Great Eastern Failure- The Curious and Mysterious World of Mr. Brunel... Questions Answered!
LAUNCH OF THE "LEVIATHAN" OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE "GREAT EASTERN"
Mr. BRUNEL has not been altogether un-familiar with failures; but no failure of his ever did so much to lower the reputation of English engineers as the launch of the Leviathan. Having first, by the construction of that enormous vessel, concentrated the attention of the world upon him, he has now presented to it the greatest and most costly example of professional folly that was ever seen. Was ever such a spectacle witnessed as thousands upon thousands have for weeks past beheld on the Thames! - an English engineer at the head of multitudes of mechanics and labourers, breaking ponderous engines, rending enormous cables, crushing solid masses of timber, bursting strong iron vessels, forcing up the soil, tearing up the very bed of the river, expending vast sums of money, impoverishing shareholders, ruining the vessel herself, spreading terror around, imperiling life-keeping this up day after day, week after week, and even month after month, and all in order merely to lower a ship from the shore to the river!
The first question to be asked is, why was the Leviathan built where she is? (For we cannot here discuss the advantages and disadvantages of such a vessel in the abstract.)
Recent experience, both in our own dock-yards and in America has shown that the launching of ships much less in weight than the Leviathan is sometimes attended with difficulties which are not easily overcome; such, for example as the stoppage of the ship upon the ways, as in the cases of the Caesar at Pembroke Dock, the Marlborough at Portsmouth, and the Queen of the Pacific at New York.
In all these cases, moreover, the ship...