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the feeblest visitor in the yard was suddenly
asked to lift half-a-ton weight, or hold a chain
against a tugging power of six horses, he
would turn up his cuffs and try.

The mass that has to be launched, or
pushed into the water, weighs twelve thousand
tons. It is as high as an ordinary church,
and exactly the length of the Art Treasures'
Building at Manchester; or, to convey the
dimensions more approximately to the mind
of a Londoner, we may tell him that the
length, breadth, and height of the Leviathan
corresponds very nearly to the length, breadth,
and height of Great George Street,
Westminster. This measures the mere shell of
the vessel; for, when it is finished and has
its crew and cargo on board for voyaging, it
will be more than double its present weight.
The problem to solve, then, out of the pen-
and-ink abstraction, and the undisturbed solitude
of a civil engineer's office, and in the
broad light of day, before a hundred thousand
eager, trusting, sceptical, anxious spectators,
is, to let down an iron hull gradually into
the water, six hundred and eighty feet (or
nearly one-eighth of a mile) long, eighty-three
feet broad, sixty feet high, and weighing
nearly twelve thousand tons. This is the
task that Mr. Brunel has undertaken. He
stands in a very different position from that
of a great military or naval commander on a
grand emergency: they employ great forces
to destroy; he employs them to preserve.
On one side he has the capital of the Company,
to the extent of a million, under his
charge; and on the other, many thousands
of visitors to shield from injury or death.
This task, also, Mr. Brunel has undertaken.

The army that he employs to carry out his
orders, is rude and ill-organised, about two
thousand in number, unaccustomed to work
in unison, and strong and hearty as they look,
practically useless without the aid of machinery.
That aid the engineer has availed
himself of very largely. Two steam-engines
stationed at each end of the yard, opposite
the head and stern of the vessel, operate by
drawing in chains working round barges
moored in the river, and acting to draw the
vessel down its launching-ways. Four other
barges are moored in the river, working
drawing tackle equal in force to two hundred
and fifty tons. These with the hydraulic
pumps used on the land side to press the
vessel forward, are the forces employed to
overcome the reluctance of the Leviathan to
move. There it stands, like a sulky monster,
firm in its two cradles, at the top of its
launching ways, which slope down gently to
the water's edge, well covered with lamp-
black and grease. The machinery used to
keep the great vessel back, and prevent its
plunging too hastily into its new element,
injuring itself and every one near it, is two
enormous cables, the links of which are as
thick as a man's thigh; rolled round drums
as high as a small house, and governed by
four windlasses, two to each drum. This,
with the two thousand navvies and workmen,
standing like terriers at rat-holes, waiting for
orders, is the power placed in Mr. Brunei's
hands to use for one objectthe launch of the
Leviathan, twelve thousand tons weighton
the third of November, eighteen hundred
and fifty-seven, at one o'clock in the day.

At that hour, everything being in readiness,
the operation commences, and for some
few minutes no result is visible. All at once,
a loud, united shout is heard, and those at
the stern-cable see the head of the vessel
slide some little distance down the ways. In
an instant afterwardsbefore the shout has
died awaythe huge mass quivered from
head to foot, and the stern part follows the
lead of the head with a grinding crash and
sullen roar, and in two seconds, before the
dazzled eyes of the people have scarcely
realised the fact, the mighty vessel has
slipped six feet down her ways, like a boy
down a slide. The stern cable drum savagely
pays out its gigantic chain, and one of the
windlasses revolves with frightful rapidity,
hurling a dozen poor men, who are unprepared
for the sudden movement, like acrobats,
into the air, and in another moment
they are lying bleeding, senseless, and writhing
on the ground. The men at the other
windlassa mere handfulsee that everything
depends upon their redoubled efforts,
and a dozen strong, earnest arms, aided by
machinery, pull up the retreating monster
the twelve thousand tonswith a sudden
check, and a quiver felt throughout its enormous
length and breadth, as if it was the
most tottering horse, or the most shaky cab
that ever came out upon a night-stand.
The engines stop, and a rush takes place
towards the injured men; and, while they
are being carried to the hospital in the arms
of their fellow workmentwo of them to die,
and baptise the Leviathan in bloodthe
shouts from the river and the opposite shore
came wafted on the wind, from men who
little know how much they are indebted to
that handful of resolute men at the stern
windlass.

After the lapse of one hour, the work is
re-commenced, but the surly monster refuses
to move. One of the drawing-chains snaps
under extreme tension, and the hydraulic
pressure pump gets out of order. At half
past two o'clock, the launch of the Leviathan,
as far as the public are concerned, is finally
closed.

As I join the reluctant crowd, and file
slowly out of the wet muddy yard into the
outer chaos of drunken sailors, overflowing
beer-shops, streaming houses, misty marshes,
laden omnibuses, splashed broughams,
independent cabs, and close, drizzling rain, I feel
that, as the experiment of the day has
demonstrated the power to propel and the
power to check, the first important stage in
the development of the great enterprise may

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