less
abstruse. It is, however, the gross, or _indicated_, horse-power that
has to be obtained and paid for, and that, therefore, is the element
that has to be considered in practice; so that, from this consideration
alone, any great increase in speed has to be very dearly paid for.
Moreover, as has already been said, to admit of a higher speed the
ship must be made much finer, which means that her carrying capacity
for cargo and fuel has to be decreased; besides which the greater
engine-power will add to the dead load, thus still further diminishing
the vessel’s capability for carrying. This may be better understood by
taking a steamer of moderate dimensions, and such as for many years
was deemed sufficient for the Atlantic trade, say 300 feet long, 40
feet beam, and having a draft of water of 20 feet. Such a craft would
have a displacement of about 4,800 tons, could steam 10 knots per hour
with 1,000 I. H.-P., and carry 3,000 tons of cargo, fuel, stores, and
equipment. Taking the distance to be steamed at 3,200 knots, and the
consumption of fuel at 4 pounds per I. H.-P., it will be seen that
the net consumption of coal is 571 tons; adding to this twenty-five
per cent. for contingencies of weather, for raising steam, cooking,
heating, etc., the ship would have to leave port with 714 tons of fuel
and rather less than 2,300 tons of cargo, stores, etc., on board. If a
steamship of similar dimensions were required to do the voyage at 15
knots, her design would have to be such that the displacement would
not be more than 4,100 tons, the I. H.-P. at least 3,400, and the
amount of fuel stored at the commencement of the voyage 1,618 tons. The
machinery would probably have to be at least 400 tons heavier, so that
the capacity for cargo, stores, etc., would now be reduced to 1,000
tons. The cost, too, would be greatly increased on account of the extra
engine-power, and the expense in fuel would be more than doubled. The
engine-and boiler-room staff would likewise be materially increased,
while the earning power of the vessel would be less than half.

Seeing, however, that the power required for a certain speed varies
with the cube root of the displacement squared, the proportion of power
to tonnage will decrease considerably with the increase in the size,
so that if, instead of the steamer above referred to of 4,100 tons,
one were taken of 8,200 tons, the I. H.-P. for 15 knots—all other
things remaining the same—would be very little more than 5,000; _i.
e._, with a ship of twice the size the increase of engine-power is only
forty-seven per cent. The carrying capacity and consequent earning
power of such a boat is immeasurably more than that of the small one.
The larger ship will, moreover, make better passages, and generally be
much more economical in working, as the officers and crew will not very
largely exceed that of the smaller vessel.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was, however, owing to the more economical engine that advances in
speed were rendered possible, and this is seen by referring back to the
original ship, and supposing that instead of engines burning 4 pounds
of coal per I. H.-P., it had ones consuming only 2-1/2 pounds per I.
H.-P. in which case the expenditure on the voyage would be reduced from
1,618 tons to 1,004 tons; so that 600 tons more cargo could be taken
and the cost of 600 tons of fuel per voyage saved. This was actually
the case on the substitution of compound for old-fashioned low-pressure
jet-injection engines fitted to the Cunard Company’s steamers as late
as 1862, when their largest, fastest, and most improved steamer, the
Scotia, was put on the service. But it was not until many years after
the advent of the Scotia that such economic engines were in general use
on the Atlantic, and it was only in 1874-75, when the Inman Company
and White Star Company placed steamships having these engines in
competition with the old-fashioned ones, that the day of the latter was

[Illustration: Passenger Steamer Princesse Henriette at Full
Speed—24-1/2 miles per hour.

(Built by William Denny & Co., Dumbarton.)]

The first pioneers of steamship construction were apparently satisfied
to find their efforts result in some motion, for we find exultation
rather than disappointment in the accounts extant of Patrick Miller’s
experiments with a small steamer on a Scotch canal in the year 1787;
and later, in 1789, when, with a larger and better boat and machinery,
he was able to obtain a speed of 7 miles an hour (equivalent to
6.07 knots[12]) it was deemed a great achievement; later still, in
1807, Fulton’s first attempt with the steamship Clermont, in a run
from Albany to New York and back, the average speed was only 5 miles
an hour. In those days so long as a steamer was able to face wind
and tide she was deemed a success. The competition of steamers in
early times (when there was any) was with sailing ships, or with
land conveyances whose maximum rate would be 10 miles an hour, and
that effected at considerable cost in horse-flesh. It is, however,
true that sailing ships did then, and can now, sail, under favorable
circumstances, at very much higher rates than we have just mentioned,
and even as much as 15 knots can be obtained with one of fine lines
with a favoring wind; but a sailing ship is not always free to traverse
the shortest distance from port to port, and even when wind and weather
permit of this, the _average_ speed falls far below 15 knots with the
best-designed vessels; hence if a steamer could do 9 knots she would
make shorter passages than any sailer; and from the nearer approach
to uniformity in the time occupied, passengers were attracted to
steamships, and the passenger sailing vessel, except for very long
voyages, became a thing of the past.

The Clermont, constructed by Fulton in America, and supplied by him
with engines made by Messrs. Bolton & Watt, in Birmingham, England,
was 133 feet long, 18 feet broad, and 9 feet deep; the engine had
a diameter of piston of 24 inches with 4 feet stroke; she took 32
hours performing the voyage from Albany to New York, and 30 hours in
returning—the journey can now be done in one-fourth that time. In 1815
the steamship Caledonia was placed on the service between Margate
(England) and Holland, and her speed did not exceed 7-1/2 knots per
hour. Steamships now perform the passage at double that speed, and the
most recent additions to the continental service between Dover and
Ostend are steamboats that can travel at nearly three times the pace
of the Caledonia. The Princesse Henriette is 300 feet long, 38 feet
broad, and 13 feet 6 inches deep, and has engines whose cylinders are
58 inches and 104 inches diameter, with a stroke of 6 feet, and on page
69 is shown a drawing of her, taken from a photograph when travelling
on her trial trip at a speed of 21.28 knots, or 24-1/2 statute miles
per hour.

[Illustration: Engines of the Comet.]

The first steamboat constructed and used for serviceable purposes in
Great Britain was the Comet, built by Henry Bell, on the Clyde, in
1812. She was only 40 feet long, 10 feet broad, of 24 tons measurement;
her engines were of 4 nominal horse-power, and of very curious design,
as shown by the engraving on page 70; her speed under favorable
conditions was only 5 miles an hour. She continued to ply for some
years between Glasgow and Greenock, and was doubtless a very great
convenience to the public at that time; but the advance that has been
made in the construction of river steamers for service on the Clyde and
its estuary is seen by reference to the illustration of the steamer
Duchess of Hamilton, whose dimensions are length, 250 feet; breadth, 30
feet; and depth 10 feet; her engines having cylinders 34-1/2 inches and
60 inches diameter, with a piston-stroke of 5 feet. Her speed is over
18 knots, or very nearly 21 miles per hour, at which rate she was going
when the photograph was taken.

[Illustration: Passenger Steamer Duchess of Hamilton at Full Speed—21
miles per hour. (Built for service on the Clyde.)]

The paddle steamer Puritan is another example of the very great
progress made since the days of the Clermont, and is also a marked
advance in many ways on the Bristol, which was the wonder of a few
years ago; and another noted case is the steamship Columba, built for
service on the Clyde.

The first steamships to cross the Atlantic from England were the Sirius
and Great Western,[13] names never to be forgotten. The Great Western
was built at Bristol, England, and completed in the year 1838. She was
212 feet long, 35 feet 4 inches broad, and 1,340 tons burden, and had
engines of 450 nominal horse-power. She did the voyage from Bristol
to New York in 15 days. The time of her quickest passage, given in
the table on page 80 as 10 days, 10 hours, and 15 minutes, is not
the actual passage, but is the equivalent of a passage reckoned from
Queenstown to Sandy Hook.

[Illustration: Passenger Steamer Columba at Full Speed—21 miles per
hour. (Built for Clyde passenger service.)]

In 1840 the Britannia, the first of the Cunard steamers, was put on
her station. She was a paddle boat, built of wood, and was 207 feet
long. Her speed on service was about eight and a half knots, so that
she did the passage in 15 days.

Ten years later the now renowned Inman Line commenced with an iron
screw steamer named the City of Glasgow, of 1,600 tons burden, and 350
nominal horse-power, a new departure in both ship and propeller.

It was not until 1855 that the Cunard Company built an iron steamer,
and they continued to employ paddle boats until 1862, when the
celebrated steamship Scotia was completed.

It is interesting to note, in passing, that the average length of
voyage in the Cunard Line, in 1856, from Liverpool to New York was
12.676 days, and from New York to Liverpool 11.036 days.

Thirteen years after the Scotia was built the White Star Company placed
on the station two vessels that were very great advances on anything
then existing; they were marvels of the ship-builder’s and marine
engineer’s skill, and even to-day hold their own in many respects
with the most modern ships. That these should compete successfully,
and eventually drive off the line such a ship as the Scotia is easily
seen by reference to contrasted particulars in the table on page 78.
The Britannic is a screw vessel 455 feet long; her I. H.-P. on trial
trip was 5,400, and at sea is about four thousand nine hundred, or
practically the same as that of the Scotia; but the speed on trial
was nearly two knots more, and the average of eleven voyages gives a
mean of 15.045 knots per hour; while as recently as September, 1890,
in her old age, she traversed the Atlantic from New York to Queenstown
at an average speed of 16.08 knots. She has compound engines with 4
cylinders, the two high-pressure being each 48 inches diameter, and
the two low-pressure each 83 inches diameter, with a stroke of 5
feet. Her consumption of coal will be about one hundred and thirty
tons per day, and on leaving port she will have on board, say 1,300
tons of fuel. She can carry a considerable cargo. The weight of her
machinery is 1,112 tons. She and her sister ship, the Germanic, were
in their day admitted to be all that could be desired; almost as much
as was physically possible, and certainly as much as was then possible

Since then, however, many changes have taken place that will be alluded
to later on, so that to-day we have numerous boats running on the
Atlantic at an average speed of 19 to 20 knots, with a reputation for
being commercial successes as well as triumphs of engineering skill.

The most recent and noteworthy of these are the steamships Teutonic and
Majestic, owned by the same enterprising gentlemen, and constructed by
the same famed builders as the Britannic and Germanic; and the City
of Paris and City of New York, sailing under the same house flag as
the steamship City of Berlin, which was a worthy competitor of the

The Majestic is a twin-screw steamer of 9,851 tons gross, 565 feet
long (or 110 feet more than the Britannic). Each screw is driven by a
set of triple-expansion engines. Her consumption of fuel is about two
hundred and ninety tons per day, while on leaving port she will have
on board about two thousand four hundred tons of coal. Her I. H.-P. on
trial trip was 17,000. Her best speed on service is a mean of 20.18,
and taking the mean of ten voyages it is 19.72 knots. A picture of the
ship, taken while afloat on the Mersey, is shown on page 75.

The City of Paris is 10,499 tons gross register, and is 527 feet long:
she also is a twin-screw vessel. It will be observed by comparison
with the Majestic [see table, p. 78] that the City of Paris is the
larger ship, although she is 38 feet shorter, her extra beam of 5.4
feet giving her this advantage. Her speed with 20,100 I. H.-P. is
21.952 knots, her best run on service being 20.01 knots; and her daily
consumption of coal is about three hundred and twenty tons, which
necessitates her leaving port with over two thousand seven hundred tons
of fuel on board for the trip.

[Illustration: The White Star Steamer Majestic.]

Previous to the advent of these vessels the Cunard Company’s steamships
Etruria and Umbria were the fastest boats on the Atlantic, and their
performances are highly creditable to all concerned. The best voyage
from Queenstown to Sandy Hook by the Etruria was done in 6 days, 5
hours, 3 minutes, and the best from Sandy Hook to Queenstown in 6 days,
7 hours, 32 minutes, and the average in 1886 was about 6 days, 15
hours, as compared with the 11 days, 19 hours of 1856. The average of
the Britannic for ten years was 8 days, 9 hours, 36 minutes, Queenstown
to New York; and 8 days, 1 hour, 48 minutes, New York to Queenstown.


                  |      |      |        |        |        |         |
                  |      |      | Length |        |        |         |
                  |Paddle|      |   on   |        |        |         |
                  |  or  | When | Water- |        |        | Horse-  | Ton-
  NAME OF SHIP.   |Screw.|Built.| line.  |Breadth.| Draft. | power.  | nage.
                  |      |      |Ft. Ins.|Ft. Ins.|Ft. Ins.| Nominal.|
  Sirius          |Paddle| 1836 | 170  0 |        |        |     270 |   700
  British Queen   |  „   | 1839 | 234  0 |  40  4 |  16  0 |     500 | 2,016
  Liverpool       |  „   | 1839 | 210  0 |  36  0 |        |     404 | 1,150
  Great Western   |  „   | 1838 | 212  0 |  35  4 |  16  0 |     450 | 1,340
  Britannia       |  „   | 1840 | 206  0 |  34  6 |        |     450 | 1,155
  Scotia          |  „   | 1862 | 366  0 |  47  9 |  22  0 |   1,000 | 2,358
  City of Richmond|Screw.| 1873 | 440  0 |  43  6 |        |     700 | 4,780
  City of Berlin  |  „   | 1874 | 488  6 |  44  2 |        |   1,000 | 5,526
                  |      |      |        |        |        |Indicated|
  Germanic        |  „   | 1874 | 455  0 |  45  2 |  23  7 |   5,400 | 5,008
  Britannic       |  „   | 1874 | 455  0 |  45  2 |  23  7 |   5,400 | 5,004
  Arizona         |  „   | 1879 | 450  0 |  45  1 |  18  9 |   6,300 | 5,164
  Servia          |  „   | 1881 | 515  0 |  52  0 |23 3-1/2|  10,300 | 7,392
  City of Rome    |  „   | 1881 | 542  6 |  52  0 |21 5-1/2|  11,890 | 8,144
  Alaska          |  „   | 1881 | 500  0 |  50  0 |  21  0 |  10,000 | 6,932
  America         |  „   | 1883 | 432  0 |  51  0 |  26  7 |   7,354 | 5,528
  Oregon          |  „   | 1883 | 501  0 |  54  2 |  23  8 |  13,300 | 7,375
  Umbria          |  „   | 1884 | 500  0 |  57  2 |        |  14,320 | 8,128
  Etruria         |  „   | 1884 | 500  0 |  57  2 |        |  14,320 | 8,120
  City of New York|  „   | 1888 | 527  0 |  63  0 |        |  18,400 |10,500
  City of Paris   |  „   | 1888 | 527  0 |  63  0 |        |  20,100 |10,500
  Majestic        |  „   | 1889 | 565  0 |  57  6 |  26  0 |  17,000 | 9,861
  Teutonic        |  „   | 1889 | 565  0 |  57  6 |  26  0 |  17,000 | 9,686

                  |      |           CYLINDERS.           |         |
                  |      +------------------------+-------+         |   Time
                  |      |                        |Stroke |         | occupied
                  |Trial |                        |  in   | Working |on Quickest
  NAME OF SHIP.   |Speed.| Diameter in Inches.    |Inches.|Pressure.| Passage.
                  |Knots.|                        |       |   Lbs.  | D.  H.  M.
  Sirius          |      |                        |       |         | 18  11  15
  British Queen   | 8.5  |Two 77-1/2              |   84  |         | 13  18  10
  Liverpool       |      |Two 75                  |   84  |         | 11  18   5
  Great Western   |      |Two 73                  |   84  |         | 10  10  15
  Britannia       |      |Two 72                  |   82  |         |
  Scotia          |13.9  |Two 100                 |  144  |         |  8   4  30
  City of Richmond|      |68 and 120              |   60  |         |  7  18  50
  City of Berlin  |      |41, 65, and 101         |   66  |         |  7  14  12
                  |      |                        |       |         |
  Germanic        |16.0  |Two 48 and two 83       |   60  |    70   |  7  11  37
  Britannic       |16.0  |Two 48 and two 83       |   60  |    70   |  7  10  53
  Arizona         |17.0  |One 62 and two 90       |   66  |    90   |  7   3  30
  Servia          |16.9  |One 72 and two 100      |   78  |         |  6  23  50
  City of Rome    |18.23 |Three 46 and three 86   |   72  |    90   |  6  21   4
  Alaska          |18.0  |One 68 and two 100      |   72  |   100   |  6  18  37
  America         |17.8  |One 63 and two 91       |   66  |         |  6  14  18
  Oregon          |18.3  |One 70 and two 104      |   72  |   110   |  6   9  51
  Umbria          |19.0  |One 71 and two 105      |   72  |   110   |  6   3   4
  Etruria         |19.5  |One 71 and two 105      |   72  |   110   |  6   1  50
  City of New York|20.13 |Two sets 45, 71, and 113|   60  |   150   |  5  21  19
  City of Paris   |21.952|Two sets 45, 71, and 113|   60  |   150   |  5  19  18
  Majestic        |19.87 |Two sets 43, 68, and 110|   60  |   180   |  5  18   8
  Teutonic        |21.0  |Two sets 43, 68, and 110|   60  |   180   |  5  16  30

It may well be asked how what seemed to be an impossibility in 1876
has been achieved so successfully in 1890, and it is perhaps less
interesting to note the changed conditions than the causes that have
produced them. In the very early days of steam navigation the engines
were substantially those used for pumping and other purposes on land.
Had the genius of Trevithick exerted itself in the direction of
improvements in ship propulsion as much as it did in abortive efforts
to make the locomotive a success, there is no doubt we should have
had fast passenger steamers before we had railway trains; and had
not the prejudice of Watt hung over the engineering world as a cloud
which obscured the clear light of science, some other engineer would
have accomplished the same result. It is disappointing to find that
a man of Watt’s genius and reputation should have attempted to damp
the ardor of men like Symington and Miller by predicting failure for
an engine when applied to marine propulsion, and by threatening the
pains and penalties of the law for infringement of patent should those
enterprising geniuses disprove his predictions. There can be no doubt
that the statement from a man of his position, that Trevithick and
others who were experimenting, as well as working, with steam of high
pressure deserved hanging for their diabolical inventions, would have
great effect on the engineering world, then in its infancy; and the
few accidents that in later years occurred on steamboats, through the
crass ignorance or the reckless negligence of those placed in charge,
recalled to the mind of another generation the words of Watt, and made
them doubly impressive as well as deterrent to further progress. Even
in our own days the use of steam at such pressures as have enabled
the present wonderful monuments of mechanical skill to be commercial
successes has been animadverted upon, and prophesied about, and openly
denounced, and it is only those who are engaged in this pioneer
warfare who know how depressing and discouraging such language is, or
who appreciate the great responsibility taken in advancing into the
unknown—that is, unknown to the world at large. Moreover, the body of
every nation is more or less conservative and slow to comprehend, much
less to appreciate, new inventions or new forms of old inventions.
Hence, no doubt, it was that an enterprising company like that presided
over by Sir Samuel Cunard should refrain from building its ships of
the superior material, iron, and adhere to the inferior propeller, the

[Illustration: The Inman Line Steamer City of Paris.]

The paddle-wheel was obviously the first instrument accepted by the
early engineers as a means of propulsion. Long after the experiment of
H. B. M. S. Rattler had demonstrated the contrary, the public faith
in the visible wheel was greater in reality and more sincere than
that in the invisible screw; and it is probable that it was more the
question of cost than anything else that gained the victory for the
screw for ocean and general service. The paddle engine is in itself
heavier and occupies more room than the screw engine; it is as a rule
more expensive per I. H.-P.; and in wear and tear—especially of the
propeller itself—it far exceeds the screw. It occupies the best part of
the ship, and its position is not a matter of choice, as with the screw
engine, but is, of necessity, at or near the middle of the ship.[14]
It is evident that a paddle steamer must require more room, and that
in moving among ships or other obstructions the liability to damage
the propeller is greater than with the screw steamer, and in the case
of a long voyage the paddle generally worked at a disadvantage, as
at the commencement it was too deeply immersed, and at the end not
immersed enough for efficient working. If the sails were set so as to
steady the vessel, or if set in sufficient quantity to be of any use in
quickening the speed, she was inclined until the lee wheel was “buried”
and the “weather” wheel doing very little work; besides there was a
general tendency on the part of the ship to turn round, which had to be
counterbalanced by the rudder. The race of water from the wheels past
the ship being at a high velocity, and raised above the normal level,
causes a resistance to the ship beyond that due to her passage through
the water, as in the case of a screw ship. On the other hand, the
paddle boat is more readily got into motion and her speed more rapidly
arrested than is the case with the screw steamer; and it is claimed for
the paddle-wheel—although the foundation for such a claim is rather
nebulous—that when the engines are working at full speed the ship is
prevented from the excessive rolling observable with a screw vessel.
But against this it must not be forgotten that the paddle engine is
far more trying to the structure of the ship, on account of the great
weight of the wheels being taken on the sides of the hull, as well as
from the effort of the wheels in propelling being applied at the same
place. Then there is the additional danger, and that not a remote one,
that in case of the shaft breaking and a wheel falling clear of the
ship, she would upset. An accident of this kind has occurred more than
once, but there is no record of the actual result being so calamitous
as just stated, owing to other fortuitous circumstances. That which
retains the paddle-wheel in favor to-day, and renders it a necessity
in spite of argument or prejudice, is the fact that the screw requires
that the draft of the ship shall not be less than its own diameter,
whereas in the largest paddle boats a dip of wheel of six feet is
generally sufficient. Hence it is that nearly all fast steamers plying
on rivers or shallow estuaries, and channel steamers running to ports
where there is little water when the tide is low, are of necessity
paddle-wheel. By employing two screws (one on each side instead of one
amidships) the draft of water can be reduced by at least thirty per
cent. Likewise, by increasing the number of revolutions smaller
screws will do, and the draft of water may be still less, so that
some thirty years ago, on the introduction of twin-screws, there were
soon many ships built for services that had hitherto been monopolized
by paddle boats;[15] and to-day, when there is a demand for higher
speed and more power, and where paddle-wheels are not admissible,
three screws are being employed. Ships have also been employed with
four screws, viz., two at the bow and two at the stern, and, for the
purpose for which they were required, answered very well indeed; but
the worst possible place for a propeller is obviously at the bow, and
therefore in these ships the bow screws were not very efficient, but
they undoubtedly added somewhat to the power of the ship. In the same
way some tug-boats have been fitted with a screw at each end.

All attempts at propulsion with internal propellers—that is, by turbine
wheels, pulsometers, ejectors, or by pumps—have failed in consequence
of the great friction set up by the water in its rapid passage through
the pipes from and to the sea; the motion must be rapid owing to the
size of the pipes being necessarily restricted. The best experiment
with this kind of propeller was made on a costly scale by the British
Admiralty in 1866, when they fitted the iron-clad gun-boat Waterwitch,
of 1,200 tons displacement, with a Ruthven’s hydraulic propeller,
consisting of a horizontal turbine wheel drawing its water through
the bottom of the ship and discharging it fore-and-aft-ways at each
side, and driven by an engine of 160 nominal horse-power; and although
this vessel was only 162 feet long, 32 feet broad, and drew 11 feet
4 inches of water, her speed was only a little over 9 knots, with an
indicated horse-power of 801. The speed co-efficients whereby her
performances could be compared with that of other ships were most

[Illustration: The Twin Screws of the City of New York]

But the achievements of screw steamers are not always satisfactory at
first, and time has shown some curious instances where what appeared
at first sight a little thing prevented great results. To-day we know
somewhat of the screw propeller, but it is very difficult, if not
impossible, for the cleverest and most experienced engineer to define
his knowledge or to classify his facts so as to deduce any rules from
them that shall enable him to lay down fixed laws for the practical
guidance of others. In past years more was professed, but still less
was actually known, and that which was to be a panacea for the ills
of every screw ship proved useless in many instances, and aggravated
the evil in others. The patents for propellers are numerous, and some
of the specifications interesting and amusing, but of them all there
are less than can be counted on the fingers of one hand that have any
practical value, or that have influenced the commerce of the world;
and we find to-day that the propeller which gives the best results
is very simple in form and its working surface a true helix. What is
better understood, however, are the proportions, and in them lies the
success of the instrument. It is quite true that the blades may be of
such a shape and so arranged as to give bad results, but it is very
difficult to alter the propeller blade now most generally used and get
much improvement thereby.

[Illustration: The Propeller of the North German Lloyd Steamer Havel.

(From a photograph of the steamship in Handren & Robins’s Erie Basin
Dry Docks, Brooklyn.)]

In 1865 H. B. M. S. Amazon was found to fall short of her designed
speed by nearly a knot, although the indicated horse-power was in
excess of the requirements. With a four-bladed Mangin propeller, 12
feet 6 inches pitch, it took 1,940 I. H.-P. to drive the vessel 12
knots. A two-bladed Griffith’s screw of 13 feet 9 inches pitch was
substituted, when 12.4 knots were obtained with only 1,664 I. H.-P.
But the most remarkable case was that of H. B. M. S. Iris, which had
been designed for a speed of 17-1/2 knots, but on her first trial trip,
although the 7,000 I. H.-P. was exceeded, the speed was only 16.58
knots. A series of trials was then entered upon to find out the cause
of this deficiency, with the result that the screws were discovered to
be too large; others of 2 feet 3 inches less diameter were substituted,
when a speed of 18.57 knots was attained with the same I. H.-P. Similar
instances could be adduced, if necessary, to show how comparatively
slight changes in the propeller can produce marked improvements in

It has already been shown that the frictional resistance of the skin
of the ship is very great, and generally speaking, in fast steamers,
is by far the largest portion of the whole resistance. It necessarily
follows, therefore, that for high speed it is essential that the
submerged portion shall be as smooth as possible; and to that end ships
are coated with enamel paints which, when dry, are perfectly smooth and
glassy, or remain in a smooth, slimy condition. They do not, however,
remain long in this state, as the action of sea-water destroys them,
and even the best of these compositions admits, at times, of marine
plant growth, and sometimes barnacles. The effect of a coating of weed
is very serious indeed; the resistance induced thereby being greater
than if the vessel were rough, from the fact that each filament of
weed has to be towed through the water, and the total surface thereby
exposed may be two or three times that of the ship herself. It is
a sound economy in any vessel to keep the bottom perfectly clean
and smooth, but in the case of high-speed steamers it is absolutely
essential, inasmuch as a very moderate amount of foulness will reduce
their speed by 2 or 3 knots.

The introduction of Siemens-Martin steel, about the year 1875, and
its continued and extended use since, have however been really the
means of rendering possible the construction of steamships of all
sizes with high rates of speed now so common, and are undoubtedly the
means whereby those ships can be so economically built and worked as
to pay as commercial ventures. The construction of their hulls with a
material fifty per cent. stronger than iron has rendered it possible to
make such appreciable decrease in weight as to admit of fining their
lines suitably for high speed without sacrificing carrying capacity.
With this same steel, boilers can be constructed for a pressure of
150 pounds per square inch without weighing very much more than iron
ones for 75 pounds. By using steel for castings, forgings, etc., the
weight of the machinery has been reduced from 5 hundredweight to 2
hundredweight per I. H.-P., and when forced draught is employed it is
as low as 1.6 hundredweight per I. H.-P. for large powers, and less
still for such engines as are used in torpedo boats and catchers.

[Illustration: Recent Naval Engine.

(Made by Earle’s Shipbuilding Company, Hull, England, for twin-screw
fast cruiser for the British Navy, of 9,000 I. H.-P.)]

It has already been remarked that the consumption of coal, which
enters as a most important factor into the question of high speed,
both from the weight and cost, had been reduced, by the introduction
of the compound engine, from 4 pounds to 2-1/2 pounds per I. H.-P.,
and latterly, as that engine was improved and higher pressures used,
the consumption was further reduced to 2 pounds, and in some cases as
low as 1-3/4 pound per I. H.-P. The triple expansion engine, developed
within the past eight years, and later the quadruple expansion, have
effected a still further saving, until with them and such other means
as are now employed, the consumption is under 1-1/2 pound of coal per
I. H.-P.

The success of the locomotive was very questionable until the exhaust
steam was turned into the chimney so as to create a rapid draught,
and the steam-blast to-day enables the locomotive to travel at its
great speed by causing the comparatively small boiler to generate
such a large amount of steam. When this form of boiler was tried
on board ship its power would have been very much crippled had not
some other means been adopted for forcing the draught, as the steam
could not in this case be allowed to escape through the funnel, but
must be condensed into water for the use of the boiler. By closing
the stoke-hole and forcing into it by mechanical means a plentiful
supply of air, this boiler was made to be as efficient for a torpedo
boat as for a locomotive. This forced draught has now been adopted on
large ships, and to-day the very high speed of naval vessels, and of
many mercantile steamers, is due to it. Consequently, with the same
weight of machinery, higher powers are developed with a corresponding
increase in speed, and the cruiser Piemonte, constructed by Sir William
Armstrong & Co., of which an illustration is shown on p. 91, had her
speed increased by means of forced draught from 20 knots to 22.3 knots,
at which speed she was going when the picture was taken.

Mr. James Howden patented a forced draught process by which the
incoming air is warmed by the heat (which would otherwise be wasted) in
the uptakes and funnels, and then conducted direct to the furnaces; and
he claims by this to be able to do with still smaller boilers, besides
avoiding the danger to the tubes now sometimes experienced in war ships
with closed stoke-holes.

[Illustration: Italian Cruiser Piemonte at Full Speed—22.3 knots=25-3/4
miles per hour.]

But there still remains the problem of how to feed the furnaces by
mechanical methods, so as to save the very large staff now required
in the boiler-room of our large steamships. So far all means hitherto
adopted with success on shore have proved failures at sea, and at
present there is no reason to suppose that any one of them can be so
adapted as to prove generally efficient for service. It is necessary
for such a purpose that the gear can go continuously for many days,
and the coal be small and tolerably uniform, and the supply regular.
Such coal is not convenient for passenger ships, and if the demand
for the present supply of small coal were increased the price would
preclude its use. Some success, however, has been achieved in saving
labor in the stoke-hole, and the most noticeable invention to this end
is that of Mr. Thomas Henderson, whose now well-known self-cleaning
fire-bars do away with the necessity for the firemen raking the fires
out to remove the clinkers which adhere to the grates and obstruct the
air-passages. By means of this apparatus, the alternate bars having a
very slight movement, the coal gradually travels to the back end of the
grate together with the clinker, which latter is eventually deposited
behind the bridges. Thus not only is considerable labor saved, but the
fires are always in such good condition that the full pressure of steam
is maintained, and so a better speed kept up by the vessel herself.

On shore the tendency is to substitute gas for solid fuel, or to use
the coke resulting from gas manufacture. That something of the same
kind might be done on shipboard is possible, although not at present
probable. The higher efficiency of the coal when treated in this way
would enable still more power to be obtained from a pound of it, and
there would be savings in other ways of a beneficial nature.

Then, again, if petroleum, or other liquid of a similar nature, could
be obtained at a fairly low price, it might be used on shipboard; and
as it has a heating power twenty-five per cent. higher than the best
coal, and fifty per cent. higher than some of the commonest kinds
weight for weight, the substitution of it would be a means of obtaining
better speed. But it is always a question of _cui bono_, and when it
is taken into consideration that the voyage between Sandy Hook and
Queenstown is now done in 140 hours, and to do the distance in 5 days
would require a speed of nearly 23-1/2 knots, with an increase in power
of sixty-two per cent., and in fuel consumption of thirty-eight per
cent., the cry must be regarded as a very far one at present. At the
same time it is not desirable to believe that there is now finality in
the speed of steamships, although by analogy with railway trains that
conclusion might be arrived at.


[10] This, however, is not an absolute test of the fineness of the
_water-lines_ of a vessel, and it can only be used as such on the
assumption that the midship sections of ships are of similar form.
The best test of the fineness of water-lines is made by taking the
displacement as a percentage of the prism whose length is that of
the ship and whose section is the same as the midship section of a
ship, assuming, however, that the midship section of all ships is
approximately that found in general practice to-day; in speaking of
coefficients it will mean the percentage of the rectangular block above

[11] More than thirty years ago this matter had been observed by the
officers of the British navy, and experiments were ordered to be tried
with H. B. M. S. Flying Fish, a 1,100-ton cruiser, her length being 200
feet, breadth 30 feet 4 inches, and her draft of water 10 feet 6 inches
forward and 13 feet aft. With 1,290 I. H.-P. her speed was only 11.64
knots, whereas with 577 I. H.-P. it was 9.923 knots, and a speed of
11.201 was obtained with but 878 I. H.-P. A false bow 18 feet long was
then fitted, so as to give finer lines forward, or, as sailors describe
it, “a better entrance,” when it was found that with 1,285 I. H.-P. a
speed of 12-1/2 knots was attained, and with 1,345 very nearly 12-3/4
knots. There is also every reason to suppose that could the stern have
been altered in a similar way, the speed would have been still higher,
in spite of the ship being larger and with a consequent increase of
immersed surface to cause resistance. It has, besides, been observed on
many occasions that when steamers have been cut in two and lengthened
there has been no diminution of the speed, but, on the contrary,
in some cases there has actually been a gain; so that in these two
instances there is an apparent anomaly, viz., that with the same power
the larger ship is propelled at a quicker speed.

The late Dr. Froude investigated this matter some years ago, and
showed that such results were quite possible, independently of any
fining of the lines, owing to the effect on the ship of the waves set
up when in motion. One very curious illustration of how such waves
may seriously affect a vessel is in that of a yacht built many years
ago by an eminent firm on the Clyde, which failed to come anywhere
near the performances guaranteed owing to the fact that as the speed
increased the hollow following the wave formed at the bow increased
and approached nearer and nearer to the paddle-wheels, until the water
dropped below the floats and allowed the wheels to spin in the air;
the propelling effect was thus entirely lost until the vessel slowed
down sufficiently for the water to rise again to the level of the
paddle-wheels. Such a thing could scarcely happen with a screw steamer;
but the very bad steering qualities of certain naval ships is due to
the fact that the inrush of water at the stern causes currents to flow
_with_ the ship, and therefore to produce quite different results with
the rudder from those which generally obtain.

[12] A nautical mile is 6,080 feet, the land mile being 5,280 feet. The
knot is a measure of _rate_ of speed per hour. A vessel makes 20 knots
when she is travelling at the rate of 20 nautical miles per hour.

[13] The dimensions, speed, etc., of the steamers here referred to, as
well as other representative steamers from 1836 to 1890, are shown in
the table on page 78.

[14] In the case of river steamers of moderate size there is not the
same restriction on the position of the wheel, and as a matter of fact,
as in the case of stern-wheelers, it is altogether at one end.

[15] It is now claimed for the twin-screw ship that she is not only
capable of entering shallower harbors, but that she is in every way
much safer, and it is most unfortunate that, owing to an act of
carelessness, this was not conclusively shown in the recent accident
to the City of Paris. But there is safety in the twin-screw beyond
that which is rendered possible, as in the cases of the City of Paris
and Majestic, by the division of the engine-rooms, viz., the fact that
if one engine breaks down it is improbable that the other would do
so at the same time, and that the vessel, although somewhat crippled
in speed, would still be able to pursue her voyage; also, that in
the event of accident to the steering apparatus the passage could be
continued and the direction of the ship guided by regulating with one
or both of the engines. Each of these features is pronounced, and the
advantages have been proved on many occasions.





As often as the “record is broken,” and the Atlantic voyage is reduced
by some unprecedentedly fast passage, we may be sure that there is a
flutter in the offices of the rival lines which have thus been left
behind. Between the Cunard, the Guion, the Inman, and the White Star
lines there has been a constant race for supremacy, now one, and then
the other, taking the first place. No ship has been allowed to keep
the lead for more than a year or two. When sixteen knots have been
developed by one line, seventeen knots have been aimed at by another,
and the ship of that speed is no longer a wonder. So when we read in
the newspapers of the “fastest passage” we may take it for granted that
it is no sooner heard of in Liverpool than the managers of the lines
momentarily surpassed are preparing to beat it. If the triumph belongs
to the Cunard line, at the very next meeting of the directors of the
White Star and Inman lines it will be discussed, and though an order
for another ship may not be given there and then, it is sure to follow.

An order for a new ship of the class required to compete in the
modern passenger service of the Atlantic is not by any means a matter
to be determined on without grave consideration. Speed is costly,
and as you increase it it is generally necessary to also increase
the tonnage. Thus if the problem before you is to beat the record
of a seven-thousand-ton ship, which has developed eighteen knots
with engines of twelve thousand five hundred horse-power, you must
(principally for economic reasons) have a larger hull as well as more
powerful engines for your competing vessel. This forces upon your
consideration tides, channels, harbor-bars, and dock accommodations,
all of which impose limitations upon you. And then the cost of the
ship herself is not a matter which even the wealthiest of corporations
can provide for at a moment’s notice: it is not one hundred thousand
dollars, or five hundred thousand dollars that the work calls for, but
about five times the latter sum, for it is safe to say that a vessel
superior to the City of New York or the Etruria could not be built for
less than two million and a half of dollars.

The “financing” of such an undertaking requires time: there are long
consultations between the directors, bankers, and ship-builders. If
we could follow the steps of the gentleman to whom these negotiations
are intrusted, we might see him flying off from Liverpool for Euston:
closeted in a private office down in Lombard Street or Cornhill with
some capitalists who are expected to contribute to the necessary funds;
again, after dinner, engaged in argument with these same capitalists in
a West End mansion to which they have adjourned, and then racing off in
the precarious hansom cab to catch the night train from King’s Cross
for Glasgow.

Sometimes the ship-builders are willing to become part owners of the
projected vessel; sometimes they take as part payment for the work some
older vessels of the line, which they refit, re-engine, modernize,
and sell again. The ability of the builders to make an arrangement of
this kind, of course, influences the placing of the contract, in a
measure, but they must also be able to give certain guarantees. They
must enter into an engagement that the projected ship shall be able
to carry so many passengers and so many tons of cargo, and to attain
a specified speed on a given consumption of coal per day. Let us say,
for instance, that the stipulations are these: Accommodations for 600
saloon passengers, 150 intermediate passengers, and 1,500 steerage
passengers; registered tonnage, 6,000, speed, 19 knots on a consumption
of 300 tons per day. If the ship fails to fulfil these conditions the
builders agree to forfeit a part of the amount they would otherwise
receive for her, or they may be compelled to take her back altogether.
This was the case with the City of Rome, which was built for the Inman
line by the Barrow Ship-building Company. A beautiful ship in every
way; of exquisite model; fitted with a degree of luxury unsurpassed at
the time she was launched, she proved to have neither the speed nor the
carrying capacity which had been guaranteed, and the Inman line refused
to accept her. In a very few instances only are such guarantees omitted
from the contract.

Now, ship-building is not an exact science, and the closest
calculations are often upset in the result by unforeseen and
inexplicable causes. It can never be said with absolute certainty just
what speed a ship will attain, or exactly what quantity of cargo she
will carry. The most ingenious and patient of experiments have not yet
succeeded in eliminating the mysterious variability of result which
the ship-builder finds, however closely he repeats his well-defined
formulas. Two ships, like the Umbria and the Etruria, may be built
side by side, of identical materials, lines, and dimensions; engines,
boilers, and propellers may be the same, yet one will turn out to be
a knot or two faster than the other, and neither the designer nor the
builder is able to say why.

It is apparent, then, that in guaranteeing an exceptionally high
rate of speed the builder assumes no little risk. The designing of a
fast ship is indeed more of an art than a science, and each designer
proceeds on a theory more or less his own. If the reader has an
opportunity to compare models of the Servia, the Alaska, and the
City of Rome, three ships built at the same time, each intended to
rival the others, he will see by the varying proportions of length or
breadth, and by other contrasts, how the opinions of the architects
have differed as to the best lines for obtaining speed. True, it is not
possible to ignore formulas altogether, but the designer’s intuitions
or inspirations are not less serviceable to him than his technical

[Illustration: The Umbria just before Launching.]

We will suppose, however, that the designer sees his way to build such
a ship as the specifications submitted to him call for, and that the
contract is awarded to him, or to the firm he represents. The ship
is now tentatively on paper, though her essential features are well
defined, and the next step takes us to Glasgow and the Clyde.


If in crossing the Atlantic for the first time you choose Glasgow for
your port of disembarkation, the sail up the Firth of the Clyde and
the river is likely to be full of agreeable and memorable surprises.
The beauties of that route are not advertised, and one hears so little
of them in advance that they gain impressiveness from the absence of
expectation. The Firth itself is like a great Fjord, a land-locked
bay hollowed between hills and crags, among which vapory clouds are
always shifting, and its deep salt waters are ploughed by fleets of
vessels of every class, and especially by yachts, sea-going steamers,
and the most rakish-looking excursion boats in the world; it is not
unlike the Hudson above Peekskill, though much wider; the rounded hills
have the same soft and civilized outlines, and the same appearance of
reclamation for man’s use and delectation; modern villas crown their
heights and watering-places cluster at their feet.

Just below Greenock the passage narrows, and above that we enter the
river, which, though not beautiful, is more of a surprise than even
the Firth. It meanders through fields, and from the towering deck upon
which we stand we look down upon ploughmen at work, cattle grazing, and
snug farm-houses. So narrow is the stream, and so low are the banks,
that the big steamer seems curiously out of place. How, one asks, has
Glasgow ever prospered with so small a river as its only outlet to
the sea? We have thought of the Clyde as a wide and capacious stream
like the Mersey opposite Birkenhead, or the Hudson opposite New York;
but, instead, it is scarcely as wide as the East River at Brooklyn,
and there are reaches where two large vessels have no room to spare in
passing each other.

Such as it is, all sorts of dredging operations are necessary to keep
it open, and it has been said to be as much an artificial channel as
the Suez Canal.

The first steamboat to navigate it was the Comet, in 1812, and though
she drew but four feet of water she could leave Glasgow only on the
flood tide. Even then she sometimes ran aground, and her passengers had
to wade or swim ashore, or wait twelve hours for the next tide. Its
depth is ample now, however, and it is the breadth that astonishes us:
it seems as though a venturesome jumper might easily spring from the
deck to either bank. The farms are alternated by shipyards in which the
hulls of ships in various stages of construction loom up, with ant-like
specks of humanity swarming upon them. Some of them are nearly twice
as long as the river is wide, and it puzzles the stranger to say how
they can be launched, until someone, wiser than he is, tells him that
they slide into the stream obliquely and thus overcome the difficulty.
Nearly all the steamers that have earned fame in the Atlantic trade
have been built and engined at one or the other of these ship-yards,
from the first Cunarder to the City of Paris; the Cunard, Inman,
Guion, and North German Lloyd lines have come to this little river for
their ships. And as we approach Glasgow, burrowing into the dark that
envelops the town, it becomes narrower still, and within the limits of
the port is nothing more than a long canal with ships huddled together
along the banks.

The Clyde is, in fact, like one of those heroic personages who triumph
over natural disadvantages which to the common mind are insuperable,
and its inferiority in depth and breadth has been counterbalanced by
excellences in other directions. In the first place Glasgow is the
natural outlet of a great mineral field, so that after iron and steel
became the principal materials of the ship-builder, he could find them
on the banks of the little river unburdened by the increased price
asked for them when it has been necessary to carry them long distances.
In the second place the Clyde was the scene of the earliest attempts at
steam navigation in Great Britain, by Miller, Symington, and Bell, and
descending from them the genius of ship-building has become hereditary
with the inhabitants of the town. “Practice makes perfect,” and the
ship-builders of Glasgow have more practice than any people of their
craft in the kingdom. In 1886 forty-five vessels were built at London,
measuring 3,696 tons; sixteen vessels at Liverpool, measuring 18,268
tons, and on the Tyne, fifty vessels, measuring 49,641 tons. On the
Clyde, during the same period, one hundred and fifty-one vessels were
built, measuring 135,659 tons—nearly double the work done by all the
other ship-yards combined. Thus, when after various conclaves and the
discussion of ways and means, the directors decide to put a new vessel
on their line, the order is pretty sure to go to Glasgow.


We have assumed the work of the naval architect to be complete;
all the specifications have been made out, and every part of the
prospective ship has been drawn on paper. There are three plans: a
“sheer plan,” showing all lines of length and height from stem to
stern; a “half-breadth plan,” showing the lines of length and breadth,
or, in other words, those lines which would be visible in looking down
upon her decks from an elevation; and a “body plan,” which shows all
lines of breadth and height, and represents the ship looked at “end
on.” These are called the “construction drawings,” and with them in
his hand the ship-builder can see in his mind’s eyes the vessel as
she will appear when built. He does not work directly from these,
however. They are carried up into the “mould loft,” the floor of which
represents an enormous blackboard, and upon this they are reproduced to
correspond with the exact dimensions of the ship. A foot is scaled down
on the paper to a quarter of an inch, but in the mould loft a foot is
a foot, and plate, girder, and rib are drawn to their full size. This
enlargement leads to the detection of errors which are not apparent in
the reduced drawings, and which must be eliminated. Straight lines are
made with chalk by cords and rules, and curves by bending laths into
the desired position and then tracing the sweep upon the floor. Every
measurement has to be verified and checked, and “fairing the ship,”
as this work is called, may take six or seven weeks. All errors having
been corrected, still another drawing is made on a “scrive board,”
and in this the lines, full-sized, are sunk in the wood so that they
cannot be rubbed out. The “scrive board” is the plan from which the
ship-builder works, and when it is complete the actual construction of
the ship is begun.

[Illustration: General View of the Frames of the City of New York—June
25, 1887.]

The keel is laid down on blocks, four or five feet apart, which form
a slope toward the water, so that the hull may glide down easily when
the time for launching comes. It is not a keel at all, in the sense in
which the word was formerly used: a modern ship has a smooth bottom,
without any projecting ridge or break to the curve of her sides; it
is simply the central series of plates, from which an inner keel is
built up like an enormous backbone, and to this the ribs are attached.
The metal is delivered at the yard in the shape of angle iron or angle
steel, the latter being the material which would be used in a ship
of the class we have in mind. Heated to a white heat, the angle-bars
are drawn out of the furnace into a perfectly level iron floor, upon
which they are bent to the needed curve, and that which has been a
line of ink in the original drawing, a chalk mark on the floor of the
mould loft, and a groove in the surface of the “scrive board,” is now
embodied in the heavy rib of the ship. The bending is done thus: the
metal floor is perforated with thousands of holes, into which iron pegs
are inserted until they form the curvature required, and the long,
pliable bar of steel is pressed against them until it corresponds
exactly with the line exhibited in the “scrive board,” which is always
in sight of the workmen for guidance and comparison. In handling the
metal the men use pitchforks, and with the prongs inserted in the holes
they get purchase enough to make the bar yield; if it bends upward
a hammer is used upon it. Each rib has, of course, to be duplicated
with the utmost precision, in order that it shall be the same on both
sides of the ship, and each, after it has cooled, is laid upon the
“scrive board” and compared with the lines thereon, every variation
being corrected before it is passed. Having already been punched
for rivets, it is then marked with a chisel to show where rib-bands,
stringers, and deck-beams are to fit into it.

Two or three months or less after the completion of the “fairing,”
the ship is probably “in frame,” and looks like the skeleton of some
Brobdignagian monster that has stranded on the bank of the river. The
ribs have been hoisted into position at right angles with the keel,
and strung together by “rib-bands,” and already there are signs of the
coming subdivision by decks and bulkheads of the hollow space within.
You can still see through her, however; she is like, to make yet
another comparison, a great oblong wicker-basket, the supple willows
being represented by the net-work of steel.

The next step is the clothing of the ribs with plates. As they
reach the yard the plates are square and flat, but they are passed
through rollers of various kinds, from which they issue in any shape
desired—hollowed like a spoon, curved lengthwise or breadthwise or
diagonally, as the contour of the ship may call for. A steam or
hydraulic plane smooths them down as though they were the softest of
whitewood; another machine trims the edges as easily as a woman cuts
silk with a pair of scissors. Then, suspended by iron chains, they are
thrust between the jaws of a punching machine, which has a resemblance
to a sinister human face with a flat nose, a long upper lip, and a
small chin. The jaws close upon them and bite out, ten at a time, the
holes for the rivets by which they are to be fastened to the frame.

As they are hoisted up to the workmen, each fits the exact place
designed for it and takes its part in the softly swelling lines of
the ship. They are put on in rows, or, as rows are technically called
in this connection, “strakes,” which are lettered alphabetically, A
being the row riveted to the keel. The upper edge of A overlaps the
lower edge of B, and the lower edge of C overlaps the upper edge of
B, and thus while one row of plates like B has both edges hidden, the
row above it has both edges exposed, which minimizes resistance to the
progress of the ship. We all know what caulking a wooden vessel is—the
wedging of all seams between the planks with oakum and tar. An iron or
steel ship is also caulked, but in her case the word has a different
meaning. The sharp edges of the plates are merely turned in with a
chisel, and they meet so closely that no insertion is necessary to
exclude the water.

[Illustration: Frames of the City of New York, looking aft—July 19,

First held in place by bolts and nuts, the plates are finally secured
by the rivets, the holes for which have previously been countersunk
by machinery, so that there are no protuberances. The rivets go right
through, and have double heads: millions of them are used, and every
one of them is examined and checked before the work is passed as

[Illustration: Frames of the City of New York, looking forward—July 19,

At last the hull is closed in, and hundreds of artisans toil upon it,
inside and out. At the end of a year, perhaps, the ship is ready for
launching, by which time, if she is of the same dimensions as the City
of New York or the City of Paris, seven thousand tons of material have
been placed in position, one casting alone—the sternpost—weighing
twenty-six tons. She is a steel ship, but in addition to the metal,
one hundred and twenty thousand cubic feet of timber, brought from all
parts of the world, have been used in her. From the cradle in which she
lies to the promenade deck she rises to a height of fifty feet or more,
and she looks as immovable as a fortress.

Nothing is more wonderful than the launching of such a vessel. Imminent
peril seems to attend the operation; she must topple over, thinks the
uninitiated observer, or if she succeeds in reaching the water, she
must plunge against the opposite bank of the narrow river. But at the
appointed time she glides into the water as smoothly as an eel, and
once afloat she is held in check by cables attached to the shore. Her
engines have got to be put on board, and fully six months more elapse
before she is ready for sea. If she is complete within two years of the
day the contract for her was awarded, her builders have done well.

Let us now look at the “plant” which is necessary for building such
a ship, and to see this in perfection we will visit Fairfield, which
divides honors with the great ship-yard of Messrs. James & George
Thomson, at Clydebank.


A wonderful place is Fairfield. When a ship is taken in hand for
construction the design for each and every part is proceeded with
simultaneously. It is not the keel first, then the frames, then the
reverse frames, then the flooring, and so on, as it is in smaller
ship-yards. Keel, frames, flooring are put in hand together, and the
hull plates are ready before the keel is in position. Simultaneously,
too, the sawmill is preparing the planks which are to cover the
steel decks: the joiners are at work on the saloon and cabins; the
upholsterers are cutting and stitching the brocades, plushes, and silks
which are so freely used in modern ocean steamers; the chain-maker is
forging the cables, and each department is busying itself with its own
share, conscious that what it produces will presently be sought to take
its place in the rapidly progressing whole.

How rapid the progress is may be judged from the fact that on August
14, 1885, the steel intended for a North German Lloyd steamer began to
enter the yard, and exactly one month later the ship was in frame with
keelsons and beams in position, and the plating for the hull, rolled to
waterline shape, lying alongside.

The works cover nearly seventy-four acres, and lie on the south side
of the Clyde, about three miles from Glasgow, with which city they
are connected by a continuous chain of docks, warehouses, and other
ship-yards. Not very long ago this great inclosure was arable land
attached to a comfortable mansion which still retains a few vestiges of
its former dignity. But now the verdure has been trampled down and the
face of the earth is hidden by paving-stones and iron rails. The river
is inky, and the smoke lying in a brown fog over-head is ever being
replenished from the high chimneys of the neighborhood.

The scene within the high brick walls which keep out idlers is
exhilarating but scarcely picturesque. All the materials which enter
into the construction of a modern ship are visible in profusion. A
bird’s-eye view reveals great stacks of timber, iron, and steel; a
net-work of rails which connect the works with all the principal lines
converging at Glasgow; long brick sheds, and edging the water-front the
launching-slips, where as many as fifteen vessels have been in course
of construction at the same time. There the great hulls of many of
the most famous Atlantic liners have been put together; this was the
birthplace of all the new ships of the North German Lloyd line; of the
Arizona, the Alaska, the Oregon, the Umbria, and the Etruria.

Running at right angles from the river, a dock has been excavated,
large enough to accommodate a vessel of twelve thousand tons, and after
launching, the steamers are hauled in here to receive their engines and
boilers. Immediately in the rear of the launching-slips there is an
enormous shed, with a roof of glass and iron, where all the iron-work
for the hulls of fifteen ships has been handled at one time. Within it
gangs of workmen, each skilled in a specialty, carry on that part of
the work which belongs to them. Some are carriers of angle steel or
iron, others receivers of angle iron, which they place in the furnaces
until the metal is at such a heat that it can be shaped to suit the
water-lines of the vessel for which it is intended. Others still are
busy with reverse frames and with the bending of plates; others with
funnels, ventilators, and skylights.

[Illustration: The Manganese Bronze Propeller-Blade of the Wrecked
Steamer Mosel, after it had beaten upon a reef.]

There is a special department for the casting of manganese bronze,
which is used for the blades of propellers. Standing against a wall
not far off is a blade saved from the propeller of the wrecked steamer
Mosel. She ran ashore on a rocky coast, and her propeller played upon
the reef like a flail upon a threshing-floor without break or fracture;
so great is the strength of the bronze that the only effect upon it was
a feathering of the edges as revealed by the blade in question.

Then we see the engineering, forge, and pattern shops. Forgings of
steel are made which weigh as much as thirty tons, as in the case of
the crank-shafts of the new North German Lloyd steamers. A shafting
of that weight is lifted as easily, and with as little commotion, as
a bar of angle iron, and placed on a table to be finished. All the
tools are of enormous size, and nearly all of them are adaptations
of the well-known turning-lathe. Either the tool turns or the work
turns. A steamer’s cylinders are bored out with a bar, the bar moving.
In turning a thrust-shaft the shaft moves, not the tool. In facing a
condenser the tool moves, not the condenser. Cutting, planing, and
turning are all accomplished by modifications of the lathe. There
are in all nearly forty lathes, vertical, horizontal, and oblique,
each gnawing at some vital part of a ship, and there—there is the
“devil.” This is the name given by the workmen to an immense metallic
disk, over sixteen feet in diameter, which bores through solid steel
at the rate of two and a quarter inches in four minutes. The workmen
fill what standing room there is between propeller blades, cylinder
liners, piston-valves, and sole-plates; they swarm like ants, each gang
carrying on its specified work with diligence and singleness of purpose.

Let the reader figure to himself the gleaming tools, the whirring
machinery for the distribution of power, the begrimed toilers, the
ponderous masses of iron and steel—now swinging in mid-air, then
clutched to the breast of an excoriating monster like the “devil;”
let his eye rest on those forty lathes all busy at once, eating with
unwearying jaws into the metal fed them, and on the plane which shaves
an armor-plate as if it were a deal board; then let him fill his ears
with the groaning, creaking, hissing, grinding, shrieking of all this
activity, and add to it the battle-like din of the boiler-makers. Thus
he may know what Fairfield is like.

Ranging up and down these work-shops, and pausing before this or that
lathe, we see in undistinguishable fragments the engines that are
designed to propel the seven or eight thousand-ton ship; then the
pieces are gathered together and united in a pit; power is applied from
an auxiliary engine, and the work of final adjustment is proceeded
with. That completed, the engines are again taken apart and transferred
to the vessel for which they have been built.

[Illustration: A Stern View, showing Twin Screws.]

Has the reader ever stood in the engine-room of an ocean steamer when
she was plunging through an Atlantic gale at the rate of seventeen
or more knots an hour? Even if he has done so, and been awed by the
experience, it is not likely that he has been able to fully realize the
immensity of the power exerted. He needs some standard of comparison,
and for that purpose we may offer him the ancient galley, and repeat a
passage from the address made by Sir Frederick Bramwell at the meeting
of the British Association last September: “Compare a galley, a vessel
propelled by oars, with the modern Atlantic liner.... Take her length
as some 600 feet, and assume that place be found for as many as 400
oars on each side, each oar worked by three men, or 2,400 men; and
allow that six men under these conditions could develop work equal to
one horse-power; we should have 400 horse-power. Double the number of
men, and we should have 800 horse-power, with 4,800 men at work, and at
least the same number in reserve, if the journey is to be carried on
continuously. Contrast the puny result thus obtained with the 19,500
horse-power given forth by a large prime-mover of the present day,
such a power requiring on the above mode of calculation 117,000 men at
work and 117,000 men in reserve; and these to be carried in a vessel
less than 600 feet in length. Even if it was possible to carry this
number of men in such a vessel, by no conceivable means could their
power be utilized so as to impart to it a speed of twenty knots an

[Illustration: The City of New York ready for Launching.]

[Illustration: Model of a Steamer Designed to Cross the Atlantic in
Five Days.]

Huge as the several parts are, their adjustment is a matter of extreme
delicacy, and yet so carefully is it accomplished that a steamer may
leave the builder’s hand at Fairfield and proceed on a voyage of twenty
days or more without once having to slacken speed on account of her

It is a fair sight to see the men come to work when the bell rings in
the morning. When the yard is fully occupied there are between six and
seven thousand of them, and the wages paid have amounted in one year to
one million eight hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars.

The head and front of all this industry—Sir William Pearce—was himself
in early life a workman in the yard. I met him soon after his elevation
by the Queen to the baronetage. He was then, apparently, in the best of
health, and was full of plans for building still faster steamers for
the Atlantic. That he would have soon put afloat a vessel of greater
speed than his own Etruria, there is no doubt in the minds of those
who knew his genius as a naval architect, and the indomitable and
imperious will with which he carried out all his plans. But he died
suddenly in 1888, and though his work was incomplete, he had already
done wonders in minimizing the discomfort and duration of the now
familiar passage of the Atlantic.




There are, undoubtedly, many men and women in New York to-day who went
down to the Battery and cheered and waved their hands in greeting to
the first steamship that entered this port from Europe. This important
event took place on April 23, 1838, and it was doubly interesting and
significant because not only the first transatlantic steamship came to
anchor in the harbor on that day, but the second also; steam travel
across the sea thus beginning with a race that was earnestly contested
and brilliantly won. Furthermore, it was a race that attracted
infinitely more attention than any of the contests that have succeeded
it. Two steam-vessels had crossed the Atlantic in years previous,
both having started from this side; the Savannah, from Savannah, in
1819;[16] and the Royal William from Quebec, in 1831; but neither of
these voyages had demonstrated the feasibility of abandoning the fine
sailing packets and clippers for steamers when it came to a long
voyage. The Savannah used both steam and sail during eighteen of the
twenty-five days required for a passage to Liverpool, and more than one
clipper overtook and passed her during the voyage. The Royal William
had to utilize all her hold for coal in order to carry sufficient fuel
to insure a completion of the voyage. The reasons for the commercial
failure of such craft are, therefore, apparent; but they proved to be
available and profitable for coastwise traffic, and meantime inventive
genius was at work on plans and models and theories, all intended
for the construction of a steamship capable of carrying goods and
passengers between Europe and America, and of outrunning the packets.
Public interest, accordingly, was deeply stirred on both sides of the
ocean when, in 1837, it was learned that two steam-vessels were on
the stocks, building for the American service. These were the Sirius,
at London, and the Great Western, at Bristol. It was these vessels
that made the first race; the Sirius making the trip, measured from
Queenstown, in eighteen and a half days, and the Great Western in
fourteen and a half days. The Sirius, having had nearly four days’
start, came in a few hours ahead of the winner. She brought seven
passengers, and whether the Great Western had others than her crew on
board cannot now be ascertained.

At this time there were several lines of sailing vessels in operation
between America and Europe, among the most important of which were
Williams & Guion’s Old Black Star line, afterward merged into the Guion
line of Steamships; Grimshaw & Co.’s Black Star line; C. H. Marshall
& Co.’s Black Ball line; and Tapscott’s line. All these concerns
conducted a profitable business in carrying passengers, and the ships
were provided with accommodations for the three classes into which
travellers have been divided from early times. It is impossible at
this day to determine with exactness the volume of passenger traffic
in clippers, for no complete records were kept; but that it was
comparatively light may be inferred from the fact that provision was
made in the large ships for from ten to thirty first-cabin and twenty
second-cabin passengers.

The steerage capacity varied from eight hundred to one thousand, and
it was a long time after steamship lines had been established before
immigrants ceased to come over in clippers. In fact, for ten years
after the inauguration of the first steam line the immigrants had no
choice—the steamships carrying none but cabin passengers. The rates
were, £30 for first cabin; £8 for second cabin; and £5 to £8 for
steerage. The appointments of cabins and state-rooms were meagre as
compared with the great steamships of to-day, but the table fare was
substantially the same that is provided now. The first-cabin passengers
fared as they might in a good hotel; those in the second cabin, or
“intermediates,” as they were called, had a plentiful supply of plain
well-prepared food, and the needs of the steerage passengers were
looked after by the British Government, which instituted an official
bill of fare. These matters will be described in greater detail farther

In the _Marine News_ of April 4, 1838, published in New York, the
agents of the Sirius advertise her as a “New and Powerful Steamship,
700 tons burden, 320 horse-power.” The advertisement continues:

  This vessel has superior accommodations, and is fitted with separate
  cabins for the accommodation of families, to whom every possible
  attention will be given.

  Cabin, $140.00, including provisions, wines, etc.

  Second cabin, $80.00, including provisions.

Commenting upon the arrival of the Sirius and Great Western, the New
York _Courier and Enquirer_ of April 24, 1838, said:

  What may be the ultimate fate of this excitement—whether or not the
  expenses of equipment and fuel will admit of the employment of these
  vessels in the ordinary packet service—we cannot pretend to form an
  opinion; but of the entire feasibility of the passage of the Atlantic
  by steam, as far as regards safety, comfort, and despatch, even in
  the roughest and most boisterous weather, the most sceptical must now
  cease to doubt.

[Illustration: In the Grand Saloon of an Inman Steamer.]

The “fate of the experiment,” as far as the Sirius was concerned, was
decided by the initial voyage. She had taken on four hundred and
fifty tons of coal at Queenstown, all of which had been consumed before
passing Sandy Hook, and had it not been for the sacrifice of spare
spars and forty-three barrels of rosin to the demands of the furnace,
she would not have entered the upper bay under steam. Nevertheless
there were people who trusted her capability to get back to Queenstown
with the same quantity of coal, and among these confident, not to say
venturesome, travellers, were the Chevalier Wyckoff and James Gordon
Bennett, Sr. The Sirius made better time on the eastward trip, but she
never again crossed the ocean. For many years she plied between Cork
and Dublin.

As a business venture the Great Western was more successful, and she
made in all thirty-seven round voyages between Bristol, or Liverpool,
and New York. Sixty-six passengers sailed in her on her first voyage
from New York. Enthusiastic reporters of that day record that at least
one hundred thousand persons crowded the Battery and other points of
view to see her off. She had been advertised as follows:


  JAMES HOSKEN, R.N., _Commander_:

  Having arrived yesterday from Bristol, which place she left on the
  8th inst., at noon, will sail from New York for Bristol on Monday,
  May 7th, at 2 o’clock P.M.

  She takes no Steerage Passengers. Rates in the Cabin, including Wines
  and Provisions of every kind, 30 guineas; a whole State-room for
  one person, 50 guineas. Steward’s fee for each passenger, £1 10s.
  sterling. Children under 13 years of age, half price. No charge for
  Letters or Papers. The Captain and Owners will not be liable for any
  Package, unless a Bill of Lading has been given for it. One to two
  hundred tons can be taken at the lowest current rates.

  Passage or freight can be engaged, a plan of cabin may be seen, and
  further particulars learned, by applying to

  98 Front St.

Other steamships made experimental voyages across the Atlantic after
this, and several attempts were made to establish regular lines, that
is, a service with stated times of sailing from one year’s end to
another; but none of these succeeded until 1840, when the British &
North American Royal Mail Steam-Packet Company was organized. The chief
promoter of this concern was Mr. Samuel Cunard, of Halifax, and the
name of the corporation was speedily forgotten in the popular adoption
of his name to designate the line. Mr. Cunard and his associates had
been keen observers of the various experiments in steam navigation,
and naturally they profited by others’ failures. By no means the
least important feature of their enterprise, by which it differed
from previous ventures, and by which it secured a fighting chance for
prosperity, was an arrangement with the British Government for carrying
the mails. The first mail contract covered a period of seven years at
£60,000 annually. This service was monthly in the beginning, afterward
fortnightly, and the points touched were Liverpool, Halifax, and
Boston. Eventually, with increased subventions from the Government, a
weekly service was established between Liverpool and New York, as well
as a semi-monthly service between Liverpool and Boston. The first fleet
of the Cunard line consisted of four vessels—the Britannia, Acadia,
Caledonia, and Columbia. Another steamship, the Unicorn, made what was
probably a voyage of announcement for the company. The Unicorn was
the first steam-vessel from Europe to enter Boston Harbor, where she
arrived on June 2, 1840. Although Boston made as much fuss over this
event as New York had over the arrival of the Sirius and Great Western
two years before, regular communication with Europe was not established
until the arrival of the Britannia, the real pioneer of the Cunard
line. She left Liverpool on Friday, July 4, 1840, and made the voyage
to Boston, including the détour to Halifax and delay there of twelve
hours, in fourteen days and eight hours. That Mr. Cunard was correct in
believing that transportation by steam would stimulate travel between
the continents is clear enough to us now; but he and his associates
must have felt justified in the undertaking by the fact that the
Britannia carried ninety cabin passengers on her first trip.

Although the passengers had “the run” of the entire ship, their
accommodations were little, if any, better than those provided in
the clippers. The saloon and state-rooms were all in the extreme
after-part of the vessel, and there were no such things as comfortable
smoking-rooms on deck, libraries, sitting-rooms, electric lights and
annunciators, automatic windows to port-holes; and there were no baths
to be obtained except through the kind offices of the boatswain or
his mate, who vigorously applied the hose on such passengers as came
dressed for the occasion when the decks were being washed in the early
morning. “State-room” was much more of a misnomer then than it is now.
On the most unpretentious modern steamship there is room enough in the
chambers to put a small trunk, and even other articles of convenience
to the traveller; and one may dress, if he takes reasonable care,
without knocking his knuckles and elbows against the wall or the edges
of his berth. Nowadays, too, the state-room is usually large enough
to accommodate three or four persons, while some are arranged to hold
more, if the ship is crowded. The pioneer steamship had chambers so
narrow that there was just room enough for a stool to stand between
the edge of the two-feet-wide berth and the wall—mere closets. There
were two berths in each room, one above the other. By paying somewhat
less than double fare a passenger given to luxury might have a room to
himself, according to the advertisement of the Great Western. Within
such narrow quarters, however, everything possible was done for the
passenger’s comfort. A gentleman, now in business in New York, who
crossed in the earliest days of the Cunard line, and who has since
sailed on the modern racers, says that the difference is by no means as
great as might be expected. He puts it this way:

“The table was as good then as it is now, and the officers and stewards
were just as attentive. There is more costly ornamentation now; but
that aside, the two great improvements over the liners of forty-five
years ago are in speed and space. There is more room now to turn around
in, and the service is somewhat better.”

This is a very good-humored view of the matter. It is not probable
that latter-day travellers would be content to put up with narrow
rooms, smoking lamps, low ceilings, and plain edibles, all of which are
now entirely changed. The traveller to-day demands more than comfort
and safety. Travelling is in the main itself a luxury, and as more and
more Americans have found themselves with sufficient means to indulge
in it, they have demanded more and more luxurious surroundings and
appointments. It is in response to this demand and the growth of the
traffic, that within the last few years there has been placed upon the
transatlantic lines a fleet of steamships that surpass in every respect
anything that the world has seen.

For several years the Cunard line enjoyed what was substantially a
monopoly of the steam carrying trade between England and America,
although individual vessels made trips back and forth at irregular
intervals, and various and unsuccessful attempts were made to establish
a regular service. The first enterprise of this kind that originated
in the United States was the Ocean Steam Navigation Company. In 1847
this corporation undertook to carry the American mails between New York
and Bremen twice a month. The Government paid $200,000 a year for this
service, and the vessels touched at Cowes, Isle of Wight, on each trip.
Two steamships were built for this line, the Washington and Herman.
When the contract with the Government expired both were withdrawn and
the project was abandoned. About the same time C. H. Marshall & Co.,
proprietors of the Black Ball line of packet-ships, built a steamship,
the United States, to supplement their transatlantic business, but the
venture proved to be unprofitable. Then came the New York & Havre Steam
Navigation Company. This line was also subsidized by the Government for
carrying the United States mails between New York, Southampton, and
Havre, fortnightly, at $150,000 annually. The two steamships built for
this purpose were wrecked, and two others were chartered in order to
carry out the mail contract, until the Fulton and the Arago, two new
steamships built for the line, were ready for service in 1856.

[Illustration: The Steamer’s Barber-Shop.]

The most important American rival which foreign corporations have
encountered in transatlantic steam navigation was the famous Collins
line. Mr. E. K. Collins had grown up in the freight and passenger
business between New York and Liverpool, and in 1847 he began to
interest New York merchants in a plan to establish a new steamship
line. Two years later a company which he had organized launched four
vessels—the Atlantic, Pacific, Arctic, and Baltic. They were liberally
subsidized; the Government paying to the company $858,000 yearly
for carrying the mails; conditions imposed being that the vessels
should make twenty-six voyages every year, and that the passage from
port to port should be better in point of time than that made by the
Cunarders. The Collins line met the conditions successfully; its
vessels making westward trips that averaged eleven days, ten hours,
and twenty-one minutes, as compared with twelve days, nineteen hours,
and twenty-six minutes by the British steamships. The vessels of the
Collins line cost upward of $700,000 each. This was a great deal of
money to put into a steamship in those days, and as the largest of the
fleet was considerably smaller than the smallest of the steamships
that now ply between New York and European ports, there was naturally
a good percentage of cost in the appointments for the comfort of the
passengers. Many features that have since come to be regarded as
indispensable on board ship were introduced by the Collins vessels.
Among them none attracted more comment when the Atlantic arrived at
Liverpool, at the end of her first voyage, May 10, 1849, than the
barber-shop. English visitors to the vessel, as she lay at anchor in
the Mersey, saw for the first time the comfortable chair, with its
movable head-rest and foot-rest, in which Americans are accustomed to
recline while undergoing shaving. Another novelty was a smoking-room
in a house on the after-part of the deck. In the predecessors of the
Atlantic smokers had to get on as well as might be in an uninviting
covered hatchway known as the “fiddley.” The Collins line vessels had
not only a dining-room sixty feet long by twenty feet broad, but had a
general saloon sixty-seven feet by twenty feet. These were divided by
the steward’s pantry. Rose, satin, and olive woods figured prominently
in the decorations; there were rich carpets, marble-topped tables,
expensively upholstered chairs and sofas; a profusion of mirrors; all
the panels and the saloon windows were ornamented with coats-of-arms
and other designs emblematic of American freedom; all of which made,
according to an English writer, a “general effect of chasteness and a
certain kind of solidity.”

The Collins line obtained its share of a steadily increasing passenger
traffic between the Old and New Worlds. It carried freight at from $30
to $40 a ton; it had the advantage of an immense subsidy; but to all
intents and purposes the corporation was bankrupt at the end of six
years. It cost too much to maintain the high rate of speed required
by the Government. Moreover, two vessels were lost; the Arctic, which
went down after a collision with a French steamer off Cape Race, in
September, 1854, when two hundred and twenty-two of the two hundred and
sixty-eight people on board were drowned; and the Pacific, which was
never heard from after she left Liverpool on June 23, 1856.

Almost simultaneously with the inauguration of the Collins line
another candidate for ocean business appeared, bringing with it two
innovations of great importance to all travellers. This was the
Liverpool, New York, & Philadelphia Steamship Company, better known,
even in its own offices, as the Inman line. It was the original plan of
this company to establish a line between Liverpool and Philadelphia,
and for several years, beginning in 1850, no calls were made at New
York. The Inman Company was successful in securing a contract from the
British and Canadian Governments for carrying the mails _via_ Halifax,
and was the successor to the Cunard line on that route; the company
then settled down, with a comfortable mail contract, to carrying
passengers, freight, and mail between Liverpool and New York, calling
at Queenstown on every trip.

[Illustration: More Comfortable on Deck.]

During the Crimean War the transatlantic trade received a severe
check, as more than half the steamships were withdrawn and placed in
the service of the British and the French Governments as transports.
During that time the Collins line and other American lines received
quite an impetus by many of the vessels of both the Cunard and Inman
lines being required for transport duty. At the close of the Crimean
War, however, a reaction set in when these ships were again put in
commission, with a decidedly disastrous effect on the American lines.

In 1855 Commodore Vanderbilt endeavored to get a subsidy from the
American Government for a mail line to Europe, but, notwithstanding
his failure to procure this contract, he placed three or four vessels
on the route between New York, Southampton, and Havre, and later on
the Bremen route. The venture was more or less profitable. Almost the
last remnants of American enterprise in Atlantic passenger traffic
disappeared with the steamships Fulton and Arago of the New York and
Havre line, which were withdrawn in 1868. Mention should, however, be
made of the American line, with four iron screw steamers, which began
to run between Philadelphia and Liverpool in 1873, and ran regularly
since its inception, without any Government subsidy.

Two innovations introduced by the Inman line became prominent features
of ocean business, and it may be left an open question as to which
was the more important. One was the use of the screw-propeller, and
the other was the carrying of steerage, or third-class, passengers.
Previous to 1850 all steamships built for transatlantic voyages had
been side-wheelers, and even as late as 1870 there were steam-vessels
that came into the port of New York with the walking-beam, familiar
to patrons of modern ferry-boats and river steamers. The principle
of the screw-propeller had been known and utilized for many years;
but it was not believed that a steamship could cross the ocean in
safety unless side-paddles were employed. The first iron transatlantic
screw steamship was the City of Glasgow (except the Great Britain,
which first arrived in New York on September 10, 1845, making but two
transatlantic trips, and therefore not entering as a factor into this
trade), built on the Clyde by Tod & McGregor. She made four successful
voyages between Glasgow and New York before she was purchased by
the corporation that afterward became known as the Inman line. This
innovation, although it did not result at first in any marked increase
of speed, soon found approbation in the policies of rival companies.

[Illustration: A Quiet Flirtation.]

The other innovation was equally long in finding acceptance among
oceanic steamship companies, but it eventually prevailed, even to the
extermination of the clipper ship as a passenger carrier. It may be
remarked just here that the introduction of the screw-propeller added
to the discomforts of the cabin passengers; for in the first vessels
of the Inman line the state-rooms and saloons were retained in the
after-part of the ships, where the motion of the sea and the noise of
the screw were most apparent.

Leaving this matter for the present, it is worth noting that the
steady increase in passenger traffic between the two continents led to
the organization of many other companies that tried to find a share
in the carrying business. The Glasgow & New York Steamship Company
was started in 1854 by Tod & McGregor, ship-builders; the service
was fortnightly. In 1859 they decided to confine their business to
ship-building, and the fleet and good-will were then sold out to the
Inman line, who continued the service for a year or two, but finally
withdrew the fleet from Glasgow and concentrated their entire business
between Liverpool, Queenstown, and New York.

During the period from 1850 to 1860 many Atlantic lines were
established, several of which are in successful operation to-day. The
new-comers during that decade, as well as in the following decade,
adopted generally the innovations ventured by the Inman line; but it
was not until after 1870 that the side-wheeler disappeared from the
ocean, and it was not until 1874 that clipper ships ceased to bring
immigrants. It is said that the life of an iron steamship is unlimited;
that time enough has not elapsed since the first iron ships were
floated to determine how long they would naturally last under good
usage. The importance, therefore, of the innovation introduced by the
Inman line may be readily inferred when it is stated that the oldest
steamship belonging to any of the regular lines now in the passenger
service between New York and European ports was built in 1867. Within
the last year or two steel has been almost entirely substituted for
iron, it being lighter and more durable.

Although the transatlantic lines multiplied rapidly, and the business
induced by foreign traffic increased steadily, there was no other
marked improvement in the service until 1870, when the Oceanic Steam
Navigation Company entered upon its career. In this case also the legal
title of the corporation has been forgotten in the popular adoption of
a short name to designate the line; and this new enterprise has been
known almost from the beginning as the White Star line. Their first
steamship was the Oceanic, and its model and appointments throughout
became the pioneer of the great fleet that now plies regularly between
this country and Europe. It was not so much that the proprietors of
the White Star line endeavored to outdo their rivals in conveniences
for passengers, table-fare, and the like, but that they heeded the
complaints of the travellers who suffered from the noise and motion in
their state-rooms in the after-part of the boat. In the old style of
steamships the passenger who desired to sleep had to contend against
the noise of the screw, the creaking of the steering apparatus, and
the most extreme motion possible upon the vessel. The White Star line
arranged its saloons and state-rooms so as to bring them as near as
possible to the centre of gravity; placing them, therefore, amidships.

[Illustration: Smoking-room of a French Liner.]

It is not essential now to state what mechanical improvements this
change involved further than to say that previous to this date the
cabin quarters in sailing-vessels and steamships, both naval and
mercantile, were located in the after-part of the ship, and this for
the reason that it enabled the passengers to fully occupy that part
of the ship which was not invaded by the crew for working purposes.
The year 1870, therefore, marks an epoch in steam navigation, and the
vessels of all the principal lines, built since that date have been
conformed to the model set by the Oceanic, and the best ships of to-day
are so arranged that the passengers who pay the highest rates are
located in all their necessary movements in the central part of the

From year to year the speed has been improved, until so many steamships
are classed as racers that the rivalry has come to be centred in
appointments and luxurious accommodation. The inauguration of the
Oceanic Company marked the beginning of what may be called the second
epoch in transatlantic travel, and with the first voyage of the City
of New York a third epoch was begun. This last period, into which we
have hardly entered, is distinguished by the twin-screw steamship.
There are now nine great vessels of this class in the passenger service
between European ports and New York: the City of New York and the City
of Paris, of the Inman line; the Majestic and the Teutonic, of the
White Star line; the Augusta Victoria, the Columbia, the Normannia,
and the Fürst Bismarck, of the Hamburg-American line; and La Touraine
of the French line. These new vessels are not remarkably superior
to the best single-screw steamships in the matter of speed, and any
advantage gained in this respect may be attributed to their having
greater horse-power. As may be seen from the record of fast passages,
the Etruria and the Umbria, of the Cunard line, are not only very close
seconds to the best twin-screw ships, but are even ahead of several of
the new type of vessel. The great merit of the twin-screw ship lies in
the increased safety which its mechanism insures. It admits of avoiding
obstacles that would surely wreck a single-screw vessel, of better
handling in case of collision, and of surer progress in the event of
the breaking of a shaft.

Such steamships as the City of New York and the City of Paris, of
the Inman line (which is now controlled by American capital, and may
in a sense be regarded as an American enterprise), are designed so as
to carry about 500 first-cabin passengers each, and the Etruria and
Umbria, of the Cunard line, about 600; but these vessels carry less
steerage passengers than other ships, which adds greatly to the comfort
of saloon passengers. It is not probable that the $700,000 expended
for the construction of a vessel of the Collins line would much more
than suffice to pay for the decorations and conveniences afforded to
passengers on the Inman ships. In correspondence with modern ideas
they are subdivided into twenty-four water-tight compartments, and
this, with due allowance for the architect’s notions, has led to the
supplying of bath-rooms about the ship, according to the number of
passengers carried; several suites of rooms on the promenade and saloon
decks are arranged with bath-rooms and toilet-rooms. The second-class
passengers have also their own bath-rooms, smoking-room, and saloon
dining-room. The steerage is so divided that the third-class passengers
are not only away forward, but aft also; and they have the whole of one
deck to themselves for promenading and getting glimpses of ocean view.

These are features that apply to so many of the best steamships now
plying between New York and European ports, that it would be unjust
to describe any one ship as against another; but as the City of New
York in 1890 made the highest average speed of all the Atlantic
“greyhounds,” and for that matter the highest average speed of any
steamship in the world, it is but fair to mention her wonderful
performance. During the year 1890 she made eight trips to the eastward,
and the average of each trip from Sandy Hook lightship to Roche’s
Point, Queenstown Harbor, was six days, four hours, and five minutes;
the average of her eight trips to the westward from Roche’s Point to
Sandy Hook lightship was six days, five hours, and forty-four minutes.
On the four trips each way from August to November, inclusive, her
average west-bound voyages were six days and forty-two minutes, and
the east-bound voyages six days and fifty-three minutes. For the whole
season on her trips to the eastward she averaged 19.12 knots per hour,
and to the westward 18.91 knots per hour. She has made a slightly
better average than her sister, the favorite City of Paris, and she
beat her powerful rival, the Teutonic, seven times out of ten during
the season of 1890.

The fastest westward trip on record is that of the Teutonic, her
time of 5 days, 16 hours, and 30 minutes being made in August, 1891.
Her best eastward trip was made in September, 1891, in 5 days, 21
hours, and 22 minutes, which is also the fastest trip on record to the

The following table gives the records of fourteen of the most important
transatlantic steamships:

_Best Records up to October 1, 1891._

        Name.     | Fastest    |Direction.|       Date.     |  Line.
                  | passage.   |          |                 |
                  | D.  H.  M. |          |                 |
  Teutonic        |{ 5  16  30 | Westward | August, 1891   }|White Star.
                  |{ 5  21  22 | Eastward | September, 1891}|
                  |            |          |                 |
  Majestic        |{ 5  18   8 | Westward | August, 1891   }|White Star.
                  |{ 5  23  13 | Eastward | September, 1890}|
                  |            |          |                 |
  City of Paris   |{ 5  19  18 | Westward | August, 1889   }|Inman.
                  |{ 5  22  50 | Eastward | December, 1889 }|
                  |            |          |                 |
  City of New York|{ 5  21  19 | Westward | October, 1890  }|Inman.
                  |{ 5  22  50 | Eastward | September, 1891}|
                  |            |          |                 |
  Etruria         |{ 6   1  50 | Westward | September, 1889}|Cunard.
                  |{ 6   4  40 | Eastward | April, 1888    }|
                  |            |          |                 |
  Umbria          |{ 6   3  29 | Westward | August, 1890   }|Cunard.
                  |{ 6   3   4 | Eastward | November, 1888 }|
                  |            |          |                 |
                  |{ 6  14  15 | Westward | May, 1891      }|
  Fürst Bismarck  |{           (_Maiden trip_)             }|Hamburg.
                  |{ 6  12  58 | Eastward | September, 1891}|
                  |            |          |                 |
  Columbia        |{ 6  16   2 | Westward | June, 1890     }|Hamburg.
                  |{ 6  15   0 | Eastward | October, 1890  }|
                  |            |          |                 |
  Normannia       |{ 6  17   2 | Westward | August, 1890   }|Hamburg.
                  |{ 6  17  20 | Eastward | September, 1890}|
                  |            |          |                 |
  Augusta Victoria|{ 6  22  40 | Westward | October, 1890  }|Hamburg.
                  |{ 6  22  32 | Eastward | September, 1890}|
                  |            |          |                 |
  Havel           |{ 6  23  52 | Westward | May, 1891      }|North
                  |{ 6  19   5 | Eastward | September, 1891}|German.
                  |            |          |                 |
  Spree           |{ 6  21  20 | Westward | August, 1891   }|North
                  |{ 6  20  10 | Eastward | July, 1891     }|German.
                  |            |          |                 |
  Lahn            |{ 6  22  42 | Westward | August, 1889   }|North
                  |{ 6  23  18 | Eastward | October, 1889  }|German.
                  |            |          |                 |
                  |{ 6  23  58 | Westward | June, 1891     }|
  La Touraine     |{           (_Maiden trip_)             }|French.
                  |{ 7   4  16 | Eastward | July, 1891     }|

  NOTE.—For table of records in 1890, see page 45; for a comparison of
  records from the Sirius to the Teutonic, see page 78.

  The trips of the first six vessels in the above table are measured
  between Sandy Hook lightship and Roche’s Point, the entrance to
  Queenstown Harbor; the North German Lloyd and the Hamburg-American
  lines measure the trips between Sandy Hook lightship and the Needles,
  near Southampton; and the French line, between Sandy Hook lightship
  and Havre.

The fast ships of several lines now make a seven-days’ journey from
port to port; these lines are the Cunard, Inman, White Star, North
German Lloyd, Hamburg-American, French, Guion, and Anchor. Their
vessels are well fitted, the passengers find every convenience at
hand, and, barring extremely bad weather, the traveller may imagine
that he is confined but a few days to a first rate hotel on land.
Nevertheless, it may be worth while to mention one or two comparatively
minor features that have been introduced lately to make the journey
to Europe comfortable. The Midland Railway Company of England and the
London & Northwestern Railway Company have both adopted the American
system of checking baggage, and it is now possible to have your trunks
checked at your house for delivery in London, although the steamship
may terminate its journey at Liverpool. This service naturally calls
for a small extra fee, but it is hardly more than would be charged
by an expressman who would take your trunks to the dock where the
steamship lies awaiting your departure. It is quite the custom now,
also, for steamship companies to issue letters of credit to passengers,
who, for one reason or another, may not care to deposit their moneys
with the banking houses. On one line, at least, passengers can rent
steamer-chairs previous to sailing at fifty cents each for the trip,
and when they arrive on board they simply apply to the deck-steward for
their chairs. At the offices of all the principal lines steamer-chairs
may be engaged at the time tickets are procured, but the price charged
for the trip is one dollar; the enterprise being managed by an
independent concern who have obtained the privilege from the different

Every traveller may have at least one interesting souvenir of the
voyage across the Atlantic. The names of the passengers, and in some
cases their home addresses, are neatly printed upon folios along with a
blank chart for recording the progress of the voyage, and more or less
information about the company, the vessel, and the fleet of which it
is a member. A sufficient number of these passenger lists are printed
to assure one at least for every cabin passenger, and the lists are
usually distributed in the saloon soon after the vessel leaves her
dock. They are not only prized as souvenirs, but they are invaluable
in assisting one to make acquaintances—or avoid them, for that matter.
It is the custom of the Inman and Guion lines to distribute passenger
lists at the gang-plank just previous to the sailing of the vessel,
so that friends of passengers may carry away a token of the great
journey, and speculate as to how companionable this or another person
will prove to the party in which they are especially interested. On
nearly all the larger vessels there is a miniature newspaper printed by
the ship’s printer, which gives the usual amount of “local” gossip and
happenings peculiar to the surroundings; articles are contributed by
the passengers, and sometimes there is a good deal of talent on board.
Reports of concerts and domestic entertainments, etc., are given.

[Illustration: The Gang-plank—just before sailing.]

Rivalry between the various lines has led to the establishment of
agencies in various parts of this country and Europe.

Abroad the agents seek mainly, if not exclusively, to induce
emigration. In this country the agents deal almost exclusively with
those to whom travel has become a well-earned luxury. The central
point of agencies is in Chicago. The agents there control the
territory west of Chicago, and are in constant communication with the
head-offices in New York, and they have their sub-agents scattered
about everywhere, but especially in the Northwest. The New York offices
are promptly informed by the Chicago agents concerning the number of
people booked for certain steamships, and the chief stewards make
provision accordingly.

       *       *       *       *       *

Before showing how the steward has to provide for his passengers,
it will be interesting to note, as well as may be, the increase in
transatlantic voyaging. Exact records of cabin passengers have not been
kept until within a few years; but it will be remembered that in the
time of the clipper ships ten first-cabin passengers was the average on
a ship. As it is now, the different steamship lines entering the port
of New York employ several men to look after the landing of passengers.
Their duties are mainly directed to steerage people; but recently they
have also kept records of those who come over in either first or second
class. From these records, kept in the Barge Office in New York City,
it appears that ocean travel varies according to the business situation
in this country. Following is an exhibit of the number of cabin
passengers that arrived at this port during the years between 1881
and 1890, inclusive: 1881, 51,229; 1882, 57,947; 1883, 58,596; 1884,
59,503; 1885, 55,160; 1886, 68,742; 1887, 78,792; 1888, 86,302; 1889,
96,686; 1890, 99,189.

From one point of view, at least, these figures are very striking.
In 1889 there was a great show in Paris that attracted world-wide
attention and interest. In the spring of that year every steamship
agent announced to prospective passengers that all vessels would
be crowded, and that the volume of passenger traffic between the
continents would swamp the capacity of every line. But the figures
speak for themselves. Viewing the increase of oceanic travel, it
appears that the financial depression of 1884 kept many people at home
who otherwise might have crossed the ocean. After that distressing
season had passed travel resumed its normal condition, and an increase
may be noted with each year. When finances in this country had been
somewhat adjusted we find that 86,302 cabin passengers landed at New
York in 1888. Then came the Paris Exposition, and the record for
1889 is 96,686. That was the greatest year for ocean travel known
theretofore. Yet 1890 came along, and the record of 1889 had been
broken. The total number of arrivals of cabin passengers for that year
being 99,189.

[Illustration: The Saloon of a Hamburg Steamer.]

These figures mean that Americans are getting rich enough to travel:
nothing more. An agent of an excursion company said to me during 1889:

“It doesn’t need an Exposition in Paris to induce travel. Europe is the
loadstone! All we have to do is to show people that they can get to
_Europe_ at a moderate cost, and that fetches ’em.”

The same men who keep these records at the Barge Office say that at
least eighty per cent. of the arrivals from Europe represent people
who live in this country; that is, that not more than 20,000 people
during 1890 arrived in New York who did not live here, or who were not
returning to their homes. Furthermore, it should be noted here that New
York has become to so great a degree the port to which transatlantic
business tends, that not more than fifteen per cent. of either
immigrants or cabin passengers land at any other port. A few go to
Boston, or Philadelphia, or Baltimore; and a few come in _via_ Quebec
and the northern border; but the figures at New York really represent
the volume of passenger traffic.

[Illustration: The Pilot Boarding.]

It is not possible to give an exact comparison between the traffic now
and when passenger steamships first began to run between this country
and Europe; but it will be remembered that the Cunards, beginning in
1840, had only four regular vessels. Now there are twelve steamship
lines who have regular sailing days each week, and some have sailings
twice and three times a week; they all terminate or begin in New York,
and on these lines there are eighty-five steamships which carry saloon
and steerage passengers. These lines make landings at Queenstown,
Liverpool, Southampton, Havre, Bremen, Hamburg, Moville (Londonderry),
Glasgow, Antwerp, Boulogne, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, and Copenhagen. No
line employs less than four boats, and the Hamburg-American line keeps
nineteen in commission. The North German Lloyd Company has the largest
fleet of express steamships; there are twelve in commission between New
York, Southampton, and Bremen. This great fleet of eighty-five vessels
is composed of the following lines, given in the order in which they
were established: Cunard line, 1840; Inman line, 1850; Allan line,
1853; Hamburg-American line, 1856; Anchor line, 1856; North German
Lloyd line, 1857; French line (Compagnie Générale Transatlantique),
1862; Guion line, 1864; White Star line, 1870; Netherlands line,
1872; Red Star line, 1873; Thingvalla line, 1879. Besides these lines
there is also the Anchor line, Fabre line, and the Florio line to
Mediterranean ports; Wilson line to London, and also to Hull; National
line to London, and also to Liverpool; Hill line to London; Union
line to Hamburg; and Baltic line to Stettin. All these lines carry

This record, of course, takes no account of the lines to the South
American continent or to Pacific ports. Freight lines, of which there
are several, are out of the question for the moment.

       *       *       *       *       *

A great many passengers are more anxious about the table-fare upon an
ocean steamship than about the state-rooms, saloons, smoking-rooms, and
other matters of transient comfort. There is really no need for worry
about the table. There is always enough, and on the best boats there is
always a great variety.

On one of the recent departures of a great liner from this port her
larder was stocked as follows:

  20,000 pounds of fresh beef (a portion of this, although all was
  available, was intended for the return trip, beef being cheaper
  here than in Liverpool); fresh pork, 500 pounds; mutton, 3,500
  pounds; lamb, 450 pounds; veal, 500 pounds; sausage, 200 pounds;
  liver, 230 pounds; corned beef, 2,900 pounds; salt pork, 2,200
  pounds; bacon, 479 pounds; hams, 500 pounds; tongues, 8 dozen;
  sweetbreads, 200; fish, assorted, 2,100 pounds; oysters, 5,000;
  clams, 5,000; soft-shell crabs, 500; green turtle, 200 pounds;
  turkeys, 50; geese, 50; fowls, 248; chickens, 150; squabs, 300;
  snipe, 500; quail, 500; ducklings, 216; wild game, 108 pair. Butter,
  1,500 pounds; eggs, 1,200; condensed milk, 400 quarts; fresh milk,
  1,000 quarts; ice cream, 400 quarts. Apples, 12 barrels; pears,
  10 boxes; musk-melons, 100; water melons, 60; oranges, 16 boxes;
  peaches, 10 crates; bananas, 10 bunches; huckleberries, 100 quarts;
  gooseberries, 100 quarts; cherries, 250 quarts; currants, 100 pounds;
  grapes, 75 pounds; lemons, 14 cases; pineapples, 100; plums, 150
  quarts; strawberries, 250 quarts; raspberries, 250 quarts. Flour,
  125 barrels; potatoes, 140 barrels; lettuce, 72 dozen; asparagus,
  30 dozen; green peas, beans, tomatoes, 15 crates each; Brussels
  sprouts, 10 baskets. Crackers, cakes in large variety, and a quantity
  of pickles, sauces, spices, extracts, pâtés de foie gras, truffles,
  caviare, canned and dried and fresh vegetables, and general groceries
  in the most generous quantity. About 500 other items appeared on her
  list of stores, besides wines, spirits, beer, mineral waters, cigars,

       *       *       *       *       *

One of the bills of fare presented to first-cabin passengers from
such a commissariat is here given.


  Turtle and Spring.


  Scotch Salmon and Sauce Hollandaise.


  Blanquettes de Poulet aux Champignons.
  Filets de Bœuf à la Bordelaise.
  Cailles sur Canapés.


  Saddle of Mutton and Jelly.
  Beef and Yorkshire Pudding.
  York Ham and Champagne Sauce.


  Roast Turkey and Truffles.
  Spring Ducklings.


  Pommes de Terre Duchesse.
  Asparagus. Potatoes. Parsnips.


  International Pudding.
  Rhubarb with Custard.
  Strawberry Jam. Tartlets. Sandwich.


  Genoese Pastry. Marlborough Pudding.
  Gooseberry Soufflés.
  Lemon Cream.


  Seville Oranges. Black Hamburg Grapes.
  English Walnuts. Madeira Nuts. Cantaloupes.
  Café Noir.

Following is a literal copy of a bill of fare for a second-cabin dinner
on a favorite steamship:


  FISH.—Boiled Rock Fish, butter sauce.

  MEATS.—Haricot of mutton; roast beef, baked potatoes; boiled mutton,
  caper sauce; mashed turnips; potatoes.

  Rice pudding; apple tart; small pastry. Biscuits and cheese.

So the accommodations on board ship have kept pace with the growing
traffic and the increasing demand for luxurious appointments. Vessels
now are lighted by electricity in every quarter, including even the
steerage; there is ample room for exercises and games on deck; there
are well-stocked libraries and music-rooms, no well-ordered ship being
without a piano or organ, and some have both; smoking-rooms are usually
on the upper deck; electric annunciators are handy; bath-rooms are
numerous; the thrashing of the screw is heard faintly at the worst;
there is plenty and a variety of food; and in short, the majority of
cabin passengers fare for a week better, and are surrounded by more
appointments of wealth and luxury, than they are accustomed to in their
own homes.

[Illustration: The End of the Voyage.]

Some specialty interesting features have been introduced into the
North German Lloyd service, and also on the express steamers of the
Hamburg-American line to make a voyage attractive. Among these is the
band that accompanies every vessel. The performers are the stewards of
the second cabin, who must not only be good waiters but also musicians
as well. They play through the long first-cabin dinner, which lasts
from one to two hours, and again on deck in the evening. There are no
Sunday services on these boats, but in the morning the band plays hymn
tunes, and in the evening there is a “sacred” concert. All German and
American holidays are observed on board, special attention being paid
to the Fourth of July and Washington’s Birthday, and particularly so
on an eastward trip if the holiday occurs when the vessel is only a day
or so out from New York; when Christmas comes to the travellers at sea,
they find themselves in the midst of a German festival, in which there
is no lack of a brightly adorned and illuminated tree. The steerage
passengers are not forgotten on these occasions; amusements and a
special feast are provided for them.

The French line has some remarkable features of its own. Baggage may be
checked by it to any point in France. The company provides a special
train that waits on the steamship dock in Havre, and on the arrival of
the vessel from New York takes the passengers and baggage to Paris at
once, and puts them in close connection with trains for other parts of
the continent. This system of transfer and checking baggage applies not
only to cabin passengers, but to those in the steerage as well, and the
French line is the only line that makes such arrangements. It is also
the only line (except the Netherlands which touches at Boulogne for
Paris) that supplies immigrants with all necessary utensils, including
bedding; and, more than that, it provides a wholesome wine at all meals
in the steerage, and cognac once a day.

For the last eight years the French Government have permitted some of
their naval officers to command the steamships of the French line, and
in case of war they would retain command of these ships, which are
specially constructed armed cruisers. All the crew must have served a
certain time on a French man-of-war.

French festivals and American holidays are celebrated on board by
concerts, balls, dinner-parties, and extra luxuries at the regular
meals. Entertainment is provided for the steerage passengers, and a
special _menu_ is furnished for the festal days. On such occasions,
too, the ships are gayly decorated with bunting from stem to stern.
Another unique and pleasant feature of the voyage on the French line
is the “Captain’s Dinner.” This takes place just previous to the
termination of the trip.

On the British lines Sunday is suitably observed; the captain, in
full uniform, supported by his officers, reads the Church of England
services, to which all on board are invited. American and British
holidays are also observed in a fitting manner, the vessels being
always “dressed” for the occasion. These lines also have a parting
dinner, usually one or two evenings before arrival in port.

[Illustration: Revenue Officer Boarding, New York Bay.]

All incoming steamers are signalled off Fire Island or Sandy Hook,
their arrival is telegraphed to the Quarantine station and the
ship-news office, and in about three hours the vessel reaches
Quarantine from Fire Island, or about one hour from Sandy Hook. At
Quarantine the health officer boards her, and if it is found that she
has no case of contagious disease on board she is permitted to proceed
to her dock, which she reaches in about one hour and a half, including
the time of examination by the health officer; but if she has any
serious case on board she is detained at Quarantine until she receives
orders from the health officer to land her passengers. As soon as the
vessel is reported inside Sandy Hook the revenue cutter starts down
the bay to meet her, with the customs officers on board. The boarding
officer places several staff officers on board, who go immediately
to the saloon, where declarations are made and signed by the saloon
passengers as to the contents of their trunks, etc., and all baggage is
searched on arrival of the vessel at her dock, when those who attempt
“monkeying” with the customs officials will find out that the little
trick does not pay.

Meantime, how do the steerage folk get on?

Mention has been made of the British Government bill of fare. This was
instituted when clipper ships were in vogue. It was ordered that a
minimum weekly allowance of raw food should be provided for every adult
third-class passenger as follows:

  3-1/2 pounds bread, or biscuit, not inferior in quality to navy
  biscuit; 1 pound flour; 1-1/2 pound oatmeal; 1-1/2 pound rice; 1-1/2
  pound peas; 1-1/4 pound beef; 1 pound pork; 2 pounds potatoes; 2
  ounces tea; 1 pound sugar; 1/2 ounce mustard; 1/4 ounce ground black
  pepper; 2 ounces salt; 1 gill vinegar.

A government inspector saw to it that these items or their equivalents
were provided upon the departure of every ship carrying third-class
passengers, and that no ship went to sea without being provisioned
for thirty days. The allowance, however, proved not to be altogether
generous, and many passengers brought stores of their own along. In
any event, each passenger had to prepare his own meals at the cook’s
galley, for the number of cooks furnished was always insufficient. The
kitchen is never commodious at the best, aboard ship, and it needs no
imagination to picture the struggle of immigrants, one against another,
for a turn at the fire. The government requisition is still in force,
but it is substantially a dead letter, for not only the British but all
European steamship companies now provide ample fare properly cooked and
served, for all steerage passengers.

A young man who crossed in the steerage last year described his fare
to the writer, thus: “At breakfast,” he said, “we usually had oatmeal
porridge and molasses, with coffee in plenty, and rolls and butter.
This was varied by hash instead of porridge on some days, or perhaps an
Irish stew; but fresh baked rolls and butter were always in abundance.
There was always soup at dinner, and some boiled beef, pork, or fish
with potatoes and bread. Supper did not amount to much, but there was
plenty of plain, good stuff to eat. Roast beef and plum duff were
served at Sunday’s dinner.”

This food was served to the steerage passengers by stewards, but there
was no placing of dishes opposite the passenger’s plate. The general
meal was set down in the middle of the table, and “help yourself” was
the order of the day. The steerage passengers do not cook their own
food now, but they have to provide their own cups, plates, and other
utensils, as well as their own bedding.

All captains of passenger steamships are scrupulously attentive to the
needs of their steerage passengers. Not a day passes that they do not
make a personal inspection of this department, and they are always
approachable in the event of complaints arising on the part of the
poorest travellers. It is related of one old-time commander—Captain
John Mirehouse—that in order to assure himself of the proper quality
and preparation of the steerage food, he invariably had his lunch
served from the steerage galley at the dinner hour; and he used to
declare that his lunches were as wholesome and palatable as he could

It must not be supposed that steerage passengers are all immigrants.
Odd as it may seem, there are many world wanderers who cross and
recross in the steerage, who travel over great parts of the world,
and who, in their class, are as independent as the more luxuriously
accommodated cabin people. Besides these curious characters there
are Scottish carpenters and other mechanics who come over here for
a few months at a time to take advantage of higher wages, and who
return as they came when Christmas draws nigh. It will doubtless cause
astonishment to most readers to learn that when the Teutonic made her
last voyage to Europe, in December, 1890, she carried 1,400 passengers,
more than 1,000 of whom were in the steerage.

[Illustration: In the Steerage.]

The immigrant business has come to be so important a feature in
transatlantic passenger traffic, that it may not be uninteresting to
conclude this article with a few figures that show somewhat of its
growth and proportions, and also the method of handling the immigrants.
At least eighty-five per cent. of all immigration to the United States
comes through the port of New York. The Board of Immigration was not
established until 1847, and previous to that time records were rather
loosely kept. The official figures, however, have been obtained,[17]
showing that between 1783 and 1847, 1,063,567 immigrants came to this
country; between 1847 and 1873 there were 4,933,562; a marked falling
off in the annual average occurring during the War of the Rebellion;
between 1873 and 1890, inclusive, 4,910,864. Immigration was heaviest
in the years 1881, 1882, and 1883, the figures being 441,064; 455,450;
and 388,267, respectively. The greatest arrival of immigrants in any
one day was on May 11, 1887, when nearly 10,000 were landed at this
port. The greatest number ever brought by a single ship was 1,767,
by the Egypt, National line, in 1873. This good ship was destroyed
by fire, July, 1890, in midocean, on her way to the eastward, but
fortunately not a life was lost.

On the arrival of each vessel at her dock she is boarded by the
Immigration Department boarding officer, and the Customs inspector
and his assistants; the latter examine the immigrants’ baggage, and
sometimes add considerable to Uncle Samuel’s bank account in the way of
duties or the confiscation of smuggled articles. Their baggage is then
checked and placed on board the transfer boats and barges, which convey
them to the Barge Office, where they are examined by a medical staff
and then passed to the registration department in that building; here
they give their name, age, occupation, nationality, and destination;
if they appear as though they were liable to become a public charge,
in compliance with an Act of Congress, they are returned, by the same
vessel on which they arrived, to the place from which they came. But an
opportunity is given to their friends, if any should call, to guarantee
that they will not become a public charge, and they are then allowed to
leave the department in the custody of their friends. Parties seeking
friends call at the information bureau, and if they satisfy the clerk
as to their identity they are allowed to take their friends away. On
leaving the steamship checks are given to them for their baggage, and
it is stored at the Barge Office free of charge, and kept till called

There is a railroad ticket office in the Barge Office, where all the
trunk lines are represented by one general agent, a sort of pool, and
here the immigrant can secure tickets to any point and have baggage
checked to destination; and at no other place can tickets be procured
at such low rates, nor can anyone but an immigrant get such a low rate.
Each immigrant is allowed 150 pounds of baggage free, and the railroad
companies transfer them and their baggage from the Barge Office to
their respective depots free of charge.

A temporary hospital is located in the Barge Office, where immigrants
not seriously ill are kept, and those who may have any serious illness
are sent to hospitals under contract with the department for such

Each steamship company was formerly required to pay to the United
States Treasury a head tax of $2.50 for each alien steerage passenger;
this fee was reduced to $1.00, and some years ago it was still further
reduced to fifty cents, the present rate. This tax goes to what is
known as the Immigrant Fund.

In conclusion I might truly say that the modern ocean steamship of
the great lines I have mentioned is the embodiment of the latest
achievements of science and art of this enlightened age. So recent are
many of the inventions that such a ship as the City of Paris or the
Majestic could not have been built ten years ago at any price. The
practical effect of all this to the traveller is to bring him very
much nearer to the Old World than his father was, and to make the time
spent in crossing the once dreaded ocean a delightful series of summer


[16] See the chapter on The Development of the Ocean Steamship.

[17] Through the courtesy of Mr. George W. Esslinger, assistant to
Captain John E. Moore, landing agent.




When the breeze is piping free and the tide is running strong none
but a master-seaman may be trusted to haul out of the Liverpool docks
a great Atlantic liner. Should it be a leeward ebb, with the Mersey
spinning under a flurry of squalls and snarling in angry eddies, a
quick eye must mate a clear wit to make the trick a deft one. The
manœuvre is always a delight to the mariner, let bo’s’ns, hopelessly
spliced to such traditions as topsails reefed in stays bawl what they
may about the dead days of seamanship. For here are unfolded the
mysteries of the art, and here are exercised all the higher qualities
of the sailor, and just as much, believe me, as in the old times when
the gray piers and oozy quays were crowded to cheer our famous clippers
warping in and out to the music of barbaric “chanties.”

Beach-combers, shore-huggers—mere Abraham’s men—will tell you the
poetry is gone out of it all, and will, with much damning of their
eyes, and shifting of their quids, and hitching of their tarry
trousers, try to persuade you that steam has ruined the genuine sailors
of story and of song. But this is mere transpontine nonsense, for above
and beyond everything he who commands a ship, smoker or sailer, as it
may chance, must first of all be a seaman. The demands of modern sea
life have increased the responsibilities of the mariner, and in like
measure the professional attainments required are deeper, broader, and
higher than ever before.

What the task of hauling out is, you may best judge by noting the
bulk to be moved, for you can never measure properly the enormous
dimensions of these great steamers until you see them looming in their
true proportions above the walls, and undwarfed, as they are in the
open, by the frame of sea and sky. The bulwarks tower like the walls
of a fortress; the enormous decks sweep with a sheer knowing no broken
curve; the wheel-house lifts its windows above the life-boats, swarming
sternward like a school of pilot-fish; still higher the bridges, often
double-tiered, span and grip the sturdy stanchions; and dominating all,
the elliptical funnels rake jauntily, and the yardless spars taper till
they fine away at their shining trucks into graceful coach-whips.

Shipshape and Bristol fashion, point-device in paint and polish, the
massive hull glides over the quiet waters of the basin; you catch the
sheen of gleaming brasses, of glistening air-ports, of glazed white,
and lacquered black. Obedient as a broken colt to the touch of the
helm, quick in response as a high-bred dog in a leash to the guiding
hawsers, she moves calmly—fit exemplar of strength rightly tempered by
even will—toward the sharp turn where the gateway opens to the river.
Winches chatter noisily; windlasses clink, clink musically; capstans
rattle with slacking cables; jets of steam dart viciously; ripples
stream sternward to the bubbles of the foamless wake; the tremulous
minor, more a wail than a song, of the docking gangs working the
warps, answer the cheery “Yo heave-ohs” of the people on shipboard;
and the quick, sharp orders from the bridge are echoed by high-pitched
answers from the mates, watching with wary eyes everywhere. One screw
turns clumsily ahead, the other circles astern, and then the ship
swings easily, rounding the jagged corner in the hedge of stone with
a gentleness leaving feet to spare. The bow and stern enter fairly,
straight as a mason’s level, the open gateway; a strain is taken on
the line leading from the quarter to the pier end; a moment of rest,
of expectation, succeeded by one of doubt, follows, and then the hail
rings out blithely from the after-whaleback, “All clear, sir.”

The handle of the annunciator connected with the engine-room is jammed
to “hard astern;” “ding! ding!” rings the signal from below; the water
gushes in a turbulent torrent from the outboard deliveries, the engines
throb fiercely, backing with all their strength, and as the lines are
rendered, slacked, eased, let go, the steamer clears the pier-end with
a rush, shoots far into midstream, and thus begins, wrong end foremost,
her voyage westward. In the optimism of the moment the chief officer
and the bo’s’n grow garrulous upon the recondite subject of anchor
gear; the junior officers feel they quite deserve the good luck which
makes them the hustling, bustling mates of a crack racer; and maritime
Jack, still a little groggy and very much unwashed, blesses the stars
that have let begin another “v’yage with an ’arf crown left of his
hadvance,” and the prospects of “some bloomin’ American tobaccy” as
soon as he’s clear of the tideway.

“Not a bad job, sir,” said the pilot, as the anchor takes the bottom
and the ship straightens astern from her cable; “seemed ticklish a bit
for a minute when they ’eld onto the spring so long, sir; but ’ere we
are, bung up and bilge free, and with the looks of a good run, barrin’
the fog per’aps, for the morrer.”

The captain answers smilingly, for these two are old friends, and, what
is more, the hauling out has been a joint enterprise, though the senior
gets the credit, as he should. After a careful survey of the anchorage
and a word with the chief officer, the captain enters his cabin and
buckles down to the routine work, and there is always plenty of that
awaiting him. He glows pleasurably over the handy, seamanlike way they
have left the dock, for nautical critics are plenty and keen, and if he
had not taken up his berth in the river so cleverly, the ill news would
have grown apace, till, with unfair variations, it reached the ears of
their high nobilities—the directors.

Clear-headed, brainy, driving men, are these master-mariners, and
bearing patiently a responsibility that needs an iron will and a
courage faltering at nothing. There is no royal road to their station,
nor can willing hands make them what they must be. They cannot crawl
through cabin windows, nor, for that matter, come flying in a pier-head
jump through the gangway with one leg forward and the other aft. They
have to fight their way over the bows, and struggle out of the ruck and
smother in the fo’ks’le, by sturdy buffeting and hard knocks, by the
persistent edging of stout shoulders backed by strong hearts and steady
brains. If it is in them they will make their way in the end surely,
and may set the course and stump to windward as they please, while
others haul the weather-ear-rings, and drink their grog protestingly.
No; master-mariners are made, not born, and, unlike many of their
brothers in the government service, have to rise by energy, pluck,
merit—why enumerate them?—by a hundred qualities the world is better
for owning.

Old Pepys knew how this sea-kissing goes, and tells us of his favors in
this wise: “That,” he writes, “which puts me in a good humor both at
noon and night, is the fancy that I am this day (March 13, 1669) made
a captain of one of the King’s ships, Mr. Wren having sent me the Duke
of York’s commission to be captain of the Jerzy, ... which doth give
me the occasion of much mirth and may be of some use to me.” Think of
that, you venturesome die-hards, who linger all your lives at the lower
sheerpole, a post-captain by the scratch of a pen, and above all men
given to a lubberly scrivener and an Admiralty clerk at that.

All these elder merchant-masters are sailor-men, some so deep and
dyed in it that if you scratch them they ooze tar, and this briny
saturation has been invariably acquired under sail. After they have
had their ships and made many a voyage, deep water and home, round
both Capes, east and west, wherever winds may blow and freight, the
mother of wages, may linger, they shift into steam, but always in
a subordinate place. Should they stick by one employ they are sent
from ship to ship, working their way upward until they become chief
officers of the choicest vessels in the line. Here they must wait
for dead men’s shoes, or resignation, or forced retirement; but when
the chance comes they are given the command of the smaller and less
important steamers upon some subsidiary route. Then they enter a new
line of promotion, and weary are the years of waiting, and bitter
sometimes the disappointment, before they reach the high-water mark of
their service. And, with this hardly earned promotion, do not come, as
in other professions, ease, comfort, and proper recompense for duty
well done, but heavier responsibilities, harder work, and greater
self-sacrifice; what is worse, and this to the shame of the great
steamship corporations, these gallant men, even at their prime, receive
the most inadequate pecuniary recognition for the burden imposed, for
the mental and physical qualities exercised, for the experience brought
to bear; indeed, in no other trade or profession is equal ability so
badly paid.

The junior officers belong to all sorts and conditions of men. Most
of them have had to fight their way, though some have parents who
could well afford to pay a handsome premium for their sea education in
the training-ships stationed off the principal ports. Here they are
given a strict man-of-war tuition, though the routine of studies and
drills is, of course, modified to suit the results expected. After
their apprenticeship is served they go to sea, usually in sailing
ships; and when later they choose steam, they join as fourth or fifth
officers, and enter upon a career where their future is a hard but an
assured one. In the large employs they are encouraged to enter the
Naval Reserve, and are given time for their drills and opportunities
to qualify for the higher certificates of the merchant service; and
so much are these privileges esteemed that you often find on the
best steamers of the transatlantic liners one-half of the officers
holding masters’ certificates and junior commissions in the auxiliary
government service. Under the new regulations some of these officers
have, besides the guard-ship drill, taken a regular tour of duty as
lieutenants and sub-lieutenants on board sea-going men-of-war, and so
far this has proved a capital plan for both services. The nationality
of the officers is British, naturally, though English and Irish
predominate, the Scotch, somehow, taking more kindly to the engineering
part of the business, and the Welshmen staying at home.

There is a well-founded belief that the deck people are not sailor-men;
nor, indeed, are they in the majority of ships, that is, not sailors
in the true meaning of the word; but, on the other hand, neither are
they the mere swabbers of decks, scrubbers of paint-work, handlers
of the forward and after ends of trunks, or reefers of hat-boxes and
travelling-rugs their critics would have us believe. They belong to a
special class, not a very high one from the maritime point of view,
and are reasonably well fitted for the work expected. This you may
see at fire quarters, for example, a drill which, in these times,
is always held before the passengers come on board. As the alarm is
sounded by the rapid ringing of the ship’s bell, and the commands are
hoarsely shouted along the decks, you may notice, as the men rush to
their stations, the absence of the alertness, neatness, forehandedness
which characterize the man-of-war’s men; but they are sturdy and strong
and willing, and the echoes of the orders, “Fire forward! Main deck.
Quick’s your play,” have scarcely ceased, before a dozen hose are
coupled and run out, bucket and fire-extinguisher lines are formed,
axemen and smotherers are gathered, and hand and steam pumps started
with an energy promising a world of water. Grimy greasers and stokers
rush from below; stewards hop about as none but a steward can; and
butchers, bakers, and electric-light-makers rally in their appointed
places, eager for work, but in the motley of Falstaff’s draft. The
captain, watch in hand, receives the reports that all the departments
have assembled and that abundant streams have been in operation
(overboard, of course, but in the neighborhood of the fire) in blank
minutes—let us say three, as a fair average—from the time the alarm was
first given. Do you wonder if he smiles and says to his chief officer,
“Very creditable, sir; very well done. You may secure, sir?” Very well
done it is, and when you remember this is the first drill and many of
the hands are new, you may feel reasonably assured, should any ordinary
fire break out, that it is all Lombard Street to a Tahiti orange it
will be subdued most promptly.

The pumps stop, the hose are uncoupled, under-run, and reeled, and,
everything being secured, the ship returns to its normal condition. But
not to rest, for there is no rest fore and aft when a voyage is begun.
Cargo and stores have to be hoisted out of the lighters, holds have to
be stowed, gear secured. All day long the cargo winches rattle, and
the tackles rise and fall complainingly. Alongside a double bank of
lighters cling, and through cargo-ports and over the rails the freight
pours ceaselessly. The twilight deepens with stars; ashore the roar and
traffic of the busy town are hushed; the river banks are deserted. But
under the dazzling arc-lights on shipboard, and far into the night,
toiling men and swaying bales and boxes cast fantastic shadows on the
breezy water, and about the decks, and in the cavernous holds gaping
unsatisfied for the fruits of trade and barter.

       *       *       *       *       *

The next day the passengers come on board, and the company’s servants
in the tenders and lighters gleefully escape, after banging about
and muddling the baggage so mercilessly that state-room trunks yawn
bruisedly in the holds, and huge chests, bursting with useless
trophies of travel, lumber up your narrow quarters below—this, to the
despair and tears of forlorn women who pursue the hapless purser with
unrelenting fury when they learn that nothing can be unearthed until
after the ship has left Queenstown, and that until then they must
hopelessly shift for themselves. Steam is spluttering and flickering in
little curls at the escape-pipes, the officers—every button of their
best coats on duty—are at their stations, the pilot is looking wiser
than ever pilot could be, and on the bridge with the impatient captain
lingers a representative of the company. By and by, after the final
instructions are given, this person departs, and as he goes over the
side the captain waves his hand in salute and then gives a quiet order
to the chief officer.

The wheel is shifted, the capstan reels noisily, and link by link the
chain comes home. At last, after a vicious tug or two on the cable,
the ground is broken, and, smothered and sputtering with cleansing
water from the hose, the anchor, ring and stock, appears above the
foam-streams rippling at the bow. When the cat-fall is hooked the
ship’s head swings around with graceful sheer, the engines slightly
increase their speed, the wake straightens its curves, the ensign dips
in answer to salutes, and a long blast from the whistle sonorously
claims the right of channel. Slowly, carefully, the gallant ship
threads her way among the fleet of inward and outward bound shipping;
the shores darken with moist shadows and gleam in broad bands of fading
sundrift; the lights of Birkenhead and Liverpool glisten, blaze,
twinkle, fade; the breeze blows with spice of salt and briny coolness;
the stars blink from silvery steel into points of golden fire; and in
the west, where the splendor and warmth deepen seaward, the rolling
mists, as yet resplendent in borrowed radiance, close, broodingly, as a
pall. Sails burn in the heart of the sunset, and long trails of smoke
show where other ships have sunk below the verge. Finally the bar is
crossed, the lanterns on board the Northwest Light-ship flame in the
star-gemmed dusk, and with a swinging grip of the wheel the ship is
headed, at half speed, just as night is falling, to clear the lights of

[Illustration: Down the Channel in a Fog—A Narrow Escape.]

Upon the bridge the pilot and the officer of the watch peer “ahead
and astern, look to windward and to lee;” the ship slips and slides,
now to port and now to starboard, dodging the fleet inter-shooting
this marvellous waterway with a wealth of craft no other waters know;
and the lookouts glue their eyes to their quadrants of observation,
reporting lights and sails till the confusion would be inextricable,
save to these steady nerves finding the pathway safely. Down the coast
the vessel runs in the darkness, fearing naught while the stars shine
and the horizon circles clean cut above the foam-capped waters. But
as the night grows the air loses its briskness, a light haze shrouds
the sea, and the Channel fog rolls, ghostlike, landward. Soon only
the upper stars glimmer, the moisture drips from the rigging, the iron
rails and deck-houses are damp and clammy, and the lights are aureoled
with a dull cloud of gray and yellowish mist.

[Illustration: The Skipper.]

The captain takes his place upon the bridge, the engines are eased
until, to the worried landsman’s ears, their labored throbbing
seems a devil’s tattoo answering the grumbling and rumbling of the
fog-whistle. Below, brawny, silent men stand at the levers, ready at
an instant to stop and back, or go ahead, just as the emergency may
direct. Outside the pilot-house the quarter-master strains his ears and
peers nervously into the gloom, yet alert to pass any command given
to the junior officer and to his messmate at the wheel. Signals from
fog-whistles drift into them from other groping ships, and, at times,
spectral hulls and ghostly sails loom close aboard, creeping out of the
curtained night or slipping landward or seaward in search of hidden
port or roadway. At regular intervals the lead is cast and the depth of
water read from the scale by the unhooded glare of a lantern, and on
the chart the positions given by the soundings are pricked, to guard
against the tricks of treacherous currents.

And so the cheerless night drifts sadly into a wan morning, and the
ship creeps warily down Channel, the weary vigil taxing the brains and
bodies of those who must seek no rest because of the lives entrusted to
their care.

       *       *       *       *       *

After the pilot has been discharged and the mails received at
Queenstown, and the ship has taken her departure from the Roche Point
Light-ship everybody settles into the routine of life at sea. From
the beginning watches have been kept rigorously, and the interior
discipline and rules are so well-jointed that the ship seems to run
herself. You hear no jarring of the cogs, feel on rough edges in the
mosaic, though the government is, as it must always be, the hand of
steel in the glove of velvet. The care of the ship is unremitting,
even in details which if set down here would seem trivial and finicky,
and every hour of the day has duties which are performed heartily
and thoroughly to the foot of the letter by the officers. The number
of these may vary on each line, even in different ships of the same
employ, but in the largest steamers there are, besides the captain,
three seniors and two juniors. The three seniors keep the watches, and
each during his tour of duty has, as the captain’s representative,
the direct charge of the ship. The two juniors stand watch and watch,
that is, four hours on duty and four hours off, with a swing at the
dog-watches, and carry on, under the direction of the senior officers,
the routine of the ship. Normally the officer of the watch takes his
station on the forward bridge, and the junior officer sticks by the
wheel-house, where, after collecting the data he writes the log-slate
hourly, and sees that the quartermaster steers the given course to a
nicety. The first night at sea the starboard watch (the captain’s in
marine law) has the eight hours out, that is, from 8 P.M. to midnight
and from 4 to 8 A.M.; and on the home voyage the mate’s watch (the
port) enjoys the same sweet privilege, thus sanctifying the ancient
saw, which insists, under penalties dire, that the captain must take
her out and the mate must take her home again.

The officers vary in their methods of keeping watch, new ships having
new rules, as Simple Simon is supposed to have said when he was hustled
aft to stow the jib. But to my mind, those favored in the larger
steamers of the White Star Company are the best. Here the chief officer
stands the watches from six to eight and from twelve to two o’clock,
night and day respectively; the second officer keeps the watches from
eight to ten and two to four o’clock; and the third officer those from
ten to twelve and from four to six o’clock. This watch-keeping seems
easy enough, even interesting and exciting, at least so I have heard
not only from the casual gentleman who worries about critically in fine
weather, but from that uneasy-minded shuttler who skips across the
Western Ocean half a dozen times a year for no reason any sane man has
yet discovered. But, dearly beloved idlers, do not deceive yourselves,
getting out of bed and walking on a roof is anything but gay, even in
fine weather. In stormy seasons it is such wretched work that then be
mine rather to woo my bucolics, my farms and gardens, my forest glades.

[Illustration: The Deck Lookout—“Danger Ahead.”]

[Illustration: On the Bridge in a Gale.]

Leaving out of question the responsibility, try and measure the
physical misery when gales are howling, and spray is flying, and icy
seas are shooting over the weather bulwarks, and the ship is slamming
along, wallowing in the hollows or wriggling on zenith-seeking
billows. It may be at night, when you cannot see a ship’s length
ahead, and around you, threatening disaster and death, are a dozen
vessels; it may be when the ice is moving and the towering bergs lie
in your pathway. Then those dreadful middle watches, when, after
a hard tour of duty, you are roused out of a comfortable bed, and
jumped, half awakened, into the chill and misery of the gale-blown
night with every nerve and muscle strained to the breaking-point.
No, it is, believe me, the hardest kind of hard work, and it so saps
the body, and warps the temper, and makes the best old before their
day, that no self-respecting mother will let her daughter marry a
man who knows an oar from a fence-rail, if he has learned their

The fourth and fifth officers, being young and hardy, and presumably
with much to learn and suffer—for suffering somehow is considered
an essential in sea-training—are not supposed to need adequate rest
or sleep, and if that is not wearing on shipboard, go find me a
ballad-monger to weave a rhyme for their comfort. The crew stand watch
and watch; but as they can always steal a comforting nap, and have
no responsibility, they know little of the mental wear and tear. The
bo’s’n and his mate look out for the pulling and hauling, and for the
dreary singing which the “chanty” man weds to them. Their tempers are
always on edge, and it is their part to buffet and bluster. These are
the gentlemen you usually hear, in season and out, bellowing about
decks a highly garnished sea _argot_ which no one attempts to translate
or deems of serious meaning. Occasionally, too, you may detect them
to leeward of the houses, skylarking gloomily, in moments of forced
gayety, with skulkers and sea-lawyers, “fetching them,” as they
describe the pastime, “a belt under the jaw,” or airily promising to
“knock” their “blooming ’eds off.” These, of course, are the vagaries
of delegated authority, and should not lessen your regard for them, as
they are generally good sailor-men after the heavy insular fashion.
You must remember, also, they enjoy a prescriptive privilege of being
most noisy, of wearing tremendous boots and very shabby clothes, and of
trilling, like sea-larks, upon little silvery whistles, which are known
indiscriminately as “pipes” or “calls.”

[Illustration: The Boatswain’s Whistle.]

In each watch there are three quartermasters, generally fine specimens
of the British tar, a joy to the eye and a comfort to the soul,
notably in bad weather, when they cheer you with a smile that soothes
as the words they may not utter; for by a maritime fiction they are
always supposed to be at the wheel, and you must not, under fear of
keelhauling, talk to them. How patronizing and sympathetic they look,
what a lot they seem to know, what beautiful guernseys they wear, and
with what ease they guide the mighty vessel! Before the introduction
of steam steering-gear two men were always required at the wheel,
and in bad weather there were four, and sometimes six, with frequent
reliefs; and yet, with all this beef, many a poor fellow has been
maimed for life by being tossed over the wheel-barrel or jammed by
the spokes when the ship swung off with sudden lurch or broached to
before the fury of the gale. To-day it requires hardly the strength of
a boy to “restrain the rudder’s ardent thrill,” even in the heaviest
blows, for the wheel in evidence is merely the purchasing end of a
mechanical system that opens and shuts the valve governing the steam
admitted to the steering cylinders. But be it lever or not, the sailor
grasps it still with the old familiar pose, swaying it, “for the good
ship’s woe and the good ship’s weal,” with curved arm and gripping
fingers as he pores over his compass and keeps its lubber’s point,
in fair weather or in foul, plumb on a course marked to a degree of
the circle. He stands a two-hours’ trick and then changes places with
his relief, whose station has been outside the wheel-house door. The
third quartermaster keeps his watch under the after-whaleback, ready
to throw into action the hand steering-wheel when the signal is given,
and as this happens seldom, his watch is apt to be a dreary one. The
pump-wells are sounded regularly by a carpenter, so that possible leaks
are sure of rapid detection; and hourly every light and every corner of
the ship is inspected by one of the two masters-at-arms, who constitute
the police force of the ship. They have under their special care the
steerages, and a part of their duty is—as their phrase goes—“to chase”
the steerage female passengers off the upper deck at dusk, and to see
that they remain in their own apartments until sunrise.

[Illustration: The Cook.]

First-class ships muster from twelve to fifteen men in each watch,
and all of these are shipped as seamen. Of course the majority are
such only in name, though there is always a definite number of sailors
among them. Indeed, to fly the blue flag at least ten of the crew, in
addition to the captain, must be enrolled in the Naval Reserve, and
to be an A B there, one must hand, reef, and steer deftly. These are
the people who in port stand by the ship; that is, those who take, as
required by law, their discharges in Liverpool on the return voyage
and continue to work on board at fixed wages per day while the ship
refits and loads. All hands, from the skipper to the scullion’s mate,
must ship at the beginning of each run—must “sign articles” as it is
called—before a Board of Trade shipping-master. As the law has always
regarded Jack as “particularly in need of its protection, because he is
particularly exposed to the wiles of sharpers,” great stress is laid in
these articles upon his treatment, and therefore they exhibit in detail
the character of the voyage, the wages, the quantity and quality of
the food, and a dozen other particulars which evidence the safeguards
thrown about these “wards of the Admiralty” by a quasi-paternal
government. Jack knows all this, and be sure he stands up most boldly
and assertively, at times with a great deal of unnecessary swagger and
bounce, for all the articles—“his articles”—allow him.

The boatswain selects the ship’s company, and the sea-birds flutter
on board usually a few hours before the vessel hauls into the stream.
They fly light, these Western Ocean sailors, and their kits are such as
beggars would laugh at even in Ratcliffe Highway. Generally they are
in debt to the Sailor’s Home—they pay seventeen bob a week for their
grub and lodging—and many of them just touch their advance money, as
a guarantee of receipt, and then see most of it disappear, for goods
fairly furnished, into the superintendent’s monk-bag. But they are
philosophers in their sad way, and are apt, if they find themselves
safely on board with a couple of shillings in their ’baccy pouches,
with a pan, an extra shirt, a pannikin, a box of matches, and a bar
of soap, to feel that the anchor cannot be tripped too soon, as they
are equipped for an adventure anywhere, even to the “Hinjies, heast or
west,” as their doleful ditty announces.

Under way or at anchor they do not have many idle moments. In the
middle watches the decks are scrubbed with sand and brooms and brushes,
for the old, heroic days of holy-stones are over, and a hundred pounds
of effort are no longer expended for an ounce of result.

[Illustration: “Muster, all hands.”] [Illustration: Washing Down the

It might interest the passengers—especially those who look upon a
sailor as so much unthinking brawn—to hear the archaic vocabulary and
the emphatic dialects in which many of them are sworn at by these same
mariners. Indeed, passengers are a careless, slovenly, and untidy lot,
and there is scarcely a sin in the maritime decalogue of cleanliness
they do not commit unthinkingly. The particularly offensive ones
are soon singled out and labelled with briny, offensive names; and
though they know it not, the forecastle is at times lurid with the
blood-curdling anathemas launched upon them. In the morning watch the
paint-work is scrubbed, and a deft cleaner is Jackie; and finally,
when the weather permits, the brass work—bane of every true sailor—is
polished till it blinks like the rising sun in the tropics. This
scrubbing and burnishing and cleansing runs in appointed grooves
through every department, and in no perfunctory way, for each day the
ship is inspected thoroughly, and upon the result depend the reputation
and the advancement of the subordinates.

Very formal indeed is the inspection, when, at eleven o’clock in
the forenoon, the captain, accompanied by the doctor, begins his
royal progress. At the borders of each province he is received by
its governor, who conducts him through its highways and its byways,
through its lanes and shaded groves. The purser and the chief steward
are answerable for all concerning the passengers, and scrupulous and
minute is the examination given to the saloons, store-rooms, pantries,
kitchens, bakeries, closets, bath-rooms, and to such cabins and
state-rooms as may be visited. Then follow the steerages and the “glory
hole”—this last a den sacred to the discomfort of the perennially
nimble, of the tip-extracting, uncannily cheerful, and sorely tried
stewards. The chief officer is responsible for the boatswain’s locker,
the forecastles, the upper decks, the boats, the whalebacks; in short,
above and below, wherever dirt might breed disease, no nook nor corner
is omitted, not even that seething cauldron where the lungs of the ship
breathe steam and her ponderous muscles drive the mighty screws.

       *       *       *       *       *

The engine-rooms and stoke-holes of a great steamer are forbidden
ground, are lands _taboo_, save to those specially asked to visit them.
Here no interruptions may enter, for speed is the price of ceaseless
vigilance, and horse-power spells fame and dividends. When you come
to measure the region fairly, it broadens into a wonder-land; it
shapes itself into a twilight island of mysteries, into a laboratory
where grimy alchemists practise black magic and white. At first all
seems confusion, but when the brain has co-ordinated certain factors,
harmony is wooed from discord and order emerges from chaos. It is
in the beginning all noise and tangled motion, and shining steel
and oily smells; then succeeds a vague sense of bars moving up and
down, and down and up, with pitiless regularity; of jiggering levers,
keeping time rhythmically to any stray patter you may fit to their
chanting; and, at last, the interdependence of rod grasping rod, of
shooting straight lines seizing curved arms, of links limping backward
and wriggling forward upon queer pivots, dawns upon you; and in the
end you marvel at the nicety with which lever, weight, and fulcrum
work, opening and closing hidden mechanisms, and functioning with an
exactness that dignifies the fraction of a second into an appreciable
quantity. Cranks whirl and whirl and whirl incessantly, holding in
moveless grip the long shafting turning the churning screws; pumps
pulsate and throb with muffled beat; gauge-arms vibrate jerkingly about
narrow arcs, setting their standards of performance; and everywhere, if
your ear be trained to this mechanical music, to this symphony in steam
and steel, you see the officers and greasers conducting harmoniously
the smoothly moving parts, as soothed with oil and caressed with waste
they work without jar or friction, and despite the gales tossing the
ship like a jolly-boat, on the angry ocean. It is a magic domain,
and one may well wonder at the genius which, piling precedent upon
precedent, chains these forces and makes them labor, even on an
unstable platform, as their masters will.

In the stoke-hole, however, one leaves behind the formal and
mathematical, and sees the picturesque with all its dirt unvarnished,
with all its din and clangor unsubdued. Under the splintering silver
of the electric lamps cones of light illuminate great spaces garishly
and leave others in unbroken masses of shadow. Through bulkhead doors
the red and gold of the furnaces chequer the reeking floor, and the
tremulous roar of the caged fires dominates the sibilant splutter of
the stream. Figures nearly naked, gritty and black with coal, and pasty
with ashes, and soaked with sweat, come and go in the blazing light
and in the half gloom, and seem like nightmares from fantastic tales of

[Illustration: The Stoke Hole.]

When the furnace-doors are opened, thirsty tongues of fire gush out,
blue spirals of gas spin and reel over the bubbling mass of fuel,
and great sheets of flame suck half-burnt carbon over the quivering
fire-wall into the flues. With averted heads and smoking bodies the
stokers shoot their slice-bars through the melting hillocks, and twist
and turn them until they undulate like serpents. The iron tools blister
their hands, the roaring furnaces sear their bodies; their chests heave
like those of spent swimmers, their eyes tingle in parched sockets—but
work they must, there is no escape, no holiday in this maddening limbo.
Steam must be kept up, or perhaps a cruel record must be lowered.
Facing the furnaces, the hollow up-scooping of the stoker’s shovel
echoes stridently on the iron floor, and these speed-makers pile coal
on coal until the fire fairly riots, and, half blinded, they stagger
backward for a cooling respite. But it is only a moment at the best,
for their taskmasters watch and drive them, and the tale of furnaces
must do its stint. The noise and uproar are deafening; coal-trimmers
trundle their barrows unceasingly from bunker to stoke-hole, or, if the
ship’s motion be too great for the wheels, carry it in baskets, and
during the four long hours there is no rest for those who labor here.

In the largest ships the engineer force numbers one hundred and
seventy men, and in vessels with double engines these are divided
into two crews with a double allowance of officers for duty. One
engineer keeps a watch in each fire-room, and two are stationed on each
engine-room platform. Watches depend upon the weather, but, as a rule,
the force, officers and men, serves four out of every twelve hours.
Should, however, the weather be foggy or the navigation hazardous, the
service may be more onerous; for then officers stand at the throttles
with peremptory orders to do no other work. In relieving each other
great care is taken; those going on the platforms feeling the warmth
of the bearings, examining the condition of the pins and shafting,
testing the valves, locating the position of the throttles, counting
the revolutions, and by every technical trial satisfying themselves
before assuming charge that all is right. In the stoke-hole the
same precautions are taken, the sufficiency and saturation of the
water, the temperature of the feed, injection, and discharge, and the
steam-pressure being verified independently by both officers.

The pay of the chief engineer is said to be about £30 per month, in
addition to a commission upon the saving made in a fixed allowance of
coal for a given horse-power and an assumed speed. As some ships are
economical, this reaches at times a handsome bonus. And it is well this
pay should be large, for many of these officers have given their best
days to one employ and deserve much of it in every way. It is said
that some of the old chiefs are the greatest travellers in the world,
so far as miles covered may count. Here, for example, is one who has
made in one line 132 round trips, or traversed 841,000 shore miles—a
distance four times that between the earth and the moon; and still
higher is the record of another, who completed before his retirement
154 round trips, or made in distance over one million of statute miles.

[Illustration: In the Fo’castle.]

The messes of the crew are divided into three classes: First, that
of the seamen, quartermaster, carpenter, etc.; secondly, that of
lamp-trimmers and servants and miscellaneous people; and thirdly, that
of the stokers, greasers, and trimmers. The seamen sleep and mess in
the forecastle, the stewards in the glory hole, and the engineer force
in the port forecastle, or, on board the new ships, in an apartment
just forward of the stoke-hole. In all these quarters the mess-tables
trice up to the under side of the upper deck, and the bunks are two
or three tiers deep. As a rule the men provide their own bedding and
table-gear, the company agreeing to give good food in plenty, but
nothing more. This seems shabby, even if in these degenerate days we
need not hope to find a ship’s husband like Sir Francis Drake, who not
only “procured a complete set of silver for the table, and furnished
the cook-room with many vessels of the same metal, but engaged several
musicians to accompany them.” I am afraid the only music you will
hear in these dreary quarters is the shout when the “snipes,” as my
lieges the stokers call the coal-trimmers, rush in at eight in the
evening with the high feast known as _the black pan_. This olla podrida
consists of the remains of the saloon dinner, and is always saved for
the watch by the cooks and bakers in payment for the coal hoisted for
the kitchens and galleys. It is a grewsome feast, as one may well
imagine, but it is the supreme luxury in the sea life of the stoker and
his pals, and is enjoyed point, blade, and hilt.

Thrown together as the people are for a run only, you find little
of the messmate kinship which is so strong in longer voyages among
seafaring men. Should any one of them become unfit for work through
sickness (and very ill he must be when the doctor excuses him from
duty), his mates, the one he should have relieved and the other who
would have relieved him, each stand two hours of his watch. But as the
attendant abuse is great, and the curses are loud and deep and bitterly
personal, no one, save a very hard case, will leave his work as long
as he can stand up to it. As for kindness and usefulness, or any other
saving grace, they are unknown; are, in the grim pessimism of this iron
trade, never expected. It is a hard, hard life, measured by decent
standards, and _messieurs_, when you stray below, and, as tradition
demands, they “chalk you”—ring you about with the mystic circle which
means drink-money—be sure the ransom is not niggard, be certain that
with it you lend them from your brighter world the sunshine of a cheery
greeting, the tonic of a friendly smile.

For, God help them, they need it always.

The inspection is finished a little after seven bells, and one by one
the officers straggle on deck with their sextants. Should it be a
fine day, with moderate weather, the noon observation for latitude is
a simple one and is always sought; though, in the open, these people
running in regular lanes can place great dependence on their engine
revolutions, their well-tried compasses, and, if the speed is not
excessive, upon their taffrail logs. When the sun crosses the meridian
twelve o’clock is reported, and “eight bells are made” by the captain,
for no lesser personage dare trifle with the astronomical proprieties
hedging about this occult ceremony. The ship’s time, however, remains
unaltered, until the clocks are corrected at midnight from calculations
based upon the chronometer ticking stolidly in the chart-room. In the
sweep of modern progress the sacred rite of heaving the log is no
longer celebrated. The speed is now too great for that rough-and-ready
hit-and-miss at distance run: and with its disuse, worse luck, a fund
of old-time pleasant raillery has been eclipsed. “How fast are you
going, my man?” was an invariable question of the inevitable, curious
passenger to the Jackie walking away with the dripping log-line.
“Fourteen and a Dutchman, sir,” would be his answer, or, if again
pressed, “Thirteen and a marine,” he would reply, gravely, to the joy
of his grinning shipmates and to the mystification of the questioner.
But now no longer does the reel turn swift, no longer does the sand run
dry, no more the chip dances on the waves or tugging line strain brawny
muscles. To-day the speed is read off from a little cylinder which
twists its dials on the weather rail.

[Illustration: Watching for the Sun on a Cloudy Day.]

[Illustration: Night Signalling.]

The observations are worked out independently by the chief and
second officers, and the former submits his results to the captain. Of
course these calculations cannot have the exactness of astronomical
work ashore, and luckily on the high sea this is not needed. On the
contrary, over-precision often multiplies the error, and it is good
navigation if you can say with assurance that the ship is anywhere
within an enclosing circle five miles in diameter. Of course it is
widely different when a vessel is running in for the land or coasting,
for then the soundings, the cross-bearings of well-known marks, and
the contour lines, enable the position to be marked with very great

The noon position of the ship is—next to dinner—the great event of the
day, and many are the pools and bets made on the figures of the run;
not only as to the distance, but as to the probable time of arrival.
For if the voyage be now half over, the novelty of sea life is at low
ebb, and the passengers, save a few irrepressible spirits, have lapsed
into a gentle melancholy induced by the monotony of water, water, water
everywhere. They are tired of the sea, of the ship, of the cooking, of
each other, in short, of everything, and are anxious only to arrive.
They have divided and subdivided, and differentiated into cliques,
and have nursed dislikes, usually founded on feminine fancies, until
these have become mortal antipathies. In a perfunctory way they follow
a routine which finally drags a lengthening chain. They get up and
pitchfork on their clothes, and eat, lounge about, doze, muffled to
the eyes, in lashed steamer chairs, read languidly, gossip spitefully,
and eat, and eat, and eat, and then, wearied to bitter boredom, go to
bed again. The men drink more than is good for them, indeed some of
them have an eager and a nipping air all day long; and as for smoking,
why, those who can are blowing moist and soggy weeds and fondling
explosive pipes from morn till dewy eve. The noisy ones—and what
nuisances they are with their aggressively robust health and unfailing
cheerfulness—play all manner of stupid sea-games, horse-billiards,
quoits, and shuffle-board, and sometimes venture upon such silly
practical joking that you wish a sea would wash them overboard.

No one sees much of the ship’s officers except perhaps the ubiquitous
purser and the amiable doctor, and how these two, harried and beset as
they are by a hundred cares, by the little miseries of other people,
can present an unfailing front of courtesy, can go smilingly and
cheerily about their duties, is one of the sea mysteries yet unsolved.
Blow high or low, and in fair weather or foul, they are ever the same,
bright, beaming, optimistic, encouraging—“fresh as a garden rose,
soothing as an upland wind”—and knowing the strain put upon you by
silly men and fretful women, gentlemen, I salute you, _chapeau bas_.

[Illustration: The Deck Steward.]

In the beginning there was a struggle for seats at the captain’s table,
and heartburnings are not unknown to those who sit a little lower at
the feast. But these are not the wise or wary ones, not the tough and
devilish sly travellers who know their bread will be best buttered
by rallying around the purser or forming in hollow squares about the
shrine where the doctor sits enthroned. The captain’s duties permit
him to go below rarely save at dinner-time, and as for the other
officers, they live and mess alone and are as cloistered, so far as the
passengers count, as the preaching friars of Saint Dominic.

[Illustration: Captain’s Breakfast.]

Once in every voyage boat drill is held, and sadly insufficient for the
people on board is this same boat equipment. But the drill is usually
a passably fair one, and, given time, adequate perhaps for any demands
made upon the ship by outside distress. And let it be added that never
yet, when the word has been given, have those gallant men who walk
their watches so quietly and so uncomplainingly, been known to fail if
succor were needed by helpless mariners. It may be that death stares
them in the face, that their mission may be another tragedy, but they
never question. Honor to them and to all the unrecorded heroes, the
uncrowned martyrs of that western passage. Who may number them? who
tell their gallant deeds? True descendants are they of those “who first
went out across the unknown seas, fighting, discovering, colonizing,
and graving out channels through which the commerce and enterprise of
England have flowed out over all the world.”

You may count, as a rule, upon disagreeable weather in the Western
Ocean, and this tries the temper of people who might be saints ashore;
and, say what you will, even under the most promising environments,
women are out of place on shipboard. However, if the days are
reasonably pleasant as the voyage shortens, the monotony becomes so
much a habit as to be no longer a burden. The little animosities which
seemed eternal disappear, and friendships are made, and toward the end
all but the hardened cases, the mental dyspeptics, or those to whom
sea-sickness is a serious matter, really enjoy the voyage.

The tonic of the sea-air courses like an elixir in the blood: young
women begin to take notice, and you hear rippling laughter, and see,
in place of gloom, the sunshine of happy smiles. This is usually the
season when the concert is given, and the uneasy spirits of the ship
exploit the talent they have discovered. Usually there are a dozen
mild rows over this performance, and invariably a great dispute as
to the distribution of the money. This is apt to divide the ship
temporarily into two warring camps, but in the end the ship’s officers
have their way, and the American dollars jingle musically in English
contribution boxes. More or less jollity is always afloat in the
smoking-room, for here eddy the flotsam and jetsam of the ship. Here,
too, the speculative gentlemen, their friends and lambs, usually play
cards from early forenoon till the lights are turned out. There is
not much growling among these industrious workmen, though at times
when jack-pots go one way, and the kitty or widow is large enough to
make the losers boisterously assertive, you may hear sharp words over
the reckoning. As for those who enjoy a quiet rubber, they must find
another retreat; the smoking-room is ruled by the gods of clamor.

[Illustration: The Night Signal of a Disabled Steamer.]

And so the last days are apt to rush along pleasantly enough; the
solitude cheered by passing vessels and the lazy routine of the ship
enlivened by congenial companionships newly found. The edge of the
Grand Banks is skirted happily without injury to the daring fishermen;
the Georges are rounded, and then, oh, happy hour for many homesick
hearts! the cry “Sail ho” rings out with newer meaning, and a graceful
pilot-boat wings toward them like the fabled sea-bird. How they greet
the bluff pilot, coming as he does to their seeming helplessness out of
the known and the enduring. The speculative passengers find an especial
interest in the incident, for no pools are more favored than those
made on the number of the boat, no bets more frequent than whether the
figures are odd or even. After the assurance that the “pilot is really
on board” over-sanguine and inexperienced females madly rush below
and pack their trunks and get ready for an immediate shore-flitting,
afraid, perhaps, they will be late; but there is many and many a
tossing mile yet to steam ere the services of the adventurous pilot
will be needed.

Still, a new delight possesses everybody, and it grows as the
hours fly, until at last, it may be at night, perhaps, some one
bursts breathlessly into the crowded smoking-room or bar, and cries
exultingly: “There she is, Fire Island Light, right over the starboard
bow.” Joyous faces gather near the crowded bulwarks, and eager eyes
hail with gladness the shining petals of that rose of flame which
blossoms unfailingly above the shoaling waters; for the voyage is
nearly over, and the morrow means to some the marvels of an unknown
land, to others, luckiest and happiest of all, home and dear ones.




It is not when the seas come pounding over the bows that the captain’s
face lengthens. Even when it is necessary to keep the passengers
below, and the spray is carried as high as the foretop, his confidence
in his ship is unabated. His spirits do not fall with the barometer,
and though the clouds hang low, and the air is filled with stinging
moisture flying like sleet from the hissing sea—even when boats are
torn out of the davits, and iron bitts and ventilators are snapped from
their fastenings like pipe-stems, he has no misgiving as to the ability
of the ship to weather the gale, or the fiercest hurricane that can

Give him an open sea, without haze, or fog, or snow, and neither wind
nor wave can alarm him. He knows very well, as all who are experienced
in such matters do, that the modern steamers of the great Atlantic
lines are so carefully constructed, and of such strength, that the
foundering of one of them through stress of weather alone is well-nigh

But when a fog descends, then it is that his face and manner change,
and he who has been the most sociable and gayest of men suddenly
becomes the most anxious and taciturn. His seat at the head of the
table is vacant; look for him and you will not find him, as in fair
weather, diverting groups of girls tucked up in steamer-chairs on
the promenade-deck, but pacing the bridge and puffing a cigar which
apparently has not been allowed to go out since it was lighted as the
big ship backed from her wharf into the North River.

Wherever and whenever it occurs, fog is a source of danger from which
neither prudence nor skill can guarantee immunity: and whether the
ship is slowed down or going at full speed, there is cause for fear
while this gray blindness baffles the eyes. With plenty of sea-room the
danger is least, and it increases near land, especially where the coast
is wild and broken, like that of Ireland and Wales, and where there are
many vessels as well as rocks to be passed.

Probably the captain dreads but one thing more than a fog which comes
down when he is making land. When he can see the familiar lights and
promontories, he can verify the position of the ship and check his
daily observations of the sun. Then it is plain sailing into port. But
when the strongest light is quenched and every well-known landmark
is hidden, and he has to feel his way with only the compass and
the sounding machine to guide him, the consciousness that a slight
divergence from the proper course may lead to disaster, keeps him
on the pins and needles of anxiety, and sears his brain to constant
wakefulness, as with a branding-iron.

[Illustration: Out of Reckoning.—A Narrow Escape.]

A startling experience may be recalled:

The ship had swept down from the “nor’ard” like an arrow following the
curve of its own bow, and it was promised that we should see land early
in the afternoon and reach Queenstown soon after sundown. The weather
could not have been better; it was clear and mild, and the air, the
water, and the sky were tinged with the silvery pinks and grays which
often appear, like mother-of-pearl, in the atmospheric effects of
that southern coast. Flocks of birds were resting on the surface of
the calm sea and wheeling around the ship, the gulls swinging within
arm’s length of the passengers leaning against the rail. We steamed
in among a fleet of fishing-boats with red sails—close enough to hear
the greetings of the men, and these voices made the assurance of land
doubly sure.

Then it was whispered that land could be seen, and the searchers
swept the eastern horizon with their glasses to find it. They made
many mistakes about it, and explored the clouds, deluding themselves
with the idea that forms of rosy vapor were the Kerry Mountains.
They insisted upon it, but presently the coast defined itself to a
certainty, coming out of the distance in bold masses of peak and
precipice, fringed with a line of surf.

The captain was in his gayest mood. The baggage of the passengers for
Queenstown was whipped out of the hold by the steam winch and piled
up on the main deck, and they themselves were smartly dressed to go
ashore. Already farewells were spoken and reunions planned. We could
see the black-fanged pyramids of the Blaskets, and the mountain-bound
sweep of Bantry Bay. Fastnet would soon be visible over the starboard
bow—perhaps the men in the foretop could already see it—and a little to
the northward of that lay Brow Head, whence in an hour or so our safe
arrival would be flashed in an instant under the capricious sea which
we had just crossed.

These were our anticipations, but they were not fulfilled. The strong,
piercing light of Fastnet did not reach us that night, nor any glimpse
of the splendid beacons which blaze, each in its own distinctive way,
for the guidance of the mariner along that Channel. We were not seen
from Brow Head, and the passengers for Queenstown did not go ashore.

The captain’s manner changed again from its wonted gayety to severe
silence. Before it was noticed on deck, those on the bridge discovered,
rolling down the Channel, a reddish-brown fog, like a cloud from a
battle-field, which swallowed everything in its path—fishing-boats and
all vessels in sight; mountains, cliffs, and surf: every light and
every landmark. In half an hour it had enveloped us and washed out with
its sepia all the pearly iridescence which had filmed the sea. Nothing
definite remained; all became vague, spectral, curtailed. The heart of
the ship seemed to cease beating, and then could be heard only in faint
throbs as the engine was slowed down.

[Illustration: Landing Stages at Liverpool.]

For the rest of the night everything was dubious. The passengers
gathered in knots on the wet decks, talking in undertones. You could
hear the swash of the becalmed sea along the sides of the ship in the
intervals of the blasts of the fog-horn, which pierced the ear like a
knife; it was only when that demon was raging that the other sounds
which had become familiar on board the ship were not more acute—the hum
of the forced draft, the asthma of escaping steam, the voices on the
bridge, and the whirr of the bell in the engine-room. The bell had been
silent since it rang out, “Turn ahead, full speed!” when the pilot was
picked up by the station boat of Sandy Hook, but now the hand which
recorded its messages was constantly going from side to side of the
clock-faced dial. At every stroke a fresh apprehension thrilled along
the deck and imaginary shapes loomed up in the fog, the rumors were
wild and contradictory, no sooner spoken than discredited. See that
blur of yellow ahead! That must be a light—Queenstown, perhaps, and the
tender coming alongside. Yes, the bell has rung “Stop her!” Half of the
passengers can see the blur of yellow, half are not quite certain—all
are mistaken: the light burns only in their imaginations. Then they see
the sails of a ship blotted on the fog; they hear bells and whistles;
they listen for confirmation from the bridge. Little wonder that they
are confused: the engine-room bell tells a different story every few
minutes—now “Ahead!” then “Astern!” now “Full speed!” then “Dead slow!”
Again the engine stops altogether; in a minute or two the churnings of
the screw, sweeping toward the bow instead of in the wake, show that
the ship is backing, and the fear of reefs, of collision, of running
ashore, deepens the silence of the anxious groups along the rail.

The escaping steam roars out of the copper-pipes riveted to the
funnel; louder and shriller the whistle drives its warning through the
obscurity which surrounds us. Then we move “Ahead!” once more, and at
midnight all hope of seeing Queenstown is abandoned. The passengers
retreat to their cabins, and the decks are left to the sailors and the
officers, who come in and out of the ghostly atmosphere—their oil-skins
dripping with moisture and shining momentarily in the lamp-light. Never
for an instant does the captain leave the bridge; his cigar feeds its
bluish wreaths to the fog; he watches the glowing face of the compass,
and listens to the cry of the men who are working the sounding machine.

So the great ship creeps up the Channel. Once in a while an answering
blast is borne over the water, a bell is heard tolling afar, but never
a thing is in sight. It is a weary night for the captain, but in the
morning all is clear; we are off Holyhead; the pulse of the engine has
recovered its regularity; the faces of the passengers are beaming, and
Snowdon is visible over the starboard bow, piled up in white vapor.

The navigation of the Channel in foggy weather can never be free from
danger, and more fine steamers of the great transatlantic lines have
been lost between Fastnet and Liverpool through fogs than through any
other cause. It was only last summer that the City of Rome ran in a
dense fog against Fastnet itself—that perilous, shore-less, horn-shaped
rock which stands in the direct pathway of all ingoing and outgoing
ships—and barely escaped destruction. A few years earlier, when the
Cunarder Aurania was approaching land in a fog, the passengers who were
smoking their after-dinner cigars suddenly saw looming above them, and
above the topmasts, the cliffs which were supposed to be many miles
away. The captain was far out of his reckoning, but was going so slowly
that he was able to back into the Channel with slight damage. A similar
accident to this happened to the White Star steamer Baltic when she was
proceeding up the Channel to Liverpool.

One of the most brilliant lights in the Channel is that of the South
Stack, which lies under the flank of the mountainous precipice of
Holyhead. The Stack is an egg of rock, much higher and much bolder than
Fastnet, which has become detached from the main-land, and its apex is
crowned with the white tower and crouching buildings of the lighthouse
keepers. The sea is eating it away, and has already scooped out a vast
cavern which they call the Parliament Hall. It is wider and loftier
than any chamber at Westminster, and there is more justification for
its name in the babble of the sea-birds flitting in and out of it than
in its dimensions. From the foot of it to the low, white wall which
encircles the light, it is a sheer precipice of dark, exfoliating rock,
forbidding and hopeless, without a resting-place for any living thing
less secure than the birds, which cluster like beads on a string upon
the edges of the shale. The sea frets itself around it and gurgles in
the cavern; ledges and reefs abut on it. All vessels aim to give it a
wide berth, and usually keep at such a distance that a glass has to be
used to discover its destructive points. To say “ashore at South Stack”
is as good as to say a “total wreck.” There is hardly one chance in a
hundred that the luckless ship which strikes here will live.

[Illustration: Eddystone Lighthouse, English Channel.

(Tower about one hundred feet high.)]

The Baltic was feeling her way up the Channel, and was supposed to be
two or three miles off-shore. The creaming of the breakers, flowing
and dissolving over the ledges like puffs of steam, gave the first
hint of danger, and before the warning was of avail, the dark shape,
darker than the fog, sprang upon the dimmed vision of those on deck—a
precipice that seemed to be toppling over them. “Good God! It is the
South Stack!” a voice cried out, and there was no thought but of doom.
The bells in the engine-room and wheel-house pealed, and the reversal
of the screw sent the latherings surging toward the bow. A moment of
panic among the passengers; a scurrying of figures on the bridge; the
resonant, pistol-like snap of bending iron plates; a sudden resistance
to progress suddenly withdrawn—a confusion of ideas, a murmur of
relief, comparative tranquillity again. The hundredth chance was in
favor of the Baltic, and backing into deep water, she proceeded on her
way to Liverpool.

[Illustration: A Whistling Buoy.]

The three accidents described were without serious consequences, but
in most cases the same difficulty of fog and mistaken reckoning ends
in disaster. No less than five large steamers of the Guion line have
been wrecked between Fastnet and Liverpool—the Chicago, the Colorado,
the Montana, the Dakota, and the Idaho—representing a value of fully
two and a half million dollars, without cargo. The Cunard line lost the
Tripoli on the Irish coast, north of Queenstown, and the City of New
York (the first Inman ship of that name) came to grief on Daunt’s Rock,
near Roche’s Point. The City of Brussels, of the same line, had nearly
completed her voyage and was lying off the Liverpool bar, waiting for
the weather to clear, the captain acting with the utmost prudence, when
an insufficiently manned and badly managed steamer, the Kirby Hall,
ran her down and sank her. Account is taken here only of the passenger
steamers of the well-known lines; the record would be much expanded if
it included the disasters to freight lines, and to those uncared-for
ocean tramps which when they go down often yield a better profit to
their unscrupulous owners, through insurance money, than they do by
carrying cargo while afloat.

From 1838, when the Sirius crossed the ocean, till 1879, one hundred
and forty-four steamers, counting all classes, were lost in the
transatlantic trade. The first was the President, which disappeared
mysteriously in 1841. During the thirteen years following only one
life was lost by the wreck of an Atlantic steamer, that steamer being
the Cunarder Columbia, which went ashore in 1843. In 1854, however,
the City of Glasgow sailed with about four hundred and eighty souls on
board, and was never seen or heard from again; and in the same year the
Collins line steamer Arctic, one of the fastest and finest vessels then
afloat, was sunk in collision with the steamer Vesta during a dense
fog, off Cape Race, and five hundred and sixty-two persons perished.
Two years later the Pacific, of the same line, went to sea with one
hundred and eighty-six persons on board, and was never heard from
again. Between 1857 and 1864 the Allan line lost no fewer than nine
steamers. In 1858 the Hamburg-American steamer Austria was burned at
sea, with a loss of four hundred and seventy-one lives; in 1870 the
City of Boston left port with over two hundred persons on board, never
more to be heard from. On a dark night in April, 1873, the White Star
steamer Atlantic ran ashore near Sambro, and five hundred and sixty
lives were lost—some by drowning and some by freezing in the rigging
into which they had scrambled, or upon the ice-bound shore upon which
they were cast. Note must be made also of the wreck of the German
steamer Schiller on the Scilly Rocks, by which two hundred lives were
lost; of the running ashore in the North Sea of the North German Lloyd
steamer Deutschland, by which one hundred and fifty-seven lives were
lost; of the sinking through collision of the Hamburg-American steamer
Pomerania, by which over fifty lives were lost; of a similar disaster
to the Cimbria, of the same line, by which eighty-four were lost; and
of yet another collision, which sent the beautiful Ville du Havre, of
the French line, to the bottom of the English Channel, with two hundred
and thirty of her passengers and crew.

[Illustration: Lighthouse, Atlantic City, N. J.]

Of the one hundred and forty-four vessels lost up to 1879, more than
one-half were wrecked. Twenty-four never reached the ports for which
they sailed, their fate still being unknown; ten were burned at sea;
eight were sunk in collisions, and three were sunk by ice.

Since 1879, the most memorable disasters, besides those already
referred to, have been the burning at sea of the Egypt, of the National
line, and the City of Montreal, of the Inman line, both without loss
of life; the stranding of the State of Virginia, of the State line, on
the quicksands of Sable Island, which quickly entombed her; the sinking
of the State of Florida, of the same line, by collision with a sailing
ship; the disappearance of the National line steamer Erin, which is
supposed to have foundered at sea; and the sinking of the magnificent
Cunarder Oregon in collision with a coal schooner, off Fire Island.

No line in existence has been wholly free from calamity; no line in
existence has not at least one page in its history to tell of anxious
crowds besieging its wharves and offices for news of a ship that has
never come in.

One speculates in vain as to the end of those ships which, sailing
from port in a seaworthy condition, have disappeared without leaving a
survivor to record their fate. Was it fire that consumed, or ice that
crushed, or seas that swallowed them? It may have been collision in a
fog, or an explosion of the boilers, or the collapse of the engine, or
the bursting on board of some tremendous wave from which recovery has
been impossible. Possibly boats and rafts have been lowered, and when
the ship herself has sunk, there has still been hope of reaching land;
days of suffering; glimpses of passing ships that have failed to see;
agony spun out, and death at the end. For all the patient waiting and
listening of those ashore no whisper of the secret has come, and no
fuller account can be written than the word “missing.”

The region of fogs on the Atlantic is also the region of ice; fog and
ice together are a greater source of peril than fog alone is, even when
a ship is making land. Under the latter condition there is the chance
of hearing the warning voice of the “syren,” the reverberation of the
signal gun, or the tolling of the fog-bell; steam “syrens,” guns,
or explosives of some kind, and bells, are all used as auxiliaries
to the lighthouses in overcoming, through the medium of sound, the
difficulties which fog opposes against the transmission of light. The
sounding machine comes into play, and by registering the depth of
water, and bearing testimony to the character of the bottom, affords
further protection to the navigator. But the shoals and islands of
ice, which, with their outreaching, submerged spurs, come drifting
down from the Arctic into the track of the transatlantic steamers, are
unprovided with anything which might tell the ship bearing upon them
in thick weather of their proximity. Sometimes they may be detected
by the echo from the whistle or fog-horn, and by the rapid lowering
of the temperature of the water in their vicinity. These signs cannot
be always counted on, however. The whistle may be going every twenty
or thirty seconds, and the quartermaster posted to the leeward with
the little canvas bag and the thermometer with which the sea is tested
for temperature; all due precaution may be taken, and yet no warning
come of the ice that is ahead. On a clear night a berg rising above
the horizon will have the effulgence of a star; on a clear day it will
notch the horizon with its dazzling whiteness; in a fog it looms up in
the gray like a shadow upon a shadow, and is invisible till the ship is
close upon it.

[Illustration: A Bell Buoy.]

The Hydrographic Bureau at Washington, which is in many ways useful
in transatlantic navigation, issues a series of charts of an area
of ocean reaching eastward from Newfoundland. There are twelve of
them, one for each month of the year, and they differ only in certain
pencillings which vary from month to month. Let us examine the set
issued for a recent year. In the chart for January five little pyramids
are clustered together in the sea, with a sixth to the north of them;
in February the pyramidal little figures can be counted by the score,
surrounded by zig-zag lines—they look like an encampment; in March the
zig-zag lines have disappeared, and the tents, so to speak, are more
scattered; in April they are much the same as in March, but in May they
have increased enormously and can be counted by the hundred, reaching
from the far north to over a hundred miles southward of the Grand
Banks. In June they are fewer, and in July fewer still. In August only
about twenty are visible; in September not more than ten; in October
two, in November one, and in December two. The zig-zag lines disappear
earlier than the pyramids; the former represent field-ice, the latter
ice-bergs; and thus it is seen that during one year there was not a
single month in which the transatlantic route was entirely free from
danger from those sources. In 1882 the bergs appeared in February and
disappeared in August; February, March, and April are the months for
their appearance, and they often linger till October or November.

[Illustration: At Close Quarters, Among the Icebergs.]

Field-ice has its source in the Arctic basin and along the coasts of
Labrador and Newfoundland, and is carried south either by the current
from the Arctic or that from East Greenland. Fully eighty per cent. of
the bergs have their origin in West Greenland, and most of them are
fragments of glaciers, broken off in a process known as “calving,”
as the glaciers slide into the deep water along-shore. Thousands are
thus set adrift each year, and once adrift they begin their journey
southward. Only a small proportion of the whole number ever reach the
track of the steamers; some ground in the Arctic basin and break up in
the frigid zone, to which they properly belong; they are very fragile,
and the concussion of a gunshot is occasionally sufficient to shatter
them; some are borne across from Greenland to Labrador, and lodge there
until they dissolve, or crumble to pieces with the noise of thunder.
The journey of those that escape disintegration in the north is slow.
If they drifted directly south and met with no obstructions, they
would be four or five months in reaching the transatlantic routes; and
being liberated in July and August they would consequently beset the
path of the steamers in December and January. Few of them, however,
are not delayed, and most of them have been adrift at least a year
from the time of “calving” before they arrive south enough to trouble
the steamers. Some are several years in making the journey; they are
held for a season in a shallow; locked up during the Arctic winter;
released with the return of summer; caught again for another winter,
and when once again liberated, retarded in their southward course
by the necessity of ploughing through the field-ice before them.
Not only are there wide variations in the date of the appearance and
disappearance of the bergs in the transatlantic routes from year to
year, but in different years they reach a different southern limit.
It is this variability which causes mischief. If their movements were
always the same, it would be easy for the captain to choose a course
which would avoid them, but a course which may be entirely safe one
year is often beset the next season by large quantities of ice, both in
the forms of bergs and of field-ice.

The list of calamities from ice is a long one. It was only a few years
ago that the Arizona, when going full speed, crashed into a berg and
stove in her bows. From her stem to a point about thirty feet aft
nothing remained of her but a tangle of shapeless iron, and that she
did not sink immediately was due to the smoothness of the sea and the
strength of her forward bulkhead, which withstood the pressure of
the water and enabled her to reach St. Johns, Newfoundland. In the
records of the Hydrographic Office it appears that, from 1882 to 1890,
thirty-six steamers were more or less injured by ice in the North
Atlantic, though some of these were freighting and coastwise vessels,
and not of the class to which this article particularly refers; and
the commonest explanation offered of the fate of the missing ships is
collision with ice in fog or in the darkness of night.

       *       *       *       *       *

Having come to this point, the reader is probably of the opinion that
the heading of this chapter is a mistake, but the reverse of the
picture has yet to be shown. Notwithstanding all the peril from fog
and ice, and from the fury of cyclones and hurricanes, the steamers of
the transatlantic lines are so staunchly built and so capably handled,
that a man is less likely to meet with accidents on board one of them
than he would be in walking the streets of a crowded city. Never before
have so many passengers been carried as are carried now. The ships
that were regarded as leviathans fifteen or sixteen years ago are as
yachts compared with more recent additions to the various fleets.
Scarcely more than ten years have elapsed since sixteen knots was the
maximum speed; now it is twenty knots, with the certainty of an almost
immediate increase to twenty-one or twenty-two knots. The tonnage has
been increased within the same period from a maximum of five thousand
to ten thousand five hundred, and while ten years ago two hundred
cabin passengers were as many as any steamer could accommodate with a
reasonable degree of comfort on one voyage, it is not uncommon now to
find over five hundred as the complement of one steamer. When steamers
of sixteen and seventeen knots were built, it was said that they were
too large and too fast, and that they would surely come to grief, but
experience has proved them to be as safe as any. In fact, those who are
best qualified to know, declare that the augmentation of speed promotes

This point was fully discussed by the captains of the principal lines
not long ago, and the opinions expressed were almost unanimously
in favor of the faster ships. They not only diminish the period of
exposure to such dangers as there may be in the transatlantic voyage,
but from the superior power of their engines and boilers they are
better fitted for overcoming those dangers. They are able to escape
from areas of fog and storm sooner than slower vessels, and are more
easily handled in thick and in heavy weather. From the rapidity with
which they can be manœuvred, they can avoid collisions which would be
inevitable under some conditions with slower ships; if a collision
becomes unavoidable their impetus enables them to cut the obstructing
vessel in two with comparatively little injury to themselves.

It is not conceivable that the element of danger can ever be wholly
eliminated from the navigation of the Atlantic, but notwithstanding
the extent and difficulty of the traffic, and the size and speed of
the ships, which, flying to and fro in all kinds of weather, arrive in
port at all seasons with a promptness and regularity quite equal to
that of express trains on land, the number of accidents in proportion
to the number of passengers is constantly diminishing. More cabin
passengers are carried from New York to European ports in one summer
now than were carried in the whole of the first quarter of a century
of steam navigation on this ocean; but while the latter period was
full of disasters, such as the loss of the Arctic with four hundred
and sixty-two lives, and the loss of the Austria, with four hundred
and seventy-one lives, we now see hundreds of thousands of passengers
crossing, with a sense of security which a remarkable record of
immunity from accident fully justifies.

[Illustration: Lighthouse, Sanibel Island, Fla.]

The improvements in the character of the accommodations have not been
greater than the improvements designed to reduce the dangers of the
transatlantic trip to a minimum; they are found in the structure of the
hulls, the engines, and the boilers; in the apparatus of navigation;
in the numbers and discipline of the crews, and in the appliances for
life-saving, such as rafts and life-boats. The old ships of twenty
years and more ago were built on the lines of sailing vessels, and
a poop extended with scarcely a break from the fo’c’s’le to the
quarter-deck. When a sea came on board it was held as in a sluice
between the high bulwarks and the poop, swashing fore and aft with the
pitch of the ship, until it drained off through the scuppers. Most of
the state-rooms were then situated below the main deck, and after such
a sea they were likely to be flooded; many old passengers will remember
how frequent an occurrence it was to find their cabins inundated. This
was the least mischief it did, and when several seas were shipped in
rapid succession, the vessel was in danger of foundering. The modern
steamer is much better protected from incoming seas, and the main deck
is completely covered in, instead of the bulwarks there is a simple
rail and netting, and any water shipped flows overboard as quickly as
it comes on board.

But the greatest improvement of all in the direction of safety is the
system of bulkheads and double bottoms introduced by the builders of
the City of New York and the City of Paris. For many years past it has
been the custom to divide all steamers by transverse bulkheads into
so-called water-tight compartments, the purpose of which is to increase
their buoyancy and stability in case of collision. The Etruria,
the Umbria, the Britannic, the Germanic, and the Arizona have nine
compartments each. Excellent as the theory is, the feeling of everybody
acquainted with the subject has been distrustful of the manner of its
application, the chief objection being the inadequacy of the number of
subdivisions. Sometimes, as when the Arizona ran into the iceberg, the
bulkheads have saved the ship, but in other cases they have been of
little or no use, as in the case of the Oregon. The Oregon was divided
into ten compartments, but she sank in a few hours after her collision
with a coal schooner off Fire Island light. The compartments have
invariably proved useless when the ship has been struck amidships with
sufficient force to open her engine and boilers to the sea, though when
the weather has been calm and the injury forward or astern, they have
kept her afloat.

The insufficiency of their number in proportion to the size of the
ships has not been their only defect, moreover. In order to give an
unobstructed passage along the decks it has been the custom to cut
doors in the bulkheads, and it has frequently happened that in the
confusion following a collision these have been left open, allowing the
sea to rush from compartment to compartment, either because they were
forgotten or because they refused to work.

[Illustration: The Deep-sea Sounding Machine at Work.]

In the newest type of ship, as represented by the City of Paris and
the City of New York, there are no fewer than twenty water-tight
compartments separated by solid transverse bulkheads, which rise from
the keel to the saloon deck, eighteen feet above the waterline, and
which have no doors or openings of any kind whatever. A few feet from
the stem there is a collision bulkhead of extraordinary strength to
protect the ship, should she run “bow-on” against any obstacle—a reef,
a derelict, or a vessel attempting to cross her path; next, aft of this
come three compartments for steerage passengers or cargo; then two
compartments for saloon passengers; then four compartments for boilers,
coal bunkers, kitchens, and machinery; two more for saloon passengers;
one for second-cabin passengers, and two, those farthest aft of all,
for steerage passengers or cargo. Each compartment is thus isolated,
and only by a blow in the line of the dividing bulkhead could two
compartments be flooded at once; the bulkheads also serve in case of
fire to prevent the flames from spreading.

Still another safeguard becomes possible through the adoption of the
twin screw. The propellers are worked by two complete and entirely
independent sets of boilers and engines, and these are separated by a
longitudinal bulkhead in addition to the transverse bulkheads already
described. In a single-screw ship this longitudinal bulkhead is
impossible, and the space in which her engine and boilers are situated
is her most vulnerable point; if she is struck there with sufficient
force to make a fissure large enough to admit any considerable quantity
of water, nothing will save her from sinking. In the case of the
twin-screw ship, however, we have had the best of evidence, within the
past two years, that with one of her engine-rooms flooded and open to
the sea, she will still float and be navigable.

For many years past the value of the twin screw has been debated by the
builders, the managers, the captains, and the engineers of the great
transatlantic lines, to whom it did not commend itself so readily as
to the Admiralty. It was adopted for war-ships several years before
any of the well-known passenger lines ventured to use it, and its
first appearance in this service was in the City of New York, four
years ago. Since then it has been adopted by the White Star and the
Hamburg-American lines, and though the North German Lloyd has not yet
applied it to the recent accessions to its fleet, its advantages over
the single screw for passenger vessels, as well as for war-ships, are
more generally conceded now than ever before. The Admiralty adopted it
for the security it afforded, and for its superior capacity for rapid
manœuvring. Another feature which recommends it is that, should one of
the two sets of engines become disabled from the breaking of the shaft,
or any other cause, the opposite engine would be equal to taking the
ship into port; while a similar accident on a single-screw ship would
compel her to make port under sail (a very difficult feat with the
modern type of ocean steamers), or to wait for another steamer to take
her in tow.

[Illustration: Off Fire Island, New York.]

[Illustration: Gedney’s Channel, outside New York Harbor, at Night.

(Lighted by electric buoys.)]

Until quite recently, the breaking of the shaft was more frequent
than any other kind of accident to the transatlantic steamers. When,
perhaps, the ship was sailing along at full-speed, a jar would come and
shake her from end to end, as though a rock or a submerged wreck had
been struck. The engine would rattle and the sails flap loosely in the
wind, and the familiar tremor of propulsion change to a softer heaving
motion, like that of a sailing vessel. When the accident occurred in
darkness and a gale, it was more alarming than in daylight and a calm
sea. After a few minutes of uncertainty the news would fly that the
shaft was broken, and that the captain and the chief engineer were
consulting in the engine-room. Then would come days, and sometimes
weeks, of drifting, with a corresponding and ever-increasing alarm
on shore as the ship became overdue. Under favorable circumstances
some headway could be made with sails, and occasionally the disabled
vessel reached port without assistance. Oftener, however, she would
drift helplessly in the vacant sea until she was sighted by another
steamer powerful enough to tow her. Left to herself, she was in danger
of falling into the trough of the sea and foundering, and near land
she was exposed to the perils of a strong current and a lee-shore.
Arriving in port, a claim for salvage was sure to be presented against
her, and in some instances the amount awarded was as much as thirty
thousand pounds.

A broken shaft is still a disagreeable possibility, but if one of the
two shafts in a twin-screw ship breaks, the other, as with the engines,
remains to avert complete disablement.

An ingenious device has lately been patented to prevent a repetition
of one of the most serious of recent disasters, which was caused by
the wearing away of the bracket upon which rests the final bearing of
the shaft. As this bracket is, in the largest ships, fully sixty feet
from the stuffing-box, a new danger is created from the fact that it is
far outside the hull and out of sight of the engineers. The invention
referred to consists simply of a couple of completely insulated wires,
positive and negative, connected by a battery, an indicator, and an
alarm-bell in the engine-room. The wires run under the shaft out
through the stuffing-box, and through the casing which protects the
shaft from the sea; then they enter the bracket, where they turn from
the horizontal to the perpendicular, and terminate about three-quarters
of an inch from the surface of the bearing. Should the surface wear
away so as to imperil the shaft, the latter would instantly come in
contact with the ends of the wires, the insulation would be broken, the
current closed, and the alarm-bell rung. Then, of course, the engine
would be stopped until an examination could be made.

Though it promotes safety and is winning favor, the twin screw has
been applied so far only to the City of Paris, the City of New York,
the Teutonic, the Majestic, the Columbia, the Normannia, the Fürst
Bismarck, and the Augusta-Victoria. Credit for the infrequency of
broken shafts does not belong wholly to this device, therefore, but in
a much larger measure to the substitution of steel for iron and other
improvements in the form and materials of the marine engine.

[Illustration: The Lightship, off Sandy Hook.]

The City of New York and the City of Paris are also provided with
double bottoms, so that, should the outer skin be torn, the inner
one would still exclude the sea; and the efficacy of oil in calming
the troubled waters has been so well established that apparatus for
its distribution is placed in the bows. The number of officers and
seamen has been augmented, so that the staff of navigating officers
now comprises the captain, the chief officer, two second officers, two
third officers, and two fourth officers. Great improvements have also
been made in the mariner’s compass and in the patent log and sounding
machine. The latter can be used when the ship is going at a high rate
of speed, and it records not only the depth of water but the character
of the bottom, which is nearly always a clue to the position of the
ship when other signs fail. Had these instruments been less perfect, we
could not have made our way, with so little delay, past Fastnet and up
the Channel to Holyhead, when the fog descended as we were making land.

[Illustration: Broken Bow of La Champagne, after her Collision outside
New York Harbor, December, 1890.]

Still another improvement is in the material of which the propellers
are cast. In the new ships it is manganese bronze, which has nearly
double the strength of steel and is practically unbreakable.

Sixteen or seventeen years ago the principal lines began to adopt
the system of “steam lanes” originally suggested by Professor M. F.
Maury, as long ago as 1855—that is, to prescribe definite courses for
their steamers, based on calculations as to probable areas of fog and
ice. In following these fixed courses the steamers pass each other at
an hour and a point on the ocean which can be foretold almost to a
certainty, and should one of them meet with an accident, there is every
probability that succor will reach her through one of her companion

[Illustration: A Sunken Schooner.]

So keen is the rivalry between the various lines, and so much does
their success depend on a reputation for safety, that self-interest,
in the absence of a higher motive, is sufficient to stimulate them to
leave nothing undone, in the construction and manning of their vessels,
which may in any way be the means of averting disaster. In furtherance
of their efforts, the British and American governments unite in giving
them the most perfect system of lights, buoys, and fog-signals in the
world. When twenty or more miles at sea, the captain may discern the
rays of the first light, and as he nears port and enters the Channel,
there are nearly as many beacons as lamp-posts in a city street.

No testimony to the efficiency of the transatlantic service is more
convincing than the record of 1890. The steamers were exposed, as
they must be every year, to dangers from collision, from ice, from
hurricanes, from drifting derelicts, on their way up and down the
crowded Channel and through the shifting sands at the estuary of the
Mersey; they were constantly embarrassed by fogs. Nearly two thousand
trips were made from New York alone to various European ports: about
two hundred thousand cabin passengers were carried to and fro, in
addition to nearly three hundred and seventy-two thousand immigrants
who were landed at Castle Garden. This enormous traffic was conducted
without accident, and no more comforting assurance can be given than
this of safety on the Atlantic.




Interesting as the ocean fleet is from the point of view of the
passenger who crosses the seas on business or pleasure bent, the part
that steamships play in the commerce of the world is even more worthy
of consideration. There is a vast region between decks and down in the
lower hold of which the ordinary traveller knows little. And yet the
ship’s cargo brings to the owners a large portion of their revenue, and
makes possible the magnificent steamships of to-day.

There are $500,000,000 invested in ocean-going steamships sailing
from the port of New York alone! The figures are appalling, yet they
are a conservative estimate of the wealth intrusted to the mercies of
the ocean. There are twenty-nine regular lines of steamships running
between New York and European ports. Of these, eight lines run express
steamships, and twenty-three lines carry passengers and freight. The
other six lines transport freight only, and there are still other lines
running to the West Indies, Central and South America, and our own
Atlantic coast and Gulf ports.

Seven steamship companies—the White Star, Inman, Cunard, North
German Lloyd, Hamburg-American, Guion, and the French line—have the

The Teutonic and the Majestic of the White Star line, and the new
French liner La Touraine, are said to have cost $2,000,000 each. The
City of Paris and the City of New York, of the Inman line, and the new
Hamburg-American steamship First Bismarck are supposed to have cost
considerably over $1,500,000 each.

The White Star line steamships Majestic and Teutonic each carry, in
addition to their 1,500 passengers, some 2,500 tons of freight. This
line has in all ten steamships—six devoted to passengers and freight,
and four to freight exclusively.

The Inman line steamships City of Paris and City of New York carry
1,200 passengers each, and still have room for 2,700 tons of freight.

The Cunarders Etruria and Umbria have each accommodations for about
1,600 passengers, and also take about 800 tons of freight.

The North German Lloyd line has twelve express steamships in the
service, with an average passenger capacity of 1,150 for all classes.
The freight capacity varies from 2,000 to 2,500 tons: the line has
three sailing days each week. There are nine other steamships of the
line sailing between this port, Baltimore, and Europe, making the
total number of their vessels twenty-one. In October, 1891, the line
inaugurated a Mediterranean service. At all times there are eight of
the express steamships belonging to this line at sea, and two are in
port at New York and two in the European port.

The Hamburg-American Packet Company has four express steamships,
forming a weekly service from New York, and which is almost entirely
devoted to the passenger business. These vessels each accommodate
about 1,250 passengers of all classes. They have a small freight
capacity—from about 600 to 700 tons of light cargo being the limit. No
perishable goods are taken.

The Guion line steamships Alaska and Arizona have passenger
accommodations for 1,300 and 1,100, respectively, and their freight
capacity is about 2,000 tons.

The Compagnie Générale Transatlantique, or, as it is more frequently
called, the French line, has six express steamships, with a freight
capacity of 2,500 tons each, as well as accommodations for about 1,000

The Wilson line, with its thirty steamships, is one of the greatest
freight carriers in the world. There are four distinct lines from New
York, one running to Hull, one to Antwerp, one to Newcastle, and one
to London. The latter is known as the Wilson-Hill line. The Atlantic
fleet, flying the Wilson flag, has 114,000 gross tonnage. Some of the
steamships of this line have passenger accommodations, but the company
confines itself almost exclusively to the carrying of freight.

The number and gross tonnage of steamships of the different lines are
shown in the following table, the tonnage being from “Lloyd’s Register:”

_Transatlantic Lines._

                                              |  of  | Total
                            Lines.            |Steam-| Gross
  Wilson                                      |  30  | 114,000
  North German Lloyd                          |      |
    (12 direct and 9 calling at Baltimore)    |  21  | 111,585
  Hamburg-American (including Baltic line)    |  19  |  82,589
  Anchor (including Mediterranean service)    |  15  |  63,083
  Netherlands                                 |      |
    (9 direct and 4 calling at Baltimore)     |  13  |  43,314
  National                                    |  12  |  54,062
  Sumner                                      |  12  |  42,800
  White Star                                  |  10  |  58,162
  Florio                                      |   9  |  22,500
  Red Star                                    |   7  |  33,959
  Fabre                                       |   7  |  23,600
  Mediterranean & New York S. S. Co.          |   7  |  15,000
  Inman                                       |   6  |  41,276
  Cunard                                      |   6  |  40,253
  French                                      |   6  |  46,927
  Allan                                       |   6  |  23,738
  Liverpool, Brazil & River Plate             |      |
    (Atlantic service)                        |   6  |  12,000
  Guion                                       |   5  |  22,651
  Bristol City                                |   5  |  24,000
  Beaver, during winter months                |   5  |  17,500
  Arrow                                       |   5  |  13,000
  Thingvalla                                  |   4  |  11,985
  Union (Sloman’s)                            |   4  |  11,750
  Marseilles                                  |   4  |  12,000
  Great Western S. S. Co.                     |   4  |  10,000
  Bordeaux                                    |   3  |   6,000
  White Cross                                 |   2  |   5,169
  Linha de Vapores Portuguezes                |   2  |   3,777
  Insular Navigation Co.                      |   1  |   2,893

This list gives only the regular lines engaged in the freight and
passenger business, besides which there are the tank steamships, the
tramp steamships, and a large number of vessels which call for orders
from other ports, as well as steamships which are chartered for special

_Central and South American, West Indian, and other Lines from New

                                      |  of  | Total
                Lines.                |Steam-| Gross
  Atlas                               |  12  |  22,000
  Booth’s                             |  10  |  14,000
  Red Cross                           |  10  |  16,225
  New York & Cuba S. S. Co.           |   9  |  25,300
  Red “D”                             |   6  |  11,020
  Quebec S. S. Co.                    |   6  |   9,094
  Royal Dutch West Indian Mail        |   6  |  10,156
  United States & Brazil S. S. Co.    |   5  |  16,400
  Compañia Trasatlantica              |   5  |  10,866
  Earn                                |   5  |  12,500
  Union (Sloman’s)                    |   4  |   8,000
  Clyde (West Indian)                 |   4  |   6,600
  Waydell’s                           |   4  |   4,500
  Trinidad                            |   4  |   4,000
  Atlantic & Pacific S. S. Co.        |   4  |   9,904
  Pacific Mail                        |   3  |   8,800
  Wessell’s                           |   3  |   4,500
  Liverpool, Brazil & River Plate[18] |   3  |   7,500
  Honduras & Central American         |   2  |   3,000
  Anchor (West Indian Service)        |   2  |   2,077
  Maryland                            |   2  |   6,000
  New York & Porto Rico S. S. Co.     |   2  |   2,000

[Illustration: Loading Grain from a Floating Elevator.]

Besides the regular lines there is a big fleet of tramp steamships.
During the fiscal year ending June 30, 1891, 136 of these steamships,
with 102,856 net registered tonnage, entered at the port of New York.
This did not include the tramps who found their way here from West
Indian and South American ports, or our own domestic ports, or those
who may have drifted in from provincial ports. Many foreign tramps find
their way to this port in ballast, seeking cargo, or for orders.

Aside from all these lines to foreign ports, there are our coastwise
steamships, operated by a dozen or more lines, prominent among them
being the Old Dominion, the Savannah, the Clyde, the Mallory, the
Cromwell, the Morgan, the New York Steamship Company, and the Red Cross

The ocean steamship lines require an auxiliary fleet of harbor vessels
as tenders to them. Of these, the most numerous are the tow-boats, or
tugs, as they are popularly called. There are 375 tow-boats registered
at New York, but fully 400 float on the waters in the vicinity of
the city. About 50 tow-boats have a gross tonnage of over 100 tons.
Among the largest are the Amboy, of 272 tons, and the Luckenback, an
ocean tug, of 255 tons. Still larger than these are the Vanderbilt and
Oswego, the side-wheelers which pull the long strings of canal-boats up
and down the Hudson. The tow-boats are fitted with powerful engines,
and the facility with which one little tug will pull a ship many times
her size, or a dozen canal-boats, is a marvel to the visitor from
inland districts. The most powerful of these tugs have engines of 900
indicated horse-power, and of the type known as the fore-and-aft, or
tandem. Two of these harbor tugs, the Amboy and the Raritan, both
belonging to the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, have been operated with
twin screws for twenty years at least.

Less than twenty-five per cent. of the freight trade of the country is
carried on by ships flying the Stars and Stripes. During the calendar
year of 1890, 33,359 vessels engaged in foreign trade entered at the
ports of the United States. Their total tonnage was 18,510,374.
American vessels, to the number of 11,033, carried 4,334,774 tons
of the total amount, and foreign ships handled 14,175,600 tons. The
merchant marine of the United States has a total tonnage of 4,424,497.
The coastwise fleet has an aggregate tonnage of 3,409,435; the foreign
trade, 928,062; and vessels registering 87,000 tons are engaged in
the cod and whale fisheries. The vessels belonging to the port of New
York in 1890 were 1,976 sailing vessels, of 409,468 tons; 1,032 steam
vessels, of 374,673 tons; 230 canal boats, of 23,709 tons; and 671
barges, of 143,540 tons.

The volume of the ocean freight is enormous. Some idea of it can
be gathered from the statistics of imports and exports issued by
the United States Government. Of cotton alone, the vast quantity of
2,907,308,000 pounds was shipped from American ports during the fiscal
year ending June 30, 1891. This is the largest quantity of cotton
sent out of the country in any one year. The value of the cotton
exported was $290,708,898, which is nearly half the value of the sum
total of the four leading agricultural products. This amounted to
$588,251,912. Next to cotton, the most important agricultural products
exported were breadstuffs, including grain, which were valued at
$127,668,092. Provisions, including meats and dairy products, amounted
to $31,696,234. It is worth noting that the total value of the exports
of these five leading products was $15,263,951 in excess of the same
products in the previous year. The total value of exports and imports
of merchandise, during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1891, was
$1,729,330,896, an increase of $82,191,803 over the previous year,
and of $241,797,869 since 1889. The foreign commerce of the United
States for the year 1890 was the largest in the history of the country.
The movement of the vast quantities of agricultural products and
manufactured goods kept the ocean fleet busy. Forty per cent. of the
total export trade of the United States goes from the port of New York.
During 1890 the export business from the five principal ports was as
follows: New York, $370,322,430; New Orleans, $107,300,637; Baltimore,
$73,967,796; Boston, $70,364,955; and Philadelphia, $37,241,645. The
total from all ports was $881,076,017. The imports in 1890 amounted to
a total of $823,286,735, out of which New York received $527,497,196,
considerably over one-half. It might be noted in passing, that of the
total amount of customs duties collected by the Government in 1890,
67.17 per cent. came from New York.

Time is a great factor in ocean freight transportation, as well as
in the passenger business. In the old days when the clipper ship was
considered a perfect type of ocean travel, twenty days was a quick
passage between New York and Liverpool, and when the Red Jacket made
her famous trip in 13 days, 1 hour, and 25 minutes, the feat created
as much excitement as the breaking of a record by an ocean greyhound
does in these days of marine triumphs. The trip was made in 1854, and
was an eastward one, the sailer logging 3,017 miles from Sandy Hook to
Liverpool. In the following year the clipper ship Mary Whitredge ran
from Baltimore to Liverpool in 13 days and 7 hours; she travelled 3,400
miles. Another remarkable trip was made by the Dreadnaught in 1860.
She sighted the Irish coast in 9 days and 17 hours after leaving New
York; but it took her three days longer to reach Liverpool. An instance
showing the sailing quality of the old clipper ships occurred in 1864.
The Adelaide, of the Williams & Guion line, while on her way down New
York Bay, was passed by the steamship Sidon, of the Cunard line; but
the Adelaide arrived in the Mersey before the Sidon, having made the
passage in 12 days and 8 hours.

The clipper ship was the ocean greyhound of the Fifties. Her lines were
those of a racer, her towering masts and broad expanse of canvas gave
her the benefit of every breeze. She carried only the better class of
freight in addition to her passengers, and it was not until some time
after steamships had become an established fact that the passengers
abandoned the clippers to the freight traffic.

For a time the sailing vessels held their own as freight carriers,
but the improvements in steamships of recent years have robbed them
of the bulk of their trade. They still hold their own for long sea
voyages. There is a limit to the use of steam, and it is reached when
the distance to be travelled makes the cost of coal and the space it
occupies greater than the value of the cargo will warrant. Until some
new motive power replaces steam, or steam is produced by the use of
petroleum or other concentrated fuel, the clipper ship still has an
occupation, and the hearts of all old-time skippers will be gladdened
by the sight of her white wings upon the seas.

In 1850 a 1,400-ton sailing vessel was considered a big ship, but some
of the new British four-masted steel ships sailing between Europe and
America carry from 5,000 to 6,000 tons of cargo.

       *       *       *       *       *

Great as have been the changes in ocean transportation, still greater
changes are pending. The transatlantic business shows the most marked
changes. From the old time packetship to the early type of steamship
was but the first step. Faster vessels were built, and the space
devoted to cargo was encroached upon by enormous engines and boilers,
by big coal bunkers, and by large saloons and an increased number
of state-rooms. The hulls changed from the bulging sides of the
first types to the narrow, racing pattern of to-day. Speed and the
arrangements for the comfort of a large list of passengers robbed the
vessels of their freight capacity, and now the freight of an ocean
greyhound is a secondary consideration. This necessitated the creation
of a distinct class, known as the freighter.

The first railway cars having compartments for passengers, baggage, and
freight were changed to express trains, where speed and comfort are
the first considerations, and freight trains, where carrying capacity
is the main object. In just the same manner, and for the same reasons,
the ocean traffic is undergoing changes. The day cannot be far distant
when the passenger ships will take only passengers, mails, specie, and
express packages. The best-informed nautical men to-day declare that
the progress of the last five years, remarkable as it has been, is but
a circumstance compared with the possibilities of the future.

[Illustration: Unloading and Loading a Coastwise Steamer by Electric

The ocean greyhound is simply an exponent of the times. What the
limited express trains are on land, the racer is upon the sea—the
“Atlantic Limited.” Expense is no object. The faster the ship, the
greater the rush for passage in her. She is, of course, a floating
palace of magnificence, but speed is the main object, and speed is
at times as important for certain classes of freight as it is for
passengers. The hue and cry that steamship companies are endangering
the lives of their passengers by ocean racing is pointed in the wrong
direction. It is the public who are to blame, if blame it is to
annihilate time and space by the genius of man. The owners of these
vessels spend millions to build ships, and then risk both their capital
invested, and the reputation of their line for safety, in order to
satisfy their patrons. People of the nineteenth century—Americans in
particular—are in a hurry, and never stop to consider the enormous
expense, the immense consumption of coal, the fearful and terrible
strain on the firemen and coal-passers down in the bowels of the great
vessel. Everything is done with a rush. Lightning express trains across
continents and racers upon the oceans are necessities of the day.

The love of record-breaking is universal. The performance of the
Majestic on August 5, 1891, thrilled the people of every nation. Her
triumph of crossing the Atlantic in 5 days, 18 hours, and 8 minutes
was echoed round the world. Hardly had the echoes died out when her
sister-ship—twin in size and type—the Teutonic, came into New York
Harbor with a better record still. It was 5 days, 16 hours, and 30
minutes, and the Teutonic was crowned “Queen of the Seas.”

But for how long?

The City of Paris held her record for upward of two years; the Etruria
and the Umbria each was the crack racer for a year; but the Majestic
only held the coveted place at the head of the Atlantic fleet for just
two weeks.

At the rate of increase of speed since 1880, when the Arizona was
champion, with a record of 7 days, 8 hours, and 8 minutes, we should
have a five-day ship before many years, and perhaps eventually a
four-day ship. At a 25-knot gait a steamship would cross from Daunt’s
Rock to Sandy Hook in 4 days and 15 hours. The Teutonic averaged
20.349 knots for the entire trip, and on a 24-hour run she averaged
over 21 knots.

The success of the White Star ships is bound to have a marked effect
upon the future of ocean navigation. The Cunard Company has already
contracted for the construction of two steamships which are promised to
outdo any of the present greyhounds; and rumor has it that the Inman
line is about to add two new vessels to its fleet, the plans of which
are now prepared, and it is expected that these new ships will go “one
better.” Should this promise be fulfilled, there is little doubt but
that Europeans who visit Chicago’s Columbian Fair in 1893 may cross the
Atlantic in five days, or even less.

The freight capacity of the ocean greyhound, however, is small compared
with her gross tonnage. The engines, boiler, and coal bunkers, and the
space devoted to passengers, leave but little room for general cargo.
Thus the gross tonnage of the Teutonic is 9,686, and her net tonnage
4,244, considerably less than half; while the Cufic, a freight boat
of the same line, with a gross tonnage of 4,639, has a net tonnage of
3,055. The fast steamships therefore constitute the ocean express. They
carry the mails, specie, and freights of a perishable nature, like
meats and provisions, or of a character that requires speedy delivery.

The mail is placed in a capacious compartment about 50 feet long, 15
feet wide, and 7 feet high. It is located on the lower orlop deck,
forward of the forehatch, and is capable of holding about 1,000 bags of
mail. The bags for the different countries are separated in transit,
and on arrival at Queenstown the mails are landed, provided there
is time to catch the 12.30 A.M. special train, which is made up to
connect with the mail-boat leaving Kingstown early the same morning for
Holyhead. Should this connection be missed, only the Irish and Scotch
mails are landed at Queenstown. The other mails are landed at Liverpool.

To the steamship Trave belongs the honor of having carried the largest
European mail ever shipped from the port of New York, being 1,002 bags,
in December, 1889. The largest European mail ever received at the port
of New York was 1,062 bags, brought by the Servia in December, 1890.

The system of sorting the mails on board ship, which was recently
inaugurated by the United States and German governments, is a success.
It is in operation on eight vessels of the North German Lloyd line and
the four express ships of the Hamburg-American line. This system is
termed the “sea post-office,” and is similar to a post-office on land.
The space required on board ship for the manipulation of the mails is
equal to about three or four state-rooms. For each vessel the United
States provides one official, and Germany supplies another. The latter
has an assistant.

All disbursements are made at present by the German Government, but
at the end of the year the two governments divide the expenses. On
the eastern trip all mails, except the newspaper mail, are landed
at Southampton. Only the German mail, and that for countries beyond
Germany, is sorted. The British mail is put ashore unsorted, in the
same manner that it is on the British steamship lines. The sorting of
the mail during the passage enables the packages for each country to
be forwarded direct from the nearest landing-point to their ultimate
destination without delay. The saving of time at New York City alone is
from 4 to 6 hours, and for Pittsburg and for points west and south of
that place, where an immediate reply is required, a saving of from 24
to 48 hours is effected. The day cannot be far distant when all foreign
mails will be sorted at sea; the system indeed has been in operation
for many years on the P. & O. ships sailing to India and Australia.

In these days of heavy gold shipments, the specie-room on the steamship
is a very important institution. It is located in an out-of-the-way
place amidships, under the saloon. Few of the passengers know of its
existence, or of the valuable treasure that is carried across the
ocean with them. The room varies slightly on different ships, but is
usually about 16 feet long, by 10 feet wide, and 8 feet high. It is
constructed of steel plates one-quarter of an inch thick, and strongly
riveted together. The floor, the ceiling, and the walls are all of
steel plates. There is a heavy door, also made of steel. It is provided
with two English “Chubb” locks, a variety of combination lock that is
said to be burglar-proof. The gold and silver is usually in bars, but
occasionally a quantity of coin in bags is shipped. This was the case
when the heavy shipments of gold were made last spring. The Majestic
is credited with carrying the largest quantity, her strong box having
$4,500,000 intrusted to it for safe keeping.

[Illustration: The Specie-room of a Passenger Steamship.]

The fast steamships are provided with enormous refrigerators for
carrying dressed beef and mutton. The temperature is kept at about 30
degrees. Fruits, vegetables, butter, cheese, and bacon are shipped in
large quantities in summer, and apples, oranges, oysters, and hops
are sent over in the winter. Space is always reserved for the various
European express companies.

Next to the ocean greyhound comes a class of steamships requiring from
7 to 8 days to cross the Atlantic, and having accommodation for from
800 to 1,000 passengers of all classes, and from 2,000 to 5,000 tons
of freight. Both passenger and freight rates are slightly less than
on the greyhounds, a preference being given to the latter at certain
times, according to the condition of the market. The slower ships are
patronized by people to whom the saving of a few dollars is an object,
and by some who enjoy the ocean trip too much to be in a hurry about
landing, and by others who imagine all sorts of dreadful things are
going to happen to the racers. The class of freight carried varies
but little from the faster ships, except that the mails, specie, and
express goods are usually lacking. Cotton, tobacco, and merchandise,
including manufactured goods and machinery, form the bulk of the
general cargo.

The next grade of steamship is the new type, called the freighter.
It is the result of the tendency to build express ships, and its
object is to accommodate the freight which is crowded out by the speed
requirements. These ships combine enormous freight capacity with a high
rate of speed and minimum coal consumption. They have reduced the time
of freighters between New York and Liverpool from 16 to 10 days without
materially increasing the rate of freight. They carry heavy goods of
all kinds to the amount of 5,000 tons, and from 600 to 800 head of
cattle. To this class belong the four new White Star ships, the Tauric,
the Nomadic—both of which have twin screws—the Runic, and the Cufic;
also the Europe and America, of the National line.

The Nomadic has the record of carrying the largest amount of freight
in one trip. In August, 1891, she carried 9,591 tons, including coal
necessary for the voyage. The America, of the National line, left the
port of New York, March 17, 1891, with 8,577 tons, including her coal,
which was the largest cargo on record at that time, and until surpassed
by the Nomadic. The England, also of the National line, carried 1,022
head of cattle from this port on September 18, 1889. This is the
largest cargo of cattle ever carried by any ship.

Just previous to the heavy duty on tin-plate going into effect on July
1, 1891, the Cufic brought the largest cargo of tin-plate on record,
being 76,529 boxes.

A type of ship which was at one time considered a first-class passenger
vessel has been gradually forced from the trade by faster ships more
luxuriously fitted, and is now engaged in carrying general freight. To
this class belong the entire fleet of the National line, some of which,
like the Spain, were at one time favorite passenger boats.

Another class of freight steamship is that wanderer of the seas, the
“tramp.” Belonging to no regular line, identified with no particular
class of cargo, having no regularity as to time of departure or ports
of destination, and with a hold that takes anything from cotton to
guano, from guano to bananas, and from bananas to petroleum, this nomad
of the deep is a peculiar institution.

What more appropriate name than “tramp” can you suggest?

She is often a ship of considerable size, and is usually chartered for
cargoes of a heavy character, but will take anything that offers. She
usually has engines of low power, and her coal consumption is small.
She requires from 15 to 20 days to cross the Atlantic.

In the summer of 1891 men who go down to the sea in ships were startled
by seeing something new. A type of vessel of which much is promised,
even to a revolution of the entire ocean freight business of the world,
successfully made the trip from the head of Lake Superior to Liverpool,
and returned to this country. This is the “whaleback” Charles W.

Built at West Superior, Mich., this original craft, having more the
appearance of a large barge than an ocean steamship, has taken 87,000
bushels of grain, from the heart of the grain-producing region, through
the lakes and the rapids of the St. Lawrence River, to the ocean and
across to Liverpool.

The vessel is shaped like a huge cigar, pointed at both ends; her
deck is arched and without any obstructions, save for a small turret
forward, and a deck-house aft. The latter contains the cabin,
wheel-house, and quarters for the captain, officers, and engineers.

When loaded, the hatches, which are huge iron plates, are bolted down
and form a smooth deck surface, over which the waves have full play,
saving Jack Tar the trouble of using the holy-stone or swab. The crew
is quartered in the turret forward. The machinery, which is located
directly aft, consists of a compound engine of 800 horse-power, with a
26-inch high-pressure cylinder.

[Illustration: The “Whaleback” Steamship for Grain and other Freight.]

The hull is made of steel, and is 265 feet in length, 38 feet in
breadth, and the depth of hold is 24 feet. Four feet above the keel
is an inner skin for additional safety, and between this skin and the
hull are nine compartments, which are buoyant air-chambers when the
ship is loaded, and serve to hold water ballast when she has a light
cargo. A railing made of wire rope extends the length of the hull on
each side, and is intended as a protection for the men when they have
occasion to visit their shipmates in the after part of the vessel.

The hold is one large compartment, with a bulkhead forward, where the
men’s quarters are, and one aft, where the machinery is located, and
also the firemen’s quarters.

The Wetmore draws 17 feet of water, and her capacity is said to be
100,000 bushels of grain, or 3,000 tons of other cargo.

The advantages claimed for the whaleback are her low cost of
construction, which is one-third less than that of an English tramp
steamship of the same capacity; her elongated, elliptical form,
which offers less resistance to the wind and waves, so that she can
be propelled with less power than the ordinary steamship; her small
consumption of coal, but from twelve to thirteen tons a day, or about
half that of an ordinary steamship, being used; and a crew of twenty
men navigating the Wetmore, as against a crew of thirty men required to
man another ship.

It is also stated that the Wetmore can be discharged more quickly of
grain or other cargo, and that there is less rolling and tossing at
sea than in the ordinary type of steamships. But it must be remembered
that as yet the Wetmore is only an experiment. Her transatlantic trip
was taken in August, when the sea was most tranquil. How she will
behave in midwinter, when her arched back will be coated with ice, and
her deck-works perhaps washed away, is not quite clear. Her lack of
life-boats and other life-saving appliances is also noticeable.

This type of vessel in some modified form will no doubt be a great
success as a carrier of grain, coal, oil, molasses, and other bulky
freights; but the Wetmore must be furnished with hoisting machinery
or other devices in order to facilitate the quick loading of heavy
materials, before she becomes what may be regarded as a complete

To the three classes of steamships last mentioned, the carrying of
grain is a large item. But there are at all seasons of the year vessels
engaged almost exclusively in carrying grain.

About 2,000 vessels loaded with grain sailed from the port of New
York during 1890. The number was even greater in 1891, owing to the
abundance and quality of the grain crop of the United States, the small
crops abroad, and the action of the Russian Government in prohibiting
the export of rye from its territory.

The sailing vessel is rapidly disappearing from the grain-carrying
trade. Ten years ago there were 1,782 sailing ships engaged in the
grain trade, now there are only about thirty cargoes in a year from
New York. The total amount of grain and breadstuffs exported from
the United States in 1890 was valued at $141,602,847. Of this New
York shipped 32-1/4 per cent., and yet fears are entertained that
New York will lose her grain business, owing to the heavy port and
storage charges compared with those of other seaports. In 1890, New
York handled $45,649,765 worth of grain. Corn led in the amount
shipped, there being a total of 24,374,745 bushels. Wheat came next
with 12,607,484 bushels, and there were 9,192,203 bushels of oats
and 1,389,419 bushels of rye. There were 3,693,598 barrels of wheat
flour shipped from New York out of a total for the United States of
11,319,456 barrels. Barley, buckwheat, and rice were exported in
smaller quantities, and cornmeal, oatmeal, and other preparations, not
included in the above figures, were sent to foreign ports.

Ships are specially fitted up for carrying grain. The hold is divided
into compartments by a longitudinal bulkhead in addition to the
ordinary bulkheads. This is done to prevent the cargo from shifting.
The hold is ceiled in order to prevent any waste of grain which is
shipped in bulk in the lower hold; shifting planks are placed on each
side of the keelson and fitted to side stanchions between the beams,
and care is taken to secure the planks so that they will hold their
places even in a rough sea. The British Board of Trade requires that
the hatches of the lower hold shall be supplied with a feeder or hopper
capable of holding a sufficient quantity of grain to fill the hold
completely as the grain settles; these feeders extend above the lower
deck. The space between decks is filled with grain in bags. Care is
taken in loading to stow these bags so that the space between decks
will be entirely filled. These requirements have been adopted by
ship-owners and shippers generally.

With the exception of the American line from Philadelphia, United
States vessels cut but a small figure in grain traffic. Their four
vessels are the only American steamships engaged in the business. In
one year Great Britain carried 616 shiploads of grain, or an aggregate
of nearly 25,000,000 bushels; Germany carried 167 shiploads, or nearly
4,000,000 bushels; Belgium carried 70 shiploads; France, 33; Denmark,
21; Italy, 15; Spain, 8; Austria, 10; Portugal, 9; and Norway, 6.

The handling of all this grain, by the time it arrives by canal-boat
or by railway from the West, to the time that the ship sails from the
harbor, requires a large number of elevators and many men.

There are 31 floating elevators in the port of New York, which are
towed alongside of grain ships in order to fill in bulk. The grain is
simply pumped from the capacious bins of the elevator to the hold of
the ship.

The large stationary grain elevators are used as much for storage as
for loading vessels. The number of stationary elevators in the port
of New York is 22, and the total storage capacity of this port is
26,000,000 bushels.

Some idea of the quantity of grain stored in one of these elevators may
be gained from the fact that when the elevators of the New York Central
Railroad Company, at Sixtieth Street and the North River, were burned,
the loss on the grain alone amounted to at least $75,000. The elevators
had a total capacity of 2,300,000 bushels, and contained only 100,000
bushels at the time of the fire. Only one elevator was rebuilt.

The transfer capacity at the port of New York, or the rate at which
grain ships can be loaded, is 458,000 bushels per hour.

Another type of vessel is the fruit steamship. There are about 90 in
the tropical fruit trade between the United States, West Indies, and
Central America. Bananas form the great bulk of the trade; cocoa-nuts,
oranges, pineapples, and other fruits make up the balance of the
cargoes. The principal fruit ports in the United States, besides
New York, are Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and New Orleans. The
steamships are built expressly for the fruit trade, and are all, or
nearly so, under the Norwegian and English flags, the Norwegian ships
predominating. The hull is of steel lined with wood; the space between
the steel plates (or outer skin of the vessel) and the wood is filled
in with charcoal, which makes the ship a huge floating refrigerator.
The vessels are provided with all the latest improvements in motive
power, including triple-expansion engines and steam steering-gear. Some
of the best ships devoted exclusively to the fruit trade have twin
screws, and have accommodation for from 10 to 12 saloon passengers.
Their average speed is from 11 to 13 knots. Many of the ships have
their engines and boilers further aft than is the case in ordinary

[Illustration: Unloading a Banana Steamship.]

Fruit steamships have three decks, all open, with a space of about two
inches between each of the deck planks. This arrangement assures a free
circulation of air at all times, and thus the fruit is preserved from
heating and decay. These ships carry from 15,000 to 25,000 bunches of
bananas, each bunch averaging in weight from 60 to 80 pounds, but some
bunches have been found to weigh over 200 pounds. The fruit is “stowed”
by an experienced stevedore, who devotes himself exclusively to the
fruit trade. The bunches are placed on end along the decks, until
all the space is filled; then a second and a third tier of bunches
are laid flat, one over the other, in a manner that allows plenty of
ventilation. Great care is taken to prevent the fruit from contact
with salt-water, which causes the black spots frequently seen on
bananas. After the vessels discharge the fruit they return in ballast
for another cargo. The bulk of the crop is shipped during the five
months from February to August. At the expiration of the season about
one-third of the fruit vessels return to tropical ports and continue in
the trade between there and the United States fruit ports during the
winter. The other ships return to Europe with a grain cargo, and are
chartered for general freight until the next fruit season.

Besides these vessels already mentioned, there are also three or four
regular steamship lines which are largely engaged in the tropical fruit
trade. The principal lines are the Atlas line, the Pacific Mail, the
Anchor line, and the Honduras & Central American line. The vessels
of the Atlas line are fitted with the most modern appliances for the
preservation of the fruit. All these lines have excellent passenger
accommodation, and carry a general cargo as well.

The total receipts of bananas at all United States ports in 1890 was
13,284,756 bunches, New York alone receiving 5,433,295 bunches of
the fruit. The principal ports of shipments were Jamaica, 2,108,975
bunches; Baracoa, 1,478,596 bunches; Port Limon, 547,976 bunches;
Honduras, 205,290 bunches; and other ports, 125,000 bunches.

The Mediterranean fruit trade requires a large fleet of steamships
during the autumn and winter months. Oranges, lemons, limes, Malaga
grapes, raisins, currants, and nuts form the bulk of the cargoes.
Sicily alone sends us 1,000,000 boxes of oranges a year, and half
as many boxes of lemons. Spanish grapes, to the amount of 600,000
barrels annually, and dried fruits in vast quantities from the various
Mediterranean ports, make up an enormous import trade. There are no
steamships specially devoted to this business, as the season lasts
only a portion of the year. The vessels employed are steamships which
are well ventilated, and having a good rate of speed, as they all, or
nearly so, carry passengers and a general cargo.

The Florio line, the Mediterranean fleet of the Anchor line, and the
Mediterranean and New York Steamship Company, handle nearly all of this
class of trade.

The tank steamship, for carrying oil in bulk, is an American invention.
Ship-builders declared for years that no vessel with a shifting cargo,
like oil in bulk, would live through a gale, but an enterprising Yankee
demonstrated the fact that petroleum could be pumped from the pipe
line directly into the hold of a steamship and transported across the
ocean in safety. The cost of barrelling the oil is saved, and there is
also considerable economy in loading.

[Illustration: Cross-section of a Tank Steamship, showing the Expansion

The tank steamship can always be distinguished by her odd appearance,
the funnel being placed a little forward of the mizzen-mast. She has
two decks; the hold is divided into from 7 to 9 compartments or tanks
for oil; each tank has a capacity of about 4,000 barrels. An empty
space of about two feet, called a safety well, is forward of the
boilers and engines, separating them from the cargo hold. This empty
space, which has a bulkhead on each side, is sometimes filled with
water. The depth of the tanks or hold is about 24 feet. On the top of
these tanks are expansion tanks, about 5 feet square, reaching to the
upper deck, and provided with hatches. The tanks are filled quite full,
but sufficient space is left unfilled in the expansion tanks to allow
for the expansion of the oil, which is one per cent. in volume for
every 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

The tanks are filled by means of a very powerful pump, situated at
varying distances, from a few yards to one-eighth of a mile from the
ship. The greatest care is taken in loading the vessel. A man with a
flag is stationed on the ship’s deck, and another man with a flag is
placed at the tank. The signal to start and to stop pumping is passed
from one to the other. The largest vessel can be filled in about twelve
hours. The balance of space between decks is used for storing coal,
the ship’s fuel. When the cargo is discharged in Europe the tanks are
filled with water ballast for the return trip.

[Illustration: Loading a Tank Steamship with Oil, by Force Pumps.]

Some of these steamships have been very lucky in picking up disabled
passenger steamships, which, of course, means a substantial salvage.
There are now about 70 of these tank steamships in the trade, the
majority of which are employed by the Standard Oil Company and their
connections, and new ones are being constantly added to meet the
increasing trade. They are all under foreign flag—English, German, and
Dutch—but the Standard Oil Company owns a large interest in them.

These steamships are all supplied with triple expansion engines, and
are capable of maintaining a speed of from 8 to 11 knots per hour on
the small coal consumption of about 25 tons for each 24 hours. The
Bayonne is the fastest; she made the trip from England to New York in
11 days, averaging 11.10 knots per hour. They average from 2,000 to
3,000 tons gross, and carry from 3,000 to 4,000 tons of cargo. Aft
of the engine-room is the cabin and officers’ quarters, which are
comfortable in every particular. The crew is located in the forecastle,
as is usual on all vessels. The crew number about 30, all told.

Another type of steamship, which is an outcome of the tank idea, is the
molasses ship. These have been used with success in carrying molasses
in bulk between Havana and New York. The Circassian Prince is a notable
instance of this type. The traffic in molasses is not very great at
present, but when the trade increases tank steamships will, no doubt,
be largely employed.

The loading of an ocean steamship is a sight well worth a visit to one
of the city piers to witness. With the exception of the North German
Lloyd, the Hamburg-American, the Netherlands, and the Thingvalla lines,
whose piers are in Hoboken, and the Red Star Line, and some of the
Inman vessels, in Jersey City, the great transatlantic steamships dock
along the North River, from Canal Street up to Twenty-fourth Street.
The length of the steamships, some of them being nearly 600 feet,
make very long piers necessary. These piers on a sailing day present
an animated scene. A long line of trucks, loaded with all sorts of
merchandise, moves slowly down the pier, each truck delivering its
packages opposite the particular hatchway down which they are to be
lowered. The big ships load at four different hatchways at the same
time. Steam-hoisting apparatus at each, and separate gangs of men,
all, however, under the direction of one stevedore, load and stow the
immense cargo in an incredibly short space of time.

All prominent lines handle their own freight, but some of the smaller
lines give it out by contract to a stevedore, who employs his own men.
About six gangs of twenty-five men each, and about twelve foremen
and dock-clerks are employed. As many men are employed as can work
to advantage. The day men are relieved by other gangs of men who
work at night. In rush times a few men are added to each gang. From
10,000 to 100,000 packages constitute an ocean steamship’s cargo.
The largest number of packages are carried at the season of the year
when the Bordeaux fruit canning trade is on, and the proportion of
small packages is increased. Some big packages, such as a street-car
completely boxed, or a steam-launch enclosed in a case, require
considerable power and much skill to load. Heavy machinery and enormous
cases are lifted from the dock, swung over the open hatchway, and
lowered to the cavernous depths as quickly and easily as though they
weighed but a hundred pounds instead of several tons.

The stowing of the freight requires experience and judgment. The
weight must be arranged so that the vessel stands upon an even keel,
and she must not be down at the bow, or too low at the stern. Then the
cargo must be stowed so that it will not shift. The importance of this
is seen when the rolling and plunging of the ship in a heavy sea is
considered. The cargo would not only be seriously injured if it tumbled
about, but the vessel would be unmanageable. The stevedores and the
’longshoremen who attend to this work are experienced men, and the
difficulty of loading ships with inexperienced men caused the owners of
many steamships to permit them to remain idle at the time of the great
London dock strikes.

Particular attention is paid to stowing the cargo of an ocean racer.
Every package is fitted into place, so that the cargo will be a solid
part of the vessel, and serve to ballast and trim her to the best

The North German Lloyd line holds the record for rapid loading and
unloading of cargo. The Eider arrived at 10 A.M., one day in January,
1890, and in twenty-nine hours her freight was discharged, and a full
cargo, the mails, and her complement of passengers were on board, and
the lines cast off for a return trip to Europe.

The ocean steamships are coaled at their docks. The barges containing
the coal are towed alongside, on both sides of the vessel, and the
work of coaling commences immediately after her arrival in port. It is
hoisted up by iron buckets, coaling on both sides going on at the same
time. It requires about four and a half days to coal one of the big
greyhounds. There are eight coal barges employed in the work; each of
these barges contains from 250 to 300 tons of coal. Some of the lines
get their coal from Baltimore, and others from Norfolk. The coaling,
as now conducted, is a tedious as well as a dirty process, and it is
difficult to understand why lines have not adopted the elevator method
which was tried on some of the naval and coastwise vessels some two
years ago, and proved a success, both as to economy, rapidity, and
cleanliness. The experiment showed that 500 tons of coal could be
stowed away in the bunkers by chutes in one hour.

[Illustration: A Cattle Steamship at Sea.]

The loading of cattle-ships is interesting. The vessels are tied up
to the docks in Jersey City and Weehawken, where the stock-yards
are located, and the cattle are driven up a narrow gang-plank. When
steamships take grain or other cargo in the hold and cattle on deck,
the latter are usually loaded from barges at the wharf, or while the
vessel is at anchor in the bay. Occasionally a fractious steer breaks
away from the drivers, and, plunging over the side of the gang-plank,
takes a bath in the water. A sailor jumps in and passes a rope around
the animal, which is then hoisted on board by means of a block and
tackle. The cattle are placed in strongly constructed pens between
decks, as well as on the upper deck. The space for each head of cattle
is fixed by law at 2 feet 6 inches by 8 feet. The pens hold half a
dozen cattle each. Experience has shown that there was greater loss
when more room than this was allowed for the cattle. A steer with
plenty of room in his pen would roll from side to side and become
bruised or crippled when a heavy sea was encountered. By packing the
cattle tightly, they serve as buffers for each other, and the loss is
diminished. Within the last two or three years the methods of shipping
cattle have been improved, so that the loss is now less than two per

The cost of shipping cattle from New York to Liverpool is about half
a cent per pound, live weight. This includes the care and the feed
during the voyage. From ten to a dozen men are employed to look after
the cattle on the trip. Very low wages are paid these men, as there
are always a number of applications on hand from impecunious men who
are desirous of working their passage to Europe by taking care of the
cattle. A few men are regularly engaged in the business of taking care
of cattle at sea. They are known as “cowboys of the sea,” and are big
burly fellows who are used to rough living and to facing danger. The
work of feeding and watering the cattle is not an easy task in fair
weather, and with a rough sea on it is dangerous. When severe storms
are met, the cattle become panic-stricken, and the men are obliged to
go among them and quiet them. Sometimes the pens are broken down in a
gale, and there is pandemonium aboard. Cattle-ships have arrived in
port with only a small portion of the number of cattle taken on board,
but as the losses fall upon the shippers and the reputation of the
steamship line is to some extent at stake, they are, therefore, more
interested in the safety of cattle at sea than anyone else. The efforts
of Samuel Plimsoll, M.P., and the cattle inspectors of Great Britain
and the United States, have materially improved the methods of this

Ocean freights are lower than those by rail. They fluctuate from day to
day, and are affected by the supply, and by the available tonnage in
port. Grain was carried from New York to Liverpool in 1890 for three
shillings a quarter; the increased shipments in 1891 advanced the price
to from four shillings to four shillings and ninepence a quarter,
an advance of fifty per cent. The increased rate on grain affects
all other rates, as the steamships vary their cargo according to the
demands of the trade.

Just previous to the time the McKinley Bill went into effect, space on
the fast steamships commanded seven times the usual rate, and hundreds
of thousands of dollars depended upon the arrival of big consignments
of dutiable goods within the time limit. The demand for space on the
North German Lloyd line was so great that on one of the ships due to
arrive in New York just before the new law went into effect, when
shippers could not obtain room in the hold, several state-rooms were
hired, and filled full of cutlery and other goods on which there was
a considerable advance of duty. It will be remembered that in some
instances tugs were sent out beyond Sandy Hook to meet steamships and
sailing vessels which had been delayed, and hasten their arrival. The
Etruria reached Quarantine at 11 P.M. on October 4, 1890. Captain
Haines was taken off on a tug, which ploughed her way up the Bay. At
the Battery a team of fast horses was waiting, and the captain rushed
breathless into the Custom House, with barely one minute to spare,
before midnight, when the new law went into effect. Thousands of
dollars were saved by the timely arrival of the Etruria. The Zaandam,
which had been chartered to bring over a large cargo of Sumatra
tobacco, on which the duty was advanced $1.25 per pound, arrived a few
hours late, although she sailed three days ahead of the Werkendam, of
the same line, with a similar cargo, which arrived in time to save the
increased duty.

Every nation is interested in the extension of its ocean
freight-carrying business. The welfare of the farmer, the artisan,
and the merchant is interwoven with that of men who live on the sea.
Commerce and the industries go hand in hand, and the magnificent
showing that the former makes is only an indication of the prosperity
of the latter. No more apt illustration of the growth of the American
nation in the last quarter of a century can be pointed out than the
development of her ocean traffic.


[18] There are several other lines, like the Liverpool, Brazil &
River Plate, and John Norton’s Son, which usually send out from four
steamships a year to one a month, but which are doing very little just
now, owing to the disorganized condition of trade in the River Plate
region. Reciprocity with Brazil is counted upon to increase their trade.

There is one line of steamships from New York direct to Indian,
Chinese, and Japanese ports by way of the Mediterranean Sea and the
Suez Canal. It is operated by Edward Perry & Co., and case oil forms
the bulk of the trade. About one vessel a month is sent out, and this
vessel has a tonnage of about 3,000 gross.

Carter, Hawley & Co., and Carter, Macy & Co., had during the year 1891
about 25 steamships consigned to them from China and Japan, the tonnage
of which was about 60,000 gross. Inward these vessels are tea-laden,
but on the return trip they are usually chartered by other firms for
general cargo.

[19] Certain kinds of freight admit of peculiar packing, of which
an instance occurs to me in the loading of American cheeses. The
side-ports of the ship are opened, and a series of inclined chutes
are arranged so that the cheeses roll by their own weight from the
truck on the pier through the open port, and are switched off on side
chutes, which carry them to their final resting place, where men stow
them in solid layers. Some vessels, not provided with side-ports,
hoist the packages on deck in nets and lower them down the hatchways.
Some of these products of the American dairy return to us as English
manufacture—the “Cheshire” and “Double Gloucester.”




Writers of maritime history give to the United States the credit of
establishing long lines of communication by sea with far-distant
countries. As early as 1789 the merchants of Boston despatched their
ships direct to China and the East Indies, some time before England
entered on this trade; for the American vessels not only brought their
cargoes to the home markets, but also trans-shipped spices, silks,
teas, sugar, coffee, and cotton to Europe. In those times a skipper
felt satisfied if he made the outward voyage of 15,000 miles, by way of
the Cape of Good Hope, in 150 days, and came back _via_ Cape Horn, some
17,000 miles, in the same time.

The development of the resources of the East by the East India
Company, and the richness of the freights carried by the United States
vessels—the proceeds of a single voyage often defraying the first cost
of the ship—induced England to enter into competition; thus starting
that rivalry between the sailing fleets of the two nations that was
long the admiration of the world. In 1845 the American clippers, long,
low, of good beam, very fine lines, and with yards so square and spars
so lofty as to set a greater spread of canvas in proportion to their
tonnage than any ship hitherto sailed, entered the race and left
all rivals far astern. Then followed the days of which the old “sad
sea-dogs” still love to tell, when every stitch of sail was carried
until the fierce wind blew it from the bolt-ropes; when for weeks
the lee scuppers lay buried in the seething waters and the flying
jibboom plunged deep into the white-capped waves; when the good ship
Sovereign of the Seas came into port 90 days from Hong-Kong, and the
town gathered on the wharf to welcome the daring navigators; while the
cargo of teas and coffees was sold at fabulous prices. And these old
salts still discuss the dinner given to the bold captain that night,
when the log of the voyage would be read and men would sit amazed at
hearing that in 22 days the ship had sailed over 5,391 miles, that for
four days her daily run had been 341.8 miles, and that in one day she
had done 375 miles, at the rate of 15.6 knots.

The discovery of gold in California started a line of travel 14,000
miles long from Europe and the Eastern seaboard of the United States
_via_ Cape Horn to the western coast of North America. Ships on this
line took out merchandise of every description to be used in building
and maintaining the city of San Francisco, and after landing this
freight, for which they received $25 a ton, they sailed for China,
whence, after loading with teas and sugars at $25 and $30 a ton for
freight, they returned direct to the United States or England.

In the meantime Australia had been opened up, and the Australian packet
lines, leaving London for Melbourne 12,000 miles away, were making
100-days voyages by way of the Cape, “with a chance of being drowned.”
This line carried many passengers, but it was not until 1850 that
this traffic began to assume such importance that vessels were run
on regular schedules for its accommodation. During the time of the
Crimean war this trade was enormous, and the Liverpool packet lines
between England and New York reaped a rich remuneration in spite of
serious accidents. It is reported that in the year 1854 no less than
nine emigrant ships foundered at sea.

The day of the sailing ship on short routes was now closing, for the
steamship entering into competition, gradually absorbed the lucrative
passenger traffic and much of the more valuable freight.

       *       *       *       *       *

In looking over the history of the lines of the world, none is found
to have exerted more influence upon subsequent progress than the old
route between India and England. This route at first doubled the Cape
of Good Hope—a distance of 14,000 miles, so long and uncertain that
the East India Company frequently sent their despatches by way of the
Persian Gulf and then overland between Bagdad and Constantinople. The
successful crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by the steamship Savannah
suggested the possibility of a like means of communication with India.
Accordingly, the English side-wheel steamship Enterprise, of 470 tons,
122 feet long, bark-rigged, left Falmouth in the year 1825 and reached
Calcutta, after a voyage of 13,700 miles, in 113 days, of which 64 were
steaming days. This result, though unsatisfactory, stimulated efforts
looking toward remunerative steam navigation in the East. The first
steamship arrived at Macao, China, in 1830. As an inducement to people
to choose this novel mode of travelling, a Canton paper contained
the following notice of a steamer: “She carries a crew, a surgeon, a
band of music, and has rooms elegantly fitted up for cards and opium

The problem of a short route to Europe from India was practically
solved in 1830, by sending a steamer from Bombay to Suez, a distance of
3,000 miles, in 25 days. In a few years a regular line was established
between the two places, connecting with steamers at Alexandria by means
of a camel service across the desert. The camel post was succeeded by
four-horse vans, and later these were followed by the Suez Canal and
the railway.

With the progress of time sailing-ships have given way to steamships,
and the routes of communication which they, after years of navigation,
did so much to establish, have become the highways of an enormous
trade, along which large and swift steamships are constantly going
to and fro with the certainty and regularity of railway trains. A
steamer to-day leaves her wharf at the moment of time set forth in her
schedule, and arrives at the terminus of her voyage—it may be many
thousand miles away—with almost equal promptitude.

Like railway traffic, steamer traffic follows certain main routes or
grand trunk lines, having numerous feeders or subsidiary lines. The
great ocean thoroughfares of the world are:

1. The route across the Atlantic, through the Mediterranean Sea, Suez
Canal, and Red Sea, to India, China, Australia, and eastern Africa.

2. The route by the Pacific Ocean to Japan, China, and Australia.

3. The route by the Atlantic Ocean down the east coast of South
America, and around Cape Horn, to western America and Australasia; and

4. The route down the Atlantic and the west coast of Africa, around
the Cape of Good Hope, to East Africa, Australasia, and the East. The
number of steamers traversing these grand routes, and those tributary
to them, is estimated to be more than 11,000. In order to emphasize the
importance of ocean navigation, the appended table[20] of the number of
steam vessels, their money value, and the value of the merchandise they
carry, is given for the five greatest nations of the globe:

               |  Number  |   Gross   |  Value of    |  Value of
               | of Steam |   Tons.   |  Vessels.    |Trade carried
               | Vessels. |           |              | in Vessels.
  Great Britain|   6,403  | 8,235,854 | $550,000,000 |$3,476,500,000
  Germany      |     741  |   928,911 |   63,500,000 | 1,624,000,000
  France       |     526  |   809,598 |   48,500,000 | 1,471,000,000
  United States|     416  |   517,394 |   42,000,000 | 1,462,500,000
  Italy        |     212  |   300,625 |   22,000,000 |   415,000,000
  Russia       |     236  |   106,155 |   12,500,000 |    60,000,000

[Illustration: CHART OF THE WORLD


Principal Steamship Routes.]

Owing to the various lines of communication which have been opened up,
the traveller is now offered the choice of a number of routes, each
vying with the other in attractiveness and interest. For instance,
the whole journey from London to Constantinople can be performed with
no more than 17 hours of sea-passage; or, if a more leisurely way
be preferred, the whole journey can be made by water. Therefore the
first thing to be done is to determine the route to be followed, and
the time to be given the trip. Then the dates of sailing should be
settled. These preliminaries concluded, there comes the question of the
selection of steamers. If England is to be visited, passage must be
booked on some line bound to that country. If, however, the objective
point be on the Continent, a room should be engaged on some line bound
for Germany, France, Spain, or the Mediterranean.

The number of steamers engaged in the regular passenger service between
the Eastern seaboard of the United States and the Old World is probably
greater than most travellers imagine. At the present time there are
upward of thirty-five distinct lines, each with a larger or smaller
fleet of steamers regularly engaged in Atlantic transport. Six of
these, the Cunard, the White Star, the Anchor, the Guion, the National,
and the Inman, sail between New York and Liverpool. Four others, the
Norddeutscher Lloyd, the Hamburg-American Packet Company, the Union
line, and the Baltic line, trade between New York and German ports.
The National line, the Hill line, and the Wilson line go to London;
two others, the Allan-State and the Anchor, to Glasgow. Two French
lines, the General Transatlantic and the French Commercial Steamship
Company sail for Havre and Marseilles. Two lines communicate with Dutch
ports, the Netherlands-American Steam Navigation Company, and the Royal
Netherlands Steamship Company; two more, the Red Star and the White
Cross lines, leave for Antwerp; one line, the Thingvalla, steams to
Copenhagen, and the General Italian Navigation Company, and the Anchor
line, make Italian ports.

The regular service by steam between Europe and the rich and varied
East, by way of the Mediterranean, Suez Canal, and India, is carried
on by several different companies, the best known of which are the
Peninsular & Oriental Company of England, the Messageries Maritimes of
France, the Norddeutscher Lloyd of Germany, and the Austrian Lloyd of
Austria. Each of these mail lines offers to travellers all that can
be desired in the way of food, quarters, comforts, and facilities for
seeing strange lands and peoples; so the selection of any particular
one must be decided by personal considerations.

The P. & O. (as the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company is
commonly called) is one of the most extensive steamship organizations
in the world, the yearly distance run on all its lines, main and
subsidiary, exceeding 2,500,000 miles. In 1840 the company began the
carrying of English mails in steamers between Alexandria and London,
receiving for this service a subsidy of $160,000 a year. To-day the
fleet numbers 50 vessels, which touch at ports of importance in the
Mediterranean, Egypt, the Indian Ocean, China, Japan, and Australia,
and the subsidy received for the transportation of mails to and from
all these parts is $1,750,000 per annum.

If the traveller wishes to go by this line, he may commence his journey
from either London or Plymouth, cross the Bay of Biscay, where the
chances of getting an ugly sea and perhaps a gale of wind are about
even, and entering the Mediterranean, make Gibraltar his first port,
5 days and 1,300 miles distant from London. A stay of 4 hours will
allow a short run on shore. A drive around the superb Rock is worth the
taking, also a visit to the battery, where the 16-inch 100-ton guns
keep watch over the threshold of the blue sea. Loquacious guides tell
of an under-the-sea tunnel between the fortress and Apes Hill, Africa,
through which monkeys have passed, and that once upon a time five
venturesome sailors started down this subway; three of them soon turned
back, those remaining—but “that is another story.”

[Illustration: Deck Quoits on a P. and O. Liner.]

From Gibraltar the P. & O. steamers steer for Malta, 980 miles away,
generally through a smooth sea, though in winter northwesters blow at
times with great violence off the Sicilian coast, raising a heavy sea
in the channel. In summer the winds are from the southward, hot, humid,
and prostrating, but they are not of frequent occurrence nor of long
duration. On the fourth day the traveller is landed in Valetta, with 8
or 10 hours at his disposal. He should see the interior of the Church
of St. John, where the floor is made of mosaic tablets in memory of
the old knights, each tablet bearing a coat of arms formed by the most
skilful inlaying of marble tiles.

From Malta to Port Said is 935 miles, made in 4 days. In winter there
may be a norther. The traveller has now, after having gone 3,200 miles
in 13 days, reached the port to which all ships bound southward make
their way. Here will be found P. & O. steamers that have come from
Brindisi with the Indian mails, having stopped at Alexandria to ship
them by rail to Suez. This route, known as the Indian Mail, is the
quickest of all between Europe and India. The train service runs from
London to Brindisi in less than 50 hours. From Brindisi, where the
steamer is waiting, and where the mails and passengers are hurried
aboard, the run is made to Alexandria, 825 miles away, in 3-1/2 days.
At Alexandria mails and through passengers are transported by rail to
Suez in 16 hours, and from Suez a steamer leaves for Bombay via Aden,
arriving 12 days later; the whole journey from London to Bombay, 4,020
miles, having taken 18 days.

A second great English line that makes for Port Said is the British
India Steam Navigation Company, incorporated in 1856 to open up the
coasting trade of India. This organization, upon the opening of the
Suez Canal, despatched the first steamer through to London that carried
an Indian cargo. Shortly afterward regular routes were inaugurated
between London, Aden, and the Persian Gulf; and between Aden and the
African coast to Zanzibar. Also a trunk route was established for the
various coasting lines of India, extending from London to Calcutta. A
further extension was begun about ten years ago, when Batavia, Thursday
Island, Brisbane, and Sydney in Australia were added to its itinerary.
The British India Steam Navigation Company employs on its main and
auxiliary routes a fleet of over 100 vessels, large and small, that
traverse about 3,000,000 miles a year.

If the traveller has reached Port Said from Marseilles, he has
doubtless come in the Messageries Maritimes steamer. This great French
undertaking began its first over-sea contract in 1851, carrying mails
as far as Egypt. The next extension of operations was a line to Brazil
and the Rio de la Plata. Finally a mail contract established the
route to India, China, and Australia. To-day the Messageries fleet
comprises 65 superb vessels that have cost about $27,000,000; and the
aggregate distance they steam amounts to 2,520,000 miles every year.
The ships bound for China leave Marseilles and Naples, and make the
ports of Aden, Colombo, Singapore, Saigon, Hong-Kong, and Shanghai. A
second main line stretches from Aden down to the Seychelles Islands,
Mauritius, Melbourne, Sydney, and New Caledonia. The Messageries
Company also operates lines to the West Indies and South America.

To Port Said comes also the Norddeutscher Lloyd Imperial Steamship
Company, better known as the German Mail. The East Asian mail line
of this company was established only in 1886, and is rapidly growing
in importance and favor. The steamers leave Bremen, call at Antwerp,
Southampton, and Genoa, thence through the canal to Aden, Colombo,
Singapore, and Hong-Kong, to Shanghai. The mail route to Australasia
reaches the ports of Adelaide, Melbourne, and Sydney, whence a branch
line leads to the Samoan Islands and Tongatabu. The German Lloyd also
operate a line from Trieste via Brindisi to Alexandria. For carrying
the mails on the above three lines, in accordance with government
stipulations, the German Lloyd receives a subsidy of $1,047,619 per

Some of the other long lines operated by this efficient organization,
which owns more than 75 ocean steamers, are those between Bremen and
the United States, between Bremen and Brazil, and between Bremen and
Montevideo and Buenos Ayres.

_Table of Distances, Days, and Approximate Prices from London Eastward
by Sea to San Francisco._

  From New York to London is 3,000 miles, 7-8 days, and $100.

  From San Francisco to New York by rail is 3,000 miles, 6 days, and

  |     London.      |
  | 1,299|   5 | $45 |   Gibraltar.  |
  |      |     |     +------+--+-----+
  |      |     |     |Miles.|D.|Price|
  |      |     |     +------+--+-----+---------------+
  | 2,280|   9 |  75 |   981| 4| $30 |    Malta.     |
  |      |     |     |      |  |     +------+--+-----+
  |      |     |     |      |  |     |Miles.|D.|Price|
  |      |     |     |      |  |     +------+--+-----+---------------+
  | 3,215|  13 | 100 | 1,916| 8|  60 |   935| 4| $35 |   Port Said.  |
  |      |     |     |      |  |     |      |  |     +---------------+
  |      |     |     |      |  |     |      |  |     |
  |      |     |     |      |  |     |      |  |     +---------------+
  | 4,610|  20 | 125 | 3,311|15| 125 | 2,330|11| 120 |     Aden.     |
  |      |     |     |      |  |     |      |  |     +---------------+
  |      |     |     |      |  |     |      |  |     |
  |      |     |     |      |  |     |      |  |     |---------------+
  | 6,274|  27 | 250 | 4,975|22| 240 | 3,994|18| 220 |    Bombay.    |
  |      |     |     |      |  |     |      |  |     +---------------+
  |      |     |     |      |  |     |      |  |     |
  |      |     |     |      |  |     |      |  |     +---------------+
  | 6,703|  31 | 250 | 5,404|26| 250 | 4,423|22| 240 |    Colombo.   |
  |      |     |     |      |  |     |      |  |     +---------------+
  |      |     |     |      |  |     |      |  |     |
  |      |     |     |      |  |     |      |  |     +---------------+
  | 8,362|  38 | 290 | 7,063|33| 270 | 6,082|29| 250 |  Singapore.   |
  |      |     |     |      |  |     |      |  |     +---------------+
  |      |     |     |      |  |     |      |  |     |
  |      |     |     |      |  |     |      |  |     +---------------+
  | 9,799|  45 | 340 | 8,500|40| 340 | 7,519|36| 340 |   Hong-Kong.  |
  |      |     |     |      |  |     |      |  |     +---------------+
  |      |     |     |      |  |     |      |  |     |
  |      |     |     |      |  |     |      |  |     +---------------+
  |11,601|  53 | 390 |10,302|48| 390 | 9,321|44| 390 |   Yokohama.   |
  |      |     |     |      |  |     |      |  |     +---------------+
  |      |     |     |      |  |     |      |  |     |
  |      |     |     |      |  |     |      |  |     +---------------+
  |16,600|  71 | 590 |15,780|66| 590 |14,800|62| 580 | San Francisco.|

  |    Port Said.    |
  | 1,395|   7 |$120 |     Aden.     |
  |      |     |     +------+--+-----+
  |      |     |     |Miles.|D.|Price|
  |      |     |     +------+--+-----+---------------+
  | 3,059|  14 | 200 | 1,664| 7| $90 |    Bombay.    |
  |      |     |     |      |  |     +------+--+-----+
  |      |     |     |      |  |     |Miles.|D.|Price|
  |      |     |     |      |  |     +------+--+-----+---------------+
  | 3,488|  18 | 230 | 2,093|11| 100 |   875| 4| $40 |    Colombo.   |
  |      |     |     |      |  |     |      |  |     +---------------+
  |      |     |     |      |  |     |      |  |     |
  |      |     |     |      |  |     |      |  |     +---------------+
  | 5,147|  25 | 300 | 3,752|18| 220 | 2,534|11| 130 |  Singapore.   |
  |      |     |     |      |  |     |      |  |     +---------------+
  |      |     |     |      |  |     |      |  |     |
  |      |     |     |      |  |     |      |  |     +---------------+
  | 6,584|  32 | 340 | 5,189|25| 250 | 3,971|18| 190 |   Hong-Kong.  |
  |      |     |     |      |  |     |      |  |     +---------------+
  |      |     |     |      |  |     |      |  |     |
  |      |     |     |      |  |     |      |  |     +---------------+
  | 8,386|  40 | 370 | 6,991|33| 300 | 5,773|26| 240 |   Yokohama.   |
  |      |     |     |      |  |     |      |  |     +---------------+
  |      |     |     |      |  |     |      |  |     |
  |      |     |     |      |  |     |      |  |     +---------------+
  |13,860|  58 | 550 |12,460|51| 450 |10,775|44| 360 | San Francisco.|

  |      Colombo.    |
  | 1,659|   7 | $90 |  Singapore.   |
  |      |     |     +------+--+-----+
  |      |     |     |Miles.|D.|Price|
  |      |     |     +------+--+-----+---------------+
  | 3,096|  14 | 150 | 1,437| 7| $60 |   Hong-Kong.  |
  |      |     |     |      |  |     +------+--+-----+
  |      |     |     |      |  |     |Miles.|D.|Price|
  |      |     |     |      |  |     +------+--+-----+---------------+
  | 4,898|  22 | 200 | 3,239|15| 100 | 1,802| 8| $70 |   Yokohama.   |
  |      |     |     |      |  |     |      |  |     +---------------+
  |      |     |     |      |  |     |      |  |     |
  |      |     |     |      |  |     |      |  |     +---------------+
  | 9,900|  40 | 335 | 8,240|33| 250 | 6,800|26| 200 | San Francisco.|

  |     Yokohama.    |
  | 5,000|  18 | $200| San Francisco.|

The Austro-Hungarian Lloyd’s Steam Navigation Company, the fourth great
main line passing through the Suez Canal, was organized about the year
1840, with 7 steamers for Mediterranean trade. In time, the company
prolonged its lines, until, under a liberal government bounty, routes
were established between Trieste and Hong-Kong, and between Trieste and
Brazil. For the proper performance of all these services the Austrian
Lloyds are paid an annuity by the Government amounting to $800,000. The
fleet, all told, numbers 75 ships, valued at about $10,000,000, and
steams over 1,300,000 miles every year.

Of the different steamship corporations that despatch their vessels
by way of the Suez Canal to Australia, the Orient Steam Navigation
Company of London deserves special mention. In 1878 it founded a
first-class line to Australia, which to-day is a formidable rival of
the Peninsular & Oriental Company, receiving a like subsidy of $425,000
for transporting the mails between Naples and Adelaide in 32 days,
a distance of 9,000 miles. There are many other companies sending
vessels, via the Canal, to India, to China, and to Australasia; on
nearly all of them the traveller can find comfort and good cheer,
should he desire to be longer at sea and longer in port. The names of a
few of the most important of these companies are as follows:

  Under the English flag: the Ducal, the Hall, the Harrison, the Clan,
  the Star, the City, the Direct, the MacIver, and the Anchor lines;
  the National Navigation Company of France; the Navigatione Generale
  Italiana (Italian mail) of Genoa; the Compañia Trasatlantica, from
  Barcelona, Spain; the Nederland India line from Amsterdam; a Russian
  line; and a Turkish line.

Some of these steamers make the east coast of Africa for cargoes; some
go to Australia; some to the Spice Islands, Java and the Philippines;
some go no farther than India; and, finally, some reach Japan, Corea,
and Vladivostock.

[Illustration: Entrance to the Suez Canal at Port Said.]

Port Said, the product of the canal, is built on the flat sands at the
entrance of the Suez Canal. Its harbor, formed by two long breakwaters,
contains one of the largest coaling depots in the world, where vessels
are supplied at the rate of 200 tons an hour. The place is noted for
its wickedness; it abounds in French cafés and dance-halls where
wine, women, and music continue the night long. The traveller should
purchase a white helmet at Port Said; these hats are cheap, and add
considerably to personal comfort.

The steam traffic of the place is enormous; last year 3,389 vessels
traversed the canal. The average time of transit by day is 24 hours;
by night with electric lights it is 19 hours, and has been done in 15
hours. In order to navigate by night, a vessel must light the way by
carrying an electric projector at her bow as close to the water as
possible, and pay the closest attention to the orders from the passing
stations or _gares_. Three white lights shown vertically indicate “slow
down;” then the display of two white lights is the order to stop and
haul in to the _gare_. The steamer presently hauls in, makes fast, puts
out all lights, and lies snug in her berth alongside the desert, while
the oncoming vessel, looking like a locomotive at night, passes by.
One white light from the _gare_ and lines are let go, and the journey
continued until Suez is reached.

Suez is an uninteresting collection of shipping-houses and squalid
native huts, with a few tumble-down mosques. Donkeys and donkey-boys
swarm along the docks, and if the vessel stop an hour or two the
novelty of such a ride may be enjoyed. The heat of the day is intense,
but the nights, especially in the canal, have a “soft, warm witchery”
about them that is delicious.

After leaving Suez the way lies through the Gulf of the same name,
into the Red Sea, where the water is blue, the background light brown,
the hazy atmosphere pink, and the temperature red-hot. Vessels spread
double awnings and hang up side curtains, but there is no escaping
the intolerable heat experienced day and night going down this sea
with the wind aft. Far away to the left, in the dim distance, is the
fast-receding brown peak of Mount Sinai; other well-remembered biblical
places stretch along the indistinct coast line; the ship speeds
southward; the constellations in the blue heavens of night begin to
change; the Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb are passed; and as the four points
of the Southern Cross arise bright and sparkling, the anchor is let go
off Aden, in Arabia.

Aden, on its rocky and bare volcanic peninsula, is the Gibraltar of the
Red Sea. It interests the traveller because of the big black Somalis,
the oily, avaricious Jews, and the thin, ungainly camels moving up and
down the streets. The town is too hot for enjoyment; it is better to
stay on board ship, buy an imitation ostrich feather from a cheating
Jew, and throw coppers into the water for little shave-headed naked
negro boys to dive after.

[Illustration: The Port of Aden, Arabia.]

During a stay of a few hours vessels fill up with coal and fresh
provisions, land a small cargo of naval stores, cotton, and
cotton-twist, and after taking on board coffee (nearly all Mocha is
shipped here), dye-stuffs, feathers, dates, etc., depart for Bombay,
for Colombo, for Australia, and for Africa.

The weather along the highways of the Indian Ocean is generally fair
and warm, with a smooth sea, though, during the southwest monsoon,
from May to September, there is a perceptible swell, and when this
trade-wind sets in, in May, it is sure to bring gales, rain, lightning
and thunder. August is the best summer month for cruising in the Indian
Ocean. The northeast monsoon, the winter trade-wind, is less violent
than the southwest, and has clear skies and a milder temperature.
However, in going round the world, passengers, like ships, should take
their chances with the weather, for having it fair at Bombay may bring
it foul at Calcutta.

[Illustration: A Deck-bath in the Tropics.]

Vessels make Bombay, 1,670 miles eastward of Aden, in 7 days, and go
alongside the docks when the tide permits. The traveller should at once
hurry ashore to gaze with wonder at the infinite variety before him.
For here are congregated Indian princes dressed in flowing robes of
richest colors; Brahmins and Buddhists with turbans of softest texture
bound about their brows; Parsees in long, white, full-skirted coats
and odd-shaped-high hats; Turks in fezzes; Chinamen in silks; Persians
in white trousers, loose alpaca coats, and shako astrakhan hats;
effeminate Cinghalese, Jews, Mohammedans, and Europeans from England,
France, Germany, and Russia. Along the water front pass unceasingly
women, straight as javelins, tall, lithe, and graceful, their breasts
covered by tight sleeveless tunics, their waists and hips wound in
light flowing gauze. Silver bangles adorn their arms and legs, and
rings glisten in their noses and ears, and on their toes and fingers.
Bare-legged, bare-footed, their black hair tucked loosely up upon their
shapely heads, on which are poised high brass water-jugs burnished like
gold, these graceful creatures walk the streets like the queens of an
Oriental fable.

Many lines of vessels converge at Bombay: the P. & O., the British
India, and three or four others of less importance; two French lines,
a German line, the Austrian Lloyd, the Italian Mail, and a Dutch
line, are some of those to be seen during a stay of a fortnight. The
British India offers the largest number of routes to the sight-seeing
traveller. One of its lines leads to Kurrachee, the northern port of
India; another goes to Calcutta, stopping at way ports; a third extends
to Zanzibar and Mozambique, and a fourth reaches places on the Persian
Gulf. This fourth route the tourist should certainly take if he has
the time, though it carry him into the most trying climate imaginable.
Before starting he should get Moore’s “Lalla Rookh,” it can be bought
at an excellent English bookstore in Bombay, and read it on the way, as
some of the scenes are laid in these waters.

The passengers on these Gulf steamers are of as many types as those
seen on Change in Bombay. It is not unlikely that of the twenty or more
who sit down to dinner, no two will be of the same color, costume,
nationality, or religion. Even the crew ceases to be European; Chinamen
usually cook and wait, and Indians handle cargo and work the ship.

About 600 miles and 4 days from, Kurrachee, Ormuz is made, dirty,
dilapidated, with absolutely no remains of its historic wealth. The
first place of importance is Bushire, 300 miles farther up. It is
the principal seaport of Persia, and does considerable trade, long
caravans of camels transporting merchandise to and from the interior.
Persian cats can be got here; a pair offered for $25 was sold finally
for $5; with more time they could have been bought for $2.

From Bushire to Bassorah, on the Euphrates, is 180 miles. A narrow
canal-like stream leads from the river to the native village where
Sindbad the Sailor is said to have roamed. Connection can be made at
Bassorah with a steamboat going up the river past the Garden of Eden, a
disappointing, flat, uncared-for plain, to Bagdad; and thence, by camel
to points in the interior. Steamers in the Persian Gulf trade take in
dates, grain, and wool, leaving cotton fabrics, rice, opium, etc.

On returning to Kurrachee, the traveller would do well to take the
railway to Agra, and the Taj, Benares, and other places, and so back
again to Bombay and the ocean highways.

Henceforth, the character of the passengers on board ship changes
somewhat; many of the Europeans leave for extended tours by rail to
Calcutta and other Indian cities, their places being taken by Parsee
merchants, rich Indians, and enterprising Chinamen, bound away on

The run to Colombo, Ceylon, 875 miles to the southward, is made over
a warm, smooth sea, and on the evening of the fifth day the harbor is
entered. Colombo is a steamship centre where all the vessels of the
long trunk lines rendezvous to coal, provision, exchange passengers
and frequently freight. They come from the four quarters of the globe,
from Calcutta and Bombay in the north, from China and Singapore in the
east, from Australia, Mauritius, and Africa in the south, and from Aden
and the Suez Canal in the west. Colombo has much to attract a traveller
during the 24 or 48 hours the steamer stays, but usually the Oriental
Hotel claims his time and attention, for this is the place of meeting
of all who go upon the waters, and high wassail is apt to be the order
of the night.

The dining-room of the Oriental is the refreshment-room at the
intersection of the chief steam lines of the world. It is, as it were,
the restaurant of a Union depot where everyone must go for a meal; at
its tables travellers from opposite points of the world meet, Chinese
bound for Europe, Englishmen to report for Indian duty, French soldiers
en route for Saigon, and Australians making the grand tour.

If the traveller has stayed in the same ship all the way from London,
he has, by the time he arrives at Colombo, been 30 days _en voyage_
and navigated a distance of 6,700 miles. By whatever line he has come,
he should have enjoyed his life on board ship, for after the first day
or two out from port acquaintances are made that rapidly ripen into
good fellowship. Deck cricket, quoits, and cock-fighting enliven the
forenoons; a novel and a nap wear away the afternoons; an innocent
rubber with the ladies brightens the evenings; a good chorus begins the
nights merrily, and a small game of draw shortens the dying hours.

[Illustration: Promenade Deck of an Orient Liner.]

At Colombo often the best of friends must part, some to stay in the
country, others to go to a different ship; for the choice of routes
is varied, there being some 15 steamship lines radiating hence toward
the attractive countries of Australia, Africa, the Dutch East Indies,
China, Japan, India, and Europe.

The run up the coast from Ceylon past the French settlement of
Pondicherry, where the French steamers touch, to Madras, 614 miles to
the northward, is smooth sailing if the monsoon months of April, June,
November, and December be avoided. A day in port is sufficient for
landing the cargo, brought off in lighters manned by stalwart lascars,
naked except for the narrowest of breech-clouts and the most enormous
of turbans. The traveller, while at Madras, should see the Indian
jugglers, and to do this comfortably, should make arrangements to have
the exhibition held on board ship. Two or three natives, sitting on
the open deck at his feet, place a mango-stone with a handful of dirt
under an old cotton sheet, which, after talking gibberish, they remove,
disclosing a small green sprout about 8 inches high. “Big mango?” is
then inquired by the head juggler; “big mango?” Receiving assent, the
twig is carefully recovered and incantations follow, while the jugglers
slowly raise the centre of the sheet higher and higher, until finally,
on removing it, there stands a mango-bush 5 feet high, bearing fruit
which the juggler will pick and distribute. The trick is worth the $10
it has cost.

From Madras to Calcutta the distance is 770 miles. The most interesting
feature of the journey is the difficult navigation of the Hoogly, or
Calcutta River, under the direction of the skilful pilots; each of whom
brings his own leadsman on board, sometimes two of them, and his own
native servant, so as to be quite independent of the ship and her crew.

The river front of Calcutta is one long wharf with vessels moored in
columns of twos, threes, and fours for a couple of miles. The steamer
traffic is large, nearly 1,000 foreign ships coming and going within a
year, and as many coasting steamers. The import trade is principally
in cotton goods, metals, and malt liquors; the exports are borax, rice,
opium, gums, gunny-cloth, etc.

From Calcutta several short sea routes may be taken to strange
countries: the British India ships go to Rangoon, in Burmah, and then
down the Malay Peninsula to Penang, one of the Strait Settlements.
Penang is on the road from Ceylon to Singapore, and some of the great
liners stop for a couple of hours to take in a mail, some tin, and a
few spices. The harbor is one of singular beauty, but not otherwise of
much interest to the traveller, hurrying on through the picturesque
Straits of Malacca to Singapore.

Singapore is the half-way house on the great highway between India
and China, where all ships, large and small, stop. Its position is a
most important one, not only as a large coaling and docking station,
but to a greater extent as an immense entrepôt for goods, the trade
being largely one of transit. The shipping business done is enormous;
the docks and streets are full of bustle and activity, of hurrying,
running, hard-working Chinese, Javanese, Moluccans, and Europeans,
unmindful of a temperature averaging 86° Fahrenheit.

This town of such activity and go lies almost under the equator, in
latitude 1° 17´ north; its longitude is nearly 104° east; just 12 hours
and 9 minutes ahead of New York, from which city it is separated by
12,000 miles of water, requiring about 43 days of ocean navigation.

Singapore has steam communication with 152 different ports, far and
near. During the year, 3,600 foreign ships enter the harbor, and
nearly the same number clear, representing a shipping movement of
over 5,500,000 tons. The regular liners make connection at Singapore
with the Netherland-India Steamship Company—“De Nederlandsch-Indische
Stoomvaart Maatschappij”—an efficient organization with headquarters
at Batavia, Java. Some of the by-ways of travel over which the tourist
can agreeably saunter by means of the 30 or more good steamers of this
company lead to all the ports on the coasts of the islands of Java,
Sumatra, and Borneo, to the Moluccas, Philippines, Celebes, and so
back to Singapore, where the traveller boards the steamer bound for

The mail, and other full-powered steamships, leaving Singapore for
the northward, head straight up the China Sea for Hong-Kong, 1,435
miles away. During this run of 6 days the most learned discussions are
held concerning the weather. Typhoons are most prevalent from July to
December; from December to May they seldom happen, still they have been
known to occur in every month of the year. The September equinox is a
very precarious period; therefore, if the tourist is anxious to make
sure of smooth weather, he should time his voyaging so as to be in
these waters in early June, when the southwest monsoon is lightest. But
this brings the ship to Hong-Kong at the beginning of the warm weather
and rainy season, whereas the months of December and January are the
most delightful, the mean temperature being 65° F.

In the wet or damp season the traveller must keep watch of his
clothes, books, shoes, etc., or they will get injured by mildew. This
supervision of one’s effects is necessary throughout the entire voyage
around India, the dew at night being penetrating and saturating. Two
serviceable suits of flannel should be taken to be worn alternately, so
that one suit can be drying. Leather shoes, particularly blacked boots,
are damaged by the mould that forms on them when exposed; the proper
foot-gear is the canvas shoe with rubber sole.

Hong-Kong is attractive because of the high peak, 2,000 feet above
the water, the forts half-way down the mountain’s side, and the city
built on the long easy slope running into the capacious bay, where the
wharfs, docks, mooring-buoys, and the like give unmistakable evidences
of the maritime importance of the place. The men at the clubs on shore,
both English and German, will tell the traveller that Hong-Kong ranks
as the fourth port in the world in the amount of shipping that annually
passes through its waters: a few years ago this was estimated to be
above 12,000,000 tons, which, if correct, would give Hong-Kong nearly
as much as New York.

Should the traveller desire to visit China and Japan, he must
disembark at Hong-Kong. This he will do regretfully, for he has become
attached to his ship, her officers, and his messmates. He has been well
and courteously treated throughout a long and at times tedious voyage,
during which everything has been done to make him comfortable and
contented. Really, the main differences existing between the steamers
of the different companies are those of route and time. For instance,
the P. & O. lands the passenger at Hong-Kong, 44 days from London,
via Gibraltar, Malta, the Canal, Bombay, Colombo, and Singapore, a
total distance of 9,800 miles. At every main port touched en route, no
matter by what line, at least 6 hours, oftener 12 or 24 hours, can be
had on shore in which to see the place, and there are no annoyances or
vexations as to custom-house duties or inspections. The M. M. line,
which departs from Marseilles, touches at Naples, and reaches Hong-Kong
via the Canal, Aden, Colombo, Singapore, and Saigon, goes over 8,160
miles of water in 36 days. The German mail, leaving Bremen and Antwerp
and going by way of the Canal via Colombo and Singapore, traverses
10,223 miles in 43 days. The Austrian Lloyd, from Trieste via Bombay,
makes port in 50 days, after a journey of 8,345 miles.

To visit Canton the steamboat should be taken that leaves Hong-Kong
daily. The trip of 7 hours’ duration will be enlivened by the noisy
Chinese passengers on board, and by the numerous Chinese junks
constantly passed as they are going up and down the river under sails
and oars. The traveller will also encounter some Europeans, who will
gladly tell him good stories and put him up at their snug little
club-house on the Shameen, the island connected with Canton, where
the white population resides. Canton should be seen; it is a typical
Chinese city into which modern civilization has made no visible headway.

Returning to Hong-Kong, the water-front offers much that is attractive.
Thousands of junks lie in rows, anchored off the harbor, and thousands
more are moored along the sea-wall; the noise made by the crews of
these boats, beating gongs, firing crackers, singing, shouting,
and burning papers and joss-sticks to their favorite Buddhas, is
pandemonium. On shore coolies trot about in couples, with long
bamboo-poles on their shoulders, transporting chests of tea, silk,
matting, etc., from the junks to the big storehouses and from the
storehouses to the lighters to be towed alongside the steamers, where
the bales are hoisted into the holds.

[Illustration: Landing Passengers at Natal, South Africa.]

At this port the traveller will find a newly organized transpacific
service, running by way of Yokohama to Vancouver, where connection
is made with the Canadian Pacific Railway to Quebec and Halifax, and
thence to London. The line, as at present formed, consists of three
magnificent steamers, sailing monthly. The Empress of India, the
pioneer of the line, made the voyage early in 1891 from Yokohama to
Vancouver in the unprecedented time of 10 days and 15 hours.

Observing the steamers closely, the traveller will discover that one
of them is flying a different flag from those he has been accustomed
to see while on the journey along the great Indian Ocean highway: the
stars-and-stripes belong to one of the vessels of the Pacific Mail
Steamship Company of the United States.

The Pacific Mail Steamship Company was organized in 1847, at the
time of the colonization of the Pacific States, and gained notoriety
by despatching one of its first vessels, the California, from New
York, in 1848, to San Francisco by way of Cape Horn. The successful
termination of this extraordinary performance, in those early days
of steam navigation, enabled the company to inaugurate a steamship
service between Panama and San Francisco. The route thus opened was
from New York to Colon (Aspinwall), and thence across the Isthmus to
Panama, where the steamer was in waiting to run up the Mexican coast to
California. The transpacific route was commenced in 1867, soon after
the opening of the Pacific Railroad, and is now worked in conjunction
with an English line, the Oriental & Occidental.

The traveller bound from Hong-Kong for Yokohama can take either the
Canadian Pacific steamers or the Pacific Mail. If, however, he is
anxious to see the ports of China and Japan before entering on the
great thoroughfare of the Pacific Ocean, he has at his choice several
efficient lines of local and coasting steamers, that will bear him
safely to the different treaty ports and afford him all the time he
will require for sight-seeing.

Most of the European mail lines go to Shanghai, and the coasting lines
of both China and Japan make it a stopping-place. Shanghai is worth a
visit because of the different European ways of living in China. The
city is composed of sections where each nation has established its own
settlement, contiguous to, but quite distinct from, that of any other
nation. There is an American town, an English town, a French town, a
German town, and a Chinese town, each preserving its own language and
society, and as far as possible its own architecture.

The Mitsu Bishe line of steamers, the Nippon Yusen, and two or three
others, ply between the ports of Japan along the really beautiful
inland passage, and up the Japan Sea. If one be interested in Japanese
ceramics, swords, armor, and antiquities, he should take this way trip;
eventually bringing up at Yokohama, whence a railway ride of an hour
will land him in Tokio.

At Yokohama passage is secured for San Francisco, 5,000 miles to the
eastward, across the broadest part of the Pacific Ocean. This route
is one of the longest direct lines between two places that is steamed
over by the ships of any company. It is a dull and monotonous voyage;
nothing but blue water for 18 days, no land is seen, no strange sail
sighted, rarely even do gales of wind blow hard enough to make things
lively. The cabin passengers are principally Americans returning to
their native land, a few Englishmen making the round of the world,
a couple of Australians full of talk of the greatness of their own
country and sceptical as to the advance and improvement of any other;
some Japanese, curious, polite, intelligent; one or two rich Chinamen
who keep to themselves, and a sprinkling of other nationalities. This
heterogeneous crowd gets on well together, plays cards, makes pools on
each day’s run, discusses the 180th meridian question, as to why the
week is one day longer than seven, jokes, laughs, reads, smokes, and

The steerage passengers are mostly Chinamen returning to California
after a visit home. Special accommodations are fitted for them. Not
infrequently the Chinese in large numbers take passage on the Pacific
Mail to be landed at Honolulu. This will give the traveller a day in
port, when he should go on shore to enjoy Sandwich Island hospitality,
and see the Hoola-hoola—a native dance that must be prearranged and
paid for, since it is interdicted by the Government because of its
supposed demoralizing influence—on the native. After a voyage of 2,000
miles in 7 days to the northeast, the steamer enters the Golden Gate,
and passes up to the city of San Francisco. A six-day run by railroad,
and the traveller is once again back in New York.

The whole distance travelled by the way described is, in round numbers,
23,000 miles, and the time taken to do this may have been but 80 or 90
days, or more; the longer the better, for it requires plenty of time
to enjoy a trip around the world. It also requires money. About $1,000
would be necessary for passage money alone; double this amount would
be sufficient to take the traveller in comfort and ease, and upon his
arrival home he would consider it money admirably spent.

       *       *       *       *       *

The traveller reaching San Francisco by the above highway of
circumnavigation can further add to his knowledge of strange countries
by selecting a sea journey to New York, instead of a land run by
railroad across the continent. To go by sea passage must be secured
on board a Pacific Mail coasting steamer, the only line running to
Mexico, Central America, and Panama. Steaming down the beautiful coast
of California, stopping at picturesque harbors in Mexico, anchoring
off roadsteads of Central America, taking on and off a few passengers,
an Englishman, a German, an American, handling cargo—such is the rough
log of the cruise of 20 days and 3,200 miles until the splendid Bay of
Panama is reached. The eight or ten ports of call are better seen from
the ship than from the shore. The enchantment of distance gives way
upon close examination to pity and disgust, for dirt, indigence, and a
total ignorance of how to live decently are noticeable everywhere.

At Panama two widely different routes leading to the United States are
offered: the one goes over the Isthmus of Panama by rail and thence to
New York by sea; the other stretches away down the west coast of South
America, through the Straits of Magellan, and up the Atlantic highway.

By the first route the railway journey over the 45 miles of land
separating the Pacific from the Atlantic Ocean, crosses, recrosses, and
runs beside the deserted canal, affording ocular proof of the failure
of the scheme. At both Panama and Colon the same appearance of being
left is noticeable. The business of the two ports is one of transit
only, but is sufficiently great to furnish employment to some thousands
of Americans and Jamaicans.

Nearly a dozen steamship lines leave Colon for ports in the United
States, Europe, the West Indies, and the neighboring coasts, and by
one or two of them the traveller can run up to Greytown, where he will
have an opportunity to see the Nicaraguan Canal. This canal, when
completed, will make important changes in existing routes between the
United States and Europe at one end of the line, and the west coast of
the American Continent, China, Japan, and Australasia at the other. For
instance, the route from London to Sydney is 12,500 miles, via the Suez
Canal; by the Nicaraguan Canal the distance will be less than 12,000
miles. And if the lengths of the routes from the Atlantic seaboards
to the Pacific seaboards, both east and west, be compared with those
now followed, the great saving by the Nicaraguan gateway becomes still
more apparent. Returning to Colon, the traveller boards the north-bound
steamer, and lands in New York, 2,000 miles distant, in 8 days.

It may be, however, that the traveller decides upon proceeding by the
second route, leading from Panama to New York. If so, he books on
board a steamer belonging to the Pacific Steam Navigation Company of
England, a powerful organization having the contract for carrying the
mails, and controlling almost exclusively the Isthmian trade to and
from South America. The ships of the Company run into all the ports of
consequence on the west coast, and the lines extend from Valparaiso
by way of Magellan Straits to the river Plate and Brazil ports, and
thence to Lisbon and England. An important point for consideration in
connection with this southern trip is the probability of there being a
revolution in progress in some of the countries to be visited, which
might interfere with going on shore.

At length the steamer leaves Panama, and the passenger for the United
States begins his long journey. His companions are very few, South
Americans, principally, bound for ports along the coast, so he is left
to his own resources. He can read, and lounge, and make good friends
with the officers of the ship, who are Englishmen. At night he can
stretch out in his steamer chair and dream away the warm hours gazing
at the “majestical roof fretted with golden fire.”

From Panama to Valparaiso, some 3,100 miles, 25 ports are touched at,
which, Callao excepted, are of no special interest. Callao, the seaport
of Peru, is in itself unattractive, the town and the people are dirty;
the empty docks, the lazy inhabitants, the atmosphere of _laissez
aller_, confirm the opinion that the place and all around it have
had their day. From Callao the traveller should go to Lima, 7 miles
distant by rail, and take the Oroya Railway to the top of the Andes,
15,000 feet above the sea-level: the wonderful engineering ability
displayed in constructing this road will prove quite as impressive as
the truly magnificent mountain scenery. Two days will suffice to make
the excursion and bring him back to Lima, an old Spanish city with many
interesting corners. The cathedral should be visited; in the crypt lie
the bones of the great Pizarro. A dirty Cholo shows them. Reverently
pulling aside a ragged curtain from before a dingy stone bench, he
exclaims, “Behold the bones of Francisco Pizarro!” Their state of
perfect preservation and symmetry of arrangement might incline one to
doubt the truth of the statement.

[Illustration: The Port of Valparaiso in a Norther.]

Leaving Callao, en route for Valparaiso, the steamer makes several
ports; some of them interesting because of the recent war operations,
but otherwise they had better be viewed from the ship’s deck, for the
same low adobe dwellings and squalid existence characterize them all.
After 11 days of pleasant weather Valparaiso is reached. Valparaiso is
built on several hill slopes running to the water from a high ridge
back of the city. It is a place of great activity; the docks are piled
high with freight, the people move about with spirit, the harbor is
full of ships, and there is that general air which betokens financial
soundness and commercial prosperity. The streets are noticeably clean,
the buildings are of good architecture, the stores are inviting, and
the frequently recurring signs in English, French, and German, and
the people met, are indicative of the cosmopolitan nature of the

The Bay of Valparaiso is open to the northward, from which point the
heavy gales blow, raising a long rolling sea that works considerable
damage to shipping. Steamers weigh and stand out when these blows come

Valparaiso has connection, via Magellan Straits, with Montevideo, 2,750
miles distant, by means of four or five lines of good steamships. The
P. S. N.—as the Pacific Steam Navigation Company is called—runs vessels
over this route. So do the Cosmos and Hamburg Companies, German lines;
there are besides French and Italian lines.

Since leaving Panama, 21 days ago, the weather along the Pacific
highway has been uniformly pleasant—for northers are infrequent—the
breezes have been light and warm from the southward, the sea long
and smooth, and the ship seldom out of sight of the bare sandy hills
running along the shore, or the towering Andes stretching away in the
background. To the south from Valparaiso, however, this changes. It
grows colder, the sea gets rougher, and by the time the Gulf of Peñas,
the entrance to the inside passage, is reached, the chances are it
will be thick and unsettled, with every prospect of a foul gale. When
the storm breaks it is tremendous; in no other part of the world do
winds blow harder or seas rise higher; lofty ships carry low sails
hereabouts, and steamers frequently have to lie to.

The mad ocean is left astern when the ship enters the inside passage
leading along the coast of Patagonia and the Straits of Magellan. Here
the scene is one of unparalleled magnificence. High bare walls of
stone, towering barren cliffs, lofty snow-capped peaks, weather-scarred
mountains down whose furrowed sides extend steel-blue glaciers—all
reveal nature in her most majestic and awe-inspiring form.

From Sandy Point, a small settlement midway in the strait, where coal
can be obtained, to Cape Virgins, 150 miles beyond, the lay of the land
is less varied and attractive. At the Cape the ship enters on the
tempestuous Atlantic highway, and heads northward for Montevideo, 1,300
miles away. Five days later the anchor is let go about 3 miles off the
city. The traveller must remember, when going on shore at Montevideo,
that pamperos blow frequently, raising a nasty cross-sea which makes
boating very uncertain. Several well-known lines of foreign vessels
make Montevideo a port of call; among them the Messageries Maritimes;
the North German Lloyds, the Austro-Hungarian Lloyds, and the Italian
Mail. Of the many other lines, English, French, German, Italian,
Spanish, and Brazilian, to be seen in the harbor, none is of more
importance than the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company, of Southampton.
In 1842 this steamship company was the first that carried mails to the
West Indies from Europe. It began the Brazilian and River Plate (Rio
de la Plata) mail service in 1850. To-day its routes include the West
India Islands, Mexico, and Central and South America.

The regular liners to Montevideo, and the several local and coasting
steamers, come to off Buenos Ayres, 100 miles to the southeastward. The
extensive harbor works, for the purpose of making the city a deep-water
port, at once excite admiration. Both Montevideo and Buenos Ayres
are attractive cities of regular streets, many substantial houses,
public buildings with Italian marble façades, Spanish cathedrals,
and extensive suburbs of handsome residences surrounded by beautiful
gardens. The mean temperature of the two places, 63°, corresponds with
that of Palermo and Rome. The business of Montevideo is good, the
imports of merchandise, machinery, and manufactured articles exceeding
$22,000,000, and the exports of hides, horns, wool, and beef being
valued at $15,000,000. The trade of Buenos Ayres is much larger, the
imports being valued at $88,000,000, the exports at $65,000,000.

The traveller for Rio Janeiro can take a coasting line if he desires
to visit southern Brazil; otherwise, any one of the big mail ships
will make the run of 1,150 miles in 6 days. The port of Rio, large,
deep, and the most beautiful in the world, is entered by a channel a
mile and a half wide, defended by forts. Inside the bay is 17 miles
long by 10 miles broad. The town is most attractive from the water.
It is especially picturesque at night, when the arrangement of the
innumerable gas-lights distinctly outlines the entire city, built on
a gentle incline toward the bay. The streets are narrow, badly paved,
and not over-clean. The traveller will find that he can get on well
enough if he talk French, for there is a certain French air about
the community. Many of the stores have French signs, nearly all the
shopkeepers speak French, it is the language of the hotel clerks, the
opera bouffe sings it, and the black-eyed señoritas murmur it.

Rio is connected with Europe by 12 regular lines of steamships, and
with the United States by 3. New York being the traveller’s objective
port, he should take passage on board one of the vessels of the United
States & Brazil Mail Steamship Company, flying the American flag. Since
leaving Panama, 40 odd days ago, the tourist has steamed over 7,000
miles of ocean highway, yet throughout all this time and distance, he
has never once seen the stars-and-stripes. The ships of the United
States & Brazil Mail Steamship Company are despatched monthly from Rio,
making stops at Bahia, Pernambuco, Maranham, and Para in Brazil. At
Para a most interesting route is offered by regular steamers running
up the Amazon to Manaos, 1,000 miles away; thence, irregular vessels
go 2,000 miles farther. From Para the United States & Brazil Company
makes Barbadoes, of the Windward Isles, in 5 days—a healthy, delightful
winter resort, where a mean daily temperature of 80° is tempered by the
steady northeast trade-winds.

The weather along the Atlantic highway, from the river Plate to the
Windward Islands, is for the most part fine, clear, and warm, with
occasional rain-squalls when on the line, and possibly a stiff blow
when rounding Cape St. Roque. Excepting the pleasure incident to being
at sea, there is little to excite the traveller, for the passengers
are few, Americans and South Americans, and are not addicted to
much amusement. Lounging, reading, smoking, and walking the deck,
conversation and cards pass the time.

At Barbadoes the traveller enters the waters of the West India Islands.
These islands present a great contrast to South America, not only in
physical features, but in weather and population. During the winter
months the northeast trades blow at times with force enough to raise a
rough sea. During the summer season hurricanes are to be feared. The
differences of race characteristics are more noticeable than those of
the weather. Instead of the lazy, polite, cruel South Americans, the
traveller encounters the ubiquitous West Indian darky, celebrated for
his insolence, chaff, and annoying persistence.

From Barbadoes the steamer shapes her course for the Island of St.
Thomas, a day’s run of 300 miles. St. Thomas is a place of great
shipping activity. It communicates with Europe by lines running to
England, France, Germany, and Spain. It is the West India head-quarters
of the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company, and the central point from
which branch lines radiate that will take the traveller to any or all
of the islands, as he desires.

Now that the West Indies, the Bahamas, and Cuba are growing in favor as
winter resorts, the lines and routes of steamers from the West Indies
are many and various. For instance, to reach New York the Clyde and
Atlas lines sail from Hayti; the New York Cuba line from Cuba and the
Bahamas; the New York & Porto Rico line from St. Johns; the Red D line
from Curaçao and Colombian ports; the Quebec Steamship Company from St.
Kitts and other Windward Islands and Bermuda; the Atlas, Honduras, &
Central America and Wessels lines from Jamaica, and the Trinidad line
from Port of Spain, Grenada, and Guiana. The Plant line from Jamaica
lands the traveller in Tampa, Fla., a place in communication with
Havana, as is New Orleans.

If, however, the traveller has taken none of these minor routes, but
stayed by the United States & Brazil steamer at St. Thomas, he is
landed in New York, 1,450 miles distant, in 6 days.

The whole voyage from San Francisco around the American continent to
New York, along the ocean highways commonly navigated by the larger
steamships, is 16,500 miles long. The time taken to make this distance
is about 100 days. The cost of the journey for tickets, transfers, and
unavoidable delays is $1,000; $2,000 will enable the passenger to do it

[Illustration: Steamer at Anchor, Simon’s Bay, Cape of Good Hope.]

The traveller from New York has been gone from start to finish, by the
ocean highways to Europe, India, China, San Francisco, South America,
and back to New York, nearly 200 days; has steamed over about 40,000
miles of water, and has spent $4,000. He has learned that there are
other lands and other peoples than his own worthy his admiration and
study. Let him take a year and $5,000 for this rounding the world, and
he will be better satisfied and better informed, and appreciate more
fully that “going to sea clears a man’s head of much nonsense of his

       *       *       *       *       *

The fourth great ocean thoroughfare, the route around the Cape of Good
Hope to Africa, Australia, and the East, is traversed by many fine
steamers. The way lies from Europe via Madeira, Cape Verd, St. Helena,
West Africa, and Cape Town, thence to East Africa via Mauritius to
Australia, whence the Occident line leaves for New Zealand, Samoa,
Sandwich Islands, and San Francisco. This long route covers 30,000
miles. To reach the Cape, 6,000 miles from England, the two well-known
English mail lines, the Union Steamship Company and the Castle Mail
Packets Company offer the most attractive routes; the steamer service
of both is of the highest order. The time out is 18 days, the fare
about $180.

Two English lines, the New Zealand Shipping Company and the Shaw,
Savill & Albion Company deserve special mention, because the route they
follow gives the longest possible stretch of ocean navigation, each
vessel making a complete circuit of the world on the round voyage. The
fleet of each company comprises 5 large, well-appointed steamships,
despatched alternately every two weeks over the following route: From
Plymouth to Teneriffe, 1,420 miles in 5 days, where a stay of 6 hours
for coaling gives opportunity for a trip on shore. Then a run of 4,450
miles in 15 days brings the steamer to Cape Town, where an 8 or 10 hour
stay is made. Passengers for African ports transfer here. From Cape
Town a run of 5,400 miles in 17 days brings the steamer to Hobart,
where Tasmanian and Australian passengers leave the vessel. After a few
hours in this beautiful harbor a 4 days’ run of 1,270 miles lands the
traveller in Wellington, New Zealand.

For the homeward voyage a course is shaped for Cape Horn, a 14 days’
run. Once around this point the ship makes Rio, 22 days and 6,820 miles
distant from Wellington. The next port of call is Teneriffe, 3,360
miles and 12 days distant, whence a 5 days’ run is sufficient to cover
the 1,420 miles that again lands the traveller in Plymouth, after
having been gone 81 days and travelled over 25,150 miles. The price of
a ticket over this longest of great sea routes is about $650.


[20] The table is from Lloyd’s Register, 1890-91.


  Aaron Manby, the, first iron steamship, 14.

  Accommodation, the, first steamboat on the St. Lawrence, 5.

  Adelaide, the, a famous clipper ship, 225.

  Aden, 270.

  Agents, steamship, at home and abroad, 132.

  Aller, the, 40.

  America, the, as a freight carrier, 233.

  American enterprise in first establishing long ocean routes, 253.

  Anchor, heaving the, 156.

  Anchor line, the, 243.

  Arctic, the, loss of, 26.

  Arizona, the, 36.
    collision of, with an iceberg, 203.
    speed of, 229.

  Atlas line, the, 243.

  Austro-Hungarian Lloyd Steam Navigation Company, 264.

  Banana trade, the, 240, _et seq._
    receipts of bananas in 1890, 243.

  Barges, coaling, 248.

  Bassorah, 273.

  Bayonne, the, a tank steamer, record of, 245.

  Bennett, James Gordon, Sr., a passenger on the Sirius’s first return
      voyage, 217.

  Bill of fare of a transatlantic liner, 137.
    required by the British Government, 143.

  Black Ball line. See _Marshall, C. H., & Co._

  Black Star line. See _Grimshaw & Co._

  Black Star line, old. See _Guion line_.

  Boat drill on shipboard, 181.

  Boilers, tubular, the first, 33.

  Bombay, description of, 271.
    steamship lines converging at, 272.

  Bothnia, the, 35.

  Bramah, Joseph, proposes the plan of a screw propeller, 17.

  Bramwell, Sir Frederick, 36.
    his comparison of an ancient galley to an Atlantic liner, 108.

  Breadstuffs and provisions, value of export of, in 1890-91, 224.

  Britannia, the first of the Cunard ships to sail for America, 21.
    her dimensions, 22, 31, 73.
    the pioneer of the Cunard line, 118.

  Britannic, the, 35.
    description of, 73.
    average speed of, 77.

  British India Steam Navigation Company, the, 263.

  Brown, Wm. H., builder of the Collins vessels, 26.

  Brunel, designer of the Great Western, 10.
    and of the Great Britain, 19.
    plans the Great Eastern, 30.

  Buenos Ayres, 288.

  Bulkheads and double bottoms in steamships, 206.

  Bureau Veritas, exhibit of, at the Liverpool naval exhibition, 4.

  Burns, Mr. George, 12.

  Bushire, 272.

  Calcutta, first steamship to arrive in, 255.

  California, early sea travel to, 254.

  Callao, 284.

  Canton, 278.

  Castle Mail Packets Company, 292.

  Cattle ships, loading of, 248.
    cost of shipping cattle, 251.

  Caulking an iron ship, 102.

  Charles W. Wetmore, the, the “whaleback,” description of, 234,
      _et seq._

  Checking of baggage, system of transatlantic, 131, 141.

  China, the, 32.

  Chinese passenger traffic to California, 281.

  City of Berlin, the, 35.

  City of Glasgow, the, 73, 124.

  City of New York, the, 42.
    highest average speed made by, 129.

  City of Paris, the, 42.
    description of, 74.
    bulkhead system of, 206.
    as a record breaker, 229.

  City of Rome, the, rejected by the Inman Company, 93.

  Clermont, the, speed of, 68.
    description of, 70.

  Clipper ships, famous, 225.
    early American, 254.

  Clyde, Firth of the, 95.

  Coal, consumption of, on steamers, 39, 44, 67.
    reduced by the employment of improved engines, 87.

  Coaling ocean steamers, 248.

  Coal-trimmers, feast of, 175.

  Coastwise steamships, lines of, 223.

  Collins, Mr. E. K., founder of the Collins line, 120.

  Collins line, establishment of, 25, 121.
    vessels of, 20, 31, 121.
    rates of, 122.
    bankruptcy of, 27, 122.

  Colombo, 273.

  Columba, the, 72.

  Comet, the, model of, 3.
    description of, 5, 70, 96.

  Compagnie Générale Transatlantique, the, establishment of, 25, 43.
    freight capacity of ships of, 218.

  Condenser, surface, 32.

  Conveniences and luxuries of transatlantic travel, 137, _et seq._

  Cotton, value of export of, 224.

  Cufic, the, tonnage of, 230.

  Cunard, Mr. Samuel, 12, 118.

  Cunard line, foundation of, 12.
    first fleet of, 21, 118.
    a monopoly at the start, 120.
    freight capacity of their largest ships, 218.

  Demologos the, Fulton’s war steamer, description of, 5.

  Distances, prices, etc., from London to San Francisco eastward, table
      of, 265.

  Draught, forced, 88.

  Dreadnaught, the, a famous clipper ship, 225.

  Duchess of Hamilton, the, 71.

  Eider, the, rapid freighting of, 247.

  Elder, John, & Co., introduce the compound engine, 34, 40.

  Elevators, floating capacity of, 239.

  Engineer force on a large steamship, duties, 173.

  Engine-room of a steamship, 170.

  Engines, marine, of the Great Britain, 19, 33, 36.
    triple expansion, 39, 46.
    compound, 68, 87.

  Enterprise, the, first steamship to arrive in India, 7, 255.

  Ericsson, John, shows the practicability of the screw propeller, 14.

  Esmeralda, the, wave-action in the case of, 48.

  Etruria, the, best voyage of, 77.
    timely arrival of, 252.

  Evans, Oliver, advocates high pressures, 33, 35.

  Export business in 1890 from the principal Atlantic ports, 224.

  Fairfield, ship-yard, description of, 104.

  “Fairing the ship,” 98.

  Fastnet light, 194.

  Ferry-boat, the New York, 3.

  Fire-drill on a steamship, 154.

  Firemen on the ocean steamships, 44.

  Florio line, the, 243.

  Fog at sea, dangers of, 186.
    narrow escapes in, 189, _et seq._

  Forbes, Mr. R. B., of Boston, builds screw steamers for transatlantic
      trade, 24.

  Freighters, as a class of ocean steamships, 226, 233.

  Freights, ocean, rate of, 251.
    volume of, 224.
    how handled, 246.

  Froude, Mr. W., investigations of, on the best forms for ships, 46,

  Fruit steamship, the, 239, _et seq._
    description of, 240.

  Fulton, the maker of the first successful steamboats, 2, 5.
    first war steamer designed by, 5.

  Germanic, the, 35, 74.

  Gibraltar, description of, 260.

  Glasgow & New York Steamship Co., 125.

  Glasgow, the shipbuilders of, 96.

  Grain-carrying, vessels designed for, 234, _et seq._

  Great Britain, the, building of, 13.
    details of, 19.
    fate of, 20.

  Great Eastern, the, 30.

  Great Western, the, 72.
    description of, 10.
    her voyage to New York and return, 11, 113, 117.
    her career and end, 12.
    built of iron and with a screw, 14.

  Great Western Steamship Company, formation of, 7.
    Brunel the founder of, 9.

  Grimshaw & Co.’s line, 113.

  Guion line, establishment of, 25, 113.
    steamers of, lost between Fastnet and Liverpool, 195.
    the freight capacity of, 218.

  Hamburg-American line, ships of, 43.
    their freight capacity, 218.

  Henderson, Thomas, self-cleaning fire-bars of, 89.

  Henriette, Princesse, the, description of, 70.

  Honduras & Central American line, the, 243.

  Hong-Kong, 277.

  Hoogly River, navigation of, 275.

  Horse-power, 64.
    increase of, not in proportion to increase in size of vessel, 67.

  Howden, James, forced draught process of, 88.

  Hulls, Jonathan, pamphlet of, on propelling boats by steam, 1.

  Hydrographic Bureau, charts issued by, 199.

  Ice at sea, perils of, 198, _et seq._

  Icebergs, origin and dangers of, 200.

  Immigrant passenger traffic, proportions of, 147.
    how handled, 148.

  Impérieuse, the, 63.

  India, short route to, from Europe, 255.

  Inman line, ships of, 42.
    beginning of the, 122.
    the first to use the screw propeller and to carry steerage
      passengers, 124.

    the freight capacity of the largest ships of, 218.

  Iron vessels, the first, 13.
    Thomas Wilson, the first builder of, 14.

  Japanese steamship lines, 281.

  John Randolph, the, first iron vessel in the United States, 13.

  Kirk, Mr. A. C., triple expansion engines of, 39.

  Kurrachee, 272.

  Laird, Mr. J., 11.
    builder of the first iron vessels on a large scale, 13.

  Laird, Mr. McGregor, estimate of coal consumption in steam
      navigation, 9.

  Lardner, Dr., his declaration of the impossibility of steam
      navigation, 7.

  Lima, 284.

  Liverpool, New York, & Philadelphia Steamship Co. See _Inman line_.

  Log, patent, 213.

  London, table of distances and prices from and to San Francisco, 265.

  Madras, 275.

  Mails, accommodations for, on ocean steamships, 230, _et seq._
    sorting, on board ship, 231.
    largest European, brought by the Servia, 231.

  Majestic, the, fast trip of, 44.
    description of, 74.
    breaks the record, 229.

  Marshall, C. H., & Co.’s line, 113, 120.

  Marshall, Mr. F. C., paper of, 36.

  Mary Whitredge, the, a famous clipper ship, 225.

  Maudslay & Field, builders of marine engines, 11.

  McIver, Mr. David, 12.

  McKinley bill, influence of, on freight rates, 251.

  Mediterranean fruit trade, the, 243.

  Merchandise, value of export of, in 1890-1891, 244.

  Messageries Maritimes, the fleet of, 264.

  Miller, Patrick, 68.

  Mirehouse, Captain John, 144.

  Models of British boats, display of, 2, 4.

  Molasses ship, the, 246.

  Montevideo, 288.

  National line, the establishment of, 25.
    as a freight carrier, 233.

  Naval Exhibition, at Liverpool, in 1886, 2.
    models of Italian and French ships at, 4.
    at London, 4.

  Netherland-India Steamship Company, 276.

  New York & Havre Steam Navigation Co., 120.

  New Zealand Shipping Company, 292.

  Nomadic, the, carried the largest amount of freight, 233.

  Noon position of the ship, finding the, 179.

  North German Lloyd, establishment of, 25.
    ships of, 43.
    freight capacity of the express steamships of, 218.
    rapid handlers of freight, 247, 264.

  Observations for latitude at sea, 176.

  Ocean Steam Navigation Co., the, 120.

  Oceanic Company. See _White Star line_.

  Officers of a steamship, 152, _et seq._

  Oil for calming troubled waters, use of, 213.

  Oregon, the, sinking of, 51, 198.

  Orient Steam Navigation Company, 266.

  Ormuz, 272.

  Pacific Mail Steamship Company, the, ships of, 29, 243, 280.

  Pacific Steam Navigation Company of England, 23, 283.

  Packet lines, the Liverpool, 255.
    to Australia, 254.

  Paddle-steamer, high-water mark of, 31.

  Paddle-wheel compared with screw, 79.
    when necessary, 80.

  Panama, 283.

  Parker, Mr., his comparison of triple expansion engines with ordinary
      ones, 39.

  Passenger capacity of the early steamships, 114.
    accommodations then, 119.
    and now, 127.

  Passenger lists, 131.

  Passengers, cabin, statistics of, 133.

  Pearce, Sir William, of the Fairfield ship-yard, 110.

  Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company, the, 23, 260.
    an imaginary trip by, 260.

  Persia, the, description of, 31.

  Plimsoll, Samuel, 251.

  Polyphemus, H.B.M.S., 59.

  Princeton, the, description of, 23.

  Propellers, failure of, internal, 83.
    material of, 214.

  Puritan, the, 71.

  Quarantine regulations, 142.

  Quartermasters, duties of, 164.

  Randolph Elder & Co. See _Elder, John, & Co._

  Red Sea, the passage through, 269.

  Refrigerators on steamships, 232.

  Rio Janeiro, 288.

  Ruthven’s hydraulic propeller, 83.

  Saale, the, 40.

  Said, Port, harbor of, 263, 266.
    traffic of, 269.

  Sailors, on a steamship, 165, _et seq._
    messes of, 174.

  Savannah, the first steamship to cross the ocean, 8.

  Scotia, the, 31, 32, 73.

  Screw propeller, used by Ericsson, 16.
    invented or proposed by others, 17, _et seq._
    early prejudice against, 79.
    compared with paddle-wheel, 79.
    twin screws, 43, 80, 209, 212.
    triple screws, 80.
    form and nature of, 84.
    instances of change of form, 85.

  Scythia, the, 35.

  Servia, the, largest mail brought by her, 231.

  Shaft, breaking of a steamer’s, 210.

  Shanghai, 280.

  Shaw, Savill & Albion Company, the, 292.

  Ship, investigations into the resistance of a, in motion, 46, 63.

  Ships, forms of, how judged of, 62.
    life of, 55.
    speed of, visionary schemes to increase, 58.
    the speed of, primary conditions for, 61.

  Singapore, 276.

  Sirius, the, first steamer to cross from Europe to New York, 11, 112.

  Skin of ship, frictional resistance of, 46, 86.

  Smith, Thomas Pettit, invents a screw propeller, 17, 18.

  Sorting mails on shipboard, 231.

  South Stack lighthouse, 194.

  Sovereign of the Seas, the, quick run of, 254.

  Specie-room on a steamship, 231.

  Speed of ship, schemes to increase, 58.
    conditions for, 61.
    increases safety, 204.

  Standard Oil Co., the, tank steamers of, 245.
    “Steam lanes,” 215.

  Steamboat had at first the greatest use in America, 4, 28.

  Steamship, a first-class, cost of, 92.
    construction of, first stages, 97, _et seq._
    variability of results in its construction, 93.
    lines, number and statistics of, 135, _et seq._
    records of fast trips of, 130.
    passenger, table fare of, 136.
    incoming, how signalled, 142.
    hauling out a, 149.
    expert seamanship required to manage a, 150.
    officers, junior, 163.
    fire drill on, 154.
    care of, at sea, 159.
    crew of, 165.
    inspection of, 170.
    travel, perils of, 186, _et seq._
    wrecked, list of, 195, _et seq._
    burned at sea, 197.
    speed of increases safety, 204.
    safety of, 205, _et seq._
    freight and passenger, 217.

  Steamships, the fastest, cost of, 218.
    list of transatlantic, 219.
    routes long, first established by Boston merchants, 253;
      to India, China, and Australia, list of, 266;
      traffic main of, 256.
    number and nationality of, 256.
    lines of transatlantic, 259.
    between Europe and the East, 260.

  Steel, use of, in naval construction, 54.
    industry in the United States, 56, 86.

  Steerage passengers, fare of, 143.
    inspection of, 144.

  Steering gear, steam, 164.

  Stevens, Mr., of Hoboken, experiments of, with the screw
      propeller, 18.
    return tubular boilers built by, 33.

  Stockton, Commodore Robert F., orders screw boats of Ericsson, 17.

  Stoke-hole of a steamship, 171.

  Stokers, at work, 172.
    their quarters, 175.

  Suez Canal, passage of, 269.

  Sunday on steamship, 142.

  Tank steamers, 243, _et seq._

  Tapscott’s line, 213.

  Teutonic, breaks the record, 44, 129, 229.
     tonnage of, 230.

  Thomas Powell, the, 34.

  Tonnage of the United States in 1829 and subsequently, 7.
    of London and Liverpool, 8.
    of foreign and domestic ships in 1890, 223.
    steam, in the United States and Great Britain, 53.

  Tow-boats, statistics of, 223.

  Tramp steamships, tonnage of, in 1890-91, 223.
    description of, 234.

  Trave, the, 40.
    largest mail carried by her, 230.

  Travel, transatlantic, increasing, 134.

  Trevithick opposed by Watt, 77.

  Triple-expansion engines, the first, 39.

  Tripoli, Cunard steamer, loss of, 195.

  Twin screws, 43.
    safety secured by the system of, 209.
    steamers having, 212.

  Unicorn, the, first steamship to enter Boston from Europe, 118.

  Union Steamship Company, the, 292.

  United States and Brazil Mail Steamship Company, 289.

  Valparaiso, 284.

  Vanderbilt, Commodore, starts a line of transatlantic steamers, 124.

  Ville du Havre, loss of, 197.

  Water, resistance of, to a moving vessel, 46, 48, 63.

  Waterwitch, the, experiments with, 83.

  Watt, proposes a spiral oar, 17.
    his prejudice against steam applied to marine propulsion, 77.

  Wave-action in the case of ships at full speed, 46, _et seq._

  Waves produced by a ship in motion, 47, 61.

  West Indies, steamship lines touching at, 290.

  “Whaleback” steamer, description of, 234.

  Wheelwright, William, the instigator of Pacific Steam
    Navigation Co., 23.

  White Star line, establishment of, 25.
    build a new type of ship, 35.
    conveniences for passengers in, 126.
    the freight capacity of the largest ships of, 218.
    influence of, on ocean navigation, 230.

  Williams & Guion. See _Guion line_.

  Wilson line, the, as freight carriers, 219.

  Wilson, Thomas, builds the first iron vessel, 14.

  World, a trip round the, 256, _et seq._

  Wrecked steamships, list of, 195, _et seq._

  Wyckoff, Chevalier, a passenger on the Sirius’s return voyage, 117.

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