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Salamanca. M. Thiers insists that the French had but 52,000 on the field, and the English and their allies 90,000. Now, the French muster-roll was lost in the action, and it is impossible for M. Thiers to do more than to approximate to the French numbers. Those numbers are computed by Napier at about 70,000. Wellington, it appears, from the same authority, had not more than 60,000 Anglo-Portuguese, and 20,000 Spaniards of doubtful efficiency. Either of these computations includes artillery. Wellington brought into the battle only 90 guns, and captured after the battle 151.* It is probable therefore that the strength of the two armies was not appreciably dissimilar. M. Thiers tells us that the charges of the British cavalry routed the French army as they were beginning to retreat. It happens that the absence of these cavalry charges forms Napier's sole criticism on the Duke of Wellington's command in this action.
Many other details of the British movements equally differ from the details given by their eye-witness and chief historian. In the selection of passages for investigation we have of course chosen those which chiefly affect the honour of the British arms, and on which we possess the fullest and most authentic materials. The result of our comparison is unfavourable enough to the accuracy of the military details on which M. Thiers mainly affects to rest his historical reputation. The Peninsular War is, however, a subject which he treats with evident, and not unnatural distaste, and he seeks to throw into the shade the events in which Great Britain bore so conspicuous a part, by drawing the attention of the reader to the contemporary events in which the star of Napoleon still beamed with undiminished lustre.
We here pause for the present; but we propose to resume in our next Number our survey of some of the leading passages of this eventful history. In dealing with a work which extends to seventeen large octavo volumes, and which is literally the produce of the labour of a life, we are unavoidably compelled to pass over in silence much that commands our admiration, as well as much that provokes our dissent. On the present occasion we have selected for the objects of criticism those chapters in which
* It is due to M. Thiers to acknowledge that he here over-estimates the French force in artillery. He computes the number of French guns lost in action at 200. We have compared the Duke of Wellington's despatch, stating the number of guns captured to be 151, with his verbal statement to the late Earl of Ellesmere, that he captured the whole French artillery. (Wellington Despatches, and Lord Ellesmere's Memoir.)
M. Thiers appears to us to have done injustice to the policy of the British Cabinet, and the military operations of the British forces. But before we take our final leave of this history, we shall endeavour to investigate the effects of the imperial system on the internal condition of France, and to follow M. Thiers through some of the later campaigns of the Emperor Napoleon.
ART. IV. - The Life of George Stephenson, Railway Engineer. By SAMUEL SMILES. 3rd edition. London: 1857.
HE history of mechanical inventions is seldom quite clear and complete: the biographies of the men who have devoted their genius and their energy to these pursuits are seldom entirely satisfactory. Scarcely any one of the inventions, which have most powerfully affected the condition of the human race, can fairly be attributed to the powers of any single mind. In most instances a series of imperfect experiments has prepared the way for the fortunate discoverer, whom some casual occurrence or some flash of genius may at last have placed within reach of honours and emoluments, which his meritorious predecessors failed to earn; and a strictly equitable judgment must pause ere it awards the prize which so many successive competitors have contributed to win. But to this observation the life of George Stephenson, and the great invention of the locomotive engine, which forms the basis of modern railway transport, form a striking exception. Sprung from the humblest ranks of the colliers of Northumberland, trained in the hard and mechanical duties of a coal-pit—unblest by the light of education, unacquainted with the proud discoveries of science, unassisted save by the friends he earned by his own integrity, ability, and talent, opposed by a formidable array of adverse circumstances, and by prejudices and interests more formidable still,—George Stephenson owed every inch of his progress to himself; he acquired by painful labour and hardearned experience everything he knew, everything he did, everything he possessed; and the volume before us exhibits to the reader a picture of courageous perseverance which entitles him to the admiration of his countrymen and the world, as much as those prodigious results of ingenuity and calculation which are identified with his name.
We know few books in the English language, we can point to few lives of English worthies, more honourable to the people
among whom such men are born. The career of George Stephenson, like that of Lord Collingwood, in another profession but in a kindred spirit, furnishes a memorable and beneficial example of the highest fame, not acquired by dashing exploits or by any sudden inspiration, but by stout-hearted faith and endurance, by the careful improvement of time, and by the maxim that patience is the truest genius. Such qualities are independent of the gifts of fortune, and the men who combine them with the highest order of intellect deserve to stand above the favourites of fortune. They are a lesson to the world; and if the biography of the heroic ages has inspired many a gallant deed of enterprise and valour, the biography of George Stephenson is not less calculated to encourage and to inform the character and the efforts of many an English artisan who may aspire by the same means to similar success.
Mr. Smiles has seized with excellent taste and feeling the high moral tone of his subject. His work is perfectly unaffected, unpretending, and true. He appears to have felt that his task was to draw an honest picture of an honest man; and he has heightened the charm of the narrative by touches of natural feeling and simple worth, to which George Stephenson was no stranger. The interest of the story gains on us step by step as we advance from the gin at Mid Mill and the pit at Black Callerton, to his establishment as engine-wright at Killingworth, where his first locomotive engine was made, thence by a gradual series of progressive inventions to the first lines of railway, to the construction of his Rocket,' which bore away the prize on the opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railroad, and finally to the prodigious development of the railway system throughout this kingdom and all the civilised countries in the world. In all these events it may, without exaggeration, be said that George Stephenson was not only the first and the most prominent, but often the sole actor. In his early conviction of the speed his engine was destined to accomplish, in his invariable preference for the locomotive over the fixed engine, and in his far-sighted conception of the change this invention would produce in all existing modes of communication and transport, he stood alone. Even his supporters and friends were alarmed at the magnitude of his anticipations, and entreated him to be more moderate in his promises, if he wished to be thought trustworthy and sane. Little gifted with facility of speech or ingenuity of argument, it was more easy for George Stephenson to perform and to exceed his own surprising predictions, than to persuade other men of their feasibility. Barely thirty years have elapsed since
this revolution in the mechanism of social intercourse began. Those amongst us who have reached the middle age can remember every step of its progress; but living as we now do in the midst of the results which daily experience has rendered so familiar to us, it is scarcely possible even for ourselves to recall the prodigious amount of incredulity, of apprehension, of scientific absurdity, of legal chicanery, of sturdy prejudice, which were arrayed against the most important improvement the world has beheld since the invention of printing. In front of all these antagonists George Stephenson stood erect, collected, and undismayed. He relied on no arts and no influence but those which he had acquired from perseverance and experience. His judgment was so correct and his eye so sure, that he seems by intuition to have discovered the right path, where everything about him was hesitation and perplexity. But when once the impulse had been given by his genius, he found a nation of unbounded wealth and enterprise ready and eager to follow his lead. Although he had passed the meridian of life before the first locomotive ran on the first railway, yet he lived long enough to see thousands of miles of railway executed or in progress; to see hundreds of millions expended on the creation of these iron tracks bearing along their fiery messengers; to direct the execution of works far exceeding in magnitude the greatest operations of human labour; and to verify his own prediction that locomotive railways would become the highways of the world.
It is not our intention on the present occasion to follow in detail the interesting narrative of these changes which Mr. Smiles has given us. The Life of George Stephenson' has already been widely circulated-it deserves to be read universally, and no succinct review of it can do justice to its merits. But the subject itself is in continual and rapid progress. The results and the development of the railway system are still imperfectly known and incomplete. Every month adds something to the knowledge derived from experience in the management of these vast concerns. In addition to their mechanical requirements and their social effects, railroads have become one of the first commercial interests of the country their annual revenue is that of a kingdom; their capital may be estimated at nearly half the National Debt. Supply and demand, property and labour, have become in a great measure dependent on this amazing instrument; and there is no class of the community which is not more or less interested in their prosperity. We therefore propose to devote some pages to the consideration of the present state of the Rail
ways of Great Britain; and we hope to be able to bring to this discussion some materials which have not yet been communicated to the public.
At the present time nearly 9000 miles of railway have been completed in the British Isles, and it may be assumed that about 21,000 miles are open for traffic in the rest of Europe, and 25,000 in America.
Some idea of the relative accommodation afforded by railways to the population of different countries is afforded by dividing the amount of money expended on railways in each country by the number of its inhabitants. Thus in 1855 the money expended per inhabitant amounted to
At the beginning of the present year the money expended upon railways in Great Britain and Ireland amounted probably to 313,000,0007.
Mr. Robert Stephenson, in his Address delivered to the Institution of Civil Engineers in January, 1856, which is appended to this volume, observes
'Our tunnels have traversed hills and penetrated beneath mountains to the extent of nearly seventy miles. Of our viaducts I am not at present able to give the precise extent, but some estimate may be formed from the fact of there being in London, and the suburbs, nearly eleven miles of viaduct passing through the streets. Of railway bridges there must have been built at least 25,000; far more than all the bridges ever previously known in England.'
Taking at an average 70,000 cubic yards to a mile, the earthworks will measure 550,000,000 cubic yards. What does this represent ? We are accustomed to regard St. Paul's as a test for height and space; but by the side of the pyramid of earth these works would rear, St. Paul's would be but as a pigmy by a giant. Imagine a mountain half a mile in diameter at its base, and soaring into the clouds one mile and a half in height; that would be the size of the mountain of earth which these earthworks would form.
'The accomplishment of these vast works has largely developed our knowledge of the principles of construction, and has led to the thorough investigation of the strength of materials.
The large amount of machinery which the railway system required has given a great impulse to mechanical engineering.
It is computed that no less than 80,000,000 miles are annually traversed on our railways. Now, to run 80,000,000 miles per annum,