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Title: A Letter to the Kensington Canal Company on the Substitution of the Pneumatic Railway for the common Railway - by which they contemplate extending their line of conveyance
Author: Vallance, John
Language: English
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Transcribed from the 1833 George Wightman edition by David Price, email

                   [Picture: Public domain book cover]

                      THE KENSINGTON CANAL COMPANY,
                                  ON THE
                          FOR THE COMMON RAILWAY


                             BY JOHN VALANCE.

                                * * * * *

                                * * * * *

                     PRINTED BY ORDER OF THE COMPANY.

                                * * * * *

                                * * * * *


                                * * * * *


                                * * * * *

    “Under circumstances of this sort, there can be no doubt that those
    microcosmic minds, which, habitually occupied in the consideration of
    what is little, are incapable of discerning what is great, and who
    already stigmatise the proposition as a romantic scheme, will, not
    unsparingly, distribute the epithets—absurd, ridiculous, chimerical.
    The commissioners must, nevertheless, have the hardihood to brave the
    sneers and sarcasms of men who, with too much pride to study, and too
    much wit to think, undervalue what they do not understand, and
    condemn what they cannot comprehend.”

              _Report on the Practicability of the Erie and Hudson Canal_.

                                * * * * *

                                * * * * *

           J. S. Hodson, Printer, Cross Street, Hatton Garden.



THE contemplated addition of a railway to your line of conveyance,
induces me to solicit the honour of your attention to a method of
effecting your object, which may, perhaps, prove the cheapest and best
you can adopt.

From the statements of the gentlemen who gave explanations on the subject
at the meeting, your object appears to be, to effect some method of
communication between your basin at Kensington, and some point of the
Grand Junction Canal, and the proposed London and Birmingham Railway,
which may enable you, either to take advantage of the Grand Junction
Canal as a channel to convey and receive goods to and from, or of the
proposed railway to Birmingham; so that you may be able to convey
passengers to and from that railway, and to and from the western parts of
town, should it be put into operation.

Your present line being a water line, I should, were it not for the
intervention of the high ground which is between your basin and the Grand
Junction Canal, recommend the extension of this water line; because an
additional expenditure of 900_l._ or 1000_l._, to provide a couple of the
gigs by which passengers are now conveyed at the rate of ten or twelve
miles an hour along the Paisley and Ardrossan Canal, would then enable
you to carry any number of passengers to and from the Birmingham Railway
considerably faster, and many times cheaper, than omnibuses, &c. &c.
would convey them to and from the town end of that railway.

But as the numerous locks, which the height of that ground renders
necessary, would occasion the loss of all the time which the
newly-discovered method of rapid conveyance on canals might save, the
extension of your present line appears to be incompatible with your
object of rendering such extension adapted to the rapid conveyance of
passengers, as well as goods at the usual rate.

This impediment is not, however, the only circumstance which would make
me pause in recommending the extension of your canal.  It is publicly
stated that the estimated expense of extending your canal the two and a
half miles you contemplated was 150,000_l._; while this would not be the
sole expense attending it.

Owing to there being no water to supply the waste of the numerous locks
which you must construct, to raise barges to the height you wish to
surmount, you would have, in addition to extending your canal, to be also
at the expense of laying down large water-pipes all along it; and of
erecting steam-engines, and pumps, to raise _up_ from the Thames, every
drop of the water you would require to lower your barges _down_ to it.
The first cost of doing this would be very considerable: since, in
addition to the steam-engines, pumps, and two and a half miles of large
pipe which you must lay down, you must also be at the expense of
purchasing ground at the end of your proposed extension, for the site of,
and excavating the earth to form, a large reservoir, for the water to be
pumped up into to supply the locks.

Great, however, as would be the first cost of thus providing water to
work the proposed extension of your canal, yet would this first cost be
less important than the current expenses of it; since for every barge
that passed through your canal, you would have to pump above two hundred
tons of water, nearly 100 feet high: than which, nothing can be conceived
more contrary to principles of economy; it being tantamount to having to
lift a _whole_ hundred weight up, every time you extended your hand to
put a _quarter_ of a hundred weight down.  Were it necessary that those
two hundred tons of water should be pumped _only_ when you _raised_ a
barge _up_ with (or by means of) them, it would not be so vexatious.

But to be forced to pump two hundred tons _up_, in order to float the
smallest load a barge carries {4a} _down_ your canal, would be so
contrary to all principles of economical conveyance, as well as costly,
that it becomes unavoidable to seek for some other means of transmission.

That which first struck you as applicable to your object, was a rail-way;
since, by means of it, passengers may be conveyed as well as goods; so
that, should any circumstance connected with the London and Birmingham
Railway ever render it desirable, you might, then, convey passengers
along your line.  But though this could certainly be done, yet would the
attainment of that certainty be attended with an expense, which might
prove greater than the value of the purchase.

The avoidance of ascents which are at all abrupt, is now stated to be of
such consequence as relates to the diminution of the daily expenses of
railways, and so important with respect to what locomotive engines can do
upon them, that it is current as the dictum of the principal engineer of
the London and Birmingham Railway, that it is better to lay down six
miles of railway to avoid (by going round it) a rise of 174 feet in one
mile (an ascent of about an inch in a yard, that is) than to carry one
mile of railway over said rise.  And the junior engineer to that railway
stated before the Lords’ Committee, that for a locomotive engine to get
over a rise of fifty feet in height, was “nearly equal to going four
miles round.”

The fuel consumed being the principal item of expense in locomotive
engines, and the price of fuel with you being nearly ten times greater
than on the Liverpool and Manchester line, {4b} the attainment of the
desideratum of as regular an ascent as can be procured, becomes,
according to this doctrine, more important as relates to your line, than
it would be where fuel was cheaper, in proportion to the dearness of that
fuel.  A regular plane of ascent may, therefore, be considered
indispensable to the proper operation of any railway you might lay down

Were you to do the utmost that could be done towards obtaining this
regular plane of ascent, between your proposed points of departure and
arrival, by cutting and embanking so as to make your line one continuous
inclined plane, it would still be so remote from a level, as to rise at
the rate of one foot of perpendicular height for 154 feet of horizontal
distance; which would make the power required to draw any load along your
line nearly twice as great as that which would be requisite to draw the
same load on a level; while it would also present a sharper rise than
some railways where stationary engines are the only moving power
employed, owing to locomotives being considered unfit for railways so

Supposing your line, which must have the same number of rails that the
Birmingham Railroad is to have (two lines of _way_ that is) to be no
wider than that railway is to be in the narrowest part, the amount of
embanking necessary to render your plane of ascent regular to this degree
would not be so little as one million of cubic yards.

In the evidence before the Lords’ Committee on the London and Birmingham
Railway it is stated, that on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway there
are about three millions of cubic yards of cuttings and embankments.  It
being known that the money paid by that Company for this purpose has
exceeded two hundred thousand pounds, it may be presumed that the expense
of one third of that amount of cutting and embanking on your line would
not be less than about 70,000_l._; while, as the nature of the ground
your line must pass through, would render the proportion of embankments
much greater than that of excavations, this amount of 70,000_l._ would be
added to, by your being actually compelled to purchase the earth _itself_
which would be required for those embankments, as well as to pay for the
labour of digging and conveying it to where you wanted it.

Long lines of work being done for much less expense _per mile_ than short
ones; the London and Birmingham Railway being a very long line (112½
miles); the engineers of that railway having the very highest reputation
as railway engineers; and the estimates laid before Parliament by those
gentlemen for that railway, being the best authority it is possible to
refer to as relates to the probable cost of a railway—I shall, for these
reasons, and in order to prevent your supposing that my own opinion
affects my statement, advert to the anticipated expense of that railway
_per mile_ as a measure of the cost of yours.

Deducting the estimated expense of cutting and embanking, from the
_general_ estimate of the London and Birmingham Railway, the average
estimated expense of the _other_ work of the _two_ lines of way now
proposed for that road (instead of the _four_ lines of which it was to
consist) is 20,631_l._ per mile. {5}

And as it is not evident why your _short_ line should be done for _less
comparative_ expense than this long one (while it is to be presumed that
it would cost much more), it may be assumed that the actual expense of
attempting to make a railway, on which the tractive force required for
any load would be nearly twice as great as on a level, along the line you
propose, would not be so little as 100,000_l._

And, supposing that you should be willing to adopt the less favourable
method of railway transmission—i.e. levels and steep inclined planes,
with fixed engines on the summits—still might not expense be very greatly

The original estimate of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway was
400,000_l._, about 12,000_l._ per mile that is; with respect to which the
Quarterly Review for March 1825 says: “The estimate for the Liverpool and
Manchester Railway we have understood to be taken at 12,000_l._ per mile.
But that road is meant to be executed on a magnificent scale; to be
sixty-six feet wide; {6} the rails to be laid down in the best possible
manner; and the purchase of land at the extremities must be paid for at
an enormous price.  This estimate also includes the cost of engines,
waggons, and warehouses.”

Most unwisely, however, as well as untruly, the advocates of railways
attempt to deny, that the original estimate for the Liverpool and
Manchester Railway was so low as this, or that it included the “cost of
engines, waggons, and warehouses;” in order to show that the actual cost
of the railways now contemplated will not exceed _their_ estimated
expense, as the actual cost of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway has
exceeded that estimate.  For the facts of the case I appeal to the
original prospectus of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, dated
October 29, 1824; the 5th paragraph of which document is as follows:—

    “The ground has been surveyed by eminent engineers, and the estimated
    expense of a railroad upon the most improved construction, _including
    the charge for locomotive engines to be employed upon the line_, _and
    other contingencies_, is 400,000_l._ which sum it is proposed to
    raise in 4000 shares of 100_l._ each.”

It cannot, therefore, but be contrary to good sense as well as fact, for
the advocates of railways to attempt to deny evidence of this nature.

The first line of the credit side of the account given in to the Lords’
Committee on the proposed London and Birmingham Railway, by the Treasurer
of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, on the 24th June last, stands
thus: “By amount expended (up to the 31st December, 1831) in completion
of the ways and works, 992,054_l._ 3_s._ 6_d._”: while the same document
says, “By the additional number of locomotive engines and carriages that
will be required for the increased number of departures, and especially
by the outlay of capital for the construction of the new tunnel, and the
unavoidable cost of warming, lighting, and working the same, the Company
will incur an increased annual expenditure, which will be very
inadequately compensated by the saving of the charge for omnibuses.”
Now, as exclusive of this “additional number of locomotive engines and
carriages that will be required,” the expense of making this tunnel is
estimated at 130,000_l._—while, if the degree to which the actual cost of
the railway itself exceeded its estimated expense, be taken as a rule,
the actual cost of this tunnel may be nearer 400,000_l._ than
130,000_l._—and, as the following extract from the pamphlet entitled
“Remarks on the Birmingham and London Railroad, by Investigator,” shews
that an important item has been omitted, the _whole_ expense of the
Liverpool and Manchester Railway, up to the 31st December, 1831, will, it
appears, exceed 1,200,000_l._ which is above 40,000_l._ per mile.

    “There is a most important item entirely omitted in the treasurer’s
    account.  Nearly 740,000_l._ were expended previous to May, 1830, all
    of which has now been expended for nearly one year, and different
    portions of it in different years, the first six years ago; not one
    shilling has yet been returned back again; and, therefore, the amount
    must be increased by the interest on the successive sums expended.

    “We shall not fatigue our readers with the details; but the following
    abstract is very near the truth:—

                      £.                £.       _s._    _d._
Interest of                20,397         7,034       0       0
Ditto                      20,397         5,629       0       0
Ditto                     100,000        21,212       0       0
Ditto                     181,061        28,868       0       0
Ditto                     199,240        20,925       0       0
Ditto                     739,165        11,823       0       0
              Total (underrated)         95,491       0       0

    “Omitting the odd hundreds, as we wish to be under, rather than to
    exceed the truth, there must, therefore, be 95,000_l._ allowed for

Supposing, therefore, that you were to diminish the expense of levelling,
by adopting the system of steep inclined planes, with stationary engines
on the summits of them, to drag the loads up by means of ropes, &c.,
according to the usual course of the stationary engine system, expense
might not be very greatly reduced.  Since it appears, from the accounts
laid before Parliament, that, deducting the money paid for cutting and
embanking on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, as well as the
130,000_l._ of additional expenditure, which I have just mentioned, the
actual cost of that railway, _exclusive of cuttings and embankments_, has
really been so high as to amount, very nearly, to 29,000_l._ per mile.

Even, therefore, if there were not a single yard of cutting and embanking
to be done on your line, the estimated expense of the London and
Birmingham, and the _actual_ cost of the Liverpool and Manchester
Railway, bid you prepare yourselves for an outlay of not less than
20,000_l._ per mile; while the money actually paid on the latter, may
well make you anticipate that it would be nearer 30,000_l._ per mile; and
this, as has just been stated, _exclusive_ of the expense of cuttings and

There are persons who will deny this.  But instead of occupying your time
by entering on any discussion of the question here, I will merely refer
you to the paragraph quoted on the last page from the _original_
prospectus of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, and to the following
passage from the _second_ prospectus issued by that company on the 26th
December, 1825, when the capital was raised to 510,000_l._ instead of
400,000_l._,—that is, to 17,000_l._ per mile, instead of 12,000_l._

    “A very prominent objection taken by the opponents of the bill, was
    founded on the errors in the section and levels, as exhibited before
    Parliament.  These errors, the Committee at once acknowledged and
    regretted; and, to avoid all chance of similar complaint in future,
    they have engaged the professional services of _most eminent
    engineers_, aided by assistants of undoubted talents and activity;
    whose combined efforts justify the fullest assurance, not only of the
    correctness of the plans and sections, but that the whole line will
    be laid and arranged with that skill and conformity with the rules of
    mechanical science, which will equally challenge approbation, whether
    considered as a national undertaking of great public utility, or as a
    magnificent specimen of art.”

Yet, notwithstanding the “undoubted talent” of those “most eminent
engineers,” and their “assistants,” whom the Committee had thus
“engaged,” the actual cost of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, has
_more_ than doubled the sum which the “undoubted talent” of those
engineers and their assistants estimated it would cost, on the _second_
survey of the line.

The objections, therefore, of those who will say that I overrate the
expense of a railway, may not be more consistent with fact, than the
_under_ estimate of these “most eminent engineers,” and their “assistants
of undoubted talents and activity:” while if, after being a _second_ time
surveyed and estimated, the Liverpool and Manchester Railway cost a
million and a quarter, instead of the half million to which the revised
and reconsidered estimates of these “most eminent engineers” and their
“assistants of undoubted talent and activity,” raised it, it becomes a
simple rule of three question to estimate how much the London and
Birmingham Railway will cost, above the two and a half millions, which it
is now stated will complete the double line that is to be laid down,
instead of the quadruple line which was stated to cost three millions.
Of the four sums which this railway has been estimated to cost (one and a
half millions; two millions; three millions; and two and a half millions;
vide note on page 5), nobody can tell which will be right; though there
are those who have publicly stated (and staked their critical accuracy on
its correctness), that the whole four added together, will not be much
more than enough.

It is true, that by having three _very_ sharp _indeed_ inclined planes,
of eight or ten feet perpendicular ascent each an almost perfect level
might, without very great expense for cutting and embanking, be obtained
for four-fifths of your line to the Grand Junction Canal; while, by
availing myself of an ascending power possessed by locomotive engines,
which has (to my very great surprise) hitherto been overlooked, not only
by railway engineers in general, but also by the inventors and improvers
of locomotive engines, {8} I could get your engines and their loads up
these ascents without any difficulty.  But as the rise, during the sixty
feet (nearly), of ascent, which must be surmounted in the remaining fifth
of your line to the Grand Junction Canal, must be at the rate of one in
forty-seven; as the power required to get the loads you must be prepared
to send up that ascent, at the rate you must also be prepared to _raise_
them, will, including the friction, &c., of the ropes, render it
necessary that the stationary engines should, each of them, be, roundly
speaking, 150 horses power—in consequence of these things, and owing to
the delay and danger attendant on the steep inclined plane and stationary
engine system, as well as for the following reasons, this conjoint method
of levels and steep inclined planes, and of locomotive and stationary
engines, might be little better for you than making one continuous
inclined plane of your line; so as to admit of locomotives running over
the whole of it; and, consequently, not needing stationary engines at

Notwithstanding the efficacy of steep inclined planes with stationary
engines on the summits, where they are absolutely unavoidable, yet are
they so objectionable where it is any how possible to avoid them, that
the engineers of the London and Birmingham Railway have recommended
cuttings and embankments to the amount of twenty-three millions of cubic
yards (nearly) in order to avoid them; while evidence makes it appear,
that the Liverpool and Manchester Railway Company prefer keeping extra
locomotives waiting at the foot of their inclined planes, to draw the
trains up, rather than use the stationary engines, which, it has been
stated, they fixed at the top of those ascents for that purpose.

But these general objections against steep inclined planes and stationary
engines, are not the only ones which would operate to the rejection of
this method on your proposed line.

To connect it with the London and Birmingham Railway, it must either be
carried over the Grand Junction Canal, or the London and Birmingham
Railway must be brought across that canal to come to it; and as it may be
divined that Mahomet must go to the mountain, rather than that the
mountain should come to Mahomet, it may be concluded that your crossing
the canal is unavoidable; especially when it is considered that bringing
the Birmingham Railway over to the south side of the canal, would render
necessary a _second_ crossing of it, in order to take that railway back
to the north side again.  And as, exclusive of the expense of the wide
bridge, you must provide to carry your line of railway across the canal,
it would cause, first, a second break, or variation, in your method of
draught, by compelling you, after taking the loads from the locomotive
engines which brought them from your basin to the foot of the ascent, and
getting them up that ascent by means of the stationary engines, either to
have other stationary engines adjoining the Birmingham line, to get the
loads from the canal to that line, or else to transfer them for that
purpose from the stationary engines, to locomotives again; while,
secondly, and in addition to this, there would be the objection and
opposition of the Grand Junction Company, to the large stationary engines
and buildings which you must erect close to their canal to be overcome,
it would appear that a method which should avoid the, perhaps, fatal
objections, and certainly most enormously expensive Parliamentary
opposition of the Grand Junction Company to the proposed extension of
your line, would be a desideratum.

In addition to this, there must be the breadth of land required for a
railway; which, looking at the width necessary for the embankments,
would, considering the value of the ground through which your line must
run, render the surface purchase (comparatively) equally expensive as the

Mere expense of purchase, might not, however, be the principal objection
to a railway along the line you contemplate.

According to the section of that line, the height of the embankment it
would be necessary to raise to give you a regular plane of ascent, would
so effectually divide the grounds you passed through, as to prevent your
bridging across such embankment for private roads, and compel you to
“tunnel” under your own line, in order to admit of communication between
the divided properties you would intersect; while, in the more level
part, considerable expense for bridging across it for the same purpose
might be necessary.  And let you do the utmost that could be done, to
inconvenience landowners and occupiers as little as possible, it is
impossible to avoid giving them _real_ cause for objection on this
ground, for the reasons pointed out in the following extract from a
publication on the London and Birmingham Railway.

    “Parts of estates and of fields will also be separated from each
    other, by immense gashes and mounds; over and under which expensive
    bridges, and long and wide tunnels, must either be constructed, or
    the value of the land must be still further deteriorated.  Granting
    these to be constructed (and they too would be an expense as great as
    the other), they would not be an adequate compensation; for the
    passing and repassing of the numerous flocks and herds by them, would
    completely trample down and ruin the adjacent fields.  There will
    also be cutting of the veins that contain water; the springs and
    ponds will in consequence be dried, and many of the sloping fields
    adjoining the line so deprived of water, that they will either become
    unfit for the purposes of pasturage, or the stock will have to be
    driven to a distance for a supply, at a considerable injury to its
    own value, and also at considerable expense.”

Now as the opposition which, for these reasons only, the landowners and
occupiers made to the proposed London and Birmingham Railway last
session, was the cause of the bill being thrown out by the Lords’
Committee; {10a} while, in addition to thus losing them their bill, this
opposition of the landowners and occupiers also cost that company
50,000_l._ in parliamentary expenses, {10b} it may behove you to
calculate seriously the consequences of similar opposition; parliamentary
expenses being almost the same, whether a bill is for a railway of 100
miles, or of only one mile in length.

But this _surface_ expense of the road may still form its least expense.
Among the evidence before the Lord’s Committee on the Liverpool and
Manchester Railway, stands the following item: “Maintainance of way
6,599_l._ 12_s._ 6_d._”  This being for the six months ending on the 31st
December last, it appears that the expense of keeping that railway in
condition, notwithstanding that it has been opened only two years, was at
the rate of 438_l._ per mile, per annum, for the last half of _last_
year; an amount, which, on your proposed line, would pay 5 per cent. on
above 20,000_l._

In the last _general_ return made to Parliament, it was stated that the
average expense of keeping the whole of the turnpike roads of England in
repair, was 68_l._ 13_s._ 0_d._, per mile per annum.  Therefore, it
appears, that the expense of keeping the Liverpool and Manchester Railway
in repair, is seven times as great as that of the average expense of
repairing the turnpike roads of England.

For the first half of the present year, these expenses seem to have
increased considerably in proportion.  Since, notwithstanding that the
number of passengers carried between the 1st of January and the 1st of
July, 1832, is less by above 82,000 than during the preceding six months
(being only 174,122 instead of 256,321), the repairs of the railway cost
7331_l._ in that period, which is at the rate of 488_l._ per mile, per

On this and a corresponding subject, the Foreign Quarterly Review for
October, 1832, in its observations on two French publications on
railways, says, speaking of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway,

    “The rails are not supported uniformly by laying on the surface of
    the road, but rest upon stone pillars, or sleepers, as they are
    called, placed at distances of a yard from each other; and as the
    great weights pass over them with considerable velocity, these
    sleepers are driven deeper into the ground; so that the rail-road
    soon becomes uneven, one rail having one direction, and the next a
    different one.  Though these defects are not easily detected by the
    eye, yet they are very sensible upon close inspection with
    instruments; and still more so by the carriages that pass over them,
    as the wheels, on passing over a joining of two rails, receive a
    severe jolt, and also a change of direction.  Driven first on one
    side of the road, then on the other, the carriage rocks like a ship
    at sea; whilst, at every swing, one wheel or the other strikes a rail
    with considerable violence.

    “The damage sustained by the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, from
    these causes, is by no means trifling.  On examining the last half
    yearly statement printed for the use of the subscribers, we find that
    the repairs of the railway cost 7331_l._ in six months; being more
    than 14,000_l._ per annum. {11}  But the evil effects of this action
    are by no means confined to the railway itself, they are still more
    destructive to the engines that run upon it, as well as the
    carriages; as the former, from their delicate mechanism, receive the
    shocks with unmitigated violence; by which every bolt is shaken
    loose, and even the strongest parts of the machinery, are speedily
    torn to pieces.

    “The jolting they receive is very violent.  We have stood on one of
    them for hours, watching the action of the springs, and have
    experienced, on our own bodies, every jolt of the railway.  The
    effect produced is most sensibly perceived, where it is most sorely
    felt, in the revenue of the company; for even at this moment, when
    their engines are new, and in the best order, the expense incurred
    for their support and repairs, is 10,582_l._ in six months; or above
    21,000_l._ per annum, making, with the maintenance of the road,
    35,000_l._ of yearly expenditure; the greater part of which is
    occasioned by the imperfections we have been describing.  This
    expense is easily accounted for, when we consider that the company
    have twenty-four engines; out of which there are seldom more than six
    fit for use; the others, undergoing the progress of thorough repair.”

Supposing this 10,582_l._ to be divided among the whole twenty-four
locomotives which are kept to do the work, the expense of their repair is
882_l._ per engine, per annum.

But supposing it to be divided only by the number of those which
_actually do the work_, this expense for repairs amounts to 3527_l._ per
engine, per annum.

The Edinburgh Review for October, 1832, in some measure accounts for this
enormity of expense, by saying, “It is said that in the engines used on
the Liverpool Railroad, new grate-bars have been melted in a single trip;
and the projector of a steam carriage has admitted that cylindrical
grate-bars, an inch in diameter, could not last more than a week, when
the carriage is in constant work.”

Now as you must have two locomotives (if not more) in constant work, the
money expended in their repairs, and in those of your railway—supposing
them to be equal to the similar expenses of the Liverpool and Manchester
Railway: and any circumstances which should render them less remain yet
to be made known—this money would, provided it could be saved, pay 5 per
cent. on a capital of nearly 170,000_l._: an amount that may render a
method, the repairs and current expenses of which, should be importantly
less than this, not undeserving of your attention.

In addition to these reasons against a railway, it may be observed, that,
supposing you were to lay down such a line of communication for the
purpose of conveying passengers to the Birmingham Railway from the west
end of London, it will be necessary, not merely that those passengers
should be willing to be so conveyed by you, but also that they should be
willing to pay, not only _you_ for carrying them to the Birmingham
Railway, but also other persons for bringing them to your railway (which
will be two miles and a half from Hyde Park corner), in order that they
may, thereby, be conveyed to the Birmingham Railway: that is, they must
pay you for carrying them thither, over the space of two miles and a
half, and other persons for bringing them two miles and a half more from
Hyde Park corner, in order that you may so carry them.

Now as the Birmingham Railway crosses the Edgeware Road only two miles
and a half from the bottom of Oxford Street, it admits of rather more
than doubt, whether, even if you were to lay a railway down, passengers
for the Birmingham Railway would take the circuitous, five-mile course,
of the Kensington Road, and of your line to it, when they could get
thither, both for less money, and in less time by the two and a half
miles course of the Edgeware Road.

Therefore, with a view, first, to obviate this objection, and render the
course by your proposed line, quicker in point of time, as well as
cheaper in point of expense, than the shorter course by the Edgeware
Road; and, in consequence, cause passengers to the Birmingham Railway to
give your line the preference: second, in order importantly to reduce the
cost of the ground required for your proposed line: third, to remove the
objections of the owners and occupiers of this ground to a railway being
carried through their properties; and thereby save you the expense, as
well as the danger of their parliamentary opposition: fourth, to avoid
the opposition of, and the great parliamentary expense you would be put
to by, the Grand Junction Canal Company: fifth, to furnish you with a
cheaper (in point of current expenses as well as first cost), and better
method of conveyance, than either canal or railroad will admit of: and,
sixth, to possess you of a source of income additional to, and exclusive
of, all that either canal or railway would bring in:—for these six

I solicit the honour of your attention to a method of conveyance, which I
beg leave to introduce to your notice, by the following quotations:—

First, from the pamphlet of the gentleman who has informed the world,
that what all engineers have hitherto pronounced an “impossibility”—rapid
conveyance on canals that is—is now proved perfectly practicable by
passengers being daily carried from Johnstone to Glasgow, along the
Paisley and Ardrossan Canal at rates of ten or twelve miles an hour: {13}
and, second, from Philip’s History of Inland Navigation in England.

Adverting to the aqueducts by which the Union Canal is carried over the
various rivers in its course, Mr. Grahame says:—

    “Each and all of these aqueduct bridges are higher than any on the
    Liverpool Railway.

    “The Sankey viaduct bridge, which cost nearly as much as all the
    other railway bridges put together, consists of nine arches of fifty
    feet span; and is, at the highest point, sixty feet in height.  The
    Avon aqueduct, on the Union Canal, consists of twelve arches, each
    fifty feet span; the greatest height eighty-five feet; and the
    average height seventy-four feet above the valley and river.”

Therefore, it appears, that to carry a wide and deep canal across rivers,
is now a matter of as common occurrence, as to build a suspension bridge,
or a chain pier.  Yet mark how the first proposition for any thing of
this kind was treated half a century ago.

Philips, in his “History of Canal Navigation,” speaking of the _first_
proposition of the great father of canal navigation in England to carry a
canal across a river, says:—

    “When the first canal ever cut in England was completed as far as
    Barton, where the Irwell is navigable for large vessels, Mr.
    Brindsley proposed to carry it over that river, by an aqueduct
    thirty-nine feet above the surface of the water in the river.

    “This, however, being considered as a wild and extravagant project,
    he desired (in order to justify his opinion towards his noble
    employer) that the opinion of another engineer might be taken;
    believing that he could easily convince an intelligent person of the
    practicability of the design.  An engineer of eminence was
    accordingly called; who, being conducted to the place where it was
    intended that the aqueduct should be built, ridiculed the attempt;
    and, when the height and dimensions were communicated to him, he
    exclaimed, ‘I have heard of castles in the air, but never was shewn
    before, where any of them were to be erected.’

    “This unfavourable verdict did not deter the duke from following the
    opinion of his own engineer.  The aqueduct was immediately begun; and
    it was carried on with such rapidity and success, as astonished all
    those who, but a little before, thought it impossible; and within a
    twelvemonth did the crews of the vessels navigating the Irwell see
    the duke’s barges sailing over their heads, in the channel, upborne
    by this ‘castle in the air.’”

Now as the subject to which I solicit the honour of your attention,
though equally practicable as the passages which I have quoted prove it
to be to carry canals across rivers, will, at first sight, appear still
more aerial than was this denounced “castle in the air” of the great
introducer of canal navigation in England; and, as the engineers of the
present day will pronounce it still more “absurd” and “impossible” than
his proposition was considered to be, it behoves me to entreat, that you
will vouchsafe a correspondingly increased portion of forbearance, to
what I proceed to submit.

Many years ago, a circumstance which it is not necessary I should state,
caused me to turn my attention to the best and cheapest means of
conveying our persons and goods from one place to another.

After much consideration, a method of attaining these objects suggested
itself, which admitted of a rate of conveyance so enormously rapid, and
unprecedently cheap, as to be, at first sight, rejected as one of those
utterly impracticable conceptions, which enter the imaginations of only
poets and visionaries.

Reflection, however, convincing me, that this idea was, in point of fact,
no more absurd than steam navigation, steam conveyance on land, and gas
lighting were deemed twenty years ago, I took the same course with it
which Fulton took with respect to steam navigation, which Winsor took
with gas lighting, and which Trevithick and Vivian took as relates to
locomotive engines—that is, I proceeded to put it in practice.

For proofs of the scale on, and success with which I did this, I beg to
refer you to the following evidences of _fact_.

The first evidence I submit, is the copy of a circular which was sent to
the principal inhabitants of Brighton, by a number of gentlemen, whose
incredulity had been removed by witnessing and experiencing the operation
of the method of conveyance I refer to.

                                                   “Brighton, May 5, 1827.


    “The undersigned, having witnessed the operation of Mr. Vallance’s
    principle for conveying persons and goods by atmospheric pressure;
    and believing (if what we have seen on a scale of yards can be
    extended to miles {14a}) that it may be rendered very advantageous to
    the town of Brighton, beg to solicit your attendance, on Saturday the
    12th May, at the Old Ship, at three o’clock.

                                                        “T. R. KEMP. {14b}
                                                         PHILIP L. STOREY.
                                                        DAVID SCOTT. {14c}
                                                        THOMAS YATES, M.D.
                                                            JOHN LAWRENCE.
                                                        WILLIAM KING, M.D.
                                                             JOHN LASHMAR.
                                                       H. M. WAGNER. {14d}
                                                  J. S. M. ANDERSON. {14e}
                                                            JOHN GLAISYER.
                                                              ISAAC BASS.”

Meetings, in consequence, took place, from the last of which emanated the
following requisition to the High Constable, to convene a “Town Meeting”
on the subject.

                           “To the High Constable of the Town of Brighton.


    “We, whose names are undersigned, do hereby request that you will
    call a meeting of the inhabitants of the town of Brighton, for the
    purpose of taking into consideration the best means of rendering the
    method invented by Mr. Vallance, for the conveyance of passengers and
    goods by atmospheric pressure, beneficial to the town of Brighton.”

                              [Signed by about eighty of the inhabitants.]

In consequence of this requisition, the High Constable took the usual
course of convening town meetings at Brighton, by advertisements in the
newspapers, and by crying, and placarding the requisition all over the
place, with the following addition at the foot of it:—

    “In compliance with the above request, I do hereby call a meeting, to
    be holden at the Old Ship Tavern, Brighton, on Tuesday, 5th June,
    1827, at eleven for twelve o’clock.

                                                     “E. H. CREASY, H. C.”

A “town meeting” accordingly took place; though, prior to stating the
resolutions which were then passed, I solicit your attention to the
following paragraph from the Brighton Herald of the 16th September
previous; for the reason, that the explanation which it gives of the
method alluded to, may serve to render more evident the justness of the
decision to which the said “town meeting” came.

                           “NEW MODE OF CONVEYANCE.

    “Our readers may remember that about two years ago, we discussed,
    somewhat at large, a principle of motion, by which, it was stated, we
    might be conveyed from one place to another ten times as fast as we
    now travel; that is, one hundred miles an hour instead of ten.  It is
    unnecessary to say that expedition such as this, appeared so utterly
    beyond what was conceived to be within the bounds of possibility,
    that the theory was consigned to the oblivion it seemed to merit; and
    the author of it classed among those for whom, in the opinion of the
    world, St. Luke’s is the only fitting residence.

    “General, however, as this opinion was, we have, during the past
    week, witnessed that which most importantly counteracts it as relates
    to ourselves; and could the doubts which the world at large entertain
    on the subject, have been concentered in a number of individuals,
    small enough to have both seen and felt what was experienced by us,
    we see not how the whole world could have avoided entertaining the
    opinion, that it is as certainly in our power to cause ourselves to
    be conveyed from one place to another at the rate of 100 miles an
    hour, by combining the operation of the necessary apparatus, as it is
    to cause ourselves to be conveyed at the rate of ten miles an hour,
    by adapting wood and iron so as to form the combination of apparatus
    commonly designated a stage coach; and that too, with a degree of
    safety and convenience at which stage coaches can never arrive.

    “It may be recollected that the principle, or theory alluded to, was,
    that by properly combining the operation of steam-engines and
    air-pumps, such as are daily used for certain large manufacturing
    processes, we might create a kind of artificial wind; which wind, if
    made to blow in a previously constructed channel, would draw, or
    drive, a properly constructed carriage, at any rate not greatly
    exceeding what has been adverted to.  Since, as in manufacturing
    processes, air is daily caused to move at rates varying from 200 to
    nearly 700 miles an hour, a proper combination of the same apparatus
    must certainly enable us to cause it to move at the lower rate of 100
    miles an hour; and, as the current of a river will carry a vessel
    down at nearly the rate at which itself moves in its channel, so
    would this current of air carry us along with a velocity nearly equal
    to its own.

    “This, in brief, is the theory.  What we have witnessed of the
    practice is as follows.  It being impossible to give motion to the
    whole atmosphere, as nature does when she causes a wind, we were
    first shown into a construction which formed a channel, within which
    the motion of air could be so directed as to cause it to blow full
    against any object placed inside such channel.

    “This channel (which is, in fact, a very large tunnel), did not, in
    this instance, connect any two distant towns: it being of a length
    sufficient only to illustrate the principle; but it was self-evident
    that it (or another) might be extended to any length required.  On
    the bottom of this channel (or tunnel) was a railway, on which ran a
    carriage.  This carriage had a circular end, composed of thin boards.
    This circular end was as large as the tunnel, excepting about an inch
    all round, and was fixed to the carriage, so as to stand across the
    tunnel; as the sail of a ship stands across the line of her length.
    Consequently, if motion were given to the air within the tunnel, it
    would press, or blow, full against this end of the carriage, and tend
    to push the carriage forward; as the sails of a vessel going right
    before the wind are pressed against by the atmosphere at large.  Each
    end of this tunnel was so connected to large air-pumps, that air
    could be drawn from one end of it, while the atmosphere was at the
    same time permitted to enter freely at the other.

    “After examining the construction of the apparatus sufficiently to
    give us to understand as above, we got into the carriage; and, on the
    air-pumps being set in motion, we were moved along the railway from
    one end of the tunnel to the other.  When we arrived there the motion
    of the carriage was reversed, and we were moved back again.

    “We continued riding in this way, until we became so convinced that
    the invisible and intangible medium we breathe, might be rendered a
    safe and most expeditious means of getting from one place to another,
    as to be tired of riding.

    “Further investigation gave us to perceive that the carriage might be
    stopped, and its motion reversed at pleasure; that so trivial was the
    degree of exhaustion (or vacuum) necessary to enable the atmosphere
    to drive the carriage forward, as the air-pumps drew the air from
    before it, that though we were exposed to this “vacuum” (as it is
    called) at every other turn of the carriage, yet did we experience no
    inconvenience from it.  In fact, our feelings gave us no intimation
    on the subject, and we were wholly ignorant of it until it was
    pointed out to us.  We were satisfied that persons or goods might be
    taken up, or set down, in any place through which the tunnel ran, or
    whose trade or population were at all important.  And, as we were
    also convinced that it would be impossible to be overturned, it was
    out of our power to resist the belief that we had witnessed the
    operation of a principle by which we may be conveyed more safely,
    more cheaply, and many times more expeditiously, than we now travel.

    “We cannot expect to carry to the minds of those who have not
    witnessed the operation of this principle, the conviction felt by us
    who have.  But of this we are satisfied, that whoever sees it, will,
    with us, be satisfied, that we can render the principle practically
    effective, whenever we choose to be at the expense of doing so.

    “It stands now, exactly as the steam-engine stood, when Watt had
    completed the first one he made: that is, certain in its effect,
    provided we will be at the charge of combining the necessary
    apparatus.  We have steam-engines and air-pumps amply large enough
    for the purpose.  So far from there being any insuperable difficulty
    in the construction of the tunnel, there are parties ready to
    contract for, and guarantee the execution of it, as relates to being
    air-tight; and, although we should begin by going only at the rate of
    ten, fifteen, or twenty miles an hour, yet have we no doubt that, in
    the time necessary to instruct us how to manage the carriage under
    higher velocities (as sailors get the “trim” of a new ship), we
    should be able to go several (and we see not why _ten_) times faster
    than we now travel.  The chief, if not the only, difficulty to
    surmount in this, as in most scientific improvements in their origin,
    is public incredulity.  This difficulty was felt and experienced, at
    the outset, in respect to the construction of steam-engines; in
    cutting canals; in laying down rail-roads; in rendering steam-engines
    locomotive on them; and superior to the tempest and the wave, at sea.

    “But as the same spirit of perseverance which enabled us to overcome
    these past difficulties, will cause us to triumph over those before
    us with reference to this principle of motion, we are satisfied, that
    it is necessary only to go on, and prosper.”—_Brighton Herald_,
    16_th_ _September_, 1826.

This quotation from the Brighton Herald serving to convey an idea of the
method of operation, I may return to the “Town Meeting”: with reference
to which the Brighton Gazette of the 7th June, 1827, states:—

    “A town meeting, which we never saw surpassed in respectability, and
    seldom more numerous, was held at the Old Ship Assembly Rooms, on
    Tuesday last, at the requisition of nearly eighty of our most
    respectable inhabitants, for the purpose of taking into consideration
    the best means of rendering the method invented by Mr. Vallance, for
    the conveyance of passengers and goods by atmospheric pressure,
    beneficial to the town of Brighton.  The High Constable was in the

The _course_ of the business not being important, I beg to refer you to
the columns of the Brighton Gazette for it, and state only the _result_;
which will be found _officially_ advertised in all the Brighton papers of
that week, to the following effect:—

                              “TOWN OF BRIGHTON.

    “At a numerous and highly respectable Meeting of the Inhabitants and
    Visitors of the Town of Brighton, held at the Old Ship Tavern, on
    Tuesday, the 5th day of June, 1827, for the purpose of taking into
    consideration the best means of rendering the method invented by Mr.
    Vallance for the conveyance of passengers and goods by atmospheric
    pressure, beneficial to the Town of Brighton:

                      “The High Constable in the chair.

    “A Committee having been appointed at a former General Meeting of the
    Inhabitants, to investigate the merits of the measure now under
    consideration, and their Report having been read to this Meeting,
    expressing a decided approbation of the undertaking—

    “Resolved, unanimously, that the Report be sanctioned and adopted by
    this Meeting.

    “Resolved, that in the opinion of this Meeting the method of
    transmission proposed by Mr. Vallance would be productive of the most
    important advantages to the Town of Brighton; and that the
    application of it, either as it relates to the transit of goods from
    Shoreham Harbour, or to the conveyance of passengers between Brighton
    and the Metropolis, is entitled to the most cordial support of the

    “Resolved, that the thanks of this Meeting be given to Mr. Vallance
    for bringing his important invention before the Inhabitants of the

    “Resolved, that the proceedings of this day be advertised in the
    Brighton papers.

                                                  “E. H. CREASY, Chairman.

    “Resolved, that the thanks of this Meeting be given to the Chairman
    for his impartial conduct in the Chair.”

                                * * * * *

      “Report of the Committee appointed at a Meeting of Inhabitants of
          Brighton, held at the Old Ship, on Saturday, May 19, 1827:

    “In pursuance of a Resolution passed at a Meeting held here, on
    Saturday, the 12th instant, your Committee have inspected Mr.
    Vallance’s apparatus for the conveyance of passengers and goods by
    atmospheric pressure; and can bear testimony to the success of it;
    having been repeatedly conveyed through the cylinder {18} laid down
    by that gentleman in Devonshire Place.

    “Your Committee are of opinion, that, in the event of such a method
    of conveyance being established from one town to another where much
    traffic exists, the advantages would be incalculable, both as regards
    the ready transit, and saving of time and expense to the traveller
    and merchant, as compared with the ordinary mode of conveyance.  Your
    Committee are informed that 75,000 tons of materials are annually
    imported into Brighton coastways, the greater part of which is landed
    at Shoreham, and from thence brought into Brighton, at a land
    carriage varying from 5_s._ to 8_s._ 4_d._ per ton: and your
    Committee having been assured by Mr. Vallance, that by his principle
    of conveyance, the carriage of all goods from Shoreham might be
    reduced to a sum not exceeding 3_s._ per ton, and yet a net annual
    profit of ten per cent. be returned on the sum expended, are of
    opinion that if such a communication were established between
    Brighton and Shoreham, it would materially benefit the inhabitants of
    both towns; and your Committee feel confident it would receive the
    most cordial and general support.

    “Your Committee beg further to report, that the opinions of some of
    the highest scientific authorities upon the principle of Mr.
    Vallance’s proposition, have been submitted to them; and they have
    the satisfaction to state, that these authorities concur in the
    practicability of the measure to the fullest extent; and the
    illustration of it which your Committee have examined, appears to be
    on a scale of sufficient magnitude to demonstrate the truth of such
    opinions.  Should it, therefore, be adopted between the town of
    Brighton and London, it is impossible to calculate the important and
    beneficial changes to which it may lead.

    “Your Committee, in conclusion, think that a successful mode of
    transit by Mr. Vallance’s apparatus, would be attended with the most
    important advantages to this great mercantile nation, and deem it
    entitled, not only to the attentive consideration of the inhabitants
    of Brighton in particular, but the community at large.

    “Your Committee, therefore, recommend, that a requisition be
    addressed to the High Constable, to convene a Meeting of the
    Inhabitants of Brighton, to take into consideration the best means of
    furthering so important an object.

                                              “(Signed by the Committee).”

In proof of the above statements, I beg to refer you to the Records and
Official Authorities of Brighton.

And, as a summary of the other persons who have witnessed and experienced
the effect of this method of conveyance, additional to the parties
already mentioned, I beg to submit the following extracts from a Petition
which I presented to Parliament on the subject.

    “To the Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain
    and Ireland in Parliament assembled; the humble Petition of John
    Vallance, of Brighthelmstone, in the County of Sussex,’


    “That your Petitioner hath invented a method of conveyance, by which
    he can prove that persons may be carried from one place to another
    very much faster, cheaper, and more safely, in reference to security
    from personal danger, than can be done on turnpike roads, or
    railways; and whereby be can also prove that goods may be conveyed
    for less expense than by canal carriage.

    “That to shew the public importance of this method of conveyance,
    your Petitioner hath put it in operation, on a scale capable of
    carrying twenty persons at once, over a space sufficient to
    demonstrate its practicability; as hath been proved by His Grace the
    Duke of Bedford, the Right Honourable the Earl of Lauderdale, the
    Noble Baron Holland, and Lord William Russell; who, with several
    other persons of distinction, at one and the same time, rode in, and
    experienced the effect of it, on the 2nd December, 1826.

    “That on the 16th May, 1827, a Committee of seven Gentlemen,
    nominated at a Meeting of Inhabitants of Brighton, also rode in, and
    experienced the operation of this method of conveyance.

    “That His Grace the Duke of Rutland, the Right Honourable the Earl of
    Egremont, one of the honourable members for Yorkshire, one of the
    honourable members for Lewes, Professor Leslie, and many other
    gentlemen, have since witnessed and experienced the effect of it.

    “That it has also been seen by the Honourable Member for Dundalk, by
    one of the Honourable Members for Essex, for London, for Southwark,
    for Barnstable, for Callington, for Stafford, for Petersfield, for
    Bedford, for Cambridge, for Bossiney, and for Weymouth; with other
    noblemen and gentlemen too numerous to mention.

    “That the whole of these noble and honourable gentleman whom your
    petitioner hath mentioned, appeared to be, and it is your
    Petitioner’s belief, _were_ convinced, that this method of conveyance
    is equally practicable as steam navigation, gas lighting, or
    locomotive steam-engines; notwithstanding that before they witnessed
    and experienced the effect of it, they deemed it more absurd and
    impossible than those now well known triumphs of art were considered
    twenty years ago.

    “That the tunnel and other works whereby your Petitioner hath
    produced this conviction, combine the operation of the largest
    pneumatic machinery in the world; the air pumps being capable of
    exhausting above 50,000 cubic feet {20} of air in a minute; and of
    conveying 100 tons weight over a space equal to the distance between
    Manchester and Liverpool, in three hours;—while the tunnel is, in
    point of calibre and strength, equal to the conveyance of the whole
    1000 tons of goods daily passing between those places, at one time.

    “Your Petitioner humbly begs leave further to represent, that the
    information he hath obtained during five years which he hath devoted
    to investigations relative to the practicability, cost, and
    advantages, of putting this method of conveyance into operation
    between our principal manufacturing towns, the outports, and the
    metropolis, will enable him to prove that it may be done of cast
    iron, for an expense which would not exceed what canals cost; while
    he can also prove, that in addition to combining the trade of the
    turnpike road with that of the canal, it would admit of goods being
    carried for less than half what they can be carried for on canals;
    and passengers in less than half the time, very much less than half
    the expense, and far more safely with reference to security from
    personal danger, than can be done on turnpike roads or railways; it
    being alike impossible to be overturned, to be driven against any
    thing, or to break down.”

The last evidence I adduce, is that of a Major of Engineers in the
Russian service; whom the late Emperor Alexander, after he visited
England, sent over to inspect and report upon our canals and railroads.
This officer was directed by the Russian Ambassador to visit Brighton,
expressly to inspect my plan; with reference to which he addressed to his
government a report, of which he favoured me with the following copy:—


    “To His Royal Highness Prince Alexander, Duke of Wirtemburg, Chief of
       the Corps of Engineers for the Inland Communications of Russia,
                         General of Cavalry, &c. &c.

    “Your Royal Highness having commanded me to report upon all the
    inventions of importance that have been brought forward in England of
    late years, whether such were, or were not named in the instructions
    I had the honour to receive from your Royal Highness in St.
    Petersburgh in June 1824,1 beg leave most humbly to submit the
    following particulars, relative to a proposed mode of conveyance;
    differing from every existing system, as much as it will surpass them
    in point of expedition and ultimate economy.

    “In March, 1825, I was informed that a Mr. Vallance had invented a
    method of conveyance, by which goods might be forwarded from place to
    place ten times faster than can now be done; or equal to 100 miles
    per hour.  The apparent absurdity of the proposition, and the
    undefined explanation then given, induced me to consider the scheme
    as one of the nefarious and stock-jobbing bubbles of the day;
    consequently I took no measures to become correctly informed on the
    subject; particularly as I was about leaving London for an extensive
    journey in the interior.  Recent circumstances have, however, caused
    me to entertain so different an opinion to that which I then held on
    the subject, that I can now confidently submit to your Royal Highness
    an account of a method of conveyance, which will, in my humble
    opinion, within a few years, operate a change in the condition of the
    whole civilized world; and which would be productive of the most
    important benefits to the Russian Empire.

    “The theory of this method is stated in the Treatise marked with the
    letter A.  The practice, I have experienced personally: having been
    conveyed over a space sufficient to demonstrate the practicability of
    the principle; and although that space was not sufficient to admit of
    any such velocity being attained as is adverted to in the Treatise,
    yet there is sufficient evidence of the velocity with which air may
    be made to move, to satisfy any one, that on a line of proper length,
    the only limit to the rate at which persons or goods may be conveyed,
    will be that at which wheels will revolve.  I will, however, first
    advert to the general object of the Treatise, and then comment on
    those parts of it which I conceive to require further illustration.

    “Your Royal Highness will perceive, upon a perusal of the treatise,
    that the general object of the author is to prove,

    “1.  That it is practicable to render air a means by which we may
    cause a peculiar sort of wheel carriage to convey both passengers and
    goods ten times faster than horses can draw any vehicle now in use.

    “2.  That this may be done with perfect safety and convenience.

    “3.  That we may, at one and the same time, move a weight exceeding
    that of 100,000 infantry or 10,000 cavalry; and, consequently, that a
    whole army may, in an hour, be transported over a space of 100 miles.

    “4.  That this method of transmission may be put in practice, for an
    expense per mile, far less than what several canals have cost, as
    will be apparent from the amounts of the several inland navigations
    of the United Kingdom, stated in my Report of January last.

    “5.  That the expense of transport by it will be so many times less
    than by any present method, that military as well as commercial
    benefits will result from it of the most important nature; and

    “6.  That the stoppages, inconveniences, and delays, which would
    otherwise arise from those who have charge of the exhausting
    apparatus at each end of the line of transit, setting it in operation
    at an improper time, may be prevented by the new mode of telegraphic
    communication described in the last section of the Treatise, which,
    being equally efficient during the most foggy weather and darkness,
    as in day light and clear weather, will admit of instantaneous
    communication between those who direct the operations at each end; so
    that any thing which it may be necessary should be known at one end,
    may be instantaneously communicated from the other, independent of
    the method of conveyance itself; an arrangement, without which, the
    operation of the principle would ever be attended with doubt, delay,
    and danger.

    “The vast importance which a method of transmission, combining the
    advantages of tenfold expedition and cheapness, must be, to an empire
    so extensive as that of Russia, I will not presume to point out to
    your Royal Highness, but pass to those particulars which appear to me
    to require further elucidation than the author’s object allowed of
    his giving.

    “The first thing is, the velocity at which the cause of motion, in
    this method of transmission, viz. the air, would move us, provided we
    could construct wheel carriages to go so fast.  This velocity would,
    if raised to its maximum, be between 900 and 1000 miles an hour.  But
    as saving nine-tenths the time now wasted in travelling post, would
    render the saving of portions of the remaining tenth, very
    unimportant, it will be unnecessary to trouble your Royal Highness
    with proof that it might be possible to do so, in perhaps a large
    proportion; and I therefore pass to the adduction of evidence, which
    shows that _it is certainly in our power to save nine-tenths_.

    “From the examination I have given to the construction, and what I
    have experienced as to the effect of the cylinder, or large tube, in
    which I was conveyed, according to this principle of transmission, I
    am convinced that exhaustion, to a degree which should give fifteen
    inches of mercury, may be effected—that is, half a vacuum; and as
    this would give an initial velocity of between 200 and 300 miles an
    hour, there is no reason to doubt but that a rate of motion equal to
    100 miles an hour may be attained, provided wheels can revolve so
    fast without igniting.  The operations of nature frequently impart to
    air a velocity of above 100 miles an hour; and in the process of
    fusing iron, it is artificially caused to move at rates varying from
    200 to nearly 700 miles an hour.  At the lower rate of 100 miles an
    hour, it must therefore be fully practicable to make it move.

    “The second thing I advert to, is, the quantity in which air may be
    exhausted, or taken out of a cylinder, or line of large pipe, such as
    is adverted to.  The blast cylinders used instead of bellows, for
    fusing iron, are all air pumps, and it is requisite only to arrange
    the valves properly, to render them condensing or exhausting pumps at
    pleasure.  Many of these pumps are large enough to exhaust 10,000
    cubic feet of air per minute.  Assuming the area of the cylinder to
    be 100 square feet, {22a} and the velocity at which we are to be
    conveyed to be 100 miles an hour, the combined operation of
    eighty-eight of these pumps would be required.  But the one referred
    to in page 18, will take out 22,000 cubic feet per minute; therefore,
    only forty such pumps as that would be required to exhaust air from
    the cylinder at the rate of 100 miles an hour—a number, the operation
    of which there will be no difficulty in combining.

    “The pressure requisite to cause air to move at the rate of 100 miles
    an hour, appears, by all experiments that have been made on the
    subject, to be less than half a pound per square inch.  Calculating
    from this datum the power requisite to move a column of air equal to
    the area of the cylinder, at the rate of 100 miles an hour, would be
    that of 1900 horses. {22b}

    “A steam engine of fifty horses’ power would, therefore, be required
    to each air pump, to cause the air to move at the rate of 100 miles
    an hour, independent both of the load to be moved, and of the
    friction of the air against the inside of the cylinder.  With
    reference to the first of these—the load to be moved—it is to be
    observed, that, owing to the principle combining the operation of by
    far the best railway I have ever seen, or, indeed, can conceive, with
    carriage wheels six times as high as those used on the patent single
    line railway, friction is diminished to a degree which will admit of
    the same power moving a considerably greater weight than on that
    railway.  It will, therefore, be quite safe to calculate only on the
    same effect being produced; and, according to this the extra power
    requisite to move 100 tons at the rate of 100 miles an hour, would be
    only 200 horses.  With reference to the friction of the air against
    the inside of the cylinder, as referred to at pages 68 to 74, several
    times the power will be required; so that, were there no other means
    of power and exhaustion than steam engines and air pumps, objection
    might arise in point of expense.  But, by what is stated at pages 50
    and 51, it appears that neither air pumps nor steam engines would be
    indispensably necessary; and although Mr. Vallance does not at
    present deem it prudent to give full explanation on this particular,
    he informs me, that whenever it may be requisite, he is prepared to
    prove that every purpose of exhaustion may be effected without other
    apparatus than what he can construct out of rough hewn trunks of
    trees; so that the question may be considered free from any
    objections which the necessity for costly machinery would give rise
    to in Russia.

    “Thirdly, that a vehicle capable of carrying both passengers and
    goods, can be so adapted to the inside of the cylinder as to be moved
    in it by the air when operated upon by the air pump, I can vouch,
    from having seen and experienced it; and as the rate at which this
    vehicle moves, is exactly commensurate with that at which the pumps
    exhaust air from the cylinder, it follows, that, at whatever rate air
    can be pumped out of the cylinder, the vehicle will be carried
    forward, provided that velocity does not exceed the rate at which
    wheels can revolve on their axes without ignition: with reference to
    which, it is to be observed,

    “Fourthly, that the number of revolutions made by a carriage wheel
    depends on the size of that wheel, as well as on the motion of the
    vehicle.  The fore wheels of the coaches which travel with the
    greatest expedition, revolve, on an average, about 100 times in a
    minute.  One of the peculiar advantages of the method Mr. Vallance
    proposes, is, that it admits of the wheels of the vehicles which move
    in the cylinder being several times larger than the wheels of
    carriages which run on roads; owing to their being always kept in an
    exactly perpendicular position, and consequently free from the strain
    thrown on the spokes of a common carriage wheel, by the deflections
    from the perpendicular, which the nature of and obstructions upon
    roads continually occasion.  Owing to this, the wheels of the
    vehicles which move in the proposed cylinder may be from ten to
    twelve feet in diameter; or nearly four times as large as the fore
    wheels of a coach.  The same number of revolutions, therefore, which
    the fore wheel of a coach makes in an hour, would move the vehicle in
    the cylinder forty miles; and twice and a half that number of
    revolutions would give 100 miles an hour.  Now if a common coach
    wheel which moves under the disadvantages of being constantly exposed
    to all the clogging and impediments arising from the dust and dirt of
    the road, can revolve for hours together at the rate of 100 times a
    minute, without being greased, excepting at the end of its journey of
    perhaps one hundred miles, it may fairly be presumed, that a wheel
    which would be not only free from all dust and dirt, but also moving
    in a reservoir of oil would revolve 250 times a minute without
    heating, even had we no such evidence as that referred to in page 36.
    But when that is taken into the consideration, all anxiety with
    reference to the effect a velocity of 100 miles an hour would have on
    the axes of the wheels, may be dismissed.

    “Fifthly, nor is it necessary that any anxiety should be entertained,
    as to the effect such a velocity would have on respiration; for in
    addition to what is urged on this matter at pages 28, 29, and 35, I
    have to state that, though I was purposely exposed to the ‘vacuum’ as
    it is termed, many times during my examination of, and riding in the
    cylinder, yet I did not experience the least inconvenience from it.
    Indeed, I should not have been aware of it, had my attention not been
    directed to it; the degree of exhaustion necessary to move a
    carriage, not being much more than the ten-thousandth part of a
    vacuum: a diminution of density, which would not lower the barometer
    so much as the two-hundredth part of an inch.

    “Sixthly, a degree of exhaustion, or vacuum, which is not sufficient
    visibly to affect the barometer, being enough to move the carriage
    with persons in it, so as for them to experience the effect, and
    fully comprehend the operation of the principle, it becomes evident
    that the idea at first entertained of a perfect vacuum being
    indispensable, is most erroneous; and the objections which at first
    present themselves to us, relative to the difficulty of constructing
    the cylinder—of making the joints air tight, and of so adapting the
    ends of the vehicle to the cylinder, as should prevent the passage of
    any important quantity of air, without occasioning great friction,
    are all seen to exist only in imagination.  In the cylinder which Mr.
    Vallance has in operation at Brighton, there is a space of above an
    inch in width, purposely left all round between the cylinder and the
    end of the carriage which forms the piston, against which the air
    presses to drive the carriage along; yet does not the air which
    rushes through this crevice (though it is in the whole equal to an
    aperture of two square feet), prevent the operation of the principle:
    its sole effect being a loss of a proportion of the power employed to
    drive the air pumps; a loss which Mr. Vallance intentionally submits
    to, for the sake of proving that a very large portion of air may rush
    by the piston end of the carriage, without preventing the effect of
    the principle.—Vide pages 30 and 31.

    “Seventhly, nor will the degree to which it may be necessary to
    exhaust, or, as it may in other words be termed, the degree of
    ‘vacuum’ required, to move even a very great weight, interpose any
    insuperable difficulty.  In the cylinder at Brighton, a party,
    consisting of his Grace the Duke of Bedford, the Earl of Lauderdale,
    Lord Holland, Lord W. Russell, Lady W. Russell, and another lady and
    gentleman, were all at the same time experiencing the operation of
    the principle, on the day I was last at Brighton, with a degree of
    exhaustion not exceeding two drachms per square inch; a proportion of
    vacuum which would lower the barometer about one-hundredth of an
    inch.  Practice therefore proves, as well as the arguments in pages
    47 and 48, that a very trivial degree of exhaustion will be
    sufficient to move a considerable load; and as it will be perfectly
    practicable to exhaust to a degree, that should render a barometer
    exposed to the vacuum inside the cylinder, several, if not many
    inches lower than one would stand exposed to the atmosphere, I do not
    think the amount stated in page 37 more than it may be possible to
    move at one time.  And with reference to weights of 50 or 100 tons,
    such as locomotive engines draw at once, there will certainly be no
    difficulty at all, let the velocity they are moved at be what it may.

    “Eighthly, under the trivial degree of exhaustion which will thus,
    generally speaking, be necessary, your Royal Highness will perceive,
    that rendering the cylinder sufficiently air-tight for the purpose,
    will be far less difficult than it is at first supposed.  Indeed, I
    see so many different ways of doing it, that I am satisfied it would
    not, in practice, prove more difficult, nor indeed so difficult, as
    causing some canals I have seen, to retain the water let into
    them.—Vide p. 45.

    “Ninthly, nor will there be any difficulty in regulating the motion
    of, and stopping the vehicle.  The shortest way of rendering this
    evident to your Royal Highness, will be to suppose the end of the
    carriage which, when in motion, stands across the cylinder, at a
    right angle with its course, to be capable of turning on a pivot; so
    that it may be moved one quarter of a circle, and placed in a line
    with the course of the cylinder: or edge to wind, like a sail when it
    shivers.  The consequence of this would be, that as the air would
    pass by without pressing against it, the power which moved the
    carriage forward would be taken off; and as the wheel could at the
    same time be dragged by a friction lever, while other levers caused
    friction against the side of the cylinder, the progress of the
    carriage could be commanded and stopped at pleasure.  This method of
    removing the effect of the pressure of the air against the carriage,
    not being that which would be made use of in practice, my reason for
    adverting to it, is solely to enable your Royal Highness to perceive,
    that a very simple arrangement will admit of its being done.  For the
    same reason, I only state, that to the axis of each carriage, would
    be connected clock work, which would shew the person who has charge
    of the carriage how far he has gone, and where he is, to a yard; so
    that there will be no uncertainty as to when and where to prepare for
    stopping, by gradually diminishing the motion of the carriage.  There
    will be every facility for perfect vision, as at each end of every
    carriage will be fixed a portable gas light.

    “Tenthly, this principle possesses an advantage over common roads, as
    well as rail-roads and canals, which will, under all circumstances,
    be generally, and, in some cases, highly important.  This advantage
    is, that the cause of motion (the atmospheric pressure) will act
    vertically as well as horizontally; and that in consequence of it,
    the filling up of hollows, and also deep cutting, as for canals and
    rail-roads, is unnecessary.  Not that it would be advisable to select
    hilly ground; though perfectly possible to go over any, the most
    abrupt rises, even were they nearly perpendicular.  But that any rise
    or fall over which a carriage road can be cut, would be quite level
    enough for the operation of the principle.

    “Eleventhly, I now mention the expense per mile, which I think will
    not, in Russia, exceed 10,000_l._  The calculations on which this
    opinion is founded, I do not here submit to your Royal Highness; but
    at such time as may be necessary they will be ready for transmission.

    “Twelfthly, the expense of transit, or carriage, by this principle.
    Assuming that the combined effect of the improved railway in the
    cylinder, and the six-fold diameter of the wheels, should not render
    any given power capable of moving more than on the single-line
    railway (vide my Report of August, 1825), one horse would move twenty
    tons; but independent of the effect which the wheels, being six times
    larger, would have in diminishing friction, the expense of
    transmission would be diminished many times, from the following
    circumstances:—On the single-line railway, the power employed is that
    of horses; and, considering the construction of that railway, and the
    height the rail must be in some situations above the ground, I do not
    conceive that locomotive engines can be ever used upon it.
    Horse-power is twenty-four times as dear as elementary power,
    employed in the way the Treatise points out.  Assuming, therefore,
    that the friction of the rarified air against the inside of the
    cylinder, as stated at pages 68 and 74, should increase the power
    required ten times, still would the expense of carriage be less than
    by the single line railway, while we should attain the important
    advantage of being able to transmit 10,000 tons, at any rate between
    what railways now transmit at, and 100 miles per hour, for an expense
    which, as relates to power, would be only the twenty-fifth part of a
    farthing per ton per mile.

    “But even were the friction of the rarefied air against the inside of
    the cylinder to increase the power required ten times, as I have
    supposed, it is not imperative that the expense of transmission must
    be increased in a similar degree.  Owing to its being well-known and
    universally received, steam is the first mover, or power, Mr.
    Vallance has referred to.  The researches of men of science in
    England have, however, been for some years directed to means of
    rendering the gases first movers, instead of steam, under the hope of
    obtaining an agent, which should serve as a mechanical first mover,
    without fuel.  From the year 1820, the attention of Mr. Vallance has
    been directed to this subject, with a view of rendering the method of
    conveyance the Treatise refers to perfect, in the particular of
    cheapness of transmission; and about two years ago he obtained a
    patent for a first mover, which will give ten times the power of
    steam, without any expense for fuel; the principle of which is stated
    in the Tract, marked letter B, which I have obtained from him, for
    the perusal of your Royal Highness.  The power therein referred to,
    proposed to be used instead of steam, would so greatly reduce the
    expense of transmission, that the cost of power would be ten times
    less than by the single line rail-road.

    “It will also be equally superior in point of safety and security
    from accidents, as it is in point of economy and expedition: it
    being, as stated in page 81, absolutely impossible to be overturned.

    “Thus combining expedition exceeding that of posting, with economy
    equal to that of canal transmission, it must appear that this
    principle is most importantly advantageous to an empire so vast in
    its extent as that of Russia, and, consequently, fully authorizes me
    most strongly to recommend that the Government should immediately
    contract with Mr. Vallance, to send a practical illustration of the
    principle, such as he has in operation at Brighton, which, being
    capable of carrying your Royal Highness, the Members of the Council,
    and Generals of the Arrondissements, over a space sufficient to
    demonstrate the practicability of the proposition, will place within
    command a reply to all objections from ignorant or interested

    “It has been deemed essentially important to the welfare of Russia to
    promote internal communication by canals, and immense sums have been
    expended in cutting them; but owing to the long duration of winter,
    they are useless during half the year; and so slow is the rate of
    transmission by them, that, even when in full operation, they can
    hardly serve to convey goods from one part of the empire to the
    other, before winter locks them up again.  Railways also, owing to
    the period the snow lays on the ground, and the continual drifting of
    it which takes place, would be available scarcely more than half the
    year.  But the principle here adverted to, being liable to
    interruption from neither frost nor snow, and equally effective by
    night as by day, offers a means of rendering the extremities of the
    empire contiguous to each other; and will do this at a much less
    charge than can ever be done by canals, or any other mode of

    “The vast importance of this principle to Russia, both in a military
    and commercial point of view, it is unnecessary for me to state to
    your Royal Highness; but I consider the manifold advantages it
    presents sufficiently demonstrated, to prompt me to recommend its
    speedy adoption from St. Petersburgh to Tsarsko-selo, the river
    Volga, Moscow, and the Black Sea.

                                               “WILLIAM COULING, K. V. &c.

    “London, Dec. 21, 1826.”

With these evidences that I do not presume to request your attention
relative to a mere theory, I trust I may be permitted to hope, that the
following observations relative to effecting a communication between your
canal at Kensington and the point of termination you propose, may be
deemed not wholly undeserving attention.

Were you to purchase land for either a canal or a railway, the width
required would not be less than sixty or seventy feet, while in some
parts it would be much more on account of the cuttings and embankments.

Supposing the method which I submit to you were to be adopted, a width of
only eight feet would be necessary, even were the tunnel to be carried,
as a canal or railway must be, along the surface of the ground; so that
my proposition has, to recommend it, this first feature, that only
one-eighth of the ground would be wanted that must be required for either
a canal or railway; while this recommendation would be attended with the
additional advantage, that, instead of the tunnel rendering the lands
through which it would pass, open, and liable to the depredations of the
bargemen and drivers, as canals or railways do, it would, owing to
communication going on _inside_ the tunnel, leave them still as private,
untrenched upon, and uninvaded, as a water or gas pipe would do.

In order, however, still more to obviate objections as to the course, and
additionally to reduce expense as to the nature of the ground required
for the line of communication which I suggest, I propose carrying the
tunnel _under_ ground, in lieu of upon it; while, instead of taking its
course across fields and cultivated grounds—as a canal or railway must
do—I propose taking it along the line of (though buried underneath)
certain bye-roads and (to coin a word) uncultivatible grounds lying
between your basin and the Grand Junction Canal, and the line of the
London and Birmingham Railway; by doing which, I anticipate that very
great expense, and still more important opposition, will be avoided;
while, as the farm-roads and tracks, along and underneath which I propose
to carry the tunnel, would be so importantly improved by it, as to be
rendered almost equal to turnpike roads, the execution of the work would
be an actual benefit, instead of an injury to the land under which it was

In addition to these things, the line I propose would save five per cent.
on the whole cost; owing to its being in that proportion shorter than the
line pointed out on the plan for the railway which was laid before the

The course I propose is as follows.  1st. Along the road on the east of
your basin, to the turnpike road; in which length I should sink it so as
to go under the turnpike.  2nd. Diagonally across the turnpike to the
bottom of Addison Road; up and underneath which it would be continued to
the Uxbridge Road.  3rd. Under that road, and the farm yard and ground
opposite Addison Road, to the Green lane which runs upwards by the side
of Morland Hall; where would be the only _cultivated_ ground (and that
only two or three furlongs) which it might be necessary to purchase.

From this point it would go under the track to Notting Barn Farm; and
from thence under that farm yard up the track to the bridge now crossing
the Grand Junction Canal; where I propose obviating any opposition of the
Grand Junction company, by fixing the bridge which must be thrown across
to carry the tunnel, _close_ to that bridge; so that there would still
be, as it were, but one bridge for their barges to pass under.

From this point it might be carried under the short piece of road leading
to the Harrow Road; and thence, under and across that road, up (though
under) Kilburn Lane, to the line of the London and Birmingham Railway.

There being only between three and four furlongs, which are cultivatible
throughout this route; and as the tunnel (being carried under them) would
be no impediment to the usual operations of agriculture (unless some
repair should, by chance, be necessary, while the crops were on the
ground) the expense of the ground line, would, comparatively, be not
worth speaking of; instead of proving the costly matter it would be, as
relates to a canal or railway.

And the foundation which the width of the “lengths” of the tunnel would
give for the railway inside it, being thirty times greater than those of
the bases on which the rails of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway are
laid (_those_ bases too, being of an extra and unusual size) the tunnel
would be less likely to need repair as relates to its foundation, than
the Liverpool and Manchester Railway is, by thirty times.  Indeed, owing
to the less weight there will be on each “length” of the tunnel, in
comparison with that thrown on the railway bases, the probability of
repair proving necessary will be less than this.

The stone blocks, or bases, which carry the rails of the Liverpool and
Manchester Railway are two feet square.  The weight of the large
locomotive engines on that railway, is above ten tons; more than half of
which, being thrown on two of the wheels, each block has three tons
weight on it when those wheels pass over it.  The pressure on every
square inch of the foundations of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway,
is, consequently, above four times as much as on the boilers of Boulton
and Watt’s steam-engines; from which result the sinkings, “drivings into
the ground,” and the twenty-fold more expensive repairs than were
originally calculated on, alluded to in the extract from the Foreign
Quarterly Review, given at page 11.

Now as the construction of the carriages which would go in the tunnel,
would prevent more than three tons being thrown on a “length” of the
tunnel; and as each of these “lengths” would expose a base of 120 square
feet to the ground, the pressure on each square inch of the foundation of
the tunnel, would not be one-thirtieth of what it is on the bases of the
Manchester and Liverpool Railway; which, taken in conjunction with the
superior bases exposed by the tunnel, would, perhaps, render the
probability of sinking less than one hundredth.  It may, therefore, be
presumed that after the tunnel was once fairly set in its place, it never
would be necessary to disturb the ground over it.

Neither will the height to be surmounted by your extension, prove an at
all serious impediment to the effect of the principle which the tunnel
will enable us to put in operation.

As the pressure of the atmosphere, acting in all directions, admits of a
tunnel being effective even were it fixed vertically, all gradations of
ascent, fall, necessarily, within in its range; with varieties of effect,
increasing in proportion as their angles approach the horizon.  In
consequence of this, the height to be surmounted in the course of your
extension, is merely an impediment of degree; while the following
circumstance will render that degree comparatively unimportant.

Few things are better known than that a Stage Coachman, when he
approaches a rise of the road, pushes his horses to a gallop; because
“the swing of the coach” (as he expresses it) “carries his cattle up the
hill.”  The principle is known to every one; while it is almost equally
well known that the law of its operation, is according to the square of
the velocity; so that the momentum of a coach which meets the hill with
the horses pushed into a gallop that causes the rate of the vehicle to be
16 miles an hour, will (friction abstracted) rise four times as high as
one that meets the hill when going at the rate of 8 miles an hour: the
continuance of the operation of the power which overcame friction on the
level, being (so far as relates to its counteractive effect) equivalent
to an annihilation of friction.

This law is well known.  Now let us see how this knowledge has been taken
advantage of, by those who have had the expenditure of hundreds of
thousands, placed at their discretion.

Rates of from 35 to 40 miles an hour, have been attained on the Liverpool
and Manchester Railway for these four years.  Supposing friction to be
counteracted and neutralized, the momentum of a vehicle that was moving
on a level at the rate of 36 miles an hour, would “swing” and cause it to
rise up an inclined plane to the height of 43⅓ feet perpendicular, let
the angle of ascent, or rate of rise, be what it might; while, as a
velocity of 20 miles an hour, would, under similar circumstances, “swing”
a carriage up 13⅓ feet perpendicular, and a velocity of 10 miles an hour,
3⅓ feet perpendicular, it needs not, _nor ever has needed_ any thing more
than a proper arrangement of levels and inclined planes, to avoid _all_
deep cutting, high embanking, or tunnelling, in the line of a railway,
except where a precipitous rise or hollow interposed itself.

It is true that it may, with reference to the deep cuttings and high
embankments of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway be replied, that at
the time these works were executed, it was not known that such great
velocities could be attained on railways. {29a}  But though it was not
then _known_ that these rates of motion could be attained, yet was it as
well known as it is now, that rates of ten miles an hour could be
attained by horses: while, though the first line of the railway was laid
out in 1824, and the present line in 1825, it was not till October, 1828,
that it became decided whether horse or elementary power should be
employed: vide pages 62, 67, 68, and 69 of Mr. Treasurer Booth’s “Account
of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway.”

And notwithstanding that instances of velocities equal to ten miles an
hour having been attained by locomotive engines, were not very common at
the time the line of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway was laid out,
yet do the under-quoted extracts from various publications of the period
prove, both that they _had_ been attained, and that much higher
velocities were confidently anticipated: while Mr. Treasurer Booth, at
page 37 of his book, says, that “the earth work (comprising the cuttings
and embankings along the whole line) was not commenced till January,
1827.” {29b}

Such statements being (as it were, officially) promulgated, and such
opinions entertained relative to the velocities attainable by locomotive
engines:—the question as to the employment of horses being, thus, an open
one, not only during the survey for the second line, but also for two
years and a half after the Act for the Liverpool and Manchester Railway
was obtained; and it being equally well known as it is that the sun gives
light, that for the gallop which coachmen push their horses to just
before touching a hill, in order to give their vehicles the momentum
which imparts the “swing that carries their horses up the hill”, rates of
15 or 16 miles an hour could be attained—it being thus known at the time
the line of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway was laid out, that
average velocities of 10, and occasional velocities of 15 miles an hour
could be attained: and it being unquestionable that if friction be
counteracted (as it is by the continuance of the operation of the moving
power) the momenta imparted by those velocities will carry any vehicle up
any inclined plane to the heights of 3⅓ and 7½ feet, it was necessary
only to have laid out the railway in short levels, with sharp inclined
planes rising a foot or two between them, to have avoided all deep
cutting or high embanking.

It is true that owing to velocities of ten miles an hour, having at that
time, been only occasionally attained by locomotive engines, it might
have been proper to keep these ranges of levels, and inclined planes
_within_ the limit prescribed by that rate.  But as this limit is not
within a vertical rise of 3 feet 4 inches, it would have been perfectly
possible, by arranging short levels with sharp inclined planes of three
feet in height between them, to have avoided the _whole_ of those deep
cuttings and high embankments of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, of
which the under-quoted extract from Mr. Treasurer Booth’s book gives such
glowing descriptions. {30}

Admitting, however, (for the question’s sake) that the “most eminent
engineers” and their “assistants of undoubted talents,” by whom these
“Pelion-upon-Ossa-like spoil banks, towering over the adjacent land” were
ordered—and of which Mr. Booth says, in addition, “this aggregate mass
has been removed to various distances, from a few furlongs to between
three and four miles; and no inconsiderable portion of it has been
hoisted up by machinery from a depth of 30 to 60 feet”—admitting that
these gentlemen should have been warranted in expending the hundreds of
thousands which were paid for making these mountains between Liverpool
and Manchester, by the uncertainty then prevalent as to what velocities
were attainable by locomotive engines, it cannot be said that the
engineers of the London and Birmingham Railway have any similar
justification to plead.  That line was not, I believe, laid out till
1831, while the velocities attained on the Liverpool and Manchester
Railway, and the short time within which London and Birmingham could, in
consequence, be brought of each other, form the main features of the
prospectus: rates of from 35 to 40 miles an hour having been (then)
_long_ attained on the Liverpool and Manchester railway.

Yet does the “Estimate” laid before Parliament shew no less a sum than
429,286_l._ appropriated to “Excavations, Embankments, and Tunnelling,”
which, with “the increase in the number of arches in the Wolverton
viaduct,” will give an _estimated_ expenditure of nearly half a million
to do that, which, taking _proper_ advantage of the law of motion I am
adverting to, would entirely have saved; except where a hill as
perpendicular as a wall, or a hollow as precipitous as a well, rendered
tunnelling, deep cutting, or filling up, absolutely unavoidable.

At the time the Birmingham Railway was before Parliament last session,
maps of it were issued from the office of that company, which gave the
“Section of the line of railway; shewing the rises and falls.”

This section is on too small a scale to shew either the height of the
embankments or the depth of the cuttings: and though it has not suited my
convenience to spare the time necessary for examining the section
deposited in Parliament, yet as the cubic yards of cuttings and
embankments amount to nearly twenty-three millions: as the map and
section I have just mentioned shew ten tunnels (some of which are a mile
and upwards in length): and inclined planes, in _unbroken_ rises of 6, 8,
10, 11, 13, 20, and 25 miles, there can be no doubt but that _much_ deep
cutting and high embanking is included in it.  Now though I do not mean
to imply that the expense of _all_ cutting and embanking could have been
saved, by taking proper advantage of the power of ascending heights,
which is imparted by the momenta of the velocities whereat locomotive
engines now go, yet I do mean to state it as my full conviction, that had
this railway been (as the second prospectus of the Liverpool and
Manchester Railway, stated that line should be) “laid down and arranged
with that skill and conformity with the rules of mechanical science,
which will equally challenge approbation, whether considered as a
national undertaking of great public utility, or as a magnificent
specimen of art” the whole of the anticipated expenses of _deep_ cutting
and _high_ embanking would have been expunged from the estimates; it
being certain, that deep cuttings, high embankments, and _long_ inclined
planes are no more evidences of engineering skill, than winning a battle
by hard fighting is of generalship: while the expense of the numerous
“very small cuttings varying from 8 to 10 feet,” which are spoken of in
the “Minutes of Evidence taken before the Lords’ Committees,” might as
certainly have been saved, and those rises passed over by the vehicles in
consequence of their momentum; as a cricket ball will roll over a

But if these remarks are applicable to the Birmingham Railway—the line of
which, was I believe, laid out in 1831—what must be said relative to the
_now_ proposed London and Bristol Railway?

For nearly twelve months the principle of avoiding level, and
constructing “undulating railways” has been discussed, in consequence of
Mr. Badnall having taken out a patent for, and published a work,
proposing such “undulating railways”: and though, owing to the fall on
your line being wholly (as well as _greatly_) one way, it is not
necessary to express any opinion here on a proposition, which appears to
have for its object the construction of unlevel railways _in preference_
to level ones, and the labour of toiling up hill for the sake of the
momentum to be obtained by running down hill, yet as, in consequence of
it, the effect of momentum in carrying moving bodies up ascents, has been
largely and widely adverted to for the last twelve months (nearly), it
must have been within the expectation of every one, that, let the
gentleman who has been employed to lay out the line of the Bristol
Railway be anxious as he might, to avoid any “undulating” proposition, he
would be equally anxious to call in the aid of all _known_ and
_established_ principles, to diminish the expense of the line he was
required to lay down. {32}

Now, nothing, I believe, is more certain, than that if a vehicle be
moving along a level at the rate of 2¾ (2.7272) miles an hour, it will,
on coming to an inclined plane, and provided the operation of the power
which overcame friction on the level, be continued, so as to neutralise
and (as relates to counteractive effect) annihilate friction during the
ascent, “swing” itself up, and rise to the height of (that is, its
momentum will cause it to rise to the height of) three inches
perpendicular; let the angle of ascent, or rate of rise of the plane, be
what it may.

Equally certain is it, that if the velocity of the vehicle be twice 2¾
miles an hour, that is 5.4544 miles, the momentum will (under similar
circumstances as to counteraction of friction) then cause the vehicle to
rise up said inclined plane to four times the height to which the former
velocity raised it; or to the height of one foot.  And it is equally
certain, that the momenta imparted by increased velocities will, under
the circumstance of the friction of the vehicle being overcome,
neutralised, and (as relates to counteractive effect) annihilated, by the
continued operation of the moving power during the ascent, cause the
vehicle to rise up any inclined plane to the perpendicular heights stated
in the following table:—

Carriages moving on levels, at the      Have momenta, which (friction
under-mentioned velocities, the         being counteracted and
motions of which are changed from       neutralised) will cause them
horizontal to ascending, by means,      to rise to the
either of circular or angular           under-mentioned heights
ascents.                                (perpendicular) above the
                                        level where those velocities
                                        were attained: let the rate
                                        of rise, or angle of ascent,
                                        be what it may.
MILES.                MILES PER HOUR.                   PERPENDICULAR.
          2¾  or                2.7272                       3 inches.
          5½  or                5.4544                       1.0 foot.
          11  or               10.9088                       4.0 feet.
          22  or               21.8176                        16.0 do.
          44  or               43.6352                        64.0 do.
          88  or               87.2704                       256.0 do.
         176  or              174.5404                      1024.0 do.
    352 {33}  or              349.0808                      4096.0 do.

Now, let it have been proper as it may, that the gentleman whose name
appears as “Engineer” to the Bristol Railway, should (in laying out that
line) have avoided encumbering the subject with the “undulating”
question, there can be no doubt that it was incumbent on him to diminish
expense in every way which _established_ principles admitted.  And as the
usual railway rate is now 20 miles an hour, while that rate will give
momentum enough to cause any vehicle to rise up any inclined plane to the
height of 13⅓ feet (perpendicular) above the level on which it was
running at the rate of 20 miles an hour, it is necessary only to lay out
the line of this railway in levels, and rises of 10 feet each, to avoid
(very nearly, if not _quite_) all necessity for cutting, or embanking;
while _deep_ cutting, _high_ embanking, and tunnelling, might (except in
_very_ peculiar cases) have been as certainly avoided, as erecting a
suspension bridge will obviate the necessity for piers and arches over a
river.  Yet does not this gentleman appear to have any more called in the
aid of this law of motion, than did those equally “_eminent_ engineers”
who laid out the line of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway; or those
who have laid out that of the Birmingham Railway: the “Report” of the
public meeting held at Bristol, on the 30th July last, stating that
“although the line of country (except for about 30 miles at the Bristol
end) is _very advantageous_, yet the comparative levelness of the railway
will be attained by a _great deal_ of deep cutting, and _several_
tunnels;” while the prospectus issued from the London office of the
Company states, that “the construction of a road so nearly level, in the
hilly country about Bath and Bristol, will, unavoidably, be a costly

The length of the Birmingham Railway is 112½ miles; that of the Bristol
Railway “from 115 to 118 or 120 miles,” average 117½.  The estimated
expense of the cuttings, embankments, and tunnels, of the Birmingham
Railway is 429,286_l._ or 3,185_l._ per mile.  The same expense on the
Bristol Railway is (835,300_l._ + 15,000_l._=) 850,300_l._ or 7,236_l._
per mile; that is, above twice as much: and this too, notwithstanding
that the Report states that “this expensive part of the work,
fortunately, lies principally in two of the most favourable materials—the
chalk and the freestone;” and also notwithstanding that the estimate of
the Birmingham Railway has undergone two years’ scrutiny, and the most
rigid investigation, by several Parliamentary Committees; while that for
the Bristol Railway is the result of only a “_preliminary_ survey,”
directed by a “Provisional Committee:” so that were it to be increased as
the estimate for the Birmingham Railway has been increased, it would be
_many_ times as much as the similar work on that railway.  Indeed, the
parties themselves have made a considerable increase already: 10 per
cent. being added to the above amount of 850,300 by the Bristol
Committee, and 7 per cent. by the London Committee; {34a} so that
978,494_l._ is the _whole_ amount at present allowed for works, which
taking proper advantage of the momentum of the vehicles would have saved.

Yet, with well-known laws of motion thus set at nought and neglected, and
with expense thus unnecessarily as well as most enormously added to, are
the Committee—gentlemen who were, unavoidably, as entirely dependant on
the opinion of their engineers, as the Ministry of 1789 were upon that of
the “Insanity Doctors,” relative to the mental affliction of George III.;
or as those of 1830 were on that of the physicians who attended George
IV. during his long illness—under circumstances of such entire dependence
on the opinion of their engineers, are the “Provisional Committee” of the
Bristol Railway led into the following expressions of approbation in
their Report: “The Committee think it but justice to say, that the zeal,
the diligence, the _ability and other valuable qualities_ manifested by
these gentlemen, have given them ample reason to congratulate themselves
on their choice”!; and “The Committee, in conclusion, _repeat_ that they
have carefully availed themselves of the resources of _skill and
experience_ in investigating the probable cost of the railway.” {34b}

Now as, were I to presume to manifest “skill, experience, ability, and
other valuable qualities,” _such as these_, with respect to your line, or
thus to throw away, not only hundreds of thousands, but also half
millions, on any other, I should be sure to experience the truth of that
proverb, which says that merely looking over the hedge shall subject one
man to the operations of “the _finisher_ of the law,” while another man
may steal the horse with impunity, I must avail myself of this law of
motion, which “skill, ability, experience, and other valuable qualities”
so neglect and despise, to get loads up the rise which you wish to
surmount, without resorting to deep cutting or high embanking.

Sixty feet of the rise to be surmounted, occurring in the last half-mile
of your line, I shall have nearly two miles to acquire the necessary
velocity in: and as the continuation of the action of the power which
overcame friction on the level, will neutralise, and, as relates to
counteractive effect, annihilate the friction of the carriages while
ascending these sixty feet, I have only to cause them to attain a
velocity somewhat greater than has yet been attained on railways, that
is, 42½ miles an hour during the two miles, to enable them to “swing”
themselves up these sixty feet, in consequence of the momentum which that
velocity will impart: while, let the height of Rodway Hill (which is
adverted to as so desirable to avoid, in the Report of the Provisional
Committee of the Bristol Railway) be what it may, all that would be
requisite to obviate the necessity for the “inclined plane and stationary
engine” spoken of as unavoidable there, would be to attain the velocity
due to the altitude of said hill, to enable my vehicles to surmount it
from their momentum.

Nor would the ascending power imparted by the vertical operation of the
pressure of the atmosphere, be much less important with respect to
diminishing the expense of bridging, on the line of this Bristol Railway,
than would “momentum” as relates to the expense of cutting and embanking.
From the map issued from the London office of that Company, it appears
that that railway is to be carried five times across the Avon; twice
across the Kennet and Avon Canal; three times across the Wilts and Berks
Canal; and four times across the Thames.  These various crossings are not
for the sake of approaching places of magnitude, or commercial
importance; but solely because the _principle_ of railway transmission
compels the level to be servilely adhered to: while, though the right
line distance between London and Bristol is only 108 miles, yet is the
line of railway there laid down, shewn as being 120 miles long; the 12
additional miles being added by the curves taken in thus crossing these
waters for the sake of the level.

Now though I do not mean to say that it would be possible, by laying down
a tunnel instead of this railway, to avoid all bridging whatsoever, yet
owing to hills and rises being no impediment to the operation of this
principle, the line for a tunnel might be several miles shorter than this
line of the railway, and yet the whole of these bridges be saved,
excepting one over the Avon; while not a quarter of the expense would be
incurred for carrying a tunnel over the waters which _its_ course must
cross, which will be incurred in bridging the railway over those other
waters that intersect its course, which are not laid down in the map
shewing its line.

The estimated expense of bridging for the railway is 474,800_l._; which,
when increased by the per centages allowed by the Committees, amounts to
556,194_l._ as the whole _estimated_ expense of bridging.  What
proportion of this amount is for bridging over waters, and what for
bridging over roads, is not stated.  On the Liverpool and Manchester
Railway 108,565_l._ 11_s._ 9_d._ was expended on 63 bridges; of which
only five were over waters: the other 58 being over roads, or to carry
roads over the railway.  On the Birmingham Railway the number of bridges
is 300; of which only nine _are stated_ to be over waters, the others
being for roads.  The estimated amount of them is 350,574_l._  One bridge
alone (the Sankey viaduct) on the Liverpool and Manchester line, cost
nearly 50,000_l._

Now as the power of going up or down, imparted by the vertical operation
of the pressure of the atmosphere, would render it wholly immaterial
whether the level was preserved in the line of a tunnel; as burying it
under ground, in the manner proposed at page 27, would equally do away
with any occasion for the _many_ hundreds of bridges, which, on the three
lines I have mentioned, must be provided to carry those railways clear of
roads, as it would save bridging over the roads on your line; and as a
tunnel could have been carried _under_ the Sankey, for almost one-tenth
of the expense it cost to construct the viaduct by which the Liverpool
and Manchester Railway is carried over that canal—as my principle offers
facilities of this kind for obviating the necessity of bridging—I do not
hesitate to say, that, on the whole three lines, and considering how much
the actual, will exceed the estimated amounts, above one million sterling
might be saved in the item of bridging alone, by substituting tunnels for
railways; which, when added to, as it would be, by the almost equal
amount that would be saved in the expense of the land, in consequence of
my plan requiring a width of only ten or a dozen feet _under_ ground,
instead of from 60 to 300 on the surface, will admit of my saying that
(in round numbers) nearly two millions might be saved by my plan, in
these two items of bridging and land, on the lines of the Liverpool and
Manchester, the London and Birmingham, and the London and Bristol
Railways: while, if what my plan would save of the 398,286_l._ allowed
for the cost of land, and of the 261,928_l._ allowed for that of the
entrances to London, Bath, and Bristol, be added to the savings I have
stated it would effect in bridging, cutting, embanking, and tunnelling, I
may say that it would also save nearly two millions (of the _present_
estimated expense) on the Bristol Railway alone.

The ten times greater heights than I have yet specified, which may be
surmounted by combining the operation of the momentum of the _air itself_
with that of the vehicles, it is not necessary for me to trouble you
with, owing to the shortness of your line, and the small height to be
ascended: though it may be permitted me to observe, that as attaining
only equal velocities to those which have been spoken of as attainable by
locomotive engines and steam-coaches, will enable my vehicles, of
themselves, to surmount hills of many hundred feet in height; while
combining with their momentum, the momentum of the air itself (that which
is _before_ the vehicles; the friction whereof will be overcome, and
neutralised by the operation of the exhausting apparatus) in tunnels of
proper length, and loads of corresponding weight, will enable me to
ascend more thousands of feet, than the momentum of the vehicles alone
will carry them up hundreds, I may be able to extend Louis le Grand’s
exclamation, “Il n’y a plus des Pyrennées,” to “il n’y a plus des
montagnes sur la terre,” so far as relates to their longer preventing
intercourse between countries; and consequently render the whole earth
level to us, in point of effect.

In reference to the force required to overcome the friction of the medium
by which the moving power operated to impel the carriages, would a tunnel
be also superior to a railway.  From Messrs. R. Stephenson and Locke’s
reply to Mr. Walker’s Report to the Directors of the Liverpool and
Manchester Railway, it appears that the friction of the ropes by which
stationary engines draw waggons up inclined planes, is one-twelfth of
their weight: while, as the latter part of your line gives a sharper rise
than that of the Liverpool tunnel, the weight of the rope you must use
should not be less than 7lbs. per yard; the friction and gravitation of
which would be 0.73231b. per yard, or 1289lbs. per mile.  The line in the
plan for the railway, which was laid before your meeting, being 2½ miles
long, the whole resistance of friction and gravitation upon it would be
3222 lbs.

From experiments on the friction of air in tubes, I am enabled to state
that both the inertia and friction of the air against the inside of an
equal length of the tunnel I propose to you to lay down would not, when
said air was moved _by exhaustion_, and conveying 50 tons at the same
rate at which the same quantity is drawn up the tunnel of the Liverpool
and Manchester Railway (i.e. ten miles an hour), be so much as one
sixteenth part of this; while it would have this important advantage,
that the heavier the load was, the less would be both the inertia and
friction of the air.  For instance: the degree of exhaustion requisite to
admit of an equal load to what is drawn up the Liverpool tunnel (i.e. 50
tons) being moved up a tunnel of the same size as that I constructed at
Brighton, and rising at the same rate your’s must rise (1 in 47) by the
pressure of the atmosphere, would be about the 40th part of a vacuum.

But supposing ten times this load were to be raised, the degree of
exhaustion must be ten times as great, or about the fourth of a vacuum.
And, as the greater the exhaustion, the less the expansive power, and,
consequently the less the inertia and friction of the air inside the
exhausted part of the tunnel, this “rope of air” as it has, derisively,
been called, possesses the important advantage of decreasing as relates
to the density, inertia, and friction, which _itself_ opposes, in
proportion to the increase of the load drawn by it: while, as the valves
I should place at every quarter, or half, or whole mile, to be opened by
the carriages as they pass them, and admit air immediately behind said
carriages, would prevent there being the inertia and friction of more
than a few hundred yards of air of the _natural_ density behind the
carriages to be overcome, the impediment which presents an insuperable
obstacle in the opinion of the numbers who have condemned the proposition
(because they deemed operating by exhaustion the same as operating per
plenum) diminishes, in point of fact, to a far less important hindrance,
than that which is occasioned by the old system of drawing loads by means
of stationary engines and ropes; since, in the present instance, the
inertia and friction would not be the one-hundred-and-sixtieth part of
what it would be, to move an equal quantity by the stationary engine, and
rope system.

And notwithstanding that the superiority which the tunnel possesses over
the locomotive system is not so great at this, yet is it important.

In the instructions given to Mr. Walker by the Directors of the Liverpool
and Manchester Railway (and which called from him the Report criticised
by Messrs. R. Stephenson and Locke), it is stated that “the quantity of
traffic for which it will be expedient to provide the power of
conveyance” is about 4000 tons, from each to the other of those places,

In his publication on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, Dr. Lardner
says, “In the experiments which I have detailed, it appears that a steam
engine is capable of drawing 90 tons at the rate of about 20 miles an
hour; and that it could transport that weight twice between Liverpool and
Manchester in about three hours.” {38a}  The weight of this engine alone
being 8.1 tons, the whole weight of itself, and its tender, with the
necessary supplies of fuel and water, will not be less than twelve tons.
Therefore, the friction of the engines (and their tenders) requisite to
carry these 4000 tons at the rate of 20 miles an hour, would be 4267 lbs.

The friction of one mile of air in a tunnel eight feet in diameter, when
moved at the rate of 20 miles an hour by _exhaustion_ being 288lbs., the
friction of it in a tunnel extending from Liverpool to Manchester, will
be 8640lbs.: which, though double the friction of these locomotive
engines, might be far cheaper for the following reason; and independent
of the circumstance, that I could lay down a tunnel capable of carrying
all these 4000 tons at one and the same time, from Liverpool to
Manchester, for one-fourth of what that railway has cost; {38b} and also
independent of the circumstance that the enormous expense now incurred
for the repairs of the locomotives (as stated on page 11) would also be

It is well known that the smaller a steam-engine is, the larger is the
proportionate quantity of fuel it requires, and the greater the
proportionate expense of working it; while it is equally well known that,
owing to the imperative importance of lightness and efficiency over
economy in locomotive engines, this disadvantage increases in a most
rapid ratio with respect to them.  In consequence of this, a quantity of
fuel, which, in large stationary engines, such as I should use for
exhausting air from the tunnel, would do a given quantity of work, would,
in the best of the locomotives on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway,
do only one-sixteenth as much work.

Therefore it results, that, notwithstanding the friction of the air in a
tunnel 30 miles long would, at the rate of 20 miles an hour, be twice as
much as the friction of the locomotive engines, yet, owing to the fuel
consumed by the latter, to move themselves and their tenders, being
sixteen times as great as large stationary engines, such as I should use,
would require to do the same work, the tunnel would, supposing the whole
quantity of goods were to be carried at once, be eight times the cheapest
mean of conveyance, in point of current expenses only, and without
reference to its first cost being only one-fourth that of the railway;
and also without reference to the whole of the enormous expense now
occasioned by the repairs of the locomotive engines being saved.

But this is not the only proportion in which a tunnel might be cheaper.
The 13th paragraph of the Russian Engineer Officer’s Report, states, that
he is “convinced that exhaustion to a degree which should give a pressure
of fifteen inches of mercury may be effected in the tunnel.”  Now,
notwithstanding that much more than this may be done in an iron tunnel,
yet will I calculate on this only.  Fifteen inches of mercury being 7.3
lbs. that pressure on the area of the tunnel, would move above twice the
4000 tons which the Directors of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway
estimated would be carried from one to the other of those places every
day; which, supposing that weight to be conveyed at one time, would
reduce the expense (per ton of goods carried) of overcoming the friction
of air moving in a tunnel from Liverpool to Manchester, at the rate of 20
miles an hour, to one-sixteenth of what the power required to overcome
the friction of the locomotive engines required to draw the same weight
would cost.

And though, owing to its being a received opinion that the power required
to overcome the friction of fluids increases according to the square of
the velocity, we are to suppose that at 40 miles an hour, the fuel
required to overcome the friction of the air would be one-fourth that of
the locomotive engines, while at 80 miles an hour it would be equal to
that of the engines, still would a quadruple velocity be attained, by the
expenditure of only an equal quantity of fuel.

The amount of the power required to overcome the friction of the
locomotive engines (and their tenders) necessary to carry 4000 tons
weight from Liverpool to Manchester daily, at the rate of 20 miles an
hour, is, when expressed in “horse’ power” equal to the power of 225
horses working for an hour and a half.  In other words, these locomotives
must exert power to this amount, beyond what is required to draw the 4000
tons weight.

The power required to overcome the friction of air, which was moving (by
exhaustion) at the rate of 20 miles an hour, in a tunnel of eight feet
diameter, extending from Liverpool to Manchester, would be equal to that
of 456 horses: which, though double the preceding, would yet be eight
times cheaper, owing to large stationary engines, such as I should use,
requiring only one-sixteenth part of the fuel required by locomotives to
do equal work.

At 40 miles an hour (supposing locomotives could go so fast) the number
of horses’ power required to overcome the friction of the air in the
tunnel would (according to the received opinion of that friction
increasing to the square of the velocity) be 3650: which, though sixteen
times greater than that of the locomotive engines and their tenders, yet,
in consequence of this power being exerted only for three-quarters of an
hour, instead of an hour and a half, and of fuel doing sixteen times as
much work in large stationary engines as in locomotives, would be only
half so expensive as the locomotives and their tenders would prove.

At 80 miles an hour (which is twice as fast as locomotives can go) the
power required to overcome the friction of the air in the tunnel, would
(on the calculation that it increases according to the square of the
velocity) be equal to that of 29,196 horses; which is nearly 130 times as
much as the locomotive engines would require: though, owing to this power
operating only 22½ minutes, instead of an hour and a half, and to fuel in
large stationary engines doing sixteen times as much work as in
locomotives, the expense would be only twice as great as in the
locomotives, exclusive of the whole of the most enormous expense now
incurred, by the repairs of the locomotives being saved (which would,
alone, more than make up the difference) and also exclusive of the tunnel
costing only one quarter of what the railway has cost, and of the rate of
conveyance being four times as fast.

But it is not with respect to a tunnel only, that the resistance of the
air opposes an impediment: this resistance being found so serious an
obstacle to the progress of the locomotive engines and their loads, that
in all trials of, or experiments with them, the state and direction of
the wind is noted and allowed for.  In the “Account of the Liverpool and
Manchester Railway,” published by the Treasurer of that Company (H.
Booth, Esq.), he says: “Moreover, at great velocities, the resistance of
the air must not be left out of the calculation.  At ten miles per hour,
it has been found by experiment, that the resistance of the atmosphere is
about half a pound weight on a square foot of flat surface; at fifteen
miles, the resistance is 1lb. per square foot; and at twenty miles, about
2lbs. per square foot: the increased resistance being, nearly, as the
squares of the velocities.” {40}

The surface opposed to the air by a steam-coach, the engines of which its
proprietor told me were equal to ten horses power, I found to be 30
square feet.  That, opposed by another, the engines of which were said to
be equal to twenty horses power, I found to be above 50 square feet:
while, when carrying four outsides on the front of the roof, this coach
exposed nearly 70 square feet to the action of the air.  The surface
opposed to the air by the large locomotive engines now used on the
Liverpool and Manchester Railway, I understand (when chimney, axle-tree,
wheels, and every thing that cuts the air, is taken into account) to be
about 40 feet square.  Supposing it to be so, at 20 miles an hour, the
air will oppose resistance equal to 80lbs. to the progress of the engine;
which resistance having to be overcome at the rate of 1760 feet per
minute, is equal to 4¼ horses power.  At 40 miles an hour, this
resistance would be 320lbs.; which resistance having to be overcome at
the rate of 3526 feet per minute, would be equal to 34 horses power.  At
80 miles an hour, the resistance of the air would be 1280lbs.; which
resistance, having to be overcome at the rate of 7,040 feet per minute,
would be equal to 270 horses power; while at 100, and 120 miles an hour,
the power required would be, respectively, that of 528 and 912 horses.

Now, as the force required at 80 miles an hour, is a _few_ times more
than the whole power of those engines, and as Dr. Hutton found that
giving the moving body the form of a cone, the height of which equalled
the diameter of its base, diminished the resistance of the air only half,
it may serve to shew that the statements of those who have given currency
to the opinion that we may be conveyed at _any_ velocity on railways, are
promulgated by persons who pronounce upon questions without examining
them: since, in addition to this resistance of the _air_ to the
locomotive engines themselves, would be its resistance to the tenders,
and coaches or waggons they drew; and that, too, independent of, and
additional to, the resistance opposed by the _railway_ friction of the
engines, tenders, and loads, behind them.

That something of this kind prevents _very_ high velocities from being
attained on railways, is evident.  At the locomotive engine competition
on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway four years ago, velocities of
from 35 to 40 miles an hour, were attained by engines which were not
one-tenth the power of some of those now used; while, at the opening of
that railway, three years ago, the engine by which the surgeon was
brought to Mr. Huskisson, after his deplorable accident, went 15 miles in
25 minutes, which is at the rate of 36 miles an hour.  Yet do not the so
much more powerful locomotives now used on that road, go faster than
this: a circumstance which may prove that the limit to the velocity of
railway conveyance, will arise from a source not calculated on.

“But,” it may be observed, “this objection to the possibility of very
high velocities on railways, is counterbalanced by the dilemma in which
you place yourself, by supposing it to be possible that any such power as
that of 29,196 horses, can, at one time, be made to operate on a tunnel;
since, as relates to practical application, it would prove ‘an impossible

The inference I deny; and, when necessary, will disprove. {41}  But the
term I accept; and will avail myself of, to shew that it is equally “an
impossible quantity” that even if a tunnel were ten times as long as one
between Manchester and Liverpool, the friction of air which is caused to
move in it, in consequence of exhaustion taking place at the opposite
end, can ever oppose an impediment such as is here adverted to.

According to the opinion that the friction of the air would increase as
the square of the velocity, the friction of the column of air, which,
when moved by exhaustion at the rate of 20 miles an hour, in a tunnel
eight feet diameter and a mile long, was 288lbs., would, when moved at
the rate of 80 miles an hour, be 4608lbs.; which, on the whole area of
the tunnel, would be equal to 1.3 inches of mercury.  Therefore,
supposing that at every mile of a tunnel extending from Liverpool to
Manchester, barometer tubes were to be inserted, the bottoms (or basin
ends) of which should be open to the atmosphere, and the tops open to the
inside of the tunnel, the mercury in each successive tube would
(reckoning _towards_ the end at which the exhaustion took place) rise 1.3
inches higher than that in the preceding.

Now as 1.3×23 gives 30, while 1.3×30 gives 39, it appears that at 23
miles from that end of the tunnel at which the atmosphere was admitted,
and seven from that where the exhaustion took place, there would be such
a vacuum as would raise mercury the _whole_ height of the barometric
column; while, at the end of the 30 miles there would be—or rather
_ought_ to be, according to this calculation—39 inches of mercury; or a
vacuum and a third; which, in addition to its being “an impossible
quantity,” places those who contend that the resistance of the friction
of air which is caused to move through a tunnel by the pressure of the
atmosphere in consequence of exhaustion taking place at the opposite end,
increases according to the square of the velocity, in the dilemma of
assuming that there is a certain place in a tunnel 30 miles long, where,
notwithstanding that a man, a horse, or even an elephant, might walk as
freely and unobstructedly along, as a mouse could through a rat-hole,
that subtle, permeating, and all-pervading element which we breathe,
would, like the stream of the Jordan when under the influence of the
miracle by which the Israelites passed over that river, stop, stick fast,
and be unable to move farther; a position, which necessarily throws us
for an escape from this dilemma, on the conclusion that, though it is
certain that the friction of air against the inside of the tunnel will be
an impediment, and though it is probable that this impediment will be of
some importance, yet must it be equally certain that it will not be the
serious impediment which it is _supposed_ it will prove: and it may
therefore, safely be assumed, that the objection which presents an
insuperable obstacle in the minds of the many who have condemned the
method of operation by exhaustion which I propose (because they deemed it
analogous to operating per plenum) becomes removed, and is found to be
what all the other “insuperable objections” which have been arrayed
against the proposition are found to be when grappled with; i.e. baseless
and unreal: it being necessary only to put a valve at every half, or
quarter of a mile, which should be opened by the carriages as they
passed, to render the length of the column of air of the natural density,
which _must_ be behind the carriages to drive them along, only a few
hundred yards, and its friction consequently unimportant; said valves
being (as can easily be done) so arranged, as to close themselves again
the moment the carriage had arrived at, opened, and passed by, the next
succeeding one.

But though I freely admit that the friction of the air against the inside
of the tunnel may waste power to a degree which shall prove not
unimportant, yet may it be doubted whether it will be more important than
the waste of power occasioned by the present method of railway
transmission by locomotive engines.

In the documents laid before the Lords’ Committees on the London and
Birmingham Railway, by the Treasurer of the Liverpool and Manchester
Railway, on the 28th June, 1832, it is stated that the “number of trips
of thirty miles” performed (or travelled) by the locomotive engines
between Liverpool and Manchester, in the half year ending the 31st
December, 1831, was “5392”: which, as the same document shews that the
_whole_ amount of profitable weight conveyed over those 30 miles during
that half year was less than 91,000 tons, gives an average of only 17
tons as the profitable weight carried each “trip.”  The weight of the
engines by which these loads were drawn it may be difficult to fix upon:
though, as the locomotives now used on that railway, are, some of them,
above six tons, others above eight, and others above ten tons in weight,
it may, perhaps, be fair to take eight tons as the average weight.  The
weight of the tenders with fuel and water, appears to be rather a
delicate subject.  The weight of the tender of the Rocket, with its load
of fuel and water, at the grand locomotive engine competition in October,
1829, was three-fourths that of the engine itself.  There have since been
many accounts of immense loads drawn on the railway, of which those by
Dr. Lardner, in his “Lectures on the Steam Engine,” are considered as “by
authority.”  But though we find the weights of the engines, as well as of
the loads, and various other particulars (even to the state of the wind)
given, yet does it happen that the weights of the tenders, with their
supplies of fuel and water, are “unascertained” and omitted, throughout.
Under these circumstances, I can do no other than act on the best
information I have obtained, and suppose the weight of the engines and
tenders with their cargoes of fuel and water to be twelve tons for each

Assuming it to be so, the weight of the moving power will be above
two-thirds of the profitable weight conveyed; while, supposing the same
proportion to obtain as to the 4000 tons just mentioned, the amount of
the effect of the friction of the power by which they were conveyed at
the rate of 20 miles an hour, would be twice and a half as much as the
friction of the air would be in a tunnel when twice the tonnage was
conveyed from Liverpool to Manchester in it, at the same rate; which, for
equal quantities, is five times the friction while, as relates to the
fuel consumed, it would be _very_ many more times than this, dearer.

There is one class, who, above all others, might derive benefit from
properly considering what I thus submit, relative to the friction of the

When what was termed “the railway mania” was at its height, it was
calculated that no body of men would be so much benefited by it as the
iron trade; in proof of which the following statement was circulated:—

    “We are authorised to state, that the rail-roads already projected,
    will require considerably more than two millions of tons of iron.
    Now, as iron has recently advanced from 7_l._ to 14_l._ per ton, it
    appears that the iron masters (by the way, the originators of, or
    principals in, many of these schemes) will receive from the
    subscribers twenty-eight millions sterling.”

But, instead of the iron trade having been benefited by the principal
portion of what is expended on railways being for their article, scarcely
more than one-twentieth-part has been expended for iron; the remainder
having gone for labour in “cutting and embanking,” &c. &c.

In the account in Mr. Treasurer Booth’s book, of the expenses of the
Liverpool and Manchester Railway, the line which, in the statement, runs
“Iron rail account,” gives only 66,830_l._ as paid to the iron masters:
the other hundreds, which make up the aggregate of 67,912_l._ there
mentioned, being for “oak plugs, freights, und cartages;” which is little
more than one-twentieth part of the whole that has been expended on this

The rails of the London and Birmingham Railway are to be half as heavy
again as those of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway.  Yet does the
expense of the “rails, chairs, keys, and pins,” in the estimate of that
railway laid before Parliament, amount to only 212,940: one twelfth, that
is, of the two millions and a half, which form the aggregate of the
estimate there given in.

One of the inducements which railway advocates have held out to the
landed proprietors of the Houses of Parliament, in order to lead them to
support railway bills, has been the degree to which poor rates, &c. would
be diminished, in consequence of the labourers there would be employed in
digging out the earth for the cuttings and embankments, in the different
parishes through which the lines of railway would run; and in the papers
of the end of June and the beginning of July (1832) is a _very_ long
advertisement of the London and Birmingham Railway Company, one part of
which states that “The _landed interest_ will be benefitted by the
expenditure of _upwards_ of two millions of the capital of the Company in

According to their own shewing, therefore, the expenditure for the
benefit of the landed interest will be “_upwards_ of two millions,” while
the cost of the iron rails, &c. will be only upwards of two hundred
thousand pounds.  And as both this, and other advertisements, and the
evidence before Parliament, announce the extension of the railway from
Birmingham to Liverpool, when this first half of it from London to
Birmingham is done—which extension will be about the same length as this
first half—the statements of the railway advocates themselves, give the
iron masters to see, that the result of the time, trouble, and expense,
which they (the iron masters) have devoted to bring forward railways, is,
to put more than a shilling into the pockets of the agricultural interest
(by the degree to which they will save parish rates, &c. &c.) for every
farthing they put into the pockets of the iron masters themselves; all
that is saved to country parishes, being actual gain to the agricultural
interest; while the 12th or 16th paid to the iron trade is for value in
iron; out of which the usual trade profit is all that the iron masters
will gain.  In other words, about four millions sterling will be paid
_for_ the parishes between London and Liverpool, in the shape of wages
for labourers, while only about four hundred thousand pounds will be paid
_to_ the iron masters for the iron rails, &c.; out of which the iron
masters will have to pay the wages of their men who smelt &c. the iron,
and the royalties (or rent) for the ore, coal, &c. &c. used in making it.

The difference there is in the specific gravities of ore, coal, and
limestone, in different places, will render any estimate _not_ correct
for every place; though, generally speaking, I believe it may be received
that the quantity of iron stone, coal, and lime stone, which it is
necessary to raise to produce a ton of pig iron, will be about 6½ cubic

In the evidence laid before the Lords’ Committees upon the London and
Birmingham Railway, it is stated that the whole amount of “earth work”
required for that railway, amounts to 22,779,431 cubic yards; of which a
detailed statement is given in the minutes of evidence.

Dividing the twenty-three (nearly) millions of cubic yards of “earth
work” which are to be excavated and embanked on the Birmingham Railway,
by the number of cubic yards of ore, &c. which it is necessary to dig to
make a ton of iron, will show, that if the wages which will be paid for
levelling on that railway, were to be expended in digging iron ore, &c.
the nation would be benefitted by having three millions and a half tons
of iron more than it now possesses; while the labour expended on the
railway will be not only worth nothing to the nation, but also worse;
insomuch as it appears by the evidence before the Lords’ Committees that
it will render 1250 acres of land, which are now cultivated and
productive, sterile as a turnpike road.

It is supposed by Mr. Treasurer Booth, in his book on the Liverpool and
Manchester Railway, that three thousand miles of rail-road, will,
eventually, be laid down in England.

Supposing these 3000 miles to require “earth work” (cuttings and
embankments, i.e.) in the same proportion that the London and Birmingham
Railway will do so, and also supposing that the wages which will be paid
to the Irish, &c. labourers, who do the digging for this “earth work,”
were, instead, to be paid to the workmen of the iron masters for raising
ore, &c. &c. and converting it into iron, the nation would be richer by
nearly one hundred million tons of iron, than it will be if these said
wages are paid merely for “cutting and embanking” for railways.

Now though I do not mean to insinuate that this hundred million tons of
metallic worth, would increase what is now termed the “monetary wealth”
of the nation, yet, as surely as their ignorance (and consequent want) of
iron, rendered Mexico and Peru such easy conquests to the iron of the
Spaniards, as to make them most striking examples of the truth of Solon’s
warning to Crœsus, “He who has more iron, will soon be master of all this
gold,” so surely would the possession of this hundred million tons of
iron, be enormously more advantageous to the nation, than the cuttings
and embankments required for these 3000 miles of railway will be.

Although iron be not, at the present day, either with ourselves, or in
any other part of the world, the symbol of value, medium of exchange, and
_money_, which Lycurgus made it in Sparta, when that state was in her
glory, yet has it, as a commodity which will obtain us the gold and
silver of Mexico and Peru in exchange for it, a value, which will procure
us the amount of its worth in those metals, as certainly as any other
commodity that we export.  In whatever proportion, therefore, this
hundred million tons of iron would procure us either the gold or silver,
the corn and flour, the silks and cottons, the wines and wools, the tea
and coffee, the sugar and spices, &c. &c. of other countries, would
devoting the wages which will be expended in cutting and embanking for
these 3000 miles of railway, to the raising and smelting of iron ore, be
more valuable to the nation at large, than if so employed.

Nor is this all; since the substitute I propose for railways, would give
us food for one hundred thousand people, which these railways will
deprive us of.

The documents laid before the Lords’ Committees, state, that this
Birmingham railway will cover and throw out of cultivation, 1250 acres of
land.  Supposing the proportion thrown out by the 3000 miles of railway
to be the same, the whole amount will be 33,333 acres.  Allowing these
acres to produce three quarters of corn each, is no very excessive
allowance. {45}  And each individual of the kingdom being estimated to
consume a quarter of corn every year, here is land that would produce
bread for one hundred thousand people thrown out of cultivation by the
railway system.

Now as, in addition to its being perfectly _practicable_ for my tunnels
to be buried underground, it would be decidedly best for themselves, and
for the operation of the principle, that they should be so; and as
ploughing, sowing, reaping, mowing, and all other operations of
agriculture, may go on over them, as over any drain, or water-pipe, there
is, in addition to the _metallic_ difference which my plan would make to
the riches of the nation, the circumstance, that, besides providing this
exchangeable metallic wealth, or exportable value, it would also provide
us, every year, with food for one hundred thousand more people, than the
railway system can provide for.

The _metallic_ part of the question being, however, that which concerns
the iron trade, I will keep to that.

One of my early views of this method of conveyance, was, that it _might_
prove important to the iron trade, from the much greater quantity of
their production which it would consume, than railways require: and it
has, for these seven years, been an object with me, to awaken the
attention of the iron masters to (as I conceived) its importance to them,
and to endeavour to convince them of the propriety of giving to a plan,
which would consume _tons_ of their article, where railways consume only
hundred weights, the same fostering and support which they gave to
bringing forward railways.

But it has not pleased the iron masters to see the case in the same light
in which it presented itself to me.

It is well known to them, that in the year 1810 we had neither a
steam-vessel nor a gas-work in the kingdom: the propositions to adopt
both those important inventions being _then_ termed and treated, just as
this proposition of mine is now termed and treated, i.e. as “impossible,
absurd, and madness to think of.”  Yet have they seen that a sum of
(roundly speaking) ten millions, has, since that period, been sunk in the
construction of gas-works and steam-vessels.

With proofs such as these before them (and which have led to the
consumption of so much of their production as gas-works and mains
require), that, what they, a few years ago, deemed utterly impossible,
may, nevertheless, be quite the reverse—it might have been supposed that
the iron masters would not prove, either incredulous to, or bigoted
against, the belief that a still more important extension of the use of
their article was about to open to them.

But, to my great surprise, I have found, that of all unbelievers, the
iron masters have proved the most unbelieving.

Other people doubted only because the want of knowledge on the subject,
which they openly avowed, left them no alternative.  But, in the iron
masters, I have had “to contend with the pride of false knowledge.”  The
world at large said, “We cannot believe, because we cannot understand.”
But the iron masters say, “We do not believe, because _we_ know better.”

On asking them how and why they “knew better,” I found that it was not,
as some might suppose, from any doubt or difficulty as to the tunnel
itself; which they admitted could be cast and laid down, of any size or
dimensions that might be required.  Neither was it from any doubt as to
steam-engines or air-pumps being large and powerful enough to do what was
necessary;—the tens of thousands of gallons of air ejected per minute,
from the air-pumps which they use to blow the fires of their
smelting-furnaces, and the hundreds of horses power they know
steam-engines are made equal to, removing all question on these points.
{46}  But their incredulity arose from a difficulty which one of them had
met with, in forcing air through a pipe; and of which they supposed me
ignorant; but to which I had adverted, in a publication years before, in
the following words:

    “It is too well known, to be at all affected in point of veracity, by
    an inability to mention either the exact time or place, that the
    proprietor of an iron work in Wales had, some years ago, occasion to
    erect an additional furnace, at the distance (recollection states) of
    about three-quarters of a mile from his old ones.  The blast
    apparatus of these old works being large enough to supply this new
    furnace in addition to the old ones, he conceived it would prove much
    cheaper, if, instead of having power and blast cylinders erected at
    the new work, he were to lay a pipe from the old ones, to convey to
    the new one the superfluous blast.  This he accordingly did; and as
    soon as the pipe was completed, set the apparatus going, to ascertain
    the strength of the blast he could thus apply to the new furnace.  To
    his great surprise, however, no blast was produced; a gentle current,
    which would hardly blow a candle out, being all that was perceptible.
    For a result so adverse to his expectation, he could account in no
    way but by supposing that, from accident or design, the pipe was
    stopped up.  As the readiest way to ascertain whether it was so, he
    put a cat in at one end, and blocked it up, leaving her to find her
    way to the other.

    “Thus situated, puss had no alternative but that of seeking an exit
    at the other end: this she accordingly did, and, contrary to his
    expectations, soon made her appearance there.  Convinced by this that
    the pipe was not stopped up, he concluded that the disappointment he
    had experienced arose from the friction of the air against it; and
    finding that he could in no way obviate this difficulty, he was
    obliged to abandon the design, and be at the additional expense of
    blast apparatus for his new furnace.

    “Now, had the proposition this treatise submits, been, that we should
    convey ourselves through a tunnel such as has been adverted to, by
    employing apparatus on the principle of blast furnaces, to blow us
    through, by _forcing_ air in behind us, the circumstance which has
    just been stated would be fatal to that proposition.  But when,
    instead of being blown through, by air _forced_ in behind us, it is
    proposed to cause the air which is behind the vehicle to operate to
    push it forward, in consequence of some being taken from before it,
    the case is widely different.  Air which is forced to move in a pipe,
    in consequence of other air being driven into that pipe behind it,
    operates (in degree) as a wedge, and opposes to the power which moves
    it, resistance, arising from becoming, as it were, wedged against the
    pipe, through its whole length.  But air which, instead of being
    _forced_ to move by an impulse from behind, that, as it were, wedges
    it against even the very end of the pipe it enters at, is _allowed_
    to move, owing to some being taken out from before it instead of
    being forced in behind it, becomes affected as any thing from which a
    wedge is _withdrawn_ is affected; that is, freedom of motion is
    allowed, and its parts play so much more freely, that friction is
    diminished instead of increased.  The impediment would prove,
    therefore, less important in this case than in the other, even were
    there no method of altogether obviating it; happily, however, the
    means of doing this are in our power.  Between driving a vehicle
    through the proposed tunnel by forcing air in behind it, and
    according to the method which has been stated, there is this
    difference,—that in the former case the impulse can be given only
    from the end where the moving power operates; while, in the latter,
    arranging valves, which should be opened by the vehicle as it passed
    over them, would admit of that impulse being renewed at every hundred
    yards, could it be necessary to do it so frequently.  Let the
    friction of the air against the pipe be what it may, therefore, a
    valve at every mile, or at every half or quarter of a mile, which (as
    may be done) should be opened by the vehicle as it passed along, and
    caused to remain open till it (the vehicle) had arrived at the next
    valve, would prevent any diminution of the velocity at which we might
    be conveyed, that would prove important.

    “This reasoning may be illustrated by a figure relating to an
    experiment.  Air was forced through a pipe 56 feet long, at the rate
    of 20 miles an hour, under a pressure which is equal to 2.2 inches of
    water; and as it required a pressure which is equal to 0.6 inches of
    water to make air move at that rate through a hole in the side of a
    vessel, there was consequently 1.6 inches greater pressure at that
    end of the pipe at which the air entered, than at the end from whence
    it issued.

    “Now if the length of the pipe—the tenths of pressure at the
    entering—and those at the issuing end, be expressed by two lines
    approximating each other, as shewn below, it may be conceived how
    ‘air which is forced to move in a pipe in consequence of other air
    being driven into that pipe behind it, operates as a wedge; and
    opposes to the power which moves it, resistance, arising from
    becoming as it were wedged against the pipe, through its whole

            [Picture: Two lines illustrating the above point]

    “Since the length of these two lines bears the same proportion in
    hundredths of an inch to 56 feet, as the spaces between the ends of
    them bear (in tenths of an inch) to 2.2 inches of water, and 0.6
    inches of water; {48a} and if we conceive that forcing air to move in
    this way, is, in some degree, analogous to drawing an elastic endless
    rope, the size of which should be equal to the larger end of the
    pipe, through it, and out at the smaller end, we may form some idea
    of the degree to which power would be absorbed in operating by a
    plenum.  And not only this; since, reversing the operation, and
    supposing the rope to be drawn from the smaller to the larger end,
    will also give us some idea of the effect of operating by exhaustion,
    or vacuum; and enable us to conceive that ‘air which is allowed to
    move, owing to some being taken out from before it, instead of being
    forced in behind it, becomes affected, as any thing from which a
    wedge is withdrawn is affected; that is, freedom of motion is
    allowed, and its parts play so much more freely, that friction is
    diminished instead of increased.’”

Unconvinced, however, by arguments of this kind, the iron masters persist
in maintaining what I propose to be impossible, because one of them found
that the _exactly reverse_ process is so.  In other words, they act just
as those “impossibleists” did, who, in their ignorance that high steam
would admit of the vacuum, air-pump, ponderous condensing chest, and ton
of cold water per horse power per hour, which are inseparable from
low-pressure engines, being dispensed with in high-pressure engines,
pronounced it to be utterly impossible ever to make steam-engines capable
of running upon roads, because such engines could neither carry the
ponderous apparatus inseparable from the condenser, nor the immense
quantity of cold water required to produce the vacuum which, alone,
renders low-pressure engines efficient.

In vain did I point out to them, not only that I had not overlooked their
objection, but that my earliest views of the subject, had adverted to,
and expressly guarded against it.  It was of no use: for no “Demetrius”
or other “craftsman” of that day ever vociferated, “Great is Diana of the
Ephesians!” more perseveringly, than the principal iron masters of the
present day have exclaimed in honour of the idol “Impossible,” whom it
pleased them to set up and worship, in opposition to the (as they deemed
it) heresy I presumed to attempt to teach them.

Had they done me the honour to _prove_ me heretical, and that theirs was
the _true_ faith, I should have been importantly benefitted, as well as
convinced: insomuch as it would have prevented me from devoting at least
seven additional years of time, and all the means in my power during that
period, to the subject.  But when they would not trouble themselves to
_examine_, and condemned, solely because they proclaimed “impossible,” a
method of operation, which I not only did _not_ advocate, but which my
publications proved I had long and openly disclaimed, I could not but
feel, first, the truth of Dr. Robertson’s observation, “As in Genoa
ignorance had opposed and disappointed Columbus, in Lisbon he had to
combat with prejudice, an enemy no less formidable;” and, secondly, that
just as the reasoning of the pilot who was chosen to execute the
treachery planned against Columbus, failed, because he had courage only
to go half-way, so did the reasoning of these gentlemen fail, because
they have done only _half_ what is necessary to disprove the
practicability of what I propose. {48b}

In publications, besides that just quoted, I have not only stated my
conviction that the method of operation which the iron masters condemn
would be impracticable, but also have endeavoured to analyse the
question, and show _why_ it would be so.  But as I do not, like them,
stop there, and (in effect) say that it must ever be impossible to
discover a “North-West Passage,” or reach the _North_ Pole, because
Captain Cook could not get within 30° of the South Pole, these gentlemen
are pleased to act the part of “Alexander the coppersmith,” against me,
rather than to give themselves the trouble of examining whether the part
of another Alexander might not prove more honourable, as well as more
advantageous to them.

The quotation given a few pages back, states that the price of iron was
raised from 7_l._ to 14_l._ in 1825, in consequence of what was then
called “the railway mania.”  But, so far from maintaining this price, the
following extract from a Memorial, which was agreed to at a meeting of
the Staffordshire Iron Trade, held at Dudley, on the 4th October, 1831,
shews, that in six years the price of iron had fallen lower than ever
before was known.

        “Memorial to the Right Honourable Earl Grey, First Lord of His
                             Majesty’s Treasury.

    “We, the undersigned Iron Masters, of the Staffordshire Iron and Coal
    district, think it our duty respectfully to represent to His
    Majesty’s Government the following facts:

    “1.  That for the last five years, ever _since what is called the
    panic of_ 1825, we have found, with very slight intermissions, a
    continually increasing depression in the prices of the products of
    industry, and more particularly in Pig Iron and Bar Iron, which have
    fallen respectively from upwards of 8_l._ _per ton_ to under 3_l._
    _per ton_, and from 15_l._ _per ton_ to under 5_l._ _per ton_.

    “2.  Against this alarming and long-continued depression, we have
    used every possible effort in our power to make head.  We have
    practised all manner of economy, and have had recourse to every
    possible improvement in the working of our mines and manufactories.
    _Our workmen’s wages_ have, in many instances, been greatly reduced,
    and such reduction has been attended with, and _effected by_, _very
    great suffering and distress_:—but the royalties, rents, contracts,
    and other engagements, under which we hold our respective works and
    mines, have scarcely been reduced at all, nor can we get them
    effectually reduced, _because the law enforces their payment in

    “3.  The prices of the products of our industry having thus fallen
    within the range of the fixed charges and expenses which the law
    compels us to discharge, the just and necessary profits of our
    respective trades have ceased to exist: and in many cases a positive
    loss attends them.

    “4.  Under these circumstances, we have long hesitated in determining
    what line of conduct our interest and our duties require us to
    adopt:—If we should abandon our respective trades, our large and
    expensive outlays in machinery and erections must be sacrificed, at
    an enormous loss to ourselves, and our honest and meritorious workmen
    must be thrown in thousands upon parishes, already too much
    impoverished by their present burdens, to support them:—and if we
    should continue our respective trades, we see nothing but the
    prospect of increasing distress, and certain ruin to all around us.”

The remaining part of this “Memorial” touching on politics, need not be
quoted here.

If the iron of the 3000 miles of railway which Mr. Treasurer Booth, in
his book on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway supposes may eventually
be laid down in England, should be of the same weight which I understand
that of the Birmingham Railway is to be, the whole quantity consumed will
be about 800,000 tons.  Supposing an equal application of the system here
advocated, and that only ten times as much iron should be used in the
tunnels as is used in the railways, eight millions of tons, instead of
eight hundred thousand, will be the aggregate consumption.

Now as iron, though unquestionably the best, is neither the only, nor the
_cheapest_ material of which tunnels can be constructed, it may not,
possibly, be unpardonably presumptuous in me to submit to the iron
masters, that if they persist in doing, by this proposition, as the
Genoese did by that of Columbus, they will also lose an opportunity,
which would, to them, prove equally important, as would have been that of
Columbus to Genoa.

I _have_ asked, and I _still_ ask of them only one thing: a full, and
_fair_ investigation.  By the result of that I am content to abide;
though I must, in common justice stipulate, that this investigation shall
be entered on in a different spirit to what it has hitherto been my lot
to meet with.  “There is always a proneness” says Washington Irving, “to
consider a man under examination as a kind of delinquent, or impostor,
whose faults and errors are to be detected and exposed.”  Most truly can
I say that I have “_always_” experienced the effects of this “proneness”
in reference to this subject: and that the object of those who deemed my
proposition worthy throwing away a fragment of their time upon, was
infinitely less to ascertain its truth and justice, than to display their
own penetration and wit, in discovering and turning to ridicule, every
part which admitted (as they thought) of being sneered at and made the
subject of a jest.

Had it been my good fortune to have met with but one candid examinant of
influence, I had been spared years of trouble and anxiety.  But my
proposition being deemed deserving only of contempt, candid examination
has no more been vouchsafed me, than to the wanderings of a lunatic.

Should, however, the iron masters, instead of granting me this candid
investigation, continue, “in the pride of half knowledge,” (as Dr. Wells
terms it) to condemn what I propose, because they have found that a
something has failed, which is as different from it, as would be, saying
that it is impossible we can ever get to the North Pole, because Captain
Cook could not get within 30° of the _South_, I venture to commit myself
to the prediction that they will repent it, as bitterly as Genoa repented
her rejection of Columbus’s proposition, to discover, and possess her of

    “They inconsiderately rejected his proposal, as the dream of a
    chimerical projector,” says Dr. Robertson, of the Genoese, “and lost,
    for ever, the opportunity of restoring their commonwealth to its
    ancient splendour.”

For, equally certain as it is that iron, though the best, is not the
_only_ material of which tunnels can be constructed, is it, that unless
this proposition is very differently treated by them to what it has
hitherto been, will they drive the manufacturing of tunnels from their
own line into another: and that, too, notwithstanding that opportunities
are arising which, in addition to bringing them to their own doors, would
give such facilities as relates to the transmission of the large stocks
of iron which the uncertainty, and occasional long interruptions of the
present method of conveyance, compel them to keep in London, as to do
away with the necessity for keeping those stocks.

The Welch papers announce the plan of a railway which is to connect the
iron districts and ports of that country with London.  In this plan,
Merthyr Tydvil, the centre of the South Wales iron manufacture, is stated
to be 176 miles from London.

Now, even supposing that this railway, instead of costing the _many_
thousands per mile which it must cost, could be laid down for nothing,
still, the circumstance of the _bare expenses_ of conveyance on the
Liverpool and Manchester Railway, amounting to 4¼_d._ per ton, per mile,
exclusive of the charges necessary to pay one farthing of interest, or
return on the capital sunk in laying that railway down—and for which
3¾_d._ per ton, per mile, is charged, in addition to the 4¼_d._ required
to cover the _bare expenses_—the mere _expenses_ of railway conveyance,
_exclusive_ of interest or return on the capital invested, being so great
as this, it appears that, even were this railway laid from their own
doors to the metropolis, the iron masters could not, including the charge
to pay interest or return upon the money sunk in laying the railway down,
get their material to London for less than 4_l._ 10_s._ per ton; which,
on an article the selling price of which (pigs) in London is only about
the same amount, is in effect a prohibition; especially with the expense
of freight for coast conveyance, only 12_s._ per ton from South Wales to

But as the expense of carriage by a tunnel would be as much less than
this over-sea freight, as that is less than railway conveyance; while, in
addition to this superiority over both, a tunnel would save all the
_risk_ as well as the delays and uncertainty of over-sea transmission,
London and the iron districts might be brought within so few hours of
each other, as to obviate the necessity of the iron masters keeping the
heavy stocks of their article in London which they are now obliged to
maintain, and the capital so locked up become, in consequence, liberated
for other purposes: while, were the tunnel extended to Milford Haven, as
it has been announced the railway would be, that port, as well as
Swansea, might be brought within a few hours of London; and the
advantages of its (perhaps) unequalled harbour, rendered fully available
to the nation at large for commercial purposes, as well as to Government
for our fleets.

This consideration merits the serious attention of the advocates of the
Bristol Railway.  Swansea and Milford Haven being _both_ more
advantageously situated for all vessels from foreign ports that would
make Bristol their port of delivery; and their harbours being
(particularly the latter) incomparably superior to that of Bristol, a
tunnel would, were it to be laid down between either of them and the
metropolis, be the certain ruin of any _railway_ from Bristol to London.
The mere _expenses_ of carriage on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway
being 4½_d._ per ton per mile, and the _whole_ charge 8_d._, it is
evident that, supposing the Bristol Railway were to cost only _half_ what
the Liverpool and Manchester has cost (the “Capital, 3,000,000_l._”
placed at the head of the prospectus of the Bristol Railway, allows
25,000_l._ per mile for each of the 120 miles the map accompanying said
prospectus shews the line will be in length) the whole change for
carriage along its line could not be less than 6_d._ per ton per mile:
the aggregate of which, 3_l._, would be equal to what cargoes have been
brought from the East Indies for; and more than equal to freights from
the West Indies, Mediterranean, &c. &c.; so that only such cargoes or
freights, as stress of weather drove into Bristol, would be sent to
London by the railway; while, by a tunnel from Milford or Swansea, they
might be sent so cheaply, as actually to command the trade which it is
_supposed_ the Bristol Railway will command.

But to return from the long digression, into which the consideration of
the question relative to the effect of the friction of the air, and the
importance of the subject to the iron trade, has led me.

Supposing the possibility of the Liverpool and Manchester railway proving
a failure, that company would have scarcely any more _saleable_ value in
their possession, in exchange for the million and a quarter which it has
already cost, and the million and a half which it _will_ cost them, than
the (about) 5000 tons of iron which is in their rails.  Their long,
narrow, slip of ground, dear as it has been to them, would be worth
nothing; while the labour of taking up the between two and three hundred
thousand stone blocks (or bases) they have laid down to carry the rails,
would be more than those blocks are worth.  Also would the 450,000_l._
expended in levelling the line _and forming the road_, be utterly lost.
{52}  Whereas, had a tunnel been laid down, not only would the whole of
the hundreds of thousands expended in levelling have been saved, but as
not one-tenth of the labour would have been required to lay a tunnel
down, compared with what the railway required, a large sum would have
been saved for that also; while what _was_ laid out, being for _metal_,
instead of labour, there would have been from ten to twenty times more
saleable value in their hands, than they now have.

And as the same circumstances would, in a similar case, apply to the
Birmingham, and Bristol (and indeed to _all_) Railways, as well as to
your line, it would, comparatively, be almost as much better, in this
particular, to have a tunnel instead of a rail-road or canal, as it would
be to hold specie instead of paper, during a run on the bank: though this
advantage would be greatest in relation to a canal; the greater
proportion of the expense of which, is for that _irrecoverable_ outlay,

In point of the friction of the wheels would the carriages that moved in
the tunnel be importantly superior to railway carriages.

Owing to circumstances which it is not necessary to discuss, the height
of the wheels of the coaches and waggons on railways is confined to about
three feet.  Wheels of twice that diameter have been tried, but thrown
aside in consequence of their liability to cause accidents by running off
the rails: the only thing by which the wheels of all vehicles running on
edge railways are kept on them, being a rim, which, projecting _one inch_
beyond the bearing part of the tire of the wheels, keeps them on the
rails; as the brim of a hat will keep the body of it from rising on a
table, over the edge of which said brim hangs.

In consequence of this, all carriages running on open railways are liable
to accidents, such as those mentioned in the notes below, _many_ of which
have occurred; though, owing to their having happened either in the
excavations, on the levels, or on the low embankments, the
dashings-to-pieces which _will_ take place when they occur on the high
embankments have, hitherto, been avoided. {53a}

But as the carriages inside the tunnel _cannot_ get off the railway in
it, as they do on common railways, while, owing to the constantly
vertical position in which the wheels can be kept, they may be twice, or
three times, as high as on common railways, so great a diminution in the
power required to move any load will take place, as to admit of any
weight being moved in the tunnel with less than half the power required
to move it on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway.

In point of repairs, too, would the tunnel be importantly cheaper than a
railway.  Supposing you were to have a railway, there would be, in every
mile of it, above seven thousand stone blocks, or bases, to carry the
rails; every one of which bases would be liable to sink, and disarrange
the level of the line, as they are so constantly doing (vide page 11);
while the rails themselves would be liable to bend, and break, between
these bases.  Sinkings of the bases, and bendings and breakings of the
rails, &c. &c. being (like fractures of the harness and apparatus of
stage-coaches, or the ropes of ships) matters of constant occurrence,
there are, in the whole, and including _every_ liability to
disarrangement and repair, above eighty thousand parts or places, in
every mile of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, where adjustment or
repair _may_ daily be required; while, were that railway to be made a
quadruple one, by having two more lines of road (four more lines of
rails, i.e.) laid down, these liabilities would increase to above one
hundred and sixty thousand per mile; though, for the present, I refer
only to fractures and loosenings of the chairs, &c. bendings and
breakings of the rails, and sinkings, &c. of the bases, which are _now_
possible to the amount of above 40,000 per mile; whereas, in a tunnel,
the corresponding disarrangements would be possible to the amount of only
1056 per mile: an advantage which time will prove to be of much greater
importance than it may at first be considered; owing to the small expense
of repair it will occasion.  Supposing the London and Birmingham Railway
were to have the “quadruple line” adverted to when the capital was raised
to three millions, there would, in its whole length, be nearly twenty
millions of parts or places where repair, or adjustment, _might_, daily,
be necessary: a number which might well double the 488_l._ per mile, per
annum, charged under the item “Maintainance of way,” in the half-yearly
accounts of the Liverpool and Manchester Railroad.

But neither is this the last circumstance with respect to which a tunnel
would be superior to a railway.

From the statements laid before Parliament, it appears that in the
half-year ending the 31st December, 1831, “the number of trips of 30
miles” made on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway was 5392.  Now as the
_whole_ weight carried during this half-year was _under_ 91,000 tons, it
appears that the average _profitable_ weight (passengers, or merchandise)
carried each trip, was _less_ than 17 tons.

The average weight of an engine and its tender, with fuel and water,
being, I believe, not less than 12 tons, while there is the weight of the
coaches and waggons additional to this, it would appear that for every
ton which pays any thing, that is carried on the Liverpool and Manchester
Railway, they also carry a ton which pays nothing.

Now, owing to the manner in which the carriages that move in the tunnel
can be constructed, and owing to there being no locomotive engines, and
tenders carrying fuel and water, required to move them, this proportion
of dead and unprofitable weight will be so much reduced, as for it not to
amount to more than one-fifth of the similar weight on the railway.

The _whole_ expense of conveyance on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway
during the six months ending the 31st December, 1831, was, it appears by
the statement laid before the Lords’ Committees on the London and
Birmingham Railway bill, fourpence farthing per ton, per mile; while the
whole _charge_ for it was eightpence per ton, per mile.  Coal being
nearly ten times dearer here than it is there, there is no reason to
suppose that what it might cost you for conveyance along a line of
railway would be less than this; while it may be presumed that it would
be so much more as, perhaps, and of itself, totally to counteract the
advantages afforded by the shortness of your line, compared with the
present route.

In addition to the advantages which I have stated a tunnel would hold out
to the Company I have the honour to address, there would be one of a
peculiar nature.  It is generally understood, and appears from evidence
to be the fact, that a considerable portion of the income of the
Liverpool and Manchester Railway Company has arisen from persons who have
visited and paid for riding over their line, solely from curiosity; while
it is well known that the income derived from visitors to their tunnel,
by the Thames Tunnel Company, is considerable; the average annual amount
having been 1200_l._ per annum.

The curiosity excited by the public relative to the tunnel I constructed
at Brighton, surprised me.  Thousands manifested a desire to see it:
hundreds applied to be permitted to do so; and when they found I would
not let them, offered guinea after guinea to be allowed to gratify their
curiosity, under the idea that mercenary motives gave rise to the orders
I left that _no one_ should be admitted; while many of the very highest
rank (including _every_ class of our nobility) made personal application
to me to oblige them with a sight of it.

As I could convey persons in your tunnel (supposing you were to have one)
most safely at the rate of a mile in a minute, and as a velocity of that
kind being attained near the metropolis, by a method so novel as this,
would induce very many thousands to visit and ride through it for
curiosity, it may be expected that a considerable part of what it would
cost to lay a tunnel down would be returned from this source; enough (in
the end) I am bold to say, to pay for the cost of the iron whereof it
would be constructed.

The Thames Tunnel, supposing it never should be completed, will for years
bring in the 1200_l._ per annum, which is the average of what has been
received from people visiting it; and I am fully satisfied that proper
measures would, in the end, bring in, from this source alone, perhaps,
more than would cover the coat of the iron, of which the tunnel I propose
to you would be constructed.

In the prospectus of the Greenwich Railway Company is the following
paragraph:—“Moreover, when it is considered that the population of
London, Westminster, and the Borough, is about one million and a half,
and that the population of the surrounding towns and villages, within a
circuit of from forty to fifty miles round the Capital, amounts to nearly
double that number; and that, in short, the number of persons visiting
London during each year, make up a total exceeding five millions of
persons, it is not unreasonable to expect that, through mere curiosity
alone, two millions of persons will gratify the same, when it can be
accomplished at a low price, suppose only one shilling, to go and
return,—yet if so, that item alone would produce 100,000_l._”

Now, as supposing that the curiosity excited by my _novel_ proposition,
will produce only one quarter of what the Greenwich Railroad Company
calculate may come into their pockets from the same source, will, I
think, be allowing sufficient pre-eminence to the _superior_ curiosity
which an old method of conveyance _must_ excite, I trust that my idea,
that the cost of the iron composing the tunnel may be repaid from this
source, will be considered a not immoderate one.

In the Thames Tunnel there is nothing but the bare arch to see; while in
this there would be the tunnel itself, the largest air-pumps, &c. &c. in
the world, and a ride to and fro at the rate of sixty, or more, miles an

Nor would the objection which, it may be imagined, must arise from the
want of daylight in the tunnel, prove an objection in point of fact.  So
trifling is the degree of exhaustion and pressure required to move a load
of 100 tons, that, but that the advantages which would arise, as relates
to cheapness of site, and evasion of opposition on the part of the
land-owners and occupiers, from carrying the tunnel under ground, prevent
it, I could window light the tunnel throughout its whole, length: that
which I constructed at Brighton having light admitted into it through
windows of common thin glass; strong plate-glass not being required.
Indeed, so far as relates to possibility, the upper half of the tunnel
might be one continued window (like the top of a green-house), throughout
its whole length.  But as, even if this was done, artificial light _must_
be had for sixteen hours out of the twenty-four in the winter; as the
tunnel might be gas-lighted throughout its whole length; or as, instead
of thus wasting light unnecessarily, each carriage might carry lights
before and behind, the objection that the tunnel being underground would
render it dark as midnight, is no more a serious objection than it would
be, were the Thames tunnel finished, that it would be better to cross the
river by London Bridge, than through that tunnel, because on the bridge
you would have _natural_, while in the tunnel you must have artificial

It is true that there could be no “view of the country” by this method of
conveyance.  But, as the object of it is the perfection of travelling, in
the three particulars of safety, expedition, and economy; as even the
comparatively low rates attained on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway
prevent objects that are by the road-side being distinctly seen, owing to
the velocity with which the passengers are whirled by them; and as the
much greater velocity at which conveyance may be effected in the tunnel,
would render any attempt to look on what was _passed_ productive of the
effects experienced by a child who looks on the ground while leaning out
of the window of a coach, no _real_ loss, as relates to “seeing the
country,” would result from transmission taking place inside the tunnel
instead of outside it: though, even if it should, it might be submitted
to, when economy of both time and money, and complete obviation of the
dangers attendant on breaking down, being overturned, run away with, or
driven against any thing, became the equivalents.

Have we occasion to travel to Edinburgh by the mail, we unrepiningly
submit to the inconvenience of passing two nights (32 hours in mid
winter) not only in total darkness, but also “cabinned, cribbed,
confined” to a degree which prevents us even from “changing a leg,”
except by previous arrangement with our opposite fellow-passenger.  But
when it is proposed that we shall go in vehicles which, in addition to
being as large and commodious as the cabins of many steam-vessels, will
be as much shorter a time in going, as they are larger and more
convenient than the inside of mail-coaches, and in which the most
brilliant light may be enjoyed, we proclaim it to be “impossible” to
consent to go by such vehicles, because they would move inside a tunnel:
not considering that this very circumstance, of being _inside_ said
tunnel, would as certainly secure us from being overturned, driven
against any thing, run away with, breaking down, or any other of the
dangers to which turnpike-road travelling is liable, as it would give us
the ease, comfort, and accommodations of the cabin of a steam-vessel,
instead of the privations and endurances experienced in mail-coaches.

And as the valves which have been adverted to as fixed at every quarter,
or half, or whole mile, would, in point of effect, be doors, by means of
which exit from the tunnel could be effected, the bugbear of being “shut
up in a tunnel many miles long, with no place to get out of it, if any
thing should happen,” need not be seriously replied to.

Such are some of the benefits which laying down a tunnel, instead of a
railway would procure you.  But the most important of all is yet to be

As it does not follow that, because you may think proper to lay a railway
down, the public will think proper to use it, it becomes vital to your
interest, that some inducement which shall lead them to use it, and cause
them to prefer the more circuitous route to the Birmingham Railway by
your line, to the more direct one by the Edgeware Road, should be laid
before them.  This inducement will be furnished by the tunnel which I
propose to your adoption.

The carriages which would go in said tunnel, may be rendered so superior
in point of size, of the room they will give to each passenger, of
comfort, and of general accommodation, as to be more like the cabin of a
steam-vessel, rather than any thing else I can compare them to.

In one of those I used in the tunnel I constructed at Brighton, above
twenty people have sat with a table between them, covered with
provisions, plates, dishes, &c. &c. which provisions were consumed
according to the usual course of a dinner table: so that accommodations
(even to that of a sofa for each person) which could not be thought of in
coach or omnibus travelling, _might_ be given to passengers.

Owing also to the size and construction of these carriages admitting of
my using the air for springs, their motion would be soft and (as relates
to the avoidance of all jolting) air-balloon-like, to a degree which you
cannot conceive; and which no railway carriage, far less any common road
vehicle, could compare with.

In point of safety, too, would they be incomparably superior; since,
instead of being liable to break down, to be driven against any thing, to
be run away with, or to be overturned, &c. &c. these accidents would be
so impossible, that absolute immunity from danger, and certain security
to life and limb, would be consequent on this method of conveyance; while
the rate of transit under which this safety would be secured, being so
great as to admit of the journey being effected in as few minutes as you
thought proper, your route might be rendered as much shorter as you
pleased in point of time, than the route by the Edgeware road could be
rendered.  The expense of the power too, by which your passengers would
be conveyed, being above twenty times cheaper than coaches or omnibuses
could convey them along the Edgeware Road, you would have a still greater
advantage in this particular.  It remains, therefore, only to point out
how the public may be caused to take your circuitous line, in preference
to the nearer route by the Edgeware Road.

In order to effect this, and to save the public from having to go from
Hyde Park Corner to your line, as must be done were you to lay a railway
down, I propose bringing your line to Hyde Park Corner, by extending the
tunnel; branching it eastward from your basin, either through Kensington
and Knightsbridge, under the turnpike road; or (in order to avoid all
interference with, or opposition from, the Turnpike Commissioners) along
the shorter line across the vacant grounds to the south of the road, at
the back of Kensington and Knightsbridge; across (though beneath, and
indeed underground all the way) Earl’s Court Lane, Gloucester Road, Grove
Lane, the Brompton Road, and Sloane Street, to the vacant ground on the
North and East of Wilton Crescent.

I am not, at present, prepared to point out either the best route, or the
best spot for the termination towards Hyde Park Corner; having
investigated only so for as to satisfy myself that such a course is

You will, at first, be startled at, and disposed to object to this
extension, because you will suppose that it involves the outlay which
would be required for two additional miles of tunnel, without bringing in
any more return than would be received from passengers to the Birmingham
Railway.  This conception, however, is an erroneous one.

Were a method of conveyance in operation, by which the inhabitants of the
west end of Kensington, of Earl’s Court, of North End, of Walham Green,
of Brook Green, of Hammersmith, of Turnham Green, of Chiswick, &c. &c.
could be carried (more safely than by coaches) from your basin to Hyde
Park Corner in two or three minutes, instead of the twenty minutes or
nearly half an hour which it now takes to get over that ground, they
would so prefer your method of conveyance, as to render the additional
outlay required for said two extra miles of tunnel, the most remunerating
portion of your whole line; while, in addition to enabling you thus to
convey passengers, said branch would enable you also to deliver coals,
and other goods at Hyde Park Corner from your canal, for an expense of
less than a penny per ton carriage from your canal thither; so that you
would rival the Grosvenor Canal, and add importantly to the tonnage trade
of your own canal by it.

Should the Birmingham and Bristol Railways be completed, this branch
would also enable you to convey goods, as well as passengers, to and from
them, and to and from the western parts of town, more cheaply than could
any how else be done; an accommodation which laying down your railway
could not give.  And as I _could_ so construct these two extra miles of
tunnel, as to render their cost—the cost of the tunnel itself, i.e.—not
more than about five thousand pounds per mile, the expense of this branch
would not prove any ruinous addition to your contemplated outlay.

Therefore, for these reasons, I recommend you to prevent its being
necessary that people should pay omnibus (or other) proprietors, to carry
them from Hyde Park Corner to your basin at Kensington, in order that you
may _then_ convey them to the Birmingham (or Bristol) Railway, by
extending your line towards Hyde Park Corner, in the manner I have
pointed out.

Your case, brought into a focus, is as follows.  You have expended a
large sum in opening a line of conveyance which, owing to its not being
carried far enough at first, does not combine all the advantages your
situation admits of.  You are, naturally, desirous that it should do
this.  If you open a communication for goods with the Grand Junction
Canal, by extending your own canal, you will do this in degree.  You
have, therefore, for some years, contemplated carrying your canal up the
height between your basin and the Grand Junction Canal.  But the enormous
expense of this has prevented you from doing it.

Being now informed that your object may be better effected by a railway,
you entertain that idea; and as, were you to lay a railway down,
passengers, as well as goods, might be conveyed by it, you are desirous
of, if possible, bringing the “passenger trade,” between the Birmingham
Railway and the west end of London, to your line.

Owing, however, to the distance of your line from the west end of Town;
and to the Edgeware Road, offering a shorter and cheaper communication
from the Birmingham Railway to that part of the metropolis, your laying
down a railway, will, for the reasons I have pointed out, certainly prove
a losing speculation.

As the method I propose would be most importantly cheaper than a railway,
in point of first cost, and still more importantly cheaper in point of
current expenses, I venture to offer it to your notice.  And as it would
obviate the objection which your distance from Hyde Park Corner would
occasion, supposing you were to have a railway, I presume to recommend it
to your consideration, as more worthy notice than any thing else you can
have laid before you; for the reasons, that it will, in the first place,
be much cheaper in point of first cost than any other method of
conveyance you can lay down: second, because it will be still more
economical in point of current expenses: third, because, in addition to
being incomparably safer, as relates to life and limb, than any other
method of conveyance, it will be so much more expeditious as to render
your circuitous route quicker, _in point of time_, than the shorter route
by the Edgeware Road, as well as cheaper, in point of charge: and,
fourth, because it will be productive of an important profit, additional
to, and exclusive of, what a railway will bring in; and which will return
no inconsiderable proportion of what it costs to lay it down.

Were the statements I have given relative to the cost and expenses of a
railway, from my own estimates only, they might be doubted by you.  In
order, however, to avoid this, I have been careful to quote only the
“evidence,” which was laid before Parliament, and other documents; which
leave no doubt that the first cost and current expenses will be, at
least, _equal_ to what I have stated, though they by no means prove that
they will not be _more_.

Indeed, it appears susceptible of proof that they will be more.  Mr.
Grahame, in his “Letter to the Traders and Carriers on the Navigations,
connecting Liverpool and Manchester,” relative to that railway, says, “I
pledge myself, however, to prove (in case the fact be denied by the
Directors) that the aggregate expenditure of the half year, ending on the
31st December, 1832, bears a higher proportion to the income of that
period than the expenses of _any_ preceding half-year bear to the income
of the same.”

Mr. Graham also says, “The Railway Corporation keep two separate accounts
of expenditure, “_ordinary_” and “_extraordinary_.”  The “ordinary
expenditure” is paid from the annual returns received from working the
railway; and the “extraordinary” is paid by borrowing money, or a
creation and sale of shares; which is termed “adding to the capital
account.”  The ordinary expenditure, only, affects the dividend; and it
is the interest of every one concerned to make _that_ expenditure appear
as low as possible; and, whenever the outlays are commingled, or
doubtful, to throw the burden on the obnoxious shoulder.  This
“extraordinary outlay,” or, as it is termed, “outlay on the railway and
works,” or “Capital Account,” has been as great since the railway was
opened, as during the period when it was forming.  The amount thus laid
out in the first fifteen months after the opening of the railway,
amounted to nearly 200,000_l._  The outlay on this account in 1832 is not
stated; but the interest on borrowed money paid in that year, is given as
10,522_l._ 10_s._ 6_d._, while the interest paid in 1831 was only
5647_l._ 7_s._ 6_d._”

Railway advocates may dispute this; but _that_ I shall not heed.  Should
they, however, _disprove_ it, I shall not be able to deny that I am
liable to the censure due to him who investigates in the spirit of a
partisan, rather than in that of a candid examinant.

It may be objected, in answer to the advantages which I have stated would
result from your substituting this Pneumatic Railway for the common
railway you contemplate, that you have never heard of it before, except
in the way of ridicule and contempt; while not only have the engineers of
the day condemned it, but also do even some of yourselves entertain
doubts as to the sanity of the man who can propose such a thing to you.

In allusion to objectors of this latter description, the M. D. who did me
the honour to propose the first Resolution at the “Town Meeting” at
Brighton, said, in the course of his speech on the occasion, that “Mr.
Vallance had had to contend with the greatest difficulties; such as were
enough to appal any man: he had been derided and ridiculed: his system
had been treated as visionary, theoretical, and fantastic: he had been
called a wild projector—nay, some had even gone so far as to say that he
was mad.  If so, he (Dr. Yates) must say, with Polonius, ‘there was
method in his madness.’  And to such insinuations he (Dr. Y.) would
reply, in the words of Hamlet, there was that which ‘sense and sanity
scarce could be delivered of.’”

With my defence against insinuations of this kind thus provided, I may
turn to the more serious objections of the engineers whom you may
consult: who, I am well aware, will treat the proposition only as
Brindsley’s proposal to carry the canal over the Irwell was treated by
the engineers of his day.

Were this any thing new, I might feel it.  But when we have it on record
that the professed engineers of the period have done the same by _every_
proposition that has been brought forward, until its being established by
others, caused them to see that money might be made by imitating, instead
of continuing to decry the inventor, their exclamations of “impossible,”
“absurd,” and “madness to think of,” may well be disregarded.

Had Telford, or Stevenson, or Rennie, or Brunel, or any other first-rate
man, originated the proposition, then, indeed, they might have had some
faith in it!  But for an unknown nobody to do such a thing, is of itself
enough to prove that it _cannot_ be worth attention.

To these gentlemen I reply, by asking them—to whom are we indebted for
the steam-engine in its application to steam-vessels, and locomotive
purposes, as well as a first mover for machinery?  Savary, its first
inventor, was a miner.  Newcomen and Beighton, its first improvers, were,
one of them a country blacksmith, and the other a plumber, while its
grand improver, the great Watt, was a mathematical-instrument maker.  To
whom are we indebted for our canals—for our nationally-important cotton
machinery—for the public application of the gas-light principle—for the
system of railway transmission—for the hydrostatic press—and the other
manifold improvements, which have raised us to the station we fill?  Is
it to men, who, at the periods when these improvements were first
devised, were of high name, and established reputation as civil
engineers?  Hear what one whose situation enabled him to decide, says on
the subject:—

    “What has been the means of raising our native country to that
    eminence in civilization which renders her the admiration of the
    world?  Her improvements in the arts and sciences.

    “From whom have those improvements chiefly sprung?  From men who have
    emerged from the humbler walks of life.

    “What was Sir Richard Arkwright; a man to whose genius this country
    is indebted for very much of its commercial prosperity; to whose
    improvements in the machinery for spinning cotton, we are indebted
    for being enabled to keep the cotton trade chiefly confined to
    ourselves.  What, I say, was the great Arkwright?  A barber.  Yet do
    we owe our proud superiority in this department of our national
    greatness to the unassisted efforts of Dick the barber.

    “Who was Ferguson?  A simple peasant; a man, who, wrapped in his
    plaid, passed the winter nights on the ground in contemplating the
    heavens; and who, by arranging his string of beads on the cold heath,
    at length completed a map of the stars, and raised himself to the
    knowledge of our late sovereign.

    “Who was Dr. Herschel, the discoverer of so many important
    astronomical facts?  A boy who played the pipe and tabor in a foreign
    regimental band.  Who was the great Watt?  A mathematical instrument

    “Who was Smeaton, the builder of the Eddystone lighthouse, and the
    first engineer of his day?  An attorney.

    “Who was the great Brindsley, whose canals have given such an
    accession of power to our commerce, by the facilities of internal
    communication?  A country millwright.

    “Nicholson was a cabin boy: and Ramadge, the best maker of reflecting
    telescopes in the world, was a cutler.”

In continuation of this list of “nobodies,” to whom we owe so much of our
national greatness, I ask, to whom are we indebted for the very
inventions which the engineers of the present day claim as their own,
with justice equal to that wherewith the organ-_blower_ considered the
tones of the instrument _his_?

Railways have been in use among us for a century and a half; and,
notwithstanding that those of this remote date, were no more comparable
with those of the present day, than the matchlocks of the same period are
with a modern gun, the _principle_ was equally developed in the one case
as in the other.  Yet is there no engineer who can claim the credit of
having said “As this principle admits of most important benefits being
conferred on society, provided it be worked out, and carried to the
perfection it admits of, I will devote myself to such working out and

Locomotive engines have been seen among us for these thirty years.  Yet
did the engineers of the day no more perceive and seize _their_
advantages than they did those of railways.  But, after the perception
and talent of various persons, who were in business had, for the purpose
of adapting them to the necessities of their different trades, so
improved railways and locomotive engines, as to have rendered the latter
capable of running _regularly_ upon the former, at rates of from five to
eleven miles an hour, forth came our engineers, and, claiming both
inventions as their own, set themselves up as having enlarged the
boundaries of science, enabled man to outstrip the fleetest animals, and
almost to vie with the winds!

And, last of all, I ask, to whom are we indebted for the latest important
discovery, by which unprofessional perception has shewn, that what
_every_ engineer of the present day had pronounced to be, not only a
mathematically-demonstrated, but also a _practically_-proved
“impossibility,” is as perfectly, and as easily practicable, as it was
for Columbus to make the egg stand on its end.

We have nearly 3000 miles of canals in the island; the draught on which
being twenty times easier than on common roads, and the “wear and tear”
equally less, it has, ever since they were first cut, been an important
object to render the rate of conveyance along them rapid enough to induce
persons to travel from place to place _on_ them, as well as to send their
goods by them.

This became more particularly important, when, in consequence of the
rapidity attained on railways, it was found that they could combine the
conveyance of passengers with that of goods; and I do not hesitate to
say, that any engineer, who had, in 1825, informed the Canal interest
that he had discovered a method by which conveyance could be effected on
canals at the same rate as by mail-coaches, or post-chaises on turn
pike-roads, and for one-tenth of their expense of draught, might have
made terms with them for the adoption of this method, which should have
brought him in above 100,000_l._ sterling.

But, so far from the engineers of the day informing the canal interest
that they could do any thing for them in this case, they universally
preached despair with respect to it; satisfying them, by mathematical
demonstration, that, owing to the resistance of fluids to bodies moving
through them, increasing according to the square of the velocity,
rapidity of transmission along canals was no more possible than for a
coal-barge to beat to windward like a cutter.

It is true they admitted that the steam-engine gave them power enough to
more vessels on canals as rapidly as steamers move on rivers.  But, they
said, owing to the surge which it was _unavoidable_ such rapid motion
_must_ create, the banks of the canals would be so soon washed down, that
it was impossible to avoid ruining the canals, if rapid conveyance were
attempted on them.  Therefore, though steam has been in use as a moving
power on our rivers for above these twenty years, it has never yet been
employed for a similar purpose on our canals, except in the way of

In consequence of these things, they could do nothing to meet the wishes
of the canal interest: and, in the evidence on the Birmingham Railway,
before the Lords’ Committees, on the 29th June, 1832, it is stated, in
answer to an inquiry as to what was the quickest kind of canal
communication between London and Birmingham, that “The fly boats go by
the shortest route, and they are three days and three nights on the
road.”  Now as this “shortest route” is 152½ miles, it appears that the
quickest rate of canal conveyance by “fly boats” was less than 2⅛th miles
an hour; while in answer to the question, “What time is occupied by the
slow boats?” it is replied, “About six or seven days: they seldom travel
at night.”

In this state of despair on the part of the canal interest, and amid this
chorus of “impossible,” on the part of the whole of the engineers of the
present day, a private gentleman (William Houston, Esq. of Johnstone
Castle) became impressed with the opinion that, equally as we can, by
giving it rapid motion, cause a flat stone to skim over the surface of
the water (as boys do, when playing at what they call “making ducks and
drakes”) so might we, by giving rapid motion to a properly constructed
boat an a canal, cause it, not only to skim _over_ the water, so as to
avoid raising the wave which the engineers had pronounced equally
unavoidable as it would be fatal to the banks of canals, but also much
more easily than boats can be drawn _through_ the water.

On putting this thought into practice, Mr. Houston found the result to be
what he had anticipated; and the consequence is, that it is now
established by actual and _daily_ practice on the Paisley and Ardrossan
Canal, that boats which carry more passengers than (on an average) the
locomotive engines, of twenty and thirty horse power each, draw on the
Liverpool and Manchester Railway, at rates of from 15 to 20 miles an
hour, {62} are drawn from Johnstone to Glasgow at the rate of ten miles
an how by _two_ horses only; while a velocity so high as 15 miles an hour
has been attained: “and this speed was not limited by _the labour of the
draught_, but by _the power of speed_ of the horses.”

In other words, that which the whole of the engineers of the present day
had pronounced and _demonstrated_ to be utterly impossible, is now
constantly done, several times every day, as a regular passenger-carrying
business, on the Paisley and Ardrossan Canal.

And, although the charges for this rate of conveyance are “just one-half,
and one-third, of the fares in the Liverpool Railway coaches, the profits
are such, as to have induced the proprietors to quadruple the number of
boats on the canal;” while the passengers, instead of being boxed up as
in the railway coaches, and exposed to the weather, as in the railway
“second class carriages,” may either take exercise on the decks, or seat
themselves in the long cabins of these passenger-boats.

As this method of rapid canal conveyance is becoming generally adopted,
this simple idea of a private gentleman, has not only put to shame the
whole of the engineering talent of the present day, but has also
possessed the kingdom of nearly 3000 miles of liquid way, which, as if by
the stroke of a wand, are raised from the low value of heavy, miry, cross
country roads, on which no greater velocity than that of a carrier’s
waggon could be attained, to the high value, not merely of the best
turnpike-roads, on which the conveyance of persons, at mail-coach and
post-chaise rates, can be effected, but also of routes on which two
horses can (and daily do) draw one hundred people as fast and (I
understand) _more_ easily than four draw sixteen persons on our best
mail-coach roads, with less than one-twentieth the wear and tear to the
vehicles than takes place as to coaches on roads: on advantage, the money
value of which will be inadequately expressed by saying, that as it would
cost above thirty thousand pounds per mile to give us roads on which the
same power could do the same work, with the same small expense of wear,
tear, and current expenses, the simple thought of a private gentleman,
whom the engineers of the day would have pronounced a “nobody” in point
of scientific authority, has possessed the nation of what it would have
cost above one hundred millions sterling to purchase, had said engineers
been employed to procure an equal amount of roads, of equally easy
draught, and little “wear and tear” for us.

Yet are these gentlemen looked up to as infallible; and allowed to
fulminate their anathemas with respect to what they please to pronounce
“impossible” as if they were omniscient.

The actual charges the passenger-boats, which now run daily (at the rate
of ten miles an hour) between Johnstone and Glasgow, are, one penny per
head per mile in the first cabin, and three farthings per head per mile
in the second cabin.

How much less these charges are than turnpike-road fares, need not be
pointed out: my object being to submit, that equally as our canals having
for these three-quarters of a century remained only routes for goods at
carriers’-waggon rates, when they might, all along, have been routes for
passengers at the highest rates whereat it is possible for horses to go,
proves that the engineers of the day knew nothing whatever of a subject
which they professed _fully and entirely_ to understand—so may they be
equally ignorant of the merits of the proposition which they have so
ridiculed and condemned me for presuming to bring forward; and which is,
as exactly what _they_ term it, as they _demonstrated_ it to be
“impossible” to be conveyed at mail-coach and posting-rates along canals.

Now, great as is the honour due to the engineers of the present day, for
thus permitting the accidental thought of a private gentleman to possess
the nation (as it were by the stroke of a wand) of 3000 miles of liquid
way, over which conveyance may take place at rates of from 10 to 15 miles
an hour, for one-tenth the expense, and less than one-tenth of the wear
and tear that takes place on roads, after they had _demonstrated_ that no
greater rate than two or three miles an hour could be attained on said
routes; and, greatly as the canal interest must be indebted to them, for
suffering them (the canal interest), in consequence of said
_demonstration_, to lose the millions upon millions they might have
received of the public, for conveyance at these rates of 10 or 15 miles
an hour, during the three-quarters of a century canals have been in
operation among us—equally as the engineers _thus_ deserve public
gratitude, do they also deserve it for the manner in which they have
suffered the law of motion, by means of which the stage-coachman “swings”
his vehicle up the first part of a hill, to remain useless with respect
to that improvement of our turnpike-roads which it admits of; and which,
though not equal in money-value to the “idea” of Mr. Houston, which has
just been described, is yet highly important.

The law itself is “old as the hills;” and, notwithstanding that the
advantage taken of it by stage-coachmen when coming to the bottom of a
rise, is not _quite_ of such long standing, yet is it old enough to have
pointed out an advantageous alteration in the arrangement of all our
turnpike roads, had the engineers under whose direction said roads were
laid out, but availed themselves of it.

By the table given on page 33 it appears, that if a vehicle be moving on
a level with a velocity of 2¾ miles an hour, its momentum will (under the
circumstances there stated) carry it up a rise to three inches of
perpendicular height: while, if the rate of motion be twice, and four
times 2¾ miles an hour—i.e. 5½ and 11 miles—the momentum will carry it up
heights of one foot and four feet respectively: and the following table
gives the altitudes due to every intermediate mile of rate:

Bodies moving on levels at the under            Have moments, which
mentioned velocities, the motions of which      (friction being
are changed from horizontal to ascending, by    counteracted) will
means, either of angular or circular ascents.   cause them to rise to
                                                the under-mentioned
                                                heights above the
                                                level where those
                                                velocities were
                                                attained, let the
                                                rate of rise, or
                                                angle of ascent, be
                                                what it may.
MILES PER HOUR.                                 FEET.      INCHES.
                                             3          0           3½
                                             4          0           6⅜
                                             5          0           10
                                             6          1           2⅜
                                             7          1           7⅝
                                             8          2           1⅝
                                             9          2           8½
                                            10          3            4
                                            11          4            0
                                            12          4           9⅝
                                            13          5           7¾
                                            14          6           6⅝
                                            15          7           6¼
                                            16          8           6⅝
                                            17          9           7⅞
                                            18         10           9⅞
                                            19         12           0⅝
                                            20         13           4½

A velocity of six miles an hour being thus capable of giving momentum
sufficient to enable any vehicle to surmount an ascent of above one foot
in perpendicular height, let the angle of ascent or rate of rise, be what
it might, it has been necessary only to lay out our turnpike-roads in
alternate short levels, with sharp rises of one foot in height between
them, similar to the line below, to render all our roads level, in point
of effect, to every vehicle which went at the rate of six miles an hour;
since, as the _continued_ draught of the horse would overcome,
neutralise, and (as relates to its counteractive effect) annihilate the
friction of the wheels and axes during the ascent, the momentum imparted
by that velocity would enable the vehicle _of itself_ to rise up, and
surmount the ascent, without any _extra_ effort on the part of the horse:
while, supposing that the practice of stage-coachmen were to be imitated,
and the horses of these six-miles-an-hour vehicles pushed to a pace of
twelve miles an hour for a few yards before the wheels actually touched
these rises, so as to give the vehicle a velocity of 12 miles an hour at
the moment of its _beginning_ to ascend them, the momentum imparted by
this velocity would carry the vehicle up four feet nine inches
perpendicular, instead of one; so that the road might be laid out in
alternate levels and rises of four feet.

It is true that, supposing this principle to be acted on, half the width
of the road must be left in the usual manner, in order to enable waggons,
which do not move faster than two or three miles an hour, to pass over
it.  But as the slow rate of two miles an hour will give momentum enough
to admit of a rise of 1⅝ inches being surmounted, the principle might be
taken some advantage of, even on the half of the road appropriated to
waggons; since rises not exceeding 1½ inches each, could be surmounted by
vehicles which did not move faster than two miles an hour.

However, leaving the waggon-half of the road to the usual arrangement,
the advantage of, as it were, doing away with all hills and rises, and
rendering all our roads level (in point of effect) to all vehicles
travelling at the rate of six miles an hour, might have amply repaid the
expense of this suggested alteration in the _form_ of the roads, had the
engineers under whose direction they were cut, but laid them out in that
manner: while, supposing that a rate of 16 miles an hour could be
attained by pushing the horse to a gallop _just before_ reaching the
ascent, the levels and rises might be laid out in gradations of eight
feet each instead of four feet.

But let the heights of these proposed elevations be what they might, the
advantage of (in effect) doing away with all hills and rises, and of
rendering our roads level to us all over the kingdom would be attained;
which might prove ample reward for varying the mere form of the roads;
and would not, I think, have been unworthy the notice even of our
omniscient engineers; notwithstanding that the way in, and degree to
which they have neglected and slighted this law of motion, with respect
to its application to railways as well as to turnpike-roads, proves them,
one and all, to have been equally percipient of its advantages, as they
were of the practicability of rapid conveyance on canals; and as they
_are_ of the merits of the method of transmission which the individual
who has now the honour of addressing you is presumptuous enough to think
deserving even of THEIR attention: omniscient as they deem themselves
relative to it; and omnipotent as they have, hitherto, proved, with
respect to its condemnation and rejection.

Should I, however, be fortunate enough to meet with any who will measure
the competence of these gentlemen thus to condemn, by the following
standards, I cannot but trust that my appeal from their decision will be
favourably received.

The question, divested of technicalities, resolves itself into the three
following considerations.

First, can we construct iron (or any other kind of) tunnels, such as
would be requisite for the operation of the principle?  Secondly, can we
construct air-pumps large enough to exhaust from the said tunnels with
the necessary rapidity?  And, thirdly, can we make steam-engines powerful
enough to work these air-pumps?

Now as there is no one who denies that we have the power of making
tunnels of any size, not exceeding (say) twelve feet in diameter, nor
that we can form the separate segments, or pieces, in which such tunnels
might be cast, into cylindrical “lengths,” of from ten to fifteen feet
each, so as to lay them down and connect them as (suppose for the
present) gas mains are laid down and united—as no one denies this, the
second question, relating to the air-pumps, is the first to be replied

In 1827 there were, in Great Britain, 284 smelting furnaces; the quantity
of iron made during that year by which, was 690,000 tons.

Blast apparatus being as indispensable appendages to smelting furnaces,
as the flux is to the ironstone which is to be smelted in those furnaces,
it follows, that (with the possibility of exception where one blast
apparatus may be made to serve more than one furnace) there must, seven
years ago, have been 284 sets of pneumatic apparatus for urging the fires
of these furnaces to the necessary intensity, by forcing currents of air
into them.  These apparatus formerly varied in form, from common bellows
on a large scale, to the diversities of the “water blast.”  But the whole
of these varieties of blast apparatus are now found so inferior to what
are termed “blowing cylinders” that no one who erects a smelting furnace
ever thinks of applying to it any other means for urging its fire than
this latter description of apparatus.

These “blowing cylinders” are all air-pumps on a large scale; differing
from the common air-pump only in being of iron instead of brass; in
having their valves so arranged as to cause them, instead of exhausting
air _from_ the vessel they operate on, to blow _into_ it; and in their
being as much larger than a common air-pump as the “monster mortar” used
at the late reduction of the citadel of Antwerp is than a boy’s sixpenny

The largest of this kind of air-pumps that I have seen was nine feet in
diameter, by an equal or rather superior height; though an iron-founder
has informed me that he once cast one of eleven feet in diameter.  And it
is unquestionable, that it will require only the preparation of the
necessary moulding and boring, &c. &c. apparatus, to make any number, of
any diameter we please, not exceeding (say) twelve feet.  Supposing them
to be 11.3 feet in diameter, their area would be equal to 100 square
feet; and, supposing the velocity with which their pistons moved, to be
only half that of the average velocity of the pistons of steam-engines,
each of these air-pumps would cause 11,000 cubic feet (i.e. about 70,000
gallons) of air, to pass through each of them per minute; which air would
be drawn out of, or forced into, any thing, according as the valves were

Every one of such pumps that was used to exhaust air from a tunnel of
eight feet in diameter would produce a current in it, moving at the rate
of two miles and a half an hour; while, supposing that its piston moved
at the same velocity whereat the pistons of steam-engines in general
move, this current would pass through the tunnel at the rate of five
miles an hour.

It being evident, then, that it is necessary only properly to arrange the
size and number of the pumps, to cause the atmosphere to rush along the
tunnel at any rate we desire; and it being a fact that we have, in daily
operation, about 300 such air-pumps as these (though not quite so large)
there is only one remaining shelter behind which these “impossibleists”
can pretend to screen themselves.

The first steam-engine which Boulton and Watt erected in their
manufactory of Soho as a specimen for the examination of those who wanted
such machines, was about the year 1780.  The exact number we now have
among us there are no means of ascertaining.  But the authority which I
have quoted for the existence of 15,000 steam-engines in Great Britain,
states them to be of the average power of twenty-five horses.

If this may be received, the whole amount of “horse power” in operation
among us in 1831 was equal to that of 375,000 horses.  And even though it
should be necessary to lower this down to M. Dupin’s estimate of 200,000
horses in 1824, there would remain an aggregate ample for our purpose.
Since, if there was not in 1790 _one_ steam-engine in Manchester, while
there are now nearly 300 there, it may safely be assumed that so much the
larger proportion of the thousands of them which are now spread over the
kingdom have been made within the last thirty years, as to admit of its
being fairly inferred that we have, for many years past, constructed them
at a rate equal to ten thousand horses’ power per annum.

Yet, with these facts almost as easily verified as it would be to obtain
copies of all the newspapers published in the kingdom, and with some of
these engines so large as to be equal to 300, or 500, or (as quoted in
page 46) even 1000 horses’ power, do these “impossibleists” say we cannot
obtain power enough to work the air-pumps we should require to pump the
air out of the tunnel.  Just as, twenty years ago, they said we could not
use steam to carry us across the seas, nor gas to light our streets.

In reply to a demand of the great Lord Chatham that a certain naval force
should be ready by a certain day for an expedition be contemplated; and
which, the nature of the service rendered it necessary should be
despatched as promptly as it was determined on, the then first lord of
the admiralty stated, as an intended conclusion to several notes (or
messages) which had passed between the two departments on the subject,
that “it could not be done, because it was _impossible_.”  “Inform the
first lord from me,” said the minister, “that the service of the state
requires the _immediate_ despatch of the expedition: and that if he, with
the military marine of the kingdom at his order by virtue of his office,
and the commercial marine at his command by the course of hiring
transports, delays the departure of the expedition because _he_ deems it
impossible, I will impeach him.”  Under this alternative, the
“impossibility” vanished, and the expedition sailed.

Now as the facts which I have adduced relative to the existence of all
the necessary means for rendering importantly available to general use
the principle here described, prove that the gentlemen of that profession
which is devoted to the practical application of mechanical science to
the public service have, for these seven years, proclaimed to be
“impossible” that which is as easily practicable as it was for the first
lord of the admiralty to prepare the naval part of the expedition
referred to, I leave it to themselves to make evident why they should not
be impeached, as equally traitors to the cause of practical science, as
the first lord of the admiralty would have been to the state, had the
expedition not sailed at the period the minister required.

Those who will give themselves the trouble of the calculations necessary
to establish the truth of the preceding statements relative to the effect
of momentum, it will be unnecessary to remind of any of the occurrences
which prove it.  But those who do not choose to take that trouble, may be
reminded, that a circumstance often witnessed, gives practical
demonstration of the accuracy of these statements.

During certain adhesive states of the crust of the road, it is frequently
seen when travelling, that the pressure of the wheels causes particles of
earth to adhere to, and rise from the ground, sticking to the tire of the

The adhesion of these particles of earth being, however, soon destroyed
by the centrifugal force imparted by the revolution of the wheel, they
become, the moment _it_ loosens them from the wheel, and allows the other
influence to operate, projected in directions varying according to the
position of the part of the wheel to which they adhered, at the moment of
their quitting it.

Some of them, being carried to the top of the wheel, fly forward; but the
majority, leaving the wheel at about the height of the axle-tree, become
projected vertically, and are seen bobbing up and down by the windows of
the carriage, somewhat like motes in the sunbeam.

Their thus rising and falling may, perhaps, hitherto have been observed,
without being regarded as demonstrative of any principle which may be
rendered subservient to our purposes.  But as they are, in point of fact,
evidences, that the momentum imparted by the velocity at which the tire
of the wheels is revolving, will cause bodies to rise to the height of
three or four feet perpendicular, above the point of the wheel from which
they fly; and as this velocity is exactly commensurate with that at which
the carriage goes over the ground, they are unquestionable proofs, that,
provided friction be annihilated as relates to counteractive effect, by
the continued operation of the moving power, the vehicle itself would
ascend an inclined plane of _any_ rate of ascent, to the same height to
which they rise above the position of the part of the wheel they adhered
to, at the moment of their flying from it.

But, to leave this question relative to momentum, and return to that of
the steam-engines and air-pumps.

It being the property of air to neutralise, or absorb, a smaller portion
of whatever impulse may be imparted to it, than, perhaps, any other
ponderable medium nature offers us, the power of the steam-engines which
operated on the air-pumps that exhausted air from the tunnel, might be
brought to bear,—and that too, without their energy being so diminished
as even to _approach_ an insuperable objection—on the vehicles in it; and
an effect in consequence produced, which we cannot, at first, conceive to
be possible.

It is evident, that it will not require the power of the engines (each
equal to several hundred horses’ power), by which the air-pumps would be
worked, to move one, or even many vehicles.  What then will become of the
surplus power?  Will it be lost in overcoming the friction of the air, as
adverted to at page 41; or, rather, may it not operate to increase the
rate at which the vehicles will move?  And if so, how many times will the
rate at which we may be conveyed, exceed that at which we now travel, and
what is the limit that will be attained in this particular?

It is well known that air will rush into a vacuum at the rate of nearly a
thousand miles an hour.  Now although it is no more expected we should be
conveyed at any such rate as that, than it is intended we should be
placed in a vacuum, yet are, both this almost inconceivable velocity, and
what is generally expressed by the term “vacuum,” so connected with the
subject of consideration, that it becomes unavoidable to advert to them,
injurious as they must prove, and strongly as they will array our
preconceived notions and prejudices against the proposition.

It cannot be denied that we have the power of laying down a tunnel, such
as has been referred to, and of adapting a railway to the inside of it,
for any distance we please: and, though it may not be in our power so to
connect the separate “lengths” or cylinders which compose it, as to
render the joints perfectly air-tight against a vacuum, yet, with
reference to the trivial degrees of exhaustion necessary for the purpose
here contemplated, every joint may most easily be made “air-tight”:
since, supposing the degree of exhaustion to be equal to the pressure at
which gas is forced through the mains of a public company whose works I
know, a load of above 100 tons would be carried along a tunnel of eight
feet in diameter, at whatever rate the air was pumped out of it.  Equally
certain, as it therefore becomes, that we have the power of extending
this tunnel at pleasure, is it, that the power of making and working any
number of air-pumps, such as have been referred to, will enable us to
exhaust from, and consequently cause air to rush through it, at rates so
vastly exceeding any at which we now travel, that our preconceived
notions and prejudices cause us to look on the proposition as both
impossible and absurd.

One of the circumstances which at first strikes us as fatal to the
proposition, is the inability to respire, which we all feel we should be
liable to, if conveyed rapidly _through_ the air.  A moment’s reflection
will, however, enable us to see that this objection has no application
whatever to the case.  It is not proposed that we shall be conveyed
rapidly _through_ the air, but that we shall cause air, which we have
first set in rapid motion, _to convey us along with it_, _as fast as
itself goes_: a state of things so different from going through, or
against, and meeting the air, that our supposed objection does not apply
to the case.

Stating facts will, however, be the best way of settling this question;
and for this purpose the experience of our aeronauts is referred to.
Much as they have sometimes been inconvenienced from the rarity of the
air, at the heights to which they have ascended, yet have we never heard
them complain of being unable to breathe freely, owing to the velocity
with which they were carried along over the earth’s surface,
notwithstanding that they have been conveyed at rates of 70, 80, and, in
one instance, 160 miles an hour.  And why? because that which was the
cause of motion went with them.—“I had not,” says Lunardi, in his account
of the first ascent ever made in England, “the slightest sense of motion
from the machine.  I knew not whether I went swiftly or slowly—whether it
ascended or descended—whether it was agitated or tranquil, but by the
appearance or disappearance of objects on the earth.”  Rapidly,
therefore, as they have moved, yet have they felt as if in a calm.  Now
exactly similar in point of respiration, would be the feeling of those
who might be conveyed in the proposed tunnel.  The air, being the cause
of motion, must go, _at least_, equally fast as it drove them, and
necessarily be wherever they were.  Let the rate of motion therefore, be
what it might, the feeling of those who experienced it, must prove that
of being in a perfect calm.

Nor are the objections we at first conceive, relative to the effect which
pumping air from the tunnel, and producing what only the word vacuum
(inapplicable as it is) will enable us to convey the idea of, at all more
tenable.  The degree to which air would be exhausted from the tunnel
might scarcely ever be sufficient to sink a barometer two inches lower
than one exposed to the atmosphere stood at; so that even were we exposed
to it no inconvenience would be felt. {69}  But we never shall be exposed
to it, any more than those who witness the cruel experiment of putting a
mouse under the receiver of an air-pump, and then exhausting it, are
exposed to what the little animal suffers.  Between those who _see_ and
the poor creature which _feels_ the effect of the apparatus, is the side
of the receiver.  And between the part of the tunnel in which the
exhaustion, or rather the difference of density is, and the passengers in
the vehicle, would be the _end_ of the vehicle; so that though _close to
them_ would be an atmosphere rarer than (we will suppose) it might prove
pleasant to be in, yet would the atmosphere _they actually were in_ be
the same as that of the air at large.  No inconvenience, therefore, can
be experienced in this particular.

Equally untenable is the idea we take up, that it will be impossible so
to adapt the ends of the vehicles to the inside of the tunnel, as to
cause them to act as pistons in preventing the passage of the air by
them, without occasioning friction to a degree which should deprive us of
all the advantages the air would otherwise give, as a mean of
communicating motion.

In the last carriage which I had for the tunnel I constructed at
Brighton, there was a space of above an inch and a half in width left all
round between the _piston_ part of the carriage and the tunnel, through
which air rushed unimpeded.  Yet did not this “windage,” or leak, though
equal in the aggregate, to an aperture of three square feet, prevent the
carriage from springing forward to the impulse of the air-pumps, with a
readiness I was surprised at.  Nor did it ever cause the least
_perceptible_ diminution in their effect; owing to the small quantity of
air that passed through it, in comparison with the immense quantity
exhausted by the pumps.

When the Brighton Committee rode in that tunnel, one of them brought with
him a mountain barometer, that he might ascertain the degree of “vacuum”
or exhaustion necessary to move the carriage.  This barometer was
accordingly suspended in the part where the “vacuum” was to be produced,
and the vernier adjusted with the greatest accuracy.  But to his surprise
the degree of exhaustion was not sufficient to lower the barometer in the
_least_ degree.  Being aware of this, I had spirit gauges previously
prepared, one of which was fixed in the end of the carriage.  But even
this gauge, though nearly fifteen times more sensitive than the
barometer, was affected hardly enough to be visible, the amount of
“vacuum” indicated by it, being only about ten grains per square inch, or
_less_ than the ten-thousandth part of a vacuum.

Nor would the quantity of air that rushed by the _piston-end_ of the
carriage be at all important, even when travelling at _very_ great
velocities, and with heavy loads.  In a tunnel of the diameter which
would be proper for such lines as those to Bristol, or South Wales, the
pressure requisite to move a load of 100 tons would not be more than
about 100 grains per square inch; which would cause air to rush past the
piston-end of the carriage at the rate of about 30 feet per second.
Therefore, even could no better adjustment of the piston-end of the
carriage and the inside of the tunnel be effected, than took place with
respect to that at Brighton, only 90 cubic feet of air per second would
rush past, even were the carriages standing still; which is only
one-tenth of what the air-pumps I used there were capable of exhausting
in the same time; while, on such a line as the Bristol, or South Wales,
it would not be one-hundredth of what the exhausting apparatus would take
out in the same period; so that not one-hundredth of the power would be
lost by it: and even this hundredth could easily be reduced to a
thousandth: the space left between the piston-end of the carriage in the
tunnel at Brighton being _purposely_ an inch and a half in width, in
order that I might shew, by actual proof, how utterly unimportant was
_that_ objection which engineers of the highest name and reputation had
assured me must, _inevitably_, prove fatal to the motion of _any_
carriage in _any_ tunnel.

And as the carriage, instead of standing still, would be moving forward,
the loss of power, which would, otherwise, result from the pressure
requisite to _give the velocity_ as well as move the load, would be
equally unimportant as that arising from the pressure requisite to move
the load alone.

With pressures so trivial as these capable of producing practical
effects, and with it fully practicable so to adjust the “piston” part of
the carriages to the tunnel, as to render this “windage,” or leak,
perhaps less than one-hundredth of that which I _purposely_ caused in the
tunnel at Brighton, there can be no difficulty, either in preventing any
important quantity of air from rushing past the carriages; or in so
connecting the “lengths” of which the tunnel would be composed, as to
render the joints air-tight.

And as there are _no_ objections which the engineers can bring forward,
that cannot be replied to in an equally satisfactory manner, I need not
trouble you with any additional answer to them.

It is now four years ago since the locomotive engine competition took
place on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway.  In all probability no
proprietor of the Kensington Canal happened to be present at that
contest; yet is it equally probable that all were as fully convinced of
the fact from the accounts which appeared in the newspapers, as if you
had seen it.  Now though I cannot give the conviction arising from the
evidence of your senses, yet can I give stronger evidence than the public
vehicles of intelligence gave as to that competition, by referring you to
the public authorities and records of Brighton, to know whether I did not
carry an appointed number of its inhabitants to and fro, as the
locomotive engines went during that competition; “when,” says Mr.
Treasurer Booth, in his “Account of the Liverpool and Manchester
Railway,”—“the prescribed distance, it should be understood, was, owing
to the circumstances of the railway, obliged to be accomplished, by
moving backwards and forward on a level plane of one mile and three
quarters in length.”  I did not, it is true, carry those gentlemen so far
as those engines went.  Nor, indeed, was there any occasion for it.  Had
it been necessary, they could have continued riding to and fro in my
tunnel, as long as the locomotives ran to and fro on the railway.  But,
as when they had satisfied themselves that there was no trickery in the
motion of the carriage, and that it was _really_ moved by the air, they
had, then, seen all that it was necessary to see, to convince them that a
longer tunnel would enable me to move a carriage equally far, as a longer
railway would have admitted of the locomotive engines going, they gave
over riding, “because,” as the Editor of the Brighton Herald says, in the
extract which I have quoted from that paper, “because they became so
convinced that the invisible and intangible medium we breathe, might be
rendered a safe and expeditious means of getting us from one place to
another, as to be tired of riding.”

Were it necessary for your interest that a gas-pipe should be laid
throughout the line you propose, your inquiry of the engineer you might
employ would be, not whether the gas would pass through such a length of
pipe, because you know that to have been long established, and to be
every day acted upon, but what would be the _expense_ of it; that is, it
would be a money question, not a question of practicability.

The tunnel I constructed at Brighton was nearly eight feet in diameter,
while the air-pumps I adapted to it were large enough to make an
artificial wind blow through it at the rate of ten miles an hour.  And
doubling, tripling, quadrupling, &c. &c. the size, or number of the
pumps, would have doubled, tripled, &c. &c. the rate at which this wind

A common size for gas mains is eight inches.  Were it propounded to
you—“Can a mouse run through a rat-hole, let that bole be as long as it
may?” your answer would not be dubious.  Why, then, if it be proved, that
we can, with pneumatic apparatus of an almost infinitely less efficient
nature than that which I purpose using, make air move through smaller
pipes five, fifteen, or even fifty miles long, {72} should any doubt be
entertained whether air-pumps will cause it to move through one of eight
feet in diameter; more particularly, when it is well known, that the
larger the pipe the less the proportionate friction; and when your line
will be little more than two miles long.

The pressure by which the gas is driven through the pipes of the work I
know the most of, is equal to an ounce and a half per square inch.  A
similar pressure on the carriage in my tunnel would have moved above one
hundred tons.  The length of your line would be only about eighty times
longer than the tunnel I constructed; and as the area of your tunnel
would be nearly 150 times larger than the eight-inch mains through which
the gas is carried many times farther than the length of your line, there
need be no more question as to whether, or not, the principle will act
throughout your line, merely because it is eighty times longer than my
tunnel, than there is whether gas would pass through eighty lengths of

And as the joints which connect the different “lengths” of gas-pipes can
easily be made air-tight, so could the “lengths” and joints of the
tunnel.  “Under the trivial degree of exhaustion which will be
necessary,” says the Report of the Russian Engineer Officer, “rendering
the tunnel sufficiently air-tight will be far less difficult than is at
first supposed.  Indeed, I see so many different ways of doing it,”
continues the Report, “that I am satisfied it would not, in practice,
prove more difficult than, nor, indeed, so difficult as, causing some
canals I have seen, to retain the water let into them.”  Following up the
illustration which this gentleman thus gives, I beg to assure you I will
guarantee that the tunnel shall not leak, or let air improperly in, so
much as I see the basin of your canal leaks water out.

Adverse as were the original circumstances of the great father of canal
navigation in England, yet did he put to signal shame the opposition and
predictions of the engineers who proclaimed him a madman for pretending
that it was possible to carry a canal over a navigable river.  Ten
thousand times more mad as the engineers of the present day proclaim me,
and a hundred thousand times more absurd and “impossible” as they have
pronounced my proposition to be, yet, owing to having in my favour (what
Brindsley had not in his) the circumstance of my principle having been
tried, I am enabled to oppose to their ridicule and sneers the FACT that
I have proved it on a scale, which, as relates to size, was fully, and in
_every_ particular practical; while it was less than practical in point
of length, only because no individual could do that which it requires a
public company and an act of parliament to do, that is, lay it down
between places for actual trade.

Short, however, as it was, yet was it many times longer than the pipes
through which gas was first carried, to prove the practicability of
lighting our streets with that illuminator: while its length was great
enough to be equally conclusive, as the movement of the first
steam-vessel built by the introducer of steam-navigation.

“When,” says Fulton, “I was building my first steam-boat at New York, the
project was viewed by the public either with indifference or with
contempt, as a visionary scheme.  My friends, indeed, were civil, but
they were shy.  They listened with patience to my explanations; but with
a settled cast of incredulity on their countenances.  I felt the full
force of the lamentation of the poet:

    ‘Truths would you teach, to save a sinking land,
    All fear, none aid you, and few understand.’

“At length the day arrived when the experiment was to be put into
operation.  To me it was a most trying and interesting occasion.  I
invited many friends to go on board, to witness the first successful
trip.  Many of them did me the favour to attend as a matter of personal
respect; but it was manifest that they did it with reluctance, fearing to
be the partners of my mortification, and not of my triumph.

“The moment arrived in which the word was to be given for the vessel to
move.  My friends were in groups on the deck.  There was anxiety, mixed
with fear, among them.  They were silent, and sad, and weary.  I read in
their looks nothing but disaster; and almost repented of my efforts.  The
signal was given; and the boat moved on a short distance, and then
stopped—and became immoveable.”

When _my_ opponents can prove, that because Fulton’s first steam-vessel
would, on its first trial, move only the “short distance” stated in the
above quotation, it was, therefore, impossible to move any other vessel
farther by means of steam, I may heed the clamour they raise about my
proposition not being practicable through a long line of tunnel.

Until then, I can consider it only as a proof of their knowledge being on
a par with the wisdom of that most learned opponent of Galileo’s theory
that day and night are occasioned by the revolution of our planet on its
axis, who, in answer to the query, “How then is it that the sun gets back
to, and always rises in the east of a morning?” replied, that he went
back by night, when nobody could see him.

In concluding, I will endeavour to guard against a circumstance that may
otherwise be injurious to me, by an observation.  You will perceive that
the evidences which I have quoted have been in existence six or seven
years.  How then, it may be inquired, is it, that a method which is
spoken of so highly as those evidences speak of this mode of conveyance,
should have remained seven years without having been put into actual
practice, or brought any nearer to that consummation than it was when
those documents were written?

During the many years which elapsed between the period of Columbus’s
first proposing to Ferdinand and Isabella the discovery of America, and
their actually setting him afloat to do it, he sent his brother
Bartholomew to England, to lay the proposition before our Seventh Henry,
who, he expected, would entertain it.  Henry did entertain it; and would
have possessed England of the southern more firmly than she afterwards
became possessed of the northern half of America, but for the misfortune
which prevented Bartholomew Columbus from approaching him, till Isabella
had agreed with, and dispatched Columbus himself.

“In his voyage to England,” says the historian of America, “Bartholomew
Columbus had been so unfortunate as to fall into the hands of pirates;
who, having stripped him of every thing, detained him a prisoner for
several years:” reducing him to such poverty, that when released from
captivity, he could in no other way obtain the means of procuring a dress
fit for his appearance before the king, than by employing himself in
drawing maps.

Circumstances which, morally speaking, are _exactly_ similar to this
captivity and imprisonment of Bartholomew Columbus—excepting that they
failed in compelling me to sign away the patent rights, to wrest which
from me they were instituted—have equally hindered and reduced me:
occasioning the destruction of the tunnel which I constructed to
demonstrate, practically, the truth of the proposition; and depriving me
of all means of proving it, except by carrying small things on an
experimental scale, instead of persons on a practical one.

As relates to myself, I have no desire to obtrude the details of the
oppression and injustice practised upon me, on any one.

But with respect to the subject I advocate, I am most anxious that the
whole world should know that I court the _fullest_ inquiry, and am ready
to answer _every_ question.

As one proof of this, and to shew that there is nothing which I need to
blush for, any more than Bartholomew Columbus had cause to blush for
being imprisoned by the pirates, I beg to direct your attention to the
annexed copy of the Petition I presented to Parliament; of which only an
extract is given in page 19.  Soliciting the favour of your perusing it,
I have the honour to be,

My Lords, and Gentlemen,

                           Your very obedient,

                                                  And most humble Servant,
                                                            JOHN VALLANCE.


AS the first evidence that “the observations which will be found in the
course of this letter relative to the effects of momentum, are not of
such recent origin in my mind, as Mr. Badnall states his idea relative to
the undulatory railway to have been in his,” I observe, that in the
specification of my patent, after declining to level for the course of my
tunnel by cutting through hills or filling up vallies, as is done for
railways, I state, that I carry it up and down them (provided they are
not precipitously abrupt) for the reason, that “the momentum it (the
carriage) may thus acquire, will be advantageous in other ways than
merely carrying itself forward.”

Secondly.  The last sentence of the paragraph commencing “Tenthly,” in
the Report of the Russian Engineer Officer, implies that that gentleman
had understood what I have stated relative to this effect of momentum,
from my communications to him.

Thirdly.  The plan and section of the Brighton and Shoreham Pneumatic
Railway, which I deposited in the County Court in 1827, and in Parliament
at the beginning of the session of 1828, prove that the whole rise from
Shoreham Harbour to the spot on the _top_ of the hill _above_ Brighton
(old) Church, where I intended said Pneumatic Railway should terminate,
was (I forget the exact amount, but) about 180 feet: of which rise, about
150 feet took place in the last half mile; giving a rate of about 1 in
18: up which rise I looked to momentum, as the _principal_ means of
getting the 100,000 tons of goods I calculated on carrying between those

Fourthly.  In my letter to Mr. Ricardo, in answer to his pamphlet against
me, I observe, that after totally omitting to take into consideration the
important effect which momentum (_as well of the air itself as of the
vehicle_) would have in modifying the motion, and preventing the stoppage
of the carriage, in the way you describe at page 21, you exclaim, “This
then, is a true philosophical explanation, of what will take place in the
action of a carriage impelled by atmospheric pressure!”

Against such philosophy as this I protest, in justice both to myself and
the public.  As the basis of lectures delivered at your Mechanics’
Institution, where

    —“words of learned length and thundering sound
    Amaze the _operatives_ rang’d around,”

it may have sufficed.  But when held up as a criterion by which the
public mind is to take its tone for my condemnation, I am compelled to
pronounce it philosophy of which its author ought to be ashamed.

These evidences being all of dates several years anterior to the period
when Mr. Badnall states the idea of his “Undulating Railway” first
occurred to him, I shall be liable to no charge of proposing to avail
myself of momentum _in consequence_ of his having proposed “_Undulating_

                                * * * * *

                                * * * * *

         J. S. HODSON, Printer, 15, Cross Street, Hatton Garden.


{4a}  I have known a barge of (apparently) fifty tons burthen, come up
the whole length of your canal, with nothing but fourteen tons of coal to
land at your basin.

{4b}  In his Report on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, Mr. Walker
states the price of the 40,000 tons of coal, which he supposed might be
required for the locomotive engines, at 5_s._ 10_d._ per ton.  The 25,000
tons which he supposed might be required for the stationary engines, he
states at the price of 2_s._ 6_d._ per ton.

In their review of this Report, Messrs. Stephenson and Locke state the
price of coal at 4_s._ 6_d._ per ton for 37,222 tons.

{5}  The capital requisite to complete this railway was first announced
to be a million and a half.  Then it was raised to two millions.  Then it
was raised to three millions, in order to admit of a “quadruple line”
(that is, eight lines of rails,) being laid down.  And credit is now
taken for its _cheapness_, because, after announcing that three millions
would be sufficient to lay down a “quadruple” railway, two millions and a
half are stated as the _estimated_ expense of a “double” railway.  That
is, after having, by advertisement upon advertisement, announced that
three millions would be enough to lay down eight lines of rails, credit
is taken for finding out that four lines will cost two millions and a
half: when the fact is, that the estimated expense is reduced only
one-sixth, while the work which said three millions were stated to be
enough to do, is reduced one half.  In other words, twopence-halfpenny is
charged for _half_ the loaf, after it had been, in every possible way
trumpeted forth, that the _whole_ loaf would be sold for threepence:
while even this twopence-halfpenny is liable to additions such as the
following pages advert to.

{6}  I believe that the average width is not the half of 66 feet: and
that it is, in parts, _much_ less than half, is proved by various
circumstances; one of which is the following account of an “Accident on
the railway.—An accident fatal to a poor man named Thomas Ryans, took
place on the railway on Monday last.  Ryans was employed by the Railway
Company as a breaksman; and was engaged in his business on a small train
of goods drawn by the Vulcan engine.  When within a short distance of a
bridge, he, for some purpose, projected his head over the side of the
waggon, and, melancholy to relate, it came in contact with the buttress
of the bridge.  The poor fellow’s brains were knocked out on his cheek;
but he lingered some time before death ended his sufferings.—_Manchester
Courier_.”—_Morning Herald_, 27th Sept. 1831.

{8}  Mr. Badnall’s recent patent may make it advisable to state that this
paragraph, as well as the far greater part of the Letter, was written
prior to, and got ready for delivery at a meeting of the Kensington Canal
Company, which was fixed for the 26th of September, 1832.  Owing,
however, to this meeting having been deferred, _sine die_, by an
advertisement in the _Times_ of the 21st of that month, opportunity has
been given for additions; though the paragraph to which this note refers,
has neither been added to, nor altered, since it was first written.

{10a}  The decision of the Committee reported to the House of Lords, was,
that “It does not appear to the Committee that the promoters of the bill
have made out such a case as would warrant the forcing of the proposed
railway through the lands and property of so great a proportion of
dissentient landowners and proprietors.”

{10b}  “The London and Birmingham Railway, in seeking an act, spent
50,000_l._: and, as they did not get the act, that sum was lost to them.”

Mr. Hodgson’s speech, at the Liverpool and Birmingham Railway meeting,
held at Liverpool on the 21st of September last.

{11}  488_l._ per mile, per annum.

{13}  Vide Grahames’ Letter to Wood on Chapter IX. of his Practical
Treatise on Railways: and his “Letter to the Traders and Canal Carriers,
on the Navigations connecting Liverpool and Manchester.”

{14a}  This allusion is to the number of miles between Brighton and
London: which was the _comparative_ length of what they saw.

{14b}  Member for Lewes, and principal ground landlord of Brighton.

{14c}  Baronet and magistrate for the county.

{14d}  Vicar.

{14e}  Curate.

{18}  This word “cylinder” means the tunnel.

{20}  That is, between three and four hundred thousand gallons.

{22a}  That is, 11.3 feet in diameter.

{22b}  In the best of the large stationary engines now made, a bushel of
coal will do the work of 44 horses for an hour.  Therefore to make a
current of air which should be capable of conveying 10,000 tons 100 miles
in an hour, would require 43 bushels of coal: which is not twice so much
as some steam vessels burn in the same time.

{26}  The proposed London and Birmingham Railway is to be sixty feet wide
in the narrowest places; notwithstanding that it is to have only the same
number of lines of rails which you must have; while, in some parts, it
will be between two and three hundred feet wide.  The average width of
its _whole_ line will be 92 feet.

{29a}  An idea of the amount of these cuttings and embankments may be
given by the following statement.  Every one remembers what our school
days taught us, relative to the “Great Pyramid:” the many years it was in
building: the multitudes of workmen employed: and the vast sums expended
to supply those workmen with merely “garlic and onions.”  The excavations
of the Liverpool and Manchester railway, would, if put in one lump, have
formed a mass larger than that of the “Great Pyramid:” its cubical
contents being only 2,983,263 yards; while the excavations for that
railway amount (according to its treasurer’s statement) to 3,405,000
cubic yards: or 11,386,899 cubic _feet_ more than the whole mass of the
“Great Pyramid.”

    {29b}  “A locomotive engine of ten-horses power will draw 120 tons at
    the rate a draught-house generally travels; or 50 tons at the rate of
    six miles an hour.  I may here remark that the rate of travelling may
    be increased to surpass that of mail coaches; and that the locomotive
    engine will as readily convey 25 tons (including its own weight) at
    the rate of twelve miles an hour, as double the weight in twice the
    time.”—Mr. Jessop’s Second Report to the Committee of the Proposed
    Railway from Cromford to the Peak Forest Canal, at Whaley Bridge.
    Dated 29th November, 1824.

    “An engine of four horses’ power, employed by Mr. Blenkinsop,
    impelled a carriage, lightly loaded, at the rate of ten miles an
    hour; and when connected with 30 coal waggons, each weighing more
    than three tons, it went at about one-third of that
    pace.”—_Observations on a General Iron Railway_, _by Thomas Gray_.

    “They saw two locomotive engines, for drawing along these roads; but
    they were not at work.  The boilers of these engines were eight feet
    long, and four feet diameter: and they usually took down fourteen
    waggons, carrying 53 cwt. of coals each, at about four miles an hour.
    The engineer said that he once took nine loaded waggons, one mile in
    five minutes and a half, which is equal to eleven miles an
    hour.”—Report of a number of gentlemen, who were deputed to inspect
    the rail-roads in the north of England, relative to the Liverpool and
    Manchester Railway. 1824.

    “The Company are also fully persuaded, that by means of the same
    power, they will be enabled to convey passengers with perfect
    security, and at a speed of at least twelve miles an hour.”—Report
    relative to the Liverpool and Birmingham Railway given in Cumming’s
    “Illustrations of the Origin and Progress of Rail and Tram Roads, and
    Steam-Carriages.”  1824.

    “It is estimated, that on a level railway, a well-constructed
    locomotive engine of ten horse power will, without difficulty, convey
    fifty tons of goods at the rate of five miles an hour, and lighter
    weights at a proportioned increase of speed.  A powerful engine will
    work goods over an elevation of one-eighth of an inch in the yard.
    Nor is there the least doubt but carriages for the conveyance of
    passengers, or light packages, may, with perfect ease and security,
    be propelled at the rate of twelve miles an hour.”—_Cummings’
    Illustrations of the Origin and Progress of Railways_. 1824.

    “By the locomotive engine, fifty tons of goods may be conveyed by a
    ten-horse-power engine, on a level-road, at the rate of six miles an
    hour; and lighter weights at a proportioned increase of speed.
    Carriages for the conveyance of passengers, at the rate of twelve or
    fourteen miles an hour.”—Courier’s preliminary remarks to the
    “Memorial of the Subscribers to the projected Railway between
    Liverpool and Manchester:” dated 1st June, 1824.

    “One of the railway companies at present contemplates a speed of only
    eight miles an hour; but another, in its prospectus, speaks of
    conveying passengers at _twice_ the speed of the present
    stage-coaches; and we look forward, pretty confidently to the
    attainment, in a few years, of a velocity of 20 miles an hour.
    Several millions sterling are already subscribed for accomplishing
    these great projects.”—_Leeds Mercury_, 24_th_ _December_, 1824.

    {30}  “The railway a little beyond Wavertree-lane is carried through
    a deep marle cutting, under several massive stone archways, thrown
    across the excavation to form the requisite communications between
    the roads and farms on the opposite sides of the railway.  Beyond the
    marle cutting is the great rock excavation through Olive Mount, about
    half a mile to the north of the village of Wavertree.  Here the
    traveller passes through a deep and narrow ravine, 70 feet below the
    surface of the ground, little more space being opened out than
    sufficient for two trains of carriages to pass each other; and the
    road winding gently round towards the south-east, the prospect is
    bounded by the perpendicular rock on either side, with the blue vault
    above, relieved at intervals by a bridge high over head, connecting
    the opposite precipices.  At night, when the natural gloom of the
    place is further deepened, the scene from the bridges above will
    readily be imagined to be novel and striking.  The light of the moon
    illuminating about half the depth, and casting a darker shade on the
    area below—the general silence interrupted at intervals by a noise
    like distant thunder—presently a train of carriages, led on by an
    engine of fire and steam, with her lamps like two furnaces, throwing
    their light onward in dazzling signal of their approach—with the
    strength and speed of a war-horse the engine moves forward with its
    glorious cavalcade of merchandize from all countries and passengers
    of all nations.  But the spectacle is transient as striking; in a
    moment the pageant is gone—the meteor is passed; the flaring of the
    lamps is only seen in the distance, and the observer, looking down
    from the battlement above, perceives that all again is still, and
    dark, and solitary.

    “Emerging from the Olive Mount cutting, you approach the great Roby
    embankment, formed of the materials dug out of the excavation we have
    described.  This embankment stretches across the valley for about two
    miles, varying in height from 15 to 45 feet, and in breadth at the
    base from 60 to 135 feet.  Here the traveller finds himself affected
    by sensations the very reverse of what he felt a few minutes before.
    Mounted above the tops of the trees, he looks around him over a wide
    expanse of country, in the full enjoyment of the fresh breeze, from
    whatever quarter it may blow.

    “This vast embankment strikingly exhibits how much may be
    accomplished when our efforts are concentrated on one grand object.
    There is a feeling of satisfaction by no means common-place, in thus
    overcoming obstacles and surmounting difficulties, in making the high
    places low and the rough places plain, and advancing in one straight
    and direct course to the end in view; while the pleasure afforded by
    the contemplation of this great work is further enhanced, when
    considered in contrast with ordinary and every-day impressions.” p.

    “A few miles beyond Newton is the great Kenyon excavation, from which
    about 800,000 cubic yards of clay and sand have been dug out, part
    being carried to form the line of embankment to the east and west of
    the cutting; and the remainder, deposited as spoil banks, may be seen
    heaped up, like Pelion upon Ossa, towering over the adjacent land.”
    p. 55.

    “Beyond Chat Moss we traverse the Barton embankment, crossing the low
    lands for about a mile between the Moss and the Worsley Canal, over
    which the railway is carried by a neat stone bridge.” p. 57.

{32}  In evidence that the observations which will be found in the course
of this letter, relative to the effects of momentum, are not of such
recent origin in my mind, as Mr. Badnall states his idea relative to this
“undulating railway” to have been in his, I beg to direct attention to
the testimony given by the Appendix.

{33}  I give this latter doubling to “excite the energies” of a renowned
steam-coach proprietor; who, in answer to the question, “If your
steam-coach has, as you say, gone at the rate of between thirty and forty
miles an hour over common roads, how fast would it run on a rail-road?”
replied, “_At least_ 250 miles an hour.”

{34a}  By heading their prospectus, “Capital, 3,000,000_l._”

{34b}  There is one manifestation of “_skill_ and experience” {34c} in
the manner in which the Committee have been induced to lend their
sanction to statements in their Report, which merits observation.  The
paragraph immediately preceding the abstract of the estimate, states that
“The locomotive engines will, in no part of the line, have to surmount an
inclination greater than 1 in 340; and for the first 50 miles out of
London, none greater than 1 in 528.  This degree of approach to a level,
will render the locomotive engines much more effective, and subject them
to less wear and tear than they are on the Liverpool and Manchester
Railway, part of which has an inclination of 1 in 98.”

At page 60 of Mr. Treasurer Booth’s “Account of the Liverpool and
Manchester Railway,” is given a “Section of the line of Railway, from
Liverpool to Manchester,” which states that for 5-9ths of a mile (_from_
Liverpool) it is “level;” that for the next 5⅛ miles it has a fall of 1
in 1092; for the next 1½ mile, a rise of 1 in 96, &c. &c. according to
the following table:—

5/9         Level.
5⅛          Fall, 1 in 1092; or 1 foot in about l-5th of a mile.
1½          Rise, 1 in 96; or 1 foot in 96 feet.
1⅞          Level.
1½          Fall, 1 in 96.
2½          Fall, 1 in 2640; or 1 foot in half a mile.
6½          Fall, 1 in 880; or 1 foot in 1-6th of a mile.
4½          Rise, 1 in 1200; or, 1 foot in about ¼ of a mile.
4½          Level.

Now as it appears from this, that, with the exception of the mile and
half which rises at the rate of 1 in 96 (up from l-6th to l-3rd of which
their momentum carries them) the part of the Liverpool and Manchester
Railway over which the locomotive engines work, has no rise that is half
so sharp as the 1 in 340, nor any which is near so sharp as the 1 in 528,
adverted to on the Bristol line, it surpasses my comprehension to
conceive what there can possibly be to “render the locomotive engines
much more effective, and subject them to less wear and tear than they are
on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway”; while I am beyond measure
surprised, that the confidence of gentlemen could be so misled, as to
expose them to a refutation so palpable, as the statement they have thus
been betrayed into admits of.

    {34c}  “Confound that word! my unfortunate pen
    Had well nigh prefixed to it _i_ and _n_.”

{38a}  “_Extraordinary Performance by Steam Power_.—On the occasion of a
scientific gentleman lately visiting the Liverpool and Manchester
Railway, some very extraordinary performances were effected.  On two
occasions, a load amounting to 100 tons, was drawn by one engine from
Liverpool to Manchester, a distance of above 30 miles in an hour and a
half; being at the average rate of 20 miles an hour.  It is said no
former performance effected on the rail-road has come near this
result.”—_Liverpool Advertiser_.—_Times_, 25_th_ _June_, 1832.

{38b}  The tunnel which I constructed at Brighton, was strong enough to
bear the pressure thrown on it by one-third of a vacuum.  One-fourth of a
vacuum would move above 4000 tons in a tunnel 8 feet in diameter, while
any tunnel I might now lay down, would be ten times stronger than that I
laid down at Brighton.

{40}  Dr. Hutton, at the end of a table of resistances to bodies moving
through still air, at rates varying from two to thirteen miles an hour,
says, “The resistance to the same surface is nearly as the square of the
velocity; but gradually increasing more and more _above_ that proportion
as the velocity increases.”

{41}  A hint on this point.  The engine with which Watt first proved his
principle was not equal to a _dog’s_ power.  There is one now in Cornwall
said to be of 1000 horses power.

In our first steam-boats, engines of only two or three horses power could
be employed; and the proposition to use larger ones was met by the usual
exclamation, “Impossible!”  We have now many steam vessels in which
engines of 200 hones power are employed; while there is one in which they
are above 300 horses power.

{45}  The average produce per acre, throughout the island, is estimated
at 2½ quarters for wheat, 4 for barley, and 4½ for oats; average, 3⅔rds.

    {46}  “_Steam-Engines_.—It has been ascertained that there are now in
    Great Britain not less than 15,000 steam-engines at work; some of
    almost incredible power.  In Cornwall there is one of one thousand
    horses power.”—_New Monthly Magazine_, _for July_, 1831.

Independent of the large air-pumps which the iron masters themselves use,
those I put up to exhaust air from the tunnel which I constructed at
Brighton would, if worked at an extraordinary rate, have pumped five
hundred thousand gallons per minute through it.

{48a}  The limits of the page render it necessary that the scale of
length should be in hundredths of an inch; but as the width would have
been imperceptible had the same scale been observed, tenths are adverted
to for it.

    {48b}  “Having performed what was due to his country, Columbus was so
    little discouraged by the repulse which he had received, that,
    instead of relinquishing his undertaking, he pursued it with fresh
    ardour.  He made his next overture to John II. king of Portugal, in
    whose dominions he had been long established, and whom he considered,
    on that account, as having the second claim to his service.  Here
    every circumstance seemed to promise him a more favourable reception.
    He applied to a monarch of an enterprising genius, no incompetent
    judge in naval affairs, and proud of patronising every attempt to
    discover new countries.  His subjects were the most experienced
    navigators in Europe, and the least apt to be intimidated, either by
    the novelty or boldness of any maritime expedition.  In Portugal, the
    professional skill of Columbus, as well as his personal good
    qualities, were thoroughly known; and as the former rendered it
    probable that his scheme was not altogether visionary, the latter
    exempted him from the suspicion of any sinister intention in
    proposing it.  Accordingly, the king listened to him in the most
    gracious manner, and referred the consideration of his plan to Diego
    Ortiz, bishop of Ceuta, and two Jewish physicians, eminent
    cosmographers, whom he was accustomed to consult in matters of this
    kind.  As in Genoa, ignorance had opposed and disappointed Columbus;
    in Lisbon, he had to combat with prejudice, an enemy no less
    formidable.  The persons, according to whose decision his scheme was
    to be adopted or rejected, had been the chief directors of the
    Portuguese navigations, and had advised to search for a passage to
    India, by steering a course directly opposite to that which Columbus
    recommended as shorter and more certain.  They could not, therefore,
    approve of his proposal, without submitting to the double
    mortification, of condemning their own theory, and of acknowledging
    his superior sagacity.  After teasing him with captious questions,
    and starting innumerable objections, with a view of betraying him
    into such a particular explanation of his system, as might draw from
    him a full discovery of its nature, they deferred passing a final
    judgment with respect to it.  In the mean time, they conspired to rob
    him of the honour and advantages which he expected from the success
    of his scheme, advising the king to dispatch a vessel secretly, in
    order to attempt the proposed discovery, by following exactly the
    course which Columbus seemed to point out.  John, forgetting on this
    occasion, the sentiments becoming a monarch, meanly adopted this
    perfidious counsel.  But the pilot, chosen to execute Columbus’s
    plan, had neither the genius, nor the fortitude of its author.
    Contrary winds arose, no sight of approaching land appeared, his
    courage failed, and he returned to Lisbon, execrating the project as
    equally extravagant and dangerous.”—_Robertson’s America_, _Vol._ I.
    _p._ 86–88.

{52}  Items: up to the 31st May, 1830.

                               _£_        _s._    _d._
Bridge account                   99,065      11       9
Fencing                          10,202      16       5
Chat Moss account                27,719      11      10
Cuttings and Embankments        199,763       8       0
Formation of Road                20,568      15       5
Land account                     95,305       8       8
                               £452,625      12       1

And this, exclusive both of the 300,000_l._ (nearly) which has been
expended since, and of the 130,000_l._ which is the _estimated_ expense
of the tunnel now in course of construction.

    {53a}  “_Railway Accident_.—We are sorry to have to mention a very
    serious accident, which occurred on Saturday, on the railway between
    Kenyon and Bolton.  The locomotive engine was going up the lower
    inclined plane, with a heavy load of goods, and at the turn-off at
    Colonel Fletcher’s colleries, ran off the road, and was unfortunately
    overturned against a bank, and fell upon the engineer and fireman,
    who were killed on the spot.  Two other men were riding on the
    tender, one of whom was dangerously hurt, the other scalded.  This
    engine, we understand, was the only one which was ever worked on a
    railway with wheels of six feet diameter; and, on that account, had
    never been allowed to take the coaches.”—_Times_, 26_th_ _July_,

    “On Wednesday morning, the engine drawing the first-class train of
    carriages from Manchester to Liverpool, on the railway, had the
    misfortune to break an axle-tree, when at full speed, near Chat Moss;
    which, after ploughing the ground for some time, went off the rails,
    and drew the whole train over the embankment, {53b} when, most
    providentially, out of two hundred passengers, not a life was lost,
    or a limb broken.  Several persons were bruised, and some
    seriously.”—_Morning Herald_, 9_th_ _December_, 1831.

{53b}  There, only a foot or two above the ground.

{62}  The average number of passengers drawn by the locomotive engines
between Liverpool and Manchester during the most successful half year
since that railway has been opened, is 87 each journey.

These boats can and _have_ carried 110 passengers at one time, though 100
may be considered an average number.

{69}  Air of only three-fourths, two-thirds, half, and in Joliffe and
Cornillot’s ascent, of less than half the usual density (the barometer
sinking to 12.15) has frequently been respired, without any serious

    {72}  “Railroads, in many instances lighted with gas for a
    considerable distance (in one instance for sixteen miles) are, more
    or less, traversing every district of the country.”—_New Monthly
    Magazine_, _July_, 1830.

    “_The Liverpool and Leeds Railway_.—A bill is now under the
    consideration of a select committee of the House of Commons, for the
    purpose of connecting by rail-roads Liverpool with the ports on the
    Humber, and thereby to bring the German Ocean and the Irish Sea, the
    eastern and western sides of the island, within six hours’ journey of
    each other.  It is proposed to have four lines of railway, two for
    swift carriages, going and returning with light goods and passengers,
    and two for slower carriages, with heavy goods and animals.  The
    whole is to be lighted with gas, so as to be traversable by night as
    well as day, and the plan of the iron rails will secure the carriages
    from obstructing one another.”—_Times_, 17_th_ _March_, 1831.

    “The outline of a plan has been stated to us, for lighting up the
    intended line of railway from this city to London with gas.  Our
    correspondent says, ‘Of the practicability of the thing there can be
    no doubt; and it certainly would be an improvement, and create a
    great demand for coals; as the gas might be continued from the parent
    line to any extent.’”—_Felix Farley’s Bristol Journal_, 3_rd_
    _August_, 1833.

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