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ing or denying the possibility of that re- the British post-office, could not be carsult, no person really did so. “A ves- ried on with that profit which would ensel having as her cargo," says a writer* sure its permanency.t of that day, "a couple of steam-engines The Great Western made her first and some hundred tons of coal, would be, trip across the Atlantie in April, 1838. ceteris paribus, as capable of crossing Two other companies were at the same the Atlantic as a vessel transporting the time engaged in a similar enterprise. same weight of any other cargo. A The “ 'Transatlantic Steamship Comsteam-vessel, it is true, would labor un- pany,” in the same summer, put two der some comparative disadvantage, ow- steamers, the “Royal William" and the ing to the obstruction presented by her “Great Liverpool" on the route between paddle-wheels and the boxes which cover Liverpool and New York ;-and the them; still, however, it would be pre- “ British and American Steam-Navigaposterous to suppose that these impedi- tion Company" put the “ British Queen" ments would render impracticable her on the route between Portsmouth and passage to New York. . . . In fact, no New York, in the following year; the doubt has been entertained or expressed same company soon after widening the as to the practicability of establishing scale of their operations, by the gigantic a communication between these coun- and unfortunate steamship President. tries and New-York, by a line of steam- We should state that this company had vessels. But a difference of opinion has previously placed the Sirius on the same prevailed as to what mode of accomplish- route, having withdrawn her, however, ing that object may best insure certain after a single voyage. ty, safety, regularity, and profit, without While these operations were in prowhich last element it is presumed the gress the Cunard Company was organother objects could hardly be secured." ized; and in accordance with the plan
In the debates which at that time pre- laid down and recommended by Dr. vailed on this subject, Dr. Lardner, as is Lardner, submitted to the British gov. well known, took a prominent part. He ernment a project for a line of steam declared himself favorable to the project communication with the United States under certain conditions which he strong- and the British colonies, touching at ly urged on its promoters, the principal Halifax to land passengers and deliver of which was, to adopt such a course as the mails. They without difficulty efwould secure to them the advantage offected an arrangement, and a contract the British post-office contract, unsup- was duly signed in 1839, securing to ported by which he pledged his judgment them a subsidy of sixty thousand pounds and experience that the enterprise could sterling per annum for the transport of not, at that time, be conducted with pere the mails, which liberal stipend has since manent commercial profit. It was un- been raised to the sum of ninety thousderstood, that to secure this object, the and pounds a year! Thus munificently steamers must make Halifax an interme- supported, the Cunard line of steamers diate station ; a measure which would commenced running between Liverpool, have the further advantage of abridging Halifax, and Boston in July, 1840, and the trip of the steamer. He declared have continued to the present time to that until some greater advance were maintain a regular communication bemade in the art of steam navigation, a tween the old and new world, not susline of steamers between England and pended or interrupted at any season of New York, depending exclusively on the the year. profits of freight and passengers, and un- Of all the steamships placed on the supported by any subsidy such as that of direct New-York line by three compa
* See an article on steam navigation, ascribed to the pen of Dr. Lardner, in the London Monthly Chronicle, vol. ii., 1838.
+ This, and similar declarations, form the foundation for the mistaken reports of Dr. Lardner's having affirmed a steam voyage to New York to be an impossibility. This, however, has long since been set right in England. See an able article in the Civil En. gineer and Architect's Journal, for Jan. 1842, entitled “Steam Navigation-has it been successful ?”-in the course of which it is shewn from documents and facts that the pre. dictions of Dr. Lardner have been realized with a degree of minute precision, which, if it be not fortuitous, affords a really striking example of the coincidence between the deductions of philosophy and the results of experience.”—[Ed. Am. Rev.]
nies, working with abundant capital, the Navigation Company.” They have Great Western alone has continued to passed into the catalogue of the things run, subject to an annual suspension dur. that were. But the Great Western ing the winter months, and an occasional Company continues to have at least a interruption to her trips, arising appa- quasi” existence. rently from the measures taken by the The Great Western has unquestionacompany with a view to selling her. bly been a fine vessel-probably the The Sirius made a single voyage and finest steamship which, up to the date was withdrawn. The “ Royal William" of her establishment, had ever floated on and the Great Liverpool were worked on the deep. Her efficiency is mainly due the route for a single season, and finally to the consummate ability of Mr. Field, transferred to more profitable work. The who planned and constructed her maPresident was lost. The British Queen chinery, and had a large share in all her was sold to the Belgian government; and other arrangements. This vessel alone failing apparently to answer its purposes, has maintained the New York passage ultimately found its station with the Ori. hitherto, subject to the suspensions and ental Company, and now plies between interruptions already adverted to. But Falmouth and Alexandria. The United the material question here is, has she States, another steamship destined origi- done so with such commercial advantage nally for the New York route, was like- as will insure her continuance,-as will wise placed upon the Mediterranean line. induce the company to extend the scale Some of the financial circumstances at of their operations by placing other vestending the operations of these compa- sels on the station, and as will attract nies are noticed in the article already additional capital to the enterprise? We referred to in the Engineer and Archi- are informed that in answer to this intect's Journal.
quiry, the Great Western Company de“The Great Liverpool,” says the wri- clare that this vessel is a thriving conter, “having in a single season earned a cern, that they are dividing nine or ten loss to her proprietors of six thousand per cent. per annum on their capital, pounds sterling upon the New York line, and that on the whole the enterprise is it was determined to withdraw her; and in the most prosperous condition. We with another new vessel built for Atlan- should be too glad to lay down the pen tic voyaging, (the “United States,") in the tranquil assurance of this, but are now the “ Oriental,” to open a commu- compelled to acknowledge our doubts. nication with India via the Red Sea. This prosperous ship has long been unThe proprietors of the British Queen be- derstood to be in the market for sale. came competitors with the Great Liver. Recently a sale of her by private conpool and Oriental for the Alexandrian tract was actually made to the Mediterline, plainly showing that both of these ranean or Oriental Company ; one of the companies, after a vast expenditure of conditions were, that the sellers should money, had arrived at the very conclu- put new boilers in her, and that she sion Dr. Lardner held three or four should be approved by surveyors apyears before. Has it never occurred to pointed by her Majesty's Board of Adthe proprietors of these vessels that they miralty. The boilers were put in and might have saved about one hundred the survey made; when, in consequence thousand pounds, as well as vast respon- of some difference or misunderstanding, sibility, anxiety, risk, and discredit, if, the Great Western Company replaced at the commencement of the Atlantic her on her original station. discussions, they had prevented their Whatever be the condition of this nepassions from exercising their favorite gotiation or bargain, it is evident that calling, that of running away with their the proprietors of the Great Western reason ?"
desired to get that vessel off their hands. Well, then, two of these companies It may then be fairly demanded how this which commenced operations some years is compatible with a "thriving and prosince with such high aspirations and ar- fitable concern”-how it is compatible dent hopes, have been swept from the with “dividends of nine or ten per face of the deep, and their very names cent. ?” Is it likely that in a country erased from the tablets of the public where more than three per cent. cannot memory. No one now hears of the be obtained for money in the public se“ Transatlantic Steamship Company,” curities,-where bills are often discountor of the British and American Steam ed at less than three per cent., -where
money to any amount can be obtained That enterprise is established with even on house mortgage at four per every appearance of permanency. It cent.,—where railway companies divid- has not been compelled, like the Great ing nine per cent. have their shares at Western, to suspend its operation during one hundred per cent. premium,-is it the winter season. Instead of putting probable that shareholders in such a up its ships to public sale, it is augmentconcern would not merely be anxious ing their number, and increasing the freto withdraw from it, but repeatedly quency of their voyages. It is therefore offer the whole property in this suc fair to infer that this line is permanently cessful enterprise for public sale, and and profitably established. On comparwhat is still more strange, offer it in ing it with the New York line with a vain?
view to discover the elements which The shares in the Great Western are have determined the success in the one limited to so few hands, that they do not case, and the failure in the other, the enter the market so as to be quoted like first circumstance which commands atthose of most other companies. We are tention, is, that the Cunard line, by senot therefore able to bring this point to curing the contract for the British mails, the test which the price of shares would is subsidized to the extent of £90,000 afford. But it has been generally un per annum. Now, if it be assumed that derstood that sales have been made at iwenty voyages are made in the year, fifty per cent. discount.
this will be equivalent to £2250 per Such being the actual condition of trip; and if it be assumed that the averthings, it may be asked what is to be age profit made on each cabin passenger inferred respecting the transatlantic for a single trip is £15, this contract steam project? llas it been successful? would be tantamount in its effect to addHas it realized the hopes of its advo- ing 150 cabin passengers, each trip, to cates and the promises of its friends ? the number to be obtained from the naWill it be permanent? To some of tural supply. these que
we think the history of There is another circumstance which the past and statement of its present will be better appreciated at the other condition, will supply a satisfactory an than at this side of the Atlantic. The
Cunard ships are regarded as governThat the direct New York route has ment vessels ; as post-office ships; as hitherto failed-in the only sense in carrying an officer of the navy, and agent which failure was ever apprehended, that of the admiralty, on board." This prois, as a mercantile speculation, prose- duces a strong confidence, among Eucuted solely with a view to profit-must, ropeans, in their efficiency and safety. we conceive, be evident to every under- Whether that exclusive confidence be standing unclouded by prejudice, and un well founded or not-whether the Great biased by existing interests. The mere Western is as good, or better-whether fact that the vessels which have been it as well, or better officered and manned put on the route, since its commence -is not here the question. Be it a lement in 1838, to the present time, a pe- gitimate source of confidence or not, the riod of six years, have all but one disap- British mail steamers will always, on peared; being (with one exception, the that account alone, receive a preference President, which was lost) withdrawn from a very large majority of the Euroby their owners, in consequence of the pean public. To what cause other than losses they sustained in working them- this is it that the Cunard steamers can and that sole remaining ship having been keep their cabin fares* thirty-three per offered in vain for sale--are sufficiently cent. above those of the Great Western, conclusive on this point. This being and yet carry a greater amount of pasadmitted, the next question is, What is sengers? the cause of this failure? To obtain the low far the Cunard line derives an solution of this last question we must advantage from the traffic in passengers turn our view to the Cunard line of to the British North American pro#steamers.
vinces, or from the shorter time of the
The cabin fare in the Great Western is thirty-one pounds, ten shillings; in the Cunard steamers it is forty-one pounds. On particular trips, when the Great Western changed her port of departure and sailed from Liverpool, the fares of the Cunard ships were lowered, but only so for that trip.
trips,* it is not worth while here to in- losses of the British Queen and Presiquire, for we think the two causes we dent, the authenticity and correctness of have assigned, and especially the post- which may be relied on. From this acoffice contribution, are enough, and more count, it appears that these ships (with than enough, to explain the question be- the exception of one voyage of the Britfore us.
ish Queen) never failed to net for their We have before us the prospectus of a owners some profit, until the operations project for the establishment of a new of the Cunard line began, and from that line of steamers between New York and time till the dissolution of the company, Liverpool, advocated by Mr. Junius all profit ceased, and every voyage only Smith, formerly connected with the added to the loss. This fact pretty “ British and American Steam Naviga- clearly indicates the chief cause of the tion Company.” In that document we failure of the New York lines of steamfind a detailed account of the profits and ships.
* The following table exhibits the performances of the Great Western and Cunard steamers
PASSAGES OF THE GREAT WESTERN.
From New York to Bristol.
DAYS. 1838–April 8..... April 23......... 14.50 1833-May 7
May 22.......... 14.50 June 2......... ....July 17....... 14
..July 8..........13 July 21.......... Aug. 5.... ...... 14
August 16. ...... August 30........ 13.50 September 8..... September 24.... 15.50
October 4 .......October 16.......12 October 27...... November 15.... 18
November 23 ... December 7..... 13.50 1839– January 28 February 16.
18.50 1839-February 25 March 12
April 22........ May 27 ......... 14.50
13 July 22 .. .... 15.75
August 1 ....... August 13....... 12.25 August 24...... September 10.... 16.50
September 21... October 4 ....... 13 16 October 19...... November 2..... 14.25
November 16... November 30.... 13.50 1840—February 20 .... March 7......... 15.50 1840_March 19.... April 2 April 15...
May 9. ......... May 23......... 14
...... 13.50 July 25.... August 9........
August 18...... August 31....... 13 September 12 ... September 27.... 14.59
October 10. October 23...... 13.50 November 7.... November 2.... 16.50
December 9..... December 23.... 13.50
Average passage............ 15.76
13.48 PASSAGES OF THE CUNARD STEAMERS. PASSAGE,
PASSAGE, Ship's name. Sailed from Liverpool. Out. Home. Ship's name. Saulid from Lirerpool.
Hone. . Britannia.... July 4, 1840....... 12.50...... 10.00 Caledonia ... July 4, 1841....... 11.25...... 10.50 Acadia...... August 4.......... 11. 16...... 11.00 Acadia...... July 20
11.00...... 9.75 Britannia.... September 4....... 11.00......11.20
. 11.00 Calezlonia ... September 19...... 12.30...... 10.25 Britannia.... August 19... 11.80......12.00 Acadia... ... October 4......... 11.25...... 12.20
September 4 .... 11.75...... 10.80 Britannia.... October 20 ........ 12.00...... 11.25 Acadia...... September 19 13.50......11.15 Caledonia ... November 4....... 12.00...... 11.80 Columbia ... October 5...
13.75......11.00 Acadia...... December 4
14.75...... 10.75 Britannia.... October 21.... 14.15......12.25 Britannia..., February 4, 1841... 15.40...... 12.00 Caledonia ... November 4.. ..... 11.80...... 12.00 Caledonia ... March 4 .......... 14.00...... 10.75 Columbia December 4....... 14.75......11.75 Acadia...... March 20 ..... 16.50...... 12.75 Columbia ... March 1, 1842..... 20.75......15.50 Columbia ... April 4.... 13.12......11.60 Britania.... April 5
12.85...... 10.55 Britannia.... April 20.......... 13.75......11.00 Caledonia ... April 19
13.80...... 10.75 Caledonja ... May 4..
12.25...... 10.75 Acadia...... May 4.. ...... 14.75...... 10.30 Acadia...... May 19 12.00...... 10.60 Columbia ...
........11.85...... 9.75 Columbia ... June 4... 10.80. .....10.25
Britannia.... June 4.... ...... 11.75...... 10.40 Britannia... June 19. ....... 12.25...... 10.00
16) 212.50 16) 179.45 17) 217.03 17) 188.15
13.28 11.21 Average passage....
12.76 11.07 The passages of the Cunard line have been taken as nearly as possible at the same scasons as those of the Great Western.
Days, Hours, The average out-passage of the Great Western is then
15 19 Cunard steamships
13 0 The average home-passage of the Great Western is.
13 12 Cunard steamships
11 2 Difference of the out-passage in favor of the Cunard line
2 19 Difference of the home-passage in favor of the Cunard line
2 10 Difference of the voyage in favor of the Cunard line
The competition of the Cunard Line jects still to be brought into operation. is indeed a most important element in Of the past and present alone are we able this investigation. If, as was the case or willing to speak. This is an epoch when the question was first debated in signalized by the rapid progression of England, and when Dr. Lardner made the arts, and improvements are now in his widely abused and much-misrepre- progress which hold forth bright promise. sented speech on that subject at Bristol, Much has been already accomplished, no other line were in being, the ground and much more in the fulness of time of argument would be different. He then may be hoped for. The formidable barinsisted that the post-office subsidy was rier of the Atlantic has been crossed, and an essential element of success. That one successful and, we trust, permanent without it the enterprise must fail.- line of steam communication between Whether this opinion, at the time it was the Old and New World has been estabexpressed, were sound or not, we shall lished. Whether it connect New York not inquire, as that can only affect the with Bristol, or Boston with Liverpool, value personally of Dr. Lardner's judg- must, to the world in general, and to the ment. The question now is, not whether United States in particular, be a matter a line of steamers can support itself of the smallest conceivable importance, without the post-office contribution, but however much such a point may interest whether it can sustain itself against particular classes and individuals in those that subsidy. Whether two rival enter- cities respectively. We shall therefore prises cannot be both successful in their dismiss this topic, and turn for a mofinancial results, one of which is subsi- ment to take a view of some of the imdized annually to the extent of nearly provements which are in progress of dehalf a million of dollars, while the other velopment on this and on the other side is left to depend on its own resources, of the wide Atlantic. one of which has its safety, efficiency, It seems to be admitted on every hand good management and punctuality guar- that wheels requiring for their efficient anteed by the sanction of the British gov- performances one unvaried immersion, ernment, while the other has nothing to are ineligible propellers of a vessel exoffer but the assurances of a private, posed to vicissitudes of the sea that vary though very respectable, company? The the immersion every moment, and loadodds are fearfully great in such a condi- ed with fuel, the gradual consumption of tion of things.
which produces a progressive diminution There is one circumstance obviously of the average draught. On both sides favorable to a New York line. It is un- of the Atlantic engineers and projectors doubtedly true that the majority of pas- have therefore directed their attention to sengers out would be more accommo- the contrivance of subaqueous propellers. dated by arriving at New York, than by Various forms of these have been tried being landed at Boston, and the majority in England, among which the favorite of passengers back would be better ac- for the moment seems to be a screw carcommodated by embarking at New York ried with its axis horizontal and paralthan by starting from Boston. Against lel to the keel, operating under the vesthis, on the other hand, it must be con- sel, and kept in revolution by the engines. sidered that the average passage of the In this country, a submerged wheel, actBoston steamers out has been two days ing at the stern on an axis parallel to the and nineteen hours, and the average pas- keel, and having its face turned sternsage home two days and ten hours less wards, the invention of Captain Ericcson, than the corresponding passages of the has been in operation on various private New York steamer. *
vessels for the last four years, and has It is not our province to prognosticate more recently been sanctioned by govthe future result of speculations and pro- ernment, and adopted in the United States
* Since the above was written, it has been announced in the public journals that the Cunard steamers are henceforward to make their passages direct between Liverpool and Boston, and that the mails of the British provinces are to be despatched from and received at the latter city. If this prove to be the case, the time of the passages of these steamers will be further abridged, not only to the extent of their present detention at Halifax, but by being enabled to make a direct and more expeditious course to Boston. They will thus have on the out-passage an advantage over the New York steamers amounting probably to from four to five days.