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alterations as would not inconvenience the plan. I made my estimates accordingly, supposing that Parliament would not confine the Company to the precise estimate." * 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 this 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 very 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 the 2nd of May, in a speech of great length; and the case of the opponents to the bill was next gone into, Mr. Harrison opening with an 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 cnAp, six.] MR. HARRISON'S SPEECH. 235
* Evidence, p. 241.
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 proposed 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 postillion 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
* Report and Evidence, pp. 346, 349, 351, 353.
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 20,000/.! f 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 years an engineer, 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
* Report and Evidence, p. 354. f Evidence, p. 379.
Chap, xix.] EVIDENCE OF E.GILES, C.E. 237
to Manchester."* Mr. Giles thus described this bottomless pit: "The surface of the Moss, is a sort of long, coarse, sedgy grass, tough enough to enable you to walk upon it, about half-leg deep; underneath that, on putting an iron into the soil (a boring-rod), it will, with its own weight, sink down. In the centre, where this railroad is to cross, it is all pulp from the top to the depth of 34 feet; at 34 feet there is a vein of 4 or 6 inches of clay; below that there are 2 or 3 feet of quicksand; and the bottom of that is hard clay, which keeps all the water in. The boring-rod will get down to the first vein of clay by its own weight; a slight pressure of the hand will carry it to the next vein of clay; a very little pressure indeed will get it to the additional depth of 2 or 3 feet, beyond which you must use more pressure to get it down to the foundation. If this sort of material were to be carried, it would greatly increase the expense; and it would be necessary to lay it aside, for the purpose of draining and drying, before any man in his senses would convey it along the railroad for the purpose I have been speaking of. .... In my judgment a railroad certainly cannot be safely made over Chat Moss without going to the bottom of the Moss. The soil ought all to be taken out, undoubtedly; in doing which, it will not be practicable to approach each end of the cutting, as you make it, with the carriages. No carriages would stand upon the Moss short of the bottom. My estimate for the whole cutting and embankment over Chat Moss is 270,000/. nearly, at those quantities and those prices which
are decidedly correct It will be necessary to take
this Moss completely out at the bottom, in order to make a solid road." f
Mr. Henry Robinson Palmer, C. E., gave his evidence to prove that resistance to a moving body going under four and
» Evidence, p. 386. f Ibid. pp. 383—386.
a quarter miles an hour was less upon a canal than upon a railroad; and that, when going against a strong wind, the progress of a locomotive was retarded "very much." Mr. George Leather, C. E., the engineer of the Croydon and Wandsworth Railway, on which he said the waggons went at from two and a half to three miles an hour, also gave his evidence against the practicability of Mr. Stephenson's plan. He considered his estimate a " very wild" one. He had no confidence in locomotive power. The Weardale Railway, of which he was engineer, had given up the use of locomotive engines. He supposed that, when used, they travelled at three and a half to four miles an hour, because they were considered to be then more effective than at a higher speed.*
When these distinguished engineers had given their evidence, Mr. Alderson summed up in a speech which extended over two days. He declared Mr. Stephenson's plan to be "the most absurd scheme that ever entered into the head of man to conceive. My learned friends," said he, " almost endeavoured to stop my examination; they wished me to put in the plan, but I had rather have the exhibition of Mr. Stephenson in that box. I say he never had a plan—I believe he never had one—I do not believe he is capable of making one. His is a mind perpetually fluctuating between opposite difficulties: he neither knows whether he is to make bridges over roads or rivers, of one size or of another; or to make embankments, or cuttings, or inclined planes, or in what way the thing is to be carried into effect. Whenever a difficulty is pressed, as in the case of a tunnel, he gets out of it at one end, and when you try to catch him at that, he gets out at the other." Mr. Alderson proceeded to declaim against the gross ignorance of this so-called engineer, who proposed to make " impossible ditches by the side of an impossible rail
* Evidence, p. 436.