5 MAY 1855, Page 16


SIR—I have been waiting some time for a reply to my last letter in re- ference to the Railway Inroad on the War Office, but they who should answer are dumb. Since then we have had before the public the per- severing attempts of Lord Dundonald to gain a hearing for some secret plan of destroying Sebastopol, Sveaborg, and Cronstadt, without loss of allied life. Though the specific authorities.would not interfere, it seems that the general ear of Lord Palmerston has been found seriously to incline, and the matter is "under consideration," though considered of dubious prac- ticability. It is very probable that there are more things to discover than have yet been discovered, even though there be "nothing new under the sun." Are his Lordship's plans under consideration by the relative of Mr. Hawes—Mr. Brunel ? If so, we may be sure that he will improve upon the idea or at any rate make an alteration, and the chances are that the venerable idea, will be "cushioned," The wooden hospital in preparation at the Great Western, .in opposition to the Liverpool contractor, may serve as a laboratory of explotive mixtures. If it be so the Ministry, or that portion called the War Office, will have a very bad dog at their tail in the noble Earl; who will work his grievance till their exit, even though he seek a new seat in Parliament to speak his mind, as whilom he did at Honiton in the days when he pro- fessed Radical Reform.

But, seriously, it is important to the nation that there should be some plain road whereby useful innovators may put their inventions in public practice ; and, however we may laugh at inventors, and call them schemers," they are truly the men of progress, the men who will baffle despotism of every kind, from a Russian Czar to a military or civil martinet. There is no doubt a large host of quacks in the world bent on rising by quacking, but we have also abundant samples of quacks in office who only remain there by quackery. It is true that if the door were opened to pro- jectors of all kinds it would hardly close again, but still the man of brains should not be excluded because the men of no brains crowd in rudely. Yet who is to distinguish and appreciate the brains ? If the quack be in office, he will have no feeling save for quacks, and the man of merit will be excluded. A fair demand to an applicant would be—What have you already produced ; what reputation do you bear as a reason for inscribing your name on the list for trial ? When Lord Dundonald clamours for admission, he also should be put upon his foregoing history to find whether in chemistry or in me- chanics he has made a name, whether as a chief and leader he has achieved aught to entitle him to a general command, or to give him rank as a par- tisan.

As a boy he became a sailor, and won his way by hard work—possibly also by the interest of some cousin thirteen times removed. Any-how he got a ship to command ; and the sailors on board soon found that if any prize-money were to had, he knew where to find it, and would go much out of his way to get at it,—all very pleasant to Jack, with whom he be- came popular, and not unfairly sought to usigaliate himself. But his com- mander, Lord Gambier, was a saint—Lord 'ilkokr ane was not, and so they quarrelled. This might have passed ; quarrelled also with the Board of Admiralty, by seeking to redress the wrongs of sailors and make their position better. He was warned to desist, but that was not his way; and to enforce attention to his ease he purchased the seat for the borough of Honi- ton at a cost of some 50001. out of the 100,000/. he had made in prize- Money. The borough of Honiton sat round him like a dirty shirt, and a strong Scotch accent was not favourable to oratory, so that on the whole the move was a failure ; and what was worse, his name was on the black list, and there was no more chance of bearding Lord Gambier, or misunderstand- ing signals when a prize was in sight. The Prince Regent and his Ministers did not like him, and when the Stock Exchange hoax took place, they were glad, right or wrong, to implicate him in it, as an excuse for degrading him from his rank and honours. With broken fortunes, he belated the flag of Chile, and destroyed the Spanish fleet in the Pacific; the magnificent episode of the Esmeralda, cut out from under the fire of three hundred pieces of cannon, showing skill to contrive, daring to execute, and coolness so perfect that in the very act of boarding and with a bleeding wound he could turn to a follower and enjoin an act of economy, with Scottish caution. Ho captured the supposed impregnable fortress of Baldivia by a surprise, and, with a leaky vessel in which the pumps were ever going, hunted the last Spanish war-ship over the ocean, till she fled into port and surrendered.

• , The fountain of priziAlea" eiheing exhausted on the old buccaneering

ground the Western coast of Spanish -America, he again rounded the Horn,

and took suit and service with the new Emperor of Brazil, to help to expel the European Portuguese. There was a Brazilian navy with Brazilian cap- tains. Rio Janeiro was Imperial, and Bahia Royalist. In Bahia lay a con-

voy, of merchantmen, .1Yest Indian argosies of great value. Our Scottish hero calculated all things well but one, and sent away all the fleet. to Rio, while with his single ship he watched the rich convoy—a hawk waiting. for the pigeons; gradually he increased his distance, got out of sight, and after a patient month, edged in between the argosies and the land. Ship after ship was brought to and boarded, the water started, and the sails removed save the lower courses • and thus like a troop of hobbled horses they were

th driven into Rio,. e Scottish chieftain of the Pedro Primheiro whipping .

them up behind, as a Highland cate ran may bare done a herd of kyloes in bygone days. Here was a magnificent sea foray, not to be shared by any clanjumfrie of Brazilian fresh-water sailors, but to be divided only amongst the chiefs peculiar following—his own ship's company. And here was the one failing calculation. Civilized warfare requires a prize court to pronounce whether booty be lawful or not. The good old rule of the days of Drake, the law of the right hand, was obsolete. The Captains of the Prize Court—who had been unceremoniously dismissed from the cap- ture of the convoy—pronounced that there should be no legal condemna- tion.' The human nature of the Brazilian breeches-pocket asserted its rights, and would not condemn for the benefit of an heretical foreign commander and crew. By some strange circumstance, we hear through the press within the last few months, that claims on this affairhave been paid to the noble Earl. It would be edifying to know what process of conscience has been at work on the Brazilian mind to produce tide gentle and unforced accord. Have the sailors and other officers also been paid ? or has black-mail been paid into court ?

Leaving the Brazilian service, Lord Coehrane entered the service of the

Greek Revolution. Had he remained in it, it is doubtful if a single golden crescent would have been left in the Eastern waters. He was man enough te have made himself a Greek sea-king, and to have surprised the forts Of the Dardanelles from the listless Moslem ; Init,the fleets of England, France, and Russia, proclaimed at Navarino that the days of 'sea condottieri in the East were at an end.

In the whole career of this remarkable man we may trace a strong like-

ness to the Drakes and Hawkinaes and Frobishers of the days of Elizabeth. The essence of his character has been to surprise, to take advantage. Ile does not belong to the Herberts, the Bayards, the.Sydneys, or the Raleighs. He is essentially a viking, keen as his own sword, but not prone to fight without a "consideration." His perfect aptitude for-surprise we may trace in his cuttings-out in the Basque hoods; in his hailing a French frigate of inferior force, and takiug her while hisown crew were all away in boats, under threat of sinking her ; in the capture of the Esmeralda; in his pre- paration of quicklime to throw in the enemy's face when boarding to wind- ward; in the snuff wbich filled his -pockets to throw in the

Such a EMI DIlla be peculiarly obnoxioue to slow gentlemen at the War Office, and to all kgitimate warriors proceeding by rules of art ; but he has a right to be heard at the bar of public opinion. But were he to present himself to Mr. Hawes, and by hint be toned over to Mr. Brunel for examination, we may imagine that gentleman seeking to "pluck" him after the following fashion.

" I am delighted to see your Lordship. Year achievements are well known —but—oh—this—you will allow me to observe, is a question of engineering— of chemistry. Your Lordship must be aware that I have very strong con- victions of the inoonvenience of patents; and your Lordship has been a very frequent patentee, as was your father before you. Can you tell me of one single successful patent you have taken ?—,-not successful to yourself, but to the public ?—that public whose welfare I have so deeply at heart, and for whose gallant troops I am now constructing moveable hospitals. As an in- ventor I must say that your Lordship has been peculiarly unsuccessful. When a boy with my father, my attention was drawn to your Lordship's operations in concert with the late Mr. Galloway in trying to construct a smokeless steam-vessel of war, with no external means of propulsion, called the Biting Star, with which you purposed to make moonlight visits.to the treasure-houses of the Pacific. To make the vessel comfortable, you put the paddle-wheels in boxes in the hold of the ; and when they only churned water without propelling, y ell devised air-pumps to force in air, which con- verted water into froth, and still failed to propel. Your Lordship must excuse me for saying that this was no proof of mechanical aptitude. Again, ill conjunction with Mr. Galloway, you were consulting engineerto the Greek fleet, and-Out of six vessels, big and little, there was not one that was safe to stand upright in the water under canvass or steam. Again, you have several times had Woolwich and Deptford Dockyards at your disposal, to work out our improvements in steam-engines ; and what result can you point to ? Is there um thing in use that you have produced ? Excuse me, my Lord, but this is the test by which we civil engineers are accustomed to try a mere amateur; niy Lord."

"Sir, I was no amateur when I took—"

"Precisely—to take and to make are two different things, You took a fri- gate, or say several, and think You. can take a town or several; but to sea/es the means of taking it, is, as I take it, the province of an engineer, which your Lordship is not. You never graduated as one of us." "Sir, no one understands taking and making your own better than yourself and your father Were yeti. He took the plena of Sir Samuel Bentham, as Ludy Bentham' has shown in print, and made himself a name out of them at Portsmouth Dockyard. You would like to buy my plans for 51. and make them your own : but—I have the French Emperor in reserve. And, by the Wily, you, who are set to examine others, what have you done ? "

I, my Lord—I—my works are patent to all the world!" "Then specify them." •

"I detest specifications. They cramp a man's genius. But I say, look around. The Thames Tunnel, the Great Western Railway and its tribu- taries, the Great Britain, Ilungerford Bridge, the Hospital for Smyrna, the new big ship' to be-called the Brunel. The host of great ideas bursting from my brain, for which the world, will not be large enough if any one else is permitted to work! The—" • Sir, the Thames Tunnel was your father's experiment in the pursuit of knowledge under—water. Your part in it was swimming up like a cork with the upward pressure in the shaft when the river burst in. The Great Western Railway is, I confess, an original idea; but it is confined to the simple measurement of a seven-feet gauge, which, by common consent, is eighteen inches too much. Everything else.haa been a series of irregular contrivances for remedying mistakes. There is not one single iota of ori- ginal structure remaining on it, either of rail, sleeper,, fastening, carriage, waggon, or engine ; and the gradations of alterations would furnish a mu- seum to illustrate the process of finding what will do by proving what won't do , and the process is still going on, showing that you are working only em- pirically, while you call it science. Your South Devon line was a blunder in structure, and a blunder in traction, a huge waste of money ; and the al- tered working of the trains is almost analogous with the punishment' of Sysiphus rolling his atone up hill. The Great Britain was a new version of Robinson Crime in the pulling down the dock to get it to the sea, and a new engineer had to reconstruct her moving power ere she was seaworthy. She was anyhow a larger failure than tbe lasing Star. Ilungerford Bridge is Telford's Menai lengthened. The Hospital for Smyrna will be apptoved- at the War Office, with your jack-in-the-box to boil ten gallons of water by fifteen pennyworth of candles. The big ship bids fair to be a giant; but giants are commonly weak in the knees, and she has yet to go through your usual career of contrivances,' which are your substitutes for forethought. Sir, if you study may patents for ships, and for railways, you will find prin- ciple& set down—principles, Sir. You must admit that."

"My Lord, I never admit anything. I have been under a Committee ex- amination for four hours at a stretch, with two lawyers together at me asking an admission—and 'didn't they wish they might get it ?' My Lord, my duties are imperative, and I cannot admit that your Lordship has made out any claim to mechanical skill. As a personal matter, I should have no ob- jection to examine—" "Sir, I will not be examined by you. You are no conjuror ! When you swallowed the golden likeness of Queen Victoria, you made even that 'go the wrong way,' and had to be held up by the heel like a miniature Achilles to make you disgorge it. Yet that, Sir, was your culminating feat by which you will be known to posterity. That, Sir, was your triumph in experi- mental philosophy." Enter Under-See.

"Sir my brother, and my noble Lord—you are both in the wrong !" !JILIN INVESTIGATOR.