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numbers, and various schemes were proposed. One suggested the adoption of sails, supposing that the waggons might be impelled along the tram-ways like ships before the wind." But the most favourite scheme was the application of steam power on the high-pressure principle, for the purpose of railway traction. Solomon de Caus, who was shut up for his supposed madness in the Bicêtre at Paris, seems to have been the first to conceive the idea of employing steam for moving carriages on land as well as ships at sea. Marion de Lorme, in a letter to the Marquis de Cinq-Mars, dated Paris, February, 1641, thus describes a visit paid to this celebrated madhouse in the company of the English Marquis of Worcester: — “We were crossing the court, and I, more dead than alive with fright, kept close to my companion's side, when a frightful face appeared behind some immense bars, and a hoarse voice exclaimed, ‘I am not mad I am not mad! I have made a discovery that would enrich the country that adopted it.’ ‘What has he discovered?’ asked our guide. “Oh '' answered the keeper, shrugging his shoulders, “ something trifling enough: you would never guess it; it is the use of the steam of boiling water.” I began to laugh. ‘This man,’ continued the keeper, “is named Solomon de Caus; he came from Normandy four years ago, to present to the King a statement of the wonderful effects that might be produced from his invention. To listen to him, you would imagine that
* “Upon a long extent of iron railway, in an open country, carriages properly constructed might make profitable voyages from time to time with sails instead of horses; for though a constant or regular intercourse could not be thus carried on, yet goods of a certain sort, that are saleable at any time, might be staid till wind and weather were favourable.”—Memoirs of R. L. Edgeworth, vol. i. p. 153. Mr. Edgeworth made several experiments with a sailing carriage of his invention on Hare Hatch Common, but the experiments were abandoned in consequence of the dangerous results which threatened to attend them.
chap. vi.11.] DE CAUS AND WATT. 65
with steam you could navigate ships, move carriages; in fact, there is no end to the miracles which, he insists upon it, could be performed. The Cardinal sent the madman away without listening to him. Solomon de Caus, far from being discouraged, followed the Cardinal wherever he went with the most determined perseverance, who, tired of finding him for ever in his path, and annoyed at his folly, shut him up in the Bicêtre. He has even written a book about it, which I have here.”" It appears that the Marquis of Worcester was greatly struck by the appearance of De Caus, and afterwards studied his book, portions of which he embodied in his “Century of Inventions.” The Marquis is also said to have entertained the idea of moving carriages by steam power, but never embodied it in any practical form. Savery, the Cornish miner and engineer, who did so much to develope the powers of the high-pressure engine, also proposed it as a method of propelling carriages along ordinary roads. But he took no practical measures with the view of carrying out his suggestion. The subject was shortly after, in 1759, introduced to the powerful mind of James Watt, by Dr. Robison, then a young man studying at Glasgow College. “He threw out,” says Watt, “the idea of applying the power of the steam-engine to the moving of wheelcarriages, and to other purposes; but the scheme was not matured, and was soon abandoned, on his going abroad.”f Watt, however, afterwards, in the specification of his patent of 1769, gave a description of an engine of the kind suggested by his friend Robison, in which the expansive force of steam was proposed as the motive power. It also appears that other inventors were in the field about the same time; for in a letter written by Dr. Small to Mr. Watt, on the 18th of April, 1769, it is stated that “one Moore, a linendraper of London, had taken out a patent formoving wheel-carriages by steam; ”” but no steps were taken to reduce the invention to practice. Watt again, in his patent of 1784, described a similar engine to that indicated in his first patent, specifying the mode of applying steam to the moving of wheel-carriages. The plan proposed by Watt, although a curiosity at the present day, bears the impress of his original mind. The boiler was to be of wooden staves hooped together with iron; the iron furnace inside the boiler, and almost entirely surrounded with water; the whole being placed on a carriage, the wheels of which were to be worked by a piston, the reciprocatory action being converted into a rotatory one by toothed wheels and a sun and planet motion. The cylinder was to be seven inches in diameter, the number of strokes sixty per minute, and their length one foot. The carriage was to carry two persons. But no such carriage was ever built, Watt being too busily occupied with the perfecting of his condensing engine to proceed further with his proposed locomotive. The first actual model of a steam-carriage, of which we have any written account, was constructed by a Frenchman named Cugnot, who exhibited it before the Marshal de Saxe in 1763.f He afterwards built an engine on the same model, at the cost of the French monarch. But when set in motion, it projected itself onward with such force, that it knocked down a wall which stood in its way; and its power being considered too great for ordinary use, it was put aside as being a dangerous
* The book is entitled “Les Raisons des Forces Mouvantes, avec diverses machines tant utiles que puissantes.” Paris, 1615. f Narrative of James Watt's Invention, in Robison's Mechanical Philosophy, vol. ii. art. Steam Engine. F.
* The Mechanical Inventions of James Watt, by J. P. Muirhead, M.A. f Stuart's Historical and Descriptive Anecdotes of Steam Engines, and of their Inventors and Improvers, pp. 208, 209.
ch AP. vii.I.] THE FIRST INVENTORS OF LOCOMOTIVES. 67
machine, and was stowed away in the Arsenal Museum at Paris.” An American inventor, named Oliver Evans, was also occupied with the same idea; for in 1772, he invented a steam-carriage to travel on common roads; and in 1787, he obtained from the State of Maryland the exclusive right to make and use steam-carriages. His invention, however, never came into practical use. It also appears that in 1784, William Symington, the inventor of the steam-boat, conceived the idea of employing steam power in the propulsion of carriages; and in 1786 he had a working model of a steam-carriage constructed, which he submitted to the professors and other scientific gentlemen of Edinburgh. But the state of the Scotch roads was at that time so horrible, that he considered it impracticable to proceed further with his scheme, and he shortly gave it up in favour of his project of steam navigation.f The first English model of a steam-carriage was made in 1784, by William Murdock, the friend and assistant of Watt. It was on the high-pressure principle, and ran on three wheels. The boiler was heated by a spirit-lamp; and the whole machine was of very diminutive dimensions, standing little more than a foot high. Yet, on one occasion, the little engine went so fast, that it outran the speed of its inventor. Mr. Bucklet says, that one night, after returning from his duties in the mine at Redruth, in Cornwall, Murdock determined to try the working of his model locomotive. For this purpose, he had recourse to the walk leading to the church, about a mile from the town. The walk was rather narrow, and was bounded on either side by high edges. It was a dark night, and Murdock set out alone to try his experiment. Having lit his lamp, the water shortly began to boil, and off started the engine with the inventor after it. He soon heard distant shouts of despair. It was too dark to perceive objects; but he shortly found on following up the machine, that the cries for assistance proceeded from the worthy pastor of the parish, who, going towards the town on business, was met on this lonely road by the hissing and fiery little monster, which he subsequently declared he had taken to be the Evil One in propriá persond. No further steps, however, were taken by Murdock to embody his idea of a locomotive carriage in a more practical form. A few years later, in 1789, one Thomas Allen, of London, published “A Plan of a new-invented Machine to convey goods, merchandise, passengers, &c., from one place to another, without horses, and by the power or force of steam only.” Mr. Allen proceeded upon the idea that if steam could be applied to the turning of wheels for one purpose, such as grinding corn, it could for another, such as the haulage of carriages. From his Plan, which is in the possession of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle-upon-Tyne", it appears that he intended the wheels of his machine to be cogged, and that he anticipated a speed upon a common road of “ somewhat better than ten miles an hour.” The plan, however, was a very crude one, and not even a model of the machine seems to have been made. Towards the end of the last century, the adoption of rail
* It is now preserved in the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers.
f See a pamphlet entitled “A brief Narrative, proving the right of the late William Symington, Civil Engineer, to be considered the Inventor of Steam Land Carriage Locomotion ; and also the Inventor and Introducer of Steam Navigation.” By Robert Bowie. London: Sherwood, Gilbert, and Piper, 1833.
f Biographical paper on William Murdock, read by Mr. William Buckle, of Soho, before the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, October, 1850.