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Chap. X. CROSS-EXAMINATION. 195
neighbourhood of Killingworth, the cattle in the fields went on grazing while the engines passed them, and the farmers made no complaints.
Mr. Alderson, who had carefully studied the subject, and was well skilled in practical science, subjected the witness to a protracted and severe cross-examination as to the speed and power of the locomotive, the strokes of the engine, the slipping of the wheels upon the rails, and various other points of detail. Mr. Stephenson insisted that no slipping took place, as attempted to be extorted from him by the counsel. He said; "It is impossible for slipping to take place so long as the adhesive weight of the wheel upon the rail is greater than the weight to be dragged after it." There was a good deal of interruption to the witness's answers by Mr. Alderson, to which Mr. Joy more than once objected. As to accidents, Mr. Stephenson knew of none that had occurred with his engines. There had been one, he was told, at the Middleton Colliery, near Leeds, with a Blenkinsop engine. The driver had been in liquor, and had put a considerable load on the safety-valve, so that upon going forward the engine blew up and the man was killed. But he added, if proper precautions had been used with that boiler, the accident could not have happened. The following cross-examination occurred in reference to the question of speed :—
"Of course," he was asked, "when a body is moving upon a road, the greater the velocity the greater the momentum that is generated?" "Certainly."—" What would be the momentum of forty tons moving at the rate of twelve miles an hour?" "It would be very great."— "Have you seen a railroad that would stand that?"
"Yes." "Where?" "Any railroad that would bear
going four miles an hour: I mean to say, that if it would bear the weight at four miles an hour, it would bear it at twelve."—" Taking it at four miles an hour, do you mean to say that it would not require a stronger railway to carry the same weight twelve miles an hour?" "I will give an answer to that. I dare say every person has been 166 ALARMING SPEED. Chap. X.
over ice when skating, or seen persons go over, and they know that it would bear them better at a greater velocity than it would if they went slower; when they go quick, the weight in a measure ceases."—" Is not that upon the hypothesis that the railroad is perfect?" "It is; and 1 mean to make it perfect."
Mr. Alderson had so pressed the point of " twelve miles an hour," and the promoters were so alarmed lest it should appear in evidence that they contemplated any such extravagant rate of speed, that immediately on Mr. Alderson sitting down, Mr. Joy proceeded to re-examine Mr. Stephenson, with the view of,removing from the minds of the Committee an impression so unfavourable, and, as they supposed, so damaging to their case. "With regard," asked Mr. Joy, " to all those hypothetical questions of my learned friend, they have been all put on the supposition of going twelve miles an hour: now that is not the rate at which, I believe, any of the engines of which you have spoken have travelled?" "No," replied Mr. Stephenson, "except as an experiment for a short distance."—" But what they have gone has been three, five, or six miles an hour?" "Yes."—"So that those hypothetical cases of twelve miles an hour do not fall within your general experience?" "They do not."
The Committee also seem to have entertained some alarm as to the high rate of speed which had been spoken of, and proceeded to examine the witness further on the subject. They supposed the case of the engine being upset when going at nine miles an hour, and asked what, in such a case, would become of the cargo astern. To which the witness replied that it would not be upset. One of the members of the Committee pressed the witness a little further. He put the following case:—" Suppose, now, one of these engines to be going along a railroad at the rate of nine or ten miles an hour, and that a cow were to stray upon the line and get in the way of the engine; would not that, think you, be a very awkward circumstance?" "Yes," replied the witness, with a twinkle in Chap. X. DEFECTS IN THE PLANS. 167
his eye, "very awkward indeed—-for the coo!" The honourable member did not proceed further with his crossexamination; to use a railway phrase, he was "shunted."
On the following day (the 26th April), Mr. Stephenson was subjected to a most severe examination. On that part of the scheme with which he was most practically conversant, his evidence was clear and conclusive. Now, he had to give evidence on the plans made by his surveyors, and the estimates which had been founded on such plans. So long as he was confined to locomotive engines and iron railroads, with the minutest details of which he was more familiar than any man living, he felt at home, and in his element. But when the designs of bridges and the cost of constructing them had to be gone into, his evidence was much less satisfactory.
Mr. Alderson cross-examined him at great length on the plans of the bridges, the tunnels, the crossings of the roads and streets, and the details of the survey, which, it soon clearly appeared, were in some respects seriously at fault. The proposed formation of the line of railway over Chat Moss was also the subject of much cross-examination,—the witness stating that it was quite practicable, although it would require time to become consolidated.
For three entire days was Mr. Stephenson subjected to cross-examination by Mr. Alderson, Mr. Cullen, and the other leading counsel for the opposition. He held his ground bravely, and defended the plans and estimates with consummate ability and skill; but it was clear they were imperfect, and the result was on the whole damaging to the bill. Mr. (afterwards Sir William) Cubitt was called by the promoters,—Mr. Adam stating that he proposed by this witness to correct some of the levels as given by Mr. Stephenson. It seems a singular course to have been taken by the promoters of the measure; for Mr. Cubitt's evidence went to upset the statements made by Mr. Stephenson as to the survey. This adverse evidence was, of course, made the most of by the opponents of the bill.
Mr. Serjeant Spankie then summed up for the bill, on 1G8 MB. HARRISON'S SPEECH Chap. X.
the 2nd of May, in a speech of great length; and the case of the opponents was next gone into, Mr. Harrison opening with a long and eloquent speech on behalf of his clients, Mrs. Atherton and others. He indulged in the severest vituperation against the witnesses for the bill, and especially dwelt upon the manner in which Mr. Cubitt, for the promoters, had proved that Mr. Stephenson's levels were wrong. "They got a person," said he, "whose character and skill I do not dispute, though I do not exactly know that I should have gone to the inventor of the treadmill as the fittest man to take the levels of Knowsley Moss, and Chat Moss, which shook almost as much as a treadmill, as you recollect, for he (Mr. Cubitt) said Chat Moss trembled so much under his feet that he could not take his observations accurately In fact, Mr. Cubitt did not go
to the Chat Moss, because he knew that it was an immense mass of pulp, and nothing else. It actually rises in height, from the rain swelling it like a sponge, and sinks again in dry weather: and if a boring instrument is put into it, it sinks immediately by its own weight. The making of an embankment out of this pulpy, wet moss, is no very easy task. Who but Mr. Stephenson would have thought of entering into Chat Moss, carrying it out almost like wet dung? It is ignorance almost inconceivable. It is perfect madness, in a person called upon to speak on a scientific
subject, to propose such a plan Every part of the
scheme shows that this man has applied himself to a subject of which he has no knowledge, and to which he has no science to apply." Then adverting to the proposal to work the intended line by means of locomotives, the learned gentleman proceeded; "When we set out with the original prospectus, we were to gallop, I know not at what rate;—I believe it was at the rate of twelve miles an hour. My learned friend, Mr. Adam, contemplated—possibly alluding to Ireland—that some of the Irish members would arrive in the waggons to a division. My learned friend says that they would go at the rate of twelve miles an hour with the aid of the devil in the form of a locomotive, sitting as Chap. X. EVIDENCE OF MR. GILES. 169
postilion on the fore horse, and an honourable member sitting behind him to stir up the fire, and keep it at full speed. But the speed at which these locomotive engines are to go has slackened: Mr. Adam does not go faster now than five miles an hour. The learned Serjeant (Spankie) says he should like to have seven, but he would be content to go six. I will show he cannot go six; and probably, for any practical purposes, I may be able to show that I can
keep up with him by the canal Locomotive engines
are liable to be operated upon by the weather. You are told they are affected by rain, and an attempt has been made to cover them; but the wind will affect them; and any gale of wind which would affect the traffic on the Mersey would render it impossible to set off a locomotive engine, either by poking of the fire, or keeping up the pressure of the steam till the boiler is ready to burst."- How amusing it now is to read these extraordinary views as to the formation of a railway over Chat Moss, and the impossibility of starting a locomotive engine in the face of a gale of wind! The men who then laughed at Stephenson's "mad projects," had but to live a few years longer to find that the laugh was all on the other side.
Evidence was called to show that the house property passed by the proposed railway would be greatly deteriorated—in some places almost destroyed; that the locomotive engines would be terrible nuisances, in consequence of the fire and smoke vomited forth by them; and that the value of land in the neighbourhood of Manchester alone would be deteriorated by no less than 20,000L! But the opposition mainly relied upon the evidence of the leading engineers— not, like Mr. Stephenson, self-taught men, but regular professionals. Mr. Francis Giles, C.E., was their great card. He had been twenty-two j-ears an engineei, and could speak with some authority. His testimony was mainly directed to the utter impossibility of forming a railway over Chat Moss. "No engineer in his senses," said he, " would go through Chat Moss if he wanted to make a railroad from Liverpool , to Manchester." Mr. Giles thus described this bottomless