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When I looked down, down, down into
the crater of her Majesty's screw steamship
Volcano (eight hundred horse-power),
and pondered breathlessly on the distracting
maze of  shafts, beams, cranks,
wheels, and cylinders; when I was told
that a single finger pressing down a certain
small lever can set the whole mass in ruthless
motion; driving the Volcano herself
through the water at the rate of fourteen
miles an hour,—I wondered where the
present race of Vulcans and Cyclops (born
with more eyes than one) were bred, and
under what Memnonian roof the bewildering
engines were brought into existence. Surely,
I reflected, the blacksmiths of Etna and
Lemnos must have been pigmies compared
with the giants of these later days; and their
forges mere village smithies. Else how could
those shafts, each a single mass of wrought
iron, some sixteen tons in weight, be
formed, and polished, and adjusted to a hair's
breadth; how could the two-bladed brass fan
(called the screw-propeller*), weighing eleven
tons or so, be cast and fitted, carried from the
factory to the ship, and put into its place
under water, with all the accuracy and some
of the ease with which the mainspring is
fixed to a lady's watch.

*See A Great Screw, page 181, volume viii.

This tremendous work is done, I afterwards
learnt by modern, but not wholly by
human giants. Even when Vulcan forged
the bolts of Jove, he found flesh and muscle
journeymen not strong enough for his place;
and,—if Hesiod may be trustedcontrived
automaton statues, by whose help alone he
was able to turn out the heaviest government
orders for thunderbolts. His plan has been
followed by our British Vulcans,
the Nasmyths, Whitworths, Fairbairns, Penns, and
by the parents and teachers of some of
those eminent machinists, the Maudslays;
their automata being steam-hammers, and
cutting, planing, punching, slotting, and
riveting machines: giants all, capable of
making any sort ironmongery, from
thunderbolts of fifty Jupiter-power (should such
classical hardware ever come into demand),
down to fish-hooks and cambric needles.
The entire plant of Vulcan, Polyphemus,

and Company, with supernatural improvements
must, I considered, have been removed
from Sicily and the Euxine, to Manchester,
Leeds, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Millwall
and Lambeth Marsh; and gigantic intellect
must have succeeded gigantic stature
in the goodwill and management of the

Growing still more dizzy, yet still more
curious in contemplating the complex abyss
of the Volcano's machinery, I conceived the
wild wish of seeing Titanic engines like hers
in the home of their birth; where they are
made, and keptwholesale, retail, and for
exportationin rows, perhaps, like time-pieces
in a French clock-shop. In satisfaction of
this desire, I was directed to the great factory
of Messrs. Maudslay and Field.

This establishment spreads itself over about
five acres of Lambeth Marsh (now a densely
peopled district of South London, and only a
marsh by tradition); but being built in floors,
would, if all were on the ground, cover some
dozen acres. It gives employment to fifteen
hundred Mulcibers, who are chiefly employed
in feeding and attending upon the iron giants
that execute most of the work.

O, the grim, rigid, relentless power, with
which they shaved, and shared, and cut, and
bored blocks and pillars of iron, tons in weight!
They cut out and put together a huge steamboiler
with much less fuss (and with an
inevitable directness of purpose that is simply
awful) than a seamstress makes to complete
a calico-bolster. A broad plank of iron, nearly
an inch thick and as large as a long
dining-table, is laid on an automaton's flat lap,
and is cut by a scissor-like chisel moving up
and down at its edge, into any shape the
superintending Mulciber wills. It can be
sewn to other iron sheets by an inexorable
seamstressa giant twin of her planing and
cutting sisters,—that punches rows of round
holes with mathematical regularity, all round
the edges of the plate, with less effort than I
could bore cardboard. Her coadjutor, a
thickset, determined steam workman, then
fastens the edges of the plates together by
crushing rivet- bolts into the holes at each
edge and instantly riveting them to one
another with a cold-blooded, silent force
that is terrifying. Compare these operations
with the tinkering of the Vulcans of old;